Commercial Currents: Investing in Professional Development

Stephenie MacLagan
Posted 2018-03-15

Winter is often a slower time for business along Maine’s coast, allowing all of us a bit of space to think about upcoming opportunities and challenges facing our businesses. Maybe there is a certification that you have been meaning to pursue for years that would allow you to expand your business. Or maybe you are interested in working with a consultant to be more effective in advertising your products. The Island Institute is offering our Microgrants for Entrepreneurship and Community Impact (MECI) to island and coastal businesses who want to improve the way their business is run. 

Grant applications are accepted on a rolling basis and can total up to $1,500 per business. We intend these grants to help businesses invest in areas that would make the business more successful in the long term. If you are interested in applying for a MECI grant, read below, and reach out to us to discuss your idea. We are excited to hear from you! 

Who is eligible?

Participants of the Island and Coastal Business Launchpad Program who aspire to meet one or more of the Impact Indicators (below) are encouraged to apply. The grants are intended to help entrepreneurs meet professional development goals and create more stable businesses.

Any small business located in a Maine coastal or island community is welcome to inquire about the Island and Coastal Business Launchpad Program, which provides small business support to entrepreneurs. 

What is the size of the grants?

The maximum grant amount is $1,500. MECI applications with a requested amount that is more than $1,500 will be considered only if significant need is demonstrated and community impact is proven. (Additional grant terms would apply for recipients of Island and Coastal Innovation Fund investments.) 

How and when do I apply?

With a MECI application form, the applicant will need to justify how the money will be used to meet one or more of the Impact Indicators (below). Island Institute welcomes applications on a rolling basis. MECI applications are available on our website or by contacting Stephenie MacLagan

What are the requirements of the grant?

MECI recipients will be required to submit a one-page report every six months for the duration of one year that explains how the money has been used and how it helped the business. 

Impact Indicators

To support small business success that leads to beneficial impacts to entrepreneurs and Maine coastal and island communities, the Island Institute uses the following Impact Indicators:

  • The business benefits the local community through increased, or more reliable or consistent, employment opportunities.
  • The business increases the supply or diversity of locally available supplies and services.
  • The business makes living locally more affordable for full-time residents.
  • The business helps build a local or regional brand.
  • The business benefits the local community through tax or other financial 
  • The business adds diversity or resiliency to the local economy.
  • The business helps diversify the marine economy.
  • The business encourages or supports sustainability practices.
  • The business conveys objectives and targets for environmental aspects its 
  • The business reduces energy usage and costs.
  • The business grows and thrives.
  • The business improves its operating and financial efficiencies.
  • The business attracts financial support in addition to MECI.
  • The business pays back its loans, on time and in full, to help ensure that 
funds can be deployed to other community-focused enterprises.
  • The business invests in employee professional development to further the 
success of the business.

Resources for businesses and the self-employed 

Take the time to care for your business:

Learn more about available resources:

  • Loans and grants from the Island & Coastal Innovation Fund support community-oriented businesses and help them start or grow.
  • Loans and grants from the Maine Technology Institute help businesses innovate.
  • Innovate for Maine matches students and businesses for internships.

What We Do

The Island Institute’s Economic Development program helps entrepreneurs navigate the complexities of starting and growing a business. To learn more about our small business support services, feel free to contact Alli Carmen.

Commercial Currents is for Maine’s island and coastal small businesses. To find archived editions, go to