USDA invests $3.3 Billion total during Obama years in ME - most recent $11.1 million in Community Infrastructure Systems

Winter Harbor Utility District has been selected to receive a $2,300,000 USDA grant

Most recent USDA projects are located in Hancock, Penobscot, Washington, Somerset, Aroostook, and Lincoln Counties

Since the beginning of the Obama Administration in Fiscal Year 2009, Maine Rural Development has invested an historic $3.3 billion in Maine’s rural communities through its programs.

 By Ramona du Houx

USDA Rural Development announced investments in six Maine communities totaling $11.1 million. These funds will improve the quality of life for the residents though enhanced infrastructure and essential community facilities.

“These meaningful community projects will benefit thousands of Maine residents in significant ways, including improved access to wastewater infrastructure, healthcare and mental health programs, and the expansion of an education facility,” said USDA Rural Development State Director Virginia Manuel.

 USDA invested a total of $402.3 million in Maine communities in Fiscal Year 2016.

“Rural Development is a remarkable agency within the USDA that can build rural Maine communities from the ground up, investing in the community infrastructure that lays the foundation for strategic economic development. Rural Development invests in the homeowners, businesses, agricultural producers, and communities that help to make Maine a great place to work and call home,” said Manuel.  

The funding was in the form of loans and grants through the agency’s Housing, Community, and Business & Cooperative Programs, and went directly to recipients in rural. 

  • Through the agency’s Housing Programs, a total of $316.8 million was invested in both homeownership and affordable rental housing in Maine.
  • Through the agency’s Single-Family Housing Programs 1,849 Maine families became homeowners and 130 families were assisted with home repair and rehabilitation, including weatherization of their homes.
  • Through the agency’s Multi-Family Housing Programs 8,003 families were assisted with quality rental housing throughout Maine’s rural communities.

Maine communities benefited from a total investment of $55.09 million invested through the Community Programs which was provided to assist essential community facilities, including healthcare facilities, schools, and water and wastewater systems. A total of 36 community facilities were funded, and a total of 16,698 people were provided with improved water and wastewater infrastructure.

 The Business & Cooperative Programs strengthened Maine’s economy through investments totaling $8.7 million, assisting 411 Maine businesses and creating and retaining a total of 926 jobs in the state. Maine’s agricultural producers and rural small businesses benefited from grants for value-added production and the installation of renewable and energy efficient systems, helping preserve the environment and reduce operating costs.

Since the beginning of the Obama Administration in Fiscal Year 2009, Maine Rural Development has invested an historic $3.3 billion in Maine’s rural communities through its programs.

These funds are, assisting 18,181 individuals and families to obtain homeownership or make repairs to their homes, constructing 42 Multi-Family Apartment buildings, investing in 250 essential community facilities, including water and waste facilities, assisting 3,505 Maine businesses, and impacting 10,211 jobs.

Throughout President Obama’s eight years billions of dollars have been granted to Maine to help rural communities grow their economies — from helping alternative energy start ups to farmers, businesses, homeowners and local government entities. The USDA has been the major government investor in research and development agriculture and alternative energy in Maine, since Governor John Baldacci’s administration.

The most recent six projects to receive funding:

  • Winter Harbor Utility District has been selected to receive a total of $4,600,000 (Water and Waste Farm Bill Section 6025 Loan in the amount of $2,300,000 and Grant in the amount of $2,300,000). Rural Development funds will used to upgrade the District’s wastewater treatment facility and collection system. The wastewater treatment facility has been in operation for 40+ years and currently serves 244 residential and 27 commercial/governmental customers. The upgrades are required due to the age and condition of the existing facility and to ensure the District will meet clean water standards. The District’s wastewater system plays an important role in preserving the waters of Henry Cove and the Atlantic Ocean.
  • Penquis Mental Health Association has been selected to receive a Community Facility Direct Loan in the amount of $170,000. Rural Development funds will be used to purchase an existing residential facility that will provide essential development and intellectual disability services. This project will provide a facility for the applicant’s Adult Residential Supported Living program. The program provides those with special needs with a stable living environment that allows individuals to focus on personal growth and other dimensions such as friendships, employment, long-term recovery, and full community inclusion.
  • City of Eastport has been selected to receive a total of $4,000,000 (Water and Waste Farm Bill Section 6025 Loan in the amount of $2,000,000 and Grant in the amount of $2,000,000.) Rural Development funds will be used to upgrade the City’s wastewater treatment facility and collection system. The wastewater treatment facility currently serves 493 residential and 53 commercial/ governmental customers. The upgrades are required due to the age and condition of the existing facility and to ensure the City will meet clean water standards. The City’s wastewater system plays an important role in preserving the Cobscook Bay and Passamaquoddy Bay and the waters of the Atlantic Ocean.
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  • Kennebec Montessori School, Inc. (photo left) has been selected to receive a Community Facilities Direct Loan in the amount of $700,000. Rural Development funds will be used to construct a 2,400 sq.ft.addition to the existing school located in Fairfield. This project is needed to provide the space needed to accommodate expanded upper elementary classes.
  • Fish River Rural Health has been selected to receive a Community Facility Direct Loan in the amount of $1,350,000. Rural Development Community Facility Loan funding will be used to construct a medical facility in Fort Kent. The US Department of Health and Human Services has designated the area as a Medically Underserved Area for primary care, mental health, and dental health. Fish River Rural Health is a Federally Qualified Health Center with clinic locations in Eagle Lake and Fort Kent. The demand for Fish River Rural Health medical services in their Fort Kent facility have outgrown the existing infrastructure and there is a need to invest in additional physical space to meet the demand for services in this rural underserved region.
  • Waldoboro Utility District has been selected to receive a total of $300,000. (Water and Waste Direct Loan of $200,000 and Grant in the amount of $100,000). Rural Development funds will be used for upgrades to the District’s sewer distribution system. This includes reconstructing upwards of 80 manholes next to the wastewater treatment facility.

USDA Rural Development has Area Offices located in Presque Isle, Bangor, Lewiston, and Scarborough, as well as a State Office, located in Bangor. There are 54 employees working to deliver the agency’s Housing, Business, and Community Programs, which are designed to improve the economic stability of rural communities, businesses, residents, and farmers, and improve the quality of life in rural Maine.

 President Obama's plan for rural America has brought about historic investment and resulted in stronger rural communities. These investments in housing, community facilities, businesses and infrastructure have empowered rural America to continue leading the way – strengthening America's economy, small towns and rural communities