Margaret Wood Hassan

03/08/2018 | Press release | Distributed by Public on 03/08/2018 16:45

Shaheen Introduces Bill to Bolster the Northern Border Regional Commission and Expand its Reach to Additional New Hampshire Counties

March 08, 2018

**Shaheen's bill would expand the Northern Border Regional Commission to include additional counties in New Hampshire, including Cheshire and communities in Belknap**

**The reauthorization will improve the NBRC's ability to develop projects that support business retention and expansion, access to high-speed broadband, critical infrastructure development, and job creation**

(Washington, DC)- This week, U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) introduced the Northern Border Regional Commission Reauthorization Act with Senators Leahy (D-VT), Collins (R-ME), Sanders (I-VT), Gillibrand (D-NY), King (I-ME) and Hassan (D-NH). This bill would extend authorization of the Northern Border Regional Commission (NBRC) for five years and make additional reforms to encourage business retention and expansion in Northern New Hampshire and other distressed communities of the Northern Forest region. The NBRC reauthorization will be expanded to provide economic development to additional counties in New Hampshire, and will allow the NBRC to attract businesses from outside the United States as well as devote additional resources to encourage renewable energy development in the region.

Additionally, Shaheen's legislation will improve the region's capacity for high-impact community economic development projects. The reauthorization bill will establish a state capacity building grant program that will help develop projects that support business retention and expansion, access to high-speed broadband, critical infrastructure development, and job creation throughout the region.

'The Northern Border Regional Commission has had a real impact in Northern New Hampshire counties, creating jobs and supporting projects that improve quality of life,' said Senator Shaheen. 'This bipartisan bill will bolster the Commission and expand its reach to additional New Hampshire counties. This is a proposal to help address infrastructure needs, support New Hampshire communities and businesses, and expand regional economic opportunity. I look forward to continuing to work across the aisle to get this legislation passed in Congress.'

'The Northern Border Regional Commission is an essential and flexible source of investment as Northern Forest communities and businesses continue to adapt to changes in the regional forest economy,' said Rob Riley, President of the Northern Forest Center. 'We are grateful to Senator Shaheen and the rest of the region's delegation for their work to sustain and improve the NBRC and its ability to invest in infrastructure, business and entrepreneurial development, and community leadership in rural communities across the region.'

'Between 2004-2012, Cheshire County lost 22 percent of its manufacturing jobs. And, in a recent analysis by NH Employment Security, job growth for our region over the period 2014-2024 is projected at 4.3 percent - only the North Country is forecast at a lower rate,' said Tim Murphy, Executive Director of the Southwest Region Planning Commission. 'With the innovative and collaborative spirit here in Cheshire County, access to NBRC funding means more great projects for New Hampshire.'

'Belknap County's inclusion in the Northern Borders Regional Commission's territory will allow our communities to access new economic development tools,' said Justin Slattery, Executive Director of the Belknap Economic Development Council. 'Partnership with the NBRC will benefit Belknap County's economic development and sustainability. We understand that not every town in the County will qualify under the Commission's guidelines, but we are a region, and transformational projects in one of our communities create positive change for all of our communities.'

Representative Annie Kuster (NH-02) introduced the Northern Regional Commission Reauthorization Act of 2017 in the House of Representatives. Senator Shaheen has long advocated for the NBRC, and, as a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, secured additional economic development funding for NBRC in 2017, including language ensuring that NBRC funds be directed to communities impacted by forest product plant closures. The NBRC provides critical support throughout Northern New Hampshire and has funded grants that spur economic and community development in North Country. In 2016, the NBRC funded twelve grants totaling $1,550,000, including the New Hampshire Department of Resources & Economic Development, Town of Northumberland, Town of Littleton, Grafton Regional Development Corporation, New England Ski Museum, Town of Ashland Water & Sewer Department, River Valley Community College, City of Berlin, University of New Hampshire, Soldier On, Tri-County CAP for Friendship House and Friends of Wentworth Park.

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