Congratulations to CEI’s 2014 Award Winners

CEI’s 2014 annual awards, presented at our annual meeting on March 11, go to Maine Community Health Options (Partnership Award), Maine Fair Trade Lobster (Sustaining Community Award), and outgoing and long-time board member Annee Tara (Founders Award).

CEI Partnership Award: Maine Community Health Options


Maine Community Health Options was launched in 2012 as Maine’s new Consumer Oriented and Operated (or CO-OP) non-profit insurance plan. Maine is one of 23 states to secure funding for a CO-OP through the Affordable Care Act. Among its CO-OP peers, MCHO is leading the way as a sustainable model for a health insurance plan that is designed by and for its members.

When MCOH moved into its current offices in Lewiston’s Bates Mill complex in April 2013, its staff included 29 employees. That number has grown to over 70—signaling MCHO’s role as a notable employer in the Lewiston area. Maine is among one third of all states in which CO-OPs are now price leaders on the new health insurance Marketplace.

As Kevin Lewis, CEO of MCHO said in his acceptance speech:

“We identified CEI very early on as a key partner. Our first pitch for financing as a newly established CO-OP was to CEI. This was natural given CEI’s outstanding role as a mission-focused CDFI. Because the Affordable Care Act disallowed federal loan funds to be used for marketing, our request to CEI certainly focused on marketing funds, but more importantly it was based on the understanding that CEI’s partners could very well be our partners too, and that we could also help the very same businesses and economic engines of Maine become more competitive on a national and international landscape.

We hear of people for whom our coverage means that they can pursue their own career aspirations, often times as a sole proprietor or small business enterprise. This is the unleashing of the creative economy that offers so much promise for Maine. We are proud to be a partner in cost savings and economic success.”

For prioritizing partnerships in their business plan, and establishing a network of supportive partnerships to increase awareness of and access to health insurance coverage, Maine Community Health Options received CEI’s Partnership Award.

CEI Sustaining Community Award: Maine Fair Trade Lobster


In recent years, Maine has exported up to 70% of its lobster to Canada for processing, a key step in creating value-add products and steady employment within an industry know for its economic highs and lows. Michael Tourkistas, President of Maine Fair Trade Lobster, founded his company with the idea of keeping valuable jobs and revenue in Maine. With co-lender Machias Savings Bank, CEI financed a combined $2.5 million for renovations, machinery, and operating capital to get a former but now defunct processing plant in Gouldsboro, Maine, up and running as a lobster processing operation.

In June of last year the plant began hiring: 129 new supervisory and production jobs offering fair wages, benefits, and the chance for weekly overtime hours. The list of benefits Maine Fair Trade Lobster has brought this coastal Downeast Maine community is far reaching:

• Paid transportation for workers living in the Bangor-Brewer area who commute daily
•Support for Spanish speaking employees through Mano en Mano
•Substantial bonuses to those who complete a full year of employment
• Rotation of job tasks to eliminate risk of repetitive motion injuries
• In discussions with the Gouldsboro Selectmen to try and  provide low income housing on town-owned land for full-time workers and their families.

Congratulations and thanks to Maine Fair Trade Lobster for bringing lobster processing to Maine, and with it, community development opportunities for rural Maine.

Founder’s Award: Annee Tara


Annee Tara ended a many-term appointment to CEI’s Board of Directors on March 11, 2014. Her contributions to our mission include serving as Board Chair and on various committees–helping CEI enormously in its growth and governance. Annee first crossed paths with CEI in the 1980s as part of successful efforts to preserve working waterfront properties along Maine’s coastline. She is a lawyer, former development director at Central Maine Community College, and former deputy director of Maine’s Department of Conservation.

An advocate for free and fair elections, Annee has been a partisan election observer in Maine, and has served her Town of Brunswick as Deputy Registrar of Voters, Election Clerk, and Deputy Warden. Annee is a Red Cross Emergency Volunteer, and was deployed to East Texas in the aftermath of Hurricane Ike. She has also been a Global Volunteer, most recently working with people with disabilities in Crete.

Our sincere thanks to Annee for her commitment to social and economic justice, and her support for CEI.

Coastal Enterprises, Inc. (CEI) Receives Grant from JPMorgan Chase Foundation for Collaborative Program

JPMorgan Chase Foundation is providing a $7 million grant to four leading Community Development Finance Institutions (CDFIs), including Coastal Enterprises, Inc. (CEI). The grant is part of the foundation’s new CDFI Collaboratives program, a $33 million commitment to help CDFIs and small business lenders build capacity and to jumpstart job creation in low- and moderate-income communities in select areas including Detroit, Milwaukee, Denver, Chicago, Seattle, Buffalo and the New York City Metro area. CEI’s expertise in rural economic development will expand the Collaborative’s efforts in communities surrounding the targeted urban areas.

The Small and Medium Enterprises (SME) Collaborative is comprised of  CEI, Community Reinvestment Fund, USA, (CRF), the National Development Council(NDC), and the Calvert Foundation.  The cooperative will work together to increase lending capacity to small businesses.

“As a leading rural finance entity in Maine and the Northeast, CEI is honored to support the partnership through our expertise in financing small businesses outside of urban economic centers,” said Ron Phillips, President and CEO of CEI. “We will focus our efforts on non-metro regions, a strategy that aligns with our five-year, $128 million Sustainable Investing Platform.”

“The JPMorgan Chase Foundation is proud to help CDFIs build capacity and increase collaboration in order to better support local economic growth, through its new CDFI Collaboratives program. This collaborative of four nonprofit lenders, led by The Community Reinvestment Fund, will support small businesses and create jobs across the U.S.,” said Janis Bowdler, Senior Program Director for Financial Capability and Affordable Housing, JPMorgan Chase Foundation.

During the three year grant period the collaborative will work together in their geographic regions to achieve the following goals:

  • Provide $81 million in small business financing
  • Create 5,000 new jobs
  • Fund 200 small businesses
  • Attract an additional $10 million in capital from 7,000 everyday investors to support small business in their own communities
  • Empower local CDFI lending partners to become more efficient small business lenders
  • Support community lending partners by providing the training, consultation, and resources necessary to effectively coach and advise small businesses
  • Deploy a joint technology platform to streamline the loan application and underwriting process and empower local CDFI lender partners to become more efficient small business lenders.

About CEI

Coastal Enterprises, Inc. (CEI), a 501(c)(3) private, nonprofit Community Development Corporation (CDC) and Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI), is among the leading rural finance entities in the Northeast. Founded in 1977, and headquartered in Maine, CEI has provided $1.05 billion in loans and investments, and business and housing counseling services to over 43,082 people, helping to create economically and environmentally healthy communities in New England, upstate New York, and throughout rural America. Learn more by visiting

About the JPMorgan Chase Foundation

The JPMorgan Chase Foundation is the charitable arm of JPMorgan Chase & Co. (NYSE: JPM), a leading global financial services firm with assets of $2.4 trillion and operations worldwide. The Foundation focuses on driving economic growth and strengthening communities across the globe, by partnering with local efforts to advance skills-based training, help small businesses, create affordable housing and improve financial capability for underserved people.  The Firm and its foundation give approximately $200 million annually to nonprofit organizations around the world and lead volunteer service activities for employees in local communities, utilizing its many resources, including access to capital, strength, global reach and expertise.  More information is available at

About Calvert Foundation

Calvert Foundation empowers investors to empower communities. Through the Community Investment Note, Calvert Foundation enables individuals and institutions to invest in helping low-income communities become healthy and prosperous. Our investors have facilitated the creation of thousands of jobs, classroom seats, affordable homes, and critical services in the U.S. and around the world. Learn more at

About National Development Council

Founded in 1969, the National Development Council (NDC) is a national non-profit organization that has evolved into one of the most progressive and innovative community and economic development organizations in the country.  From a seminal role in the earliest days of the community development movement, NDC has grown into one of the most comprehensive providers of financing, development expertise, technical assistance and training for community revitalization efforts throughout the U.S.

About CRF

Community Reinvestment Fund, USA (CRF), a nonprofit organization and certified Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI), is a national leader in bringing capital to underserved areas. Formed in 1988, CRF has injected more than $1.5 billion into low-income and economically disadvantaged communities around the country to help stimulate job creation and economic development, provide affordable housing, and support community facilities. CRF is headquartered in Minneapolis, MN. For more information, visit

Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Business Partnership with CEI

CEI is pleased to announce a new partnership with the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businessesinitiative providing $5.5 million in capital and opportunity for small businesses throughout Maine. As part of a national initiative to support job-creating small businesses, Goldman Sachs has pledged $5.25 million in new loan funds to CEI, and The Goldman Sachs Foundation approved a grant of $250,000 for operations, business development and outreach programming.

Read the press release!