ST. JOHNSBURY, VT – July 24, 2008 – (RealEstateRama) — Governor Jim Douglas has announced the award of more than $1 million in community development grants to five communities that will create new jobs by helping an employer lower their energy costs; rehabilitate and build new affordable housing; and help low-income Vermonters heat their homes this winter.
At a ceremony at Weidmann Electrical Technology Inc. Thursday the governor announced that the largest Vermont Community Development Program award – $460,000 – will help St. Johnsbury develop, build, and lease a high voltage substation to supply the company with lower cost electric power.
“As a result WETI will lower its overall electrical costs, create 12 jobs, and further secure its future in St. Johnsbury,” Douglas said. “This is an investment in a company and jobs that are critical to this area and this state.”
The grant to the town will be sub-granted to the St. Johnsbury Development Fund, which will own the substation and lease it to Weidmann, a worldwide manufacturer and fabricator of high voltage electrical insulation that employs roughly 250 people.
“This direct power transmission will give WETI access to ‘rate 5 power’, approximately a $250,000 annual savings to the company,” Douglas said. “Subsequently that will make the site more attractive for future investment by its parent company.”
“We are very grateful to the state and Governor Douglas for this investment,” said WETI Vice President and General Manager John Goodrich. “This company has been committed to the St. Johnsbury community for roughly 40 years, and this shows the state is committed to our success.”
In addition, the Town of Colchester is receiving $250,000 that will be loaned to Housing Vermont and the Champlain Housing Trust to construct 42 new apartments on Mallet’s Bay Avenue.
Of the 42 homes, 36 will be affordable for low and moderate income Vermonters and six of the homes will be rented at market rates in order to encourage a mixed-income neighborhood. The majority of the homes will be townhouse style with laundry hook-ups and a small deck, while 10 of the homes will be one-story flats so that five of the homes are wheelchair accessible.
“These apartments will help relieve the housing shortage, particularly affordable housing, that both Chittenden County and our state face,” Douglas said.
Other Vermont Community Development Program grants include $152,000 that will be used to make a deferred loan to Rockingham Area Community Land Trust (RACLT) to rehabilitate 28 units of affordable rental housing owned by RACLT in Bellows Falls; $15,000 to help the Town of St. Johnsbury bring its Community Center to into compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act; and $30,000 to conduct a senior housing feasibility study in East Montpelier.
Finally, a $100,000 grant to the City of Rutland will be used to help a small business that will turn scrap wood into firewood for low-income residents.
That money will help establish Wood Works, a micro-enterprise that turns felled trees on powerline corridors into useable wood products such as firewood that will be made available to low to moderate income households.
“Wood Works also plans on providing job training, a livable wage, and business and personal skills to as many as 12 underemployed citizens in Rutland County,” Douglas said. “And they’ll do this while helping their neighbors cope with the high cost of heating fuel this winter.”
He also praised the dedication of community leaders and volunteers who work as partners with the State of Vermont to support and improve the quality of life for Vermonters.
“These grants are so important because they will leverage nearly $16.4 million in other resources and help address critical needs in these communities,” Douglas said.
The Vermont Agency of Commerce and Community Development awards the competitive grants, based on recommendations of the Vermont Community Development Board and approval of Secretary Kevin Dorn.
For information about the Vermont Community Development Program, please see the Agency of Commerce and Community Development website at: http://www.dhca.state.vt.us/VCDP/index.htm