Today the Maine Development Foundation’s Maine Downtown Center, in collaboration with MCD Public Health, launched Healthy Maine Streets, an innovative new initiative to support health and wellness in Maine’s small communities. This grant, specifically focused on small downtown businesses, is a part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Community Transformation Grants (CTG) program to support public health efforts to reduce chronic diseases, promote healthier lifestyles, reduce health disparities, and control health care spending in small communities. The collaborating partners have identified these health issues as critical to improving the lives of Maine citizens and our economy.
“The cost of health care and absenteeism is a significant drain on the bottom line for most small businesses, most of whom would rather invest their precious financial resources to strengthen their business and improve their buildings,” stated Roxanne Eflin, Senior Program Director of the Maine Development Foundation’s Maine Downtown Center.
Today’s kickoff provided essential training and resource tools for the downtown coordinators who will be convening their local Wellness Committees. At least 10 small businesses per downtown will be participating in activities geared toward worksite wellness and preventative care, such as proper nutrition, physical activity and tobacco use.
Healthy Maine Streets will build on the Maine Downtown Center’s well-established downtown revitalization framework of Main Street Maine organizations and Maine Downtown Network programs to strengthen small businesses by leveraging community health improvements in a number of mostly rural towns, with a combined population of 180,000. Those communities include the nationally designated Main Street communities of Bath, Belfast, Biddeford, Brunswick, Gardiner, Rockland, Saco, Sanford, Skowhegan and Waterville as well as the Maine Downtown Network communities of Augusta, Bar Harbor, Dover-Foxcroft, Lisbon, Machias, Millinocket, Norway and Presque Isle. This CTG grant to fund this pilot program continues through September 2014.