BIDDEFORD — Two dozen local lenders and service providers were on hand to offer business advice at the Pepperell Mill Campus, at 2 Main St., Wednesday.

The free event attracted a handful of small business owners looking to grow their companies, as well as those who want to start a business from the ground up, Marilyn Geroux, district director at the Maine District Office of the U.S. Small Business Administration, said Wednesday morning.

“We want to connect them to the resource partner that might be able to help them best,” she said.

Geroux said folks attending the event were able to schedule six appointments with the lenders and service providers of their choice, spending about 20 minutes meeting with each.

“It’s kind of like speed dating,” she said.

Representatives from local banks made up much of the crowd at Wednesday’s event, including Daniel Colby, vice president and senior business banking officer at Biddeford Savings Bank, and Eric Beauregard, assistant vice president and commercial banker at the Sanford Institution for Savings.

“It’s good to let people know what resources are available,” said Colby.

“It’s a lot of businesses in their early stages that are coming here and they’re talking to different organizations. … If you’re a young business, it’s a great way for you to get some valuable advice at no cost,” said Beauregard.

Both said they had a few appointments slated for the morning. At about 11 a.m., Beauregard said he had already met with the owner of a CNC machining company in southern Maine.

James Jasper of the Biddeford-Saco Chamber of Commerce and Industry was also at the event.

Jasper said he came to see what it was all about and gather information to help the chamber become a better resource for local businesses in every stage of development ”“ from ones that are merely an idea to ones that are already established.

“We want to be known as a resource to go to,” he said.

— Staff Writer Angelo J. Verzoni can be contacted at 282-1535, ext. 329 or [email protected]

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