Shaheen, Leahy and Collins are leading the campaign to re-authorize the Northern Border Regional Commission to support hard-hit businesses and communities
February 17, 2022
(Washington, DC) – Today, U.S. Senators Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Patrick Leahy (D-VT) and Susan Collins (R-ME) introduced the Northern Boundary Regional Commission (NBRC) Reauthorization Act 2022. This bill will extend NBRC’s authorization and support job creation and community development in the most economically vulnerable parts of rural New Hampshire and the Northeast. The bill is also co-sponsored by U.S. Senators Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Angus King (I-ME), and Maggie Hassan (D-NH).
By reauthorizing the NBRC for ten years, the bill encourages business retention and expansion, invests in public infrastructure and promotes tourism in the region. To address the unique challenges faced by rural workers, the legislation also invests in projects that expand rural access to child care, health care and affordable housing needs. The NBRC Reauthorization Act also expands NBRC’s ability to make grants for projects and activities aimed at addressing the opioid epidemic and other substance use disorders impacting the region. This legislation builds on previous member efforts by adding Merrimack County of New Hampshire and Lincoln County of Maine as newly eligible to receive these funds.
“The Northern Border Regional Commission is a key economic driver in northern New Hampshire. I am pleased to lead this effort in the Senate to reauthorize funding for another ten years so that this commission can continue to support rural businesses, job creation and infrastructure projects. I am also pleased that this bill expands eligibility to Merrimack County to access NBRC funding to promote local economic development,” said Senator Shaheen. “For years, I have prioritized funding to support the essential work of NBRC to help revitalize our most economically vulnerable communities, and this legislation builds on those efforts. I look forward to the Senate acting quickly on this bill so that we can provide important resources to rural communities, especially as we recover from the pandemic.
“During my time leading the Senate Appropriations Committee, I was proud to increase funding for the Northern Boundary Regional Commission by tens of millions of dollars and to ensure that projects in every county in Vermont This bill will ensure the existence of the Commission for years to come and means that future generations of Vermonters will continue to benefit from its support for their local communities and economies,” said Senator Leahy.
“The Northern Boundary Regional Commission is a critical resource for northern and central Maine, making investments to promote job growth, improve infrastructure and stimulate local economies,” said Senator Collins. “As a senior member of the Appropriations Committee, I have long supported the funding of this important program, and I am proud to join Senators Shaheen and Leahy in this effort to reauthorize NBRC for another ten years. Critical investments supported by NBRC will help ensure that rural communities have the tools they need to thrive.
“Since its inception, the Northern Boundary Regional Commission has been a go-to resource for Maine communities – helping to create well-paying jobs, boost small businesses, and strengthen local economies,” said Senator King. “NRBC has invested millions of dollars in rural Maine communities, providing vital economic support to fuel the region’s long-term prosperity. The reauthorization of the NBRC is absolutely essential for Maine, and I hope it can be done in a quick and bipartisan way. “
“New Hampshire is filled with vibrant communities that define us as a state and are the foundation of our economic success,” noted Senator Hassan. “Since 2008, millions of dollars of federal funding from the Northern Boundary Regional Commission have been used to support local projects that have spurred economic growth in the region. It is critical that we reauthorize the Commission so it can continue to provide funds and resources to New Hampshire to spur job creation and help all Granite Staters thrive.
Specifically, the legislation:
- Reauthorizes the NBRC for 10 years and increases the annual credit limit from $33 million to $50 million for the first 5 years and to $60 million for the next 5 years.
- Adds Merrimack County, NH and Lincoln County, ME to the list of counties eligible to receive NBRC funds, as data from recent years indicates that Merrimack has similar levels of economic distress as existing counties of the NBRC.
- Reauthorizes the State Capacity Building Grant Program, which was created in 2018 to further strengthen investments in high-impact local projects. This program provides additional funding to local economic and community development organizations that support business retention and expansion, infrastructure development and job creation.
- Improves the climate resilience of the region. The bill would allow the NBRC to support projects that address vulnerabilities in transportation and other public infrastructure to climate change.
- Expands opportunities for community development projects that address the unique challenges facing the region’s rural workforce by:
- Expand NBRC’s ability to fund projects that invest in child care and health care needs. This includes projects aimed at attracting, training and retaining qualified health care or child care personnel. The legislation also calls on the Commission to focus on substance use disorder projects related to opioid and methamphetamine use.
- Give NBRC the ability to support projects that facilitate the construction or rehabilitation of housing to meet the needs of families and individuals in the area.
The full text of the bill is available here.
Shaheen led congressional efforts that support and invest in NBRC, and included her bipartisan legislation to reauthorize and expand NBRC’s reach in the Farm Bill that was signed into law in 2018. With the support of Rep. Annie Kuster (NH -02), the legislation expanded the NBRC to include Cheshire County and Belknap County communities. Shaheen has also worked to include language ensuring that a portion of NBRC funds are directed to help rural communities affected by past factory closures, as well as supporting new markets and the infrastructure needs of the industry. forest products industry. Shaheen led a bipartisan, bicameral group of lawmakers, including the New Hampshire congressional delegation, in calling for the inclusion of dedicated funding for NBRC in COVID-19 relief legislation. In government funding legislation enacted in 2020, Shaheen helped secure $30 million for the NBRC, which is an increase of $5 million from the FY 2020 funding level and the highest that the program has ever been funded. This legislation also included a Shaheen priority to eliminate the non-federal matching requirement on FY2020 NBRC awards and future awards related to COVID-19 recovery, thereby reducing potential barriers to increased participation from eligible communities. Shaheen also helped secure $35 million for the NBRC in the fiscal year 2022 bipartisan funding legislation that was passed by the committee, representing a $5 million increase over the funding level of the NBRC. fiscal year 2021 and the highest the program has ever been funded. Additionally, Shaheen helped negotiate the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, which provided $150 million to the NBRC – historic funding that will go towards infrastructure and community development projects across the region.