Veterans Day: Symbiotic Relationship to the Community The B&M connection

Keith Spiro day in photos

find the full story in the November 2015 CRYER

I was raised in the era of the Vietnam conflict. Love it (the USA) or leave it vs. lots of protests against an unjust war far away from our shores. As a society, we weren’t particularly kind to or respectful of the returning soldiers, the community of combat veterans that risked their lives to protect our freedoms. The peace movement hoped for the day when the schools were well funded and the military had to hold a bake sale.

photo by Keith Spiro

Heritage flights. A vintage P51 WWII fighter paired with the F22 Raptor

Fast forward to September’s Great State of Maine Airshow, a now private enterprise working with members of the military, the community and local organizations. The more than 70,000 attendees spoke with their money and attention on the air show. It was a mixture of entertainment and precision flying by current and former members of the military.

Keith Spiro Photo

For some it was a day at the beach, complete with sunscreen, food, blankets and lawn chairs. For others, it was a day of camaraderie and remembrance. Beyond the nostalgia of older planes flying was the raw power of the Army’s Raptor and the Navy’s Blue Angels demonstration team.

Precision work, flawless outcomes require all hands on deck at the top of their skillset – every time.

For the Southern Midcoast community, and a former military base, it does take all the parts working together to make our community and society a place worth living in and paying honor to those who protect our great nation.Keith Spiro Photo Volunteers were everywhere. Booths selling programs, food and souvenirs were manned by the many different community groups with each getting both visibility and a percentage back on sales for their efforts. In some ways, this is the modern incarnation of that bake sale. Every group is vying for attention and revenue and new people to help.

Recruitment was an obvious activity for the all volunteer military as well as for the Maine State Police. I asked one of the active service members about the presence of protesters outside the gates and got a response worthy of this great country of ours.

“We are here to protect and serve all citizens and it is our service and sacrifice that allows them the ability to share their opinion and feelings without fear of punishment or death.”

Yes, “punishment or death” for sharing a differing opinion or being of the wrong gender or religion. There are many countries and societies, we civilians mostly just read about, where the intolerance of differences subjects one to brutal treatment and death at the hands of the leadership be it military, civilian or radical. But NOT here. Not in the United States of America. To our men and women in uniform, we thank you for your service and the freedoms we receive because of it.

Keith Spiro Photo Patriot Riders of America – supporting yesterdays and today’s military and first responders because freedom isn’t free. Among their volunteer efforts- remodeling a veterans home to accommodate aging and disabilities.

Thank you for your service.


Entrepreneurial Road Show – The B&M Connection

Entrepreneurial Road Show

page 8 from the Cryer story & photo by Keith SpiroTo some, new tech and entrepreneurship can only be found –or at least financed – in the big startup hotbeds of Silicon Valley – or maybe New York, if you’re a New Yorker – or Kendall Square if you’re from MIT or Harvard. But that didn’t stop a music festival called South by South West from turning into an annual celebration of technology and art near Austin Texas

So, just maybe, entrepreneurship thrives in places where a community comes together to support it. Such is the theory of Steve Case who created a project called Rise of the Rest which came to Maine via Portland last month – the end stop of a nationwide tour showcasing exciting new – communities that incubate and celebrate entrepreneurial endeavors.

Steve should know, he was the founder of America On Line, yes AOL which when sold to Time Warner turned him into a billionaire on a mission. Maine got to showcase a few visits in and around Portland and the evening culminated in a pitch contest co-hosted by Jess Knox, current head of Maine Accelerates Growth & Olympico Strategies and a co-founder of Maine Startup and Create Week. Jess Knox photo by Keith SpiroHis background includes working with Blackstone a Venture Capital Group and a stint as assistant Administrator of SBA Field Operations. He’s the right person to cheerlead this next generation of Maine Entrepreneurship.

The Revolution powered road show came into Maine with former Massachusetts Governor Duval Patrick and met up with US Senator Angus King and Congresswoman Chellie Pingree for the daytime business visits. These are all folks who make a difference and take real action. Senator King and I go back to his Plus One program as governor where every Maine business that added at least one employee got gubernatorial recognition.Governor Duval Patrick photo by KeithSpiro

Duval Patrick, as Governor of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, actively participated in international trade missions to significant consumer and tech places like China, Israel and Denmark, growing Massachusetts footprint in BioPharma and mobile technology. Today he heads up Bain & Company’s Social Impact Investing initiative. Each of these folks have been regulars on the entrepreneurial and tech circuit. They always smile and take the time to say hello and more importantly to enquire and show real interest in the new businesses that they encounter.

The future of work and economic stability lies in the intersection of doing good while doing well financially. Seth Godin asks when did the community shift to chartering corporations who view their primary task as just making money for their investors? We might not have public libraries today were it not for Andrew Carnegie and his broader mission of adding community value.

The winning pitch was for a clean tech app leveraging the power of big data that is now available. LobsteRx staff photo by Keith SpiroMy personal choice went to LobsteRx, a startup based out of the University of Maine, Orono. They were one of the few finalists that exhibited leadership-team diversity in both age and gender and presented a product direction mix that could help Maine with marketing visibility and a significant number of jobs. With focus from skincare to cancer, LobsteRx can have impact on major life areas. Their source product is Lobster, something the world fully identifies with Maine.

#RiseofRest selfie photo by Keith Spiro

Selfies of Rise of the Rest participants and huge audience are another way to raise visibility and awareness. Please re-tweet and re-post.

By focusing on re-use and conversion of some of the 20-30 million pounds of lobster processing waste, we get jobs, PR and a uniquely Maine identified mascot in the mix. Even though only a part of Maine is involved with the lobster industry, there are still some compelling economic facts associated with it, like upwards of $1.7 billion in total economic impact (2012 figures), 5 to 7 changes of hands from “caught to bought” as the Press Herald called it. Maine is responsible for more than 75% of the world’s lobster catch and the US and Canada see a combined f $4 billion in economic impact. Linda Bean figured it out. We’ve got a number of entrepreneurs who will also. Let’s support the local efforts, help fund them and amplify their messages.

You can find the original print edition of this article in THE CRYER ONLINE NOVEMBER 2015 page 8 The Boston and Maine Connection.