SHAHEEN URGES PRESIDENT TO NOMINATE CO-CHAIR FOR NORTHERN BORDER REGIONAL COMMISSION

Shaheen, six Senators call on President Obama to begin process for making aid available to ailing communities

July 28, 2009

(Washington, DC)- U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen, joined by six Senate colleagues, has called on President Obama to nominate a Federal Co-chairperson to the Northern Border Regional Commission (NBRC) so that economically distressed areas of New Hampshire, Maine, New York and Vermont may be eligible for American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA) funding.  Under ARRA, the Economic Development Administration is authorized to transfer $50 million to regional economic development commissions. In order for the NBRC to receive any of this funding, they must have a confirmed Federal Co-chairperson in place.

"We must do everything we can to create jobs and spur economic development in New Hampshire communities that have been affected by the economic downturn," said Shaheen. "I urge President Obama to quickly nominate a Federal Co-chairperson so that the Northern Border Regional Commission may apply for much-needed recovery funding."

NBRC's funding will target 39 counties in four states where 13.1 percent of the population lives in poverty and the median household income is $6,500 below the national average.  In New Hampshire, all or parts of Carroll, Coos, Grafton and Sullivan counties fall within the Commission's jurisdiction.

The full text of the letter sent today follows:

The President

The White House

1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW

Washington, DC  20500

Dear Mr. President:

The 2008 Farm Bill authorized the creation of the Northern Border Regional Commission (NBRC) to help the most economically distressed areas of Maine, New Hampshire, New York and Vermont capitalize on the region's assets to build a stronger economic future.  We are writing to respectfully urge you to exercise your authority to nominate a Federal Co-chairperson to this Commission so that it may begin its critically important work, which has become even more urgent as the region struggles with the impact of the recession.

The region that the NBRC would support shares many common economic challenges stemming from relative geographic isolation, aging infrastructure, and a loss of natural resource based industry that has historically been an economic engine.  These are economically distressed communities in which 13.1 percent of the population lives in poverty, median household income is $6,500 below the national average, unemployment is significantly higher than the national average, and the population has actually decreased by 0.6 percent between 1990 and 2000, while the U.S. population rose by 13.2 percent. 

Under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, the Economic Development Administration was given the authority to transfer $50 million to regional economic development commissions.  In a June letter from Sandra R. Walters at the Economic Development Authority, however, we were informed that the NBRC will not be eligible to receive any funding until a Federal Co-chairperson has been nominated and confirmed.  So long as this position remains unfilled, the economic recovery of the 36 counties that comprise this region will be incomplete.   

During these difficult economic times, it is important that the NBRC receives 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, including improvements to regional infrastructure, promotion of alternative energy projects and developing new job opportunities.  

Earlier this year, you urged Congress to "act without delay" to pass the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act so that it could speed our nation to economic recovery and begin to alleviate the burden on America's families and small businesses.  We were proud to join you in supporting this important effort.  We respectfully ask you now to act without delay to nominate a Federal Co-chairperson to the Northern Border Regional Commission so that it can fully utilize the resources available to the most economically distressed parts of our states.

Thank you for your prompt consideration of this matter.

Sincerely,

U.S. Senators Jeanne Shaheen, Susan M. Collins, Charles E. Schumer, Olympia J. Snowe, Patrick J. Leahy, Kirsten E. Gillibrand, and Bernard Sanders

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