By Ramona du houx
The Gardiner Food Co-op & Café has been awarded a $90,000 Community Development Block Grant to create new jobs with the opening of its storefront late in May of this year.
"The co-op project is a perfect example of the convergence of community and economic development."The future economy in Maine will be based on the confluence of quality of place along with balancing a local and global economy," said Gardiner Economic Development Coordinator Patrick Wright.
Grant funds awarded to the co-op will be used to provide working capital and to acquire much-needed equipment for the storefront at 269 Water St. in the heart of Gardiner's re-emerging historic district. The co-op, which started as the Kennebec Local Food Initiative before coming into its current form over the past three years, has direct access from the municipal parking lot and is seen as an anchor that will provide foot traffic for other downtown businesses.
CDBG Economic Development Grants are federal grants distibuted through state program which focus on local businesses and economic development infrastructure. Maine's Department of Economic and Community Developement awards the grants and is funded annually through the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.
The program provides communities with resources to address a wide range of unique community development needs. In 2014 there were 29 applications received by the CDBG Economic Development Program totaling over $7 million in requests. Of these, 18 applications were funded through the program's $2.7 million allocation.