The backbone of Vermont’s heritage and economic viability is our working landscape. Over 97 percent of Vermonters value the “working landscape,” which consists of agriculture, food systems, forestry, and forest products businesses. Approximately 20 percent of Vermont’s working land is used for agricultural purposes and 75 percent is forested. The Findings section of Act 142 outlines nine goals of the Working Lands initiative.
The mission of the Vermont Working Lands Enterprise Initiative is to grow the economies, cultures, and communities of Vermont's working landscape. The Working Lands Enterprise Board (WLEB) achieves this by making essential, catalytic investments in critical leverage points of the Vermont farm and forest economy and facilitating policy development to optimize the agricultural and forest use of Vermont lands.
Businesses must be based in Vermont and registered with the Secretary of State at the time of full application submission. All business structures are eligible (e.g. Partnerships, Limited Liability Corporations, Sole Proprietorships, Cooperatives, Corporations, S Corporations, L3Cs, and B Corporations and/or non-profits that are involved in the production of agriculture and/or forest related products).
Previous recipients of Business grants for over $20,000 are not eligible to apply for further Working Lands funding until three years after the start date of their previous grant (i.e., FY15 Capital and Infrastructure grantees are eligible to apply for FY19 funding). Past recipients of grants under $20,000 are eligible to apply again.
Projects may include, but are not limited to:
- Infrastructure: project specific planning, permitting, and/or engineering/architectural plans; purchase and/or construction of physical assets (i.e., building and equipment costs)
- Marketing: accessing new markets and securing new customers, including institutional and wholesale market expansion
- Research and Development: testing new systems or technologies or developing innovative solutions
- Business Grants – Standard: Requests must total between $5,000 - $25,000 in Working Lands Enterprise Funds.
- Business Grants – Industry Impact: Requests must total between $25,001 - $150,000 and demonstrate significant potential for supply chain or overall industry impact. Projects above $50,000 should focus on low-grade wood or dairy and will involve additional requests for information in the full application period.
For all Business Grants:
- Budget must show at least a 1-to-1 match (for every dollar of WLEB funds requested, applicant must show at least one dollar of matching funds). At least 50% of match must be cash, the rest may be in-kind. Under limited circumstances, match requirements may be reduced or waived for projects that can justify the need for a reduced match.
- Primary beneficiaries are Vermont agriculture, forestry & forest products businesses (including farm and/or forest landowners).
- We award Working Lands Business Grants through a competitive review process guided by industry, nonprofit and government stakeholders.
- Project duration is 18 months in length
Deadlines and Key Dates
- Request for Applications Release: October 1, 2019 at 12:00 PM/noon
- Pre-application Period Begins: October 8, 2019
- Pre-applications Due: November 3, 2018 at 11:59 PM (application closes at midnight)
- Notification of Pre-application Acceptance/Denial: Late December 2019
- Invited Full Applications Due: January 26, 2020 at 11:59 PM (application closes at midnight)
- Award Notification: Early March 2020
- Estimated Project Start Date: April 2020