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EPA and USDA to Help Two Maine Communities with Economic Development Goals

Assistance will help Eastport and Millinocket Use Broadband to Revitalize Downtowns

09/13/2017
Contact Information: 
Dave Deegan (deegan.dave@epa.gov)
617-918-1017

BOSTON – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Department of Agriculture have selected Eastport and Millinocket, Maine, as partners in "Cool & Connected," an innovative initiative that helps small towns use broadband service for economic development.

"Broadband projects can bring more than connectivity to communities," said EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt. "By supporting economic growth in downtown areas, broadband can help spur new business, create jobs, and protect public health and the environment."

"Access to high-speed internet is vital to connecting rural communities to the rest of the world and creates new opportunities for economic development," said U.S. Senators Susan Collins and Angus King in a joint statement. "By supporting Eastport's and Millinocket's efforts to improve broadband service and access, this investment will help revitalize these communities as well as attract new businesses and jobs."

Partner communities receive direct technical assistance to develop an action plan that leverages planned or existing broadband service to create more connected, economically vibrant main streets and small-town neighborhoods that improve human health and the environment. By combining broadband service with other local assets, such as cultural and recreational amenities, rural communities can attract investment and people, revitalize downtowns, diversify local economies, and improve walkability. Supporting reinvestment in existing areas also helps preserve open spaces and farmlands and protect air and water quality.

  • Eastport, Maine, will use broadband to attract teleworkers, create new opportunities for residents, and support small businesses on Main Street.
  • Millinocket, Maine, together with the community organization Our Katahdin, will get more residents connected digitally, and leverage broadband service to support the reuse of the Millinocket Mill site and other revitalization goals.

"In Eastport we enjoy an amazing quality of life, but we face challenges attracting new residents and new businesses. We couldn't be more pleased to have this opportunity to help achieve our economic and community development goals," said City Manager Elaine Abbott.

"Forest products are Millinocket's heritage and our future; we must also embrace the tourism and digital economies," said Millinocket Town Council Chair Mike Madore.

"Broadband will foster a new generation of businesses to invigorate our communities. We are excited for the Cool & Connected planning process and what it means for our future," added Mike Faloon, VP of Finance and Investment for Our Katahdin, a local community organization.

Millinocket will convene its Cool & Connected community workshop October 3-4. Eastport will host its workshop October 5-6. Community members are encouraged to participate. Federal staff will be working side by side with residents and local leaders to create customized solutions that address local priorities. Working together and with one another will also allow EPA and USDA to better coordinate and serve community needs.

EPA support is provided through the Office of Sustainable Communities, which helps communities develop in ways that protect public health and the natural environment. USDA support is from the Rural Utilities Service, which provides critical infrastructure including electricity generation and transmission, water and waste water facilities and telecommunications for rural America. Since 2009, USDA has awarded $6.7 billion for almost 550 projects to improve telecommunications infrastructure in rural communities.

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