Eighteen Vermont working lands businesses and service providers were recognized at an event celebrating the Working Lands Enterprise Initiative (WLEI), created by the Legislature in 2012 to stimulate economic development in the agricultural and forestry sectors. Governor Phil Scott and Agency of Agriculture, Food and Markets Secretary Anson Tebbetts recognized each grantee on the grounds of the Intervale Center in Burlington, also a grantee, to emphasize the importance of working lands businesses to Vermont’s economy and heritage.
The event also celebrated news that the Working Lands Enterprise Fund budget will increase in Fiscal Year 2020, with the highest ever allocation of $1.594 million, including one time funds specifically focused on the dairy sector. Since its inception in 2012, the Working Lands Enterprise Board has invested over $5.3 million in 184 projects, affecting every county of the state and resulting in more than 500 jobs.
“It’s clear these efforts and investments make a difference, which is important to our economy and state. This collaborative approach is important to meeting the goals my Administration has set to grow the economy, make Vermont more affordable, and protect the most vulnerable,” Governor Scott said.
WLEI is a collaborative effort between the Agency of Agriculture, Food, and Markets, Department of Forest, Parks and Recreation, and the Agency of Commerce and Community Development. WLEB, which finalizes all funding decisions, achieves this goal by making investments across businesses and service providers in critical leverage points which will have the highest return on investment. This initiative supports Vermont entrepreneurs by providing financial assistance to help innovate and grow their business while also creating jobs, building infrastructure and promoting growth in economies and communities of Vermont’s working landscape.
For 2019, the Working Lands Enterprise Board deployed $823,000 in grants and contracts to 18 agriculture and forestry businesses and service providers around the state. Part of the strategic plan for this year was the creation of Industry Impact grants for projects ranging from $50,000-$150,000. These projects must impact the supply chain for low grade wood or dairy, two industries determined by the WLEB in need of larger investments to achieve viability.
A list of all the grantees is here. The funding opportunity for FY20 is scheduled to post on the Working Lands website in the Fall of 2019.