“The sea, once it casts its spell, holds one in its net of wonder forever,” Jacques Cousteau
Maine’s maritime heritage is an integral part of our culture and economic well-being. Our abundant and superior seafood is treasured throughout the world and, to many visitors to our state and those who someday aspire to visit here, it personifies the idyllic image they have of Maine. Once someone enjoys the privilege of experiencing the wonder and delight of Maine’s rocky coast and its incomparable bounty, they are truly held, as the quote above suggests, in that net of wonder forever.
In an effort to ensure that Maine’s marine economy remains healthy and vibrant, lawmakers and Maine voters demonstrated terrific judgment in supporting a $7 million bond issue that fosters the continued growth of marine businesses and improves the sustainability of our marine economy.
The Maine Technology Institute was asked to administer the bond funding and a portion of it is to be deployed through a $1.925 million Marine Economy Capital Grants Program (MECG). MTI, in partnership with the Alliance for Maine’s Marine Economy, recently released a request for proposals (RFP) for projects that will help strengthen and support this essential Maine industry.
The program will provide grants of between $25,000 to $500,000 to businesses, private, public and non-profit entities to catalyze capital equipment or infrastructure projects that assist traditional fisheries, aquaculture and other seafood-related businesses to prosper and create jobs. The grants will be reviewed competitively according to five criteria: economic impact, industry-identified need and/or support, project scope and approach to innovation, project team and resources, and quality of budget and finances.
Under the terms of the grant program, the definition of ‘Marine Economy’ is limited to: “seafood or seafood-related sectors including aquaculture, ground-fishing, seaweed or algae, lobster, and other shellfish harvesting and related supply and value-chain supports including processing and value-added product development. Special consideration will be given to projects that aim to commercialize or add value to underutilized and/or under-valued species; projects that are collaborative and/or regionally-based with appropriate management strategies; and projects from economically distressed, marine resource dependent areas of the State.”
As with all programs that MTI administers, a minimum of 1:1 cash match is required. Grant requests, under the Marine Economy Capital Grants program, that exceed $100,000 will require a minimum of 2:1 match.
A request for proposals has been released on the MTI website at www.mainetechnology.org/mb. For those interested in applying, the letter of intent deadline is June 9, 2017 and the deadline to submit full proposals September 15, 2017.
MTI and members of the Alliance will conduct workshops and webinars for interested applicants covering the application process and the review criteria, process, and timeline. Anyone interested in direct notification of the workshops and webinars can sign up for schedule information at firstname.lastname@example.org.
MTI is angling to receive a barrel of quality proposals so please help spread the word so we can cast the net as widely as possible.