Rockland candy bar company takes home $30,000 award
Kate McAleer, 26, founder and owner of Bixby & Co., was recently named the winner of the annual Gorham Savings Bank competition LaunchPad and was awarded a $30,000 grant.
The grant will go toward purchasing capital equipment that will help improve quality, manufacturing speed and consistency of their product, according to McAleer. Specifically McAleer said the $30,000 award will help purchase new chocolate melters, which are used to create her organic Bixby Bars.
In order to receive this grant, McAleer got help from her fans, supporters and the Midcoast community who voted over the course of nine days in March to get her into the final round.
The bank stated on its website that 130 applications were received from Maine entrepreneurs. An independent panel of judges selected 12 semifinalists and nearly 9,000 public votes narrowed the field to five. Bixby & Co. was announced as the winner on April 10.
"It is incredible, we're one of the only Midcoast companies to enter," McAleer said. "It is great to bring this prize back to the Midcoast."
Bixby Bars are a unique combination of organic chocolates, dried fruit, nuts, organic brown rice crisps and selected spices. Since opening her company in 2011, with the help of her two parents who both assist her with production, Bixby Bars have grown in popularity.
McAleer recently moved her manufacturing facility from Belfast to Rockland where she plans on expanding production of Bixby Bars, establishing herself as a chocolate manufacturer in Midcoast Maine, and hopes to open a future tasting room that the public can visit.
With the help of the LaunchPad grant, she will be able to scale up production and grow her company to accommodate more business. McAleer hopes that, with future growth, she will also be able to create more jobs and re-establish Rockland as an attractive location to manufacture local products.
"I was thrilled and incredibly excited," McAleer said about winning the grant. "It was a very tough competition, and I am so excited to have won."
Courier Publications Editor Dan West can be reached at 338-3333 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.