Governor Mills Recognizes 2019 Governor’s Award for Business Excellence Recipients

December 18, 2019

Joined by Maine Department of Economic and Community Development Commissioner Heather Johnson, Governor Janet Mills recognized four Maine businesses as recipients of the Governor’s Award for Business Excellence (GABE) at the Blaine House in Augusta today.

“With ingenuity and imagination, hard work and dedication, these four businesses are transforming communities across Maine into hubs of excellence where talented workers can get good-paying jobs and raise their families,” said Governor Mills. “As we work to implement our state’s new strategic economic development plan and ensure Maine is known as a place of innovation and excellence, these businesses will serve as a model for economic success. Congratulations on this well-deserved honor.”

“Nominated businesses from across the state all share a deep commitment to their community, devotion to creating a high-quality of life for their employees, and proven strategic business excellence,” said Commissioner Heather Johnson. “I share Governor Mills’ belief that celebrating the good work that business in Maine are doing will help to attract more workers and economic opportunity to our state and I thank these businesses for leading by example.”

The 2019 Governor’s Award for Business Excellence categories are:

  • The Welcome Home Award recognizes business excellence in Maine’s underrepresented business community.
  • The Innovation Award celebrates and recognizes business excellence through entrepreneurship and innovation.
  • The Rural Revitalization Award recognizes contributions to the revitalization and growth of Maine’s rural and distressed economic regions.
  • The Heritage Industry Award recognizes and celebrates business excellence in the forest industry, manufacturing sector, or marine economy.

The 2019 Governor’s Award for Business Excellence winners are:

Rwanda Bean, Welcome Home Award; Luke’s Lobster, Heritage Industry Award; Bigelow Brewing Company, Rural Revitalization Award; and CourseStorm, Innovation Award.

Rwanda Bean is located in South Portland and supplies specialty coffee products in the US and abroad. Owner and founder Mike Mwendata operates two retail coffee shops in southern Maine and manufactures and distributes his own line of premium, roasted coffee products to wholesale and retail customers throughout Maine and New England. Half of Rwanda Bean’s net profits are reinvested back into Rwandan farm communities, and Mwendata utilizes a direct-trade model to ensure all farms get a fair price for their beans. Rwanda Bean also uses an ecommerce platform for Rwandan coffee farms to promote their products direct to consumers.

Bigelow Brewing Company is located in Skowhegan and is owned and operated by Pamela James-Powers and Master Brewer Jeffrey Powers. Every beer that Bigelow Brewing produces is made with malts that are grown in Maine. Bigelow works closely with local farmers to preserve and grow Somerset County’s agricultural heritage.

Luke’s Lobster has locations in both Portland and St. George, with 38 global locations in total. Luke’s Lobster is a vertically integrated seafood company which also operates a lobster and crab processing facility in Saco. Luke’s Lobster launched two consumer packaged goods products at Whole Foods Market in late 2018, and also works intimately with several lobster and fish cooperatives in Knox County to ensure that all seafood is 100 percent traceable.

CourseStorm is located in Orono and offers an innovative and simple system for class registration to help educational organizations save time and money while increasing enrollments. Cofounders Matt James and Brian Rahill continue to develop software that will provide accessible and affordable education for Maine people. Currently, CourseStorm has successfully connected over 300,000 students in all 50 states to affordable, lifelong learning.

Since 1991, the GABE award has recognized and celebrated Maine businesses with a high level of commitment to their community and employees, as well as exemplary performance in the manufacturing or service profession. Past recipients have included L.L. Bean, Jackson Laboratories, and Sea Bags. This year, the award seeks to celebrate and highlight elements of the State’s ten-year strategic economic plan, with four new award recipient categories.