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Success Stories

In the winter of 2011, Leigh Kellis got a craving for donuts, so she started looking for the best recipe she could find. After several months of experimenting, she had worked out a donut she loved, and that she thought others would love too. She tested her unique potato-based donuts by bringing a sample to the local coffee shop to see if they would sell them. Initially, Leigh got them to agree to sell a dozen per day. As anyone familiar with Portland food culture can tell you, word gets around quickly when there’s a delicious and unique new entry to the local scene, and Leigh’s donuts were no exception. Within a few months, she was producing 100 dozen donuts per week to keep up with the demand from her distributors. She accomplished this without sacrificing the focus on keeping everything as locally sourced as possible, with Maine-produced fruit, butter, eggs and potatoes forming the base of her products.

Naturally, the growth that The Holy Donut was going through brought on... Read More

Craft brewing has become big business in Maine, and no one recognizes that more than Heather and Nathan Sanborn, owners of Rising Tide Brewing in Portland. Starting off with a small 1,500 foot location in 2010, the company quickly outgrew their space with the help of the Portland Small Business Development Center and found a new location in 2012. Equipment upgrades in 2013, financed with SBA 7a loans, allowed the company to add new fermenters and a bottling line, allowing them to increase production and distribution capacity.

Using the “foodie” culture of Portland to their advantage, Rising Tide offers tours of the brewery and caters to the various brewery tour companies that now operate in the city, as well as food trucks that park outside their location. Nathan has also focused on creating traditional beer with unique tastes, trying them out at home before introducing them to the public. This strategy has allowed the company to see steady growth over the past several years... Read More

ARWO Wall Art

The goal of every parent is to for their children to learn and prosper as they grow, and Arwo (which means prosperous in Somali) makes sure their staff focuses on those goals. Naima Abdirhmon, the owner, has witnessed the great potential that comes from the right opportunities. Her mother brought the family to the United States from Somalia, and taught her children to be hardworking, creative, and compassionate.

For Naima, the ideal business was child care. Working with CEI beginning in 2014, the vision for Arwo began to take shape. For the first year, most of the activity was in professional development and branding. In 2015, the business took off, as it received an SBA-backed loan to expand its space and build on its customer base. The expanded space allowed room for the unique curriculum that has allowed Arwo to succeed.

By building a multi-cultural environment that embraces each child and allows them to develop in the way that best suits their abilities, Arwo has... Read More

Kate McAleer

Many times we have heard from elected officials and experts that Maine needs young people, and especially entrepreneurial young people to move here. Well, Kate McAleer fits that profile. After starting her company, Bixby & Co., LLC in New York State, Katedecided to move to Rockland to produce her candy bars made with natural and healthier ingredients. Taking full advantage of all the various programs available to young entrepreneurs in the state, from competitions that provided funding, to free programs like business mentoring services from the Women’s Business Center and Maine Technology Institute, and an SBA 7(a) loan, Bixby has seen truly astounding growth and success. Initially hand wrapping the Bixby Bars at the Coastal Farms and Food ProcessingCenter in Belfast, the company was able to move into a new facility in Rockland, and has switched to much more efficient production. By using the full range of resources available to her and her business, Kate has been able to see... Read More