Maine Tastemakers Initiative

Convened by CEI | Sponsored by FocusMaine

The Maine Tastemakers Initiative helps emerging food and beverage companies to grow – offering financial resources, market analysis, tailored consulting, and investor networking opportunities.

Tastemakers 2020

At CEI, we’ve developed a collection of tailored resources designed to help accelerate the growth of 3-5 businesses in our next round of the Tastemakers initiative. Members of the 2020 Tastemakers cohort and gain access to:

  • Up to $15,000 per company for consulting to pursue a strategic growth opportunity
  • Up to $5,000 per company to coordinate supply chain planning with Maine producers
  • 30 Hours of organizational development & workforce attraction and retention consulting
  • Up to $8,000 per company for facility design, engineering, and permitting 
  • An opportunity to showcase your products in Boston at Maine Tastemakers Showcase in Spring 2020

Applications for the current round of Tastemakers is closed.

NextFacility Project

Innovative companies that create premium products are proliferating and are poised to be economic drivers in Maine.  For many of these companies, finding and securing adequate facility space to support continued growth is challenging. NextFacility Project is a platform to help local economic development and real estate professionals capture this opportunity by leveraging investment in food and beverage manufacturing facilities.

If you are a company manager seeking a new facility or are a real estate professional with a well-suited manufacturing space to sell or lease, NextFacility can help accelerate the process of connecting people and properties.  NextFacility is an online bulletin board for members of the food production sector to review or post property listings and reach the contacts to make development happen. 

Have a property or a wish-list of facility needs to share? 

Food Facility Concepts
Scott Simons, Scott Simons Architects

NextFacility Design Considerations
Alex Lough, MIT Sloan School of Management

NextFacility Development and Investment Panel Discussion
August 6, 2019 – Moderated by Gray Harris of CEI and featuring: Kevin Bunker, Developers Collaborative; John Egan, CEI; Cordelia Pitman, Wright-Ryan Construction; and   Fred Forsley, Shipyard Brewing

Analysis and Reports

The Tastemakers Initiative collaborates with industry partners to research emerging trends and apply business development programming to help grow in Maine’s food and beverage economy.

Tastemakers January 2019 Slideshow, including:

  • Emerging market opportunities for your business — Jed Beach, FarmSmart
  • Maine’s food processing landscape — June Sleeper, Cultivating the New Economy
  • Growth-based Solutions for Maine food producers –Bill Whittier, MMEP
  • Workforce development innovation strategies –Cynthia Murphy, CEI
  • Cultivator Program Overview – Sue Hanson, Maine Center for Entrepreneurs

Market Opportunities for Maine Processed Foods

Prepared by Jed Beach,  FarmSmart Business Services.  March 2019. 

In order to succeed, most Maine food processing companies will need to develop unique niches focused on specific customer segments. The four key ingredients of a successful niche food product are health, convenience, flavor, and authenticity. The meanings of all four of these ingredients are changing in the eyes of the consumer in fundamental ways.  Read Jed’s report to learn more about emerging market opportunities for Maine producers.

Maine’s Food Processing and Manufacturing Landscape

Prepared by June Sleeper, Cultivating the New Economy.  January 2019.

This primer provides a useful overview of food processing and manufacturing terminology, regulatory frameworks, and industry seasonality, in addition to case studies from other regions of the U.S. about innovation food cluster development strategies.  Read June’s report here. 

Premium Grain Value Chain Development in Maine

Prepared by Chris Hallweaver and Leah Cook.  August 2018.

Maine grain companies are expanding to meet growing demand from artisanal bakeries, the exploding craft beer industry, and consumers who increasingly crave products that are imbued with a compelling place-based story.  To capture market share among values-forward customers throughout the Northeast, Maine’s malting and milling entrepreneurs are leveraging investment in grain infrastructure with well-resourced marketing and sales efforts.  Read the report to learn more. 

Food Facility Development Hot Spots

Auburn Facility Development Opportunities

Auburn Hot Spot Map
Joel Greenwood, Kennebec Valley Council of Governments

Auburn Next Facility Presentation
Eric Cousens and Brett Sawyer, City of Auburn

Biddeford Facility Development Opportunities

Biddeford Hot Spot Map
Joel Greenwood, Kennebec Valley Council of Governments

Biddeford Next Facility Presentation
Brad Favreau, City of Biddeford

Lewiston Facility Development Opportunities

Lewiston Hot Spot Map
Joel Greenwood, Kennebec Valley Council of Governments

Lewiston Next Facility Presentation
Lincoln Jeffers, City of Lewiston

Saco Facility Development Opportunities

Saco Hot Spot Map
Joel Greenwood, Kennebec Valley Council of Governments

Saco Next Facility Presentation
Emily Prescott and Jessa Berna, City of Saco

Waterville-Fairfield Facility Development Opportunities

Waterville-Fairfield Hot Spot Map
Joel Greenwood, Kennebec Valley Council of Governments

Waterville-Fairfield Next Facility Presentation
Garvan Donegan, Central Maine Growth Council

Due to the COVID-19 Pandemic CEI offices are closed to the public. CEI staff will be working remotely and want to hear from you! Please reach out to your CEI contact regarding scheduled meetings and/or any questions/concerns. Click here for a list of COVID-19 Business Resources.