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Welch announces economic development opportunities for Northern Vermont at Newport event

August 6, 2009
Press Release

With leaders from the Northeast Kingdom, Welch discusses Northern Border Regional Commission funding

Rep. Peter Welch and leaders from throughout the Northeast Kingdom outlined economic development opportunities presented by the Northern Border Regional Commission (NBRC) during a press conference Thursday morning in Newport.

At Newport's Gateway Center, on the shores of Lake Memphremagog, Welch announced the first-ever round of funding appropriated to the NBRC by the U.S. House in July. The $3 million federal investment will help launch the four state regional commission, opening the door for increased funding opportunities for projects in Northern Vermont and its neighboring regions.

"This groundbreaking regional effort will help northern New England and New York develop a comprehensive economic development strategy and provide significant federal investment to community-based projects in the region," Welch said. "By collaborating across state lines and investing in the region's tremendous assets, this effort will help the Northeast Kingdom and the rest of northern Vermont enhance its infrastructure and spur economic development. Most importantly, it will bring jobs to the region."

Modeled after the highly successful Appalachian Regional Commission, the NBRC is a federal-state partnership focused on economic development in the northernmost regions of Vermont, New Hampshire, Maine and New York. Created in 1998 with the passage of the Farm Bill, the NBRC will fund community-based efforts ranging from broadband deployment to renewable energy projects to tourism development.

Vermont's Caledonia, Essex, Franklin, Grand Isle, Lamoille and Orleans counties are among 36 counties included in the regional development effort. The NBRC will include representatives from each of the states, as well as a presidentially-appointed co-chair.

Welch was joined at Thursday's event by a broad range of leaders from the Northeast Kingdom, including Bill Stenger, president and owner of Jay Peak; Jon Freeman, president of the Northern Community Investment Corp.; Dave Snedeker, planning director of the Northeastern Vermont Development Association; Sen. Vince Illuzzi; Newport Mayor Paul Monette; Newport City Manager John Ward; and Trish Sears, CEO of Newport Renaissance.