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New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced $4.6 million in grant funding is available to support projects related to economic development and infrastructure in the state’s northern border region.
The area encompasses counties that touch Vermont, Massachusetts, Canada, Pennsylvania and Lake Ontario.
Competitive funding is available for qualified projects within New York’s 28 federally designated Northern Border Regional Commission counties. Local government agencies and nonprofit organizations within these counties also are eligible to apply for these grants.
“These investments highlight the importance of a strong federal, state and local partnership to strengthen our economy,” Cuomo said. “I invite community leaders and organizations to take advantage of the opportunity and submit an application for their projects that will benefit local residents.”
Established by Congress in 2008, NBRC is a regional economic development partnership among federal, state and local government agencies. The commission is composed of the governors of New York, Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine, as well as a federal co-chair who is appointed by the president.
Modernizing infrastructure and expanding business enterprises that capitalize on the region’s assets are two goals outlined in NBRC’s strategic plan. The region’s economy initially grew around dense forestland, offering employment opportunities for people in sectors such as pulp and paper. According to the strategic plan, forest-based industries have cut tens of thousands of jobs in recent decades.
Another socioeconomic consideration is the northern border region’s aging population. According to NBRC, the share of the population older than 65 increased by almost 22% between 2003 and 2013. This trend is due to lower birth rates and difficulty retaining younger people.
The New York Department of State’s Division of Local Government Services works with NBRC and regional planning organizations to solicit project applications, which are due by May 14.
To be eligible for grant consideration, projects must fall within one of these categories:
• Transportation infrastructure.
• Basic public infrastructure.
• Telecommunications infrastructure.
• Employment-related education, entrepreneurship, technology and business development.
• Health care and public services to aid economically distressed areas.
• Conservation, tourism, recreation and preservation of open space intended for economic development.
• Development of renewable and alternative energy sources.
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Applications are eligible to receive up to $1 million for infrastructure projects and $350,000 for other projects. NBRC grants awarded within distressed counties require a 20% local match, while grants awarded within transitional counties require a 50% match. According to NBRC, counties considered distressed are those that have high rates of poverty, unemployment or “outmigration” and are the most severely and persistently underdeveloped. Transitional counties recently have suffered high rates of poverty, unemployment or outmigration, or are underdeveloped.
“The impacts of COVID-19 have highlighted how critical investment programs like the Northern Border Regional Commission are in supporting community development efforts,” New York Secretary of State Rossana Rosado said. “While not specific recovery assistance, the NBRC’s annual funding cycle will continue the support of projects that are core elements of local and regional investment plans throughout these 28 upstate counties.”
In 2020, New York officials recommended about $4.5 million in funding for eight NBRC projects. Funded projects included two grants totaling $520,000 in support of broadband efforts and a grant for $1 million for water transmission infrastructure in Herkimer County.
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