The Kennebec Valley Council of Governments announced Tuesday it has been awarded a $400,000, two-year federal grant to help the region’s communities respond to and recover from the COVID-19 pandemic.

The CARES Act funding will help advance economic development in the communities negatively impacted by the pandemic, according to an announcement released Monday by the U.S. Economic Development Administration.

“This investment comes at a critical time for Maine’s economy,” the KVCOG statement reads. “This federal funding will help the communities of Maine’s Kennebec Valley region to come together and recover from the enormous impact of COVID-19 in this region.”

KVCOG officials said the funding will allow the organization to hire two specialists whose sole focus over the next two years will be to update the region’s economic development plans and fortify programs that help communities within the region affected by the pandemic.

KVCOG will also develop resources for communities to better respond to future economic emergencies, according to officials.

“The coronavirus pandemic has taken a toll on every community across our state and nation, undercutting the budgets for community services and economic development at an incredibly difficult time,” U.S. Sens. Susan Collins, a Republican, and Angus King, an independent, said in a joint statement.

“Maine people are resilient by nature, and we welcome this funding to help the small businesses, individuals and families in the Kennebec Valley region receive the necessary resources to better weather this pandemic.”

KVCOG, a private, nonprofit organization based in Fairfield, assists 62 communities and several unorganized territories with planning and economic development efforts.

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