MCED, CEI Win Highly Competitive Federal EDA Grants

A total of $640,000 in new funding to benefit Maine entrepreneurs

February 8, 2016 (Portland, ME)—U.S. Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Economic Development Jay Williams joined Senator Angus King and Congresswoman Chellie Pingree at the office of the Maine Center for Entrepreneurial Development (MCED) to make an important announcement today that will help support entrepreneurship and job creation in Maine and across the nation. As part of that announcement MCED and Coastal Enterprises, Inc. (CEI) each received a grant from the Economic Development Administration (EDA).

“This 2015 Regional Innovation Strategy cohort of grantees is truly an exciting group – the diversity in programs and regional representation proves that innovation and entrepreneurship are igniting all corners of the country,” Assistant Secretary Williams said. “These programs will reach a broad range of communities across the nation to help entrepreneurs build capacity and gain the edge they need to succeed.”

MCED was awarded a three-year i6 grant of $390,000 for expansion of its Top Gun Rural Accelerator Network. The Top Gun program has grown over the last six years to solve the problem of how best to accelerate successful commercialization in the rural Maine economy.  The i6 grant along with matching funds will continue and expand the Top Gun platform with more “on-ramps” and “off-ramps.” New “on-ramps” include expansion of Top Gun two Lewiston-Auburn, and connections with USM, Biddeford and immigrant entrepreneurs.  New “off-ramps” include a new Equity Pathways program series and investigation of a program for Top Gun graduates focused on growth strategies.

CEI was awarded a two-year Seed Fund Support Grant of $250,000 to assess the feasibility of and demonstrate market demand for a Natural Resource Business Seed Capital Fund.  The proposed fund will build on CEI’s work to support natural resource-based industries in Maine’s rural communities and clearly demonstrate the need for flexible, patient capital to advance economic enterprises and engage even more impact investors in early stage ventures. In collaboration with MCED and other Top Gun partners, CEI will help to ensure that young businesses with potential for high growth can get both the training and the funding needed for success.

“On behalf of MCED and our partners, we’d like to thank the EDA for their recognition and support of the programs and the movement we are creating here in Maine,” said Don Gooding, Executive Director of MCED. “We’ve built an interconnected platform of programs and people that enables us to connect high aspiration entrepreneurs, wherever they are, to the resources they need to succeed, wherever those are. The EDA funding will leverage the four years of success with our two partners in the Blackstone Accelerates Growth initiative, and enable us to expand the Top Gun Rural Accelerator Network with a dozen or more partners in the Maine Accelerates Growth initiative.”

“We are honored to accept this grant from the EDA, which will support critical R&D to help Maine’s natural resource sector capitalize on its tremendous growth potential,” said Keith Bisson, SVP, Program Management & Development, CEI. “CEI sees great opportunity to target early-stage business ventures with high potential for job creation. Natural resource businesses in Maine constitute a large cluster poised for innovation. CEI’s current portfolio includes high-growth, job-creating firms that provide products and services locally and nationally. These companies range from gelato manufacturers to aquaculture businesses developing new technologies. For these new and expanding businesses, the critical financing gap is often in the early stages of launch and scale-up.”

John Holden, President of the Lewiston Auburn Economic Growth Council said “LAEGC is proud and excited to be a part of the growing statewide network and environment in startup and entrepreneurship.  We appreciate MCED leadership and innovation in the continued development of Top Gun and are excited about the opportunity expand the delivery of Top Gun around the State and in Lewiston Auburn.”

About Top Gun Maine and MCED

Top Gun Maine is an annual program for competitively selected entrepreneurs that combines mentoring with high-impact weekly gatherings held in Portland, Orono and Rockland. Beginning with just a dozen entrepreneurs in Portland in 2009, Top Gun has now helped 110 entrepreneurs across the state accelerate their businesses.

The Maine Center for Entrepreneurial Development (MCED) is an independent non-profit based in Portland that helps the most promising Maine companies launch and grow through mentoring, training and connections. MCED is a founding organizational partner of Maine Accelerates Growth.

For more information about the Top Gun Maine program or the Maine Center for Entrepreneurial Development, please visit http://www.mced.biz.

About CEI

Coastal Enterprises, Inc. (CEI) is a mission-driven lender and investor specializing in rural economic development in Maine and throughout the U.S. CEI combines financing, business advising services and policy leadership to help create economically and environmentally healthy communities in which all people, especially those with low incomes, can reach their full potential.

CEI supports small and medium-sized businesses; natural resource-based industries from the farm, fishery, aquaculture, forestry, renewable energy, and nature-based tourism sectors; and community facility, commercial real estate, and affordable housing development. For more information, visit www.ceimaine.org.

About the U.S. Economic Development Administration (www.eda.gov)

The Economic Development Administration marks 50 years of public service, leading the federal economic development agenda by promoting competitiveness and preparing the nation’s regions for growth and success in the worldwide economy. An agency within the U.S. Department of Commerce, EDA makes investments in economically distressed communities in order to create jobs for U.S. workers, promote American innovation, and accelerate long-term sustainable economic growth.

Contact: Don Gooding, CEO, Maine Center for Entrepreneurial Development,          dgooding@mced.biz, 207-460-1755

Liz Rogers, SVP, Marketing & Communications, Coastal Enterprises Inc., (CEI),  erogers@ceimaine.org, 207-632-7693

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.
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