From the community

Sunrise Ag Microloan Fund to Benefit Washington County Farmers

Posted Sept. 23, 2013, at 2:42 p.m.
Last modified Sept. 28, 2013, at 1:45 p.m.

Sunrise County Economic Council (SCEC) and an anonymous donor from the local farming community have teamed up to offer Washington County food producers increased access to capital through a new revolving loan fund. The Sunrise Ag Microloan fund (SAM) offers $500-$10,000 loans to eligible businesses looking to boost the county’s emerging agribusiness sector and promote local food efforts in Down East Maine.

“We were approached by a local farming family that wanted to give back to the community by doing a Program Related Investment,” SCEC Executive Director Harold Clossey said, adding that a PRI is a device used to raise capital with a social mission. “PRIs are also known as patient capital where folks invest for social reasons more than financial benefit. We’re honored to be a part of this effort with Slow Money Maine, Maine Farmland Trust, Maine Organic Farmers & Gardeners Association and others.SAM builds on SCEC’s commitment to provide unique opportunities for capital formation right here in Down East Maine.”

Under SAM’s general guidelines, eligible businesses must use funding for equipment, inventory or material acquisition/improvement; creation and/or expansion of value added-products/services; training and education, marketing assistance; energy efficiency improvements; or assistance with the formation of start-up capital.

“We’re trying to encourage public and private collaboration and investment in our region’s agriculture sector by providing a piece of the funding needed to make a project happen,” Clossey said. “We’ve done this in other industry sectors, particularly commercial fishing, and feel that with everything that is going on in agriculture right now, SAM is a necessity given our county’s relationship and heritage in farming.”

SAM is one of several loan products of the Council’s Sunrise Loan Fund which has awarded or leveraged over $5,000,000 in Washington County capital investments over the past year. It is also closely aligned with SCEC’s Sunrise Food Infrastructure Initiative which has awarded nearly $200,000 in targeted grants since February.

For more information or to download a SAM application or on PRI opportunities, please visit www.sunrisecounty.org or contact SCEC Communications Manager Will Tuell at 207-255-0983 or wtuell@sunrisecounty.org.

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