Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Senator Kirsten Gillibrand launched their push to reauthorize the Northern Border Regional Commission’s (NBRC) economic development programs until 2031 and expand the agency’s investment in job creating opportunities to accelerate Upstate New York’s economic recovery. The senators formally introduced the Northern Border Regional Commission (NBRC) Reauthorization Act of 2022, which would reauthorize the NBRC for another ten years, increase annual authorized funding levels, and target funds to addressing childcare and health care needs, supporting housing projects, building climate resilient infrastructure, and combatting the opioid crisis, in addition to the agency’s focus of creating new jobs, promoting business retention and expansion, making critical investment in public infrastructure, and boosting tourism across Upstate New York counties. Additionally, Schumer and Gillibrand have written to the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, advocating for the inclusion of this legislation in the reauthorization of the Economic Development Administration and federal regional commissions that the committee is currently developing.
“From Lockport to Watertown and Plattsburgh to Schenectady and beyond, the Northern Border Regional Commission has played an important role in spurring job creation and business expansion, upgrading infrastructure, and improving quality of life in communities across Upstate New York. I’m proud to be leading the charge in the Senate to reauthorize the NBRC’s critical programs that will help to accelerate Upstate New York’s economic recovery and new growth in some of our most rural and distressed counties,” said Senator Schumer. “This bill will support essential investment in the 28 counties in New York’s northern border region, and I will fight to advance this legislation as quickly as possible so the NBRC can continue to deliver the resources Upstate communities need to prosper.”
“The Northern Border Regional Commission has and will continue to play a unique and critical role in revitalizing New York’s rural communities,” said Senator Gillibrand. “Reauthorizing the NBRC will enable it to continue addressing many of Upstate New York’s most pressing challenges – aging infrastructure, substance use, and shortages of child care and health care workers. I’m proud to be working with Senator Schumer to pass this legislation and will keep fighting to make sure that New York’s rural communities aren’t left behind.”
From 2010-2021 the NBRC invested in over 60 projects totaling over $23 million in investment for Upstate New York that leveraged over $113 million in matching funds. The senators explained that in addition to reauthorizing the NBRC for an additional 10 years, the bill would also increase the annual appropriation cap from $33 million to $50 million for the first 5 years, and to $60 million for the following 5 years. The bill also makes critical enhancements to the range of projects the NBRC is able to support to foster growth in the region including:
· Expanding the NBRC’s ability to fund projects that invest in childcare and health care needs. Including projects to attract, train and retain qualified health care or childcare personnel to underserved areas.
· Strengthening climate resiliency projects to address new and emerging vulnerabilities of transportation and public infrastructure needed to combat the impacts of climate change.
· Projects to combat substance use disorders from opioid and methamphetamine use.
· Increasing the NBRC’s support for housing projects to meet the growing and diverse needs of families and communities in the region.
Schumer and Gillibrand have a long history of championing the Northern Border Regional Commission and its positive economic impacts on the North Country and Upstate New York. Earlier this year, they successfully secured $150 million for the NBRC, over triple it’s funding from previous years, through the bipartisan Infrastructure Investment & Jobs Act.
Established in 2008, the NBRC is a federal-state partnership focused on the economic revitalization of communities across the Northern Border region, which includes New York, Maine, New Hampshire, and Vermont. The Commission is composed of the governors of the four Northern Border states and a federal co-chair, and provides financial and technical assistance to communities in the region to support entrepreneurs, improve water, broadband, and transportation infrastructure, and promote other initiatives to improve the region’s economy. The northern border region of New York State includes 28 counties: Cayuga, Clinton, Essex, Franklin, Fulton, Genesee, Greene, Hamilton, Herkimer, Jefferson, Lewis, Livingston, Madison, Montgomery, Niagara, Oneida, Orleans, Oswego, Rensselaer, Saratoga, Schenectady, Seneca, St. Lawrence, Sullivan, Washington, Warren, Wayne, and Yates.
A copy of Schumer and Gillibrand’s bipartisan joint letter to the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee advocating for the inclusion of the NBRC Reauthorization Act of 2022 in an economic development package under development, sent with Senators Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Susan Collins (R-ME), Angus King (I-ME) and Maggie Hassan (D-NH), appears below:
Dear Chairman Carper and Ranking Member Capito,
As the Committee prepares reauthorization legislation for the Economic Development Administration (EDA) and the regional commissions and authorities the Committee oversees, we request that you include the Northern Border Regional Commission (NBRC) Reauthorization Act of 2022 in the base bill. This bipartisan legislation would extend authorization for the NBRC through fiscal year 2031, while making additional reforms to encourage business retention and economic development in distressed counties in the Northern Forest region. We appreciate your past support of the NBRC, and request your partnership in strengthening federal and state efforts to spur job creation and development in our states.
Established in the 2008 Farm Bill, the NBRC is a federal-state partnership that provides infrastructure and economic development in 60 rural counties in northern New Hampshire, Vermont, New York and Maine. Since its inception, the NBRC has provided grants to employment-generating projects that have helped reduce poverty, unemployment and outmigration in the region. In the last year alone, the NBRC’s State Economic and Infrastructure Development grant program provided over $18.5 million in funding to 44 projects spanning across all four NBRC states. In addition, the NBRC furthered its partnerships with the U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Development and the EDA, awarding nearly $6 million to economic development projects and providing another year of funding for capacity building among each NBRC state’s outdoor recreation economy functions. Signifying its consistently growing role in fostering economic and community development in the region, the Commission also initiated new partnerships with the Health Resources & Services Administration and statewide broadband agencies.
Continued federal investment in the NBRC is critical to encouraging economic development and job growth in our communities, particularly as these communities work to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic. For this reason, we urge you to include the NBRC Reauthorization Act of 2022, which would enhance the impact of the Commission to better leverage federal resources in the Northeast. This includes providing new authorizations for critically needed infrastructure and community development grants that support access to quality healthcare services, strengthen and adapt public infrastructure against the impacts of climate change and promote the production of housing to meet economic development and workforce needs across the region.
Thank you for your consideration. The grant investments from the NBRC have significantly improved the infrastructure and quality of life for many residents in our states. We look forward to working with you to continue the success of the Commission and the great work that it does.
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