Ten Northern Border Regional Commission grants totaling $2,228,801 were announced Thursday at the Greensboro Garage in Hardwick. Courtesy photo.
Vermont Business Magazine Governor Phil Scott and US Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vermont) were in Hardwick Thursday to announce a $250,000 Northern Border Regional Commission (NBRC) grant to transform the former "Greensboro Garage" on Route 15 into a new agricultural enterprise center. The grant is one of ten NBRC grants totaling $2,228,801 announced Thursday, which will make vital infrastructure improvements, invest in job-creating technical assistance programs, and help businesses and organizations from Franklin to Caledonia Counties.
"The Northern Border Regional Commission has a unique role as a federal-state partnership to convene the leaders of four northern border states, identify common challenges, and put resources towards efforts to address those challenges," said Scott. "These grants aim to help our forest-based economies, our emerging agricultural entrepreneurs, and the communities they depend upon to make investments in themselves – creating new opportunities for Vermonters. This is incredibly valuable to our efforts to grow Vermont’s economy, and I want to thank our Congressional Delegation for supporting this program."
The Town of Hardwick received a $250,000 grant to purchase the Greensboro Garage parcel. The Town plans to partner with the Center for an Agricultural Economy – which operates a food hub in the adjacent industrial park – to create a multi-tenant facility for growing local agricultural enterprises.
Created in the 2008 Federal Farm Bill and funded since 2010, the NBRC is a federal-state partnership for economic and community development in northern Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, and New York. Vermont's NBRC territory includes communities within Grand Isle, Franklin, Orleans, Essex, Caledonia, and Lamoille Counties.
Each year, the NBRC provides federal funds to catalyze regional, collaborative and transformative community economic development approaches that alleviate economic distress and position the region for economic growth. The Commission is comprised of five voting members including a federal co-chair and the governors of Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, and New York. Vermont’s Congressional Delegation – Leahy, U.S. Congressman Peter Welch (D-Vt.)and U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) – have increased funding for the program ten-fold in the past 10 years, enabling Vermont to increase its share of grants.
Leahy, Vice Chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, said: “These federal funds will serve as a catalyst for economic development in northern Vermont. They will make businesses stronger, home ownership more affordable, and increase opportunities for tourism and outdoor recreation. This type of federal-state-local partnership is a demonstration of how all levels of government can work together to help rural economies."
"Too often, rural America has been left behind when it comes to economic development, which is why the resources provided through the Northern Border Regional Commission are so important,” said Sanders. “The projects funded today – in areas ranging from business development to infrastructure improvement – will have significant positive economic and social benefits across northern Vermont. This is an example of a successful federal-state partnership that provides critical funding for innovative projects in some of the most economically-challenged regions of our state."
“The Northern Border Regional Commission has played a vital role in spurring development in some of Vermont’s most economically-challenged communities,” said Welch. “Its success demonstrates that providing seed money to boost local economic development projects not only sparks local economic activity, but also lays the groundwork for long-term investment in the region. These grants will grow the economy and have a measurable impact on the lives of Vermonters.”
Scott and Leahy were joined by NBRC Federal Co-Chair Mark Scarano during Thursday's news conference.
“Thanks to Vermont’s resolute Congressional Delegation and Governor Scott’s able economic development team, the NBRC federal-state partnership’s grants will provide funds for critical economic development and infrastructure projects in some of Vermont’s most distressed regions,” said Scarano. “I was particularly impressed by the thoughtfulness and potential impact of all of this year’s NBRC applications from Vermont.”
Nine other NBRC grants were also announced Thursday. The recipients include:
- Green Mountain United Way - $191,753: To fund an employee-assistance program, Working Bridges, at three NBRC regional businesses.
- NeighborWorks of Western Vermont - $250,000: To expand the HEAT Squad program to Orleans, Essex and Caledonia counties. The project will help homeowners complete 660 audits and 233 energy efficiency projects while creating 36 jobs.
- Northern Forest Center - $162,500: To provide technical assistance to more than 57 forest-based businesses, including wood product manufacturers, wood-energy businesses, and tourism businesses.
- Vermont Brewers Association - $46,000: To create a mobile internet application of the Brewery Challenge Passport Program.
- Vermont Association of Snow Travelers (VAST) - $200,000: To undertake repairs and construction along the Lamoille Valley rail bed, which runs 11.6 miles from Sheldon to Swanton, expanding VAST’s four-season recreational and heritage trail.
- Fairbanks Museum & Planetarium – $128,548: To assist the museum in reducing its dependency on fossil fuels by converting to 90 percent renewables, and creating exhibits and outreach materials.
- Northern Community Investment Corporation - $150,000: To create a revolving loan fund for additional flexible sources of capital, and to expand financial technical assistance.
- Town of St. Johnsbury - $425,000: To build approximately 530 linear feet of new sidewalks/crosswalk, a 1,350 linear-foot trail; 2,883 linear feet of striped bike lanes on Bay Street, and convert a .21-acre riverfront property into a trail-head center accommodating a boat, bike, and fishing gear facility, as well as parking.
- Vermont Land Trust - $425,000: To construct a multi-use path, creating a four-season, seven-mile waterfront recreational corridor connecting downtown Newport to high-usage paths in Quebec.
In addition to the federal funds awarded to these projects, each grantee must match the federal investment with as much as 50 percent of the cost of the project. The 2017 grantees will bring $3.7 million in state, local and private funding to make these projects happen. Since 2010, the NBRC program has awarded $7.7 million to Vermont projects, leveraging an additional $10.5 million in other funding.
The Vermont Agency of Commerce and Community Development, which administers the NBRC Program on behalf of the Governor, anticipates soliciting applications from non-profit organizations and units of local and state government for 2018 NBRC grants in February 2018. Interested applicants should contact Katie Corrigan at (802) 272-1420.
Source: Governor Scott 8.10.2017