Grow GNG Challenge extended to March

Chiropractor Travis Dyer was last year's Grow GNG Challenge winner.

GRAY — The Gray-New Gloucester Development Corporation has extended the deadline for its second annual Grow GNG Challenge that aims to jump-start new businesses in the two towns.

The challenge, which the group created last year, is modeled somewhat after the popular TV reality show “Shark Tank.” It gives eligible businesses a chance to compete for a $10,000 forgivable loan and an additional $7,000 of in-kind products and services such as advertising and technology support.

“We had a great experience with the first Grow GNG, and are thrilled to be conducting the competition again,” said development corporation president Tracey Scheckel in a press release.

Scheckel said in an interview this week that after receiving only two applications by the December deadline, the organization decided to extend the deadline to March 1 to give other businesses more time to join the competition.

She said that the group “just felt that wasn’t enough,” estimating that last year’s competition saw about seven to 10 businesses apply.

“The whole point is to build the economy,” Scheckel said.

Interested and eligible for-profit companies can apply by filling out as application available on the development corporation’s website.

Three types of businesses qualify: new businesses looking to start in Gray or New Gloucester; businesses that exist outside of the towns but would like to open a new location in one of the towns and bring along at least two full-time positions within three years; and current businesses in the town that develop a new business concept and add at least two-full time positions within three years.

This year’s applicants will be vying to join Empower Chiropractic and Acupuncture as competition winners. The New Gloucester-based company is made up of husband and wife duo Travis and Lauren Dyer.

Travis Dyer, 26, said their practice on the Pineland Farms campus particularly benefited from the marketing and financial planning services they received as part of the program.

According to Dyer, the program would have been beneficial regardless of whether they won because of the planning elements, and he “definitely would recommend it” to other interested businesses.

Dyer is a chiropractor and his wife is an acupuncturist. He said their practice plans to add a third employee – a massage therapist – this spring or summer as part of the requirements that they add an additional full-time or two part-time employees. He said they will also move to a larger office suite at Pineland when that happens.

According to the development corporation press release,

The panel of judges for this year’s competition will include a municipal official from each of the two towns, a business owner from each town, members of the development corporation, and a representative from Androscoggin Bank.

Androscoggin Bank has provided $5,000 in support of the competition, according to the press release.

Matt Junker can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 123 or Follow him on Twitter: @MattJunker.

Chiropractor Travis Dyer was last year’s Grow GNG winner.