Press Release: Working Lands Enterprise Board Announces $550,000 in Available Grant Funds

Today, the Working Lands Enterprise Board (WLEB) is happy to announce the opening of this year’s grant cycle and the availability of approximately $550,000 in grants funds for the 2016 program year.  These grants will fund forestry and agriculture projects that enhance Vermont’s communities, economy and culture.   The applicant guide can be found online at http://workinglands.vermont.gov/apply/rfp. Applicant Information Sessions are scheduled for October 9th and 14th.

“Vermont’s Working Landscape is vital to our economy, and our way of life. Not only does it attract tourism, recreation, and businesses, it serves as a foundation for our agriculture and forest products sectors” said Chuck Ross, Vermont’s Secretary of Agriculture. “Investing in the Working Landscape helps ensure Vermonters are able to enjoy Vermont’s farms and forests, for generations to come.”

“Vermont’s forests are a fundamental part of our state’s working landscapes.  Investing in forest businesses provides jobs and a local, reliable source of wood products for a wide range of valuable uses from flooring and furniture to construction and energy,” said Department of Forests, Parks & Recreation Commissioner Michael Snyder. “Over the past year we have made a special effort to identify key areas of market potential for the forestry sector and are excited to see it grow even further.”

Lucy Leriche, Deputy Secretary of Commerce and Community Development said, “Vermont’s working landscape has long been the backbone of our economy and its importance only continues to grow as we develop a keen appreciation for local food and wood products and new technologies that allow us to create renewable energy right here in Vermont.”

The WLEB began operations in August 2012 and today has awarded over $3 million in grant funds to 110 grantees, leveraging an additional $4.3 million of matching and outside funds.  The WLEB looks forward to continuing this impressive track record in Fiscal Year 2016.  Success stories of previous WLEB grantees may be viewed at http://workinglands.vermont.gov/successtories.

Again this year, $30,000 of Local Food Market Development (LFMD) grant funds will be made available through the Working Lands grant process. The focus of LFMD funding is to increase Vermont producers’ access to institutional and wholesale markets, promote consumption of local food, and encourage scaling up through new market development opportunities across the state.

A change to this year’s application will be that all Business Investment applicants will be required to include a business plan. Applicants who have never written a business plan before are invited to use the online template at http://workinglands.vermont.gov/apply/ta/tools.

The two investment areas are as follows:

1. Business Investments     $5,000-$50,000

LETTER OF INTENT DUE: 11/6/15 at noon

Projects may include, but are not limited to: Infrastructure (project-specific planning, permitting, and/or engineering/architectural plans; and/or building and equipment costs); Marketing (accessing new markets and securing new customers); Research and Development (testing new systems or technologies or developing innovative solutions)

2. Service Provider Investment    $15,000-$75,000

LETTER OF INTENT DUE: 12/4/15 at noon

Projects should show direct impacts on Vermont Working Lands businesses. Types of technical assistance provided may include: Market development, marketing plans, and sales; Business and financial planning; Succession planning; Access to capital; Manufacturing efficiencies or process flow

Applicant Info Sessions will be hosted at the following locations:

Friday, October 9th, 4:30 – 6:00pm

·         Agency of Agriculture, Food and Markets, 2nd Floor Conference Room, 116 State Street, Montpelier, VT, 05620, phone: 802.585.9072

·         Northern Vermont Development Association, 36 Eastern Avenue, St Johnsbury, VT, 05819, phone: 802.748.5181

·         Brattleboro Development Credit Corporation, 76 Cotton Mill Hill, Brattleboro, VT, 05301, phone: 802.257.0294

·         Springfield Regional Development Corporation, 14 Clinton Street Suite 7, Springfield, VT, 05156, phone: 802.885.3061

 

Wednesday, October 14th, 4:30 – 6:00pm

·         Agency of Agriculture, Food and Markets, 2nd Floor Conference Room, 116 State Street, Montpelier, VT, 05620, phone: 802.585.9072

·         Northern Vermont Development Association, 36 Eastern Avenue, St Johnsbury, VT, 05819, phone: 802.748.5181

·         Brattleboro Development Credit Corporation, 76 Cotton Mill Hill, Brattleboro, VT, 05301, phone: 802.257.0294

·         Rutland Economic Development Corporation, 110 Merchants Row Suite 312, Rutland, VT, 05701, phone: 802.773.9147

·         Franklin County Industrial Development Corporation & Northwest Regional Planning Commission, 75 Fairfield Street, Saint Albans, VT, 05478, phone: 802.524.5958

 

Link to Register from your home: https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/rt/2574274848696658434

 

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The Working Lands Enterprise Initiative, (Act 142), is administered by the Agency of Agriculture, Food and Markets in partnership with the Vermont Department of Forests, Parks & Recreation and the Vermont Agency of Commerce and Community Development.  The Working Lands funds are administered by the Vermont Working Lands Enterprise Board (WLEB), an impact investment organization whose mission is to grow the economies, cultures, and communities of Vermont’s working landscape by making essential, catalytic investments in critical leverage points of the Vermont farm and forest economy, from individual enterprises to industry sectors.

About the Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food, and Markets: VAAFM facilitates, supports and encourages the growth and viability of agriculture in Vermont while protecting the working landscape, human health, animal health, plant health, consumers and the environment.  www.Agriculture.Vermont.Gov