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Northern Maine Businesses Focus of $1.25M in USDA Funding

Leigh Hallett
Release Date

USDA Provides $1.25 Million to Help Grow Businesses in Aroostook, 
Northern Penobscot, Piscataquis, and Washington Counties

Today U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Rural Development Maine State Director Rhiannon Hampson announced that USDA is awarding $1.25M to the Northern Maine Development Commission (NMDC). The Commission will use the funds to provide loans to microentrepreneurs and small businesses in Aroostook, northern Penobscot, Piscataquis, and Washington counties. The announcement comes on the heels of Small Business Week and in celebration of National Small Business Day on May 10.

“At Rural Development, we know that small, rural businesses have unique financing needs,” said Director Hampson. “That’s why we are excited to announce this new round of funding for NMDC. Their business finance team is on the ground in northern Maine, providing the local expertise necessary to help guide these investments. Partnerships such as this leverage USDA’s federal capital to stimulate business creation and growth right here in Maine.”

Based in Caribou, NMDC (nmdc.org) has a team of three advisors and three loan officers to work directly with local businesses, as well as experts in planning and economic development. The organization provides financing and counseling for small businesses, technical assistance to municipalities, and supports community economic development in the region.

A man in protective gear operates sandblasting equipment outdoors in a sunny parking lot.
Cody Campbell, owner of Aroostook Eco Blasting, is pictured operating his mobile sandblasting equipment. With the help of USDA’s RMAP program, NMDC extended financing to twenty-five-year-old Campbell to establish his business and purchase equipment. 

As a Community Development Financial Institution, NMDC plays a vital role in actively seeking state and federal funding opportunities to deploy in Northern Maine. This work directly impacts small businesses that may struggle to secure financing through traditional lenders. NMDC helps fill this gap by offering low-interest loans utilizing state and federal funding. It has a track record of administering funds from several USDA Rural Development programs.

“Our strong partnership with USDA has allowed NMDC to utilize RMAP & IRP funds as a bridge, connecting the aspirations of entrepreneurs in our rural region with the resources they need to flourish,” said NMDC Executive Director Bob Clark. “We foster economic growth and resilience in communities often overlooked by traditional financing channels. These financial resources do more than just support businesses, they nurture the dreams and livelihoods of rural communities, empowering them to thrive and sustain themselves.”

NMDC will receive two types of USDA loans to utilize in in Aroostook, northern Penobscot, Piscataquis, and Washington counties this quarter:

  • A $500K Rural Microentrepreneurial Assistance Program (RMAP) loan to support the development and ongoing success of microentrepreneurs and microenterprises. NMDC has previously deployed RMAP funds with loans of up to $50K to support area businesses. For example, an RMAP loan helped a small group of entrepreneurs purchase an embroidery business and establish Aroostook Embroidery & Design, LLC. NMDC also financed Aroostook Eco-blasting with RMAP, helping a young entrepreneur begin a mobile, eco-friendly sandblasting business.
  • An Intermediary Relending Program Loan (IRP) for $750K to capitalize a revolving loan fund. NMDC’s fund provides loans of up to $375K to promote community development, establish new businesses, and create or retain employment opportunities. NMDC has administered IRP funds in the past and has 48 current IRP loans. These range from $9K to $280K, with an average of $56K.   

Multiple Awards Announced for the Region:

The two loans for NMDC were part of a group of investments in the Northeast announced in Harper’s Ferry, WV today. USDA Rural Development Rural Business Cooperative Service (RBCS) Administrator Betsy Dirksen Londrigan joined WV Rural Development State Director Ryan Thorn to announce funding for six states. Businesses in Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Pennsylvania, Maryland, and West Virginia will benefit from today’s announcement.

“Businesses in the Northeast will get a boost from over $23 million in loans and grants,” said Administrator Dirksen Londrigan. “From Maine to West Virginia, organizations will receive vital funding that will help them with activities such as installing renewable and energy-efficient systems, establishing revolving loan funds, and providing critical working capital. Investments like these are helping to create jobs and strengthen local economies in rural America.”

Through its Rural Development Business Programs, USDA offers loans, loan guarantees, and grants to individuals, businesses, cooperatives, farmers and ranchers, public bodies, non-profit corporations, Native American Tribes, and private companies in rural communities. For more information about USDA Rural Development Rural Business & Cooperative Service programs contact Program Director Brian Wilson (email brian.wilson@usda.gov or call 207-990-9125).


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


Eight people of various ages stand in front of a sign that reads "Cushman and Sons Inc."
Darren Donovan (second from left) and Danielle and Wayne Cyr (fourth and fifth from the left) own Aroostook Embroidery & Design LLC, DBA Cushman & Sons Inc. With an NMDC loan funded by USDA RMAP, they purchased the assets of Cushman and Sons Inc. and moved the retail location into the Aroostook Centre Mall. The partners have expanded services at the new location.