A Portland-area business development group has been awarded a $375,000, three-year grant from the Greater Portland Public Development Commission, a state agency that distributes business loans and grants.

The money will go to the Greater Portland Economic Development Corporation, a public-private partnership incorporated earlier this year to promote economic development in Portland, South Portland, Scarborough, Westbrook, Falmouth and Cape Elizabeth, said a media release.

The corporation works to attract businesses to the area, retain current businesses, promote job growth and create partnerships between the business community and local colleges and universities.

Eric Carson, South Portland economic development director, said the corporation will use the commission’s grant to hire an executive director to run the group, purchase marketing materials and to fund general business development activities, such as trade-show attendance.

Under the terms of the grant, the commission will act as an adviser to the corporation and monitor its progress.

“The commission firmly believes that the Greater Portland Economic Development Corporation is the best vehicle to spur economic growth in Greater Portland,” says commission Chairwoman Joan Cohen, in the media release.

The corporation’s members include town government officials, chamber of commerce executives, heads of private businesses and representatives from local universities and cultural institutions.

The commission was launched after World War II to promote economic development using proceeds from the sale of land in South Portland where Liberty Ships were built during the war.

The commission has invested in start-up businesses and nonprofit groups, and has helped fund business expansions.