BANGOR, Maine — USDA Rural Development State Director Virginia Manuel has announced an historic fiscal year-end investment in Maine’s rural communities. Through its Housing, Business and Cooperative, and Community Programs, the agency has invested a total of $462,591,340 in the areas of homeownership, business assistance, energy and renewable energy development, water and wastewater and community facilities.
“These investments represent an historic level of funding — the largest ever by Rural Development in Maine, of which the impact can be felt in nearly every part of a rural community. From assisting Maine families gain equity for a more secure future through homeownership, to assisting rural businesses to expand and grow to supporting community facilities such as health clinics, libraries and fire stations, our work is critical in strengthening rural Maine communities,” USDA Rural Development State Director Virginia Manuel said in a press release.
Through the Housing Programs USDA Rural Development has invested a total of $376,909,163 in Maine homeowners and affordable rental housing. USDA Rural Development assisted one out of every five homeowners last year for a total of 2,393 Maine families becoming homeowners and additional 160 Maine families were assisted in making essential home repair and weatherization. Through rural rental housing 4,044 Maine families or individuals were assisted in quality rental housing, receiving a total of $22,984,908 in rental assistance to help them afford monthly rent payments.
Through the Business and Cooperative Programs USDA Rural Development invested a total of $15,793,119 in Maine’s rural businesses. A total of 459 businesses were assisted, and a total of 571 jobs created and saved. 12 rural businesses were assisted in installing renewable energy systems and making energy efficient improvements, helping them to reduce operational costs and lessen carbon emissions. In addition, all four of Maine’s pellet manufacturing companies (Northeast Pellets, LLC; Corinth Wood Pellets, LLC; Geneva Wood Fuels, LLC; and Maine Woods Pellet Company, LLC) and one biodiesel producing company (Maine Bio-Fuel, Inc.) received payments totaling $64,056 under the Bioenergy Program for Advanced Biofuels Program.
Through the Community Programs, USDA Rural Development invested a total of $43,917,133 in Maine’s community facilities. A total of 35 community facilities such as hospitals, libraries, and water and wastewater facilities were assisted. Of these, 13 water and wastewater systems were impacted through upgrades, providing reliable systems to 7,602 residential and 967 commercial users.
The investment also leveraged a total of $25,971,925 from our partners, including economic and community development agencies, state funding, local lending institutions, private investments, and other sources of investments.
The funding breakdown in Maine by county is: Androscoggin, $47,949,397; Aroostook, $11,525,038; Cumberland, $104,962,024; Franklin, $7,900,477; Hancock, $17,889,209; Kennebec, $38,141,107; Knox, $8,573,534; Lincoln, $10,561,578; Oxford, $24,497,233; Penobscot, $41,473,238; Piscataquis, $2,111,746; Sagadahoc, $25,439,555; Somerset, $11,686,653; Waldo, $8,543,986; Washington, $15,989,925; and York, $85,346,640.
USDA Rural Development has Area Offices located in Presque Isle, Bangor, Lewiston, and Scarborough, as well as a State Office, located in Bangor. There are 62 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.