Seasonal, small, and shifting: What does summer uncertainty mean for island and coastal businesses?

The coronavirus, the pandemic, the lock-downs, the general disruption to our lives and those of our neighbors, the severe impact on businesses (especially the small and extremely small): all of these developments are entwined and are wreaking havoc on our communities and our ability to plan for the future. Unlike other economic downturns, the economic fallout from the coronavirus was sudden and steep. Like other economic downturns, the amount of time it will last—and which is the right path out—is unknown.

New Incentives for Charitable Giving

Most donors give from the heart. They support organizations they care about deeply and whose missions make a difference in their lives and the lives of others. Very few donors are looking to have their names on a building or for a return on investment beyond the wonderful feeling that comes from helping others. Tax law changes in 2017 took away another motivation to give—a tax deduction for your charitable contributions. The good news: the tax incentives for giving are back (for most us)!

Infinite hope: An inspiring visit 10 years ago

I am one of the lucky ones. I am one of the people in this vast world who has had the true privilege to be greeted by Ashley Bryan at his front door and invited into his home. Ten years ago this spring, Peter Ralston and I traveled by mail boat from Northeast Harbor to Islesford to see Ashley is his studio, hear his stories, and tour around the island. It was my dream to put together a show of his work for the Archipelago Fine Arts Gallery, and we were blessed to be able to do a studio visit. Teri, Peter’s wife, joined us as well as Leo, my seven-month-old son.

Commercial Currents Podcast: Business in Uncertain Times—North Haven Brewing Co. & Maine Open Online

In this episode, we talk with Liz Lovell of North Haven Brewing Company on North Haven Island. She talks about how they’ve rewritten their business plan and are doing whatever they can do keep the lights on—but also be safe and help keep their community healthy. And along the lines of staying open, we also chat with Rebecca Falzano, co-founder of Helm Digital, the marketing firm that started Maine Open Online, a website database that any Maine business who sells online can and should join for free.

Sharing stories helps artists and makers face short and long-term challenges resulting from the pandemic

Maine’s creative economy is an important driver in many coastal communities which, according to the "Waypoints: Livelihoods" publication, have an average self-employed rate of 23%. Therefore, since the shutdown in late March, we have been doing several things earnestly: listening to artists, providing resources to support the self-employed, and sharing stories.

What Maine's small businesses need to know about the new stimulus funding

If you are a small business owner in Maine you’ve probably seen all of the emails whizzing by about the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) and Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) program funds being replenished. We just wanted to take this opportunity to provide you with information and links, both new and updated, to help you navigate this new funding landscape.

An essential need: How islanders find lodging during the pandemic

With Maine’s Stay Healthy at Home mandate and an executive order in place closing hotels except for a few very limited purposes, what do you do if you live on one of the offshore islands with limited ferry service and need to go to the mainland to get food or other supplies or visit a doctor? The co-chairs of the Maine Islands Coalition (MIC), the heads of the Penobscot Bay Regional Chamber of Commerce, Portland Regional Chamber of Commerce, Bar Harbor Chamber of Commerce, Mount Desert Chamber of Commerce, and the Island Institute recently sent a letter to Governor Mills requesting clarity on exceptions to the executive order's closing of lodging operations.

Commercial Currents Podcast: Business in Uncertain Times—Maine Small Business Development Centers

For the fourth episode in our "Business in Uncertain Times" podcast series, we speak with Shannon Byers, a business advisor with the Maine Small Business Development Centers and the center director for the location at Coastal Enterprises, Inc. in Ellsworth. As a business advisor, Shannon has she been helping business owners navigate federal aid and also innovate and think creatively right now.

Commercial Currents Podcast: Business in Uncertain Times—CARES Act & WindHorse Arts

For the third episode in our "Business in Uncertain Times" podcast series, we take a deeper look into the nuts and bolts of the CARES Act with Craig Olson, senior community development officer and head of the Small Business team at the Island Institute, and in the second part, we speak with Alison Thibault, owner of WindHorse Arts in downtown Vinalhaven, a jeweler of 20 years who has been working diligently to stay on top of the Small Business Administration's various disaster relief programs.

Commercial Currents: Business in Uncertain Times—Pendleton Yacht Yard

To better understand how our local small businesses are doing during this time of change, we are making a series of pre-recorded interviews with some of Maine's island and coastal small businesses. These short conversations designed to check in with these businesses, understand their concerns, and hear what's working well. This week, we talk with Gabe Pendleton of Pendleton Yacht Yard on Islesboro as he navigates the SBA relief loans and the recent CARES Act.