From Washington, D.C.

 $11 million of American Rescue Plan funds go toward Maine’s tourism and recreation economy

Wed, 11/17/2021 - 8:00pm

    WASHINGTON, D.C. U.S. Senator Angus King (I-Maine) said Nov. 17 that the Economic Development Administration  is awarding $10,817,267 to the Maine Department of Economic and Community Development’s Office of Tourism to strengthen Maine’s tourism economy.

    The funding from the American Rescue Plan, which passed in March, is to help the state’s tourism industry continue to recover from the impacts of COVID-19 and strengthen the outdoor recreation industry that is a major contributor to Maine’s economy. The funds will be used to upgrade recreational infrastructure, support short and long-term economic development, and create a new marketing campaign promoting outdoor recreation in Maine.

    “Each year, people from across America and around the globe come to Maine to experience The Way Life Should Be,” said Senator Angus King. “From our gorgeous coasts and lush forests to the beautiful trails for hiking or snowmobiling, Maine’s natural beauty is unmatched, and the outdoor recreation opportunities are unrivaled – but neither are immune from the impacts of COVID-19. The pandemic has prevented many Americans from traveling, and put many Maine businesses that rely on tourism at risk. As we confront ongoing health threats and economic fallout, these vital American Rescue Plan funds will help the Maine Office of Tourism support our state’s tourism and outdoor recreation industry. These businesses will bounce back stronger than ever before, so they can continue to support good paying jobs and play important roles in communities from Kittery to Fort Kent.”

    “The Maine Office of Tourism’s efforts to foster recovery and resiliency in the tourism and hospitality industry combined with the Maine Office of Outdoor Recreation’s efforts to grow the outdoor recreation economy provided the framework for Maine’s application for the Travel, Tourism & Outdoor Recreation Program funds,” said Commissioner Heather Johnson of the Maine Department of Economic and Community Development. “The EDA grant funding to the State of Maine will provide the support needed to advance the projects of this integrated framework, accelerate the recovery of the state’s visitor economy, as well as lay the foundation for building stronger, more resilient tourism and outdoor industry sectors in the coming decades.”

    As Chair of Senate National Parks Subcommittee, Senator King has fought to support Maine’s tourism industry and related economic sectors both prior to and during the coronavirus pandemic. In March, he voted in favor of the American Rescue Plan, which passed by a vote of 50-49 and will allocate at least $56 million to support Maine small businesses through the State Small Business Credit Initiative (SSBCI). The legislation also included a King-backed provision to create a $28.6 billion fund specifically designed to support independent restaurants and small franchisees struggling due to the pandemic.

    The Maine Department of Economic and Community Development (DECD) will use the funds to strengthen marketing partnerships, provide technical assistance to businesses regarding industry best practices for a post-pandemic world, attract new workers, enhance outdoor recreation infrastructure and help communities develop strategies to mitigate and respond to the impacts of coronavirus, create jobs, and advance economic resiliency and growth across the state.

    Key elements of Maine DECD’s plans for the funds include:

    ·        A Maine Tourism and Outdoor Recreation Marketing and Promotion Campaign

    o   The State will expand marketing and promotion that leverages Maine’s cultural and natural assets. The Office of Tourism and Office of Outdoor Recreation will collaborate on marketing and content development that targets new recreationists with an expanded ‘recreate responsibly’ message.

    o   Funding will also support workforce marketing to attract workers to the state’s travel, tourism, and outdoor recreation sectors, capitalizing on Maine’s heritage and lifestyle through a branding initiative that strengthens and leverages the ‘Maine outdoor brand’ to position Maine as a hub for innovation and craftmanship in the outdoor industry.

    ·        Short and Long-Term Economic Development Planning

    o   Funding will extend the Office of Tourism’s destination development program, including the Community Destination Academy educational program developed in partnership with the Northern Forest Center to support municipal, business and organizational leadership in the seven most rural counties in Maine to actively shape the future of tourism and outdoor recreation in their communities.

    ·        Upgrades to Existing Travel, Tourism, and Outdoor Recreation Infrastructure

    o   The program will support new infrastructure including trail development and enhancement of existing trails and recreation amenities to meet this increased demand and improve access for diverse visitors.

    Since the American Rescue Plan was passed with Senator King’s crucial vote, the legislation has also delivered to Maine:

    ·                Over $1 million to support mental health and substance abuse disorder treatment.

    ·                More than $128 million to expand Maine broadband.

    ·                $1.6 million for Maine schools to shrink the “digital divide”.

    ·                A child tax credit expansion to lift 10,000 Maine children out of poverty.

    ·                Nearly $1.5 billion in aid to Maine’s state, county, and local governments.

    ·                Over $56 million in assistance for Maine’s small business community.