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July 30, 2019

10 Maine projects will benefit from $3.2M in rural economic development grants

Photo / Maureen Milliken Johnson Hall in Gardiner is one of 10 beneficiaries of $3.2 million in rural economic and community development grants awarded to Maine.

A total of $3,242,078 has been awarded in Maine for rural economic and community development through the Northern Border Regional Commission’s State Economic and Infrastructure Grants.

Ten projects, ranging from sites in Gardiner to Madawaska and including wasterwater systems, bridges, bike trails and street upgrades, will benefit from the grant, authorized through the Northern Border Regional Commission Reauthorization Act. The bill passed Congress in March 2018 and was introduced by U.S. Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, and U.S. Sen. Angus King, I-Maine.

“The Northern Border Regional Commission is a critical source of investment for rural parts of our state, helping to grow the economy and create jobs,” said Collins and King Tuesday in a joint statement announcing the grant. “We welcome this continued funding for these projects that will help enhance economic growth, promote community development, and improve transportation infrastructure throughout Maine.”

Allocations will go to:

  • The Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry will receive $436,000 to buy a 32-mile rail corridor to be developed as a multi-use trail. The project will connect six towns in Kennebec and Somerset counties, become the main artery for ATV and snowmobile trail systems, and eliminate unsafe water crossing for trail users.
  • The town of Madawaska will receive $500,000 to support the new bridge/border station from Canada, allowing for an increase of tourism to downtown businesses that employ more than 270 residents.
  • The town of Rangeley will receive $500,000 to upgrade key transportation infrastructure on Loon Lake Road. The road connects Rangeley’s industrial park and adjacent airport.
  • Katahdin Area Trails will receive $250,000 to build nine miles of bike trail on Hammond Ridge, including a bike-only gravity trail, the first of its kind in Maine.
  • The city of Ellsworth will receive $500,000 to upgrade the Water Street wastewater pump, which handles two-thirds of the wastewater flow in Ellsworth. The pump is currently at capacity and has been experiencing seasonal overflows into the river because of to the increasing development pressure. The project will increase capacity and eliminate overflows.
  • Johnson Hall in Gardiner will get $387,092 to rework a section of Mechanic Street to make the walkways more accessible and expand the street for increased public parking and larger vehicle access. This project will also install an accessible stage lift, elevator and loading dock in Johnson Hall as part of its rehabilitation project.
  • The town of South Thomaston will receive $330,000 to reconstruct an 800-foot section of Spruce Island Road, which serves lobster processing co-ops and other fishing operations and restaurants. The road improvements are critical for an estimated 114 jobs and an economic value of $16 million.
  • Northern Maine Community College in Presque Isle will receive $59,850 to replace an ineffective ventilation system and upgrade overhead lighting to provide an advanced systems hydraulic training simulator for the diesel hydraulics technology program. 
  • Our Katahdin will get $200,000 to restore below-market hydroelectric access to Our Katahdin’s industrial site by repurposing a new substation and providing power distribution. The project will create jobs through private investment through new business tenants in the area.
  • Axiom Education and Training Center in Machias will get $79,136 to support 32 AmeriCorps volunteers and staff that will provide digital literacy training for 10,000 adult learners at 237 learning sites throughout Maine. The project will increase employability of participants, who will be better qualified for higher-paying jobs.

NBRC funds grants for infrastructure projects throughout northern and central Maine, as well as northern New York, New Hampshire and Vermont, spurring rural economic and community development.

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