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SAM Magazine—Mars Hill, Maine, Aug. 17, 2022—The U.S. Department of Commerce’s Economic Development Authority (EDA) has awarded a $2.5 million grant to Big Rock Mountain to boost tourism by supporting investment into a new chairlift and increased snowmaking capacity at the Mars Hill, Maine, ski area. Big Rock Mountain is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization.Big rock

“Funding will be used to replace an aging chairlift, quadruple snowmaking capacity, and keep admission prices low for families,” said Big Rock assistant general manager Aaron Damon, who called the investment “big news for Aroostook County.”

The grant was awarded with an eye toward bringing new visitors to Aroostook County, its businesses, and its attractions in northern Maine. The EDA grant will be matched with $634,700 in local funds, and it is expected to create 11 jobs, retain 44 jobs, and generate $2 million in private investment, according to grantee estimates.

“Big Rock Mountain is a powerful economic engine for Aroostook County, contributing to the local economy and supporting jobs, small businesses, and rural communities,” said Maine Sen. Susan Collins. “With the U.S.-Canadian border now open and tourism rebounding, this federal investment in the ski area’s infrastructure is especially welcome and well timed.”

“Big Rock is a huge economic driver for Northern Maine that attracts visitors from around the region and Canada and has enjoyed the support of the local community who always understood the value of this central Aroostook treasure,” added Maine Sen. Angus King. “With this significant funding, Big Rock will be able to modernize their operations and equipment, extend their season, and welcome even more skiers to the mountain.”

This project is funded under the EDA’s $240 million American Rescue Plan Travel, Tourism, and Outdoor Recreation program. The program is designed to accelerate the recovery of communities that rely on the travel, tourism, and outdoor recreation sectors. Effective May 26, 2022, the EDA officially closed all its American Rescue Plan programs for applications. The program funding will be awarded on a rolling basis through Sept. 30, 2022.