Bipartisan Legislation Introduced by Senators Collins and King to Bolster the Northern Border Regional Commission Clears Key Committee Hurdle

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, D.C. – The Senate Agriculture Committee unanimously approved an amendment to reauthorize the Northern Border Regional Commission (NBRC) through 2023 in the Agricultural Improvement Act of 2018, commonly known as the Farm Bill.  The adopted amendment is based on legislation coauthored by U.S. Senators Collins (R-ME) and Angus King (I-ME). The commission promotes regional coordination and invests in job creation efforts and economic development in distressed counties in Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, and New York. The U.S. Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry voted 20-1 to approve the Farm Bill, which now awaits consideration by the full Senate.

 

The legislation aims to improve the region’s capacity for high-impact community economic development projects.  The reauthorization bill would 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 is a critical source of investment for northern and central Maine, helping to grow the economy and create jobs,” said Senators Collins and King in a joint statement.  “We are pleased that the Agriculture Committee has passed our bipartisan bill, which would continue the NBRC’s work to strengthen communities through projects that support business retention and expansion, infrastructure development, and increased access to high-speed telecommunications.”

 

Senators Collins and King have long advocated for the NBRC, and introduced the Northern Border Regional Commission Reauthorization Act in March with Senators Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), and Maggie Hassan (D-NH).

 

Last year, the NBRC awarded $2.2 million for grant projects throughout the state of Maine. The NBRC is a key partner in the multiagency Economic Development Assessment Team (EDAT) – originally requested in March 2016 by Senators Collins and King – supporting economic development strategies and efforts that help pave the way for job growth in a region experiencing economic distress. The January 2017 EDAT assessment highlighted the importance of the NBRC and its potential to leverage federal resources to support the viability of impacted mill communities and help grow Maine’s rural economy.