05.12.16

A Key Win Thursday As Leahy Leads Fight To Preserve Investment Incentive Program for NEK, Franklin, Lamoille Counties

. . . Senate Passes Bill To Support Funding For Northern Border Regional Commission

WASHINGTON (THURSDAY, May 12, 2016) – Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) Thursday applauded the Senate’s action to advance a key spending bill that provides critical funding for the Northern Border Regional Commission (NBRC), a program that has delivered more than $2.8 million in federal grants to Vermont’s Northeast Kingdom and $3.4 million in total to Vermont.  With Leahy’s leadership earlier in the debate, the Senate blocked a move by a Republican senator to strike all funding for the program and others like it across the country.

First established in the 2008 Farm Bill, the NBRC awards grants to development projects in economically distressed Northern Border counties in Vermont, Maine, New Hampshire and New York.  Leahy, a leading member of both the Senate’s Agriculture and Appropriations Committees, played a pivotal role in renewing the Commission in 2014.  The Senate Thursday approved the fiscal year 2017 Energy and Water Development Appropriations bill, which included increased funding for the NBRC, a top priority of Leahy’s.  Under the Senate bill, the NBRC would receive $10 million in fiscal year 2017, a 25 percent increase over this year’s funding.

Leahy said:  “The NBRC has made critical investments in Vermont’s Northeast Kingdom over the last several years and I’m encouraged that the Senate rejected efforts to eliminate federal support for the program.  The NBRC is a proven and successful program that leverages investments to enhance infrastructure and spur economic growth in some of the most severely and persistently economically distressed and underdeveloped counties in Vermont.  I look forward to continuing the fight to preserve this program.” 

Recent grants to Vermont from the Northern Border Regional Commission include more than $226,000 for Lyndon State College to establish a new, four-year degree in hospitality and tourism management; $250,000 to the Northern Community Investment Corporation for telecommunications infrastructure; $250,000 to the Vermont Agency of Transportation to connect the Washington Rail Road network in Barton, and nearly $115,000 to the Vermont Housing and Conservation Board to support small businesses.

Last month, an amendment was offered during the floor debate to eliminate funding for the NBRC.  During the debate, Leahy noted that every federal dollar invested through the Commission leverages an average of $2.6 in matching funds for economic development and infrastructure projects in the Northeast Kingdom and Franklin and Lamoille  Counties.  The Senate-passed energy and water appropriations bill now will be conferenced with the counterpart House bill, and Leahy will continue to lead efforts to preserve the Commission and the increase in funding.

 

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