The Northern Forest Center, in partnership with the Moosehead Lake Brand Leadership Team (BLT), is offering matching grants for Downtown Greenville Business Façade Improvement projects. The Downtown Planning and Beautification Sub-Committee of the BLT was chartered to improve and enhance all aspects of downtown Greenville, which serves as the “front lawn” to Moosehead Lake.  The Center is working with the sub-committee toward that end.

The Façade Improvement Grant Program is part of the Center’s Tourism Innovation Program which offers larger matching grants to help tourism-related businesses in the Moosehead and Katahdin Iron Works areas implement new product and business innovations.

This program offers a limited number of small matching grants ($500 - $2,000) to help Greenville businesses or building owners with façade/exterior improvements. The program will provide 50% of the cost up to $2,000 for improvement projects such as  blade signs, exterior painting, window boxes, shutters, landscaping, decorative lighting (night-sky friendly, non-neon), etc.

To be funded, projects must meet the façade improvement criteria outlined in the Downtown Greenville Master Plan. Preference will be given to projects with the “triangle” identified in the Downtown Plan. Other projects will be considered if funds are available.  Approved projects must be completed by July 2018.

For further information and/or an application, please contact either:

  • Ruth McLaughlin, Downtown Planning Committee Chair,This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or phone: 207-695-0224, or;
  • Mike Wilson, Northern Forest Center,This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or by phone: 603-731-0558.

Applications must be submitted by April 1, 2018 This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or regular mail to Ruth McLaughlin, P.O. Box 1288, Greenville, ME 04441.

Download the application.

All eligible applications will be forwarded to the Northern Forest Center for final review. Funding decisions will be made by the Center by April 20, 2018.  Upon completion of an awarded project, receipts reflecting the total cost for the approved project must be submitted to the Northern Forest Center for 50% reimbursement (up to $2,000).

Funding for the Tourism Innovation Program has been made possible by a federal New Markets Tax Credit (NMTC) financing, facilitated by the Center, of the Appalachian Mountain Club’s Maine Woods Initiative. The Massachusetts Housing Investment Corporation and JP Morgan Chase provided capital and tax credit authority for the NMTC financing.

The Tourism Innovation Program is part of the Center’s strategic work to advance Destination Tourism Development as a source of jobs and economic opportunity for the Maine Woods region. The program provides up to $25,000 in matching grant funding to enable tourism businesses in the Moosehead and Katahdin Iron Works areas to access outside expertise and implement innovative projects to help their businesses thrive.

Financial assistance is available for businesses in the Moosehead Lake and Katahdin Iron Works regions, focusing on:
  • lodging businesses
  • guide services
  • outfitters
Preference will be given to businesses in towns near Moosehead Lake and the gateways to the Katahdin Iron Works area, including:
  • Beaver Cove
  • Greenville
  • Rockwood
  • Shirley
  • Monson
  • Abbot
  • Bowerbank
  • Willimantic
  • Sebec
  • Milo
  • Brownville

Preference also will be given to businesses in unorganized territories near the Appalachian Mountain Club’s (AMC’s) conservation and recreation land in the 100-Mile Wilderness region.

The project partners encourage creative initiatives and expect many of the investments to fall into three high-priority opportunities for improvement: market development and customer management, new product development, and facility improvements.

Projects could include website and social media marketing and online reservation systems; new product development such as lodging and experiential packages; and upgrades such as renewable energy systems, including high-efficiency wood pellet boilers, and other improvements.

Download complete program guidelines.

The Center, AMC, the Moosehead Lake Region Economic Development Corporation, the Piscataquis County Economic Development Council and Massachusetts Housing Investment Corporation are working together to implement the Tourism Innovation Program.

From the first contact to the last goodbye, every interaction counts toward a visitor’s experience of the place they are visiting. Exciting travel packages, quality services, attractive buildings and genuine Maine Woods experiences will draw visitors and keep them coming back.

The Center’s Tourism Innovation Program is helping tourism providers implement innovations that will strengthen their businesses, expand job opportunities and attract visitors to the Maine Woods.

In 2017, the Northern Forest Center awarded the first three grants in the Piscataquis County Tourism Innovation Program (TIP) to assist three Moosehead Lake area businesses in implementing new product and business innovations.

The program offers qualified businesses financial assistance ranging from $5,000 to $25,000 each to hire top consultants to develop and implement business innovations ranging from software and facility improvements to new product development. Learn about grant eligibility. See profiles below of our first grants and a video of our work with the Blair Hill Inn: 

Business grants awarded in 2017 include:

The Spa at Blair Hill (completed Fall 2017)

The Center’s first TIP project assisted in creating a new spa and wellness center at the Blair Hill Inn—a five-star B&B with sweeping views of Moosehead Lake. After connecting the proprietors of the inn with professional support from Mia Kryicos of the international spa consultancy Kyricos & Associates, the Center provided financial assistance to accelerate the project and ensure a top quality final product. 

Even with some construction still underway and limited marketing, the Spa at Blair Hill was busy during its first season—booking more than 70 massage and facial treatments and providing income to four treatment specialists from the Moosehead area. With the launch of a new website featuring the spa’s offerings, the proprietors project a 100% growth is spa sales for 2018. 

Adding the new spa was a factor in enabling the Blair Hill Inn to secure an exclusive quality certification from Relais & Chateau—a global brand that uses exacting standards to identify quality destination inns and restaurants. The Blair Hill Inn is now one of only 85 properties in North America to receive this recognition, and the new spa will be a key element of the services they offer to guests seeking (and expecting) a truly world class destination experience.

Northeast Whitewater & Moose Tours

In December 2017, the Center awarded a matching grant to assist Jeremy and Jessica Hargreaves to upgrade the online marketing platform for their tour company. As the only whitewater guide company in the Moosehead area, and the state’s leading “moose tour” provider, Northeast Whitewater & Moose Tours needed to streamline its brand and increase its ability to track client behavior on its online reservation system.

TIP funding from the Center is enabling Northeast to work with Flyte New Media and Arctic Reservations on these and other activities to improve their ability to target high potential clients and increase bookings.

Moosehead Marine Museum

Also in December 2017, the Center worked with staff of the Moosehead Marine Museum to launch a comprehensive review of its overall marketing program and develop new marketing strategies to increase product sales—particularly tickets for Moosehead Lake tours on the historic steamboat Katahdin.

Built in 1914 by Bath Iron Works, the Katahdin was used as a towboat to haul booms of logs until 1975, including participating in the nation’s last log drive, after which it was designated a National Historic Landmark. Now entering her second centennial, the 225-passenger Katahdin serves as an primary attraction for visitors to the Moosehead Lake region.

A matching grant from the Center is enabling the Museum to contract with Nancy Marshall Communications, one of Maine’s leading marketing and PR firms, to improve its marketing program and its ability to share this unique Moosehead experience with visitors.

Funding for the TIP program comes from a New Markets Tax Credit (NMTC) financing, facilitated by the Center, that funded reconstruction of the AMC’s Medawisla Lodge on the edge of the 100-Mile Wilderness, northeast of Greenville. This federal financing program enables the AMC and the Center to invest in a range of projects and programs that support the Maine Woods economy and provide other community benefits. The Massachusetts Housing Investment Corporation and JP Morgan Chase provided capital and tax credit authority in support of the NMTC financing.

A Network to Advance the Triple Bottom Line

The Center coordinates the Maine Woods Consortium – a network of non-profit organizations, businesses and government agencies dedicated to advancing a “triple bottom line” approach (economy, environment, community) to development and conservation in the Maine Woods region.

Maine Woods Consortium members share an interest in increasing the number of livable wage jobs available to people working in the tourism sector in the Maine Woods. The Center and its Consortium partners have successfully leveraged private and public investments to deliver direct support to several hundred businesses.

Together we continue to advance strategic thinking about long-term Maine Woods tourism development, and build critical networks and capacity to support ongoing, quality-centered tourism development in the Maine Woods.

The Center helps the Consortium advance quality tourism in Maine through two flagship programs, Maine Woods Discovery and the Maine Woods Tourism Training Initiative.