Community Development and Policy Research
From its inception, CEI, a community development center has built on its track record as a practitioner to engage in state and federal policy work. Policy and research is a key strategy for CEI to achieve greater social impact than what it could do as a single development organization.
CEI works with legislators, peer organizations and other stakeholders to develop broader government support for model programs that we have pioneered, new initiatives and demonstration programs, and ongoing programs that support the economic and community development field as a whole. We also work with other interests in coalitions to create a conducive policy environment for our work.
Often we undertake research as a first step to inform a policy direction and strategy. This may be an evaluation of a CEI demonstration program, a synthesis of existing information, or new research that is done in-house or is contracted out to independent researchers and evaluators.
Examples of research and analysis include:
Environmental Industries in Maine: Opportunities for Development and Policy Support, June 1994.
Sustainable Development in Practice: A Case Study Analysis of Coastal Enterprises, Inc., 1997.
Beyond Waste: Navigating Fisheries Byproducts in the Northeast, 2000.
Preserving Commercial Fishing Access: A Study of Working Waterfronts in 25 Maine Communities, December, 2002.
Tracking Commercial Fishing Access: A Survey of Harbor Masters in 25 Maine Coastal Communities, September, 2004.
Predatory Mortgages in Maine: Recent Trends and the Persistence of Abusive Lending in the Subprime Mortgage Market , February, 2006.
The Role of CDFIs in Addressing the Subprime Mortgage Market: A Case Analysis of New England
CEI has also done research and writing on measuring the impact of its work to provide feedback to funders, policy makers, and its staff and board that informs future program and policy development. These studies include:
Low-Income Longitudinal Study
Evaluation of the Farms to the Future Program
Measuring Impact in Practice: Reflections and Recommendations from Coastal Enterprises, Inc.’s Experience
Assessing the Systemic Impacts of Community Development Loan Funds, 2008.
The Research and Policy Development Department undertakes new policy directions, whereas individual departments take the lead in responding to specific issues or initiating legislation that pertains to their ongoing work.
Over the years, CEI has devoted increasing amounts of time and resources to appropriations policies that would retain, restore and expand resources for the community development industry. In the mid-1980s, CEI joined with peers to advocate for federal programs important to community development. This coalition, led by Rapoza Associates of Washington, DC, has been responsible for legislative initiatives and continuation of funding amounting to well over $1 billion for the CDC/CDFI field. Maine has been fortunate to have important leaders in Congress, who have united on many community development legislative initiatives that we have advanced, including economic assistance for women entrepreneurs.
On the state level, CEI has regularly advocated for resources such as the popular Regional Economic Development Revolving Loan Fund managed by the Finance Authority of Maine, and for funding for child care facility and microenterprise development, the Farms for the Future Program, which provided targeted assistance to family farmers, and financing to preserve working waterfronts. In the last several years, CEI has become more involved in regulatory policy, particularly concerning predatory lending and consumer credit issues at the state level.