Grants build on cost-relief actions taken by Governor last week to help Maine’s iconic seafood industry
Trenton, MAINE – Governor Mills announced today that her Administration is awarding more than $15 million to 107 Maine seafood dealers and processors to help increase the supply of Maine-harvested seafood, strengthen their ability to deliver to markets, and create and sustain jobs throughout Maine’s iconic seafood industry. Businesses in every coastal county received awards, with more than half the awards coming in at more than $115,000.
The funds were made available as competitive grants through the Seafood Dealer and Processor COVID-19 Response and Resilience Program (SDPP) that was established by the Governor’s Maine Jobs and Recovery Plan. The program draws $10 million from the Governor’s Jobs Plan, $5 million from the federal Consolidated Appropriations Act, and $850,000 from the USDA Seafood Processors Pandemic Response and Safety Block Grant Program. The Maine Technology Institute administered the program on behalf of the Maine Department of Marine Resources.
The Governor made the announcement today at Hollander & de Koning, a grant recipient and owner of the sixth generation, family owned and operated shellfish company in Trenton. Hugh Reynolds, the owner of Greenhead Lobster, a grant recipient and family owned and operated lobster processor and dealer in Stonington, also spoke in support.
“Maine’s seafood industry – from our fishermen and aquaculturists to our processors and our dealers – is a cornerstone of our economy, employing thousands of people up and down the coast and generating about two billion dollars every year,” said Governor Janet Mills. “They work hard every day, and they have adapted with characteristic Maine grit and ingenuity to meet the challenges of the pandemic, but it hasn’t been easy by any means. Helping our dealers and processors upgrade their infrastructure will ensure the strength and vitality of this industry for years to come, keep Maine people working in our waters and waterfronts, and keep delivering Maine’s world-class seafood across the globe.”
“Maine seafood dealers and processors have faced unprecedented level of uncertainty over the past two and a half years,” said Patrick Keliher, Commissioner of the Maine Department of Marine Resources. “The need to modify product lines and business practices to accommodate a changing supply chain and labor challenges has put many of these Maine businesses in a difficult financial position. This program will help them overcome the adversity they’ve endured and build a strong foundation for a prosperous future.
“We are extremely grateful to be awarded this grant which will make our small business more resilient,” said Alex de Koning, Owner Hollander & de Koning. “This funding enables us to purchase a machine that produces mussel packaging for retail. Because of this, we are proud to announce that, in partnership with our local distributor Maine Shellfish, we will be supplying over 150 Hannaford supermarkets with fresh, local mussels starting next week. Our family is ecstatic to continue supporting our local communities by providing high-quality local seafood to Mainers."
“Greenhead Lobster appreciates the opportunity to partake in the SDPP program to supplement our investments in innovation and technology,” said Hugh Reynolds, Owner of Greenhead Lobster in Stonington. “Greenhead Lobster will use this grant to complete investments in innovation that will significantly increase the efficiency of our lobster processing. We are very proud to be part of the Maine Lobster Industry and we are excited to use this funding to continue to contribute to its future.”
“Bristol Seafood is grateful for its grant from Maine’s Seafood Dealer and Processor Program,” said Peter Handy, President and CEO of Bristol Seafood. “The funds will help us recover from the negative impacts resulting from COVID-19 and build resilience for the future. Our team is proud to have spent the last 30 years processing seafood here on the Portland waterfront. We look forward to continuing to support our local economy with quality jobs and sustainable seafood.”
The program builds on Governor Mills’ commitment to support Maine small businesses and Maine’s heritage industries through her Jobs Plan.
Last week, Governor Mills announced that her Administration is reimbursing resident commercial fishermen, dealers, processors, and aquaculturists for the cost of their 2022 licenses, as well as additional fees associated with licenses such as trap tag fees for lobster license holders.
The Mills Administration has also awarded grants through the Maine Jobs & Recovery Small Business Grant Program and is delivering funds for relief and infrastructure investments in other Maine heritage industries – agriculture and forestry – with more to come.
This program also follows the more than $273 million that the Mills Administration has delivered to Maine businesses and non-profits to mitigate the impacts of the pandemic, in addition to Jobs Plan programs to help small businesses offer affordable health insurance to their employees and replenishing the state’s unemployment trust fund to help prevent tax increases on employers.
The Maine Jobs & Recovery Plan is the Governor’s plan, approved by the Legislature, to invest nearly $1 billion in Federal American Rescue Plan funds to improve the lives of Maine people and families, help businesses, create good-paying jobs, and build an economy poised for future prosperity. It draws heavily on recommendations from the Governor’s Economic Recovery Committee and the State’s 10-Year Economic Development Strategy, transforming them into real action to improve the lives of Maine people and strengthen the economy.
For more information about the Jobs Plan, visit maine.gov/jobsplan.
Later in the day, Governor Mills will also tour The Jackson Laboratory in Bar Harbor. The Governor’s visit to Hancock comes as she travels across Maine. The Governor has visited Penobscot, Piscataquis, Sagadahoc, Cumberland, Kennebec, York, Somerset, Androscoggin, Lincoln, Knox, and Franklin, and Waldo counties.