CEI has been involved in workforce development since 1977. Our fundamental goal is to establish positive employment outcomes by linking CEI’s lending and investments to the employment needs of economically disadvantaged job seekers.
CEI’s approach to workforce development is recognized nationally for its creative models and impact for creating economic opportunity for people with low incomes and those at risk of poverty. The Workforce Solutions team is actively engaged in federal and state policy and advocacy coalitions that strive to inform and shape public policies that benefit job seekers, workers and businesses.
CEI’s model to increase economic self-sufficiency involves four strategies:
- Employment Training Agreements (ETAGs):This “social compact” is between job-generating financed businesses and CEI to target newly created jobs for low-income individuals.
- Intermediary Role:Builds and sustains partnerships that help both businesses and employees identify, navigate and access sector programs, services and funding sources.
- Broker:Conducts assessments and develops service strategies for businesses; facilitates relationships and brokers services with public, educational, and community organizations that help support business growth, training, and career advancement of their workforce.
- Innovative Projects:Develops and administers workforce projects that yield best practices. Workforce Solutions is also involved with Industry Sector Initiatives and industry-focused approaches to workforce and economic development.
Current U.S. DHHS OCS Projects
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), Office of Community Services (OCS)
CEI Workforce Solutions is a sustained grantee of Community Economic Development (CED) funding from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), Office of Community Services (OCS) to capitalize revolving loan funds that leverages commercial lending resources, while providing financing, business, technical, and workforce intermediary assistance. Through collaborative efforts with CEI’s internal and external partners, CEI-financed businesses create new quality jobs for regionally-focused economic outcomes.
- Maine Healthy Food Development Fund (2014-2017) CEI has financed and provided workforce technical assistance to two Maine businesses that span the food system value chain, including a retail grocery store and a meat processor. Combined, these businesses have created 44 net new jobs (majority OCS qualified LI individuals). These businesses are in a project area with poverty and unemployment rates greater than the state average. As this loan fund revolves, it will be available to serve limited access communities statewide, supporting businesses that may include: retail food outlets, food processors, food distributors and related entrepreneurs. A shared goal is to create job opportunities and measurably increase available and affordable of healthy, local foods for low-income residents.
- Maine Rural Business Investment Fund (2015-2018) Maine is blessed with abundant natural resources that form the cornerstone for two of its most important industries: forest products and nature-based tourism. CEI is targeting these promising, job-generating sectors in which it has historically invested. The fund has thus far financed three businesses: a wood fiber, multi-use cloth; a wooden major league baseball bat manufacturer; and a handcrafted snowboard & ski manufacturer. These businesses combined, will create 30 plus new livable wage jobs for low-income people. As it revolves, the fund will be available to serve additional businesses and communities in all of Maine’s “Rim Counties;” which are the poorest and most distressed in the state.
- Maine Quality Businesses and Quality Jobs Initiative (2016-2019) Targeted businesses are in one of Maine’s signature industries, food/fish production and distribution. This sector has great potential for growth, as well as job creation, as recently affirmed by research commissioned by FocusMaine and conducted by McKinsey. CEI intends to make loans and investments in, and provide workforce assistance to, at least three businesses; a growing food cooperative, an aquaculture business, and a vegetable processing and distribution company. As it revolves, the fund will be available to other quality job-generating businesses.
Portland Jobs Alliance (PJA)/ PJA Employment Development Initiative Funded by: Gorman Foundation, Cohen Foundation, Portland Community Development Block Grant
WIN Project (WorkReady Initiative Network) in Washington County A partnership including St. Croix Tissue, Woodland Pulp LLC, Washington County Community College, Sunrise County Economic Council, Axiom Education & Training Ctr., Maine DOL CareerCenters, Coastal Enterprises, Inc., and community stakeholders, to promote and develop high performance employability skills county-wide.
Washington County Quality Jobs Initiative A pilot project to provide workforce development assistance to businesses interested in establishing a “ quality workforce (“good jobs”) strategy” that supports the growth strategy of their business. CEI will be working with established Washington County partners, particularly Axiom Technologies and Sunrise County Economic Council, to identify businesses that might be interested in improving job quality and becoming an employer of choice in Washington County.