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April 13, 2021

CEI announces $1.49M investment in Saddleback Mountain Ski Resort

A man, who is black, stands on a bench talking to a crowd outdoors with  mountains in the background Courtesy / Saddleback Uche Osuji, managing director of Arctaris Impact Investors, speaks at the ribbon cutting for Saddleback Mountain Dec. 13. The ski resort, which reopened after five years, has gotten a boost from CEI in the form of $1.49 million in Maine New Markets Tax Credits.

CEI Capital Management LLC has announced $1.49 million in Maine New Markets Capital Investment Tax Credit financing to support the ongoing revitalization of Saddleback Mountain Ski Resort.

The tax credit investment will be managed by Arctaris Impact Investors, and continue redevelopment of the resort expected to add 200 part- and full-time jobs and boost the economy of the Rangeley area, CEI said in a news release.

Boston-based Arctaris bought the ski area, which closed in 2015, last year and reopened it for skiing in December. Since 2019, Arctaris and its partners have invested more than $26 million in revitalizing the resort, but a significant financing gap remained, potentially halting the momentum of redevelopment, the release said.

The $1.49 million in private investment through the New Markets financing will allow Arctaris to maintain vital momentum from the reopening, CEI said.

“The revitalization of the Saddleback Mountain Ski Resort will be a significant driver of economic activity in Rangeley,” said CEI Capital Management CEO Traci Vaine. “With living wages, good benefits and access to child care services, Saddleback is positioned to be the premiere employer in the region. These are the kind of good jobs CEI Capital Management targets with its investments, both in Maine, and in other rural regions nationwide.”

Uche Osuji, Arctaris managing director said the firm's mission is to "integrate impact into every investment decision and drive equitable prosperity in under-resourced rural and urban communities."

“Our investment in the Saddleback Mountain Ski Resort reignites an economic engine in Western Maine through quality job creation," Osuji said. "These types of investments are possible only with like-minded program partners like CEI Capital Management.”

The redevelopment of Saddleback has always been about redevelopment of the region, Andy Shepard, general manager and CEO of Saddleback Mountain said.

“The money we invested in getting the mountain back on its feet last summer set us up for a successful reopening," he said. "The support of CEI will allow us to continue to move ahead with our ambitious plans for the region including employee housing, greater access to health and wellness care, year-round benefits for seasonal workers and greater access to child care.”

The Saddleback revitalization is expected to create 48 full-time jobs that "offer living wages, good benefit packages and job training and advancement opportunities," the release said. Another 154 part-time and seasonal positions will offer starting wages at $12.50 per hour and provide access to a special benefits package that includes paid and unpaid leave, reimbursement of medical costs and free Teladoc Health medical consultations.

In order to attract and retain employees in the Rangeley area, Arctaris is committed to supporting a community benefits agreement proposed by CEI Capital Management as part of the investment, including job creation and benefits, establishing a day care center at the resort, and broadband improvement resources. 

In addition to creating jobs, Saddleback is expected to generate visitor spending exceeding $6 million per year, benefitting area small businesses, diversifying the local economy and increasing tax revenues.

“The energy and enthusiasm of having saddleback up and running was contagious for our whole community,” said Kate Williamson, chair of Rangeley Region Economic Opportunity Committee and General Manager of The Gingerbread House. “We are excited to see the future growth for the mountain and the increase in services, jobs and opportunities for the entire community.”

Additional financing for the project includes $1 million direct loan from the Finance Authority of Maine, a loan guarantee up to $2.5 million from FAME, a $1 million loan from Maine Rural Development Authority, various grants and donations from local and regional foundations, and equity and debt investments by Arctaris and other capital providers.

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April 14, 2021

I visited the mountain after 5 year hiatus, stayed at Town and Lake Motel, got pizza from Red Onion and skied 2 glorious days with lunch at the pub both days. So very happy to leave my $ there, and many happy returns.

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