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Bristol Area Lions hear CEI Founder 01/15/2016

Posted by DS in meetings, speakers.
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Bristol Area Lions Club President Brendan Donegan (left) thanks CEI Inc. founder Ron Phillips for his talk.

At their meeting on Jan. 4, the Bristol Area Lions and their speaker enjoyed chicken cordon bleu with a cream sauce, roasted vegetables, rice, a tossed salad and grilled bread served by caterer Steve Hawks at the club’s winter meeting site, the Hawks House Inn in Walpole.

After dinner, CEI founder Ron Phillips explained how Maine’s first community development corporation and community development finance institution began. In 1977, President John F. Kennedy’s “war on poverty” gave rise to the Economic Opportunity Act of 1964, which was later amended to include a provision to fund community development corporations.

Phillips has a Master of Divinity degree and worked at the National Council of Churches Interfaith center of Corporate Responsibility before relocating to Maine. Through contacts from that work experience he was asked to come to Augusta to discuss forming a community development corporation in Maine.

The Lincoln County Board of Commissioner was instrumental in supporting the foundation of the CEI and after moving from Bath, Wiscasset became its base. The First of Damariscotta was one of the first banks to partner with CEI. The first investment was in the Boothbay Region Fish and Cold Storage in 1979 to help them rebuild and expand after a fire.

Other local businesses mentioned by Phillips helped by CEI were Spear Farms in Nobleboro, which now has 400 acres in cultivation, North End Lobster Co-op, on Westport Island, Masters Machine Co. in Bristol, the Bigelow Laboratory for Ocean Sciences and Hodgdon Yachts in East Boothbay, Muscongus Bay Aquaculture in Bremen, Sarah’s in Wiscasset and DeLorme Mapping in Yarmouth.

CEI does more than just providing financing. Serving on the staff are 12 MBA’s and CPA’s who assist beginning entrepreneurs with counseling and preparing business plans. In many cases CEI takes an equity position in the business and serves on their board of directors.

In October, CEI moved to Brunswick and in March 2016. After 38 years Ron Phillips will retire as president and CEO with pride in the organization and their accomplishments with more successes still ahead not only locally, but in all of Maine and nationwide.

At the business meeting that followed a number of Lions were thanked for their services in December: Michael Hope for organizing the Christmas food basket distribution, Herb Watson for organizing the Christmas party, and Walt Johannson for coordinating the winter shutdown of the Willing Workers Hall.

The next meeting will be on Monday, Feb. 1. To make dinner reservations for that meeting please call Herb Watson at 677-6191. To learn more about the Bristol Area Lions, serving Bristol and South Bristol, call Walt Johannson at 677-2584.

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