The Northern Forest Center recently awarded $14,000 in matching grants to enable nine businesses in downtown Greenville, Maine, to improve the facades of their buildings. The matching grants leveraged more than $35,000 of private investment in downtown Greenville—the heart of the Moosehead Lake region. 

Greenville facade grants program map

The Northern Forest Center is working closely with partners in the Maine Woods Consortium to build local capacity to improve the destination appeal in high-potential Rural Destination Areas across the Maine Woods. The concept of “destination development” is to strengthen the amenities, quality services and attractions that make places attractive to live in or visit.

Participants in the Community Development AcademyThe new Community Destination Academy (CDA) combines a 6-part, professionally led workshop series with direct financial and technical assistance to support implementation of local destination development projects.

Modeled on Oregon’s successful Rural Tourism Studio, the Destination Academy is built around three goals:

  • Build the capacity of local Destination Development Teams to advance a shared vision for their area;
  • Deliver skills training on topics including visitor experience development, marketing, fundraising, and more;
  • Support team-based project implementation to demonstrate tangible progress and to strengthen working relationships among destination area stakeholders.

The Center launched the first Destination Academy in the Moosehead Lake region this spring in partnership with the Maine Office of Tourism, Piscataquis County Economic Development Council (PCEDC), and Destination Moosehead. The 20 attendees included a mix of local business, non-profit, and municipal leaders—representing all the critical elements of a successful destination development effort.

The MTB Collaborative has awarded its first three mini-grants to help expand mountain bike trail networks and make more trails accessible to novice mountain bikers in the region. The Collaborative has awarded the grants to:

MTB Collaborative thumbs up

  • PRKR MTN Trails in Littleton, NH, to make some of its trails easier and more appealing to aa wider range of riders, including young people.
  • The Coos Cycling Club to add three miles of new, hand-built trail that will expand its network on the north slope of Pine Mountain in Gorham, NH. 
  • Mahoosuc Pathways in Bethel, Maine, to add to its Bethel Village Trails this summer as part of an expansion that will eventually grow its network to 15 total miles of multi-use trails that start right from the village center. 

Center Vice President Joe Short is facilitating the Northeast Kingdom Regional Tourism Marketing Partnership, a regional group of Chambers of Commerce and non-profits concerned with tourism in Vermont’s three northeastern counties. The participants have joined together to collectively market all that the region offers to visitors, and to make the Kingdom a “must-see” destination for both American and foreign travelers.

In today’s competitive travel industry, few rural communities or businesses acting alone can provide the full range of activities, lodging, food and other amenities that attract discerning visitors and meet their expectations. But as a region, the Northeast Kingdom has a diverse “lifetime of experiences” that sets it apart from other places. It provides high quality services as well as authentic experiences grounded in its beautiful landscape and historic villages. Working together, the participating chambers intend to use sophisticated and consistent marketing to attract visitors and drive new opportunity to the Kingdom’s communities and businesses.

In addition to facilitating the process of establishing the Northeast Kingdom Regional Tourism Marketing Partnership, Joe is sharing what the Center has learned through its destination development work in the Maine Woods, and helping the Vermont group address essential management issues.