MIDDLEBURY, Vt. – An organization that promotes economic development near the Canadian border in northern New England and upstate New York is expanding the areas eligible to receive the assistance, U.S. Sen. Patrick Leahy said Thursday during an event in Middlebury.

In Vermont, the Northern Border Regional Commission previously operated only in the state’s six northernmost counties. It is also expanding to two additional counties in New Hampshire and a number of counties in New York.

Leahy included the expansion into all of Vermont in the 2018 farm bill, which reauthorized the program across New York, Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine for five more years. Leahy said the commission has $25 million in fiscal 2019 for eligible projects in the four states.

The commission was created by Congress in 2008 based on the model of the Appalachian Regional Commission to focus on economically challenged areas along the U.S.-Canadian border. It was first funded in 2010.

Officials in the four states say the Northern Border program has helped create and save hundreds of jobs since it was created almost a decade ago by using relatively small amount of money to generate other investments while encouraging developments in traditionally underserved areas.

In 2017, the Trump Administration proposed eliminating funding for the program.

Applicants include public or nonprofit entities. The grants include those that focus on projects in public, transportation and communication infrastructure. They can also focus on workforce, business and technology development, resources and open space conservation, tourism and recreation and renewable and alternative energy.

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