Senators Collins, King Announce Nearly $300,000 in Grant Funding for Economic Development in Rural Maine

Washington, D.C. — U.S. Senators Susan Collins and Angus King announced today that six Maine economic development organizations and towns will receive a total of $296,000 in funding through the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). Maine Aquaculture Innovation Center, the Northern Maine Development Commission, the University of Maine System, Eastern Maine Development Corporation, the Town of Madawaska, and the Town of Ashland will all receive grants to support their work in Maine communities.

“Federal funding can play a pivotal role in the development of strategies to strengthen rural economies and assist communities across Maine,” Senators Collins and King said in a joint statement. “We commend the USDA for providing this important investment to help foster job creation in rural areas of our state.”

Maine Aquaculture Innovation Center will receive $90,282 to support the Maine Fisheries and Aquaculture Initiative. Funds will be used to provide business planning assistance to at least six existing businesses and technical training, business planning, and financing to ten new aquaculture businesses in Washington County.

Northern Maine Development Commission will receive $70,000 to establish a revolving loan fund to assist small and emerging businesses in Aroostook and Washington Counties.

University of Maine System will receive $50,000 to provide targeted technical assistance, training, and networking opportunities for twelve child care providers and eighteen small retail and service providers located in Northern Penobscot and Aroostook County.

Eastern Maine Development Corporation will receive $20,468 to finance Bixby & Co.'s Safe Quality Foods (SQF) certification, which will allow Bixby & Co. to become a mass manufacturer and distributor. Bixby & Co. is a craft confectionary company located in Rockland. This certification will allow Bixby & Co. to hire five new full-time employees over the next three years.

The Town of Madawaska will receive $49,500 to build a pavilion that will offer year-round services and access to local food for the St. John Valley Region.

The Town of Ashland will receive $15,750 for the initial standup and implementation of a strategic planning process and initiatives for economic development in the Route 11 corridor and to provide technical assistance to new business owners/investors in expansion opportunities in the project area.

Don Tardie, the Chair of the Ashland Area Economic Development Committee, stated that in addition to the grant Ashland received, “the Town of Ashland and major forest products businesses have contributed another $5,250 to boost out ability to provide the much-needed outreach in developing our regional workforce.”

The grants were awarded through USDA Rural Development’s Rural Business Development Grant program, which supports targeted technical assistance, training, and other activities leading to the development or expansion of small and emerging private businesses in rural areas.