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Updated: December 3, 2020

Coastal Enterprises' latest annual impact: $38.5M in capital to 78 businesses

betsy Biemann portrait File photo / Tim Greenway Betsy Biemann, CEO of Coastal Enterprises Inc., was honored as a Mainebiz Woman to Watch in 2019. The community development financial institution released its 2020 impact report on Wednesday.

When the pandemic spurred Glidden Point Oyster Co. in Edgecomb to adopt a direct-to-consumer e-commerce shipping model, the company turned to Coastal Enterprises Inc. for help. Glidden Point faced a double challenge of shipping a sensitive live product to homes and educating consumers on how to prepare and enjoy raw oysters at home.

CEI, a Brunswick-based community development financial institution, helped by providing capital via its Tastemakers Initiative food cultivation program, and by allowing Glidden Point to use funds originally dedicated to another distribution model for another purpose.

"The flexibility was very helpful from a survival standpoint, if not longer from a growth standpoint, during a difficult time," said Glidden Point's general manager, Jonathan Turcotte. The company is among dozens that worked with CEI recently as documented in its latest annual impact report, released Wednesday.

It shows shows that from Oct. 1, 2019, to Sept. 30, 2020, CEI deployed more than $38.5 million in capital to 78 businesses, mostly in Maine, and contributed to the creation and preservation of at least 632 jobs in industries from fisheries to technology.

The $38.5 million was in the form of loans, microloans, equity and tax credit-motivated financing, and compares to $24 million for 120 businesses a year earlier.

“By investing in small business owners and entrepreneurs who are on the front lines, we are helping them adjust, stabilize and grow in a rapidly changing market environment,” said Betsy Biemann, CEO of CEI and a 2019 Mainebiz Woman to Watch honoree.

“These are the businesses that keep our Main Streets humming. Dedicating time, energy and resources to them now is key to make sure that they survive and keep their neighbors at work in good jobs during this pandemic and economic crisis.”

Other facts and figures

The impact report also shows that CEI staff members provided one-on-one business advice to 2,315 individuals in Maine, including 761 entrepreneurs through the CEI Women’s Business Centers, 89 immigrant and refugee entrepreneurs who received advice from CEI’s StartSmart team and 128 food industry entrepreneurs. The entrepreneurs received business development resources to help scale their fisheries, aquaculture, agriculture and food systems businesses.

Business advisors at Maine Small Business Development Centers hosted by CEI in Augusta, Bangor, Brunswick, Ellsworth, Waterville and Wiscasset worked with 1,404 entrepreneurs.

An additional 642 people received home ownership counseling and financial education that helped them buy homes, avoid foreclosures and boost their savings.

Wednesday's report also found that CEI's lending, investment and advisory teams made 69 new loans and four equity investments worth more than $17 million to 71 small businesses and projects in rural communities; and expanded its loan portfolio to a record $51 million.

CEI leaders also continued to provide sector and community expertise to state and federal policymakers in a number of areas, with Biemann serving on the Governor’s Economic Recovery Committee and CEI President Keith Bisson serving on the Permanent Commission on the Status of Racial, Indigenous and Maine Tribal Populations.

“As a mission-driven Community Development Financial Institution, CEI is channeling financing, technical assistance and policy advocacy towards the urgent challenges of an increasingly inequitable economy and a changing climate,” Bisson said in Wednesday’s news release. “Impact investing is a powerful tool for creating good jobs, community resilience and energy affordability.”

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