The Manufacturers Association of Maine has received the Program of the Year Award from the Northeast Economic Development Association for a program designed to boost Maine’s defense industry, the manufacturers association said Monday.

The award-winning Defense Diversification Program is a pilot program that helps defense-dependent companies assess their current product offerings and provide technical assistance to open doors to new and emerging markets, according to a news release. The manufacturers association helped secure a $1.9 million grant from the Department of Defense in 2016 as part of a national program established by the Pentagon to help sustain its manufacturing supply during a period of budget cuts and sequestration, it said.

“As part of this pilot program, (the manufacturers association) has been successful in helping eight Maine companies diversify their manufacturing capabilities and sell into new commercial sectors,” the release said. “In all, 10 companies received assessments and some technical assistance.”

Lisa Martin, executive director of the Manufacturers Association of Maine, said the Defense Diversification Program is a model business retention and expansion program that is providing “incredible opportunities” to Maine manufacturing companies.

“This is true economic development,” she said. “Our team works one-on-one with companies to identify what unique services or products can be leveraged in markets outside of defense. We then provide market diversification assistance and strategies specific to each company.”

J. Craig Anderson can be contacted at 791-6390 or at:

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This story was updated at 11:30 a.m. Nov. 2 to clarify Manufacturers Association of Maine’s role in acquiring the grant.