31 Jan Invest in Maine Series – Opportunity in Impact Investing
In Maine, economic growth and community development go hand in hand. The Mayo Mill project in Dover-Foxcroft is exemplary. The $11 million development is transforming the defunct Moosehead furniture mill into a dynamic town center, creating over 40 jobs, eight businesses, a data center, and 22 accessible apartments, all in a sustainably-powered facility. The project is possible thanks to collaboration between impact investors, local financial institutions, and venture capital. Shortly before its opening, the Mayo Mill project is poised to be a success: all the apartments were leased before the project was finished, nearly half of the office space has been leased, and the restaurant space is about to be occupied by a brew pub.
State institutions and stakeholders in the Maine business community know what opportunities exist to drive social entrepreneurship in the state. They have taken action. The state is home to a myriad of organizations that facilitate impact investing and social entrepreneurship. Coastal Enterprises, Inc., is a major player in rural business funding, development financing and impact investing as a leading investor in the Mayo Mill project. The Maine Community Foundation connects entrepreneurs and organizations with capital via industry-specific funds, such as their Farms, Fisheries and Food and Downtown and Business Development pools. The Maine Technology Institute (MTI) collaborates with entrepreneurs, innovators, and established businesses to provide access to critical resources and help commercialize their technologies.
In 2009, MTI partnered with the Maine Center for Entrepreneurial Development (MCED) to fund a pilot project called Top Gun. When the first class of Top Gun entrepreneurs took place in Portland, MTI and MCED realized they were on to something – they continued the project by collaborating with the University of Maine and formed what became Maine Accelerates Growth, leveraging $3M of investing into Maine’s entrepreneurial communities. It is an auspicious time to invest in Maine. Opus Ventures is a venture capital fund that harnesses the power of venture capital with the management consulting expertise of Opus Consulting Group, enabling investors to confidently put their capital into investments that do well while doing good.