Meet Our 2014 Summer Interns!

022“A lot of people ask me why I am studying environmental and resource economics instead of just economics—and the answer is that I want to utilize both skills by focusing on environmental issues in a business setting, a subject I don’t think receives enough attention. CEI’s commitment to creating economically and environmentally healthy communities has introduced me to deserving companies, businesses, and individuals who are implementing countless plans, proposals, and unique tactics to work towards expansion. Although many people think the fishing industry is struggling, I have observed CEI creatively work to position it for success, all while remaining socially responsible in their practices.”

-Jessica Kaczynski, Environmental and Resource Economics, Spanish, & Business Administration Major at the University of New Hampshire; CEI 2014 Internship Placement: Sustainable Fisheries and Aquaculture Program



“It’s difficult to explain ‘socially responsible venture capital’ to my friends. A lot of kids at Columbia intern at big banks, where they feel like there’s no soul and it’s all profit driven, while others intern at non-profits where they feel pretty ineffective. CEI Ventures is mission-driven, but seeks to generate business growth and returns on investment—the perfect balance of the two. It’s a great example of aligning incentives to promote social goals. As soon as you look at the long-term results, it’s pretty clear: we’ve been able to effectively create quality jobs for distressed communities throughout the Northeast.”

-Jameson McBride, Economics & Sustainable Development Major, Columbia University; CEI 2014 Internship Placement: CEI Ventures


026“There’s excellent work happening at CEI, but what strikes me the most, from an internal communications standpoint, is how the triple bottom line platform doesn’t just serve as a metric for investments, but truly drives employee decisions as well—from office conversations to designing CEI central in Brunswick. There are certainly countless moving parts, with multiple sectors and diverse groups involved, but the amount of collaboration between employees really speaks to shared values and purpose. The energy here turns it into one community revitalizing another, and local, sustainable industry growth is the result.”

-Elisabeth Sepulveda, Psychology, Management, Middle Eastern Studies Major, St. Olaf College, Northfield, MN; CEI 2014 Internship Placement: Marketing and Communications


IMG_3570“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.”

-Erin Morris, Economics Major, recent graduate from the University of Carolina at Chapel Hill; CEI 2014 Internship Placement: Lending Department

Collaborative Brings Good Food and Good Jobs to the City

CEI is proud to be a financing partner with Dorchester Bay Economic Development Corporation in this innovative urban culinary ecosystem creating 125 jobs in Dorchester, MA, over the next three years. Congratulations to CropCircle Kitchen and many community partners for their extraordinary vision, which is sure to be a model for other urban neighborhoods throughout the country.

CEI Announces 2015 Relocation to Brunswick, Maine

CEI is pleased to announce the relocation of its headquarters from Wiscasset to Brunswick, Maine, in the third quarter of 2015. Founded in 1977 in with an initial focus on supporting Maine’s value-added natural resource industries of fish, farms and forestry, CEI has grown to become one of the nation’s leading Community Development Finance Institutions (CDFIs) and Community Development Corporations (CDCs).

CEI’s move to Brunswick will consolidate offices in Wiscasset and Portland, including those of its for-profit subsidiaries, CEI Ventures, Inc., CEI Community Ventures, Inc., CEI Housing Inc., CEI Capital Management LLC, and CEI Investment Notes, Inc.

“Our move to Brunswick aligns with a 36-year trajectory of growth for CEI as well as a deep commitment to the people and places where we work,” said Ron Phillips, President and CEO of CEI. “We look forward to expanding our partnerships throughout Maine, New England, and rural America from our future home in Brunswick. Consolidating multiple offices offers us an opportunity for greater collaboration and efficiency among our staff members, who share a common purpose in our mission to create economically and environmentally healthy communities in which all people, especially those with low incomes, can reach their full potential.”

CEI’s new headquarters will be located at 30 Federal Street, in a redevelopment of the site of the former Brunswick Town Hall and Brunswick Recreation Center. Over the next year, as approved by the Brunswick Planning Board on May 27, CEI will demolish the two existing structures and build a new LEED-certified, two-story professional office building with an approximately 10,800 square-foot footprint. Approximately 72 of CEI’s 88 staff members will move to the new building, which is centrally located in the Midcoast, between Wiscasset and Portland. A number of CEI business counselors, loan officers, and program development specialists will remain in their existing offices to serve clients in the regions of Springvale/Sanford, Portland, Bath, Wiscasset,  Lewiston, Farmington, Augusta, Fairfield, Farmington, Ellsworth, Bangor and Machias.

“We are confident that we will add value to the downtown of Brunswick in great part due to the vision and skills of our architect, CWS Architects, general contractor, Allied Cook, and landscape architect, Sebago Technics,” said John Egan, CEI’s Director of Housing and Real Estate Development. “The new building is designed to take CEI into coming decades as a good neighbor and leader in sustainability practices. For example, our energy efficiencies will actually increase over time with state-of-the-art geothermal heating and cooling system technologies.”

Lincoln County, ME, Residents Invited to Participate in Eldercare Survey

CEI has launched an initiative to explore the viability of a volunteer community engagement network to assist and support older adults. An important first step in this process is collecting information from people living in Lincoln County, the oldest county in Maine, the oldest state in the country. Lincoln County residents are invited to take a brief survey which can be found online here: Individuals caring for older adults living in Lincoln County are also welcome to take the survey. Survey responses will be kept anonymous and confidential.

The ultimate goal of the project is to understand how to increase the number of individuals who might be interested in volunteering with older adults. This research will explore models that will increase volunteer activity, reliability, and sustainability.

“Most people are aware that Maine is the oldest state in the nation with a median age of 43 and a half,” said Carla Dickstein, Senior Vice President of Policy, Research and Development at CEI. “Older adults want to stay in their homes or communities. One solution lies in developing local volunteer networks to complement other home health services and help keep people at home as long as possible. Volunteers can help address a shortfall of care providers and the ability of some older adults to pay for care providers. This research is designed to understand the barriers to volunteering and ultimately come up with viable solutions.”

Funding for the project was made possible through a grant from the Maine Health Access Foundation.

The survey has 22 questions and takes approximately five to ten minutes to complete. For more information about the older adults initiative and survey, contact Carla Dickstein.

CEI Receives Fisheries Loan Fund Grant

The U.S. Economic Development Administration has awarded a $500,000 grant to CEI, recapitalizing a revolving loan fund intended to provide 90 small- to medium-sized loans between $10,000 and $100,000 each, in addition to lines of credit, in order to create 20 new jobs. The funds are for fisheries-related businesses, and will be deployed by CEI’s Fishery and Aquaculture Specialists in partnership with our loan department. Read more!

Congratulations to CEI’s 2014 Award Winners

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

CEI Partnership Award: Maine Community Health Options


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

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

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

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

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

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

CEI Sustaining Community Award: Maine Fair Trade Lobster


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

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

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

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

Founder’s Award: Annee Tara


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

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

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