Coastal Enterprises, Inc. (CEI) (Wiscasset, ME)


  • Name:Keith Bisson
  • Title:SVP, Program Management and Development

Organization Address

  • Organization Name:Coastal Enterprises, Inc. (CEI)
  • Address:P.O. Box 268
    36 Water Street
    Wiscasset, ME 04578
    United States

Organization Phone

  • Main phone:207-882-7552

Organization Web

User Email


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  • Mission:
  • To create economically and environmentally healthy communities, in which all people, especially those with low incomes, can reach their full potential.

  • Overview:
  • CEI’s roots are in the civil rights movement and Equal Opportunity Act of the 1960s. In that period the federal government established a program to fund local Community Development Corporations (CDCs) to make investments in rural and urban communities left out of the economic mainstream. The “targeting” of investment capital to underserved minority and other communities continues to this day, with some 2,000 CDC/Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs) investing in businesses, facilities like child or health care, schools, and even much larger economic development transactions under the New Markets Tax Credit, a financing tool CEI and several of its peers helped to found in 2000 at the end of the Clinton Administration.

    CEI’s development philosophy is based on strategically combining the market interventions of finance, development and policy for social and environmental benefit – the “triple bottom line” - economy, equity and environment – of return on investment. CEI provides financing on the continuum of capital needs from microfinance of less than $50,000 to medium enterprises up to $500,000, to larger business and housing ventures of over $1 million, to major industrial operating companies requiring $20 million or more in New Markets Tax Credits.

    1. Financing: CEI pursues its mission by providing financing – both flexible debt and equity - to job-creating small, medium and micro enterprises, natural resource ventures in the farm, fish and forest sectors, community facilities such as child care, and affordable housing, often part of commercial real estate in rural, small towns and regions throughout the state.

    2. Development: Development consists of a range of technical support for individuals, entrepreneurs and families in the form of business and housing counseling. CEI is the largest technical assistance provider in Maine with some 2,000 customers annually, and helps develop key economic sectors such as in value-added agriculture, fish and forests, or renewable energy production. CEI ensures that benefits flow to limited and low-wealth individuals and families by “brokering” workforce development resources aligned with the economic opportunities created in the CEI lending and investing process.

    3. Policy: CEI engages in state and federal policy research and development that create resources for the industry. In addition to advocating for the federal CDFI Fund, NMTC, USDA, SBA Microloan and Venture Capital programs, CEI also advocates for an effective Community Reinvestment Act. In 2007 CEI spearheaded in Maine one of the nation’s stronger state anti-predatory legislation in the country and currently manages the largest foreclosure mitigation counseling program in Maine. CEI also advocates for environmental responsible policy and practices, and was a co-founder of the Triple Bottom Line Collaborative of nine CDFIs. In Fall 2014, CEI led a successful grassroots campaign to pass a state bond referendum for small business financing and insurance. We are a founding member of the Climate Solutions Mapping Project and the Maine Climate Table, through which CEI seeks to help build a small business constituency that can take informed action on behalf of a statewide campaign to support green investment efforts for business, infrastructure and education.

    CEI’s theory of change is quite simple and is based on the reality that the market on its own will not provide the products and services necessary to create and maintain healthy communities, especially for low-income people and communities. This “market failure” creates a need for alternative strategies, such as community development finance.

  • History:
  • The impetus for CEI came in the mid-1970s from a few people who had the imagination to pursue a Title VII application to the federal government to establish a community development corporation in Maine. The organization's purposes - to make investments in small businesses, create employment, and develop the state's natural resource industries - have remained the same. What has changed is that CEI is now a recognized community development finance institution capable of funding diverse small businesses, affordable housing, and community facilities not only in the state of Maine, but, increasingly, across New England and beyond.

    Title VII funding did not come through, but the idea took hold. A CDC had started in Vermont two years earlier and the possibility of a "tri-state" CDC for Vermont, Maine, and New Hampshire or a CDC focused entirely on development of Maine's fishing industry was compelling to the state's Office of Community Services. During this period, planning was underway at the state level for Maine Development Foundation, a public-private partnership to rally leadership around Maine's pressing economic issues, and a related entity, Maine Capital Corporation, to provide venture capital to small businesses. An environment supportive of the development spirit was evolving in the state.

    Ron Phillips was newly arrived in Maine from New York City. For several years after graduating from Union Theological Seminary, he had worked on domestic and international economic development issues at the National Council of Churches and then at the Interfaith Center for Corporate Responsibility. The potential for organizing a new CDC in the midcoast region captured his imagination. In lieu of the parish ministry toward which he had been heading, Phillips saw opportunity in a grassroots CDC aligned with his experience, values of social justice, and interest in Third World development. Maine at the time had little infrastructure to grow the state economy; it was undeveloped and dependent on outside-owned corporate interests, military contracts, and transfer payments.

    CEI was incorporated in Bath, Maine, in 1977 with no balance sheet - a start-up with a big need for investment capital to meet big goals. Initial funding came from two midcoast, regional Community Action Agencies. Small grants arrived from varied sources, many of them faith-based organizations to which CEI attributes much of its early support. These included the United Methodist Church, the American Baptist Churches, the Presbyterian Church (USA), the Episcopal Church, Heifer International, and the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. Local county commissioners' offices in Knox, Lincoln, and Sagadahoc Counties, which handled the Comprehensive Employment and Training Act (CETA) public service programs for the unemployed, also were invaluable because they supported CEI employees and their capacity to build the organization. The idea of a public-private partnership, which today is very familiar, was new then but already fully in motion.

    CEI's geographic territory initially was the midcoast Maine region stretching from Freeport to Camden. The young organization developed along the lines of the classic CDC governance model with a membership base electing the majority of board members and the balance being appointed members representing the community, including bankers, fishermen, farmers, small business owners, and representatives of people with low incomes. CEI's development strategy was "to ameliorate the conditions of poverty by creating income, employment, and ownership opportunities," in the language of the Title VII amendment. Today our reach extends across Maine, our primary market, and, increasingly, throughout northern New England, nationally, and internationally.

    We are multifaceted in our investments, technical assistance, economic sectors, and policy work. It has taken years of experimentation and challenge to reach this point. Yet the knitting together of issues and strategies that occurs in our present work was inherent in the early years. We have circled back to our roots by embracing sustainability as the overarching philosophy for our future. Sustainable and healthy communities require an economy that enhances human lives, nurtures aspirations, and safeguards the natural resources on which they depend.

    We have worked collaboratively from the beginning, forming coalitions and pursuing state and federal appropriations. Financing has been the foundation of our interventions. But also, we have always provided significant technical assistance to small businesses and trade associations, a practice
    that evolved into our present programs supporting the farming, fishing, and forestry sectors; small businesses and microenterprises; family and center-based child care providers; refugees and new immigrants; employment opportunities and workplace policies; and many others.

  • Year established:1977
  • Endowment:Unknown


  • Executive / Trustee board size:19
  • Advisory board size:
  • Staff size:80


  • Organization type:Grantseeker
  • Country of registration:United States
  • Tax Determination Letter:Received Determination Letter
  • IRS Section:501(c)(3)
  • IRS Subsection:None
  • Tax ID:01-0347504

Other Organization Web

IRS Business Master File Information

  • EIN:010347504
  • Sort (Secondary) Name:
  • Care Of Name:
  • Organization Address:30 FEDERAL ST
  • Organization City:BRUNSWICK
  • Organization State:ME
  • Organization Zip:04011-1510
  • Group Exemption Number:0000
  • Subsection Code:03
  • Classification Code(s):1
  • Subsection/Classification Desc.:Charitable Organization
  • Affiliation Code:3
  • Ruling Date:October, 1978
  • Deductibility Code:1
  • Foundation Code:15
  • Foundation Code Desc.:Organization which receives a substantial part of its support from a governmental unit or the general public 170(b)(1)(A)(vi)
  • Activity Code(s):403
  • Activity Code Desc.(s):Attracting new industry or retaining industry in an area
  • Organization Code:1 (Corporation)
  • Exempt Org. Status Code:01 (Unconditional Exemption)
  • Tax Period:September, 2016
  • Filing Requirement Category:01 (990 (all other) or 990EZ return)
  • Accounting Period:September
  • NTEE Code:L21
  • Asset Amount:$91,051,133
  • Asset Code:9 ($50,000,000+)
  • Income Amount:$13,870,232
  • Income Code:8 ($10,000,000 - $49,999,999)
  • 990 Revenue Amount:$11,004,125
  • Last Updated:2/17/2018 5:32:38 pm

This information is directly from the IRS Exempt Organization Business Master File at Exempt Organizations Business Master File Extract. This information is not under the control of the Common Grant Application and is collected and compiled and can only be changed by the IRS.