November 3, 2015–Coastal Enterprises Inc (CEI) has been awarded $800,000 from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Community Services (OCS) to provide a revolving loan fund that will finance expanding businesses and provide workforce technical assistance to rural businesses in Maine’s “rim counties.” Small and mid-sized businesses in need of financing in Oxford, Franklin, Somerset, Piscataquis, Penobscot, Aroostook and Washington Counties are encouraged to contact CEI. The rim counties continue to experience economic distress, while impacting the welfare of families, businesses and communities alike. The poverty rate for the seven county area is 17.1%, compared to 13.6% for the state and 15.4% for the nation, and the unemployment rate for this region remains significantly higher than that of the remainder of the state.
CEI is targeting investments of these funds in two of Maine’s most important job-generating industries: innovative, value added wood products and nature-based tourism businesses. In order to qualify for loans from this fund, businesses need to be creating full time jobs with a majority targeted to low-income employees at an average cost of $20,000/job created. CEI also intends to dedicate a limited amount of funding for job-specific training resources to support workers entering new jobs.