Natural resources have always been a staple of Maine's economy, not to mention the breathtaking scenery they provide. Fishing
are the historically dominant sectors of Maine's natural resource economy, but in more recent years, tourism has been a growing component. Together, these industries contribute 1 out of every 10 dollars in Maine's economy. CEI provides financing, business counseling, and other assistance to natural resource-based businesses with the goal of creating wealth in rural communities and preserving a rural way of life.
CEI has been working with the farming, fishing, and forestry industries since its founding in 1977. Our earliest investments were in community-based, natural resource enterprises, such as fish processing plants, farmers' markets, and forestry cooperatives. Today, while the types of businesses have changed somewhat, we still work closely with these three industries through targeted fisheries, farming, and forestry programs. Click on the links to the left to learn more about our activities within these sectors.
Extending our interest in sustainable resources, we are also focusing attention on renewable energy development in Maine. Renewable energy research and development is happening on many fronts: wind, biomass, tidal, geothermal and solar, to list the obvious. We are studying the full range of renewable technologies to discern which can best be deployed to Maine's economic, employment and environmental benefit.
Our targeted industry focus is based on a sector approach. This helps us understand an industry and develop some level of expertise in the factors influencing it, such as regulations, taxation, supply and demand, and consumer preferences. It also allows us to target financing and business assistance to these sectors based on our growing expertise. We look at many different factors before choosing to enter a sector, and with natural resource sectors, the list is even longer. Criteria include economic opportunity; alignment with CEI's strengths; potential for new products and markets; the existing capacity, limits, and reproduction rates; and potential partners.
Some of CEI's earliest natural resource projects were so-called 3E Investments - achieving positive economic, social equity, and environmental outcomes. Our focus in those early days, however, was primarily on creating economic opportunity and employment. More recently, the environmental impacts of our natural resource investments have grown in importance, on par with the equity and economic impacts. We have a heightened awareness of the environmental effects of our development activities and are challenged to both define 3E investing and determine how best to achieve it.