Latest investments aim to develop innovative transportation solutions to connect workers to employers in southern, western, and central Maine
Governor Janet Mills today announced nearly $1 million in Maine Jobs & Recovery Plan grants for innovative workforce transportation projects aimed at supporting employers in York and Oxford counties, as well as enhancing existing transportation options for workers in Lewiston-Auburn.
The grants, administered by the Maine Department of Transportation, are part of the Workforce Transportation Pilot Program, an initiative of Governor Mills’ Jobs Plan that supports local and regional pilot projects that connect workers to employers through ridesharing, vanpools, and other transit options.
The three grants announced today were awarded to the Kennebunk-Kennebunkport-Arundel Chamber of Commerce, Western Maine Transportation Services, and Maine West, a part of the University of Maine System. Prior workforce transportation grants have been awarded to Bath Iron Works, Gagne Foods in Bath, Timber HP in Madison, Robbins Lumber in Searsmont, and Sunday River in Newry.
“Lack of transportation shouldn’t be a barrier that keeps anyone who can work from holding a job—especially at a time when Maine businesses desperately need workers,” said Governor Janet Mills. “These investments from my Maine Jobs & Recovery Plan will support innovative projects that help to connect workers with the Maine businesses that need them.”
“We are proud to keep working to help Maine employers find solutions to their workforce challenges,” said Bruce Van Note, Commissioner of the Maine Department of Transportation. “Maine Jobs & Recovery Plan funding continues to fill specific transportation needs and help support economic opportunities in our state.”
With an award of $476,000, the Kennebunk-Kennebunkport-Arundel Chamber of Commerce will develop a new transit service from the Biddeford and Sanford areas to downtown Kennebunk and provide local transportation connections for workers to employers in Kennebunk’s Lower Village and in Kennebunkport.
“We are thrilled for the opportunity to use this grant to create new employment opportunities for businesses in Kennebunk, Sanford, and Biddeford,” said Laura Dolce, Executive Director of the Kennebunk-Kennebunkport-Arundel Chamber of Commerce. “We know that many potential employees face transportation challenges, and this new route, served by Biddeford-Saco-OOB Transit and with last-mile service by RideMaine, will be a game changer. We are very grateful to the towns of Kennebunk, Sanford and Kennebunkport and our diverse group of business partners for supporting this effort.”
With an award of $283,000, the University of Maine System in collaboration with MaineWest, a partnership of organizations in Oxford County, will support the purchase of vehicles to connect students in four school districts to opportunities in the outdoor recreation field, including on-the-job training, work experience, skill-building, and mentorship to help create foundations for successful employment.
“This generous funding will contribute to building workforce opportunities in the Maine West region,” said Elizabeth Clarke, Maine West Education Director. “The challenges our teenagers face are multi-faceted, and the project will provide them with much-needed mentoring and workforce training while addressing the transportation barrier that so often limits opportunity.”
With an award of $225,000, Western Maine Transportation Services will work to extend existing service hours and review potential route adjustments to better accommodate the needs of workers and employers in the Lewiston-Auburn region.
“Western Maine Transportation Services is excited to use this grant to remove transportation as a barrier for current and future employees living and working in Lewiston and Auburn,” said Sandy Buchanan, General Manager of Western Maine Transportation Services. “The need for additional transportation beyond the scope of present transit services will be beneficial to employers and employees alike. This pilot will provide valuable information to develop sustainable transit options to address the need going forward.”
The Workforce Transportation Pilot aligns with strategies from Maine Won't Wait, the state's four-year plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, in part by promoting public transportation, to combat climate change.
Applications for the Workforce Transportation Pilot program are open. There is no application deadline, but applicants are encouraged to submit projects as soon as possible. With these new awards, approximately $2 million remains to be awarded through the program. For more information on how to apply, please visit its website.
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.
Since the Jobs Plan took effect in October 2021, the Mills Administration has delivered direct economic relief to nearly 1,000 Maine small businesses, supported more than 100 infrastructure projects around the state to create jobs and revitalize communities, and invested in workforce programs estimated to offer apprenticeship, career and education advancement, and job training opportunities to 22,000 Maine people.
For more about Maine Jobs & Recovery Plan, visit maine.gov/jobsplan.