Governor Mills Announces Opening of $16 Million Maine Jobs & Recovery Plan Grant Program to Support Seafood Dealers and Processors

March 31, 2022

Program commits nearly $16 million in Federal funds to help seafood dealers and processors in Maine recover from the COVID-19 pandemic, invest in technology and infrastructure, and increase resiliency to future market disruptions

Governor Janet Mills announced today the opening of a nearly $16 million grant program through her Maine Jobs & Recovery Plan to help Maine’s wholesale seafood dealers and processors recover from the COVID-19 pandemic and invest in infrastructure improvements that will make their businesses more resilient to potential future market disruptions.

Applications for the Maine Seafood Dealer and Processors COVID-19 Response and Resilience Program (SDPP) will open April 1, 2022 and close on April 28, 2022. The Maine Technology Institute (MTI) is administering the program on behalf of the Maine Department of Marine Resources.

“Maine seafood dealers and processors are key to our state’s coastal economy, providing thousands of good-paying jobs in one of our most iconic industries and generating billions of dollars in economic activity for Maine,” said Governor Mills. “My Administration will work hard to help them not only recover from the pandemic but also make needed investments that will position them for success in the future.”

“This program will not only help Maine wholesale seafood dealers and processors recover from the significant economic challenges of the past two years, but it will also deliver important and timely investments to support the resilience and future prosperity of Maine’s working waterfront and blue economy,” said Maine Department of Marine Resources Commissioner Patrick Keliher.

“The program is very important to all the dealers and processors right now,” said Ron Trundy, Manager of the Stonington Co-Op. “With these funds, we can better adapt our business infrastructure to handle the serious financial burden of supply chain and work force problems brought on by the pandemic.”

“MTI is pleased to play a role in helping to deploy these vital funds,” said Brian Whitney, President of the Maine Technology Institute. “These grants will enable the state to provide support to as many marine food processing businesses as possible and provide much needed capital to stabilize and aid them in their recovery and growth.”

Governor Mills announced the creation of this grant program through her Maine Jobs & Recovery Plan in November. To be eligible for a grant, businesses must have held a wholesale seafood dealer, lobster processor, seaweed buyer, worm dealer or elver dealer license since April 1, 2020, among other requirements.

Eligible uses of the funds may include: payroll costs and expenses; rent or mortgage payments for business facilities; utilities payments; purchase of personal protective equipment required by the business; business-related equipment purchases; investments to strengthen businesses’ ability to mitigate pandemic-related market disruptions; or expenses incurred to replenish inventory or other necessary operating expenses.

For application materials and additional information on grants and eligibility, please visit the program website.

Program funds include $10 million announced last fall from the American Rescue Plan Act, allocated through Maine Jobs and Recovery Plan, plus an additional $5 million from the federal Consolidated Appropriations Act, and $850,000 from the USDA Seafood Processors Pandemic Response and Safety Block Grant Program. The Mills Administration dedicated additional Federal funding to the program to maximize resources for Maine’s seafood dealers and processors struggling with the challenges posed by COVID-19.

This new program builds on Governor Mills’ commitment to supporting Maine small businesses through the Maine Jobs & Recovery Plan. The Mills Administration has already awarded grants through the Maine Jobs & Recovery Small Business Grant Program, with more to come, and is delivering funds for relief and infrastructure investments in Maine’s other heritage industries – agriculture and forestry – and more.

This program also follows the more than $273 million that the Mills Administration has delivered to Maine businesses and non-profits to mitigate impacts of the pandemic, in addition to 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 about Maine Jobs & Recovery Plan, visit maine.gov/jobsplan.