Northern border development group has $1.3 million in grant money to award soon
Thursday, August 5, 2010 - 9:17 am

A group called The Northern Border Regional Commission (NBRC) says it is taking applications as it tries to reach its goal to award approximately $1.3 million in grants by Sept. 30 to economically distressed counties spanning four border states.

The NBRC oversees economic development throughout 36 counties in New York, Maine, New Hampshire, and Vermont, including St. Lawrence, Franklin, Fulton, Lewis, and Oswego counties. The panel became operational on April 29, when Sandy Blitz, the group’s federal co-chair, officially assumed his duties. In January, Congressman Owens urged the Senate to confirm Blitz as quickly as possible so that the NBRC would be able to begin working to boost Upstate New York’s economy.

“This funding will boost our efforts at local economic development by creating jobs and improving our community’s aging infrastructure,” said Congressman Bill Owens.

Priority for grant money must be given to “distressed counties” and “isolated areas of distress” within the 36-county jurisdiction of the NBRC. Distress is measured by the extent of negative economic distress factors a county or area suffers, such as per capita income lower than the national average; unemployment higher than the national average; negative out-migration; and poverty rates higher than the national average.

Eligible projects must develop the transportation, water, sewer, energy, and telecommunications infrastructure of the region; assist the region in obtaining job skills and employment related education, as well as entrepreneurship, technology and business development; provide basic health care and other public services for those areas that are severely economically distressed and underdeveloped; and to promote resource conservation, tourism, recreation, and preservation of open spaces in a manner consistent with economic development goals; and to promote the development of renewable and alternative energy sources.

Blitz has said that each state will develop the process within its borders, to secure eligible applications that will meet all the criteria of the NBRC and allow awarding of a grant by the commission. The local development districts will provide technical assistance to prospective grantees.

To learn more about the NBRC grant program, and to receive technical assistance, interested parties should contact their agency of commerce, or department of economic development, and their local development corporation.

More information for potential grant recipients can be found at owens.house.gov.