e-Newsletter - January 2023   
NEK Community Announcements

Agency of Transportation Awards Grants for the LVRT
Communities along the Lamoille Valley Rail Trail were awarded federal grant funds, secured by Senator Bernie Sanders, to improve trail amenities and visitor experience. Improvements to trailheads, picnic areas, kiosks, signage, connections to downtowns, and art & history installations are all community assets that support local recreation, transportation, and economic development. St. Johnsbury, Danville, Walden, Greensboro and Hardwick had winning projects. Greensboro also received a $191,466 LVRT Community Grant for trailhead construction in Greensboro Bend!

CORRECTION: (Bylaw Modernization & Municipal Planning Grant - 9 Awardees from the NVDA Region) Please note: No decision has been made. Award announcements will come at a later date.
  • Bylaw Modernization: Danville, Hardwick, Peacham & St. Johnsbury
  • Municipal Planning: Concord, Craftsbury, Glover, Hardwick & Lyndon

ARPA: Get the latest news...
Bookmark the VT League of Cities & Towns ARPA Resource Page Here to access the most current information, resources and tools to help municipalities succeed in spending, managing and reporting out on ARPA funds. The first round of ARPA Reports is due April 30th, 2023 covering the period between 4/1/22 - 3/31/23.

New Willey Woods Community Forest
The Town of Burke and the Burke Conservation Commission now own and manage the Willey Woods Community Forest in West Burke. The conserved land will protect the rural character of the Northeast Kingdom and support educational and recreation opportunities for generations to come.

Healthy Equity & Community Design Technical Assistance
The VT Department of Health and Department of Housing & Community Development are announcing a technical assistance pilot to support community-led design, placemaking, and healthy equity projects across Vermont. Approximately 20-35 applicants will be accepted on a rolling basis for in-person and virtual engagement sessions between December 2022 and October 2023. To learn more and apply: www.healthycommunitiesvt.com
Business Announcements

Seeking Feedback on Voluntary Paid Leave Program
Governor Scott recently announced the Vermont Family & Medical Leave Insurance Plan, the first voluntary paid leave program that will give working Vermonters access to affordable paid family and medical leave insurance by 2025. The program will be available to employers with two or more employees beginning July 1, 2024. The Department of Economic Development is collecting feedback from employers about interest in participating. Take a few minutes to complete this short Survey

Worker Relocation Incentive Program
As of early December, the Worker Relocation Incentive Program has received applications for more funding than is currently available. The program remains open while applications continue to be processed in the order they were received, but applicants should understand that funding is not guaranteed. Visit the website for more information Thinkvermont.com/relocation-incentives/

Tell Your Story - 14th Annual Vermont Entrepreneurship Day, February 9th
A visual media competition for Vermont's 9-12 grade student entrepreneurs and educators. The event is virtual and students may join without having to enter the competition. Submission entry deadline is Jan. 10th. Visit the VtSBDC website for details and competition guidelines for individuals and teams: https://www.vtsbdc.org/specialty-services/youth-entrepreneurship/

Get a Free Business Energy Consultation
Efficiency Vermont is offering free on-site energy visits to all Vermont businesses. The consultations give businesses access to rebate offers, financing solutions, and technical advice. Schedule a walkthrough even if you plan to make energy updates further down the road. Learn more & sign up!

Employment Opportunities

Job Openings at CAE
The Center for an Agricultural Economy is accepting applications for two positions: Production Advisor for the VT Food Venture Center; and a Human Advocacy Director to promote worker wellness and human resource policy development. Learn more at www.hardwickagriculture.org/jobs

Help Wanted at NEK Broadband
NEK Broadband is a Communications Union District, the network is growing and fiber is being deployed. All positions are full-time with benefits. Visit the website to find out more nekbroadband.org/careers

Upcoming Events

Climate + Energy 2023 webinar - A Legislative Look Forward, Jan. 9th, 12:00 pm
Hear how the recent election has changed the landscape and makeup of the Vermont State House. Get an update on anticipated new (or improved) policies likely to be considered this session including affordable, cleaner heat, a modernized Renewable Energy Standard for our electricity sector, opportunities to continue to make the transportation system cleaner, multi-modal and accessible. There will be an opportunity for Q&A. Register Here

Save the Date: NVU-Johnson Career & Internship Fair, March 21st
Northern VT University-Johnson will hold the 2023 Spring Career & Internship Fair at the Shape Center, Varsity Gym from 11:00 am - 2:00 pm. Registration information coming soon!

Career Training & Adult Education Courses

Vermont Tech - Continuing Education & Workforce Development www.vtc.edu vtworkers.vsc.edu VTC Healthcare Here.

North Country Career Center, Newport https://nc3.ncsuvt.org/adult-education
Contact Marina Cole (802) 334-5469 x3305 marina.cole@ncsuvt.org

St. Johnsbury Academy https://stjacademy.org/adult-education/
Contact Sandra Mings Lamar (802) 748-7738 smingslamar@stjacademy.org

Lyndon Institute Career & Technical Education Center https://www.lyndoninstitute.org/academics/career-technical-education
Contact Jeremy White, jeremy.white@lyndoninstitute.org

Contact Chris Damato (802) 266-8910 cdamato@canaanschools.org

Sterling College School of the New American Farmstead https://www.ce.sterlingcollege.edu
Community Funding Opportunities 

  • Community Recovery & Revitalization Program (CRRP) The CRRP grant program, proposed by the Scott Administration, is available to nonprofit, for-profit, and municipal applicants seeking support for capital investment projects that will assist Vermont's economic recovery effort. Awards will be made on a rolling first-come, first-served basis. Full details Here.
  • Special Funding for Tax Credits A bonus round of funding for the Downtown & Village Center Tax Credit Program is available for projects that improve building safety and enhance the historic character of commercial and community buildings in designated communities. The credits support general rehabilitation work, facade improvements, code compliance, and flood mitigation projects. Applications are due Jan. 16th. Questions? Contact: Caitlin.Corkins@vermont.gov https://accd.vermont.gov/historic-preservation/funding/tax-credits
  • Downtown Transportation Fund (DTF) and Clean Water Fund The DTF supports revitalization efforts in Designated Downtowns and eligible Designated Village Centers. DTF has additional funding from the VT Clean Water Budget for projects that incorporate, plan for and implement stormwater management practices that improve water quality. Application deadline is Jan. 31st. Downtown Transportation Fund & Clean Water Funding
  • Better Connections Grant Program The AOT program empowers local leaders with the tools to plan inclusive transportation systems in their communities that are safe, livable, and welcoming, and provides funding to help build out those systems. A pre-application form and interview request must be submitted by Jan. 30th. Grant applications are due by Feb. 17th. Better Connections webpage
  • Hazard Mitigation Funding - Two Grant Programs 1) Hazard Mitigation Grant Program requiring a 10% local match. The best use of this funding is for project implementation and infrastructure projects. https://vem.vermont.gov/disaster-based-funding. Application deadline is Feb. 3rd. 2) Flood Resilient Communities Fund: Eligible projects include flood-vulnerable property buyouts, floodplain restoration, and buffer plantings. https://vem.vermont.gov/flood-resilient-communities-fund. Applications accepted on a rolling basis.
  • FY2023 Rural Business Development Grant (RBDG) RBDG competitive grants are separated into enterprise or opportunity activities in rural areas. There is no cost sharing requirement and this funding cycle is not requesting Letters of Intent to apply. Complete information can be found on the USDA website Here An applicant workshop will be offered via Zoom on Wed., Jan. 26th, from 1-4 pm. A link to the meeting will be provided via email registration. Contact Susan Poland, USDA Business Programs Specialist, Susan.Poland@usda.gov. (802) 828-6002. 2023 application deadline is: Feb. 28th.
  • Better Places Grants If your town is thinking of more parks and green spaces, a vibrant main street, public art projects, and community gardens, Better Places grants can help. The statewide grant program is supported by VT Department of Housing & Community Development, VT Department of Health, and VT Community Foundation. There is no deadline to apply. Projects are accepted on a rolling basis while funding lasts. Visit the website for more information: Better Places
  • Community Heart & Soul The Community Heart & Soul Seed Grant Program is uniquely designed for small cities and towns (population 2,500-30,000). Successful applicants will receive $10,000 grants to match funding from a participating municipality or a partnering organization. Apply Here. Read the Grant Guidelines for more information. Awards are made on a rolling basis.

Grant Funding for Farm, Food & Forestry Sectors

  • Trade Show Assistance for VT Agricultural & Forestry Businesses The matching grants provide funds to identify, plan, exhibit, and sell Vermont products at out-of-state or international trade shows or virtual shows targeting wholesale buyers. Eligible applicants may request reimbursement for shows that take place between April 1st 2023 and Mar 31st, 2024. Apply by Jan. 31st, 2023. Read more Questions? Contact Kristen Brassard Kristen.brassard@vermont.gov.
  • Dairy Farm Innovation & Alternative Management Grant The NE Dairy Business Innovation Center is offering funding in 11 Northeast states that focuses on climate and community-forward production strategies. The grant is for farmers, producer associations, and technical service providers and supports the implementation of projects that enhance the regional food system. View the Full Application
  • NBRC Forest Economy Program - First Round The Northern Border Regional Commission program will fund projects in the forest economy which may include: Community Development; Workforce Training; Marketing & Education projects; Business planning & technical assistance; and Public Infrastructure. Submit Letters of Interest for this round of funding by March 10th. Visit the NBRC website to view the full 2023 program timeline.
  • A Business Grant to Cover Permitting Costs for Value-Added Forest Products The Department of Forests, Parks & Recreation is offering grant funds to cover permitting costs for businesses engaged in adding value to forest products. Sawmills, firewood processors, and furniture makers are eligible, but not logging and forestry. Applications will be reviewed on a rolling basis. Visit FPPA Grants to apply.

Funding for the Arts

  • Creative Futures Grants The grant program through the VT Arts Council provides aid to creative sector organizations and businesses that continue to struggle financially due to the pandemic impact. Round 2 opens Jan. 5th. Learn More
  • Artist Development Grants support Vermont artists at all stages of their careers. Grants can fund activities that enhance mastery of an artist's craft, or increase viability of the artist's business. Apply by Jan. 31st. Learn More

Grant Writing Assistance

  • REDI Offers Funding for Grant Writing Assistance The Rural Economic Development Initiative (REDI), a program of the VT Housing and Conservation Board, helps rural communities and small businesses access funding for community and business development projects. REDI funds may be used to hire a grant writer, develop a fundraising strategy for a project, or complete steps to make a grant application more competitive. Eligible applicants must be based in or serving populations under 5,000. For more information with an online application visit vhcb.org/redi. Questions? Mariah Noth Mariah@vhcb.org (802) 828-1098.  

Loan Programs

  • NEK Prosperity Fund This business loan fund is a collaborative effort between an economic development organization and a social service provider. NEK Community Action and NCIC launched the NEK Prosperity Fund to achieve a social return on investment. The aim is to provide borrowers with financial resources and business support services to improve the local economy, population health, and the area's standard of living. NEK Prosperity Fund
  • USDA RD Home Repair Loan Program Federal regulations have made it easier for low-income rural residents to rehab and modernize their homes through USDA 504 Home Repair Loans & Grants. The program provides funding for single family housing to remove health and safety hazards.
  • Vermont Recovery Loan Fund (VRLF) This revolving loan program provides flexible terms and low-to-no-cost debt financing and advisory services to help alleviate economic disruptions caused by the pandemic. Loans are available to businesses across multiple sectors including manufacturing, tourism, agriculture, forestry & wood products, nonprofits, education & early care, and other drivers of rural economic development. For more information on VRLF and other VT Community Loan Fund lending programs, visit the website Here.
  • Northeast Kingdom Special Loan Program The VT Economic Development Authority (VEDA) is offering low interest loans under its Small Business Program to growing qualified businesses in Essex, Caledonia and Orleans Counties. The NEK Program can make loans of up to $150,000 for fixed asset acquisition or for working capital purposes. Visit the VEDA website or contact Sandy Croft at (802) 828-5472 Scroft@veda.org.
  • VEDA's Short-Term Forgivable Loan Program provides financial assistance to businesses that continue to experience current and on-going economic harm due to COVID. There are no restrictions to how the funds must be spent - only that the money be used for operating costs and not capital investments. Certain eligibility criteria apply. Forgivable Loan Program (FLP)
  • VT Employee Ownership Loan Fund The VEOL Fund provides capital assistance to businesses that are already employee-owned or becoming so, as well as start ups owned by employees. VT Employee Ownership Loan. For more information, contact Don Jamison, Program Director of VT Employee Ownership Center (802) 338-7448, info@veoc.org.
  • NVDA Revolving Loan Program The Northeastern Vermont Development Association has a limited amount of loan funds available for businesses in Caledonia, Essex, and Orleans Counties. Funds may be used for the purchase of real property and equipment, working capital, and feasibility studies. For more information contact Tina Gonyaw tgonyaw@nvda.net (802) 748-1220. www.nvda.net
  • NCIC Loan Programs Northern Community Investment Corporation offers a variety of business lending and support programs with flexible financing. NCIC's Fast Loan Program offers quick access of up to $25,000 for start-up businesses, and up to $50,000 for existing businesses. For more information visit the website www.ncic.org or call (802) 748-5101. Peter Corey pcorey@ncic.org.
  • Efficiency Vermont's Energy Loan  The loan program offers affordable financing options to help residents and business customers move forward with energy efficiency projects designed to deliver savings and spur the economy. Energy Loan 
  • VT Farm Fund New Producer Loan Are you thinking about projects for your farm or food business, but wondering how to cover the up-front costs? The VT Farm Fund can help. The Business Builder Loan is for farm businesses to invest and innovate for growth. The VT Farm Fund is a program of The Center for an Agricultural Economy. info@vermontfarmfund.org.
  • VT Farm Fund (VFF) Revolving Loan Programs When local farmers and food producers are struck by disaster or have a new business idea that will increase efficiency, they are best served by quick and easy access to a loan with friendly terms. Find out more at www.vermontfarmfund.org. Questions? Contact Kate Stephenson (802) 560-3099  

Incentive Programs for Vermont Businesses      

  • VT Employment Growth Incentive Program (VEGI) Vermont offers an economic incentive for business recruitment, growth and expansion. The VEGI program provides financial incentives to qualified businesses that meet performance requirements. Authorization occurs through an application to the VT Economic Progress Council. For more information, visit http://accd.vermont.gov/economic-development/funding-incentives/vegi or contact Abbie Sherman, Abbie.sherman@vermont.gov.    
  • VT Training Program (VTP) The Vermont Training Program can be used to train new employees or existing employees if the training is needed for new equipment or technology. VTP can pay up to 50% of an employee's wages/salary during the training period. Are your employees eligible? Contact John Young, Director of Workforce Development Programs (802) 355-2725 John.young@vermont.gov. VTP
  • VT Talent Pipeline Management (VTPM) VTPM addresses the talent-supply gap by connecting employer needs with training programs and funding resources to prepare the labor force with job-ready skills. In 2021, VTPM invited Advanced Manufacturing employers to participate in a collaborative planning process to assess hiring needs for new and replacement jobs over a two-year period: Aug 2021-2023. Read the VTPM Report: Hiring Needs - VT Manufacturing (Any Vermont manufacturer is welcome to join the VTPM collaborative to connect job seekers with career opportunities.) Visit https://www.vermonttpm.org or contact Mary Anne Sheahan for more information. maryanne@vtroundtable.org.
  • Downtown & Village Center Tax Credit Program This program is designed to stimulate private investment, create jobs, restore historic buildings, and jumpstart revitalization efforts in Vermont's Designated Downtowns and Village Centers. Visit the ACCD website for information about eligible projects and the next round of funding. Tax Credit for Downtown & Village Centers. 
Business Resources
  • VT Manufacturing Extension Center Visit the VMEC website and check out current postings for learning opportunities involving professional development, coaching, and hands-on training for leaders and workers. VMEC
  • VT Procurement Technical Assistance Center (PTAC) VT PTAC provides businesses with training to understand the requirements of government contracting and the know-how to obtain federal, state and local contracts. Visit https://vtptac.ecenterdirect.com/events for a list of free workshops with sign-up information. Questions? Contact Brenda Plastridge Brenda.Plastridge@vermont.gov. VT PTAC
  • VHCB Farm & Forest Viability Program The program mission is to enhance the economic viability of Vermont farms and forestry enterprises. Business coaching services are offered to eligible farmers, agriculturally-related businesses, forest products enterprises, and forest landowners. VHCB
  • VT Department of Labor For Information about job openings and training opportunities by region and industry visit labor.vermont.gov/jobs. VDOL also offers complimentary recruitment assistance to employers. For more information contact Kinsley Sicard, 802/ 748-4890, Kinsley.sicard@vermont.gov.
  • VT Small Business Development Center (VtSBDC) Experienced business advisors are available by email, phone or video conferencing. Do you need help constructing financial statements or application forms for recovery relief funding? For free customized service, contact: Heidi Krantz HKrantz@vtsbdc.org, or Karianne Scott kscott@vtsbdc.org.
  • NEK Collaborative (NEKC) The Collaborative's mission is to improve the quality of life for all residents in the NEK through coordinated economic and community-supported development. www.nekcollaborative.org. Sign up for the Collaborative's monthly newsletter NEKstrong.com.