Business grant of $87K awarded to Rockland nonprofit

Celebrating its 40th anniversary, Island Institute says funds will provide financial assistance for small businesses in Maine’s island and coastal communities.

ROCKLAND, Maine — On Tuesday, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced a Rural Business Development Grant (RBDG) for $86,988 awarded to Rockland-based nonprofit Island Institute, which focuses on business development in island and coastal communities.

The money will be used as part of the institute’s Tom Glenn Community Impact Fund, founded in 2012 to provide direct financial assistance to small businesses working in Maine’s island and coastal towns, according to a news release from the institute. 

“Small businesses up and down Maine’s coast are the heart of our communities. They provide essential services and good jobs,” Island Institute President Kimberly Hamilton said in the release. “These critical funds from USDA could not have come at a better time. They are an important expansion of the toolkit of services Island Institute provides to help small businesses thrive on the coast of Maine.”

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Over the past decade, Island Institute has partnered with the USDA to administer funds for a variety of business and community purposes including grants for aquaculture business expansion, clean energy, digital communications for islands, and technical support in low-income communities, according to the release.

“Support from Island Institute and USDA helped me start my aquaculture business and enabled me to power it with solar energy,” Krista Tripp, owner of Aphrodite Oyster Company in South Thomaston, said in the release. “This helps reduce my operating costs and reduces Co2 emissions, which is one of the best solutions for our changing climate.”

“USDA Rural Development recognizes that there are unique challenges facing coastal and island-based small businesses,” Rhiannon Hampson, director of USDA’s Rural Development Program, said in the release. “Expanding access to patient capital and technical assistance in a way that is community driven – that is the highest and best use of awards like the Rural Business Development Grant.” 

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Established in 1983, Island Institute celebrates 40 years of working to sustain coastal communities in Maine, the release said.

“Because the Institute is providing the loans via a revolving fund, the benefit is sustainable. These dollars will continue to circulate in Maine’s working waterfront and coastal communities creating a multiplier effect. We are honored to be a part of the funding network that is helping Maine’s small businesses to grow and thrive,” Hampson added. 

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