USDA Rural Development State Director Virginia Manuel has announced that two Maine organizations will share a total of $321,500 in funds to support local foods efforts.
USDA Rural Development State Director Virginia Manuel said, "Support for Maine’s farmers and local foods’ businesses is critical to creating economic and community development in rural communities. I am pleased that USDA Rural Development can invest $321,500 to make a significant impact on farm and food infrastructure in several Maine counties while creating jobs and giving Mainers access to locally grown and produced foods.”
Coastal Enterprises, Inc., in Wiscasset, has been selected to receive a Rural Business Enterprise Grant in the amount of $86,500 to provide technical assistance to small and emerging private farm and food infrastructure businesses located in Maine’s “Rim” Counties of Aroostook, Franklin, Oxford, Penobscot, Piscataquis, Somerset, and Washington. The goal is to expand elements of the value chain including processing, marketing, and distribution, thereby giving producers the opportunity for growth and added prosperity. Twenty jobs are anticipated to be created and eight businesses assisted.
The Yorks Chamber of Commerce dba The Greater York Region of Commerce, in York, has been selected to receive a Community Facility Direct Loan in the amount of $235,000 to purchase a 2 acre parcel of land directly adjacent to the Chamber so that they may expand their farmer’s market, provide additional parking, and to incorporate a picnic area for the vendors and customers.
Supporting local and regional foods systems is one of the top three emphasis areas of USDA Rural Development. The agency supports this initiative through increased economic activity related to local and regional food systems through the creation and expansion of infrastructure, business services and supply chain coordination, and by facilitating connections between rural food producers/businesses and regional market opportunities. The other emphasis areas are advancing the biobased economy and renewable energy development, and investing in community and economic development.
President Obama’s plan for rural America has brought about historic investment and resulted in stronger rural communities. Under the President’s leadership, 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. USDA’s investments in rural communities support the rural way of life that stands as the backbone of our American values.
USDA Rural Development invested $462.5 million in rural Maine communities last fiscal year in the areas of homeownership, business assistance, energy and renewable energy development, water and wastewater and community facilities. The agency has Area Offices located in Presque Isle, Bangor, Lewiston, and Scarborough, as well as a State Office, located in Bangor. There are 59 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. Further information on rural programs is available at a local USDA Rural Development office or by visiting USDA Rural Development's web site at http://www.rurdev.usda.gov/me.