USDA announces $107,956 grant to expand Maine tourism initiative

9 years ago

USDA Rural Development State Director Virginia Manuel has announced $107,956 to provide workforce development and business training services to tourism businesses across the Maine Woods Region.

“These important grant funds will invest in an important sector of Maine’s economy that is integral to our state’s economic well-being as residents and tourists alike seek out recreational activities in Maine’s scenic and beautiful outdoor environment. These activities stimulate business, community and economic development while preserving Maine’s great natural resource — the Maine Woods,” said Manuel.
The Northern Forest Center — headquartered in N.H., with a Maine office in South Portland — has been selected to receive a Rural Community Development Initiative Grant in the amount of $107,956. Rural Development funds will be used to deliver technical and financial assistance to build the capacity of seven economic development organizations to provide workforce development and business training services to tourism businesses across the Maine Woods region.
Maine Office of Tourism Director Carolann Ouellette said, “Training for tourism businesses and their employees is a critical part of positioning the Maine Woods as a world-class destination where local communities benefit from attracting new visitors who stay in paid accommodations. Additionally, training helps businesses provide memorable experiences that keep visitors coming back year after year. Investment by USDA Rural Development and leadership from the Northern Forest Center through the Maine Woods Consortium will ensure that businesses and communities across the region continue to benefit from the proven and effective training services delivered through the Maine Woods Tourism Training Initiative.”
This USDA grant will expand the existing Maine Woods Tourism Training Initiative which has helped deliver targeted training workshops based on needs expressed by tourism businesses in their service areas.
“This grant will build on the great work already underway to deliver targeted training services to tourism businesses and their employees through the Maine Woods Tourism Training Initiative. USDA Rural Development funding will enable the Northern Forest Center and its partners in the Maine Woods Consortium to expand support for local economic development groups and their work to help businesses succeed and provide good jobs in rural Maine Woods communities,” said Northern Forest Center Senior Program Director Mike Wilson.
Today the tourism and recreation sector employs one in every nine workers and accounts for nearly 10 percent of total economic activity in the Maine Woods region that stretches across Oxford, Franklin, Somerset, Piscataquis, Penobscot, Aroostook and Washington counties.
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. For more information visit www.rurdev.usda.gov/me.