Leahy, Sanders, Welch: VT Nets $2.3 Million For Rural Development

…16 grants under new Farm Bill to foster job creation in Vermont

(FRIDAY, Sept. 12, 2014) -- Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and Congressman Peter Welch (D-VT) Friday announced $2.3 million in funding for rural development in Vermont. The funding, under the new Farm Bill, has been awarded to 13 organizations across the state through 16 grants and loans by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and will be utilized to foster job growth, economic development and community initiatives. 

In a joint statement, Leahy, Sanders and Welch said: “These investments represent important commitments to growing rural small businesses and renewable energy in Vermont.  From funding for farm fresh food in schools to developing renewable on-farm biogas, the USDA continues to show strong support for rural development. 

Leahy added, “I’m also pleased that Vermont’s REAP Zone status again is making a difference in the Northeast Kingdom.”

Leahy, the senior most member of the Senate Agriculture Committee, championed the 2000 creation and 2014 renewal of Vermont’s Rural Economic Area Partnership (REAP) Zone in the 2014 Farm Bill, a designation that recognizes the unique social and economic challenges in the rural communities of Caledonia, Essex and Orleans Counties.  Vermont’s REAP Zone is one of only five in the country, and the designation increases the chances that a grant or loan application from the region is funded. The Northeast Vermont REAP Zone has helped to channel millions of investment dollars to the Northeast Kingdom.  Nine organizations receiving awards were selected because of Vermont’s Rural Economic Area Partnership Zone.

The announcement was made at the Intervale Community Farm in Burlington, Vt., by United States Deputy Secretary of Agriculture Krysta Harden. The Intervale Community Farm has benefited from these types of grants that have helped Intervale Community Farm Cooperative Owner Andy Jones to connect with thousands of consumers through direct sales.

Below is the list of the Vermont grants and loans:

  • Burke Area Chamber of Commerce:  $69,000 grant to increase awareness of the Burke Area as a recreational destination.
  • Center for Agricultural Economy (Hardwick):  $71,921 grant to conduct an update of the regional food system plan focusing on business opportunities.
  • Northern Community Investment Corporations (NCIC) (St. Johnsbury): $1,000,000 Intermediary Relending Program Loan to make loans to small businesses.  $100,000 grant to help businesses transition from fossil fuels to biomass heating. $100,000 grant to create a business plan and establish priorities for broadband in the Northeast Kingdom.  $250,000 grant to provide technical assistance to small businesses.
  • Northern Forest Center Inc. (Concord,NH): $100,000 grant to develop and align tourism offerings in the Northeast Kingdom by providing social media, marketing and communications training.
  • Rutland Regional Planning Commission: $45,000 grant to create a training toolkit focused on best practices, business how-to, legal and financial info for agritourism entrepreneurs.
  • Saint Johnsbury Works Inc.: $76,160 grant to target market-needed businesses, provide support services for the Lamoille Valley Rail Trail, upgrade the downtown organization website, create an economic development dashboard, and strengthen organizational management.
  • Sterling College (Craftsbury Commons):  $25,499 grant to hire an internship development coordinator to help small businesses understand the tax and insurance implications of paid interns.
  • Vermont Agency of Agriculture:  $97,433 grant to study using gas produced by manure digesters to create on-farm renewable natural gas (RNG) to power on-and-off-farm vehicles and machinery.
  • Vermont Council on Rural Development: $100,000 grant to conduct four community visits across the Northeast Kingdom to help bring communities together and set community and economic development priorities.
  • Vermont Farm-to-school Inc. (Newport):  $102,010 grant to expand the viability of agricultural-related businesses by increasing marketing and distribution opportunities to schools and institutions.
  • Vermont Housing and Conservation Board:  $129,998 grant to provide in-depth business planning services, through the Farm Viability Program, to farm, food and forest-based businesses throughout Caledonia, Essex and Orleans Counties. 
  • Vermont State Colleges:  $32,501 grant to fund an eCommerce business advisor to provide technical assistance and manage, teach, and develop broadband business workshops.
  • West River Community Project (Townshend):  $50,000 grant to purchase commercial equipment for a small community kitchen in the West Townshend Country Store.

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David Carle (Leahy): 202-224-3693

Michael Briggs (Sanders): 202-228-6492

Ryan Nickel (Welch): 202-225-4115

Press Contact

Press Contact
David Carle: 202-224-3693