Vermont's congressional delegation -- Senator Patrick Leahy (D), Senator Bernie Sanders (I) and Representative Peter Welch (D) -- and Governor Peter Shumlin (D) Thursday announced that the State will receive $891,679 in Northern Border Regional Commission (NBRC) funds for economic development projects in Northern Vermont. This is a $400,000 increase over funds awarded in Vermont last year.
The NBRC funds will be disbursed in five grants to five organizations in Northern Vermont, as recommended by Governor Shumlin, for targeted economic development and job creation by improving infrastructure and strengthening communities.
Leahy said: "These grants provide practical assistance to Northern Vermont, a region that continues to thrive amidst tough economic circumstances. By utilizing local and regional development plans, the commission can effectively infuse federal funds into projects with a broad economic benefit all across the region. Investing in both business and educational institutions is a practical pairing of federal dollars well spent. The commission was created to address common economic challenges in the northeast, and these grants do just that."
Sanders said: "These five new grants through the Northern Border Regional Commission will help bolster efforts to improve rail, water and telecommunications infrastructure, provide workforce training, and assist small businesses across northern Vermont. Along with last week's announcement of an $8.8 million FAA grant to expand the Newport Airport, the federal government -- very appropriately -- is working closely with the state of Vermont and various organizations to create jobs, increase commerce and improve the economy in the Northeast Kingdom."
Welch said: "In a region rich in natural and human capital but struggling economically, these grants will provide northern Vermont with real opportunities to create jobs, enhance infrastructure, and strengthen the local economy. Congratulations to the recipients who are deeply committed to the mission of creating economic opportunity in the Northeast Kingdom."
Shumlin said: "This funding will help us continue our focus of bringing good jobs and educational opportunities to the Northeast Kingdom. We're starting to see real results in that region, and these grants will build on that improvement. I appreciate the effort of our Congressional Delegation in securing this funding for Vermont."
The NBRC was established by Congress in the 2008 Farm Bill and was recently reauthorized in the 2014 Farm Bill. The program provides funding for economic development in economically distressed counties in Vermont, New Hampshire, Maine and New York. Leahy, as the senior most member of the Senate's Agriculture and Appropriations Committees, played a pivotal role in renewing the Commission in the 2014 Farm Bill, which was signed into law in February, as well as in increasing its appropriations by $3.5 million in the current fiscal year.