By Ramona du Houx
Four Maine organizations in northern Maine have been selected to receive USDA grants that will benefit people living in rural communities in ways that will enhance their regions creative economy.
“Each of the USDA Rural Development grants play a vital role in the community they serve. From providing economic development opportunities that will assist the Aroostook Band of Micmac Indians in utilizing valuable Tribal resources, to supporting performing art, agricultural history, and vital health and wellness equipment for children, these grants make an important impact on the quality of life for Northern Maine citizens," said USDA Rural Development State Director Virginia Manuel.
In Maine, four organizations have been selected to receive Grants totaling $212,753:
- Aroostook Band of Micmac Indians, in Presque Isle, has been selected to receive a Rural Business Development Grant in the amount of $122,953. Rural Development funds will be used to develop a strategic economic and community development plan to consider the best use of the Tribe’s 3,000 acres of land, other Tribal assets, and the community ecosystem. Feasibility analyses and business plans for two potential Tribal enterprises, specialty foods, and alternative energy will be funded. This projects is estimated to create up to 20 jobs and save up to 10.
- Southern Aroostook Agricultural Museum, in Littleton, has been selected to receive a Community Facility Grant in the amount of $14,700. Rural Development funds will be used to replace the heating system in the museum, which is dedicated to preserving artifacts of the agricultural way of life in Aroostook County and what early farm life was like. The existing steam heating system is approximately 65 years old and unreliable and inefficient to operate compared to current technologies. They will replace it with a more modern oil fired hot water boiler system
- Maine School Administrative District 27, in Fort Kent, has been selected to receive a Community Facility Grant in the amount of $42,000. Rural Development funds will be used to purchase and install wellness equipment for the Fort Kent Elementary School playground. In designing the playground structure, the District incorporated components that are particularly appropriate for occupational therapy and physical therapy students as well as the general population. The structure will also be ADA compliant.\
- Center Theatre, Inc., in Dover-Foxcroft has been selected to receive a Community Facility Grant in the amount of $33,100. Rural Development funds will be used to purchase lighting, sound, stage, and other equipment needed to provide the Theatre an opportunity to increase capacity by utilizing the stage and event space available at Central Hall. This will allow for them to host dances and provide dinner theater activities that cannot be held at their existing facility. Central Hall will also be a dedicated rehearsal space.
Each grant reciepient is part of a regional economic development plan developed by a local/regional team with broad participation. These plans are built upon analysis of the region’s assets, including its key current and emerging economic clusters. These multi-county regions can be within the state or may cross state boundaries.