$3M grant brings big boost for Vermont development, jobs

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MONTPELIER, Vt. (WCAX) Three-million dollars in grant money is headed to Vermont to help with development and jobs.

The Northern Border Regional Commission is a partnership between the federal government and four northern states. The investments aim to create new jobs and stimulate private sector investments in Vermont, New York, New Hampshire and Maine.

"Just a few years ago this program didn't even exist. Today, it's bringing to the state about $2.8 million," said Gov. Phil Scott, R-Vermont.

The governor and the state's congressional delegation announced 14 grants in Fairfax, a small town that's seeing a big impact from the money.

"This is huge for the town," Fairfax Town Manager Brad Docheff said. "We have a lot of ideas about what we want to do in this town."

Fairfax is getting $263,000 to expand water and wastewater systems to Runamok Maple. The business opened a processing facility there just a few weeks ago.

"It really gives us the freedom to continue to grow the business here in this spot," said Eric Sorkin of Runamok Maple.

With the infrastructure improvements, Sorkin can add 50 more jobs at Runamok.

"I think it's a privilege more than anything. We continue to have just the best success with our employees," Sorkin said.

The commission was created by Congress in 2008.

"It's not every day you create a new federal entity. It was kind of a leap of faith," said Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vermont.

But now, Vermont's top elected officials say the commission is working as planned.

"To create infrastructure, spur job creation and make critical investments throughout Northern Vermont," Scott said.

Congressman Peter Welch says the money is targeted at rural areas in northern Vermont. He says the communities receiving funds, in the past, have spent them wisely.

"The common theme you see among rural people is they just figure out how to get the job done," said Welch, D-Vermont.

Docheff says 50 new jobs at Runamok will help residents find work closer to home and spend less time on the road.

"Having good-paying manufacturing jobs right here in town, that allows people to spend more time with their family, save on transportation costs," Docheff said. "Those benefits are immeasurable."

The 14 grant recipients are expected to help create 175 jobs in the coming years.