We are thrilled to announce the Island Institute’s 2023 Business Resilience Grant awardees, a remarkable group of businesses and entrepreneurs who are at the forefront of building resilience in Maine’s coastal communities. From Eastport to York and islands in between, these business owners are committed to sustainability, innovation, and supporting their communities.
The Business Resilience Grant program was established with the mission to help promising businesses in our coastal communities find the resources they need to grow and thrive. By providing financial support, technical assistance, and mentorship, the Island Institute aims to bolster the resilience of local businesses, enabling them to weather storms, adapt to changing markets, and seize opportunities that lie ahead.
As we all know, island and coastal businesses face unique challenges whether those are the cost of housing and transportation, finding and retaining employees, adapting to a changing climate, or the lingering impacts of the pandemic. But what we may not know is how a business that adapts and survives through these challenges is able to inspire others to do the same. By finding ways to turn challenges into opportunities, small businesses often lead their communities by example and make it more possible for those with their own ideas to follow. By investing in business resilience, we help safeguard economic stability and amplify the ripple effect that benefits not only a single business but an entire community.
It’s also important to remember that Maine’s coastal communities are on the front lines of climate change impacts, such as sea-level rise, increased storm intensity, and warming waters. Supporting resilience means championing sustainable practices, renewable energy initiatives, and environmentally conscious strategies. In doing so we can embrace innovative solutions that foster a culture of environmental responsibility and ensure the long-term health of our coastal communities and their natural surroundings.
Creating resilient businesses is also not a solitary endeavor but a collaborative effort. Island Institute works to foster networks and partnerships and aims to create spaces for entrepreneurs to share knowledge, exchange best practices, and collaborate to develop new ideas. In short, it takes a village – or in this case, a community. And when it comes to starting a small business, it’s often the case that without the support of your community, nothing is possible; but with the support of your community, anything is possible.
By helping businesses connect with the best resources available, we try to make it easier to succeed and harder to fail. Whether these are financial tools or business resources, help with strategy and networking, or finding the right financing to reach the next stage of growth, the Island Institute tries to meet these businesses where they are instead of telling them where to go.
Promoting business resilience also requires fostering a culture of innovation and entrepreneurship. When many people think of innovation they think only of big companies in big cities, but not us. We are inspired by innovation taking place at all levels of business. Whether it is a fisherman learning to farm, or a general store owner finding ways to make their employees happier at work, these are all ways leaders think creatively to improve their business and community. Resilient businesses are better equipped to adapt to market disruptions, effectively manage risk, and capture opportunities, helping ensure the prosperity of Maine’s coastal communities.
Finally, it is time to introduce our latest Business Resilience Grant Awardees: While we wish we could award grants to all the worthy applicants we had this year; we are very proud of the businesses we were able to support. This year’s exceptional cohort of Business Resilience Grant awardees are pursuing projects that span a wide range of sectors – from aquaculture and livestock to island-based artists and coffee roasters.
Thank you to everyone who applied or shared the news of our Business Resilience grant program this year. To sign up for our newsletter, click here, and if you happen to be in one of the communities below, please stop by and say hello to one of these great businesses.
A-Z Cleaning – Long Island
A-Z Cleaning is a mother-daughter family business on Long Island that is using this grant to upgrade their equipment so that they can expand during the upcoming summer season.
Bay Lady Scallop Company – Islesford
Bay Lady Scallop Company is using these funds to launch their farm and create a new business in the aquaculture industry.
Beth Putnam Kelp – Chebeague
Beth is using this grant to buy the equipment necessary to outfit a lobster boat so that it can harvest her 10,000 feet of kelp lines.
Cold Current Kelp – York
Cold Current Kelp is capturing the momentum of Maine’s growing kelp industry by developing added-value products using kelp extracts for skincare products.
Cranberry Oysters – Islesford
Cranberry Oysters grows roughly 300,000 oysters per year using 200 cages that need to be flipped every week by hand. This work is very physically demanding, and they will use these funds to increase productivity by building a cage-flipper.
Christina Vincent Northshore – North Haven
Christina is an artists and woodworker that is using this grant to purchase equipment and training to make her production more efficient so that she can sell more products to a wider market.
Ferda Farms – Brunswick
Ferda Farms is a bombazine oyster farm using solar energy for its processing. This young team is using grant funding to develop and execute plans to double their production.
Horn Run Brewing – Eastport
During the summer season Horn Run Brewing often doesn’t have enough space for its guests. This grant will allow them to increase their seating space by 50% so they can capture more of the summer profits that help them stay afloat year-round.
Hurricane Sound Oysters – Vinalhaven
Oysters grow best when they have space to grow. Hurricane Sound Oysters will use this grant to buy more equipment which will allow them to grow more oysters in more space.
Islesford Artists Gallery – Islesford
Lighting is often the largest electrical cost in a building. Islesford Artists Gallery is using this grant to upgrade their lighting and reduce energy costs which will result in long-term savings for years to come.
Maine Island Aquaculture – North Haven
Maine Island Aquaculture is using these funds to buy monitoring equipment for their boat so that they are able to determine better placement and growth of their scallop and seaweed farming.
Midcoast Barge Works – Belfast
Midcoast Barge Works provides a critical service to Maine’s island communities by shipping food, products and people to islands in Muscongus and Penobscot Bays. They will use these funds to buy ramp extension equipment which will allow them to access more shallow areas and make it easier to reach more locations.
Monhegan Coffee Roasters – Monhegan
Monhegan Coffee Roasters has been roasting and selling coffee beans on this small island for years but is now ready to expand into selling brewed coffee and espresso to costumers using this grant funding.
Mooks Sea Farm – Walpole
Mooks Sea Farm is suffering from success and needs funding to replace old equipment and expand their operations. While this grant won’t help them get all of the way, it will help them upgrade their oyster grading machine in their packing plant.
North Haven Painting Company – North Haven
Life on Maine’s islands often requires multiple sources of income to stay afloat. As Hannah works with her husband Connor to grow their scallop business, she also wants to diversify her income during the off season by painting houses. This grant will help purchase the equipment needed to make starting their aquaculture business possible.
North Haven Oyster Company – North Haven
Coastal infrastructure is critical to allowing working waterfront businesses to operate. North Haven Oyster Company needs to rebuild its wharf so that they can continue their farm operations. This grant will be used to purchase the lumber needed to keep this critical infrastructure intact.
Pemetic Sea Farm – East Orland
Pemetic Sea Farm is successfully producing roughly 30,000 oysters per year and wants to take advantage of that success by increasing their capacity to market and ship their products to wider markets. These funds will be used to hire a temporary marketing staff member to upgrade their processes for the long-term.
Sealord – Islesford
Aquaculture businesses and the working waterfront at large often need divers to monitor or maintain their crop or infrastructure. Sealord is using these funds to grow its diving services which will help the health of their own scallop farm but also provide services to many other businesse on the water.
Seven Sisters Seaweed – Swan’s Island
Seven Sisters Seaweed is the first ever seaweed farm on Swan’s Island and these funds will be used to buy equipment to dry, package, and process kelp to be sold to a partner business on the mainland.
Sumner Crew’s Dairy Goat Products – Cranberry Isles
Island agriculture is often thought of a thing of the past, but not on Cranberry Isles. The Sumner Crew is using these funds to purchase more goats for their farm and the equipment to begin producing ice cream, yogurt, and soap from their growing dairy farm.
The Island Closet – Vinalhaven
The Island Closet stocks everything from electronics to medical supplies for those on Vinalhaven, and they will use these funds to create an online store as well as to provide printing services to customers.
Thread and Dirt Studio – North Haven
Art is a significant way in which many islanders generate income. Thread and Dirt Studio is using these funds to purchase equipment to expand their pottery production as well as their studio space to increase production.
Wild Cider LLC – Roque Bluffs
Wild Cider is a rural business working to create added-value products out of apples and blueberries such as ciders and wines. These types of businesses often need many hands and offer a source of part-time employment for those in the area. Wild Cider LLC will use these funds to grow their production with new storage tanks and labeling machines.
WildHorse Arts – Vinalhaven
WildHorse Arts will be using its grant to increase the space for their gallery and this space will also be used to provide training and workshops for those who want to develop their art. By helping WildHorse Arts grow, we hope they will teach and inspire others to join Maine’s creative economy.
Explore our map to learn more about grant recipients up and down the coast.