PACTS allocates $11 million to help transit
agencies during pandemic and improve network
On Tuesday, the PACTS Executive Committee approved the allocation of $11.1 million in federal stimulus funds to help transit agencies replace lost revenues and improve the resilience of the region's public transportation network. 
"The region's public transportation system will be integral in the post-pandemic economic recovery, and this funding will enable us to rebuild customer demand after the pandemic," said Cape Elizabeth Town Manager Matthew Sturgis, who chairs the committee. 

More than $9 million will be used to replace lost transit agency revenues; $1 million is dedicated to cleaning, sanitation and communications; and $1.1 million will be spent on several projects to help recover ridership and improve transit system resiliency. 

Public transportation in southern Maine has received $53 million in total through CARES, with $32.6 million allocated across three phases. More than $20 million remains to be distributed. 
$67 Million to Support Local Businesses
GPCOG recently distributed the second round of Maine Economic Recovery Grants (MERG) to Portland-area businesses. By the end of the program, we'll have distributed more than $67 million in CARES Act funding to help the region's small businesses and nonprofits recover from the economic impact of the pandemic. 

We spoke with MERG recipient Anthony Barrasso — owner of Anthony's Italian Kitchen in Portland — about the impact of the grant on his business.

In addition to distributing MERG grants, GPCOG offers several loan programs to help businesses in Cumberland County. 

Outdoor Dining Options for Winter 
GPCOG is partnering with Portland Food Map, Portland Downtown and the cities of Portland and Westbrook to promote winter dining efforts in the region. Winter Dine provides live updates on outdoor dining accommodations and offerings provided by restaurants, bars and cafés.

Momentum: A Maine Racial and Social Equity Series 
GPCOG — in partnership with the Portland Regional Chamber of Commerce, the Portland Public Library, United Way of Greater Portland, and the Maine Historical Society — is launching an initiative to discuss the history and experience of race and racism in Maine. At the beginning of every month, the group will provide participants with a task — such as reading a book or watching a movie. At the end of the month, participants will attend a virtual event to share their thoughts and hear from experts. The project is called "Momentum: A Maine Racial and Social Equity Series," and it begins in February.

Press Herald profiles GPCOG 
Our hard work is getting noticed! A Portland Press Herald story last week highlights GPCOG's role in addressing regional challenges and that our agency has evolved to become a "more dynamic, relevant and effective organization." The Portland Press Herald editorial board noted that challenges such as housing, transportation and addiction don't stop at town borders and require regional solutions.

Take the speed test!
Help improve Maine Internet infrastructure by testing the speed of the internet connection in your home or office. Go to Maine Broadband Coalition to take the test and view the map showing the results of the 11,000 speed tests taken since October.  

The Maine Broadband Coalition through 2021 will be using crowdsourced test data to identify where there is internet service, who provides it and the quality of service. The data will inform where and how to deploy funds to support unserved and underserved communities. 

GPCOG is the fiscal host of the Maine Broadband Coalition, and Andrew Butcher, Director of Innovation and Resilience for GPCOG, serves as the coalition’s director.   

Get the latest Resilience Corps news
GPCOG is launching a blog to provide insights and updated information about projects served by Resilience Corps Fellows. Recent posts by Casey Zorn (Sustainability Fellow), Eric Hall (Data and Digital Services Fellow) and Will Parker (Outreach Fellow) highlight stories from their first weeks of service.

Serve on a PACTS committee and shape
policy and investment decisions
We are seeking people who are passionate about transportation to serve on several PACTS committees. We have open seats on two governing boards, the Executive and Policy committees, as well as the new Regional Transportation Advisory Committee.  

Committee members are responsible for guiding transportation policies and investments in the region and attending approximately four to 12 meetings per year (depending on the committee). New committee members will receive an "orientation to PACTS" at the beginning of their terms, likely in March 2021.  

Please visit the PACTS Committee application portal to learn more and apply. PACTS and GPCOG are committed to representing the region's diversity in our staff and committees. People of color, veterans and people with disabilities are encouraged to apply. The application deadline is Tuesday, Jan. 19, at 5:00 pm.

Send questions to Chris Chop
Greater Portland Council of Governments (GPCOG)
970 Baxter Boulevard
Suite 201
Portland, ME 04103
Phone: 207-774-9891
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