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Feds earmark $20 million to help reduce rural poverty in Maine

BRUNSWICK, Maine — The U.S. Department of Agriculture on Thursday announced that Coastal Enterprises Inc. will receive a $20 million loan revolver to “re-lend” to other entities for projects designed to reduce poverty in rural areas.

The award is part of $401 million in funding to 26 national community development organizations as part of an initiative to reduce poverty in rural communities, according to a release from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

The Community Facility Direct Relending Program loan will be “re-lent” to entities in “high-poverty” or “persistent-poverty” counties in rural Maine communities to build, acquire, maintain or renovate community facilities, including “capacity building” and to finance essential community services such as education, health care and infrastructure, the release states.

“This effort builds on our commitment to lifting up the economic prospects of communities that have not benefited from the revitalization of rural America,” Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said in the release.

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CEI’s rural lending focuses on small businesses and community facilities, affordable housing, renewable energy and microlending, according to the release.

“CEI is best-known across Maine as a mission-driven business lender, but vibrant rural communities need more than individual businesses to thrive,” CEO Betsy Biemann said in the release. “They also need community resources that contribute to quality of life and help to retain and attract families and entrepreneurs.”

Allowable uses of the funds include health care facilities, public facilities such as town halls and courthouses, street improvements, child care and community centers, transitional housing, public safety facilities and educational facilities.

“This money is going to help make sure that the resources we have in rural Maine can be put to work creating jobs for the community. This is a great economic development investment and is going to pay real dividends for Maine.” U.S. Rep. Chellie Pingree said in a separate release.


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