(Washington, DC) – U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) led a letter yesterday on behalf of New Hampshire’s congressional delegation to Northern Border Regional Commission (NBRC) Federal Co-Chairman Harold Parker, raising concerns that the latest round of funding did not include a single grant awardee from Coos or Carroll County despite numerous applications from these counties. Last month, the delegation announced that New Hampshire agencies and organizations were awarded $4,443,428 by the NBRC. The NBRC provides federal support throughout northern New Hampshire and has funded grants that spur economic and community development in rural communities.
In their letter, the delegation explained the numerous successful legislative efforts to increase funding for the NBRC and to expand its reach to include regions throughout New Hampshire to ensure there are enough opportunities and resources to meet the demand for the federal grants. The delegation also highlighted the new State Capacity Building Grant Program, which helps develop projects that support business retention and expansion, access to high-speed broadband, infrastructure development, job creation and more. Shaheen established the program in the Farm Bill that was signed into law in 2018. Despite all of these efforts to bolster resources, not a single NBRC grant was awarded to Coos or Carroll County-based projects. To that, the delegation wrote, “All the while, we advocated through the annual appropriations process to secure additional funding for the Commission in order to ensure no counties were left behind. Given these efforts to expand NBRC’s reach across the Northern Forest Region, we are deeply concerned that Coos and Carroll counties were largely left out of this year’s State Economic and Infrastructure Development Grant awards.”
Shaheen, Hassan, Kuster and Pappas went on to argue that by neglecting these two counties, the NBRC is endangering the region’s capacity for improving high-impact community economic development projects that are vital to the region. They closed their letter by calling for the NBRC to reverse this pattern of leaving out Coos and Carroll Counties from receiving these awards, and included a number of questions for the NBRC to respond to.
Senator Shaheen, a senior member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, has led efforts in Congress that support and invest in the NBRC, and included her bipartisan legislation to reauthorize and expand the NBRC’s reach in the Farm Bill that was signed into law in 2018. With support from Rep. Kuster, the legislation expanded the NBRC to include Cheshire County and communities in Belknap County. Shaheen has also worked to included language to ensure portions of NBRC funds be directed to assist rural communities affected by past mill closures, as well as support new markets and the infrastructure needs of the forest products industry. Earlier this year, Shaheen led a bipartisan, bicameral group of lawmakers representing New Hampshire, Maine, Vermont and New York in a letter to congressional leadership calling for the inclusion of dedicated funding for the NBRC in COVID-19 relief legislation.