News

CEI Participates in Historic Community Benefit Agreement Announcement with KeyBank and NCRC

April 13, 2016 — Coastal Enterprises, Inc. (CEI) joined the National Community Reinvestment Coalition (NCRC) and KeyBank in Washington, DC, on March 18 for the signing of a landmark $16.5 billion community benefits agreement. The KeyBank 2017 National Community Benefits Plan, signed at the 2016 NCRC Annual Conference, is the largest of its kind in recent bank merger and acquisition history. Laura Buxbaum, CEI’s Senior Vice President of Public Policy and Resource Development, participated in the signing with KeyCorp’s Chairman and CEO Beth Mooney and NCRC’s President and CEO John Taylor, along with community leaders from New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Oregon.

“CEI was pleased to be at the table for these discussions and help to negotiate an agreement that will benefit low-income people and communities throughout KeyBank’s footprint,” said Laura Buxbaum. “The specific impacts on Maine remain to be seen, but CEI is committed to working with Key and other Maine partners who serve low-income communities to craft programs and investments that will help Key meet its ambitious goals and will result in direct benefit to the people who need it most. The commitment includes mortgage, small business and community development lending, and philanthropy in low- and moderate-income (LMI) communities. It will be carried out over five years, beginning in 2017.”

“KeyBank’s 2017 National Community Plan sets forth a significant and bold enterprise-wide strategy to help our clients and communities thrive. This agreement was mutually built – and will be mutually supported – by NCRC members and KeyBank,” said Sterling Kozlowski, president, Maine Market, KeyBank.  “When crafting the plan, it was of utmost important to keep local residents, organizations, and businesses at the forefront, including the residents of Maine.”

A summary of the agreement can be found here.

“Working Mainers are suffering from the recession and ongoing loss of traditional manufacturing jobs,” said CEI President and CEO Ron Phillips. “KeyBank has been an essential building block in CEI’s history of creating economic opportunity through access to flexible capital among entrepreneurs, and in rural regions in need of investment and support. The CBA will be a welcome resource throughout Key’s market regions, in Maine and elsewhere, and CEI hopes to bring forward jobs-creating projects that fulfill the purposes of the program and help stabilize Maine families.”

“This commitment is the result of a collaborative process with community members and bank leaders after months of give and take, resulting in a substantive and detailed commitment of resources and services to communities throughout the KeyBank and First Niagara Bank footprints,” said NCRC President and CEO John Taylor. “This success would have been impossible without the leadership of the highest ranks of the bank making a genuine commitment to increase banking access to traditionally underserved people. We applaud the leadership of KeyCorp’s Chairman and CEO Beth Mooney and Executive Vice President and Head of Corporate Responsibility Bruce Murphy for encouraging a commitment that is a real win for everyone involved.”

In addition to NCRC, KeyBank, and CEI, the agreement was signed by the following organizations:

Avillage

Community Loan Fund of the Capital Region

New York State Rural Housing Coalition

Affordable Housing Partnership

Empire Justice Center

United North

Casa of Oregon

Greater Rochester Community Reinvestment Coalition

PathStone

City of Dayton Human Relations Council

Miami Valley Fair Housing Center

Neighborhood Housing Services of Greater Cleveland

Ohio Fair Lending Coalition

PUSH Buffalo

Housing Research & Advocacy Center

VOICE-Buffalo

Dayton YWCA

Working in Neighborhoods

Niagara Organizing Alliance for Hope

Community Action Committee of the Lehigh Valley

Home Repair Resource Center

Western New York Law Center

Pittsburgh Community Reinvestment Group

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About CEI:
Coastal Enterprises, Inc. (CEI), is a mission-driven lender and investor specializing in rural economic development in Maine and throughout the U.S. CEI combines financing, advising services and policy leadership to help create economically and environmentally healthy communities in which all people, especially those with low incomes, can reach their full potential. Learn more at www.ceimaine.org.

About KeyCorp:
Key traces its history back more than 160 years and is headquartered in Cleveland, Ohio. One of the nation’s largest bank-based financial services companies, Key has assets of approximately $95 billion. Key (NYSE:KEY) provides deposit, lending, cash management and investment services to individuals, small and medium-sized business under the name KeyBank National Association. Key also provides a broad range of sophisticated corporate and investment banking products, such as merger and acquisition advice, public and private debt and equity, syndications and derivatives to middle market companies in selected industries throughout the United States under the KeyBanc Capital Markets trade name.Banking products and services are offered by KeyBank National Association. Key.com is a federally registered service mark of KeyCorp. ©2015 KeyCorp. KeyBank is Member FDIC. Credit applications are subject to credit approval.

About NCRC:
NCRC and its grassroots member organizations create opportunities for people to build wealth. We work with community leaders, policymakers and financial institutions to champion fairness in banking, housing and business development.

Family-Owned Wharf in Tenants Harbor Receives Working Waterfront Protection, Provides Commercial Fishing Access

April 8, 2016 — A significant property in Tenants Harbor was today added to the growing list of commercial waterfront properties protected by Maine’s Working Waterfront Access Protection Program, part of Land for Maine’s Future Program. Millers’ Wharf is nestled at the head of Tenants Harbor and owned by four brothers, all of whom are commercial fishermen. The wharf currently serves lobstermen, scallopers, urchin boats and seaweed harvesters. Over the years, landings have included shrimp and ground fish.

With the ink not yet dry on the working waterfront covenant, Hale Miller, who spearheaded the effort to secure the Working Waterfront protection on behalf of his brothers, had returned to his shop where he was readying his seaweed harvester for launching. “With the working waterfront funds, my brothers and I can now be assured that this property will be kept as commercial working waterfront for fishermen in the community as well as generations of Millers who want to continue in the commercial fishing business,” said Miller. “My parents worked hard to keep this property as a working waterfront, now, despite increased pressure along the coast from developers, this property will continue to provide access for commercial fishermen for generations.” Four generations of Millers have fished from the wharf.

Since the four brothers inherited the property from their parents in 2002, they have undertaken considerable improvements to the wharf including dredging to provide access for loading bait and unloading catch regardless of tide and the addition of four hydraulic hoists to increase efficiencies. Millers’ Wharf currently supports over 100 people engaged in commercial fishing activities including lobstermen and sternmen, urchin divers and student license holders.

“Fishing is a big part of the community in this area,” said Victor Cole who fishes off the wharf. “I’ve fished off quite a few wharves over the years and this is one of the best maintained wharves I’ve seen. The fact that it will be here for future commercial use is significant – much of the economy on the peninsula is tied to commercial fishing and that can’t happen without access.”

In exchange for the working waterfront covenant, which ensures the wharf owners cannot develop or use the property for anything other than commercial working waterfront activities, the state will pay $250,000, an amount determined by a standardized working waterfront property appraisal. “Those funds will allow us to increase the operating efficiency of the business on the wharf,” said Miller. “That will bring the operating costs down which will benefit all the fishermen who use the wharf,” Miller noted.

The Miller Family

The Miller Family

The Working Waterfront Access Protection program is administered by Coastal Enterprises, Inc. (CEI), which provides technical assistance to owners of commercial fishing access properties applying to the Working Waterfront Access Protection Program. “We have worked with the Miller family for over a decade on a variety of projects,” said Dick Clime, Project Developer for CEI. “Having Millers’ wharf preserved as working waterfront is a significant win for this small fishing community. It’s these communities that, when you string them together, make up Maine’s coastal economy and create thousands of jobs.”

The Department of Marine Resources administers the program for the state. “I’ve come to know and admire this family during my time as Commissioner. Their commitment to maintaining this property for commercial access is just another testament to their dedication to this critically important industry,” said Patrick Keliher, DMR Commissioner and Chair of the Land for Maine’s Future Board.

With 25 projects in the program, the protected commercial fishing properties total more than 42 acres and occupy almost 1.5 miles of Maine shorefront. Cumulatively the properties service 940 boats, 1680 fishermen, and provide economic support for at least 1,730 families. Nearly 21.4 million pounds of seafood are landed at the properties annually and are worth about $49.2 million dockside.

“Protecting the working waterfront is critical to our state and coastal economies,” said Josh Miller, a third generation Miller who also is chair of the Lobster Advisory Council. “I learned to fish from my grandfather and my father off this wharf, and now I’m teaching my two young girls the trade. It’s reassuring to know this wharf will always remain an active fishing wharf not only for my girls, but for the community as a whole.”

About Coastal Enterprises, Inc. (CEI)
Coastal Enterprises, Inc. (CEI) is a mission-driven lender and investor specializing in rural economic development in Maine and throughout the U.S. CEI combines financing, advising services and policy leadership to help create economically and environmentally healthy communities in which all people, especially those with low incomes, can reach their full potential.

CEI supports small and medium-sized businesses; natural resource-based industries from the farm, fishery, aquaculture, forestry, renewable energy, and nature-based tourism sectors; and community facility, commercial real estate, and affordable housing development. CEI’s involvement in Maine’s fisheries, aquaculture, and marine trades sectors spans 38 years. In 1977 when the reauthorization of the Magnuson Fishery Conservation and Management Act established a 200-mile fishery conservation zone with Regional Fishery Management Councils, CEI committed to investment in, and outreach to, the industry.

About Land for Maine’s Future
For more than two decades, the Land for Maine’s Future Program has helped citizens protect the character of their towns and open spaces: Maine voters established the Land for Maine’s Future Program to secure public access for recreation, to conserve our most important habitats, to preserve Maine’s farming traditions and to protect the natural infrastructure vital to both our sense of place and our economic future.

The program has protected working farms and forests, ocean access, trails for snowmobiles, hikers, and bikers, and pristine lakes, ponds, and rivers. Since its beginnings in 1987, the Land for Maine’s Future Program has played a critical role in the conservation of some of State’s most special places.

Ron Phillips Receives NCRC’s Senator William Proxmire Award

On March 17, at NCRC’s Annual Conference, CEI President and CEO Ron Phillips was awarded the Senator William Proxmire Award. This award recognizes the individual whose life’s work exemplifies the spirit and work of Senator Proxmire’s contributions to economic mobility. Senator Proxmire was the author and lead sponsor of the Community Reinvestment Act (CRA).

NCRC Ron

Ron Phillips receives Senator William Proxmire Award from NCRC

NCRCJohnTaylor and Ron

NCRC President and CEO John Taylor and Ron Phillips

“The incredibly important work NCRC has done as the watchdog of CRA has been among if not the most important tool of our work in community development,” said Ron Phillips. “The leadership of John Taylor, his board and many here who represent the history and diversity and goals of economic inclusivity of our roots, extend back to the civil rights period 50 years and more. I’m honored to be recognized both by this social justice community that defines so much of CEI’s formation, growth and impact in Maine, and especially rural development, with now a national presence in other nonmetro communities in the U.S.”

 

Norway Savings Bank Announces $300,000 Equity Equivalent Loan to CEI to Help New Mainers

April 4, 2016 — Norway Savings Bank contributes to several non-profit agencies that help new immigrants integrate and prosper in Maine. In 2015, the bank contributed approximately $20,000 to various Southern Maine agencies that provide programs and support from legal advocacy and financial literacy training, to helping young children of new immigrants aspire to higher vocational and college education. “We try to direct these contributions in ways that will help new Mainers gain knowledge and skills while at the same time grow and thrive in our communities,” said Pat Weigel, President & CEO.

The Bank recently made a $300,000 Equity Equivalent (EQ2) loan to Coastal Enterprises, Inc. (CEI) to support access to capital for new Mainers. Headquartered in Brunswick, CEI provides an array of advising services and financing solutions for thousands of Mainers every year, including a number of borrowers who, for many reasons including religious restrictions, may be unable to access capital from a bank to start and grow their businesses. The loan from Norway Savings Bank, which will ultimately be repaid, provides flexibility to CEI in structuring loans for small businesses with a variety of needs. “This is a unique financing opportunity in Maine, and our investment will help create greater access to small business loans,” said Weigel.

Hussein Ahmed of Global Halal Market in Lewiston has received loans and business advising from CEI’s StartSmart program, and appreciates the range of financing options available from the mission-driven lender and investor, because they “help business owners who would otherwise have no loan options for starting businesses.” StartSmart, one of CEI’s targeted business advising programs, provides free, confidential business advice for new Mainers looking to start or expand a business in Maine.

About Norway Savings Bank
Founded in 1866, Norway Savings Bank is a leading mutual banking and financial services company headquartered in Norway, Maine. As of December 31, 2015, Norway Savings Bank had $1.026 billion in total assets and provided financial services to over 43 thousand households throughout western and southern Maine. Norway Savings Bank has 24 branch locations and operates divisions in asset management, personal banking and business banking. In 2013, Norway Savings Bank was awarded the Governor’s Award for Business Excellence and was honored as one of the Best Banks to Work For by American Banker and Best Companies Group. Norway Savings bank has been recognized as one of the healthiest companies in America by the Wellness Council of America (WELCOA) as a two-time Gold-Level Well Workplace award recipient and has been acknowledged as one of the strongest banks in the nation after receiving a 5-Star Superior rating for over 100 consecutive quarters from BauerFinancial, Inc., the nation’s leading independent bank and credit union rating and research firm. For more information, visit www.norwaysavingsbank.com. 

About Coastal Enterprises, Inc.
Coastal Enterprises, Inc. (CEI) is a mission-driven lender and investor specializing in rural economic development in Maine and throughout the U.S. CEI combines financing, advising services and policy leadership to help create economically and environmentally healthy communities in which all people, especially those with low incomes, can reach their full potential.

CEI supports small and medium-sized businesses; natural resource-based industries from the farm, fishery, aquaculture, forestry, renewable energy, and nature-based tourism sectors; and community facility, commercial real estate, and affordable housing development. Learn more at www.ceimaine.org.

CEI Ventures Expands Fund Portfolio with Pika Energy Investment

Renewable energy manufacturer Pika Energy is the fourth company added to CEI’s new fund

April 4, 2016 – CEI Ventures, Inc., the for-profit venture capital subsidiary of CEI, announces the initial closing of its fourth fund, Coastal Ventures IV, and the fund’s first investment in Pika Energy, Inc. This investment in the clean energy manufacturer advances CEI’s socially responsible fund portfolio.

Coastal Ventures IV held its initial closing of $7.2 million in December 2015 with a targeted capitalization of $25 million. Additional closings will be planned for later this year. The fund targets job creation for people with low incomes and socially beneficial products and services.

Westbrook, Maine-based Pika Energy, founded in 2010 by MIT-trained engineers, manufactures solar and wind products using a patented bus that acts as an “energy operating system” to automate the flow of clean power. The company, which has won five Department of Energy awards, recently announced its new product line that enables simplified solar-plus-battery configurations for clean backup power and energy arbitrage.

“Pika Energy uses U.S.-based manufacturing to make environmentally beneficial products, and is an excellent example of a company furthering the values and mission of the Coast Ventures IV LP fund,” said Nat Henshaw, President of CEI Ventures.

Ben Polito, co-founder and CEO of Pika Energy added, “It’s thrilling to be working with Coastal Ventures, a firm that shares our vision for making renewable energy affordable, attractive and mainstream.”

About CEI Ventures, Inc.
CEI Ventures manages socially responsible venture capital funds. The company was founded in 1994 to mobilize private capital markets while advancing social goals. To date, CEI Ventures has raised four venture capital funds and have made $27 million in direct investments in nearly 50 companies. CEI Ventures is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Coastal Enterprises, Inc. (CEI), a mission-driven lender and investor specializing in rural economic development in Maine and throughout the U.S. Learn more at www.ceiventures.com.

About Pika Energy, Inc.
Pika Energy, Inc. is a manufacturer of direct current (DC) power electronics. Headquartered in Westbrook, Maine, Pika Energy’s products include bi-directional, islanding inverters, battery charge controllers, DC solar optimizers, power converters, and certified small wind turbines. All Pika Energy products are powered by the REbus™ DC nanogrid. Pika Energy’s products provide grid-optional clean power that enables buildings to collect, store and self-consume energy from solar PV and wind sources. Learn more at http://www.pika-energy.com.

Josh Davis and Regina Phillips Join CEI’s Board of Directors

March 29, 2016 – Coastal Enterprises, Inc. (CEI), a mission-driven lender and investor specializing in rural economic development in Maine and throughout the U.S., announces that Joshua Davis and Regina Phillips have been named to its Board of Directors. CEI works to create economic opportunity for individuals, children and families throughout Maine. According to Ron Phillips, CEI’s President and CEO, Josh and Regina join 18 other CEI board members bringing valuable insight and tremendous experience in small business and community development.

Mr. Davis is the co-founder and CEO of Gelato Fiasco, which he established when he was 24 years old. Gelato Fiasco operates two stores in Maine and offers its Maine-made, all-natural gelato for sale in thousands of grocery stores across the United States. Josh oversees the company’s targeted growth, including its most recent $2.3 million expansion of its Flavor Foundry in Brunswick, and leads a team of about 50 employees. With his co-founder, he was named as the Small Business Administration’s Young Entrepreneur for New England for 2014. Josh has been quoted by Reuters, MSNBC, and CNN/Money, and Gelato Fiasco has been featured in Bon Appetit, the Boston Globe, and O: The Oprah Magazine.

Ms. Phillips is the Refugee Services Program Coordinator for the City of Portland. Regina has worked for the city for approximately 19 years, starting her tenure there at the City’s homeless family shelter. Regina supervises a multi-cultural/multi-lingual staff that provides case management, housing, employment, life skills and services to new Americans. Prior to working for the City she ran a Head Start/Child Care center for a CAP agency. She has a BA in Psychology from Curry College, Milton, MA and is currently attending the University of New England’s Masters of Social Work program. She serves on the Board for United Way of Greater Portland and previously served on the Board of Family Crisis Services. She is a long standing member and Executive Committee participant of the Greater Portland Chapter of the NAACP.

CEI Report: How Immigrants Can Strengthen Maine’s Economy

March 16, 2016–CEI’s new report, Building Maine’s Economy: How Maine Can Welcome Immigrants and Strengthen the Workforce, looks at how Maine can leverage the valuable human capital that immigrants bring to Maine. Maine is currently at 3.8% unemployment, and needs to replace its aging and retiring workforce. Immigrants CEI Immigration Report 2016 WEB PAGESare one of a number of groups of unemployed or underemployed Mainers who could contribute more to their communities if given an opportunity to work at their full potential. The report reviews Maine’s demographic and labor trends and the characteristics of Maine’s immigrant population, and identifies the a number of key employment barriers that immigrants must overcome to fully integrate into the workforce. It recommends that the state develop a strategic plan to attract, integrate and retain immigrants as a component of Maine’s economic development strategy.

CEI Board of Directors Selects Betsy Biemann as New CEO, and Keith Bisson as President

March 8, 2016 – Coastal Enterprises, Inc. (CEI) announced today that its board of directors has unanimously chosen Betsy Biemann as the organization’s next Chief Executive Officer and Keith Bisson as its new President. Ms. Biemann currently serves as a consultant to FocusMaine and recently completed serving as a project director at the Mossavar-Rahmani Center for Business and Government at Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government. Mr. Bisson is CEI’s Senior Vice President of Program Management and Development. They will succeed founder, President and CEO Ron Phillips who will retire later this spring after 38 years of leading one of the most successful rural development organizations in the United States.

Betsy Biemann

Betsy Biemann

Keith Bisson

Keith Bisson

“With Betsy and Keith, CEI will have the leadership strength to continue and grow CEI’s impact in communities in Maine and across the rural United States,” said Ellen Seidman, Chair of CEI’s Board of Directors. “Both Betsy and Keith share a deep commitment to rural community and economic development and to social justice, and they have the talent, imagination and networks—in Maine and nationally—as well as the management and financial skills that are needed to lead this dynamic organization in an increasingly challenging world. Betsy and Keith will be worthy successors to Ron’s strong and effective leadership.”

The selections follow a year-long transition and search process, led by Board member Karin Gregory, a Biddeford, Maine, attorney, and assisted by the internationally-recognized firm Isaacson, Miller.

Ron Phillips, who will be stepping down later this spring, applauded the selections. “CEI is a mix of nonprofit and for profit economic development financing. Our work depends on relationships with financial and banking institutions, foundations, government agencies at all levels, and, increasingly, social and impact investors looking to make a difference in the lives of people and communities aspiring to greater economic opportunity.” Phillips said.  “Betsy’s track record of strong leadership and extensive connections to regional and national foundation networks are vital to CEI’s growth and impact. Keith’s years of experience at CEI and in community development locally and nationally make him the perfect choice to take operational responsibility for CEI’s activities.”

“It is an honor to be selected to lead this entrepreneurial organization of dedicated and talented people working to create economically and environmentally healthy communities, a mission that is as critical today as when CEI was founded in 1977,” said Ms. Biemann. “I am excited to build on Ron Phillips’ path-breaking legacy and support CEI’s next era of innovation and impact, ensuring that needed resources and capital will continue to flow to the people and places in Maine and rural regions throughout the U.S.”

“I believe in the opportunities CEI has to create real change in the communities we serve,” said Mr. Bisson. “I am deeply committed to supporting and leading my passionate and motivated colleagues in this time of exciting change and growth. I look forward to working with Betsy and senior management in providing leadership that honors Ron’s accomplishments and recognizes a vibrant future for our regional, national, and global community development movement.”

During the last two years, Betsy Biemann led 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, 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 joined Rockefeller’s staff in 1996, after working in international development, principally in Africa. Betsy holds a B.A. in the History of Science and Biology from Harvard University and an M.P.A. from the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, Princeton University. Betsy has served in various capacities on CEI’s Board of Directors including Vice Chair since 2012, prior to stepping down from the Board at the end of 2015.

Keith Bisson manages CEI’s small business counseling, natural resources, and workforce development programs. He is also responsible for development and management of the $26 million Northern Heritage Development Fund; monitoring and participating in Federal rural development policy; and managing and developing foundation and investor relations. He holds a B.A. in Geography from McGill University in Montreal, and a master’s degree in Environmental Management from the Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies. Keith has been with CEI for 12 years. In November he was reelected to a second term on the board of Opportunity Finance Network, the national trade association for Community Development Finance Institutions.

About CEI
Coastal Enterprises, Inc. (CEI) is a mission-driven lender and investor specializing in rural economic development in Maine and throughout the U.S. With over $770 million in assets under management or committed, CEI combines financing, advising services and policy leadership to help create economically and environmentally healthy communities in which all people, especially those with low incomes, can reach their full potential. CEI supports small and medium-sized businesses; natural resource-based industries from the farm, fishery, aquaculture, forestry, renewable energy, and nature-based tourism sectors; and community facility, commercial real estate, and affordable housing development. Find out more at www.ceimaine.org.

 

VIDEO: George Mitchell and Darren Walker Talk #Opportunity at CEI Annual Meeting

On March 15, Coastal Enterprises, Inc. (CEI) hosted its 38th Annual Meeting to celebrate the past, present and future of community-based economic development, From Civil Rights to Sustainable Solutions. Thank you to our wonderful event sponsors. The meeting was broadcast live from Bowdoin College in Brunswick, Maine. Watch the full CEI Annual Event video below, featuring Senator George Mitchell, Ford Foundation President Darren Walker, Annie Donovan, Director of the CDFI Fund of the U.S. Treasury, LIIF President and CEO Nancy Andrews and economic development leaders from across the country.

“If citizenship in a free society means anything, surely it must mean that we have to look beyond the comforts and privileges of our lives to those of our fellow citizens who don’t have the same opportunities, the same chance that we do, held back by a variety of restraints.”

— Senator George Mitchell

“Inequality is important because of its correlation to opportunity…Really the enemy of our democracy is…hopelessness.  And that hopelessness is what we see more of in American today…that hopelessness has grown in large part because…we’ve had tremendous productivity, we’ve had tremendous growth in our GNP but it has not been shared, it has not been organized in a way that has made it possible for all boats to rise.”

— Darren Walker, President, Ford Foundation

Watch CEI’s 2016 Annual Meeting Now!
Internet Explorer users should be aware IE version 11 is required, if you’re using an older version of Windows default Internet Explorer browser, you may see a window asking you to upgrade your browser. Supported Browsers: Chrome, Firefox, and Safari.

Event Program
Ron Phillips’ Remarks

CEI also produced a short film to tell the story of our 38 year history of economic development work, available below.

MCED, CEI Win Highly Competitive Federal EDA Grants

A total of $640,000 in new funding to benefit Maine entrepreneurs

February 8, 2016 (Portland, ME)—U.S. Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Economic Development Jay Williams joined Senator Angus King and Congresswoman Chellie Pingree at the office of the Maine Center for Entrepreneurial Development (MCED) to make an important announcement today that will help support entrepreneurship and job creation in Maine and across the nation. As part of that announcement MCED and Coastal Enterprises, Inc. (CEI) each received a grant from the Economic Development Administration (EDA).

“This 2015 Regional Innovation Strategy cohort of grantees is truly an exciting group – the diversity in programs and regional representation proves that innovation and entrepreneurship are igniting all corners of the country,” Assistant Secretary Williams said. “These programs will reach a broad range of communities across the nation to help entrepreneurs build capacity and gain the edge they need to succeed.”

MCED was awarded a three-year i6 grant of $390,000 for expansion of its Top Gun Rural Accelerator Network. The Top Gun program has grown over the last six years to solve the problem of how best to accelerate successful commercialization in the rural Maine economy.  The i6 grant along with matching funds will continue and expand the Top Gun platform with more “on-ramps” and “off-ramps.” New “on-ramps” include expansion of Top Gun two Lewiston-Auburn, and connections with USM, Biddeford and immigrant entrepreneurs.  New “off-ramps” include a new Equity Pathways program series and investigation of a program for Top Gun graduates focused on growth strategies.

CEI was awarded a two-year Seed Fund Support Grant of $250,000 to assess the feasibility of and demonstrate market demand for a Natural Resource Business Seed Capital Fund.  The proposed fund will build on CEI’s work to support natural resource-based industries in Maine’s rural communities and clearly demonstrate the need for flexible, patient capital to advance economic enterprises and engage even more impact investors in early stage ventures. In collaboration with MCED and other Top Gun partners, CEI will help to ensure that young businesses with potential for high growth can get both the training and the funding needed for success.

“On behalf of MCED and our partners, we’d like to thank the EDA for their recognition and support of the programs and the movement we are creating here in Maine,” said Don Gooding, Executive Director of MCED. “We’ve built an interconnected platform of programs and people that enables us to connect high aspiration entrepreneurs, wherever they are, to the resources they need to succeed, wherever those are. The EDA funding will leverage the four years of success with our two partners in the Blackstone Accelerates Growth initiative, and enable us to expand the Top Gun Rural Accelerator Network with a dozen or more partners in the Maine Accelerates Growth initiative.”

“We are honored to accept this grant from the EDA, which will support critical R&D to help Maine’s natural resource sector capitalize on its tremendous growth potential,” said Keith Bisson, SVP, Program Management & Development, CEI. “CEI sees great opportunity to target early-stage business ventures with high potential for job creation. Natural resource businesses in Maine constitute a large cluster poised for innovation. CEI’s current portfolio includes high-growth, job-creating firms that provide products and services locally and nationally. These companies range from gelato manufacturers to aquaculture businesses developing new technologies. For these new and expanding businesses, the critical financing gap is often in the early stages of launch and scale-up.”

John Holden, President of the Lewiston Auburn Economic Growth Council said “LAEGC is proud and excited to be a part of the growing statewide network and environment in startup and entrepreneurship.  We appreciate MCED leadership and innovation in the continued development of Top Gun and are excited about the opportunity expand the delivery of Top Gun around the State and in Lewiston Auburn.”

About Top Gun Maine and MCED

Top Gun Maine is an annual program for competitively selected entrepreneurs that combines mentoring with high-impact weekly gatherings held in Portland, Orono and Rockland. Beginning with just a dozen entrepreneurs in Portland in 2009, Top Gun has now helped 110 entrepreneurs across the state accelerate their businesses.

The Maine Center for Entrepreneurial Development (MCED) is an independent non-profit based in Portland that helps the most promising Maine companies launch and grow through mentoring, training and connections. MCED is a founding organizational partner of Maine Accelerates Growth.

For more information about the Top Gun Maine program or the Maine Center for Entrepreneurial Development, please visit http://www.mced.biz.

About CEI

Coastal Enterprises, Inc. (CEI) is a mission-driven lender and investor specializing in rural economic development in Maine and throughout the U.S. CEI combines financing, business advising services and policy leadership to help create economically and environmentally healthy communities in which all people, especially those with low incomes, can reach their full potential.

CEI supports small and medium-sized businesses; natural resource-based industries from the farm, fishery, aquaculture, forestry, renewable energy, and nature-based tourism sectors; and community facility, commercial real estate, and affordable housing development. For more information, visit www.ceimaine.org.

About the U.S. Economic Development Administration (www.eda.gov)

The Economic Development Administration marks 50 years of public service, leading the federal economic development agenda by promoting competitiveness and preparing the nation’s regions for growth and success in the worldwide economy. An agency within the U.S. Department of Commerce, EDA makes investments in economically distressed communities in order to create jobs for U.S. workers, promote American innovation, and accelerate long-term sustainable economic growth.

Contact: Don Gooding, CEO, Maine Center for Entrepreneurial Development,          dgooding@mced.biz, 207-460-1755

Liz Rogers, SVP, Marketing & Communications, Coastal Enterprises Inc., (CEI),  erogers@ceimaine.org, 207-632-7693