TRENTON, MAINE, Maine — Maine seafood dealers and processors will benefit from $15 million worth of grants through Governor Mills' Maine Jobs & Recovery Plan. Gov. Mills made the announcement Wednesday afternoon at one of the businesses receiving one of these grants, Hollander & de Koning, a shellfish company, in Trenton.
A total of 107 seafood dealers and processors in each of Maine's coastal counties will receive awards. More than half of those grants are worth more than $115,000 each.
According to a press release, the funds were made available as competitive grants through the Seafood Dealer and Processor COVID-19 Response and Resilience Program (SDPP).
Alex de Koning, one of the owners of Hollander and de Koning, said he is extremely grateful his sixth-generation family-owned business will benefit from these funds.
"My family's been farming mussels since the time of Napoleon, literally Napoleon, and my great, great, many times great-grandfather was farming mussels," de Koning said.
"My administration will continue doing all we can to support seafood dealers and processors as they recover from the pandemic and as they become more resilient for whatever challenges are ahead," Gov. Mills said.
Jeff Nichols, communications director for the Maine Dept. of Marine Resources, said business owners in this sector of the seafood industry used any extra funds they had just to stay afloat the last couple years.
"It's going to help them make investments that they had to put off the last couple years, and these investments are going to allow them to build a strong and resilient future," Nichols said.
This money is now helping many business owners prepare for whatever comes next.
"Really it's just providing us stability in the future where it removes some of the influences of the fluctuations like we saw with COVID," de Koning said.
de Koning used the funds he received from the Mills Administration to purchase a new machine that produces small bags of mussels which now makes him able to sell to retail stores.
"Now we can both get our product into the restaurants, which we supply most of the restaurants in this area, and now we can also move into grocery stores. And actually, starting next week we're going to be supplying to Hannaford supermarket," de Koning said.
de Koning added his fresh Maine-farmed mussels are going to be available in more than 150 Hannaford Supermarkets in the northeast. He said being able to sell his seafood to both restaurants and grocery stores will help his business succeed long after it's passed on to the next generation: his two young daughters.
"My hope is that I can provide an opportunity for them to continue living in this amazing place and make a good living off it," de Koning said.