Eighteen Vermont organizations will receive $7.9 million in federal grants through the Northern Border Regional Commission, the program designed to spur job creation in communities along the U.S. border with Canada in upstate New York and New England.
Among the Vermont projects announced this week was a $235,000 grant to convert an old school in Springfield into an entrepreneurial hub and $444,000 for the city of St. Albans to build infrastructure to help redevelop an old manufacturing site.
“The NBRC has quickly become one of the largest economic development tools we have in Vermont,” said Gov. Phil Scott who announced this year’s grants in Springfield alongside Sen. Patrick Leahy and U.S. Rep. Peter Welch. “These grants help build critical infrastructure, expand our workforce, and strengthen our communities.”
The commission was created by Congress in 2008 based on the model of the Appalachian Regional Commission to focus on economically challenged areas along the Canadian border. It was first funded in 2010.
Officials in the four states say the border program has helped create and save hundreds of jobs by using relatively small amount of money to generate other investments while encouraging developments in traditionally underserved areas.
In 2017, the Trump administration unsuccessfully proposed eliminating funding for the program.
During Wednesday’s announcement in Springfield, Trevor Barlow of the Black River Innovation Campus said the grant will be used to convert the old Park Street School into an entrepreneurial hub that will include coworking space, apartments and educational space.