2018 Impact: Fueling Rural Prosperity, CEI Makes Investments, Innovates and Supports Creation of Good Jobs

Investments Create or Retain 2,026 Jobs

(Brunswick, Maine – December 4, 2018) Coastal Enterprises (CEI) today shared annual impact data for 2018, highlighting progress advancing its mission to build an economy that works for everyone through a mix of impact investments, small business advisory services and policy advocacy.

In Maine, CEI exceeded its business lending goal, deploying $16.4 million in loans to 86 businesses. The impact of this capital deployment was amplified through advice, technical assistance and counseling services its staff provided to entrepreneurs and homeowners, as well as its policy advocacy on a range of issues, including workforce training, expansion of access to broadband services and renewable energy, sustainable agriculture practices and consumer financial protection.

CEI staff members provided business advice and housing counseling to 2,457 individuals in Maine, including: 942 clients of the Women’s Business Centers at CEI; 180 immigrant and refugee entrepreneurs through CEI’s StartSmart program; 643 current and potential business owners seeking advice from CEI’s Small Business Development Centers; and 692 people attending housing counseling and education sessions, helping to avoid 49 foreclosures.

As part of a long-term effort to help communities and industries adapt to a changing climate, CEI secured a grant to work with Maine fisheries businesses to pioneer new scallop aquaculture techniques. The initiative aims to establish an economically viable market for farmed Atlantic sea scallops and test Japanese scallop production techniques in the U.S. for the first time.

In all, the CEI family of organizations deployed over $89 million to 103 businesses in mostly rural regions across Maine and the U.S. in loans, microloans, equity and tax credit-incentivized financing. This lending and investment activity contributed to the creation or preservation of 2,026 direct jobs across industries, including sustainable agriculture, food systems, aquaculture and fisheries, renewable energy, manufacturing, downtown revitalization and the arts.

Of note, during this last fiscal year, CEI and its subsidiaries:

  • Examined job quality at new businesses in our portfolio, including assessments of wage growth, the prevalence and types of employee benefits and the factors that contribute to a fair and engaging workplace.
  • Launched new products to encourage small business growth, including Wicked Fast Loans.
  • Invested $2.7 million in State Historic Tax Credits in the renovation of four historic properties in Maine, including Portland’s Reed School, the new, permanent home of Children’s Odyssey, a preschool for children with developmental disabilities.
  • Through its subsidiary, CEI Capital Management, closed four New Markets Tax Credit transactions, including construction of a mill by Columbia Pulp I, LLC to convert wheat and straw into consumer products. That mill, located in Washington State, is slated to create about 87 full time jobs.
  • Through its subsidiary, CEI Ventures, closed eight venture capital investments totaling $1.4 million, including early stage financing in Junora, a Biddeford-based technology company that will also receive workforce training from CEI.

“Our portfolio illustrates the innovation, investment and hard work that is taking place across rural America,” said CEI CEO Betsy Biemann. “We are working on the ground in communities to understand the factors that support enterprises in creating good jobs—ultimately leading to a healthy and more inclusive economy. Our success reflects the incredible support and engagement of many people and partners across the financing, business and community development sectors.”

Since 1977, CEI has designed products, policies and services to realize its vision of a world in which communities are economically and environmentally healthy,enabling all people, especially those with low incomes, to reach their full potential. CEI’s subsidiaries attract additional investment dollars to Maine and rural regions across the country and add financing capacity through venture capital and New Markets Tax Credits. Together, over time, the CEI family of organizations has invested in 2,831 businesses and projects that are changing Maine’s employment landscape.

“What we accomplished in 2018 lays the foundation for the work ahead,” said CEI President Keith Bisson. “Our work is more important than ever if we are to realize an economy that works for everyone and undertake the collective work necessary to address climate change.In 2019, we will double down on our efforts to contribute to building a business ecosystem that will attract investment, providing more workforce skills training, access to quality childcare, and better access to broadband and other technologies.”