December 5, 2018

CEI's impact in 2018 included 2,000 jobs created or preserved across several industries

File Photo / Tim Greenway
File Photo / Tim Greenway
Coastal Enterprises Inc. CEO Betsy Biemann and President Keith Bisson outside the organization's Brunswick headquarters. CEI released annual impact data showing the deployment of more than $89 million in 2018 to 104 businesses this year.

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. It envisions a world in which communities are economically and environmentally healthy, enabling all people, especially those with low incomes, to reach their full potential.

Coastal Enterprises Inc., a Brunswick-based group of organizations focused on rural redevelopment, on Tuesday released annual impact data showing the deployment of more than $89 million in 2018 to 104 businesses in mostly rural regions across Maine and the United States.

The funds were disbursed in the form of loans, microloans, equity and financing through tax credit programs. The fund contributed to the creation or preservation of 2,026 direct jobs across several industries. They include sustainable agriculture, food systems, aquaculture and fisheries, renewable energy, manufacturing, downtown revitalization and the arts.

In Maine, CEI exceeded its business lending goal, deploying $16.4 million in loans to 86 businesses. Its staff also provided advice, technical assistance and counseling services to entrepreneurs and homeowners, as well as 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.

"Our portfolio illustrates the innovation, investment and hard work that is taking place across rural America," CEO Betsy Biemann said in a press release.

She added: " 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."

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.

CEI marked its 40th anniversary earlier this year.

A wide-ranging portfolio

During the past fiscal year, CEI and its subsidiaries also:

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..

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, 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.


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