Brunswick-based Coastal Enterprises Inc. and its affiliated organizations committed over $35.8 million to 95 businesses, mostly in Maine, during the 12-month period ending Sept. 30, according to an annual impact report released Thursday.

Skiers ride up the new lift at Saddleback Ski Resort outside Rangeley in this photo from March. Brianna Soukup/Staff Photographer

The community development financial institution said it assisted clients with loans, microloans, equity and tax credit financing. CEI said its lending and investment activity contributed to the creation and preservation of at least 427 jobs.

Examples include Saddleback Ski Resort in Rangeley, which CEI funds helped to reopen after a five-year closure, restarting an economic engine for the community, it said.

In Lewiston, a cohort of 13 women originally from Angola and Somalia participated in CEI’s Child Care Business Lab, accessing education, business development support and certifications that helped bring them one step closer to opening culturally attuned child care in their communities.

Standard Biocarbon, another CEI client, is in the process of purchasing equipment for producing high quality “biochar” – charcoal made from biomass that is used as a replacement for chemical fertilizers – in East Millinocket.

Along Maine’s coast, Atlantic Sea Farms worked with two dozen fishermen growing and harvesting kelp to diversify and decarbonize the working waterfront with CEI’s assistance, it said.

In addition to providing loans and investments, CEI said it reviewed and distributed nearly $19.5 million in 827 CARES Act pandemic relief grants from the state of Maine to small business owners, including 533 farmers and food producers, helping people who drive Maine’s local food system cover unexpected business costs during the coronavirus pandemic.

“The pandemic is shining a spotlight on barriers in our economic system that prevent people from gaining a foothold, even when they work full time,” Betsy Biemann, CEI’s chief executive, said in the report. “The disproportionate impact of the pandemic on low-income people, people of color and women has highlighted the important role that community development financial institutions, like CEI, play as capillaries channeling financial resources and small business support to people and enterprises on the edges of our economy.”

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