Words by
Coastal Enterprises, Inc.
Helping Maine reach it’s Full Potential

Coastal Enterprises, Inc. (CEI), a nonprofit organization in Brunswick, Maine, is perhaps best described through its success stories. Since its founding in 1977, CEI has provided $1.27 billion in loans and investments for 2,649 businesses, helped to create or preserve 35,707 jobs, advised and counseled 53,143 people and businesses, and created or preserved 2,001 affordable housing units and 5,806 child care slots.


“CEI exists to build an economy that works for everyone,” says Gray Harris, CEI’s senior program director. “We focus our efforts on creating good jobs for folks, especially those who may be outside of the economic mainstream and those who have trouble accessing capital.”


Food system work has played a significant role in CEI’s 40-year history, with the past 10 years in particular seeing an extraordinary explosion in the local food movement. 


“This is an incredibly exciting time for CEI and entrepreneurs bringing Maine food products to market. We’ve invested over $20 million in local food systems mostly in Maine, both on land and sea,” says Harris.


To help food system businesses grow and thrive, CEI uses a number of tools, including free business-advising services that help connect people with new ideas and business plans to others in a network of business advisors who have specific skills in that area. 


An important aspect of CEI’s work is connecting businesses to capital. 


“One of CEI’s hallmarks is meeting business owners where they are and understanding what their needs are in their respective market to offer expertise that is most relevant to them at the time.”


To increase its social impact, CEI also participates in policy work and collaborates with partners who share the organization’s goals to move forward initiatives that align with their mission to help grow good jobs, environmentally sustainable enterprises, and shared prosperity, a purpose that requires “deep collaboration and a degree of transparency among businesses who are all in this together,” says Harris.


For more information about CEI’s work, visit www.ceimaine.org.


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