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A bureau within the U.S. Department of Commerce
Funding Opportunities Background

Office of Innovation and
Entrepreneurship (OIE)

Coastal Enterprises Inc.


Wiscasset, Maine

Project Name

CEI Natural Resource Business Seed Capital Fund



Award Amount

$250,000 for the CEI Natural Resource Business Seed Capital Fund

The most rural state in the nation, Maine suffers from chronic geographic isolation and disinvestment. Coastal Enterprises, Inc. (CEI), a Maine-based, private non-profit 501(c)(3) Community Development Corporation and Community Development Finance Institution, received a $250,000 EDA Regional Innovations Strategies Seed Fund Grant to assess, develop, capitalize and pilot a Natural Resource Business Seed Capital Fund. Through this fund, focused on rural Maine, CEI intends to make equity investments in young farm, food, fisheries and bio-based businesses with the potential for high growth.

In aggregate, natural resource businesses in Maine are poised for innovation-based growth. CEI’s current portfolio includes job-creating enterprises that provide products and services locally, nationally and internationally. For many new and expanding businesses, the critical financing gap occurs during the early stages of launching and scaling up operations. In developing a Seed Capital Fund, CEI will enhance its capacity to provide a full continuum of financing by offering hard-to-find early stage investment capital that can catalyze and sustain long-term growth.

Working closely with research, advisory, finance, and pipeline development partners, CEI will lead a landscape analysis of Maine to identify the size, scale and scope for a seed equity product, determine appropriate technical assistance needs, and establish a pipeline of businesses ready for seed capital. During this process CEI and its partners will explore how to best structure equity products and deploy capital in efficient and effective ways. If feasibility is demonstrated, CEI will develop a financial model for a Seed Capital Fund to be integrated with its existing products and services, raise capital from non-EDA sources, and pilot a $1 million Fund.

CEI estimates that by 2023 a Seed Fund could provide up to $5 million in equity capital to 35-40 natural resource based businesses; leverage $6.2 million in additional investment; create 225-250 jobs; and enable client companies to launch 60-90 new innovation-based products.