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The Communities for Maine's Future Fund

GrowSmart Maine is pleased to announce that the Maine Department of Economic and Community Development (DECD) has awarded 11 grants totaling $3.5 million, to be matched with $11,245,325 of local funds for Communities for Maine’s Future Program downtown revitalization projects. The department received 32 applications requesting a total of $8,603,620.

These competitive grant awards provide funding for projects that restore and revitalize key buildings in the community, improve pedestrian access and safety, and are catalysts for local jobs. The communities receiving awards are Bath, Belfast, Dover-Foxcroft, Eastport, Livermore Falls, Monmouth, Norway, Rockland, Skowhegan, Unity, and Winthrop.

Thank you to all Maine voters, and to GrowSmart Maine advocates who supported the original legislation, who approved the Communities for Maine's Future Fund and Endangered Buildings Revolving Fund on June 8th 2010!

The Maine Downtown Coalition, with the support of the members of GrowSmart Maine's grassroots network, worked successfully with the Maine State Legislature to provide $3.5 million in bond funding for downtown revitalization grants and $1.25 million for an endangered historic building acquisition fund. Maine Voters approved the Communities for Maine’s Future Bond included in Question 4 in the statewide referendum on June 8, 2010.    

Question 4 read:
“Do you favor a $23,750,000 bond issue to provide capital investment to stimulate economic development and job creation by making investments under the Communities for Maine's Future Program and in historic properties; providing funding for research and development investments awarded through a competitive process; providing funds for disbursements to qualifying small businesses; and providing grants for food processing for fishing, agricultural, dairy and lumbering businesses within the State and redevelopment projects at the Brunswick Naval Air Station that will make the State eligible for over $39,000,000 in federal and other matching funds?’

Features of the $3.5 million bond for the Communities for Maine’s Future program:

  • The Communities For Maine’s Future Fund replaces the Municipal Investment Trust Fund at DECD and is expanded to allow more communities to apply for grant funding;
  • The CMF Fund will be administered by an independent review panel which will use a competitive scoring process to ensure the best proposals are funded and will develop rules concerning the details of the competitive grant award process;
  • Municipalities are the applicants and projects must have a public purpose;
  • The grant scoring process encourages collaboration with private sector and nonprofit partners;
  • Project proposals should be part of an overall revitalization or economic development strategy and not simply stand-alone projects;
  • Project proposals must be focused around a community center, whether that’s a historic downtown, village center or Main Street;
  • The scoring criteria requires the review panel to evaluate the value of the project in terms of economic development, downtown revitalization, historic preservation, tourism development, sustainable development, degree of collaboration, and more.

Downtown revitalization creates jobs, makes downtowns more attractive places to live, promotes energy efficiency and helps to preserve open space.

Features of the $1.25 million bond for the Endangered Buildings Revolving Fund:

  • Endangered historic buildings are evaluated by the Maine Historic Preservation Commission for feasibility, marketability and local, state or national historic value;
  • For priority properties, the Commission partners with qualified non profits to acquire the property, or in most cases an option on the building;
  • The partner non-profit organization then works to resell the property;
  • Upon resale, the proceeds replenish the Revolving Fund and the building is rehabilitated and put back in use.

Saving endangered historic buildings helps to protect Maine’s heritage, creates more jobs and maximizes conservation efforts by recycling old buildings to become efficient and useful structures.

With the recent expansion of the historic preservation tax credit driving redevelopment of historic buildings statewide, and rising gas and energy prices curtailing our household budgets, now is the perfect time to pay more attention to Maine’s built environment.
 

Learn more about the Communities for Maine's Future Act:

Download a printable fact sheet.

Learn more about the Maine Downtown Coalition, which chose the Communities for Maine's Future Act as its top legislative priority for 2009.

 

CMF News:
 
 
 
$400,000 for grange renovation - Kennebec Journal, 10/17/11
 

Proposed Bond Would Help Fund Demand for Downtown Projects.
Kennebec Journal Op-Ed by GrowSmart Maine Board Chair Bonnie Pothier: March 7, 2010

Group Seeks Funds to Renew Maine's Downtowns.
Portland Press Herald news story by Matt Wickenheiser: March 24, 2009.