Maine grant program targets motorcoach businesses, thanks to powerful storytelling

Maine has only six motorcoach companies, but the state’s governor has recognized their essential and central role in supporting the state’s tourism industry.

The result? In June, Maine Gov. Janet Mills announced a $10 million state grant program funded by CARES Act Coronavirus Relief Funds (CRF) to help charter transportation companies and border businesses adversely impacted by the pandemic and closure of the Canadian border.

Fast-forward to this month: Applications are being accepted from eligible businesses in the state as of August 12.

Jason Briggs of VIP Tour and Charter Bus Company credits early action by fellow Maine operator Scott Riccio of Northeast Charters and Tours with the motorcoach companies getting on the governor’s radar.

“Scott hired a videographer . . . he went to everybody in Maine, the summer camps, and the cruise ships, and the hoteliers, and the restaurants and all the people that would miss us if we were gone. College sports. Athletic directors. Without all of us and what we do in our state, all those places would be in dire straits. That was a selling point to the governor,” Briggs said.

Riccio said he hired a firm to tell the industry’s story with a nearly 45-minute video.

“The video showed our local, state, and federal officials how the Maine motorcoach companies are affected,” Riccio said, “and how all of the interviewed clients use our services. These are very heart-felt interviews and really show how beneficial we are to residents of Maine and visitors to our state.”

“Our goal,” he said, “was to educate our government officials in DC, the Maine Governor’s office staff, the Maine office of Tourism and the Maine Department of Economic and Community Development, about who the motorcoach industry is, how it is a cog in the wheel of tourism, how many good-paying jobs we produce, the massive capital investments we manage, and how we are the most environmentally friendly mode of transportation in North America.”

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