$500M project could bring thousands of jobs to Northeast Kingdom - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

$500M project could bring thousands of jobs to Northeast Kingdom

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JAY, Vt. -

Jay Peak is no stranger to expansion; just look at its $25 million Pump House indoor water park that opened last year. And that was on the heels of new hotels and restaurants.

It's all a part of Jay Peak President Bill Stenger's vision to revitalize the Northeast Kingdom.

Now Stenger and his partners even have bigger plans for Jay, Newport, Coventry and Burke.

Here is WCAX News has learned:

In Jay, at least three projects totaling $175 million. Some of that will further develop the ski area. There will also be another project in the village of Jay.

Nearby Newport will also profit. We're told there will be at least four separate plans for the town. One includes a German window manufacturer setting up shop.

We have learned the state airport in Coventry will see changes, including manufacturing and expanding the runway, which would allow larger planes to land and possibly international flights. We are told the flight company Cessna is involved in this multimillion-dollar effort.

This project also extends to Caledonia County and the Burke Mountain Ski Resort. Stenger and his investors recently purchased the resort, and we have learned there are plans to build a hotel. Right now there is limited lodging at Burke and in surrounding communities.

Sources familiar with Thursday's announcement say the price tag for everything $500 million. The governor's office believes it's the biggest construction project in Vermont history.

But we do not know how many jobs it will create and the Kingdom desperately needs jobs. In the Newport area the unemployment rate is 6.7 percent-- meaning about 950 people are looking for work.

This is big news for the most economically challenged part of Vermont. Here is what people in the community are saying, including the head of the Newport City Renaissance Corporation, which is dedicated to boosting business in the area.

"We know there's a biotech company coming in. We've been working with the state on the airport. The runway will help being in more passengers, as well as more cargo. Foreign trade zone we're about to get status in November," said Patricia Sears of the Newport City Renaissance Corporation.

"The economy is so seasonal it's hard to keep steady employment," said Adam Favaloro, who works in Newport.

"They put money in and don't understand why it's not growing. It starts off and the people back off, so I don't know if it's money or people just lose interest," said Brenda Sherlew of Newport.

Sources tell us the project will mean more than 5,000 jobs for the Northeast Kingdom.

We're told the $500 million project will be mostly paid for with EB-5 money. We do know that Jay Peak raised money for its expansion via the controversial foreign investment program where in exchange for $500,000 and the creation of 10 jobs, investors from overseas skip to the front of the line to obtain full American citizenship.

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