02.25.09

Leahy And Douglas Set March 6th Conference To Ramp Up Vermont’s Readiness To Invest Stimulus Bill’s Resources In Strengthening State’s Economy

(WEDNESDAY, Feb. 25) – U.S. Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) and Vermont Gov. James Douglas (R) will host a free conference to help Vermont families, businesses and towns learn how the newly enacted American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) will help strengthen Vermont’s economy. 

The conference and workshops will convene on 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, “Vermonters want to be engaged in finding ways to strengthen our communities and our economy.   I have heard from hundreds of Vermonters asking how the economic recovery plan will affect their daily lives and our state’s future.   Small business owners, local officials, nonprofit service providers and many others have questions, and this conference is the next step to putting this plan into action to create jobs and to make life better here in Vermont.”

Governor Douglas said, “My Administration is working diligently with President Obama’s team in Washington, Senator Leahy and our federal delegation, legislative leaders in Montpelier and all Vermonters to most effectively utilize the funds from the federal recovery package and get our economy back on track.  This workshop will be an important opportunity for agencies and departments to share the most recent information and receive feedback from Vermont residents and businesses who may be impacted by this infusion of federal dollars.”

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.” 

Vermonters interested in additional information and in seeing a program agenda should visit leahy.senate.gov or call 1-800-642-3193.  Participants are asked to register in advance.

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

ONLINE: www.leahy.senate.gov

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David Carle: 202-224-3693