Commercial Real Estate: NBRC grants nearly $11 million for Vermont projects

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Photo: Rendering of Hardwick Yellow Barn. Courtesy image.

VermontBiz The Northern Border Regional Commission has announced that 13 Vermont communities will be receiving a combined $10.8 million from NBRC’s Catalyst Program.

This includes $500,000 for the redevelopment of the iconic “Yellow Barn” in Hardwick.

Evernorth Rural Ventures and Massachusetts Housing Investment Corporation previously closed on an $11.4 million in New Markets Tax Credit, or NMTC, allocation for the Yellow Barn.

Photo: 1960 photo of the Yellow Barn in Hardwick. Courtesy photos.

Photo: 1960 photo of the Yellow Barn in Hardwick. 

Yellow Barn present day. Courtesy photos.

Photo: Yellow Barn present day. Courtesy photos.

The NMTC funding supports the construction of a new 25,137-square-foot food business accelerator building and the adaptive reuse of the vacant, historic 4,762-square-foot yellow dairy barn for use as a retail shop. These projects are collectively known as the Yellow Barn Business Accelerator. 

The project is an innovative public-private partnership, the culmination of a six-year effort spearheaded by the town of Hardwick, the Northeast Kingdom Development Corporation and the Northeast Vermont Development Association. 

Gov. Phil Scott, U.S. Sens.  Bernie Sanders and Peter Welch, and U.S. Rep. Becca Balint hailed the NBRC investment.

“These funds will make a significant difference in Vermont communities across the state, including supporting clean water initiatives, investing in our agricultural economy, infrastructure, environment and more,” Scott said. “I’m grateful for the close collaboration and partnership with the NBRC as well as Senator Welch, Senator Sanders and Congresswoman Balint for their work at the federal level supporting these efforts.”

“In these difficult times, it is imperative that federal funding be available to strengthen Vermont communities, support local economies and rebuild essential infrastructure,” Sanders said. “From the construction and expansion of child care centers to agricultural investments and water infrastructure improvements, these funds will improve the lives of Vermonters in real, effective and deeply needed ways.”

“Support from the Northern Border Regional Commission has long helped build vibrant economies and healthy communities across our region — and this year’s awards are no exception,” said Welch. “Thanks to the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, Vermont communities will see historic investments from the NBRC to revitalize local infrastructure, expand child care services and support local agriculture. It’s exciting news for communities across our state, and I’m grateful to the NBRC and to the Biden administration for advancing these landmark investments.”

Added Balint: “Funding through the Northern Border Regional Commission has helped revitalize some of our communities that have been historically left behind. “These investments will support developing infrastructure and agriculture while expanding child care and education programs. I’m grateful for this state-federal partnership that brings historic funding to Vermonters.” 

Among the recipients, the towns of Killington ($2.5 million), Wilmington 
($1 million) and North Hero ($1 million) will receive funding to improve stormwater infrastructure, municipal water systems and more.

Neck of the Woods, an early-education and child care organization in Waitsfield, will receive $425,000 to expand services, adding new classrooms to support Vermont families. (See full list page 43)

The Northern Border Regional Commission was created by Congress in 2008 with the goal of alleviating hardship in the most economically distressed communities in Vermont, Maine, New Hampshire and New York. 

This year’s funding to Vermont is nearly double that of prior year investments, thanks to increases in the overall funding for the next 10 years that was championed in the last Congress by then-U.S. Sen. Patrick Leahy, Sanders and Welch, then a U.S. representative.

The NBRC announced in August a total of $43.6 million in new awards, including nearly $20 million from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, as part of the inaugural Catalyst Program competition. 

The 66 Catalyst awards will be distributed to communities in the commission’s member states of Maine, New Hampshire, New York and Vermont, and include a broad range of economic-development initiatives for projects that will modernize and expand water and wastewater systems; revitalize transportation infrastructure; establish workforce development programs and facilities; grow outdoor recreation
infrastructure and economies; and construct new child care and health care facilities. 

These projects are matched by public and private investments totaling $208.5 million across the four-state NBRC region. With the addition of funds provided by the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, the commission increased the scale of investments in infrastructure projects and funded the largest awards in its history.

These projects will unfold over the next three years. A complete list of this year’s awardees can be found on the NBRC website (

The 2023 Catalyst Program grant round was highly competitive, with 187 applications received and more than $151 million in funding requests. The Catalyst Program is designed to stimulate economic growth and inspire partnerships that improve rural economic vitality across the four-state NBRC region. 

The slate of selected projects advance NBRC investment priorities to reach underserved communities and build a resilient region; 35 of the commission’s awards are going to communities with fewer than 5,000 residents, and 30 to communities and organizations that are receiving their first NBRC funding award.

”A hallmark of the NBRC is its ability to flexibly support a broad range of needs in rural communities in our region,” said NBRC federal co-chair Chris Saunders. ”That quality is a common thread among the awards the commission (announced). These awards include central components of infrastructure upon which successful economies are built, and range from pipes, roads and fiber lines to child care programs, outdoor recreation infrastructure, working waterfronts and everything in between.

”The commission’s ability to incorporate that flexibility into grant making,” he added, ”is directly attributable to the once-in-a-generation support that came from President Biden and Congress working together to pass the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and the historic level of annual funding Congress included in last year’s spending bills.” 

To date, the Biden administration has awarded $280 billion in funding for 37,000 infrastructure projects across the country. 

Companies have announced over $500 billion in investments in the United States since Biden took office, and the administration has helped over 20 million households save money on their internet costs.

The funds for this program and all NBRC programs are available through the support of the congressional delegations of all four NBRC states 

Depending on the availability of funds in 2024, the NBRC anticipates another round of Catalyst awards in 2024. Visit the NBRC’s website for announcements about current and future funding opportunities.


NBRC Catalyst Program Awards in the State of Vermont 

Town of Killington

Project: Infrastructure improvements including a municipal water system and a redesigned roadway system that is required for the development of the Six Peaks Killington Village project. 

Location of Project: Rutland County 

Grant Amount: $2.25 million

Total Project Amount: $23.6 million 


Neck of the Woods Vermont

Project: Renovations of the second-floor child care and early education center building to expand child care services; add new classrooms, bathrooms and handicap access, including an elevator; and associated energy efficiency upgrades. 

Location of Project: Washington County 

Grant Amount: $425,000

Total Project Amount: $850,000


Center for Agricultural Economy 

Project: Renovations and interior fit-up of the 12,500-square-foot Hardwick Yellow Barn Business Accelerator building to expand agricultural and small-business support services. 

Location of Project: Caledonia County

Grant Amount: $500,000

Total Project Amount: $1.7 million


Town of Wilmington 

Project: The Route 9 Infrastructure Expansion will construct water/wastewater infrastructure along VT Routes 9 East/100 South to revitalize 22,000 square feet of underutilized space.

Location of Project: Windham County 

Grant Amount: $1 million

Total Project Amount: $2.47 million


Green Mountain Economic

Development Corporation

Project: Redevelop a vacant building on the site of the former Vermont Technical College Enterprise Center in Randolph into a child care center and work-based learning center. The project is a collaboration between GMEDC and the Orange County Parent Child Center. 

Location of Project: Orange County

Grant Amount: $750,000

Total Project Amount: $3.55 million


Town of North Hero

Project: Replacement of water main pipe along US Route 2 and construction of water storage tank allowing for improved water service reliability. 

Location of Project: Grand Isle County

Grant Amount: $1 million 

Total Project Amount: $4.04 million


Town of Johnson 

Project: Creation of a new light/industrial/commercial park in the town of Johnson. Infrastructure improvements will include a paved access road, foundational sewer collection lines, foundational water distribution lines, stormwater collection lines, treatment basin and electric and telecommunication lines. 

Location of Project: Lamoille County

Grant Amount: $862,000 

Total Project Amount: $1.72 million


Center for Cartoon Studies

Project: Renovate the “Telegraph Building” in White River Junction to house a production lab, a learning center, original art archive, studio space, classrooms for on-location and online instruction, a public gallery, and a bookstore. 

Location of Project: Windsor County 

Grant Amount: $971,000 

Total Project Amount: $2.09 million


Friends of the Vergennes Opera House

Project: Update City Hall/Vergennes Opera House to meet federal accessibility standards. Upgrades include a new elevator tower, a walkway from the street to the new entrance, a motorized life and ADA restroom.

Location of Project: Addison County 

Grant Amount: $300,000

Total Project Amount: $1.64 million


Maquam Bay of Missisquoi

Project: Redevelopment and renovation of the Abenaki tribal headquarters to expand space and organizational capacity to deliver health, nutrition and recreational programs. 

Location of Project: Franklin County 

Grant Amount: $500,000

Total Project Amount: $2.18 million


Town of Brighton

Project: Upgrades to a noncompliant and at-capacity wastewater treatment facility. 

Location of Project: Essex County 

Grant Amount: $1 million 

Total Project Amount: $4.87 million


Town of Greensboro

Project: Construction of a new town-owned wastewater collection, conveyance, treatment and soil-based disposal facility to replace failing on-site septic systems, protecting public health and the environment and allowing for 

housing and business development. 

Location of Project: Orleans County 

Grant Amount: $1 million

Total Project Amount: $9.05 million


Sterling College

Project: Development and launch of a new curricular component, Experiential Endeavors, focused on the agricultural, ecological, educational, recreational and food systems sectors. 

Location of Project: Caledonia, Lamoille and Orleans counties

Grant Amount: $275,000 

Total Project Amount: $589,000 


Catalyst Program Summary of Applicants in Vermont: 

Number of Applicants: 31

Total Amount of Funds Requested: $30.42 million

Total Number of Awards: 13 

Total Amount of Funds Awarded: $10.83 million 


Created in 2008, the Northern Border Regional Commission is a federal-state partnership whose mission is to help alleviate economic distress and encourage private sector job creation in Maine, New Hampshire, New York and Vermont.