Gov. Phil Scott, U.S. Sen. Patrick Leahy, U.S. Rep. Peter Welch and officials from the Northern Border Regional Commission (NBRC) announced Friday that 14 Northern Vermont organizations, including the town of Fairfax, will receive $2.8 million in federal grants to spur job creation, build essential infrastructure and train new workers.
Fairfax, for example, will receive a $263,055 grant to expand water and wastewater infrastructure to the new home of maple products business Runamok Maple, enabling the company’s expansion from 45 to more than 100 employees.
“These investments will expand our workforce, create more good jobs for Vermonters, strengthen our rural communities, and expand our outdoor recreation economy,” Governor Scott said. Scott is the State Co-Chair of the NBRC. “This unique federal, state, local partnership ensures federal dollars have a direct impact on residents of Grand Isle, Franklin, Orleans, Essex, Caledonia and Lamoille Counties,” Scott added. “And we are very grateful to Senators Leahy and Sanders, and Congressman Welch for their leadership on this important initiative.”
Created in the 2008 Farm Bill, NBRC is a federal-state partnership to reduce economic distress and encourage private-sector job creation throughout the northern counties of Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont and New York. Since its inception, the Commission has awarded just over $30 million, which has leveraged $87 million for 155 projects across the four states. In Vermont, including this year’s grantees, it has funded 58 projects totaling $10.6 million.
In a joint statement, Leahy, Sanders and Welch said: “The Northern Border Regional Commission has consistently supported projects with impact in Vermont communities. We have fought for a decade to protect and strengthen funding to ensure that the Commission can continue this successful partnership, providing targeted investments that address economic challenges and foster economic development. These new projects will promote economic growth, develop our workforce, create jobs, preserve our vibrant Vermont towns and villages and invest in the future of our communities by supporting infrastructure and development projects.”
Vermont’s Congressional Delegation has advocated for a year-over-year increase in funding for the Northern Border Regional Commission since its inception. Leahy, as the Vice Chair of the Senate Appropriations Committee, secured an $8 million increase in the 2018 budget for a total of $18 million, and secured an additional $7 million increase in the 2019 budget now before Congress, to increase funding available to communities covered by the Commission from $18 million to $25 million.
Vermont projects receiving NBRC funds this year are:
- Town of Fairfax: $ 263,055 to extend municipal water and wastewater infrastructure to the former Amoskeag Woodworking facility / Scrabble Tile factory to create more than 100 jobs at Runamok Maple.
- Wolcott, East Burke & West Burke via Vermont Department of Environmental Conservation: $219,213 to help Wolcott, East Burke, and West Burke identify financially viable approaches to wastewater treatment that can be replicated throughout the State.
- Nothern Vermont University–Lyndonville: $217,665 to create a Coworking Space to support business development and link area residents to workforce education opportunities in Lyndonville.
- Town of Burke: $438,426 to rehabilitate the roadway, add a needed bike lane and improve drainage on East Darling Hill Rd in East Burke in partnership with Kingdom Trails.
- Saint Johnsbury Development Fund: $192,907 to rehabilitate the Old Glove Factory, a 12,000 square-foot vacant commercial/industrial building in St. Johnsbury.
- Franklin County Industrial Development Corporation: $219,213 to construct a building and lease it to a start-up business in St. Albans.
- The Northwest Vermont Rail Trail Council: $59,187 to implement a Missisquoi Valley Rail Trail marketing plan to boost the region’s tourism and recreation economy.
- Lamoille County Planning Commission: $345,041 to relocate existing on-road parking to central locations in one of the State most visited destinations,Smugglers’ Notch.
- Northern Community Investment Corporation (NCIC): $219,213 to retain and attract workers in the Northeast Kingdom in partnership with the state of Vermont’s ThinkVermont initiative.
- Hazen Union High School: $177,370 to build a Career Academy focusing on employer-led approach to create a career pipeline/job training for workforce development.
- Vermont Sustainable Jobs Fund – Forestry & Wood Products Initiative: $131,528 to build capacity and resiliency within Vermont’s forest and wood products industry.
- Vermont Council on Rural Development: $17,538 to conduct a community visit to help residents identify and execute community and economic development projects in the region.
- Preservation Trust of Vermont: $219,213 for investment in startup community supported village stores, cafes, and restaurants/pubs in small downtowns.
- Vermont Housing and Conservation Board: $164,131 to provide in-depth, one-on-one business planning and technical assistance to thirty working lands enterprises.
In addition to the federal funds awarded to these projects, each grantee must match the federal investment with as much as 50 percent of the cost of the project. The Vermont Agency of Commerce and Economic Development (ACCD) administers the grant application and selection process, on behalf of the Governor. ACCD anticipates soliciting applications from non-profit organizations and units of local and state government for 2019 NBRC grants in February 2019. Interested applicants should contact Tim Tierney, NBRC Program Manager at 802-505-5496.
ABOUT RUNAMOK MAPLE
Runamok Maple is owned by Eric and Laura Sorkin. They recently have consolidated their operations under roof located on Fletcher Road in Fairfax.Runamok’s growth spurt started in 2016 after receiving notoriety in national publications. The Sorkins had already been producing syrup for bulk sale since 2009, but two years ago they pumped money and energy into a diversification effort that included a retail line of flavor-infused and barrel-aged syrups, all packaged and branded for the direct sales market. The 55,000 square feet in the old Morse Hardwoods & Millwork Co. building, which used to manufacture Scrabble game tiles now houses Runamok’s manufacturing, warehousing and administrative departments.