Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack Announces Selection of a Pellet Plant Project to Bring New Jobs to Northern Vermont Funded with Recovery Act Support
At a Town Hall meeting in Burlington, Vermont, USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack announced the selection of Vermont Renewable Energy Company for a USDA Rural Development Business and Industry Loan Guarantee for a $10 million loan given by Community National Bank. The funds will be used to provide essential capital to establish a new pellet processing plant at the former furniture manufacturing facility in Island Pond, Vermont. The funding is provided through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, which was signed into law one year ago tomorrow.
Thirty four high quality wage jobs and over 100 indirect jobs will be created when the Vermont Renewable Energy Company’s proposed pellet plant is at full operation. Many of the workers will come from a skilled workforce in the Northeast Kingdom counties of Essex, Caledonia, and Orleans, Vermont. Many of the prospective employees have been unemployed since the closing of the furniture plant in 2001.
This project ties into Secretary Vilsack’s vision for managing the nation’s forests, including the use of woody biomass as economic incentives to maintain our forests. It will also give the Northeast Kingdom the lift they need for recovery after so many economic downturns.
Representatives from Vermont Renewable Energy, State and local officials from the Northeast Kingdom, and Community National Bank were present for the announcement and met with local media to discuss the progress of the project immediately after the announcement.
Secretary Vilsack was joined by Vermont’s Congressional delegation, Senator Patrick Leahy, Senator Bernie Sanders, and Congressman Peter Welch. The Town Hall meeting, organized by Senator Sanders was open to the public where they heard questions and comments on issues associated with dairy farming, the need for access to broadband, and other agriculture related topics.
Secretary Vilsack shares a laugh with Rich Mansfield, Chief Financial Officer for Vermont Renewable Energy Company, and Patricia Sears of the Newport Renaissance Corporation before Town Meeting event in Burlington.
With standing room only, Vermonters and neighboring state residents packed the Green Mountain Ballroom at the Burlington, VT Hilton on Saturday. The Town Hall meeting was led by Senator Bernie Sanders, and included Secretary Tom Vilsack, and the entire Vermont congressional delegation.
Written by Anita Rios Moore
Public Affairs Specialist