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Collins, Shaheen Lead Push to Reauthorize Program that Supports Hard-Hit Businesses, Rural Communities

The bipartisan bill, co-sponsored by Senator King, would reauthorize the Northern Border Regional Commission and make Lincoln County eligible for grants for the first time

Washington, D.C. –U.S. Senators Susan Collins (R-ME) and Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) introduced the Northern Border Regional Commission (NBRC) Reauthorization Act of 2023. The bipartisan legislation will extend the authorization of the NBRC and support job creation and community development in the most economically vulnerable parts of rural Maine and the Northeast. The bill is co-sponsored by Senators Angus King (I-ME), Maggie Hassan (D-NH), Bernie Sanders (I-VT), and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY).


The NBRC is a federal-state partnership that was created by Congress in 2008 to help alleviate economic distress and encourage private sector job creation throughout the northern counties of Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, and New York.  In Maine, the NBRC can invest in economic and infrastructure projects in the following counties: Androscoggin, Aroostook, Franklin, Hancock, Kennebec, Knox, Oxford, Penobscot, Piscataquis, Somerset, Waldo, and Washington.  The NBRC Reauthorization Act would make Lincoln County newly eligible to receive these funds.


“The Northern Border Regional Commission serves as a critical resource for many counties in Maine, making investments to promote job growth, improve infrastructure, and boost local economies,” said Senator Collins. “I have long supported funding for this important program, and as the Vice Chairman of the Appropriations Committee, I’m proud to join Senator Shaheen in this effort to reauthorize the NBRC for another ten years. The critical investments supported by the NBRC will help to ensure that northern border communities have the tools they need to prosper.”


“Since its creation, the Northern Border Regional Commission has been an essential source of support for communities across Maine – helping to create good-paying jobs, support small businesses, and strengthen local economies, ” said Senator King. “The NBRC’s proven track record of success is a powerful example of how effective partnerships between Congress, local governments, and the private sector can fuel the long-term prosperity of our state. Reauthorizing and expanding the NBRC is absolutely critical for Maine, and I hope it can be done in a speedy, bipartisan fashion. “


Building on the Senators’ previous efforts, the NBRC Reauthorization Act would strengthen the NBRC by reauthorizing the Commission for another ten years.  The bill encourages business retention and expansion, invests in public infrastructure, and promotes tourism across the region. To address unique challenges facing rural workforces, the bill invests in projects that expand rural access to child care, health care, and affordable housing needs. The bill also broadens NBRC’s ability to award grants to projects and activities to address the opioid epidemic and other substance use disorders impacting the region.


Specifically, the NBRC Reauthorization Act of 2023:


  • Reauthorizes the NBRC for ten years and increases the annual appropriation cap from $33 million to $50 million for the first five years, and $60 million for the following five years. 


  • Adds Lincoln County, ME, and Merrimack County, NH, to the list of counties eligible to receive funds from the NBRC. 


  • Reauthorizes the State Capacity Building Grant Program, which was established in 2018 to further strengthen investment in local high-impact projects. This program provides additional funds to regional economic and community development organizations that support business retention and expansion, infrastructure development and job creation. 


  • Improves the region’s climate resilience by enabling NBRC to support projects that address the vulnerabilities of transportation and other public infrastructure assets to climate change. 


  • Expands opportunities for community development projects that address unique challenges facing the region’s rural workforce by: 


  • Broadening the NBRC’s ability to fund projects that invest in childcare and health care needs. This includes projects to attract, train and retain qualified health care or childcare personnel. The legislation also directs the Commission to emphasize projects to combat substance use disorders from opioid and methamphetamine use. 


  • Providing the NBRC the ability to support projects that facilitate the construction or rehabilitation of housing to meet the needs of families and individuals in the region. 


The bill text can be read here.




As a member of the core group of 10 Senators who negotiated the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, Senator Collins helped to secure $150 million for the NBRC – historic funding that will go toward infrastructure and community development projects throughout the region.


Since Fiscal Year 2018, the NBRC has received specific funding for the State Capacity Building Grant Program, a program included in the Northern Border Regional Commission Reauthorization Act that was signed into law as part of the 2018 Farm Bill, bipartisan legislation authored by Senators Collins and King. This program, in partnership with the EDA, allows NBRC to support business retention and expansion, access to high-speed broadband, critical infrastructure development, and job creation throughout the region.



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