03.05.09

Friday Conference Quickly Fills As 700 Register For Sessions At Champlain College; Leahy Will Set A Second Session For Late March In Brattleboro

… Leahy and Douglas will open March 6th Conference,
featuring free workshops on small business aid,
help for families, infrastructure improvements,
health care and education, and first responders

(THURSDAY,  March 5) – Vermonters’ interest in the newly enacted economic stimulus bill is so high that registration requests for Friday’s workshops on the plan have quickly outstripped capacity.  Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), who organized the sessions, says signup requests topped 700 just days after online registration opened last week.  Leahy Thursday announced that a second conference will be held late this month in Brattleboro to help accommodate Vermonters unable to attend Friday’s session, with details to be announced later.

Leahy and Gov. James Douglas (R) are hosting the Vermont conference and workshops on the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) – believed to be the first such statewide sessions in the nation since enactment of the stimulus package -- where free workshops will help Vermont families, businesses and towns learn how the stimulus plan will help strengthen Vermont’s economy. 

The first conference will convene tomorrow, Friday, March 6th, from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. at Champlain College in Burlington.  The Vermont Procurement and Technical Assistance Center and the Vermont Small Business Development Center have cosponsored the conference, enabling Leahy and Douglas to offer the conference at no cost to Vermonters.  Leahy and Douglas will kick off the conference with introductory remarks.

Leahy, a senior member of the Senate Appropriations Committee which helped craft the legislation, initiated the conference planning and has worked with Governor Douglas, Vermont Legislative leaders and federal agencies in organizing the sessions.  Leahy earlier announced that Vermont will receive more than $700 million in direct federal investments under the new law in infrastructure improvements and social services.   Leahy also anticipates that hundreds of small businesses and nearly every Vermont family will receive further direct benefits ranging from tax incentives to medical and unemployment coverage.  Much of the bill’s help will be allocated by funding formulas; other benefits will depend on applications by businesses and governments for competitive grants, which will push Vermont’s total still higher.  

Leahy said, “The response has been phenomenal, and that is an encouraging sign about how rapidly and effectively we will be able to put this plan to work in stabilizing our economy and creating Vermont jobs.”

Federal officials and representatives of state agencies will offer their perspective on the economic recovery package during seven workshop sessions focusing on: how to access infrastructure improvement funding; accessing energy and broadband infrastructure funding; assisting small businesses interested in doing business with federal and state agencies; identifying small business provisions that may help weather the difficult economy; accessing first-responder and criminal justice funding opportunities; identifying health, human services, and labor and education funding opportunities; and a session targeted at Vermont families trying to understand how the tax and grant opportunities in the legislation will directly affect their bottom lines. 

Participants can expect broad overviews of selected programs and question and answer sessions with program experts.  Leahy noted that many of the funding formulas and program details contained in the legislation are still being finalized.  He said he hopes the conference “will get Vermonters thinking about how the stimulus package can strengthen Vermont’s economy and lay the groundwork not only for the jobs of today, but also the jobs of tomorrow.” 

Detailed program agendas for the conference will be available Friday afternoon on Leahy’s website (leahy.senate.gov).  Advance registration is required, and registration now is closed for Friday’s session.

WHAT: Conference and Workshops on Vermont’s Stake in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act
WHEN: Friday, March 6th, at 1 p.m. 

WHERE: 265 South Willard Street, IDX Student Life Center, Champlain College, Burlington 

WHO: Vermont residents, small business owners, advocates, municipal officials; open to the press 

ONLINE: www.leahy.senate.gov

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