CEI Capital Management LLC announced its $1.49 million Maine New Markets Capital Investment Tax Credit financing to support the ongoing revitalization of Saddleback Mountain Ski Resort (Saddleback) a four-season resort and leading northeastern travel destination in Rangeley, Maine. The tax credit investment will be managed by Arctaris Impact Investors (Arctaris), a Boston-based firm.
“The revitalization of the Saddleback Mountain Ski Resort will be a significant driver of economic activity in Rangeley,” said CEI Capital Management CEO, Traci Vaine. “With living wages, good benefits and access to child care services, Saddleback is positioned to be the premiere employer in the region. These are the kind of good jobs CEI Capital Management targets with its investments, both in Maine, and in other rural regions nationwide.”
“At Arctaris, our mission is to integrate impact into every investment decision and drive equitable prosperity in under-resourced rural and urban communities,” said Uche Osuji, Arctaris Managing Director. “Our investment in the Saddleback Mountain Ski Resort reignites an economic engine in Western Maine through quality job creation. These types of investments are possible only with like-minded program partners like CEI Capital Management.”
Despite several previous redevelopment attempts, the Saddleback resort has been largely dormant since 2015, a great employment and economic loss to the community.
Since 2019, Arctaris and its partners have invested more than $26 million in revitalizing the resort’s facilities and equipment, allowing the mountain to open for skiing in the winter of 2020. However, a significant financing gap remained, potentially halting the momentum of redevelopment.
Through the Maine New Markets Capital Investment Tax Credit program, CEI Capital Management was able to attract $1.49 million in private investment to the project, which will allow Arctaris to purchase and install a new high speed detachable quad chairlift, increasing the resort’s capacity for skiers while maintaining vital momentum from the reopening.
“The purchase and redevelopment of Saddleback has always been about the more comprehensive redevelopment of the region,” said Andy Shepard, General Manager and CEO of Saddleback Mountain. “The money we invested in getting the mountain back on its feet last summer set us up for a successful reopening. The support of CEI will allow us to continue to move ahead with our ambitious plans for the region including employee housing, greater access to health and wellness care, year-round benefits for seasonal workers and greater access to childcare.”
The Saddleback revitalization is expected to create more than 200 full-time and part-time jobs. The 48 full-time jobs will offer living wages, good benefit packages and job training and advancement opportunities. Approximately 154 part-time and seasonal positions will offer starting wages at $12.50 per hour and provide access to a special benefits package that includes paid and unpaid leave, reimbursement of medical costs and free Teladoc Health medical consultations.
In order to attract and retain employees in Rangeley, Arctaris is committed to supporting a community benefits agreement proposed by CEI Capital Management as part of the investment, including job creation and benefits, establishing a day care facility at the resort, and broadband improvement resources.
In addition to creating jobs, Saddleback is expected to generate visitor spending exceeding $6 million per year, benefitting area small businesses, diversifying the local economy and increasing tax revenues.
“The energy and enthusiasm of having saddleback up and running was contagious for our whole community,” said Kate Williamson, Chair of Rangeley Region Economic Opportunity Committee and General Manager of The Gingerbread House. “We are excited to see the future growth for the mountain and the increase in services, jobs and opportunities for the entire community.”
Additional financing for the Project includes $1 million direct loan from the Finance Authority of Maine (FAME), a loan guarantee up to $2.5 million from FAME, $1 million loan from Maine Rural Development Authority, various grants and donations from local and regional foundations, and equity and debt investments by Arctaris and other capital providers.