BIDDEFORD, Maine (NEWS CENTER) -- There has been tough economic news for the city of Biddeford in recent weeks.
The workers strike that ended with the closure of Hostess Brands Bakery and hundreds of workers losing their jobs, coupled with a delay in negotiations for the city to purchase the Maine Energy property, or MERC, has created economic uncertainty. However, a recent competition is bringing business to Main Street, and it has economic officials optimistic about the future.
Heart of Biddeford, a local non-profit dedicated to improving quality of life downtown, recently put on a competition to draw small businesses to downtown.
There were 27 applicants, and three winners were selected and will be opening in the coming weeks. The businesses are Dahlia's Delights, a vegetarian cafe, Tote Road, a store that carries hand-carved wooden goods, and Elements, a bookstore and event space.
Winners are benefitting from a wide range of services, including $10,000 loan from the city that economic officials are confident will be paid back in revenue generated from the businesses, and free rent for six months.
With the new businesses opening up, economic officials are hopeful it will provide a spark to a growing a trend on Main St.
"If every small business was able to hire three more people in this coming year, we would make a huge impact on unemployment," Heart of Biddeford Executive Director Delilah Poupore said. "These three businesses opening, they will all be hiring people. That's not a huge number considering the recent losses, but it's part of a trend, and we need to see more of it."
All three businesses will officially be open for business in the coming weeks, with two opening as soon as the end of this week.