Vermont gets $4.4 million in northern border grants to 14 communities

Vermont Business Magazine Senator Patrick Leahy (D), Senator Bernie Sanders (I), Representative Peter Welch (D), Governor Phil Scott (R) and officials from the Northern Border Regional Commission (NBRC) announced Tuesday that 14 Vermont organizations will receive more than $4.4 million in federal grants to promote economic development across the Green Mountain State. Funds will help local communities build out fiber optic broadband networks, facilitate new infrastructure development, bolster Vermont’s outdoor recreation and forest economies and invest in the state’s arts and cultural organizations.

Leahy, the Vice Chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, said: “These federal investments in Vermont will bring concrete benefits to Vermonters’ lives. These projects will mean that more Vermonters will have access to broadband internet and to healthy and local food, and our towns and villages will be able to build out infrastructure that improves their vibrancy.” In his leading Appropriations Committee role, Leahy has dramatically increased funding over the last three years for the Commission in the annual appropriations bills and increased the Commission’s territory to make every Vermont community eligible for grants.

Sanders said: “The coronavirus pandemic has exposed and exacerbated the many challenges rural Americans face in accessing high-quality, affordable housing, child care, broadband, health care and food. The Northern Border Regional Commission provides needed federal funding to improve Vermont’s rural regions and create good jobs. This program is now more important than ever to support our communities in their efforts to recover from this crisis.”

Welch said: “Communities across our state are suffering from the effects of the coronavirus pandemic. These grants will provide a vital boost to communities across our state that need it most. By investing in projects from food security to infrastructure, these grants will have widespread economic and community development benefits for Vermont communities seeking to recover from this pandemic.”

Scott said: “The NBRC funding will be especially important this year, as communities respond to, and work to recover from, the impacts of this once-in-a-century pandemic. I appreciate this critical federal support and look forward to seeing these transformative projects get underway.”

NBRC Federal Co-Chairman Harold B. Parker said: “The NBRC is excited to again partner with the State of Vermont to make a diverse set of awards this year. Projects that span economic recovery, infrastructure, workforce development, connectivity, and that, importantly in these challenging times, maintain a focus on recreation, are all crucial to advancing economic and community development.”

They announced this list of Vermont grantees:

  • Randolph Area Community Development Corporation – $475,000: For infrastructure development including roads, utilities, water/sewer, sidewalks, and lighting.
  • East Calais Community Trust – $105,000: To reopen the shuttered East Calais General Store on Route 14 as an essential community resource for locals and travelers alike.
  • Food Connects (Brattleboro) – $184,250: For state-wide infrastructure essential to food security and to increase capacity of 80 farms and food producers to reach new markets within and outside of Vermont.
  • Vermont Foodbank (Barre) – $250,000: To support the renovation of the Barre facility, which serves Vermont's food insecure population.
  • Catamount Arts (St. Johnsbury) – $250,000: For place-based creative programming/events that will leverage unique community assets to respond to economic impacts of COVID-19 in the NEK.
  • Fairbanks Museum (St. Johnsbury) – $350,000: To construct Vermont’s first demonstration mass timber building and use the project for workforce training and the Science Annex.
  • Town of South Hero – $110,000: To install 1,500 feet of village center water main along Route 2 from Hill Rd to Carter Lane.
  • Richford Grocery (NOTCH) – $175,000: To complete acquisition of a grocery store for ownership and operation as the State’s first non-profit social grocery.
  • Vermont Council on Rural Development – $286,000: To build long-term recovery and economic resiliency projects in Vermont communities, share recovery best practices and connect projects with state, federal and public/private COVID-19 recovery assistance.
  • Vermont Housing and Conservation Board – $256,907: The Vermont Farm and Forest Viability Program will provide 90 working lands businesses with coaching to help them recover from COVID-19 disruptions.
  • Vermont Sustainable Jobs Fund – $210,000: To increase forest-based economic activity across the State of Vermont.
  • Town of Fletcher – $439,443: To build a fiber-to-the-home telecom network to the 34 miles of residences and businesses that do not currently have access to broadband.
  • City of Rutland – $350,000: Acquisition of the athletic facility (20.4 acres of the 116-acre former College of St. Joseph campus) for use as a recreational/community facility for Rutland County.
  • Town of Montgomery – $507,107: For a new centralized wastewater project serving the Village Center.
  • Town of Highgate – $482,053: To create a 6,300 foot extension of water and sewer infrastructure from the entrance of MVU High School along US Route 78 to Airport Road.

Created in the 2008 Farm Bill, NBRC is a federal-state partnership with a mission to help alleviate economic distress and encourage private-sector job creation throughout the northern counties of Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont and New York. Since its inception, the Commission has awarded more than $72 million, which has leveraged more than $249 million to support 287 grants across the four states. In Vermont, including this year’s grantees, it has funded 86 projects totaling more than $20 million.

Source: MONTPELIER, VT. (TUESDAY, Aug. 18, 2020) – Delegation