CEI Featured on Love Maine Radio

August 22, 2015–Listen in as CEI’s Ellen Golden and Tae Chong are interviewed by Dr. Lisa Belisle on Love Maine Radio, a program of Maine magazine. Live stream the program here.

LMR_GOLDENEllen Golden is the managing director of CEI Investment Notes, Inc., a fixed-income impact investing product that enables accredited institutional and individual investors to participate in CEI’s work. Ellen is the founder of the Women’s Business Center at CEI, and has devoted her career to advancing social justice by empowering small business owners, particularly women, in reaching their goals.




LMR_CHONGTae Chong is a business advisor with CEI’s StartSmart program for immigrants and refugees. A lifetime Maine resident and immigrant himself, Tae’s experiences help him to provide Portland’s growing immigrant and refugee community with business advising and connections to capital. Tae’s passion for social equity drives his ongoing advocacy efforts for the rights and opportunities of new Mainers.


Meet Our Summer 2015 Interns!

Ethan AndrewsEthan Andrews, Dickinson College, Economics and Philosophy Major

“I’ve been working with [CEI Data Analyst] Kevin Smith, looking at our historical loan portfolio to see the correlation between the original risk rating and the likelihood and severity of a charge-off. We are doing this to learn how to allocate loan loss reserves in our current portfolio in the most efficient way. Also, I’ve been preparing some information on our housing and tourism sector portfolios for [CEO] Ron Phillips.”

Dan BoyleDan Boyle, Bates College, Politics and American History Major

“I am interning at CEI Ventures, working for Nat Henshaw, Chandler Jones, and Thao Duong. My two fellow interns and I spend our time finding, researching, and analyzing potential deals, and will soon be working on 2nd quarter valuation reports. Additionally, we observe the day to day activities of the firm, which include fundraising and monitoring the progress of portfolio companies. I have begun to learn the mechanics of venture deals, the natures of various markets, and the art of valuing companies.”


Bennett BrainardBennett Brainard, Princeton University, Politics and Political Theory Major

“This summer I’ve interned at both CEI and at Ardian, a private equity group in NYC. I’ve been trying to experience the many different facets and types of finance jobs, and working at CEI has given me the opportunity to see how this work is done in the non-profit sector. It’s been great to be able to focus on the social impact of the projects that I’ve been looking at and working on, and being back in Maine is wonderful as well.”

Sam KozlowskiSam Kozlowski, University of Maine, Business Finance Major

“I am working the Maine Broadband Coalition to help improve the broadband infrastructure in our state. I have been researching and writing documents that include essential information to bring new members of the coalition up to speed. I am also working with our loan department to find quantitative information about the environmental benefits that have been a result of the triple bottom line platform. The experience has taught me a lot about working in the financial environment. Working at a CDFI has provided me valuable insight to the positive benefits of responsible lending that I will take with me in my career.”

IMG_3570Erin Morris, Economics Major, recent graduate from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

“With a degree in Economics, I always figured I’d have to somehow sacrifice my dreams of effecting real change in the world if I wanted to build a challenging career in finance. CEI’s model of socially responsible lending, however, has taught me that that “big bank mentality” is not the only way. I am challenged every day I come into work, and at the end of that day, I get to see the impact we make here, whether it’s through job creation, affordable housing placement, environmental sustainability projects, or microenterprise lending that allows refugees the chance to start anew. I am so proud to be associated with an organization such as this, and am thankful for my time here.”

Andrew SchwartzAndrew Schwartz, University of Vermont, Community Entrepreneurship and Applied Economics Major

“I am currently interning in the venture capital subsidiary of Coastal Enterprises. Along with the other interns, I have been researching and analyzing potential investment/loan deals and have helped refine valuation reports for the valuation committee. At CEI I have had the pleasure of collaborating alongside seasoned CEI employees and learn the ropes of venture capital in a real world setting.”

Paige TullerPaige Tuller, University of New Hampshire, Finance and Business Analytics & Information Systems Major

“As a Finance and Business Analytics major at UNH, I feel very fortunate to have been given this opportunity at CEI. Being involved in the analytics of business survivability within CEI’s microlending portfolio, I have a clearer understanding of the financial and strategic planning involved in the development and operation of a small business. In addition, I have gained knowledge and insight into the importance of social responsibility and its impact on our communities. This is a valuable lesson I will carry into all future endeavors.”

Early Exit Marks VC Win for CEI Ventures, Inc. and AVIA Biosystems

June 30, 2015 (Portland, Maine) – CEI Ventures, Inc. (CVI), a wholly-owned subsidiary of Coastal Enterprises, Inc. (CEI) announces the successful sale of start-up life science instrumentation company AVIA Biosystems, the developer of the Isothermal Chemical Denaturation (ICD) system for measuring biologic stability. CVI provided seed investment for the company and nurtured it to the point of commercial acceptance. The sale gives the company additional resources and capital with its new owner, Unchained Labs.

“We doubled our money in approximately 18 months and made a significant financial benefit to investors in the form of an early exit, building on a track record established with the prior sales of Ektron and PenBay Solutions LLC,” said Nat Henshaw, CEO of CVI. “Additionally, we were able to partner with a brilliant team, dedicated to the development of life-saving and life-enhancing protein therapeutic and biologic medicines.

AVIA Biosystems was a portfolio company of CVI’s third venture fund, which was raised during the financial crisis and closed at $10 million in 2012. This relatively small fund has made important investments, primarily in new technology, providing 346 permanent and 138 contractor jobs. Current portfolio companies include Wentworth Technology, Rustic Crust, SciAps, Tilson Technology Management, Certify, NativeEnergy, and The Gelato Fiasco.

“CVI’s investment in AVIA Biosystems during our startup period enabled us to grow from zero to 12 employees,” said Dr. Rick Brown, Co-founder and President of AVIA Biosystems. “Unchained Labs is committed to maintaining our existing staff and our facility in Norton, MA. It also rapidly accelerates the distribution of and access to our product in the U.S. through Unchained’s exiting sales capacity. Outside of the U.S., we have an even bigger gain from their distribution and support channels in Japan, China, and Europe to companies that have major operations in these markets.”

AVIA Biosystem’s ICD product enables the routine measurement of protein stability under denaturing conditions for the first time. It completely automates the complex sample prep and data analysis needed to make measurements, and can help predict future drug stability. The ICD system is also a complement to Unchained Labs’ first product, the UNit, which simultaneously measures the top two biologic stability indicators, protein unfolding and aggregation temperatures.

“I’m really looking forward to joining forces with the Unchained Labs team,” said Dr. Rick Brown. “Together, our products will give drug discovery researchers the power to characterize and understand their biologics better than they ever could before.”

About CVI CEI Ventures, Inc. (CVI) a wholly-owned subsidiary of Coastal Enterprises, Inc. (CEI), manages socially responsible venture capital funds. The company was founded in 1994 to mobilize private capital markets while advancing social goals. For more information, visit the CVI website:, or call Nat Henshaw at 207-772-5356, ext. 2904.

About Unchained Labs Unchained Labs is committed to building the first cool biologics tools company with products that will make a real difference in the research scientists do every day. Located in Pleasanton, CA, Unchained Labs buys businesses and product lines in order to develop and sell breakthrough products. For more information, visit

U.S. Treasury Awards $55 Million In New Markets Tax Credit Capacity to CEI Capital Management

June 15, 2015 (Portland, ME)–Today the U.S. Department of Treasury allocated $55 million in New Markets Tax Credit capacity to CEI Capital Management. The firm will deploy the award to economic development projects that create opportunity in rural, low-income communities across the nation.

A leading practitioner of the program, CEI Capital Management has employed New Markets Tax Credits for 88 projects since 2004, creating or preserving 4,553 permanent jobs for positions such as paper mill and saw mill operators, child care providers, health care providers, dairy production staff, hospitality professionals and clean technology engineers, among others. Because CEI Capital Management carries the triple bottom line mission of its parent, Coastal Enterprises, Inc. (CEI), the New Markets projects that it engages also include positive environmental strategies including renewable energy production and LEED qualified construction.

“We are grateful for the longstanding support from our Congressional delegation,” said CEI Capital Management CEO Charlie Spies. “This significant allocation allows us to continue our work to diversify rural economies. Incenting investors to these projects creates a ripple effect that extends more broadly into communities through the supply chain and local businesses, restaurants, barber shops, hardware stores, and pharmacies, to name a few.”

Altogether the US Department of Treasury made allocations to 76 community development entities around the country, totaling approximately $3.512 billion of new markets tax credit capacity out of a total 263 applications seeking $19.9 billion. Approximately 73.6 percent of the investment proceeds will likely be used to finance and support loans to or investments in operating businesses in low-income communities, according to the Treasury. They also say approximately 26.4 percent of the investment proceeds will likely be used to finance and support real estate projects in low-income communities.

“The New Markets program has been a successful instrument in the pursuit of our mission, to advocate for low-income individuals, children and families at the margins of society,” said CEI founder and CEO Ron Phillips. “We are able to leverage the positive aspects of financial markets, using tax policy to induce community development.”

CEI Capital Management has scores of testimonials from the newly employed and small businesses about the economic benefits they’ve seen from New Markets projects. The owner of a small general store in Piscataquis County, Maine reported seeing the positive impact of the Appalachian Mountain Club (AMC) in his cash register. The AMC worked with CEI Capital Management to use New Markets Tax Credits in financing the parcel purchases that make up a significant portion of their Maine Woods Initiative.

Similarly, new hires at Molnlycke Health Care’s state-of-the-art wound care product manufacturing plant on the site of a former military base in Brunswick, Maine report their ability to reinvent their careers. New Markets Tax Credits allowed Maine to compete globally to be the home for this project.

New Markets Tax Credits are also responsible for bringing quality health care to central New Hampshire’s underserved population, through the construction of Mid-State Health, a federally qualified community health provider. The project brought new jobs, spurring the development of a new retail plaza and other small businesses.

The new allocation announced today will be deployed to projects in rural places that create or preserve jobs and further contribute to revitalizing the community.

About CEI Capital Management LLC
CEI Capital Management creates and preserves jobs and improves quality of life in rural, low-income communities by providing access to project capital through New Markets Tax Credits. Over 10 years CEI Capital Management has placed nearly $900 million in 88 different projects across the U.S. In addition to fiscal soundness, CEI Capital Management evaluates each project according to its benefit to the local community, economic gain and positive impact on the environment. It is a wholly-owned subsidiary of CEI, the Maine-based nonprofit community development financial institution which was among the founders of this important federal economic development program. For more information, visit our website at or our YouTube channel for short video clips on how we use the program.


Christen Graham 207-838-0082 or


Join Us for Maine Startup & Create Week!

MSCW-logo-wide-color-imageJune 9, 2015–Maine Startup & Create Week (MSCW) showcases Maine’s vibrant startup ecosystem and connects the growing community of people inspired by the economic success and potential of Portland and Maine. With more than 75 events offered over 7 days, MSCW is a rich blend of passion-fueled discussion, education, and collaboration that challenges innovators, business owners and supporters to think big, be bold, and take risks. The 2015 program, featuring nationally renowned speakers and panelists, is built around three tracks: Food Innovation, Small Business, and Scale & Growth.

Look for CEI throughout the week! Kate Curran, Training & Outreach Coordinator with the Women’s Business Center at CEI, is co-chair of the MSCW marketing committee, and a member of the executive committee. Daniel Wallace, Program Developer for CEI’s Sustainable Agriculture & Food Systems Program, will be moderating a panel event called Food to Fork 2.0 on June 24. Hugh Cowperthwaite, CEI Fisheries Project Director, will be participating in an event called Reinvigorating and Innovating Traditional Crops on June 24. Betsy Biemann, Vice Chair of CEI’s Board of Directors and director of the Maine Food Cluster Project at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government, will speak at Making Maine a Great Place to Grow Food Companies on June 22.

In addition, the Women’s Business Center is hosting Women in Entrepreneurship, featuring five amazing female entrepreneurs. The panel will be held during lunch hours on June 22 from 12:15 -1:45 at the Mechanics Hall on Congress St. Cost is $10 with online registration and FREE for Maine Startup & Create Week ticket holders.

We hope to see you there!


CEI Receives President’s Award in Financial Structuring from National Development Council

May 15, 2015 (Wiscasset, ME)—Coastal Enterprises, Inc. (CEI) is the winner of the National Development Council (NDC) Academy 2015 President’s Award in Financial Structuring, presented in Washington, D.C., this week. The 2015 Academy Awards honor innovative economic and community development projects and individuals that make a significant impact in their communities.

Robert W. Davenport, President of NDC, selected CEI for the inaugural President’s Award for Financial Structuring for its role as the lead lender and organizer of the financing consortium that enabled 45 employees to purchase three stores on Deer Isle, ME, and establish the Island Employee Cooperative. CEI also provided significant technical support for the transaction through three of its programmatic arms: agriculture and food, workforce development, and business advising.

“Employees organized a cooperative to purchase three stores, establishing themselves as Maine’s largest worker co-op and second largest in New England,” said Mr. Davenport. “This is a forward thinking model of how small businesses can stay in business and save and create jobs in their communities.”

A team of financial institutions, service providers, and technical assistance providers, including CEI, Independent Retailers Shared Services Cooperative, Cooperative Development Institute, and Cooperative Fund of New England, worked over 2,800 hours to complete the conversion and purchase in 12 months, a short timeline for the complex $5.6 million project. It is now a national model for worker co-op conversions, grocery store succession planning, and creative financing.

“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. “It is a clear example of what defines sustaining community.”

“We were honored to be recognized out of a pool of 90 submissions from communities across the country for this award,” said Daniel Wallace, CEI Program Developer, Sustainable Agriculture and Food Systems. “In truth, our award is for the Island Employee Cooperative and all of the partners who worked so hard with us to keep jobs and local food access in rural Maine.”

About Coastal Enterprises, Inc. (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 helps 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 The NDC Academy The NDC Academy is a biennial conference of the National Development Council, which brings together economic and community development professionals from around the nation with policymakers, advocates and elected officials for high impact training, learning and networking. Former Governor of Michigan and president of the Business Roundtable, John Engler, and Deputy Assistant to the President and Director of Intergovernmental affairs at the White House, Jerry Abramson, were keynote speakers.  John Engler welcomed the 400 plus participants at the event’s Keynote Lunch on the opening day, while Deputy Assistant Abramson addressed attendees during the Awards Luncheon held the final day of the conference. For more information on the NDC Academy, please visit:

About the National Development Council (NDC) NDC is a nonprofit that was established in 1969 to operate as one of the nation’s first socially motivated investment bank and community development advisors. We connect the nation’s vast financial resources to Main Street investment across America and create financial efficiency by leveraging the impact of every public dollar invested in overlooked communities across the nation that are home to millions of small businesses and middle-class Americans working to achieve a good job and homeownership. NDC acts as a teacher, advisor, investor, developer and lender all in one, working tirelessly to increase the flow of investment capital, spur job creation and bring community development to America’s economically forgotten areas. NDC stands for quality of opportunity through Homes, Jobs and Communities. For more information about NDC, please visit:


CEI Launches New Mission-Oriented Small Business Lending Company

CEI 7(a) Financing LLC Offers Loans of up to $5 Million Throughout Contiguous U.S.

May 12, 2015 (Portland, ME)—Maine-based Community Development Finance Institution (CDFI) Coastal Enterprises, Inc. (CEI) recently expanded its extensive range of financial and development services for small businesses by launching a new national Small Business Lending Company – one of a small number of non-bank lenders qualified to participate in the U.S. Small Business Administration’s (SBA’s) flagship 7(a) lending program.

CEI 7(a) Financing LLC (C7a), a wholly-owned subsidiary of CEI, will make loans of up to $5 million to qualified small business borrowers. The 7(a) program’s purpose is to make loans available to viable small businesses – particularly in rural regions – that cannot otherwise obtain loans at reasonable terms from conventional sources.

C7a’s lending focus extends CEI’s mission to help create economically and environmentally healthy communities in which all people, especially those with low incomes, can reach their full potential. It expands CEI’s national portfolio, which includes a New Markets Tax Credit practice, venture capital funds, sustainable agriculture, fisheries, and forestry work, and policy initiatives focused on the Triple Bottom Line return on investment – economy, equity, environment.

“As one of the country’s leading and rural economic development practitioners, for over three decades CEI has sought innovative ways to move capital into communities that lack access to traditional business financing and community development resources,” said Ron Phillips, President and CEO of CEI. “Our model continues to evolve with new tools and strategies to help provide opportunity for all Americans in the 21st century.”

C7a’s lending activities enhance the existing financing programs and activities of CEI and economic development practitioners in other states. Its collaborative business model is based on providing complementary loan products and building an extensive referral and support network through partnerships with other economic developers, mission-based lenders, and business and industry consultants.

“There is clear demand and need for ethical, non-bank, small business lending capacity,” said Rob Wilson, C7a’s CEO. “The businesses that our economic development partners are referring to us as potential borrowers are seeking the loan product that C7a brings to the market.”

Chris Sikes, President and CEO of Western Massachusetts-based Common Capital, commented, “C7a understands the needs of small businesses as well as the opportunities to work with smaller, community-based, nonprofit lenders like us. C7a also extends CEI’s knowledge and willingness to collaborate in technically complex, large-scale national financing programs.”

C7a’s loans complement most CDFIs’ existing loan products. With a range between $400,000 and $5,000,000, C7a’s loans are generally in excess of CDFI’s normal capacity or lending limits. The 7(a) program’s goal of providing affordable credit to businesses that cannot obtain it elsewhere, e.g. from a typical bank or commercial lender, allows C7a to finance viable businesses that fall short of bank credit criteria. Early stage companies seeking growth capital, principals pursuing acquisitions, successful operators with limited collateral, and experienced management repositioning companies have all benefited from the 7(a) program. Uses of loan proceeds are flexible and can include owner-occupied real estate acquisition, construction, or rehab, equipment purchase, long-term working capital, business acquisition (including good will) and working capital financing.

MTI and CEI Announce Collaborative Federal Grantee Loan Program

April 21, 2015 (Brunswick, Maine)–The Maine Technology Institute (MTI) and Coastal Enterprises, Inc. (CEI) have created a collaborative loan program to provide lines of credit to Maine companies that win federal grant awards. Termed the Federal Grantee Loan Program, this initiative will provide bridge capital from CEI for those who receive federal awards to perform specific research and development work for a particular federal agency. The new loan program addresses challenging cash flow issues encountered with the various payment standards from the federal agencies. Future awardees of the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and the Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) grants as well as the recipients of Broad Agency Announcement (BAA) awards will be able to arrange streamlined financing that helps to maintain cash and credit balances without the risk of high debt.

Eleven federal agencies participate in the SBIR/ STTR program and some agencies use the BAA process for early stage research and development. According to Karen West, MTI’s Technical Assistance Program Consultant, Maine businesses receive approximately $5 to 6 million in total SBIR/STTR awards annually. The size of the individual federal grants can range from under $100,000 to $1 million. BAA awards can be even larger, at several million dollars or more.

MTI, a private, non-profit organization that stimulates business investment in technology development across Maine’s seven key technology sectors, regularly works with Maine entrepreneurs and small businesses to help them qualify and apply for the grants. In the case of sizeable awards, the shortfall of operating cash threatens the success of the companies’ efforts, and they often seek financing from unconventional sources, such as credit cards.

“Entrepreneurs need ready access to cash while executing their projects, and this new Federal Grantee Loan Program from CEI helps fill that need. We are excited to partner with Coastal Enterprises on this vital effort,” states Brian Whitney, MTI’s Director.

CEI, a Maine non-profit Community Development Financial Institution, makes loans and equity investments in small and medium size businesses. “When we learned of the financing needs of Maine entrepreneurs through our special relationship with MTI, we saw an opportunity to provide capital to facilitate innovation by Maine businesses that have been awarded federal monies,” states Dick Clime, a CEI Development Specialist. “We now solve the cash flow problems that often go along with winning the awards and performing the work. This small initiative can provide a needed boost for start-up technology firms.” Additional information about the Federal Grantee Loans is available by contacting Karen West at MTI ( or Dick Clime at CEI (

About MTI
The Maine Technology Institute (MTI) is an industry-led, publicly-funded, nonprofit corporation that offers early-stage capital and commercialization assistance in the form of competitive grants, loans and equity investment for the research, development and application of technologies that create new products, processes and services, generating high-quality jobs across Maine.

The Maine Technology Institute was established by the Maine State Legislature in 1999. MTI, working with partners across the state, “shall encourage, promote, stimulate and support research and development activity leading to the commercialization of new products and services in the State’s technology-intensive industrial sectors to enhance the competitive position of those sectors and increase the likelihood that one or more of the sectors will support clusters of industrial activity and to create new jobs for Maine people.”

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


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

# # #

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 (, and published its first YouTube video ( 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 (, 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 ( 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


State says 80 percent of Mainers ‘unserved’ by broadband,” Whit Richardson, Portland Press Herald:

Maine’s Big Problem: Why Is Internet Service So Bad?” Bloomberg Television:

Maine’s Slow Internet Service Rivaling Developing Nations,” Bloomberg Television: