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Working Lands grants on offer to farmers, foresters

VERMONT — The Working Lands Enterprise Board (WLEB) is making available approximately $550,000 in grants to fund forestry and agriculture projects that enhance Vermont’s communities, economy and culture.
The applicant guide can be found online at http://workinglands.vermont.gov/apply/rfp. Applicant Information Sessions are scheduled for Oct. 9 and 14.
“Vermont’s Working Landscape is vital to our economy, and our way of life. Not only does it attract tourism, recreation, and businesses, it serves as a foundation for our agriculture and forest products sectors,” said Chuck Ross, Vermont secretary of agriculture. “Investing in the Working Landscape helps ensure Vermonters are able to enjoy Vermont’s farms and forests, for generations to come.”
“Vermont’s forests are a fundamental part of our state’s working landscapes. Investing in forest businesses provides jobs and a local, reliable source of wood products for a wide range of valuable uses from flooring and furniture to construction and energy,” said Department of Forests, Parks & Recreation Commissioner Michael Snyder.
The WLEB began operations in August 2012 and has awarded over $3 million in grant funds to 110 grantees, leveraging an additional $4.3 million of matching and outside funds.
Again this year, $30,000 of Local Food Market Development (LFMD) grant funds will be made available through the Working Lands grant process. The focus of LFMD funding is to increase Vermont producers’ access to institutional and wholesale markets, promote consumption of local food, and encourage scaling up through new market development opportunities across the state.
A change to this year’s application will be that all Business Investment applicants will be required to include a business plan. Applicants who have never written a business plan before are invited to use the online template at http://workinglands.vermont.gov/apply/ta/tools.
The two investment areas are as follows:
1. Business Investments, $5,000-$50,000. Letters of intent are due Nov. 6 at noon. Projects may include, but are not limited to: Infrastructure (project-specific planning, permitting, and/or engineering/architectural plans; and/or building and equipment costs); Marketing (accessing new markets and securing new customers); Research and Development (testing new systems or technologies or developing innovative solutions).
2. Service Provider Investment, $15,000-$75,000. Letters of intent are due Dec. 4 at noon. Projects should show direct impacts on Vermont Working Lands businesses. Types of technical assistance provided may include: Market Development, marketing plans and sales; Business and Financial Planning; Succession Planning; Access to Capital; Manufacturing Efficiencies or Process Flow.
For details on the Oct. 9 and 14 Applicant Information Sessions, go to http://workinglands.vermont.gov/node/734. Register at https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/rt/2574274848696658434.

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