Keith Bisson is president of Coastal Enterprises, Inc. (CEI) in Brunswick. If you’ve heard of a startup in Maine, they probably had a hand in getting it going. They are willing to take a risk on early stage innovators that conventional lenders and investors won’t, calculating good jobs and environmental benefits in addition to dollars, as core to return on investment. He’s pictured here with ceo Betsy Biemann. Together they lead this organization that is core to Maine’s entrepreneurial community.
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In 2017, CEI or its subsidiaries assisted almost 2,000 Maine entrepreneurs to grow their businesses, including these high profile examples: Paul and Theresa Lancisi of Dove Tail Bats in Shirley Mills; Julie Swain of Dog Not Gone in Skowhegan; Jim Chattley of Meineke Topsham Car Care Center; Ten Ten Piè in Portland; and Corrin and Shirley Conforte of Kindred Farms Market and Bakery in Casco, and of course my favorite, Hyperlite Mountain Gear in Biddeford.
The community nonprofit helped to finance the completion of eight historic redevelopment projects from Biddeford to Waterville, made a first-in-the-nation loan from the innovative USDA Community Facilities Relending Program to support the expansion of a YMCA in Central Lincoln County, supported the design and commercialization of innovative technologies at companies such as Pemaquid Mussel Farms and Ocean Renewable Power Company, and successfully exited an equity investment in the software company Certify. They’ve been busy.
But we don’t talk about any of that stuff. Instead, we learn about Keith’s first bike, his passion for taking on investments that others turn away, personal guarantees and second positions, plus a little bit of gelato.
Forty years ago, remarkably, CEI was a startup too. Now it’s time for their 40th Anniversary Celebration, which will be held on April 25, 2018 at Brick South on Thompson’s Point in Portland. I hope you will register and I hope to see you there. I expect it will be the #1 entrepreneurial event of the year in Maine.
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