SOUTH PORTLAND — As paper companies, textile mills and other manufacturers closed up shop in Maine over the past decade, Karen Mills saw the economic transition.
She watched small businesses strive for capital, technology, trained workers and marketing services as they played an increasingly large role in the state's economy.
"I learned a lot in Maine about how small businesses innovate," Mills, who heads the U.S. Small Business Administration, said Monday at a free workshop for entrepreneurs at Southern Maine Community College. "I'm trying to take those lessons and share them."
Mills and a number of volunteer business counselors spent the morning offering advice and sharing resource information with about 60 Mainers who are starting new business ventures.
The three-hour session was part of a nationwide Obama administration initiative that sent top executive branch officials into communities to promote volunteerism and community service.
Mills, a venture capitalist and former business manager from Brunswick, said small businesses need to work together to meet their needs for resources such as capital, equipment and work force training.