Coastal Enterprises Inc., an economic development and financing agency in Brunswick, deployed $51.7 million to 79 businesses in mostly rural regions across Maine and the U.S., according to its annual report released Wednesday.

Of that, CEI invested nearly $14.8 million in loans, microloans and equity in 62 small and medium sized businesses, and approximately $37 million in loans, equity, and tax credits in 17 businesses and projects through its subsidiaries.

In Maine specifically, $11.4 million was loaned to Maine organizations, more than three times as much as was loaned outside of the state. Additionally, $1.8 million was invested as venture capital from CEI to six Maine startups.

The bulk of the 2017 financing was directed out of state, through CEI’s federal New Markets Tax Credit program. Two deals split $30 million in allocated tax credits.

The impact of CEI’s investments were magnified by the advice and consulting provided by the organization’s staff to 2,820 entrepreneurs and business owners, including women and immigrants, employers, farmers and fisheries entrepreneurs, and people seeking housing counseling and education.

“CEI was founded 40 years ago to expand options for Mainers to earn a decent livelihood in the face of a changing economy,” said CEO Betsy Biemann, in the release. “We are building on our legacy, revitalizing our rural regions and gateway cities by making the kind of investments that impact people with low incomes—expanding the numbers of good jobs, and ultimately, increasing shared prosperity.”


CEI estimates 2,000 jobs were preserved as a result of its investments in the last year.

Among its highlights:

• Helped these entrepreneurs grow their businesses: Paul and Theresa Lancisi of Dove Tail Bats in Shirley Mills; Julie Swain of Dog Not Gone in Skowhegan; Jim Chattley of Meineke Topsham Car Care Center; Ten Ten Piè in Portland; and Corrin and Shirley Conforte of Kindred Farms Market and Bakery in Casco;

• Helped to finance the completion of eight historic redevelopment projects, injecting economic vitality in Maine’s downtowns from Biddeford to Waterville;

• Made a first-in-the-nation loan from the innovative USDA Community Facilities Relending Program to support the expansion of a YMCA in Central Lincoln County;

• Supported the design and commercialization of innovative technologies at companies such as Pemaquid Mussel Farms and Ocean Renewable Power Co.; and

• Successfully exited an equity investment in the software company Certify.

CEI also conducts a variety of local and federal policy work.

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