CDFI: Coastal Enterprises, Inc.
Loan type: Welfare-to-work loan
manufacturing company in Biddeford, Maine, produces aluminum targets used
in the vacuum sputtering equipment that deposit thin layers of metal on
CDs, and other similar specialty products. The company grosses about
$5 million a year, is profitable, and employs about 60 people.
Soleras needed financing in the early 1990s, they initially met resistance
from banks because they had no credit history. Fortunately, they heard
about Coastal Enterprises (CEI), a CDFI in Portland. As a standard condition
of their loans, CEI requires businesses to consider for jobs that become
available people coming off public assistance and other low-income people.
Not surprisingly, Solerass initial response to this requirement
was less than enthusiastic. As the company president said, "To be
honest, what we wanted was the money. We had never seen a job-training
agreement before. We looked at it, nodded our heads, signed on the bottom
line, and got the money."
Fortunately, CEIs referral and training programs are so good that
Soleras now sees CEI as a provider of valuable services. Production Manager
Jim Clark put it this way:
was a little bit leery at first because I guess I had a stereotype of
social service or welfare people that was incorrect. I always thought
that people on welfare were there because they wanted to be there. I found
out later that wasnt the case. They were there because they needed
it. We have put a lot of those people to work and they have proved to
be some of our best employees."
Soleras not only hired former AFDC recipients (both men and women), they
have gone on to initiate on-site training programs in cooperation with
the local community college. The company pays wages and benefits that
are above average in their area. CEI continues to be involved, giving
Soleras equity investments. Most recently CEI loaned Soleras $100,000
towards the construction of a new building.
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