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October 13, 2011 | last updated December 2, 2011 6:33 pm

$3.5M to revitalize 11 downtowns

The Maine Department of Economic and Community Development has awarded 11 grants totaling $3.5 million to downtown revitalization projects around the state.

The department received a total of 32 applications seeking more than $8.6 million from the Communities for Maine's Future program, according to a press release from Portland-based organization GrowSmart, which in 2009 helped get the program approved by the Maine Legislature. The communities receiving awards are Bath, Belfast, Dover-Foxcroft, Eastport, Livermore Falls, Monmouth, Norway, Rockland, Skowhegan, Unity and Winthrop. Those communities will match the grants with a total of $11.2 million in local funds for projects that will restore key buildings in the community and improve pedestrian access and safety.

The grants are funded through a bond approved by Maine voters in June 2010. The program, which was also backed by the Maine Downtown Coalition, is intended to stimulate economic and community development in downtown areas and create jobs. It replaces the DECD's Municipal Investment Trust Fund.

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