There are several areas where CEI offers more detailed information about the loan process. This could mean that there is a separate application, different requirements, or that we have specific counseling available to aid you in your application process. To determine if one of these programs could work for you, call 207-882-7552.
- Energy & Environment
- Healthy Food Finance Initiative
- Waterfront & Fisheries
- Refugee & Immigrant Businesses
The Green Funds: Energy & Environment Loans – CEI is a leader in green lending within Maine. We have energy loan funds for small, start-up businesses or established companies working in the renewable energy or environmental products and services fields. We believe firms in this sector have great promise in meeting the triple bottom line, producing economic, employment and ecological outcomes. Through them, Maine has the opportunity to stabilize energy supply and costs, reduce waste and shrink carbon emissions. We have taken the time to learn about emerging technologies and are committed to seeing them established in Maine, backed by our energy loans, sound business planning and financing. CEI works regularly with Efficiency Maine and the Office of Energy Independence and Security on energy audit, incentive and subsidy opportunities helpful to Maine businesses.
We will be pleased to meet with you and to learn about your prospective technology, product or service. Contact: Stephen Cole, Director, Natural Resources & Sustainable Communities, or Michael Finnegan, Senior Vice President, Lending, by email, or call us at 207-882-7552.
Agriculture Loans – CEI provides agricultural loans to farmers and business through three primary sources: The Sustainable Agriculture Investment Fund (SAIF), the Organic Farms Loan Fund and the Maine Farm Business Loan Fund. The SAIF provides an array of financing—from loans to near-equity, from less than $15,000 to greater than $200,000 to both farms and ag-related businesses statewide. The Organic Farms Loan Fund serves organic farmers or those transitioning to organic production with loans generally limited to $15,000. The Maine Farm Business Loan Fund is for small or midsized farms using sustainable practices and requiring capital up to $50,000. The Fund is a collaboration with The Carrot Project, a nonprofit dedicated to creating financing solutions for small and mid-sized farms.
Agriculture Loans from funds can be used for working capital or capital needs such as equipment, buildings, production or value-added enterprises. CEI farm loans offer fixed interest rates and repayment schedules to match cash flow. CEI can direct farmers to business development services that can help develop a business plan and financial statements, which is required if a farmer applies for a loan.
Healthy Food Finance Initiative - The purpose of HFFI is to increase the availability and affordability of healthy foods for residents of rural areas characterized by limited healthy food access. It is a flexible capital fund focused on retail store business development and finance in underserved areas in Maine and New England. The HFFI is a partnership with Wholesome Wave, a non-profit based in Bridgeport, CT. Priority will be given to retail operations that source from local producers and food supply chain businesses. Financing is also available to food supply chain enterprises and non-profit organizations that support the local agricultural economy, such as food banks or farm-to-institution (schools, jails, hospitals, assisted living facilities, etc.) groups.
The HFFI offers a range of financing options, from deferred or interest-only loans to equity investments, in addition to standard flexible loans. Financing can be used for capital expenses such as buildings, retail space, and storage space; equipment such as freezers, coolers, generators, shelving, and lighting; expansion costs; farm and value-added production; working capital; and other costs associated with increasing the supply of healthy foods at affordable prices in low access areas.
Waterfront and Fisheries - CEI is committed to working with members of the community to preserve Maine’s traditional fisheries and marine-related businesses which have been an integral part of Maine’s coastal economy for generations. We offer below market rate loans to Maine fishermen, shellfish growers and waterfront businesses that maintain commercial fishing access or that provide marine-related goods and services. These loans have been used to purchase fishing boats and equipment, to establish a mussel aquaculture business, to purchase equipment for a marine services business, for boat building and repair operations, and for municipal and private pier replacement.
Fisheries borrowers are expected to participate in a FISHTAG project; this is an agreement that commits the borrower to contribute scarce biological data to a management effort. CEI helps to coordinate the FISHTAG project by bridging the gap between fishermen and scientists. The goal of this is to engage the fishermen in the management of the fisheries upon which their livelihoods depend through monitoring and data collection.
The Loan Department partners with the CEI Fisheries and Working Waterfront Project Staff on each waterfront and marine business loan application. Soon after the CEI loan department receives your loan request, you will be contacted by a fisheries staff member to talk about your business, to explain the FISHTAG/Shoreside FISHTAG, and discuss appropriate research projects or improvements that fit your work. The CEI Fisheries Project Staff also reviews your application and makes recommendations to the Loan Department regarding the technical aspects of your business, such as:
- Loan fund eligibility
- Compliance with State regulations
- Marketability of your business idea
- Projections and overall viability of your business plan
For more information on marine-related business financing, please contact Hugh Cowperthwaite at 207-772-5356, ext. 2920.
Refugees and Immigrant Businesses - CEI uses its revolving loan funds to provide financing to new and existing refugee and immigrant business owners in Maine. CEI’s loan department works closely with StartSmart, CEI’s training and management assistance program for New Americans.
If you want to start or expand a business, our StartSmart counselors will work with you to gather the information necessary to develop a business plan and apply for a loan. StartSmart staff can help you to:
- Develop a business plan
- Assess your personal finances, including your financial history
- Repair your credit history
- Create an ‘informal’ credit history when no formal credit history exists
- Address necessary licenses and regulations
For more information on this service, please visit our StartSmart page.
Child Care Businesses - CEI targets home and center-based businesses that strive to provide the highest quality care to young people. We encourage child care providers to follow Maine Roads to Quality training, and to pursue National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) accreditation. We finance businesses that serve low-income families, families with children that have special needs, and immigrant and refugee families. In each of our financing agreements, 20% or more of available slots are dedicated to these families.
If the complete application meets CEI preliminary credit criteria, the CEI loan officer will coordinate with a child care consultant who has been contracted by CEI to review all child care applications. Some of the areas that this specialist will look at include: compliance with state regulations; review of all written materials provided with the application, including the parent handbook; review of the market needs that the applicant is planning to address; pricing and overall viability of the plan presented by the applicant.
For more information on this service, please contact Tyrell Russell at 207-882-7552, ext. 5128.