Before joining MaineStream Finance, Ken was a sales and marketing manager where he worked with businesses ranging from the small operations to large chains. He has also managed an Internet development firm creating enterprise web sites for a wide variety of clients. He started and ran a small, high-end renovation company in New York City. Besides his background in sales and business, his work experience includes building musical instruments and commercial fishing. Greenleaf is also an artist and writer, and has written regular columns in the past for MaineBiz magazine, the Portland Newspapers and the Portland Phoenix. One of his clients called him the Swiss Army knife of small business
1. What is the MaineStream Finance's mission? Where does their funding come from?
MaineStream Finance is a CDFI, a Community Development Financial Institution, or non-profit bank. It was formed to support local economic growth by providing financial and consultation services to those who might otherwise not have access to them. MaineStream is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Penquis CAP, a large community action program based in Bangor. My office is in Rockland. MaineStream is largely funded through grants from federal agencies and private foundations. We have loan pools that are supported by banks, and have a relatively small but growing loan portfolio.
2. I understand MaineStream Finance is a source for small business loans. What kinds of businesses apply for and successfully receive those loans? What kind of assistance do you offer these businesses in applying for those loans?
We generally do microenterprise loans, starting from around $10,000 and up to $50,000 or so. We are an SBA and FAME lender, and often work in partnerships with commercial banks to help create a much larger package the will meet, for example, SBA requirements.
Much of my own work is developing business plans with entrepreneurs, helping them get ready for bank or other financing. I get referrals, for instance, from banks who have been approached by someone with a business idea, to help assemble a plan. This work, by the way, is always free to the client.
Our loan acceptability window is somewhat larger than a commercial bank. We can sometimes find ways to make a loan that regular banks cannot, perhaps because of credit or background issues. We help articulate the plan narrative and the profit and loss and cash flow projections that are necessary not only for a loan, but for good business management.
3. What kinds of educational programs does MaineStream Finance provide for entrepreneurs? How would an entrepreneur get involved with those programs?
Is there a fee involved?
We offer a number of programs for the entrepreneur. An example in the Midcoast is the Hatchery series, a seven-class seminar which address the issues an entrepreneur faces while starting a business. We also offer the Incubator Without Walls program that specifically addresses how to create a business plan, and the Business 101, a single class for beginners to get a taste of what it is like to start a business.
Our classes, schedules and other services, including home ownership, family development accounts and foreclosure abatement, are listed on the website, www.mainestreamfinance.org. These classes are free. At least one Hatchery member has gone on to Top Gun. They are complimentary programs.
4. Is there a specific geographic area Maine Stream Finance covers in Maine or are you a state wide organization?
Historically MaineStream has concentrated its business development activities in Piscataquis, Penobscot, Knox, and Waldo counties, with more occasional work in Lincoln and Hancock. That said, we have state-wide lending authority, and of late have been considering development projects in Cumberland county and down east, as well. Our goal is also to work more with the new farming businesses, which may take us to Somerset and Aroostook.
5. What do you wish more people understood about doing business in the Midcoast?
That it’s a great place to live, and draws people from all over the world who come here just because of that. The population is small, which is a makes it a great place to be, but it can be difficult if you expect to make your living marketing to the local area. But if your market is the planet, as it can be for many business now, the Midcoast has everything you need. Growing bandwidth, relatively low real estate prices, plenty of financial and business assistance resources and a lot of smart, interesting people. And you get to enjoy every commute, looking at stuff that people spend a lot of money to come here and see. The quality of life is very high.