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Maine’s Rural Communities Benefited from Over $378 Million Investment in Affordable Housing, Critical Rural Infrastructure, and Economic Development Last Fiscal Year

Release Date


Here’s How this Investment is Helping Maine People, Businesses, and Communities

BANGOR, Feb. 7, 2023 – Ahead of the 2023 State of the Union address, U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Rural Development State Director Rhiannon C. Hampson celebrated the Biden-Harris Administration’s actions in delivering on its promises by highlighting significant investments and benefits that USDA Rural Development is having here in Maine.

USDA Rural Development State Director Rhiannon C. Hampson said. “Rural Maine will not be left behind; we have had two years of the Biden-Harris Administration showing up for us - putting our tax dollars to work in ways that truly grow our economy from the ground up and the middle out. From supporting our heritage industries with critical small business capital, to ensuring our children’s futures by helping small utilities deliver as partners in protecting our natural resources and providing our energy needs, USDA Rural Development is honored to ‘walk the talk’ here at home.” She added, “Our hardworking team at Maine Rural Development is made up of your neighbors, people who live right here and care deeply about the success of our communities. The Biden-Harris Administration has given us an historic opportunity to invest in what we believe in – Maine, and we are meeting this moment. We are not done yet. As we move forward into this new fiscal year, USDA Rural Development is identifying new and innovative ways to support the incredible people, communities, and small business of Maine. Dirigo.”

Here is a look at USDA Rural Development’s actions in fiscal year 2022 to strengthen and empower economic growth and prosperity in Maine’s rural communities, minimize impacts of climate change, create good-paying jobs for Maine workers, and invest in our families.

Increasing Access to Opportunities in Rural America: USDA Rural Development invested in Maine’s rural communities through providing quality affordable housing and job and business creation in rural Maine. As a result, rural Americans are better able to live, work, raise families, and thrive in the communities they love. Through these investments, USDA is amplifying President Biden’s promise to grow the economy and create good-paying jobs. In Fiscal Year 2022, USDA Rural Development in Maine helped:

  • 825 low or very-low income Maine families or individuals to obtain the American Dream of homeownership, investing a total of $167,006,694 and creating generational wealth and stability.
  • Approximately 5,000 Maine families or individuals living in multi-family properties to pay their rent, totaling $38,451,040 in rental assistance and vouchers to ensure everyone has a safe and affordable place to live.
  • 101 Maine families to make essential repairs or weatherization to improve their homes.
  • 232 Maine businesses were assisted or supported and approximately 154 Maine jobs were created or saved.

Expanding Equity in Rural Communities: USDA Rural Development is committed to the values of equity and inclusion, ensuring rural Mainers, regardless of how rural their community, have access to critical community infrastructure.

21 community facilities received $12,665,238 through the Community Facilities Programs to help provide essential services to 628,337 rural people in Maine.

  • 15 of these community facilities are rural healthcare clinics, hospitals, and organizations, receiving a total of $9,956,600 to help provide quality healthcare in Maine’s rural communities.

One landmark example of this initiative to ensure equitable access to services, is a recent Emergency Rural Health Care Grant in the amount of $5,012,000 to Wabanaki Public Health and Wellness. The grant, announced in November[HRRM1] , is assisting the Center for Wabanaki Health and Recovery, a department within Wabanaki Public Health & Wellness, to move into the next stage of development to solve regional healthcare issues in the five Wabanaki communities of Maine. The Center will offer everything from medication-assisted treatment to transitional housing, medicine walks cultivating traditional foods, childcare, telemedicine and connecting with employers. The Rural Development funding will provide staff support, further renovations, and additional programming.

Implementing Climate-Smart Solutions: Climate change is happening, and America’s rural communities are on the frontlines. USDA is leading the way through climate-smart solutions that will improve the profitability and resilience of producers and foresters, open new market opportunities, and build wealth that stays in rural communities for generations to come.

For instance, USDA Rural Development provided:

  • 11 water and wastewater systems with a total of $41,250,600 in funding for critical upgrades that help systems operate in ways that preserve the surrounding rivers, streams, and ocean, ensuring these waterways can be used for fishing and recreation for Maine people.
  • 32 Maine businesses or agricultural producers with Rural Energy for America Program (REAP) for a total of $120,846,243 invested in expanding renewable energy systems and support energy-efficiency projects for people in rural Maine.
     
  • Invested $9.6 million in partnership with Aligned Solar Partners through the Electric Loan Program to finance a solar electric project located at Souther Farm, in Livermore Falls, that will benefit five Maine schools and one municipality through energy savings, providing clean renewable energy.

Investing in Maine Food Systems: USDA is transforming the nation’s food system through a more equitable, diverse, and resilient meat and poultry supply chain. These actions touch all parts of the food supply chain – from food production, food processing, food aggregation, and distribution to consumers. For instance, USDA Rural Development in Maine invested in:

  • Four agribusinesses in Maine received Value-Added Producer Grants for a total of $715,000 to assist with marketing or planning activities for producing local foods and value-added agricultural products.
  • Partnered with the Reinvestment Fund to invest more than $500,000 to improve access to healthy foods in Maine’s underserved communities through the Healthy Food Financing Initiative (HFFI):
     
  • Farmer’s Market Space at 24 Court Street, in Skowhegan, will use its $200,000 HFFI award to construct 24 Court, a new building on the campus of the Maine Grains gristmill and home of the downtown Farmer’s Market. This indoor space will be a permanent market plaza outdoors for year-round operations of the 25-year-old Farmer’s Market local food and nutrition assistance programs for low-income families.
  • Cooperative Development Institute, in Lewiston, will use its $200,000 HFFI award to support predevelopment staffing and professional services as a part of a longer-term construction project. CDI and its partners will develop Lewiston Community Food Center, a hybrid food center model, which will provide fresh, healthy, and affordable staple and perishable foods through scaled, low-cost retail operations.
     
  • Good Turn Coop, in Rockland, will use its $135,700 HFFI award to support an expansion of the store’s footprint by 900 square feet to house essential new refrigeration and freezer units, and to provide new retail space.

Another local example of investment in the availability of local foods is the Piscataquis Regional Food Center, in Dover-Foxcroft, which received a $28,000 Emergency Rural Health Care Grant to install a 600 cubic-foot freezer and a 48-kilowatt propane powered backup generator to safely store food products in frozen, refrigerated, and shelf-stable forms until they can be delivered to rural distribution partners.

USDA Rural Development has offices in Presque Isle, Bangor, Lewiston, and Scarborough. For more information on the programs offered by USDA Rural Development, contact the USDA Rural Development State Office at (207) 990-9100 or visit www.rd.usda.gov/me.

USDA touches the lives of all Americans each day in so many positive ways. In the Biden-Harris Administration, USDA is transforming America’s food system with a greater focus on more resilient local and regional food production, fairer markets for all producers, ensuring access to safe, healthy and nutritious food in all communities, building new markets and streams of income for farmers and producers using climate-smart food and forestry practices, making historic investments in infrastructure and clean-energy capabilities in rural America, and committing to equity across the Department by removing systemic barriers and building a workforce more representative of America. To learn more, visit www.usda.gov.

Under the Biden-Harris Administration, Rural Development provides loans and grants to help expand economic opportunities, create jobs and improve the quality of life for millions of Americans in rural areas. This assistance supports infrastructure improvements; business development; housing; community facilities such as schools, public safety and health care; and high-speed internet access in rural, tribal and high-poverty areas. For more information, visit www.rd.usda.gov.

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USDA is an equal opportunity provider, employer, and lender.

 


 [HRRM1]Should we put a link to our November press release on this project?