By Brent Addleman | The Center Square
A bill that would reauthorize a commission to support economic development in rural communities in the Northeast has been reintroduced in Congress.
The Northern Border Regional Commission Reauthorization Act of 2023 calls for extending authorization to support job creation and community development in rural New Hampshire and the Northeast for the next decade.
The legislation filed Wednesday is sponsored by U.S. Sens. Jeanne Shaheen, D-NH; Susan Collins, R-ME; and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-NY. Other sponsors include Sens. Angus King, I-ME; Kristen Gillibrand, D-NY; Peter Welch, D-VT; Maggie Hassan, D-NH; and Bernie Sanders, I-VT.
The legislation, according to the release, would reauthorize the commission for the next decade and focuses on business retention and expansion with investments in public infrastructure and tourism promotion. The bill not only focuses on challenges faced by the rural workforce, but will feature investments in child care, health care, and affordable housing.
“The NBRC is a key economic driver in New Hampshire’s North Country by supporting rural businesses, job creation, and infrastructure projects,” Shaheen said in a statement. “I’ve seen the NBRC’s positive impact in New Hampshire, which is why I’ve consistently fought to support its work – from expanding the reach of the NBRC to Cheshire and Belknap counties to consistently pushing for additional funding.”
The bill, if enacted, would increase funding to $50 million, up from $33 million, in the first five years and then to $60 million over the second half of the 10-year approval, if enacted. It would also add Merrimack County in New Hampshire and Lincoln County in Maine to the list of counties who would be authorized for support under the bill.
The bill would also work to reauthorize the State Capacity Building Grant Program, which would provide investments in high-impact projects such as regional economic and community development programs that would support infrastructure development.
Additionally, the bill would improve climate resilience, expand community development projects opportunities, and funds child care and health care programs, and support housing construction and rehabilitation.
“In the wake of unprecedented economic recovery, it is paramount that we continue to make sure we are not leaving behind out smaller cities and rural neighbors,” Schumer said in a statement. “The Northern Border Regional Commission has played a unique and vital role in expanding economic opportunity across Upstate New York and the Northeast.”