WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Ben Cardin and Barbara A. Mikulski (both D-MD) today announced a $100,000 Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) grant to the nonprofit Progress Fund’s Maryland Trail Town Program. The grant will help fund the start up or expansion of at least 10 new trail-serving businesses in Cumberland and Frostburg, which are expected to increase the number of visitors to the Great Allegheny Passage (GAP) trail and business revenues by 10 percent.
“The Great Allegheny Passage is one of Maryland’s greatest natural and economic treasures, drawing thousands of tourists to our state each year,” said Senator Cardin, a member of the Senate Small Business and Entrepreneurship Committee. “This grant will further tourism and small business development along the trail, creating new jobs and economic opportunities for the residents of Western Maryland.”
“This federal funding will help grow Western Maryland’s tourism economy, making an investment that will draw in new visitors and provide new jobs today and tomorrow,” Senator Mikulski said. “This is a smart investment in small business – the engines that keep our economy growing. I will keep fighting to put funds in the federal checkbook so our Maryland communities can continue to grow.”
The ARC grant will allow the Maryland Trail Town Program to continue promoting economic development through expanded business opportunities. Since its inception in 2007, the Program has helped create 47 new businesses, 13 business expansions, and 93 new jobs.
The grant also will allow the Program to retain a Regional Trail Coordinator in Western Maryland who focuses on business development, business retention, new business recruitment and cooperative marketing of the region as a tourist destination. The Program also expects to lend $1 million in small business loans from its revolving loan fund to sustain and attract new businesses in Cumberland and Frostburg. The Regional Trail Coordinator will play a pivotal role in determining how loans are administered in the area.
In addition to ARC funds, other funds from a variety of private foundations will provide $100,000, bringing the total project funding to $200,000. The ARC is a federal-state partnership that works with the people of the Appalachian region to create opportunities for self-sustaining economic development and improved quality of life.