SHAHEEN URGES ECONOMIC RECOVERY FUNDING FOR NORTHERN BORDER REGIONAL COMMISSION

Shaheen, NE Senate colleagues call on Commerce Department to ensure the Northern Border Regional Commission receives fair share of $50 million allocated in the economic recovery package

March 17, 2009

(Washington, D.C.) – U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen today led a bipartisan effort of Northeastern Senators calling on the U.S. Department of Commerce to directly fund the Northern Border Regional Commission which would help parts of New Hampshire, Maine, New York, and Vermont strengthen local economies and create jobs.  Under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA) the Economic Development Administration is authorized to transfer $50 million to regional economic development commissions, and in the letter the Senators urge the Commerce Department to allocate as much of that money as possible for the Northern Border Regional Commission.

 

“During these difficult economic times, it is important that the Northern Border Regional Commission receive funding so that it can get to work for our states,” said the Senators in the letter.  “Funding this Commission will provide new and important economic development tools that our state leaders, communities, economic development experts and local stakeholders can utilize together to promote solutions to our shared regional challenges.”

 

The 2008 Farm Bill authorized the Northern Border Regional Commission to help economically distressed areas invest in projects that improve regional infrastructure, offer sustainable energy solutions and present new job opportunities. 

 

Last week, Shaheen hosted a roundtable with over 20 North Country economic and community leaders in Berlin to discuss unique economic challenges facing North Country residents and businesses, the work Shaheen has already done to benefit the North Country, and the path toward rebuilding the region’s economy.

 

The full text of the letter follows:

 

March 17, 2009

 

Ms. Sandra R. Walters

Acting Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Economic Development

U.S. Department of Commerce

1401 Constitution Ave., NW

Washington, DC 20230-0002

 

Dear Ms. Walters:

 

As you know, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 expressly authorized the Economic Development Administration to transfer up to $50 million to regional economic development commissions.

 

We respectfully request that you exercise your authority to direct funding to the Northern Border Regional Commission, which would help the most economically distressed areas of Maine, New Hampshire, New York and Vermont recover from the impact of this recession and capitalize on the region’s assets to build a stronger economic future.

 

The Northern Border Regional Commission was authorized within the 2008 Farm Bill and is based on the highly successful Appalachian Regional Commission model.  This effective public-private partnership model has enjoyed overwhelming bipartisan support because of its effective use of taxpayers’ money to leverage public and private investment in economic development projects that improve regional infrastructure, offer sustainable energy solutions and present new job opportunities. 

 

The northern parts of our states share many common economic challenges stemming from relative geographic isolation, aging infrastructure, population loss and a loss of natural resource-based industry that has historically been an economic engine.  The 36 counties that comprise the Northern Border Regional Commission have poverty levels above the national average, median household income that is more than $6,500 below the national average, persistent unemployment fed by constant layoffs in traditional manufacturing industries, and a significant out-migration and loss of younger workers.  This already distressed region has been hit especially hard by the recession.

 

During these difficult economic times, it is important that the Northern Border Regional Commission receive funding so that it can get to work for our states.  Funding this Commission will provide new and important economic development tools that our state leaders, communities, economic development experts and local stakeholders can utilize together to promote solutions to our shared regional challenges.

 

Thank you for your consideration of our request to help bring desperately needed jobs and economic development to the northern border regions of our four states.

 

Sincerely,

 

U.S. Senators Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Olympia Snowe (R-ME), Charles Schumer (D-NY), Susan Collins (R-ME), and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY).

 

Press Contact

Alex Reese