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Keeping you updated on what’s happening at CEI


May 23, 2018

CEI Solar Subsidiary Receives $1.5 million Preferred Equity Investment from the 2018 NEXT Fund for Innovation Sponsored by Wells Fargo

CEI also recipient of $1.75 million in grant and loan capital from Wells Fargo to empower diverse small business owners

(BRUNSWICK– May 23, 2018) – Coastal Enterprises Inc. (CEI), which helps to grow good jobs, environmentally sustainable enterprises, and shared prosperity in Maine and in rural regions across the country, is the recipient of a NEXT Fund for Innovation (NEXT Fund) award.

The NEXT Fund, which is funded by Wells Fargo and others, and managed by the Opportunity Finance Network, supports business models that drive transformational change in the community development financial institution (CDFI) industry. The $1.5 million preferred equity investment in the newly formed solar energy financing subsidiary will focus on providing capital to mid-sized commercial solar power projects that have a positive impact on low-income people and communities.

CEI also received $1.5 million in lending capital and $250,000 in grant funds from Wells Fargo to provide diverse small business owners in Maine with access to capital and business advice. Wells Fargo’s funds will help CEI provide existing business advising and expand lending services statewide for New American and women-owned businesses.

One women-owned business that CEI worked with, Dog Not Gone in Skowhegan, has grown to become a national brand producing a variety of insect-repellant and high-visibility clothes for dogs and people. Started in her home, business owner Julie Swain has expanded the company into an apparel enterprise with products sold nationwide at retailers including LLBean, Wal Mart, and Tractor Supply Co. With business advising and a loan from CEI, Swain purchased an old textile mill in downtown Skowhegan to meet the increased production demand, which now includes insect repelling clothes for kids, United States and Maine flags, and a growing e-commerce website.

Another business, Mariama’s Beauty Supply in Portland, was founded by Mariama Jallow, a New American from The Gambia who came to CEI’s Start Smart business advisor with the idea of starting a hair braiding business in a community where no such service existed. Jallow quickly learned about taxes, paperwork, insurance and other business startup considerations from her CEI advisor. The retail store now employs two hair braiders and Jallow proud that her company offers these skilled immigrants an opportunity to obtain meaningful employment. Today, the store remains the only space in the Portland area solely dedicated to African hair sales.

“CEI helps entrepreneurs of all backgrounds and experience levels start and grow businesses, create good jobs, and earn livelihoods for themselves and their families,” said Betsy Biemann, CEI’s chief executive officer. “Access to capital, combined with one-on-one consulting, can be a game changer for people in rural regions who have a vision for a product or service that can add value to local economies. The combination of loan capital and grant funding from Wells Fargo is helping us to expand our small business financing and advising specifically for women and people from a diversity of backgrounds.”

“Small businesses thrive when they receive critical support like technical assistance, marketing and increased access to capital,” said Megan Teare, senior vice president and manager for CDFI investing at Wells Fargo. “Over the past 40 years, CEI has provided in-depth support to thousands of diverse-owned small businesses and Wells Fargo is proud to support this important work.”

About CEI
Coastal Enterprises, Inc. (CEI) helps to grow good jobs, environmentally sustainable enterprises, and shared prosperity in Maine and in rural regions across the country by integrating financing, business and industry expertise, and policy solutions. CEI envisions a world in which communities are economically and environmentally healthy, enabling all people, especially those with low incomes, to reach their full potential. More at

About Wells Fargo
Wells Fargo & Company (NYSE: WFC) is a diversified, community-based financial services company with $1.9 trillion in assets. Wells Fargo’s vision is to satisfy our customers’ financial needs and help them succeed financially. Founded in 1852 and headquartered in San Francisco, Wells Fargo provides banking, investments, mortgage, and consumer and commercial finance through 8,200 locations, 13,000 ATMs, the internet ( and mobile banking, and has offices in 42 countries and territories to support customers who conduct business in the global economy. With approximately 265,000 team members, Wells Fargo serves one in three households in the United States. Wells Fargo & Company was ranked No. 25 on Fortune’s 2017 rankings of America’s largest corporations. News, insights and perspectives from Wells Fargo are also available at Wells Fargo Stories.

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