SKOWHEGAN — Efforts to increase tourism in central Maine, and specifically in Skowhegan and Waterville, received a boost Thursday with an announcement that the Maine Office of Tourism is awarding a $484,500 grant.

The grant was awarded to the nonprofit organization Main Street Skowhegan, which is to work with other business groups on tourism development strategies.

Main Street Skowhegan, along with the Central Maine Growth Council and the Mid-Maine Chamber of Commerce, is expected to develop a unified vision and brand for the Skowhegan and Waterville areas. The groups intend to launch a regional marketing effort.

In a statement announcing the grant, Kristina Cannon, president and CEO of Main Street Skowhegan, called the initiative a “first of its kind.”

“We are thrilled to work together,” Cannon said.

The initiative is intended to help attract tourists, create business opportunities and encourage people to relocate to the region, according to Kimberly Lindlof, president and CEO of the Mid-Maine Chamber of Commerce, based in Waterville.

Economic revitalization efforts have been ongoing in Skowhegan and Waterville. Recent investment in Skowhegan’s economy now totals $650 million, according to Cannon.

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