Brunswick-based community development financial institution Coastal Enterprises Inc. issued $16.4 million in loans to 86 rural businesses in 2018, the organization reported Tuesday.

In all, CEI and its various subsidiaries provided over $89 million in financing to 103 businesses in mostly rural regions across Maine and the U.S., including loans, microloans, equity and tax credit-incentivized financing, it said. That lending and investment activity contributed to the creation or preservation of 2,026 direct jobs across industries including sustainable agriculture, food systems, aquaculture and fisheries, renewable energy, manufacturing, downtown revitalization and the arts, CEI said.

The organization said it also provided business advice and housing counseling to 2,457 people in Maine, including 942 clients of its Women’s Business Centers, 180 immigrant and refugee entrepreneurs through CEI’s StartSmart program, 643 current and potential business owners seeking advice from CEI’s Small Business Development Centers, and 692 people attending housing counseling and education sessions, helping to avoid 49 foreclosures.

“Our portfolio illustrates the innovation, investment and hard work that is taking place across rural America,” CEI Chief Executive Betsy Biemann said in a written statement. “We are working on the ground in communities to understand the factors that support enterprises in creating good jobs – ultimately leading to a healthy and more inclusive economy. Our success reflects the incredible support and engagement of many people and partners across the financing, business and community development sectors.”

Last year the CEI family of organizations deployed $51.7 million to 79 businesses in mostly rural regions across Maine and the U.S. Of that, CEI invested nearly $14.8 million in loans, microloans and equity in 62 small and medium-sized businesses, and approximately $37 million in loans, equity, and tax credits in 17 businesses and projects through its subsidiaries. The job creation/ preservation for 2017 was about 2,000; advice and consulting provided by CEI’s staff was given to 2,820 entrepreneurs and business owners.

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