08/17/16 Greenville businesses receive funds to improve offerings to visitors

Greenville businesses receive funds to improve offerings to visitors

Ellen Curtiss • August 17, 2016

Businesses across the Maine woods have taken advantage of a matching grant program from the Maine Woods Tourism Training Initiative to help secure expert assistance to improve their business. Grants and technical assistance have been awarded to 26 companies so far, providing more than $16,000 in funding for innovation — with funds still available to assist additional tourism businesses.

Among the grant technical assistance recipients are the Greenville-based Allagash Canoe Trips and Leisure Life, the Moosehead Area Chamber of Commerce, the Pinnacle Pursuit and Pittston Farms of Rockwood.

The $500 to $1,000 grants help tourism businesses hire consultants on topics such as social media marketing, customer service, customer relations management, business management and more. Businesses in rural Maine Woods communities have used the grants awarded to date to take on projects for which they needed outside help.

“The grant was a big help to us and we probably wouldn’t have done a new website at this time without the financial help, said Polly Mahoney of Mahoosuc Guide Service, a tourism provider in Newry. Other businesses have reported that the small grants offer enough assistance to take on projects that otherwise would have been out of their budget.

“We know that many small business owners are generalists, learning as they go,” said Mike Wilson, senior program director for the Northern Forest Center which administers the program. “These small grants help businesses take advantage of specialized outside expertise to address immediate business needs.”

Grant funding is still available to help other tourism businesses improve operations. Projects are evaluated case-by-base and applications will be accepted on a rolling basis until Nov. 1. Grants will match the businesses’ investment by as much as one-to-one toward the cost of the consultant and be distributed on a reimbursement basis. For more information, contact Georgia Underwood of the Piscataquis County Economic Development Council at georgia.underwood@pcedc.org or 540-0269.