News

Local Startup Heads to National InnovateHER Business Competition

April 17, 2015 (Wiscasset, ME)—Coastal Enterprises, Inc. (CEI) congratulates Bitzy Baby® co-founders Whitney and Seabren Reeves of Brunswick, Maine, who were selected this week by the U.S. Small Business Administration’s (SBA’s) Office of Women Business Ownership and the InnovateHER team as finalists in the SBA’s 2015 InnovateHER Business Challenge. As finalists, the Bitzy Baby® founders will compete for the top three awards and a total of $30,000 in prize money during a live pitch competition in Washington, D.C. on May 8th as part of SBA’s National Small Business Week.

“We are honored by such incredible support networks that understand of the importance of creating products focused on improving life for all people, from generation to generation, with positive and measurable impact on women and families,” said Whitney and Seabren Reeves, co-founders of Bitzy Baby®. “We are excited to be representing Maine and continuing our goal to make safer infant sleeping environments, because we all begin bitzy.”

The Women’s Business Center at CEI hosted a local InnovateHER Business Challenge as part of Southern Maine Community College’s Launch or Grow Small Business Success Conference in March. Bitzy Baby® was selected by a panel of judges as the winner of that challenge. The company then moved on to become a semi-finalist in the SBA’s national InnovateHER competition.

Bitzy Baby® is a parent company founded by Whitney & Seabren Reeves, who invented and utility patented the successfully commercialized Bitzy Bumper® a JPMA Innovation Award Finalist. In 2014, the company was selected to participate in ScaleUp Portland, part of the SBA’s nation-wide business development pilot program ScaleUp America. The Reeves are thought leaders in the juvenile products industry, and have served on the ASTM International (American Society for Testing and Materials) Infant Bedding Sub-Committee since 2011.

“We are very excited that Bitzy Baby® was chosen as one of 15 national finalists out of a pool of 75 semi-finalist businesses from around the country to compete at the national level as part of the SBA’s National Small Business Week,” said Sarah Guerette of CEI’s Women’s Business Center, organizer of the Maine InnovateHER Business Challenge. “The quality and safety of their products positively impact women and families, one of the major goals of InnovateHER.”

About CEI
Coastal Enterprises, Inc. (CEI), one of the nation’s premier Community Development Corporations (CDCs) and Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs), specializes in rural business development and financing. Founded in 1977 in Wiscasset, Maine, CEI creates economically and environmentally healthy communities in which all people, especially those with low incomes, can reach their full potential. CEI provides financing and technical assistance to small and medium-sized businesses, natural resource-based industries including the farm, fish and forest sectors, community facilities, renewable energy, commercial real estate and affordable housing. CEI serves communities in Maine, New England, and rural regions throughout the U.S. Find out more at www.ceimaine.org.

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New Coalition Advocates for “Ultra Fast” Internet in Maine

Multi-year effort begins with “flood of broadband bills” in Augusta

April 16, 2015 (Rockport, Maine)–Maine may have experienced a crucial turning point last summer, when a commentator for Bloomberg Television in New York City compared the state to a “developing nation,” citing in particular the poor quality and speed of its Internet services.

The critique reverberated loudly around the region, and today a collection of Maine businesses, municipalities and non-profit organizations responded by announcing that they have formed the Maine Broadband Coalition (MBC). Their goal is to help state policy leaders map out a sensible solution to the problem.

The group has established a web site (www.MaineBroadbandCoalition.org), and published its first YouTube video (http://bit.ly/1xDFJUT). Supporters of the coalition testified on several bills last week in front of the legislature’s Joint Committee on Energy, Utilities and Technology. According to its web site, “An important goal of the MBC is to assemble cogent, fact-based information to help public policy makers and Maine citizens make the best choices about building a robust and productive information technology infrastructure — decisions we are all facing right now. We welcome one and all to this effort.”

Some legislators have marveled at the number of broadband bills — well more than thirty — that have been introduced during the current legislative session. But Alan Caron, President of Envision Maine (www.envisionmaine.org), said he’s not surprised by the “flood of broadband bills” that the legislature and the governor’s staff are studying.

“More and more people are seeing that if we build ultra-fast Internet networks, all across the state, more people will come here,” Caron said. “More young people will stay and our entrepreneurs and businesses will compete with anyone in the world. If we don’t make those investments now, we’re going to continue to pay the price with a weak economy, falling further behind.“

Carla Dickstein is the senior VP for research and policy development at CEI (www.ceimaine.org) an organization founded in Wiscasset that bills itself as “a national leader in rural business development.” Dickstein said MBC has been organizing for several months, but is not limiting its lifespan to the current legislative session.

“This group has come together very quickly, and in the end I expect it to be very broad, diverse, and to endure for several years. Building a world-class infrastructure for Maine is truly comparable to what rural electrification was in the 1920s and 1930s; it’s a monumental undertaking,” Dickstein said.

Dickstein said MBC is recruiting supporters from municipalities, business and industry, research labs, social justice organizations, educational institutions, libraries, healthcare and agriculture.

The “founding supporters” of the Maine Broadband Coalition include AARP Maine, The Aroostook Partnership for Progress, Axiom Technologies, Blue Marble Geographics, CEI, Cornerstone Communications, Dream Local Digital, Envision Maine, Full Circle America, Grow Smart Maine, GWI, Health Info Net, The Island Institute, Maine Center for Entrepreneurial Development, Maine Farmland Trust, Maine Fiber Company, Maine Mayors’ Coalition, Maine Media Workshops + College, Mobilize Maine, NBT Solutions, Networkmaine, Northern Maine Development Commission, Pioneer Broadband, Piscataquis County Economic Development Council, Sanford Regional Economic Growth Council, Small Business Advocate (ME Secretary of State), Town of Isleboro, Town of Orono, Town of Rockport, City of South Portland, and the Washington County Fiber Initiative.

Maine Broadband Coalition (MBC) is an informal federation of public policy professionals, educational institutions, businesses, non-profit organizations and individuals who care deeply about Maine’s economic future. For more information visit www.MaineBroadbandCoalition.org.

LINKS:

State says 80 percent of Mainers ‘unserved’ by broadband,” Whit Richardson, Portland Press Herald: http://bit.ly/1sLsr6a

Maine’s Big Problem: Why Is Internet Service So Bad?” Bloomberg Television: http://bloom.bg/1qb8Rx7

Maine’s Slow Internet Service Rivaling Developing Nations,” Bloomberg Television: http://bloom.bg/Wc0161

 

 

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Three CEI Clients are SBA 2015 Award Winners

April 9, 2015, Wiscasset, Maine–Administrator Maria Contreras-Sweet, the head of the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA), announced today this year’s Small Business Person of the Year winners from the 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, Guam and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

Heidi V. Neal, Owner of the Loyal Biscuit Co. of Rockland, Camden, Belfast, and Waterville, Maine, was nominated by CEI and named Small Business Person of the Year for Maine. A panel is currently reviewing all the packages and a national winner and two runners-up will be selected and announced at a future date.  The national winner will be recognized as the 2015 National Small Business Person of the Year by the U.S. Small Business Administration this year in Washington, D.C., May 8.

The SBA also named Kate McAleer, CEO & Co-Owner of Bixby & Co., LLC as Maine’s Young Entrepreneur of the Year, and Paula and Stephen Farrar, Owners of Done Roving Yarns, as Home-Based Business Champions for Maine and New England. The three business owners were also nominated by CEI.

“Done Roving Yarn won the New England competition because of its staying power, innovativeness and ability to respond to adversity,” said Seth Goodall, SBA New England Regional Administrator in a press release. “SBA is pleased to have supported this impressive rural business with a guaranteed loan in participation with Camden National Bank.”

“Done Roving Yarns was reborn from a business that failed in 2005 due to the aftermath following a freak catastrophic event, which left them faced with staggering medical bills, rebuilding a business and plummeting credit scores,” said Ruth Cash-Smith of the Women’s Business Center, who nominated the Farrars for this award. “The turnaround this business has undergone in the past four years is truly remarkable and the Farrars are ever so deserving of this award.”

Of Kate McAleer, Marilyn Geroux, SBA District Director for Maine, said, “It is always wonderful to see the creativity and determination that young entrepreneurs like Kate bring to their businesses. It is a particular pleasure to select a business that has decided to relocate to Maine, as Bixby has done.

Bixby & Co. LLC is located in Rockland. The company was started in 2011 by Ms. McAleer as an organic producer of chocolate bars. In 2013, the company moved to Maine from New York state. Since the move, Ms. McAleer has participated in numerous entrepreneurial development opportunities, such as Maine Center for Entrepreneurial Development’s “Top Gun” program, Gorham Savings Bank’s “Launchpad” competition, and the Women’s Business Center at CEI.

“Always on the lookout for opportunities for growth, Kate has steered this ever-growing family-owned company into national distribution in an amazingly short amount of time,” said Ruth Cash-Smith of the Women’s Business Center, who nominated Ms. McAleer for this award. “No longer an untried newcomer to the complex and difficult world of wholesale chocolate manufacturing, Bixby & Co. is now ably navigating new waters in terms of determining how best to strategically grow their company, according to their own values and mission” she added.

The Maine Awardees will be honored at an SBA reception on May 5th, 2015 at the Augusta Country Club in Manchester.

 

 

CEI Sponsors Fish 2.0 Competition, Connects Seafood Businesses with Investors

April 9, 2015, Wiscasset, Maine – New England fisheries and aquaculture businesses are invited to apply to participate in Fish 2.0, an innovative business competition designed to advance sustainable seafood businesses and connect them with investors. Maine-based Community Development Finance Institution (CDFI) Coastal Enterprises, Inc. (CEI) is a sponsor of the competition, which gives seafood businesses an opportunity to gain visibility, find strategic partners and, ultimately, garner new investments in the range of $100,000 to over $10 million. Investors gain early access to new deals and learn how sustainable seafood can help build their portfolios. The deadline for businesses to sign up for the competition is April 27. Businesses can apply at www.fish20.org.

In this year’s competition, businesses from around the world will vie for over $180,000 in cash and service prizes, along with direct connections to industry leaders. During the competition finals at Stanford University in November, 36 finalists will present their ideas to investors. Fish 2.0 is open to both established companies and early-stage enterprises, and there is no fee to enter. Maine’s Acadia Harvest was a runner-up in the Fish 2.0 finals last year.

“CEI has a 35-year history of investing in fisheries and aquaculture, and we’ve seen both financial and impact performance from these deals,” says Dick Clime CEI’s Working Waterfront Project Developer, who served as a competition advisor last year. “Fish 2.0 draws a large number of new, quality businesses to the attention of investors, and also enables them to develop their business plans and access needed capital.”

This year, more than 15 corporate industry leaders, investors and philanthropists, including CEI, Pentair, Google Oceans Program and RSF Social Finance, have joined together to support the Fish 2.0 competition. The breadth of sponsors reflects a growing interest in the seafood sector among investors with expertise in technology, supply chain operations and food systems.

“Investors see rising demand for sustainable seafood products and an industry that is ripe for innovation,” says Monica Jain, Fish 2.0 founder. “Many in the seafood sector see these opportunities, too. They have plans to grow their businesses and reach new markets—but they struggle to identify the right investors. Fish 2.0 connects these groups.”

Investors come to Fish 2.0 with a variety of interests, ranging from supply chain logistics to community development. (They may sign up as competition advisors and judges via www.fish20.org.)

“Fish 2.0 is the best thing I’ve ever done in the context of my business,” says Dane Chauvel of Organic Ocean Seafood, a 2013 competition finalist. “We exceeded revenue projections by 10 percent last year and are on track to realize a 30 percent year-over-year increase in revenue this year. This wouldn’t have happened in the absence of Fish 2.0—it accelerated our path and provided a networking opportunity that we never would have gained otherwise.”

“We believe sustainable aquaculture will play a big role in the future of food production globally,” says Todd Gleason, senior vice president of growth for Pentair, a global company with $7 billion in revenue that is also a sponsor. “We’re excited to support the growth of innovation in the sector.”

During the 2013 competition,160 businesses applied and 21 finalists presented to a room of over 100 investors. Many of these companies report great growth in the past year. As Jain explains, “In 2013, we were simply showing people that there were great business opportunities in sustainable seafood; now we’re showing people the breadth and depth of the sector—we’re excited for more businesses and investors to join us in 2015.”

CEI Names David Wedick as New Chief Financial Officer

Wiscasset, Maine—Coastal Enterprises, Inc. (CEI) has hired David Wedick of South Portland, Maine, to become its new CFO, starting May 18th. Since 2009, David has worked at MicroVest Capital Management, most recently as Director of Strategic Operations and Business Development. MicroVest is an asset management group headquartered in Bethesda, MD, that invests private capital into under-banked emerging markets to increase access to capital for micro, small and medium enterprises.

“We landed an individual we believe has exceptional talent to help CEI in its growth and impact,” said Ron Phillips, CEI President and CEO.  “David’s range of analytic skills is applicable to CEI’s complex array of financial accounting, asset management, capital formation, and strategic modeling and forecasting. David has demonstrated a personal commitment to an underlying mission of creating access to finance for people, places and economic sectors aspiring to greater economic opportunity. He is a great communicator and we believe will firmly enhance both CEI’s internal financial management requirements as well as external relationships with funders and investors.”

David Wedick

David Wedick

David graduated with a Master’s degree in economics and mathematics from the University of Edinburgh, Scotland. He is a CFA® charterholder and is a member of the CFA Society Maine. A native of the United Kingdom, David launched his career as an equity research analyst at J.P. Morgan in London, and was subsequently recruited by Trade Aid Tanzania to help establish a microfinance lending program in the rural southern region of Mtwara.  In Tanzania, he met his future American wife, originally from Fairfield, Maine, who was working as a Peace Corps volunteer in a neighboring village, and who is now a Masters in Public Health candidate at the University of Southern Maine. Prior to joining MicroVest, David was the general manager of E-Fulusi Africa, a mobile banking technology startup, also located in Tanzania.

“For the last eight years I have focused on building financial markets that work to serve low-income communities in a profitable, sustainable and ethical manner,” said David Wedick. “I am excited by the opportunity to join the CEI senior staff at a crucial juncture in the organization’s growth path and to directly contribute to preserving the integrity of both CEI’s financial strength and mission.”

CEI’s Board of Directors Elects New Leadership

March 24, 2015 – At its 37th Annual Meeting on March 10, 2015, CEI was pleased to announce the election of Ellen Seidman as the new Chair of its Board of Directors, Betsy Biemann as Vice-Chair of the Board of Directors, and Chip Newell as a new Member of the Board of Directors.

Ellen Seidman is currently a Senior Fellow at the Urban Institute, focusing on housing finance and community development. She is also a Research Fellow of the Filene Research Institute. In 2012, she was appointed to the Consumer Advisory Board of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. Ms. Seidman directed the U.S. Treasury’s Office of Thrift Supervision from 1997 to 2001. From 2002 through 2010, Ms. Seidman held various positions at ShoreBank Corporation and its affiliates. Ms. Seidman has also been Senior Counsel to the Democratic Staff, House Financial Services Committee (2001-02), Special Assistant to the President for Economic Policy (1993-1997), and has held senior positions at Fannie Mae, the Department of the Treasury and the Department of Transportation. She chairs the board of Aeris Insight , which is the assessment and ratings system for the Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI) industry, is a founder and a member of the board of the Center for Financial Services Innovation, and is on the Board of City First Bank of DC, a CDFI bank. Ellen graduated with an A.B. from Radcliffe College, a J.D. from Georgetown University Law Center, and an M.B.A. from George Washington University. She is a resident of Washington, D.C., and Spruce Head, Maine.

Betsy Biemann advises companies, nonprofit organizations, foundations and government agencies on strategies to drive innovation, growth and economic opportunity. She currently leads the Maine Food Cluster Project of the Mossavar-Rahmani Center for Business and Government at Harvard University. From 2005 to 2012 she served as president of the Maine Technology Institute (MTI). Under her leadership, MTI’s focus shifted from investing in promising technologies to growing technology companies, and its portfolio of investments and grants expanded from $15M to $75M. Betsy joined MTI after serving as an associate director at The Rockefeller Foundation in New York City, where she managed a national grant and investment program aiming to increase employment in low-income communities. She also oversaw Rockefeller’s equity investments in community development venture capital funds and loans to social enterprises. Betsy joined Rockefeller’s staff in 1996, after working in international development, principally in Africa. Betsy serves on the CEI Investment Notes Advisory Board and on the Board of Directors of the Elmina B. Sewall Foundation and is a member of the Maine Angel network. Betsy graduated with a B.A. from Harvard University and an M.P.A from Princeton University. She lives in Brunswick, Maine, with her husband, Sean Callahan, and two children. Betsy joined the CEI board in 2012.

Chip Newell is a principal in The NewHeight Group, a real estate development and marketing consulting firm. Chip’s 35-year real estate career includes extensive experience from complex mixed-use urban projects to single-family homes. In the spring of 2015, NewHeight is completing development of 118 on Munjoy Hill, a 12-unit condominium building that is bringing a new level of building quality and energy efficiency to Portland, Maine’s multifamily market. Chip graduated with an A.B. from Bowdoin College in Economics and M.B.A in Finance and Accounting from Rutgers University. Chip is currently on the board and is Treasurer of Maine Center for Economic Development. He is also on the board of Community Housing of Maine, on the finance committee for the Boothbay Region Land Trust, and is on the Maine Community Foundation Cumberland County Committee, and the boards of Community Investments of Maine and CEI Investment Notes. Chip is a resident of Portland, Maine.

About CEI
Coastal Enterprises, Inc. (CEI), one of the nation’s premier Community Development Corporations (CDCs) and Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs), specializes in rural business development and financing. Founded in 1977 in Wiscasset, Maine, CEI creates economically and environmentally healthy communities in which all people, especially those with low incomes, can reach their full potential. CEI provides financing and technical assistance to small and medium-sized businesses, natural resource-based industries including the farm, fish and forest sectors, community facilities, renewable energy, commercial real estate and affordable housing. CEI serves communities in Maine, New England, and rural regions throughout the U.S. Find out more at www.ceimaine.org.

CEI’s Ellen Golden Inducted into the Maine Women’s Hall of Fame

March 19, 2015 — In observation of Women’s History Month, the Maine Women’s Hall of Fame honors two new inductees: Ellen F. Golden, Senior Vice President at CEI, Founder of the Women’s Business Center at CEI, and a Founding Board Member of the Maine Women’s Policy Center; and Dr. Barbara W. Woodlee of Vassalboro, longtime president of Kennebec Valley Community College, who has helped pave the way for women in higher education. The nomination of Ellen F. Golden was sponsored by Ronald L. Phillips, President and CEO of CEI. The nomination of Dr. Barbara W. Woodlee was sponsored by Dr. John Fitzsimmons, President of the Maine Community College System.

Ellen Golden, Managing Director, CEI Notes

Ellen Golden, Managing Director, CEI Notes

Ellen Golden, Senior Vice President at CEI, oversees CEI Investment Notes, LLC, a 501(c)(3) CEI affiliate that mobilizes capital from individual and institutional investors to support CEI’s financing activity. The struggle for the recognition and achievement of the rights of women has a dedicated champion in Ellen Golden. Her decision to make a positive difference in women’s rights comes from a lifetime commitment to social and economic justice and knowledge of the history and current conditions of women in our society. In both her personal and professional lives, Ellen has been an advocate for the needs and rights of women in general and for the needs and rights of women business owners in particular.

In the mid-1980s, with the aid and support of CEI, a private nonprofit community development corporation, Ellen found an ideal position from which to work on behalf of Maine’s women business owners. She discovered that although women were starting businesses at twice the rate of men, there was little information about their experiences. Her subsequent pioneering research helped to define the characteristics of and challenges facing Maine women entering a traditionally man’s world.

Action followed research. In collaboration with Maine technical college system, Ellen organized a statewide series of seminars for women business owners. For a more permanent resource, Ellen started the state’s first targeted business counseling program for women at CEI. Its Women’s Business Center, with funding from the US Small Business Administration (SBA), has helped over 15,000 Maine women start and manage their businesses. To ensure the continuity of this work, Ellen has hired and coached younger women who currently staff the WBC. Ellen has also promoted micro and small business financing—at CEI, in Maine and nationally—to increase financing for women business owners. As a result, more than 1,000 women entrepreneurs across the state have received over $46 million in capital from CEI.

Her tenure as a board member of the Maine Women’s Lobby illustrates her role as a volunteer. In the early 1990’s, she chaired an Economics Task Force which turned its attention to sexual harassment as a barrier to economic security. The result was first in the nation legislation mandating workplace training in sexual harassment. Ultimately, the task force led to the founding of the Maine Women’s Policy Center, the Lobby’s sister organization which improves the social, political and economic status of Maine women and girls through research, education and leadership development. When she returned to the Lobby Board in 2008, her experience with organizational development helped the Lobby through a leadership transition and prepared it to move forward as an important resource for Maine women and girls.

Dr. Barbara W. Woodlee’s long and successful career in education has been defined by her commitment to improving the lives of her students. At Kennebec Valley Community College in Fairfield, where she served as president for 28 years, the majority of those students were women, many of them low-income, many of them single mothers, who Barbara believed in and on whose behalf she worked tirelessly. Her goal: to help them achieve their educational goals and build a more secure future for themselves and their families.

Throughout her presidency, Dr. Woodlee sought to increase access to education for Maine women by designing and building programs—in health care and other fields—that met their needs and held the promise of good paying jobs. Many women from throughout Maine jump-started their lives and careers by earning a credential from Kennebec Valley Community College.

For over three decades, Dr. Woodlee has worked to remove barriers to higher education for Maine people. She has built numerous partnerships among colleges and worked to ease transfer between two- and four-year degree programs, not only for students from KVCC but for those enrolled in all of Maine’s community colleges. Again and again, she has taken strong stands on issues she believes to be in the best interest of students. She has been a strong advocate for low- and moderate-income students and has worked to keep tuition low, even when her college faced extremely challenging budget realities. Community college students from throughout the state have benefited from this advocacy for low tuition rates and greater financial assistance, and today, the Maine Community Colleges have the lowest tuition and fees in New England.

Dr. Woodlee holds the distinction of being the first woman president within the Maine Community College System, and she now serves as the System’s chief academic officer. By taking on these challenges (while raising four children), she has opened the door to other women to assume leadership positions within the System. To them, she has served as a mentor, a coach, and a supportive colleague.

Throughout her career, Dr. Barbara W. Woodlee has demonstrated that women can use the power of kindness, confidence, persistence and personal presence to lead and advance in their careers, to support the careers of others, and to fight for a cause. In addition to her work at KVCC, she has given her time and energy to improving the lives of others in her community and across the state, serving as Chair of the Board of MaineGeneral Health; on the inaugural Board of Displaced Homemakers (now Women, Work, and Community); and in volunteer leadership positions with the Maine Science and Technology Foundation, State Workforce Incentive Board, and Jobs for Maine’s Graduates. In the process, she has earned the deep respect and affection of those who have had the good fortunate to work with her.

Dr. Woodlee is a proven leader, reliable friend, and dedicated colleague, who has contributed significantly to the welfare of others, leaving an indelible mark on the State of Maine.

The Maine Federation of Business and Professional Women established the Maine Women’s Hall of Fame in 1990, to honor women who have made an outstanding contribution to improving opportunities for all Maine women. The BPW/Maine Futurama Foundation and the University of Maine at Augusta are co-sponsors of the Maine Women’s Hall of Fame.

The three criteria for selection to be included are (1) woman’s achievements have had a significant statewide impact, (2) woman’s achievements significantly improved the lives of women in Maine, and (3) woman’s contribution has enduring value for women.

Innovative Maine Project Attracts Funding from FHLB of Boston

Wiscasset, ME—Bragdon Farm in Waterville, ME, has been awarded a loan from CEI to purchase and renovate the former Harris Bakery in Waterville and expand their production of hay firelogs, an innovative product turning hay that is unusable for feed into firelogs. The $160,000 of funding for the loan was an advance from the Federal Home Loan Bank of Boston. CEI was the first Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI) member of the Bank, providing for short-and long-term credit, reduced financing costs, and help with managing liquidity and interest rate risk. Recently, CEI was featured in the Bank’s Results magazine, and in a video profile on the Bank’s website. Click here for a tour of the Bragdon Farms project with Peter Bragdon and CEI’s Loan & Investment Officer Cole Palmer.

“Our mission is to provide our members reliable funding for housing, community development, and economic growth. We’re pleased to provide CEI low-cost, long-term financing to meet Bragdon Farm’s financing needs,” said Kenneth A. Willis, First Vice President/Director, Housing and Community Investment, Federal Home Loan Bank of Boston.

The carbon neutral fireplace logs made by Bragdon Farm from waste hay (aka hay logs) offer a nearly identical energy output to hardwood, with no artificial or petroleum-based binders, and an extremely low carbon footprint after one growing season.

“Thanks to CEI and other funding from organizations like FAME, the USDA, Maine Department of Agriculture, Maine Technology Institute, the Maine Department of Economic and Community Development, and Kennebec Valley Council of Governments, we will continue, in the short-term, to perfect our formula and test for critical durability, emissions and safety in a new commercial briquetting press as we head down the final stretch to commercialization,” said Peter Bragdon, founder and owner of Bragdon Farm. “In the near future we will be assembling a state of the art briquetting plant right here in Central Maine. We hope to have Bragdon Farm hay firelogs on retail shelves this year. Needless to say, none of this would be possible without the extensive support that is available to the small business community in Maine from organizations like CEI.”

Bragdon Farm seeks to meet market need with an economically and environmentally-conscious product, directly aligned with CEI’s mission of local, sustainable growth. Peter Bragdon has over 30 years of experience harvesting hay across 300 acres of land.

“CEI and many others worked closely with Peter Bragdon to help make a dream into a reality,” said CEI loan and investment officer Cole Palmer. “The City of Waterville identified the building on Harris Avenue as one that they wished to see developed after many years of neglect. In addition, the new company will produce ten good paying jobs. This is a triple-bottom-line win for people, profits and planet.”

“It is an honor for us to be able access capital for rural communities as the first CDFI member of the FHLB of Boston,” said Ron Phillips, President and CEO of CEI. “Membership allows for reliable, low-cost funding to expand our lending capacity and further our mission of achieving social and economic justice within sustainable communities. Bragdon Farm is a great example of economic development at work: a new Maine-based business that is creating jobs, and serving as a steward of the environment.”

CEI Awarded National NeighborWorks® Membership

March 10, 2015 — CEI announced its new membership in the national NeighborWorks® network during its annual meeting on March 10. In order to become a chartered NeighborWorks member, a significant achievement, CEI met high organizational health and performance standards, enabling the Maine-based organization to gain access to a powerful battery of training, research, technical assistance and funding opportunities. The announcement included a check presentation from NeighborWorks to CEI for $230,000, with $150,000 earmarked to support the construction of CEI’s new headquarters building in Brunswick, Maine.

(left to right) Chris Harper-Fahey, Relationship Manager, Partnership & Growth, NeighborWorks America; Deborah Boatright, Regional Vice President, Norheast Region, NeighborWorks America; Sue Inches, CEI Board Chair (Outgoing); Ellen Seidman, CEI Board Chair (Incoming); Ron Phillips, CEI President and CEO

(left to right) Chris Harper-Fahey, Relationship Manager, Partnership & Growth, NeighborWorks America; Deborah Boatright, Regional Vice President, Norheast Region, NeighborWorks America; Sue Inches, CEI Board Chair (Outgoing); Ellen Seidman, CEI Board Chair (Incoming); Ron Phillips, CEI President and CEO

“As a long time advocate to help all people, especially those with low incomes, to achieve their full potential, this partnership allows us to harnass NeighborWorks’ best practices in affordable housing development and expand reach to serve more Maine residents more efficiently,” said CEI CEO and President Ron Phillips.

CEI leads significant multi-family housing development work, having developed a current portfolio of 278 units of affordable rental housing serving over 1,000 households in 17 communities throughout Maine, and provides financing to other affordable housing developers. CEI is also the largest provider of housing counseling in the state, offering services including pre-purchase counseling, foreclosure prevention, financial capability coaching and homebuyer education to more than 600 residents annually.

NeighborWorks® America Regional Vice President Deborah Boatright congratulated Coastal Enterprises, Inc. for its high productivity, dedication to affordable housing and service within its community, and accountability, and brought special greetings from CEO Paul Weech.

“NeighborWorks network membership provides CEI access to resources that strengthen its ability to serve people throughout the great state of Maine, create jobs, and contribute to economic growth. We are proud to have this productive and effective organization join our network of excellence,” relayed Weech.

NeighborWorks America created the NeighborWorks network to improve housing opportunities for low- and moderate-income families; provide financial education and improve financial literacy; rebuild and repair properties; develop affordable multifamily homes; and use innovative strategies to improve safety and revitalize communities across the nation.

Collectively in Fiscal Year 2014, NeighborWorks America and the more than 240 members of the NeighborWorks network have been able to:

  • Assist 323,400 households with affordable housing;
  • Own or manage 118,200 rental homes;
  • Help 21,000 families of modest means to achieve their dream of homeownership;
  • Counsel and educate 108,500 customers about their finances and housing options;
  • Repair 58,600 homes using state-of-the-art methods, including green and healthy building techniques;
  • Create or sustain more than 35,000 jobs per year through local NeighborWorks-supported projects and activities;
  • Mobilize more than 1.5 million volunteer hours to revitalize communities;
  • Invest more than $6 billion in local communities, leveraging NeighborWorks’ federal appropriation by 44:1.

For more information about CEI, contact Liz Rogers, 207-882-5139, erogers@ceimaine.org.

About CEI
CEI, one of the nation’s premier Community Development Corporations (CDCs) and Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs), specializes in rural business development and financing. Founded in 1977 in Wiscasset, Maine, we create economically and environmentally healthy communities in which all people, especially those with low incomes, can reach their full potential. CEI provides financing and technical assistance to small and medium-sized businesses, natural resource-based industries including the farm, fish and forest sectors, community facilities, renewable energy, commercial real estate and affordable housing. CEI serves communities in Maine, New England, and rural regions throughout the U.S. Find out more at www.ceimaine.org.

 

Island Employee Cooperative Receives CEI’s Sustaining Community Award

March 10, 2015 — In recognition of its tremendous accomplishments in fostering a sustainable society, the Island Employee Cooperative was presented CEI’s Sustaining Community Award at the organization’s annual meeting on March 10.

The for-profit cooperative is now Maine’s largest worker co-op and the second largest in New England, employing 60 island residents, 45 of whom are member/ owners. A CEI loan and business development services client, the cooperative was singled out for the award for its triple bottom line approach to business, nurturing economy, equity and ecology.

Island Employee Cooperative (IEC) Receives CEI's Sustaining Community Award. (left to right) Rob Brown, Cooperative Development Institute; Cole Palmer, CEI Loan & Investment Officer; Alan White, IEC board chair; Gloria LaBrecque, Cooperative Fund of New England; Les Weed, V&S Variety store manager and IEC board secretary; Ron Phillips, CEI President and CEO; Deanna Oliver, Administration and Finance Manager and IEC board treasurer; Scott Seile, store manager of The Galley; Mark Sprackland of the Independent Retailers Shared Services Cooperative; Daniel Wallace, Program Developer, CEI Sustainable Agriculture & Food Systems Program

Island Employee Cooperative (IEC) Receives CEI’s Sustaining Community Award. (left to right) Rob Brown, Cooperative Development Institute; Cole Palmer, CEI Loan & Investment Officer; Alan White, IEC board chair; Gloria LaBrecque, Cooperative Fund of New England; Les Weed, V&S Variety store manager and IEC board secretary; Ron Phillips, CEI President and CEO; Deanna Oliver, Administration and Finance Manager and IEC board treasurer; Scott Seile, store manager of The Galley; Mark Sprackland of the Independent Retailers Shared Services Cooperative; Daniel Wallace, Program Developer, CEI Sustainable Agriculture & Food Systems Program

The cooperative is still a new business model for Deer Isle. Just over a year ago, Vernon Seile, owner of three stores—two grocery stores and a variety store—that are vitally important to the Deer Isle and Stonington communities, decided to sell. When a viable buyer failed to materialize, the store employees organized to form a co-op to purchase and manage the stores.

A team of financial institutions, service providers, and technical assistance providers worked over 2,800 hours to complete the conversion and purchase in 12 months, a short timeline given the complexity of the $5.6 million project. It is now a national model for worker co-op conversions, grocery store succession planning, and creative financing.

“Many of us have worked in these stores for decades and never imagined we could own them,” said Island Employee Cooperative board chair Alan White. “It’s no small matter to keep local ownership of the stores and the benefit of creating the cooperative continues to ripple through our community. We are still learning about leadership and management, co-op governance, and financing, and when it feels tough, I think about the single mothers who work in the stores and now have a stake in the ownership, and how much they are depending on me and my fellow board members to make this work.”

“This financial transaction represents the best kind of collaboration to build wealth and opportunities in Maine’s rural communities,” said CEI Loan and Investment Officer Cole Palmer. “There is no better example of what defines sustaining community.”

At the annual meeting, CEI also recognized key partners in the project: Mark Sprackland of the Independent Retailers Shared Services Cooperative, Rob Brown of the Cooperative Development Institute, and Gloria LaBreque of the Cooperative Fund of New England.

About CEI
CEI, one of the nation’s premier Community Development Corporations (CDCs) and Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs), specializes in rural business development and financing. Founded in 1977 in Wiscasset, Maine, we create economically and environmentally healthy communities in which all people, especially those with low incomes, can reach their full potential. CEI provides financing and technical assistance to small and medium-sized businesses, natural resource-based industries including the farm, fish and forest sectors, community facilities, renewable energy, commercial real estate and affordable housing. CEI serves communities in Maine, New England, and rural regions throughout the U.S. Find out more at www.ceimaine.org.