Washington, D.C. — U.S. Senators Susan Collins and Angus King announced a total of $3,242,078 for rural economic and community development throughout the State of Maine. This funding is being awarded through the Northern Border Regional Commission’s State Economic and Infrastructure Grants for fiscal year 2019.
“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 Senators Collins and King in a joint statement. “We welcome this continued funding for these projects that will help enhance economic growth, promote community development, and improve transportation infrastructure throughout Maine.”
The funding will be allocated as follows:
- State of Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry will receive $436,000 to purchase a 32-mile rail corridor to be developed as a multi-use trail. This 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 for essential infrastructure 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. This 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. This includes a bike-only gravity trail, the first of its kind in Maine.
- City of Ellsworth will receive $500,000 to upgrade the Water Street wastewater pump, which handles two-thirds of the wastewater flow in the city. The pump is currently at capacity and has been experiencing seasonal overflows into the river due to the increasing development pressure. This project will increase capacity and eliminate overflows.
- Johnson Hall in Gardiner will receive $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 the 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 receive $200,000 to restore below market hydroelectric access to Our Katahdin’s industrial site by repurposing a new substation and providing power distribution. This project will create jobs through private investment through new business tenants in the area.
- Axiom Education and Training Center in Machias will receive $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. This project will increase employability of participants, who will be better qualified for higher paying jobs.
Senators Collins and King introduced the Northern Border Regional Commission Reauthorization Act in March 2018 to bolster the Northern Border Regional Commission. 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. The NBRC reauthorization was included in the 2018 Farm Bill.
The Northern Border Regional Commission is a federal-state partnership for economic and community development in Northern Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, and New York. Each year, the NBRC provides federal funds for critical economic and community development projects throughout the northeast. These investments lead to new jobs being created and leverages substantial private sector investments. The mission of the Northern Border Regional Commission is to catalyze regional, collaborative, and transformative community economic development approaches that alleviate economic distress and position the region for economic growth.