U.S. Senators Charles E. Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand today announced $1.5 million for the Northern Border Regional Commission (NBRC) in the final Energy and Water Appropriations Bill. The Senate-passed bill did not allocate any funding to the Commission and the senators pushed for money to be allocated in the final package. The funding would help address the community and economic development needs of the most severely distressed areas of New York, Maine, New Hampshire, and Vermont and would help these states capitalize on their respective region’s assets to build a stronger economic future.
“The Northern Border Commission has a special role to play spurring economic development and creating jobs and it is critical that we direct funding so that it can execute its mission,” said Senator Schumer. “Funding the Northern Border Regional Commission at the $1.5 million threshold passed by the House will allow the Commission to begin to fulfill its goals of spurring economic growth and job creation.”
“This is a great investment for the North Country,” Senator Gillibrand said. “As we continue our economic recovery, these federal dollars will help support job creation, revitalize communities hit the hardest in these tough economic times, and get families and businesses throughout the North Country get back on track.”
The 2008 Farm Bill authorized the establishment of the Northern Border Regional Commission to help address the community and economic development needs of the most severely distressed portions of the Northeastern United States. The counties in Upstate NY that benefit under the commission include Cayuga, Clinton, Essex, Franklin, Fulton, Hamilton, Herkimer, Jefferson, Lewis, Madison, Oneida, Oswego, Seneca and St. Lawrence.
The northern parts of New York, Maine, New Hampshire, and Vermont 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 already distressed region has been hit especially hard by the recession: The 36 counties that comprise the Northern Border Regional Commission have poverty levels above the national average, median household income that is below the national average, persistent unemployment fed by constant layoffs in traditional manufacturing industries, and a significant out-migration and loss of younger workers.
As the country begins to recover from the economic downturn, it is critical that we invest in energy research and development. The Northern Border Regional Commission invests in economically distressed communities and works to create and implement regional economic development plans to reduce poverty, address changing land use, and improve the quality of life for residents. The Commission provides funding for projects that stimulate economic development and promote the historic character, sustainable development, and industries of the region.
The House-Senate Conference Committee voted on the Energy and Water Appropriations Conference Report late yesterday. The legislation will soon be voted on in both chambers, and sent to the President to be signed into law. Senators Schumer and Gillibrand pointed out that the provision is now in the final draft of this must pass bill.