Jan 8, 2019
On episode 55 we welcome Gray Harris, Senior Vice President of
food systems at Coastal Enterprises, Inc. (CEI) in Brunswick Maine.
Harris is responsible for the strategy, development and
implementation of action-oriented business initiatives in the
agriculture, food systems, and aquaculture and fisheries sectors.
In her role, Gray assesses sector needs and identifies sources of
specialized technical assistance and financing for start-up and
expanding food businesses; this includes spearheading the
development of funds for sector-specific lending and investing at
In our 45 minute conversation we discuss the ins and outs of investing in regional and sustainable food systems of the Northeast and beyond. CEI is a mission-driven lender and investor specializing in rural business development and financing. In Maine, and throughout the U.S., CEI helps to create economically and environmentally healthy communities in which all people, especially those with low incomes, can reach their full potential. CEI is unique with its dossier of offerings which include business loans, micro-loans, new market tax credits, sub-debt loans, SBA 504 loans, business plans, marketing plans, business advising, financial advising, and public policy leadership.
Gray Harris is a former director of the Maine Farms for the Future program, a statewide business planning and grants program for Maine farmers. She participates in numerous action-oriented initiatives statewide, including the boards of Wolfe’s Neck Farm and the Maine Harvest Credit Union, the Tech Board of the Maine Technology Institute, and she’s a marathon runner! This all comes in handy with her role of conducting Maine’s Value chain.
Dutch-American agricultural economist Renée Vassilos joins again
as our co-host. Stemming from fifteen years of agriculture
industry know-how with John Deere and the USDA, Vassilos leverages
her global cross-functional experience to support the growth of
sustainability-focused agriculture business. We’re lucky to
have her wealth of knowledge in the co-pilot seat for these types
Tune-In to hear more from our conversation which ranged from place-based investment, circular economies, Maine fisheries and we profile the vertical integration of some of the best beer you’ll ever get to experience with Lunch!