CNBC Profiles CEI Ventures Company

When a fire burned his business to the ground last March, Brad Sterl, founder of CEI Ventures’ portfolio company Rustic Crust, made the decision to pay his employees during the rebuild. The forward-thinking maker of organic and all natural pizza crust and sauce in Pittsfield, NH, was profiled on December 26 by CNBC’s The Closing Bell: Rustic Crust Owner Saves Business (and Jobs) After Fire

“It’s about the long-term outlook and success of the company through a difficult time.”

- Brad Sterl, Founder, RUSTIC CRUST




CEI Releases New Policy Directions for Maine

On December 10, 2014, CEI released new policy directions for Maine, intended to inform the governor, legislators, elected officials and others interested in the future of the Maine economy with the ultimate goal of influencing state policy for the benefit of the communities and people we serve, especially economically distressed communities and people with low incomes.

Despite the loss of manufacturing jobs, the shortage of quality jobs that pay a livable wage, and the slow pace of the recovery from the most recent recession, Maine has considerable assets on which the governor and legislature can capitalize to benefit the state and its citizens over the long run. Value-added products in Maine’s traditional natural resource sectors hold great promise as does using existing resources for renewable energy, biobased products, and tourism opportunities in the eco- and cultural markets. Most importantly, Maine’s quality of place, i.e., its cultural and natural landscapes, is an invaluable asset worthy of preservation.

_MG_4920Maine has serious challenges, but challenges create opportunities for fresh thinking and new strategies. How do we create enough quality jobs to employ our young people, enable them to launch careers, buy homes and raise families? How do we meet the needs of the unemployed and underemployed? How do we attract talented young individuals and entrepreneurs to guarantee a future for the state? How do we integrate immigrants, refugees, asylees and foreign-born into our communities and workforce? Take a look at CEI’s recommendations  to address these and other critical questions for our state. Click here: CEI 2015 Policy Directions for Maine


Register Today! Author Jeremy Rifkin Headlines CEI’s Annual Meeting

CEI is exited to announce that bestselling author Jeremy Rifkin will speak at our 2015 Annual Breakfast Meeting on March 10, 2015. Click here to learn more and purchase your tickets today!

Jeremy Rifkin is the bestselling author of twenty books on the impact of scientific and technological changes on the economy, the workforce, society, and the environment. His books have been translated into more than thirty five languages and are used in hundreds of universities, corporations and government agencies around the world.

On April 1st, 2014 Mr. Rifkin’s published his latest book, The Zero Marginal Cost Society: The Internet of Things, the Collaborative Commons, and the Eclipse of Capitalism. In 2011, Jeremy Rifkin published the New York Times bestseller The Third Industrial Revolution, which captured the attention of the world. Mr. Rifkin’s vision of a sustainable, post carbon economic era has been endorsed by the European Union and the United Nations and embraced by world leaders including Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany, President François Hollande of France, and Premier Li Keqiang of China. Mr. Rifkin’s other recent titles include, The Empathic Civilization, The Age of Access, The End of Work, The European Dream, The Biotech Century and The Hydrogen Economy.

Jeremy Rifkin has been an advisor to the European Union for the past decade. Mr. Rifkin also served as an adviser to President Nicolas Sarkozy of France, Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany, Prime Minister Jose Socrates of Portugal, Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero of Spain, and Prime Minister Janez Janša of Slovenia, during their respective European Council Presidencies, on issues related to the economy, climate change, and energy security. He currently advises the European Commission, the European Parliament, and several EU and Asian heads of state. Mr. Rifkin is the principle architect of the European Union’s Third Industrial Revolution long-term economic sustainability plan to address the triple challenge of the global economic crisis, energy security, and climate change. The Third Industrial Revolution was formally endorsed by the European Parliament in 2007 and is now being implemented by various agencies within the European Commission as well as in the 27 member-states. Jeremy Rifkin is the President of the TIR Consulting Group LLC, comprised of many of the leading renewable energy companies, electricity transmission companies, construction companies, architectural firms, IT and electronics companies, and transport and logistics companies. His global economic development team is working with cities, regions, and national governments to develop the Internet of Things (IoT) infrastructure for a Collaborative Commons and a Third Industrial Revolution.

Mr. Rifkin is a senior lecturer at the Wharton School’s Executive Education Program at the University of Pennsylvania where he instructs CEOs and senior management on transitioning their business operations into sustainable Third Industrial Revolution economies. From 1995-2010, Mr. Rifkin taught in the Advanced Management Program at Wharton. Mr. Rifkin’s monthly column on global issues has appeared over the years in many of the world’s leading newspapers and magazines, including The Los Angeles Times in the United States, The Guardian in the U.K., Die Süddeutsche Zeitung and Handelsblatt in Germany, Le Soir and Knack in Belgium, L’Espresso in Italy, El Mundo and El País in Spain, Kathimerini in Greece, Informatíon in Denmark, De Volkskrant in the Netherlands, Hospodárské Noviny in the Czech Republic, Wort in Luxembourg, Clarín in Argentina, and Al-Ittihad in the U.A.E. Mr. Rifkin holds a degree in economics from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, and a degree in international affairs from the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University. Rifkin speaks frequently before government, business, labor and civic forums. He has lectured at hundreds of the world’s leading corporations as well as more than 300 universities in some thirty countries in the past four decades. Mr. Rifkin is the founder and president of The Foundation on Economic Trends ( in Bethesda, MD. The Foundation examines the economic, environmental, social and cultural impacts of new technologies introduced into the global economy.

Newman’s Own Foundation Awards Grant to CEI

$150,000 Award to Improve Fresh Food Access and Nutrition Education

Wiscasset, ME – CEI has been awarded a two-year $150,000 grant from Newman’s Own Foundation, the independent foundation created by the late actor and philanthropist, Paul Newman. The award to CEI was made by Newman’s Own Foundation as part of its $10 million commitment over three years to improve fresh food access and nutrition education for underserved communities.

The grant will be used for the Healthy General Store Initiative (HGSI) developed by CEI in collaboration with The Food Trust, a national food access organization, and Healthy Acadia, an Ellsworth-based Healthy Maine Partnership. The initiative mobilizes local and national resources to increase the availability of healthy food in distressed rural communities by working directly with general store owners, their suppliers, and customers to make permanent changes over a three-year project period. Project partners will focus efforts in the Downeast Public Health District of Maine, which includes Hancock County and Washington County. Both counties are classified as rural and the district is characterized by significant and escalating poverty. HGSI is a core piece of CEI’s overall strategy to improve health outcomes in isolated rural communities, and is designed to be replicated and eventually raised up to a national audience.

“The Healthy General Store Initiative layers multiple services—business development, consumer education, and supply chain logistics—to achieve lasting, replicable impact,” said Daniel Wallace, Program Developer for CEI’s Sustainable Agriculture and Food Systems Program. “Newman’s Own Foundation is providing the development funding necessary to create solutions for fresh food access that can be replicated in other communities.”

CEI’s Sustainable Agriculture and Food System Program provides technical and financial assistance to farms and food-related businesses in Maine and the northeast. In the past five years, CEI provided $7.8 million in loans and equity investments to 50 agricultural and food-related enterprises, leveraging an additional $27.5 million, creating or retaining 387 jobs and preserving 5,179 acres of farmland in production.

“There are so many challenges to improving nutrition access and education, especially for those who are most disadvantaged,” said Lisa Walker, Managing Director, Newman’s Own Foundation. “We are excited to help CEI and many other nonprofits across the country make an impact in improving nutrition in urban and rural communities.”

For more information about Newman’s Own Foundation nutrition grants, visit:

Maine Community Foundation Partnership with CEI Brings Loan Capital to Maine’s Rural Communities

Dover-Foxcroft’s Mayo Mill Benefits from Collaborative Financing for the Economy and Environment

Wiscasset, ME–The Maine Community Foundation (MaineCF) has committed $500,000 in new loan funds to Coastal Enterprises, Inc. (CEI), repayable in five years, to be used for fisheries-related enterprise development and the rehabilitation of downtown buildings in Maine’s rural communities.

“Our downtowns are important engines for commerce, culture and overall quality of life in Maine’s communities,” said Meredith Jones, President and CEO of the Maine Community Foundation. “With CEI’s expertise and resources, MaineCF’s investments can have greater impact  in revitalizing our downtowns and strengthening fisheries-related enterprises vital to our coastal communities.”

“CEI welcomes this partnership with Maine Community Foundation to provide resources for the people and places that fuel Maine’s economy,” said Ron Phillips, President and CEO of CEI. “Our deployment of the loan funds will include the identification of projects that will create jobs and leverage additional resources for long-term sustainability.”

IMG_1499The agreement builds CEI’s capacity to support businesses and communities struggling to access needed capital. The funds supported a recent construction loan from CEI for the complete renovation of Mayo Mill in Dover-Foxcroft, the county seat of Piscataquis County, Maine’s least populous county. Approximately 11.5 percent of the county’s population is unemployed as the region moves from a manufacturing to service-based economy.

The project will create an economic hub on the Piscataquis River at the center of town, with 22 affordable rental units, eight commercial tenants (providing an expected 42 jobs on site), and a state of the art data center to support the 3-Ring Binder fiber extension project, an effort supported by the State of Maine to expand high speed internet to rural communities. The entire energy load of the project is from renewable sources, including geothermal heat pumps, solar and hydro-electric power from the adjacent dam. The renewable source for the building’s energy budget is helping to keep rents at affordable rates, and utilities as low as possible.

“The powerful combination of new community investment, job growth, quality housing for median-income residents and renewable power and heating makes the Mayo Mill revitalization a compelling triple bottom line investment for CEI,” said John Egan, Senior Vice President, Housing and Real Estate, CEI. “Twenty of the 22 residential units are already spoken for, largely by returning native Dover-Foxcroft residents who want convenient, affordable housing in a green space back in their hometown.”

CEI is leveraging the MaineCF loan fund with capital from other private and public sources, including Bangor Savings Bank, Genesis Community Loan Fund, the Northern Border Commission, Cordish Capital and CEI Notes, Inc., to enable the revitalization of this mill, which once housed Moosehead Manufacturing.

About Maine Community Foundation

A statewide organization with offices in Ellsworth and Portland, the Maine Community Foundation works with donors and other partners to improve the quality of life for all Maine people. To learn more, visit or call 1-877-700-6800.

 About CEI

CEI, one of the nation’s premier Community Development Corporations and Community Development Financial Institutions, specializes in rural business development and financing. Founded in 1977 in Wiscasset, Maine, CEI helps create economically and environmentally healthy communities in which all people, especially those with low incomes, can reach their full potential. For more information, visit or call 1-207-822-7552.

CEI and Morgan Stanley Announce Community Lending Partnership

Agreement brings $5 million in new loan funds for small businesses, affordable housing in the Northeast

Wiscasset, ME—Maine-based Community Development Finance Institution (CDFI) Coastal Enterprises, Inc. (CEI) is pleased to announce a new community loan agreement with Morgan Stanley Bank, N.A. to benefit low- and moderate-income neighborhoods, individuals, and families in Maine and the Northeast. The agreement enables the distribution of $5 million in new loan funds for three key areas of CEI’s lending practice: financing for small businesses, affordable housing, and community facilities.

“Communities in rural regions of the Northeast have been slow to recover from the recession, and face a number of challenges that prevent them from accessing patient and flexible financing,” said Ron Phillips, President and CEO, CEI. “Infusions of capital to essential sectors of our economy can help create jobs. At the same time, people with low- and middle-incomes need access to health and childcare, and affordable housing. CEI takes a comprehensive view of community development, believing that strong neighborhoods and healthy communities are the backbone to success for small businesses. We are grateful to Morgan Stanley for sharing in our work and supporting our mission.”

The $5 million line of credit supports CEI’s five-year commitment to deploy $128 million in loans and investment for 771 sustainable enterprises and the creation of 6,500 jobs.

“Morgan Stanley is pleased to partner with CEI to revitalize communities across the Northeast, particularly in rural areas, by making capital available to small businesses and low- and middle-income families and neighborhoods,” said Mike Mantle, President of Morgan Stanley Community Investments, LLC. “Healthy communities build and attract successful businesses that can drive economic growth.”

“CEI welcomes Morgan Stanley as a community development partner in moving capital into underserved and distressed rural communities in Maine and throughout the Northeast,” said Keith Bisson, Senior Vice President, Programs and Development, CEI. “By focusing on small businesses, affordable housing, and childcare and healthcare facilities, Morgan Stanley is supporting a holistic approach to place-based financing.”

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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

About Morgan Stanley

Morgan Stanley is a leading global financial services firm providing a wide range of investment banking, securities, investment management and wealth management services. With offices in more than 43 countries, the Firm’s employees serve clients worldwide including corporations, governments, institutions and individuals.  Since 2006, Morgan Stanley has committed more than $9.6 billion in investments to strengthen underserved communities.  For more information about Morgan Stanley, visit


Liz Rogers, Senior Vice President, Marketing & Communications, (207) 632-7693
Matt Burkhard, Morgan Stanley, (212) 761-2444

Ron Phillips Recognized for “Extraordinary Commitment to Maine”

CEI President and CEO Ron Phillips received Maine Development Foundation’s 2014 Champion of Innovation and Entrepreneurial Capacity Award on October 7, 2014 at MDF’s annual meeting held at Holiday Inn by the Bay in Portland. See Ron’s remarks here.

MDF Award Harold & Ron3

CEI President and CEO Ron Phillips with Maine Development Foundation’s President and CEO Harold Clossey

Community Television Network Video Features CEI and Interphase Energy

Our latest newsletter profiles CEI client Interphase Energy, which is expanding the market for renewables with affordable, fossil fuel-free heating options. Click here to find out more! In the following video, Steve Cole, CEI’s Energy and Environment Officer, explains renewable energy fits into our $128 million Platform for Sustainable Lending and Investing, with borrower Interphase Energy as an example of a Maine-based startup whose goal is to make energy more affordable for all.

Leading Equity Fund Invests in Maine Communities

CEI announced today that Parnassus Investments, an investment management company and a leader in the field of responsible investing, has made a $1 million investment in CEI Investment Notes, Inc. (CEI Notes) via its Parnassus Core Equity Fund. Read more!