Business Advising

Providing insights to help your business thrive

CEI offers friendly and expert no-cost advising services for business at every stage – from “just an idea,” to grand openings and beyond.

Through training, workshops, peer networks or no-cost and confidential one-on-one advising, we have resources to help you meet your specific business goals. 

In addition to providing general business assistance, CEI has programs specifically designed for women, refugees and immigrants; as well as sector-specific expertise in child care and food harvesting, production and distribution businesses on sea and land.

Maine SBDC

Our certified Maine Small Business Development advisors serve new and existing business owners from locations in Augusta, Bangor, Brunswick, Ellsworth, Machias, Rockland, Waterville and neighboring communities, as well as providing access to SBDC resources and workshops.

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Offerings

One-on-One Advising, Workshops, Cohorts

Women’s Business Centers

Our knowledgeable and friendly team will help you hone your business skills and build your confidence, whether you are an aspiring business owner or an experienced one. CEI aligns with the definition of women and female that explicitly includes not only cis women, but also trans women and femme/feminine-identifying genderqueer and non-binary individuals. Interpretation services available at no cost.

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Offerings

One-on-One Advising, Workshops, Cohorts

Focus

All business types and stages, open to all Maine residents

StartSmart

Our StartSmart advising has assisted immigrants and refugees from over 100 countries of origin transfer their skills and experience to business ownership in Maine. Interpreting services available at no cost.

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Offerings

One-on-One Advising

Focus

Immigrants and refugees

Child Care Business Lab

Have you ever wanted to start a child care business and weren’t sure how? Our free, six-month program integrates small business start-up education, guidance on how to deliver high-quality child care programming, and advice on hiring and coaching through the licensing process. Translation services available.

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Offerings

Cohort-Based Program

Focus

Individuals interested in starting a new child care enterprise

Aquaculture, Fisheries & Marine Trades

Our fisheries and aquaculture experts have the knowledge and experience to help you start, diversify or grow your marine-based business, including harvesters, growers, processors, distributors and support businesses along Maine’s working waterfront.

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Offerings

One-on-One Advising, Technical Assistance, and Aquaculture Training Courses

Focus

Working waterfront and marine-based businesses, including marine harvesters, growers, processors, distributors and support businesses.

Sustainable Agriculture & Food Systems

Our team of advisors, lenders and food system experts are here to help you start or grow your farm, food processing, value-add production or agricultural support business. We are committed to supporting a sustainable and vibrant regional food system that starts with you!

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Offerings

One-on-One Advising, Tastemakers Acclerator

Focus

Farmers, growers, processors, dealers and/or wholesalers of food grown in Maine and/or northern New England

Environmental Sustainability & Climate Resilience for Businesses

Interested in making your operations greener or strengthening your business against the impacts of climate change? Advisors across all our programs are ready to help you find ways to improve the sustainability and climate resilience of your business in ways that make both financial and environmental sense.

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Offering

One-on-One Advising

Focus

Maine-based business of all sizes and stages

Workforce Development

Interested in improving the quality of jobs you offer at your business? Curious as to what your options are for benefits as a small or very small business? Want to know how to create job descriptions that attract a diverse pool of applicants? Our business advisors and workforce specialists can help you build Good Jobs that will help you attract and retain employees with options that fit the size and budget of your business.

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Offering

One-on-One Advising, Resource Materials

Focus

CEI Borrowers and Advising Clients