Maine Working Waterfront Financial and Technical Assistance Resources

As Maine's working waterfront begins to make plans for recovering from the recent storms that devastated much of our coastal infrastructure, we have compiled the following list of financial and technical assistance resources to support those efforts. We will continue to update this list as more information becomes available. Use the links below to jump to the appropriate section.

Financial Resources | DEP Permitting Guidance | Flood Insurance

Please also visit Governor Mills' Maine Flood Resources And Assistance Hub for additional support and information.

Financial Resources:

FAME
Commercial Loan Insurance Program - Loan insurance helps to cover a bank's credit risk. Loan insurance is available for almost any prudent business activity and insures up to 90 percent (100 percent for veterans) of a loan to a maximum FAME insurance exposure for any one relationship of $7.5 million. FAME also offers up to 75% pro rata insurance for up to $1,500,000 of FAME exposure through our Online Answer (OLA) insurance platform, through which lenders can apply and receive almost immediate approval. Commercial Loan Insurance - FAME Maine

The FAME Direct Loan (f/k/a Economic Recovery Loan Program) - Provides subordinate or gap financing to businesses affected by their current economic situation. For larger loans, up to $1 million may be available if substantial public benefit is demonstrated and sufficient funds are available. Most often, however, FAME Direct Loans are less than $500,000. We now offer a fixed rate: Wall Street Journal Prime plus 2% at time of loan commitment, currently capped at 8%. FAME Direct Loan - FAME Maine

Grow Maine - Small business loan and capital program. Intended to provide broad access to capital to help Maine businesses grow and provide jobs for Maine people that will have long-term positive effects on Maine’s economy. Funding is available through FAME and its intermediary partners across the state via loan guarantees, direct loans, and equity capital. In partnership with Maine commercial lenders, community development financial institutions and other community economic development finance organizations. The program utilizes federal State Small Business Credit Initiative (SSBCI) funds. We are currently awaiting our third tranche of funding from U.S. Treasury. For more information on the program, please visit: Grow Maine: Small Business Loan and Capital Program - FAME Maine

The Maine Rural Development Authority (MRDA) - Loans up to $500,000 for certain eligible projects may be available. FAME provides underwriting and administrative services to the Maine Rural Development Authority (MRDA). The MRDA was established by the Maine Legislature in 2002 to provide financial assistance to communities and their development partners to help develop speculative commercial and industrial buildings and to help develop/redevelop underutilized commercial industrial properties. The primary focus of the MRDA’s activities is in the rural areas of Maine that have traditionally not experienced the same level of economic development success regions as other parts of the state or have experienced major economic losses, such as plant closings and downsizings or are economically distressed. Maine Rural Development Authority - FAME Maine

Regional Economic Development Revolving Loan Program - Provides subordinate and/or gap financing up to $350,000. The program is offered through the various regional economic development agencies throughout the state. Regional Economic Development Revolving Loan Program - FAME Maine

Revenue Obligation Securities Program - Provides an opportunity for manufacturing businesses to access the tax-exempt bond market for funds to build and/or acquire real estate or machinery and equipment using tax-exempt Industrial Revenue Bonds issued by FAME. Revenue Obligations Securities Program - FAME Maine

Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry - Agricultural Marketing Loan Fund (AMLF): Provides 5 percent fixed-rate loans to natural resource-based businesses that employ new and innovative technologies and processes in order to improve, expand, and enhance the manufacturing, marketability, and production of Maine-made agricultural products. Funds may be used for the design, construction or improvement of facilities such as commodity storage buildings and packing and marketing facilities. Funds may also be used to purchase or retrofit machinery and equipment. Agricultural Marketing Loan Fund - FAME Maine

Island Institute: Business Resiliency Storm Recovery Grants
To help marine businesses recover from the devastating impacts of January 2024’s coastal storms, Island Institute is expanding our Business Resilience Grant program. Grant awards of up to $5,000 are available for working waterfront businesses that directly support fishing and aquaculture on islands, and in fishing dependent communities that were impacted by the storms on January 10 and 13, 2024.  For more information, visit: www.grants.islandinstitute.org/s/fundingprograms or contact brgrants@islandinstitute.org.

Coastal Enterprises Inc. (CEI)
CEI and its subsidiaries offer business and project financing and technical support for a wide range of small business, community facilities, renewable energy, affordable housing and mixed used real estate projects and ventures. CEI offers short- and long-term financing from less than $10,000 to greater than $500,000. www.ceimaine.org/

Community Development Block Grant Program (CDBG)
CDBG Micro-Enterprise Assistance Grant Program: Grants of up to $10,000 to existing businesses to be used for working capital, purchase of inventory, supplies and equipment. Existing businesses that have five or fewer employees, one of whom owns the enterprise, and whose household income is Low/Moderate as defined by HUD will meet the project benefit. Request advising appointment with SBDC to review your eligibility for this program: www.mainesbdc.org/

U.S. Small Business Administration
SBA Lenders: U.S. SBA backs loans from multiple lenders. At sba.gov/lendermatch , you can find lenders who may be interested in working with you.

U.S. Small Business Administration Microloans: The SBA offers microloans of up to $50,000 for small businesses. These loans come with technical assistance for the life of the loan, helping business owners navigate how to use and repay loan funds once they receive them. Funds can be used for working capital, inventory, supplies, furniture, fixtures, machinery, and equipment but cannot be used to pay existing debts or to purchase real estate. www.sba.gov/funding-programs/loans/microloans.

NOAA Fisheries Finance Program (FFP)
The Fisheries Finance Program (FFP) provides long-term fixed rate loans for the fishing and aquaculture industries. The FFP provides long-term fixed rate financing for the cost of:

  • Refurbishing, modernization or purchasing of existing fishing vessels, fisheries facilities, or aquaculture facilities;
  • Harvesting privileges in federally managed limited access systems (Catch Shares); and
  • Individual fishing quota in the Northwest Halibut/Sablefish and Bering Sea/Aleutian Islands Crab Fisheries.

The FFP will also refinance existing debt incurred for these purposes. The FFP will not finance a vessel refurbishing project that materially increases a vessel’s harvesting capacity. www.fisheries.noaa.gov/national/funding-and-financial-services/fisheries-finance-program

Sunrise County Economic Council (SCEC): Washington County
SCEC oversees various gap-financing microloan programs for qualifying businesses. For more information on loan programs, visit: sunrisecounty.org/business/loan-programs/

Down East Commercial Fisheries Fund: Created to invest in Washington County-based commercial fisheries and marine-related industries.

  • The first option is for higher-risk clients looking for loans of up to $2,500. These clients usually would not qualify to borrow from banks. For these loans, DECFF acts as the primary lender and provides up to 80% of the loan request. The client would provide the remaining 20% from other sources.
  • The second option covers loans ranging from $2,500 to $10,000. It is set up to assist existing businesses that need financial assistance to grow, expand, hire and sustain their operations. DECFF provides up to 50% of the loan request with the client providing the remaining 50% from other sources.

Sunrise Loan Fund: loan products are intended to provide gap-financing to Washington County businesses with an emphasis on job creation or retention.

Grants for Unorganized Territories in Washington County: The TIF Program has a nature-based tourism grant, an economic development planning grant, and a County match grant. Businesses, individuals, and other organizations may apply for funding through these programs. www.sunrisecounty.org/business/grants/

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Permitting Guidance from DEP

The following activities qualify for a permit-by-rule (PBR). Qualifying projects are automatically approved after a 14-day review period. Visit the Permit by Rule webpage, review the materials for the appropriate PBR section referenced below, and click the link for "How to submit a PBR notification to DEP."

  • Replacing a damaged structure in-kind, with the same or reduced dimensions. See PBR Section 4 if your structure is in/over the water, and PBR Section 2 if your structure is adjacent to the water.

  • Moving a structure farther away from the water. See PBR Section 2.

  • Elevating a structure, if it is adjacent to the water (not in/over the water). See PBR Section 2.

  • Removal of man-made or natural debris from the water. See PBR Section 12. (Note that this Section applies only to debris removal. Removal of naturally deposited sediment from the water requires a full permit.)

If your structure is located in a coastal sand dune system, standards may be different (depending on the activity). Find guidance on repairing and rebuilding in coastal sand dune systems (and please refer to the map of coastal sand dune systems to determine if your project is located in a sand dune.)

Elevating a structure higher over the water would require a full DEP permit. However, the DEP has already introduced a bill to the Legislature, LD 2030, that would allow for the elevation of piers higher over the water without a DEP permit. The DEP is working quickly with the Legislature to amend this bill to ensure that communities will be able to rebuild all working waterfront infrastructure (not just piers) higher over the water without DEP review. The Department is recommending that this legislation should be passed on an emergency basis so that it will go into effect immediately.

While DEP does not have the legal authority to waive the requirements in Maine law, they are offering the ability for people to apply for NRPA permits after the fact if what they will build would otherwise meet the permitting requirements, especially when it is necessary to stabilize unsafe structures, put people back in their homes, and get people back to work.

If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact the DEP. You may reach us via email, or call your regional office:

  • Bangor (Eastern Maine Regional Office): 207-941-4570; 888-769-1137

  • Portland (Southern Maine Regional Office): 207-822-6300; 888-769-1036

  • Augusta (Central Maine Regional Office): 207-287-7688; 800-452-1942

Visit DEP's Storm Recovery Resources Webpage

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National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP)

The program helps communities participating in or interested in joining the NFIP by providing technical information, floodplain maps, and model ordinances. The program offers workshops on how to read and use flood maps, interpret ordinances, and administer floodplain management requirements. Program staff also reviews local ordinances for compliance with the NFIP standards. Staff also provides information about flooding or the NFIP to: homeowners, businesses, lenders, realtors, surveyors, engineers, and others. https://www.maine.gov/dacf/flood/index.shtml

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