While everyone’s heard of Maine lobster, Maine has never been known for California yellowtail or black bass, as these species don’t live in its icy cold waters. Thanks to Acadia Harvest, a pioneering Maine fishery, these and similar premium saltwater species can now grow outside of their native West Coast waters—and inside tanks.
When it initially developed the idea of land-based saltwater fish production to help ensure the future of the Maine’s seafood industry and create sustainable fisheries, Acadia Harvest approached a state-supported small business incubator for start-up funds. The funder provided grant money on the condition that the aquaculture innovator find a matching investor. Knowing that banks rarely offer start-up financing, Acadia Harvest approached CEI, a nonprofit CDFI focused on rural business funding, development, and financing.
Growing saltwater fish on land isn’t a mainstream idea, but for CEI, it was one worth funding. “Acadia Harvest is a strong team with a unique concept,” said Dick Clime, Working Waterfront Project Developer at CEI. “After studying its plan, we decided this investment was worth the risk.”
CEI provided a $50,000 loan, enabling Acadia Harvest to run a pilot production batch, to purchase a property, and to begin engineering work for the redevelopment of the site. The investment attracted additional equity investors for a total leveraged amount of approximately $900,000. And as their new facility is in rural coastal Maine where unemployment is high and the average income well below the national average, it will create at least 12 needed jobs in the struggling fishing industry.
“CEI’s involvement was critical to the successful implementation of our business plan. And simply being associated with CEI carries weight— It brings us credibility at every phase of our growth.” Ed Robinson, chairman and chief business officer, Acadia Harvest
(Date of loan: 2014. Date of story publication: 2014)