Commercial Currents: Getting a grant

Stephenie MacLagan
Posted 2017-11-01

Two islands successfully leverage grants to boost business

It’s true: For-profit businesses aren’t attractive for grant funding, no matter how noble the company’s mission or strong the ties to the local community. Still, there are a few grants out there that can boost businesses, sometimes in surprising ways.

It can be hard to find the funds to invest in every aspect of your business that needs attention. That’s where New Ventures microgrants for businesses can help. While investing in a big move and expansion, Jackie George couldn’t also do the marketing she knew was important to the growth of her business, Abundant Health in Rockland. With a small grant, she was able to implement a marketing plan that generated $11,000 in just one year, according to the New Ventures website.

Applications for New Ventures microgrants for businesses are due November 3rd.

Organizations that support small businesses can pick up grants that boost commerce in their local areas. The Maine Office of Tourism offers grants, small and large, to organizations that provide tourism marketing to their region or area. The Vinalhaven Chamber of Commerce used a $2,500 grant to revamp their website, which attracts visitors to one of the only downtowns on an unbridged island in Maine.

The Maine Tourism Marketing Partnership Program offers a variety of opportunities.

On Great Cranberry, the Historical Society utilized such a grant — worth $3,000 — to recreate their website and archival process. The website will be finished soon, and Archivist Abbe Grulich noted, “We hope the new website will boost the number of visitors we get.”

The website also helps researchers have an easier time finding the Historical Society. “We hired someone in order to do this; we would not have been able to do it without the grant,” said Grulich. Matt McFarland, of Downeast IT in Surry, Maine, “was hired to design our new website, and he will continue to host, develop, and service the website for us.”

Another business benefiting from this project is Hitty’s Café, which shares a location with the Historical Society Museum. Grulich thinks that having the food business at their location is a huge draw: “We had 3,000-4,000 visitors this year!”

Resources for small businesses

Contact us for free small business support as you prepare for grant opportunities.

Check out these other grant opportunities:

What We Do

The Island Institute’s Small Business Team provides business and financial planning services to coastal small businesses. To inquire about our small business support services, feel free to contact Stephenie.

Commercial Currents is a monthly email newsletter created for Maine’s island and coastal small businesses. To find archived editions, go to

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