December 04, 2023

FAME Celebrates 40 Years of Maine Success Stories at Showcase Maine Event

AUGUSTA — The Finance Authority of Maine (FAME) celebrated forty years of business and education success stories and partnerships at its annual meeting and awards event, Showcase Maine, on Thursday, November 16, 2023, at South Portland’s Portland Sheraton at Sable Oaks.

Showcase Maine is FAME’s annual celebration of its successful partnerships with Maine’s business, lending, governmental, and higher education communities. The event featured a reception, including a showcase of exhibits by Maine businesses and educational organizations that partner with FAME. Entertainment was provided by comedian Karen Morgan. Madeline Emery, a sophomore at Kennebunk High School who studies voice at River Tree Arts, performed the national anthem, as well.

“It is through our partners in Maine’s business, lending, governmental, and higher education communities that we are able to help Maine people achieve their business and education goals,” said FAME CEO Carlos Mello. “None of us alone has the breadth, scale, scope, resources, and capabilities to do it alone, but together, as a public-private ecosystem, for the betterment of the businesses and people of Maine, there is nothing we cannot accomplish. The past forty years have been bright, but they pale to what the next forty years hold in store for Maine.”

During its first forty years, FAME supported with its partners nearly 10,000 Maine companies with approximately $2.5 billion in financing, helping to create and retain over 200,000 Maine jobs. In fiscal year 2023 alone, this Maine ecosystem of lenders and economic development organizations supported a quarter of a billion dollars in financing for Maine’s businesses. Since 1990, when it assumed administration of the state’s higher education grant, loan, and loan repayment programs, FAME, along with its partner higher education and workforce development organizations, has awarded over $440 million in grants and loans to over 270,000 Maine students.

This year’s award recipients included:  

  • Business at Work for Maine Award – Springworks Farm Maine: Springworks Farm was honored for their success at starting and expanding a unique aquaponics organic lettuce farm to produce a sustainable year-round food source thereby creating jobs and benefitting Maine’s economy. The farm grows over two million heads of lettuce and produces approximately 150,000 pounds of tilapia fish annually. Trevor Kenkel, a Bowdoin College alumnus, started the company in 2014 at age nineteen when he bought a 168-acre farm in Lisbon. By 2021, the company had nearly forty employees and opened its third greenhouse. FAME commercial loan insurance in partnership with a loan by Farm Credit East helped to finance the construction by Springworks of an additional greenhouse at its farm and to provide working capital. The company also will benefit from a Thrive Maine forgivable loan.
  • Education at Work for Maine Award – Maine School Counselors: FAME recognized all of Maine’s school counselors for their unwavering and extraordinary support of Maine students throughout the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond. FAME’s college access and financial education outreach team has witnessed firsthand the positive and lasting impact Maine school counselors have on their students. They help students build their confidence, provide a safe space where they can share their dreams and fears, and offer thoughtful and caring guidance to their students as they navigate their educational and personal journeys. The award was presented to representatives of the Maine Counseling Association and the Maine School Counselor Association. 
  • Lender at Work for Maine Award (over $1.5 billion in assets)- Camden National Bank: This was the bank’s thirteenth time as an awardee. Over the past year, Camden National Bank partnered with FAME on 59 loans totaling approx. $23 million. This helped to create 100 Maine jobs and retain an additional 386 jobs. One notable transaction on which FAME partnered with Camden concerned Magic Falls Adventures, LLC, a rafting company located in West Forks. The financing helped to create 1 job and retain 20 jobs. The company, now celebrating its thirty-fifth year of operation, specializes in whitewater rafting adventures, including camping and lodging. In addition to being a top partner in stimulating economic development in Maine, Camden National Bank is actively committed to the communities in which it operates. Founded in 1875, the bank encourages employee volunteerism and makes donations to local nonprofits.
  • Lender at Work for Maine Award (up to $1.5 billion in assets) – Evergreen Credit Union: Evergreen Credit Union was recognized for the second year in a row in the category for lenders with less than $1.5 billion in assets. Over the past year, FAME partnered with Evergreen Credit Union on 24 loans totaling approx. $8.5 million. This helped to create 43 Maine jobs and retain an additional 205 jobs. One company benefitting from FAME’s partnership with Evergreen Credit Union is MGS Services, LLC, d/b/a Maine GuardSafe, located in Portland and with clients in Maine and New Hampshire. The company offers a wide variety of professional security solutions from event security, corporate security and even construction site security. They also offer patrol services and pride themselves on customizing safety and security needs for their clients. Six jobs were created and 32 were retained as a result of this financing. Evergreen is one of the largest credit unions in Maine, with $508 million in assets as of March 2023. Evergreen proudly serves individuals, families, and local businesses throughout southern Maine. They strive to benefit their neighbors and organizations by donating time and resources, as well.
  • Lender at Work for Maine Award (most enhanced partnership) – First National Bank: First National Bank was honored this year for having greatly increased its partnership with FAME on various financing projects. This past year, FAME partnered with the bank on 15 loans to Maine companies totaling approximately $9.3 million. This helped to create 54 Maine jobs and retain an additional 115 jobs. First National Bank partnered with FAME to provide a loan to Boothbay Sea and Science Center. The company provides a community sea and science education center that offers equal and affordable access to the waterfront for youth through sailing, boating, and marine science experiential learning programs, and activities. Boothbay Sea and Science Center aims to inspire individuals to strengthen themselves and their community through the enjoyment of the sea. First National Bank invites customers to become part of their Dream First Community. Members who open a Spark, #E-Chieve, or Inspire checking account are automatically enrolled in the Bank Local, Buy Local, Give Local Dream First Community program. By doing so, members can support local businesses while helping tackle food insecurity here in Maine. Also, when members shop locally with their First National Bank VISA® Debit Card, FNB donates money to local food banks.

Prior to the event, the FAME board of directors held its monthly meeting. The current slate of officers was re-elected to one-year terms. Officers elected for additional one-year terms include: Richard Trafton, Esq. (Chair); Dustin Brooks (Vice Chair); and Rebecca Asen (Treasurer).

FAME is a quasi-independent state agency celebrating its fortieth anniversary in 2023 that provides financial solutions that help Maine people achieve their business and higher education goals. FAME helps to create a Maine workforce that with good-paying jobs by focusing on the nexus of economic and educational development. FAME recently was recognized for the eighth year in a row as one of the Best Places to Work in Maine. To learn more about FAME, please visit

Business at Work for Maine Award presentation to Springworks Farms employees: Trevor Kenkel, Founder and President (second from left); Emily Donaldson, Director of Business Development; Chris Curran; Jeff Daddio, CFO; and James Carew. FAME CEO Carlos Mello is at center and FAME Commercial Loan Officer Jay Beck is at far left.

Education at Work for Maine Award presentation to various Maine School Counselors. FAME CEO Carlos Mello is at far left and FAME College Access and Outreach Manager Mila Tappan is at far right. School counselors pictured are: Leslie Smith (Hermon High School); Kalyn Black (Mid-Maine Technical Center); Beth Doane (Yarmouth High School); Kris Croteau (Mid-Maine Technical Center); Jill Piker (Lisbon High School); Jessica Green (Southern Aroostook Community High School); Scott Harris (Scarborough Public Schools); Laura Richardson (Cony High School); Beth Russell (Cony Middle and High Schools); Rebecca Edelman (Husson University); and Maggie Davis (Gould Academy).

Lender at Work for Maine award #3 (Most Enhanced Partnership) presentation by FAME CEO Carlos Mello (right) and FAME Director of Business Jennifer Cummings (left) to First National Bank’s Executive Vice President, Chief Lending Officer Jon Nickelson.

Photos by Sharyn Peavey Photography