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Coastal Enterprises, Inc. (CEI)

The Catalyst Fund: Early Equity Capital to Grow Maine's Food Economy
Brunswick, ME
Capital Challenge
Federal Share: $300,000
Local Match: $300,000

EDA funds will allow Coastal Enterprises, Inc. (CEI) to scale the Catalyst Fund to provide innovative, early stage equity capital to food system businesses with the potential for high growth, job creation, and positive environmental and social impacts.

A new generation of entrepreneurs in Maine is ready to leverage the state’s rich natural resources base in farming and fishing, creating businesses that capitalize on the surging interest in local foods. The opportunities are significant: businesses producing food and beverages from Maine’s farms and the sea can fuel economic alternatives and create jobs across the state if their latent potential is unlocked. Despite the wave of activity, the availability of early stage equity capital is a bottleneck to business growth.

With EDA’s support, CEI will invest in 10-12 early stage food businesses over the next three years, provide business advising and technical support, and leverage an additional $5 million from other sources. CEI will work with its extensive network of capital partners to finance these promising entrepreneurs. CEI expects these investments will create/retain 150 jobs. CEI will raise $2 million from philanthropies, foundations and family offices to capitalize the Catalyst Fund.

CEI is a 44-year-old mission-based lender that integrates financing, business and industry expertise, and policy solutions to grow good jobs, environmentally sustainable enterprises, and shared prosperity in Maine and other rural regions.

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