The Working Lands Enterprise Initiative (WLEI) and governing board (WLEB) were created in accordance with Act 142 of the 2012 legislative session to stimulate economic development in the agricultural and forestry sectors by systematically advancing entrepreneurship, business development, and job creation. Focus areas and funding categories are annually assessed by the WLEB to ensure adequate attention toward the priority issues and needs of the agricultural and forestry industries.
WLEB investments are able to respond to imminent needs, sectors and markets that have potential and/or challenges, including:
- WLEB decision to scale-up Industry impact investments in 2019 to focus on dairy industry and secondary grade wood and forest based products;
- WLEB FY20 focus to continue market level industry impact investments, adding a mid-tier opportunity with supply chain impact grants;
- Legislatively focused dairy dollars will allow WLEB to fund value added dairy production, diversification opportunities (e.g., maple, hemp, grass-fed beef, agritourism opportunities), and innovative solutions to soil health and water quality.
The Working Lands Enterprise Board (WLEB) represents a cross-agency, cross-sector network of partners: Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food & Markets, Vermont Forests, Parks & Recreation, Vermont Agency of Commerce & Community Development, fourteen designated board members from across the value chains of Agriculture and Forestry, and Ex-Officio members from the Vermont Economic Development Authority, Vermont Housing & Conservation Board, and the Vermont Sustainable Jobs Fund.