U.S. Senators Patrick Leahy and Bernie Sanders and Congressman Peter Welch announced Friday that the U.S. Economic Development Administration (EDA) has awarded a $2 million grant to the Vermont Economic Development Authority (VEDA) to expand its disaster loan fund, and an additional $500,000 grant to the State of Vermont to help regional planning commissions and communities plan for future disasters.
They said VEDA will use the $2 million grant to create the EDA Business Recovery Loan Fund. VEDA will team with the Vermont Small Business Development Center (SBDC) to offer special financing and technical assistance to businesses still suffering from the effects of Tropical Storm Irene. The recovery loan fund will provide low-interest loans to affected businesses and others to help stabilize communities, support innovation-based entrepreneurs, and create jobs. VEDA encourages any businesses affected by Irene to give the Authority a call at 802-828-JOBS.
In addition, the State of Vermont will use the $500,000 grant to implement the Vermont Economic Resiliency Initiative (VERI), a statewide project aimed at minimizing the short and long-term impacts of future disasters on the state’s economy. The grant will enable the state to document and map the state’s natural disaster risk, focus on where that risk intersects with key areas of economic activity, employee access, and infrastructure, enabling communities and private business to make informed investments on strategies to mitigate future disaster risk.
Leahy, Sanders and Welch said: “Vermont businesses worked tirelessly to get back on their feet in the weeks and months after Irene – many, with VEDA’s help. We hope the Business Recovery Loan Fund provides these businesses with an opportunity to not only recover, but to grow more resilient to future disasters. The state’s Vermont Economic Resiliency Initiative project should also help businesses, and communities, by making sure we not only identify potential at-risk elements of our communities, but then mitigate those weaknesses.”
VEDA Chief Executive Officer Jo Bradley said: “Even though it has been almost two years since Tropical Storm Irene hit Vermont, there are still many businesses struggling – especially in light of the recent, deep national recession – to get back to their pre-Irene state. Through VEDA’s partnership with the Vermont SBDC, and the Vermont Agency of Commerce, we will do all we can to help these businesses. We are incredibly grateful for the grant assistance the EDA has provided to help us do this work, and VEDA will commit another $500,000 in matching funds to help capitalize this special loan fund.”
Vermont Department of Economy, Housing and Community Development Commissioner Noelle MacKay said: “There will be future disasters in Vermont and the state is determined to provide the leadership to create a more resilient state – one that anticipates threats, develops resources to reduce their impact, responds appropriately and recovers quickly. As a first step, the Vermont Agency of Commerce & Community Development (ACCD), in partnership with the Regional Planning Commissions other State agencies (including Transportation and Natural Resources) will identify projects and investments needed to hasten post-disaster economic recovery and reduce the long-term financial burden of disasters on impacted communities, businesses, and individuals.”
Leahy, Sanders and Welch fought to include special one-time EDA disaster funding in the 2011 Irene disaster recovery bill, and then advocated for funding for the Vermont Telecommunications Authority and several other Vermont applicants in a letter sent to the EDA Regional Director in June 2012. With Friday’s announcement Vermont organizations have received $6,812,000 in EDA disaster assistance, including $1.6 million for the Vermont Telecommunications Authority’s Cellular Resiliency Project, $1.8 million for the Vermont Council on Rural Development’s Vermont Digital Economy Project, $472,000 for the Southern Vermont Disaster Recovery Project, $300,000 for the Vermont Agency of Commerce and Community Development, and $140,000 for the Village of Waterbury.
The EDA is a sub-agency of the U.S. Department of Commerce. EDA awards disaster grants to support a community’s long-term recovery, spur job creation, leverage private investment, and promote disaster recovery.
Congressional delegation 4.26.2013