News

CEI Leads Maine Delegation to Aomori, Japan to Learn Scallop Farming Practices

September 28, 2016 – A delegation of Maine-based aquaculture and fisheries professionals will travel to Aomori, Japan October 1 through 10, 2016 to learn best practices for scallop farming with the goal of importing that knowledge and technology to Maine.

Maine has been exchanging information and sharing insights into fisheries, energy practices, art, culture and education with its “sister state’ of Aomori Prefecture since 1994, although the origins of the relationship traces back to 1889. That year the 1,500-ton Cheseborough ship, sailing from Bath, wrecked off the coast of Aomori. Local citizens from the village of Shariki rescued four survivors and buried those who died, including Peter Erickson, the captain.

Coastal Enterprises Inc. (CEI) is a lead organizer of the current trip, assembling the ten-member delegation based on their backgrounds and expertise. “We want to get key people there to see what’s possible in scallop farming and to believe it can be replicated in Maine, although at a much smaller scale” said Hugh Cowperthwaite, Fisheries Project Director for CEI who made his first delegation visit to Aomori in 2010. “When I first saw what the Japanese are doing to commercialize scallop farming I was blown away. The Japanese have been sustainably growing and harvesting scallops for decades and have nearly perfected their grow out techniques over the past 85 years. Maine has the capacity to grow our shellfish industry by adding farm raised scallops to our offerings. This exchange allows us to make new and deeper connections with the business community. Can this industry find its footing and create jobs in Maine?”

The Japanese have been sharing their processes and techniques Maine’s industry for nearly two decades dating back to 1999 with a focus on wild seed collection and farming techniques to grow scallops from juveniles to adult sizes. The current visit will focus heavily on learning about machinery used to farm scallops, lease site set up, vessels used and interacting directly with fishermen and fishing cooperatives. There will also be exploration of shellfish processing and value added products associated with the scallop industry. Unlike in the United States the Japanese often eat the entire scallop animal whereas the US only eats the abductor muscle.

Cowperthwaite says during his 2010 visit he was introduced to equipment manufacturer Mutsu Kaden Tokki Co. that builds machines to mechanize several labor intensive steps to farming scallops. Their techniques and machines are not currently in use in Maine. With grant support from the Maine Technology Institute, CEI is seeking to purchase three different machines addressing different aspects of scallop farming to put to use in Maine.

In addition to Cowperthwaite the nine delegates for this October’s visit are experienced aquaculture practitioners and fishermen:

  • Don Hudson of Arrowsic, Chair of the Maine Aomori Sister-State Advisory Council, who made his first delegation visit in 2010;
  • Dana Morse, Extension Associate, Maine Sea Grant College Program and the University of Maine Cooperative Extension of Walpole;
  • Sebastian Belle, Executive Director, Maine Aquaculture Association, of Hallowell;
  • Chris Davis, Executive Director, Maine Aquaculture Innovation Center, of Orono;
  • Nate Perry, Pine Point Oyster Company, LLC of Cape Elizabeth;
  • Gordon Connell, F/V Zephyr, Commercial Fishermen, Spruce Head Island;
  • Marsden Brewer, F/V Lindsay Marie, Commercial Fishermen and Aquaculturists, Stonington;
  • Robert Brewer, Commercial Fishermen and Aquaculturists of Deer Isle;
  • Matthew Moretti is the President of Wild Ocean Aquaculture, LLC (WOA) of Portland.

The delegation’s intensive one-week itinerary was funded by the United States Japan Foundation and will include visits with a series of marine scientists, private business, fishing cooperatives and government officials, as well as the company from which CEI will purchase the three automated machines.

CEI Receives $1.75 Million Financial Assistance Award from U. S. Treasury

September 28, 2016 — The U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Community Development Financial Institutions Fund (CDFI Fund) today announced a $1.75 million Financial Assistance Award to Maine-based Coastal Enterprises, Inc. (CEI) to expand its mission-driven community lending and economic development work.

“I am so glad that this federal funding will allow CEI to make critical investments in Maine communities,” said Congresswoman Chellie Pingree. “This funding means opportunity—for the entrepreneur who wants to start a business, the family in need of affordable housing, and many low-income Mainers hoping to make better lives for themselves. I appreciate the committed work of CEI in making that all happen.”

Over 80 percent of CEI’s lending activity targets low-income people and communities, through loans to low-income entrepreneurs and business owners as well as companies that create jobs, affordable housing units, childcare slots, and health care for people and regions that qualify as low-income. Since 1997, CEI has received a total of 14 awards from the CDFI Fund.

“On behalf of CEI, I’d like to thank our federal delegation – Senators Susan Collins and Angus King and Representatives Chellie Pingree and Bruce Poliquin – for their unified support for our application and for our work in Maine,” said Betsy Biemann, CEI’s Chief Executive Officer. “Our Congressional leaders are doing everything they can to promote a vision for Maine’s future that includes quality jobs and economic prosperity for all.”

“We are grateful to be helping to make that vision a reality, along with our Maine colleagues at Four Directions Development Corporation, Genesis Fund, Inc., MaineStream Finance, and Northern Maine Development Commission, who also received awards,” noted Keith Bisson, CEI’s President.

CEI was one of 196 Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs) across the country that received $185.7 million in grants and loans. The awards, based on a competitive application process, have enabled CDFIs to increase lending and investment activity in low-income and economically distressed communities across the nation since the program was established in 1994.

With today’s announcement, the CDFI Fund crossed the $2 billion threshold in collective investments to CDFIs through the CDFI and Native American CDFI Assistance programs bringing capital to low-income, distressed, and underserved communities and areas of persistent poverty. A total of 457 applications were received requesting more than $675 million under this round of the CDFI program.

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.

CEI works closely with small and medium-sized businesses that strengthen local economies and support quality jobs, including natural resource-based industries in the farm, fishery, aquaculture, forestry, renewable energy, and nature-based tourism sectors. We also finance community facilities and affordable housing development. For more information, visit www.ceimaine.org.

Acadia Harvest Closes $700,000 Financing Round for Inland Aquafarm

September 20, 2016 — Aquaculture firm Acadia Harvest Inc. has completed a new round of financing to support its growth strategy.  With the participation of private and institutional investors and lenders, the Company has secured $700,000 of debt and equity investment.  This capital will fund pre-development activities for the Company’s aquafarm in Corea, ME, including land acquisition, and obtaining all development and operating permits, to achieve “shovel-ready” status.

Chief Executive Officer Ed Robinson stated “This is an exciting time for Acadia Harvest, as we move from pilot scale production to large commercial scale.  We are gratified to have new investors who share our vision of a land-based, indoor aquafarm for marine species.  We see a significant opportunity to provide more customers with fresh, high quality products from Maine while bolstering the regional seafood economy with investment, jobs and shipments from our state.”

The Company has been developing its R&D and production expertise for 5 years, and began selling fresh Maine fish in 2013, with weekly shipments to several distributors since July 2015.  The Company’s focus is on a Pacific Ocean fish – California yellowtail (Seriola lalandi) – sold under the brand name “Maine Hiramasa.”  Feedback from customers has been very encouraging and the Company will expand its presence in additional markets.  The Company’s R&D focus is in using fish wastes as nutrients for other commercial species, and in developing sustainable aquafeeds.  More information is available on the Company website, www.acadiaharvest.com.

Participants in the round included two well-known investment groups, the Maine Angels and the Bangor Angels.  Maine Angels Chairman Sam Fratoni commented, “We are pleased with the opportunity to invest with Acadia Harvest, one of the exciting companies developing new forms of aquaculture in our state.  We expect to see this company flourish in the coming years.”

Representing the Bangor Angels, Fritz Oldenburg said “We’ve had our eye on Acadia Harvest for a couple years and welcome their expansion in the Downeast region.  The company has a solid management team and a sound business plan to move forward in coming years. “

In addition to multiple private individual investors from New England, the round also included debt from Coastal Enterprises Inc. of Brunswick.  Coastal Enterprises was an early debt and equity provider to the Company.  Acadia Harvest was assisted in this financing by John Pavan of Altezza Advisors, Brunswick, ME.   Acadia Harvest is moving forward on securing debt and equity financing for development of Phase 1 of the million pound capacity Corea, ME facility.  The Company plans to open its plant in late 2017.

 

For more information please contact:

Ed Robinson, CEO

Phone: 207-522-9342

Email:  edrobinson@acadiaharvest.com

CEI Receives Independent AAA Rating for Impact Performance from Aeris

 

Brunswick, ME – August 15, 2016— Coastal Enterprises, Inc. (CEI) announced today that it has received a rating of AAA for Impact Performance from Aeris, the information service for community investors. The AAA is the highest rating given by the agency. Aeris (formerly known as CARS®) provides comprehensive, third-party assessments of community development financial institution (CDFI) loan fund financial strength and performance and impact.

In addition, CEI scored a two (on a scale of one to five where one is the highest) for financial strength and performance. CEI was also assigned a Policy Plus score for its public policy engagement.

“These scores affirm that we are making progress towards helping to create economically and environmentally healthy communities in which all people, especially those with low incomes, can reach their full potential,” said CEI CEO Betsy Biemann. “The ability to maintain such exemplary scores since the last rating three years ago is due to our professional, mission-driven team of lenders, investors, business advisors, and resource and policy development staff.”

Banks, foundations, fund managers, and others rely on Aeris ratings to identify and evaluate community investment opportunities that meet their impact goals and risk parameters. Aeris has issued more than 600 ratings opinions since 2004.

The Aeris ratings measures a community investor’s commitment to rigor with regard to its financial performance and impact. The rating consist of two main components: (1) an Impact Performance Rating, which measures how well a CDFI does what it says it’s trying to do; (2) a Financial Strength and Performance Rating, which assesses overall creditworthiness.

More information about Aeris ratings is available here: http://www.aerisinsight.com/who/about-aeris-ratings/.

As an Aeris-rated CDFI, CEI is also included in the Aeris Cloud, the only source of real-time financial and impact performance data on CDFI loan funds. The Aeris Cloud was created to give investors access to Wall Street-quality data on CDFI loan funds like CEI.

The Women’s Business Center Launches Entrepreneur in Residence Program

August 4, 2016 (Portland, ME)— The Women’s Business Center at CEI today announced the launch of an Entrepreneur in Residence Program (EIR) designed to connect Maine’s women business owners who have a specific challenge or question with local entrepreneurs that have the industry or area-specific  knowledge needed to identify solutions.

Kerry Hanney EIR Photo

Kerry Hanney, Owner, Night Moves Bread and Pie

“For me this was an ideal match. My EIR started out the way I am – one person with very little funding but a strong work ethic and lot of passion for their idea. She identified helpful connections for me to make in the community, and shared what her startup timeline was like as well as helpful steps to take along the way.”

–Kerry Hanney, Owner, Night Moves Bread and Pie, located in Portland and Yarmouth

The EIR Program was created to fill a need the Women’s Business Center identified among clients for industry and area-specific guidance. EIRs can function as sounding boards for ideas, share personal experiences and lessons learned, and help other business owners navigate the frustrations, challenges and questions that are specific to an industry or area of expertise.

The connections are made to facilitate very focused one-time meetings, during which a business owner can clearly articulate a specific need, challenge or question that an EIR may be able to assist with.

Approximately twenty entrepreneurs have volunteered to meet with two to four Women’s Business Center clients a year. The EIRs represent a variety of industries, possess a range of experience and share a common interest in giving back to the small business and startup community. EIRs are often recognized for making a significant contribution in their field, working to drive key industry initiatives forward and leading innovative companies in Maine. Susan Corbett, CEO of Machias-based Axiom Technologies and Bill Zolper, owner of b.good in Portland and South Portland have both enthusiastically signed on as EIRs.

Business owners interested in meeting with an EIR should fill out our request form, which can be accessed here. The Women’s Business Center will respond and discuss whether the EIR program is a good fit, then make the match. Information that is shared by the WBC and client with an Entrepreneur in Residence is confidential.

About the Women’s Business Center at CEI
The Women’s Business Center at CEI offers experienced, knowledgeable business specialists who can help you at any stage of your business, from start-up to expansion. We offer free and confidential business advising, workshops and training events, a long-term relationship with a skilled business advisor, opportunities for networking with other business owners, and other resources. These services are offered through two separately grant funded programs, The Women’s Business Center at CEI: Southern Maine, and Rural Maine.

Frances Perkins Center Honors Ron Phillips at 8th Annual Garden Party on Aug. 14

Perkins Homestead National Historic Landmark, Newcastle, ME

Perkins Homestead National Historic Landmark, Newcastle, ME

August 2, 2016–Marking the 81st anniversary of the signing of the Social Security Act, the Frances Perkins Center in Newcastle, ME will host its 8th Annual Garden Party and awards ceremony at the Perkins Homestead National Historic Landmark on Sunday, August 14, from 2:00pm to 5:00pm.

Members of the board of The Frances Perkins Center will present the 2016 Intelligence and Courage Award, 2016 Steadfast Award, and the 2016 Open Door Award to three individuals whose work exemplifies the areas of social justice and economic security, two causes to which Frances Perkins dedicated her entire career.  The theme of this year’s program focuses on sustainable jobs that are good for workers, their employers and their communities.

Ron PhillipsRon Phillips, founder of Coastal Enterprises, Inc. in Brunswick, Maine will receive the Steadfast Award.  As an early pioneer in the social justice movement, Ron Phillips founded CEI in 1977 with the goal of investing in small businesses, creating employment and developing Maine’s natural resource industries.  Since then, CEI has provided nearly $1.2 billion in financing to 2,500 small businesses, created or preserved nearly 1,900 affordable housing units, 33,100 jobs and 5,800 child-care openings for working families. He is a nationally recognized leader in community development.  We honor him upon his retirement this year.Sarita Gupta

 

Sarita Gupta, Executive Director of Jobs With Justice in Washington, DC, will receive the Open Door Award.  She is a nationally recognized expert on the economic, labor and political issues affecting working people across all industries, particularly women and those employed in low-wage sectors.  In her leadership position, she explores the changing nature of work in America. Jobs With Justice brings together labor, community, student, and faith voices at the national and local levels to create innovative solutions to the problems working families face today.

 

 

Bill Leuchtenburg

 

William E. Leuchtenburg, the prolific historian of the New Deal and the American presidency, will receive the Intelligence and Courage Award in recognition of his long and distinguished career since the 1958 publication of The Perils of Prosperity, 1914-32.  He is the William Rand Kenan Jr. Professor Emeritus of History at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill and the author in 2015 of The American President: From Teddy Roosevelt to Bill Clinton.

WHAT: Frances Perkins Center 8th Annual Garden Party

WHEN: Sunday, August 14, from 2:00pm – 5:00pm

WHERE: Frances Perkins Homestead National Historic Landmark  (Transportation to the Homestead will depart from the OceansWide parking lot at 44 Main Street, Newcastle, ME 04553)

TICKETS: Starting at $75 per person, with proceeds to benefit The Frances Perkins Center

Guests will be shuttled from downtown Newcastle via old-fashioned trolley to the Perkins Homestead, where wine, refreshments and an elegant hors d’oeuvres buffet will be served amidst the beautiful landscape surrounding the estate, with all proceeds directly supporting the educational mission of The Frances Perkins Center.

Frances Perkins, the first woman to serve in a U.S. Cabinet as the Secretary of Labor under Franklin Delano Roosevelt, is credited as one of the principal architects of the New Deal. Each year, The Frances Perkins Center celebrates her enduring impact on American labor and recognizes those who model Perkins’ barrier-breaking legacy in their everyday lives.

Tickets may be purchased online at www.brownpapertickets.com, by phone at (207) 563-3374, or in-person at 170A Main Street in Damariscotta. For more information, please visit www.francesperkinscenter.org or contact info@francesperkinscenter.org.

About the Frances Perkins Center
Incorporated in 2009, The Frances Perkins Center honors the exemplary work and career of Frances Perkins, the first woman to serve in a U.S. Cabinet, a key advisor to Franklin Delano Roosevelt, and a lifelong advocate for social justice and economic security. The Center aims to inspire people to address current economic and social problems through work in the areas of education, outreach, and advocacy. The Frances Perkins Center seeks to acquire and preserve the Perkins family homestead on the Damariscotta River in Newcastle, which was designated as the Perkins Homestead National Historic Landmark in 2014.

 

CVI announces sale/recapitalization of equity in Coast of Maine Organic Products, Inc.

August 2, 2016 — Coastal Ventures Limited Partnership (CVLP), the first socially responsible venture capital fund launched by Coastal Enterprises, Inc. (CEI) in 1996, announces the sale of one of its earliest venture capital investments, Coast of Maine Organic Products. CVLP invested a total of $260,000 in the company, which provided an attractive return of over 10% and realized profits for the full fund and its limited partners. Coast of Maine Organic Products, which makes and markets organic compost created, in part, with shellfish waste, has grown to over 20 employees making organic compost in Marion Township, Maine.

“Nat Henshaw, CVLP and the whole Coastal family have been a huge help to us over the past 20 years. In addition to the initial equity provided, they have proven a very reliable partner. Their patience, encouragement and foresight has allowed us to develop into a dominant player in the organic lawn and garden space in the Northeast.” –Carlos Quijano, President, Coast of Maine Organic Products, Inc.

New private equity backing is allowing the company to grow substantially, under the leadership of founder Carlos Quijano and his family.

“This investment exemplifies Coastal Ventures initial vision: create and back companies that produce socially responsible products and services, that create opportunities for people with low incomes and that promote progressive management practices,” said Nathaniel Henshaw, President, CVI.

Coast of Maine Organic Products, Inc.The exit marks an important milestone for the CVLP fund. Coast of Maine was the second of 20 total investments made throughout the life of the fund.  Ultimately, CVLP’s investments in high growth companies have helped create nearly 900 net new jobs between the time of investment and exit. Furthermore, CVLP’s portfolio companies averaged 60% low to moderate income employment while a range of new products were developed including a tuberculosis test for the developing world; software used in the majority of modern photocopiers; and air pollution control equipment for utilities.  While the fund has made and realized many successful investments, both socially and financially, the Coast of Maine investment ensured the profitability of CVLP. “They put us over the top,” said Henshaw added.

About CEI Ventures, Inc.
CEI Ventures, Inc., 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. We accept investments from accredited individuals, foundations, banks and other organizations that are looking for socially responsible ways to invest their money in growing, entrepreneurial businesses and have thoroughly read the any offering document currently in effect. Find out more at www.ceiventures.com.

Click here for more information about CEI Ventures

Dream Comes True for NC Antique Dealer With Help from C7a Loan

 

July 26, 2016 (CHARLOTTE, NC – GASTONIA, NC – BRUNSWICK, ME) – Sleepy Poet Stuff, Inc. and Sleepy Poet-Kress, LLC have closed on a $920,000 loan from CEI 7(a) Financing LLC (C7a), an SBA 7(a)-licensed lender. This is the first loan transaction for C7a in North Carolina.

Dickson Shreffler, owner of Sleepy Poet Stuff, Inc., was the perfect candidate for C7a. He started the antique mall business with Sleepy Poet Stuff about 20 years ago in Charlotte. Sleepy Poet provides space for independent antique vendors to sell their wares. Vendors are very loyal, rarely leaving once they join the retail space. In fact, ten of them have been with Sleepy poet for more than 12 years.

Thanks to increased consumer demand, Sleepy Poet sought to expand. After an extensive search and due diligence the owners found the perfect space, the old Kress Five and Dime building in downtown Gastonia, about a half hour drive from Charlotte. While the historic building fit the antique entrepreneur’s brand, the structure had been vacant for nearly two years and requires a good deal of work to be ready for business. After renovation the space should accommodate 120 vendors.

Mr. Shreffler approached two different local banks for a loan to finance the building acquisition and renovation costs without success. Needing a solution, He turned to LINC (which stands for Leveraging Information and Networks to access Capital), an online tool designed by the Small Business Administration (SBA) which allows business owners to complete a basic online questionnaire that is then matched to interested lenders. He was matched with C7a which works with small businesses owners to help them secure financing when turned down by a bank or face challenging loan terms.

“C7a didn’t just offer us a loan; they had the flexibility to structure the loan in a way that worked for us,” Mr. Shreffler said.

The C7a loan represents more than allow Sleepy Poet’s expansion to Gastonia. It will also be a catalyst for new foot traffic for the western side of Main Street as new small businesses expand the prime downtown shopping district creating new opportunities for local vendors and for the historic downtown area.

About CEI 7(a) Financing LLC
CEI 7(a) Financing LLC (C7a) is a national U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) Small Business Lending Company licensed to make SBA 7(a) loans for a wide variety of uses and is designated as an alternative lender or non-traditional lender compared to conventional banks. C7a’s loan fund provides access to long-term capital at reasonable interest rates throughout the United States. Loans are available to eligible businesses that have been operating for a minimum of two years and have up to 500 employees. The loan amounts can range in size from over $250,000 to $5,000,000, depending on the project and financial status of the company. The terms of the loans are more flexible and the interest rate can be lower in most instances than those offered from some commercial banks and online lending programs. C7a accepts applications from healthy, growing companies that have had difficulty gaining access to long-term capital. For more information on C7a, please visit: www.cei7a.com.

Meet Our Summer 2016 Interns!

ThomasThomas Farrin Freeman, Bowdoin College (2017), Government Major/ Sociology Minor

“This summer I have been conducting research with Carla Dickstein on the feasibility of rural immigration in Maine.  As part of my research, I have analyzed Maine’s rural economies by looking at unemployment rates, number of job vacancies, prominent industries, and regional housing data.  I am proud to have worked at CEI because I respect their commitment to encouraging rural economic development by embracing forward-thinking solutions and ideas.”

LyseLyse Henshaw, Bates College (2018), Economics Major

“I’m working with Sarah Matel and Bethany Richards in the lending department. I’m learning how CEI evaluates loan applications by examining their credit history, and evaluating their risk rating and mission rating. CEI is making a huge impact in the community by considering social impact when evaluating a potential loan. CEI is not only financing business pursuits but also considering the job creation, environmental impact, and household impact of their loans. CEI is truly focused on making the community a better place.”

Tom MastersTom Masters, University of Maine at Orono (2017), Economics Major

“I am interning under Nat Henshaw and Chandler Jones at Coastal Venture, where I am analyzing companies and corporations that could be socially, economically, and environmentally beneficial. I am learning so many different aspects of the business world that I did not know before. I feel very grateful to be a part of CEI and its impact on society in Maine and beyond.”

Seward MatelJames Seward Matel, Washington & Lee University (2019), Economics Major

“I’ve been interning with Nat Henshaw, Chandler Jones and Thao Duong at CVI since March. I am analyzing potential investments, performing due diligence and market research, crafting investment memorandums, and assisting on quarterly reports. I have enjoyed learning about the intricacies of the valuation process and term sheets, and have benefited from listening in on and participating in the different stages of negotiating a deal. In addition to my responsibilities with CVI, I am working for Ron Phillips creating a library for his books and archiving old files.”

JesseJesse Newton, Bowdoin College (2018), Math and Environmental Studies Major

“I’m working under Daniel Wallace and Gray Harris in the Food and Agriculture sector of CEI. I’m primarily involved in developing and accumulating data on a pilot ethnic food project which is assessing both the feasibility of growing new crops on local farms and the market demand for these products among Maine’s growing ethnic communities. In the brief time I’ve been at CEI, I continue to be impressed by CEI’s involvement in a multiplicity of projects, working with different clients and providing them with carefully tailored support. In this way, CEI seems to be providing a desperately needed service to otherwise struggling industries.”

LinneaLinnea Rose Patterson, Bowdoin College (2018), Biology and Environmental Studies Major/Hispanic Studies Minor

“Under the guidance of Daniel Wallace and Gray Harris, Jesse Newton and I have been splitting our time on two projects this summer. We are currently creating a marketing plan for the ethnic produce project to explore the profitability and feasibility of growing specialty produce in Maine. We are also conducting a literature review for the climate curriculum project, which aims to create a “train the trainers” program that will allow business counselors to advise their farmer clientele on climate adaptation strategies. In the four short weeks that have already flown by at CEI, I have been floored by the passionate and talented people that I get to work alongside. It is something special to be able to work on impactful projects with people who truly care about them. I am proud to be a part of the CEI team (if only for a short time).”

 

CEI Employee Receives Maine Development Foundation Scholarship

June 27, 2016 — As a Next Step Maine Employer engaged in Maine Development Foundation’s (MDF’s) statewide Employers’ Initiative, CEI participated in the fourth annual Next Step Maine Employees of Promise Scholarship Program by nominating an employee for a scholarship award to support the completion of a degree or certificate.

Beth Raburn, Debra Gibb, Jessica Stover, and Ron Phillips

CEI accounting staff members Beth Raburn, Debra Gibb, Jessica Stover, and founder Ron Phillips

Jessica Stover, an accounting administrator, received a 2016 Next Step Maine Employee of Promise Scholarship to support her pursuit of an associate’s degree in Accounting at Southern New Hampshire University.

Jessica was honored during MDF’s Annual Next Step Maine Scholarship Recognition event on June 10 in Augusta.

Next Step Maine Employees of Promise Scholarship is part of MDF, a private, non-partisan membership organization that drives sustainable, long-term economic growth for the state of Maine. MDF’s strategic focus is a productive workforce.

The program is a free statewide initiative that awards funds to Maine employees who are currently pursuing a bachelor’s degree, associate’s degree or certificate program. This year’s recipients were selected from 40 employer nominations from a variety of Maine companies and many educational institutions.

“We are extremely pleased with the progress the Next Step Maine program is making to help Maine’s workforce continue with their education and training,” said Yellow Breen, president of MDF. “There were double the number of applicants compared to last year and we raised $35,600 for scholarship funds, which is double from last year, as well.”

Next Step Maine received donations and grant support from the Bangor Savings Bank, Cianbro, Maine Chapter Association for Talent Development, Maine Community Foundation, Nellie Mae Education Foundation, Pratt & Whitney, Renys, Saint Joseph’s College, and SHRM Maine State Council.

To learn more about Next Step Maine and how to become a Next Step Maine employer, please visit www.nextstepmaine.org.