GILMAN — Nearly $400,000 in federal dollars have been awarded to the Northeast Kingdom Development Corporation (NEKDC) to invest in power infrastructure at the former Gilman Paper Mill site, to ready the industrial property to entice more companies to move there and start operations.

The grant was announced through Sen. Patrick Leahy’s office (D-Vermont) as a major economic development project to support Essex County.

According to a news release issued Thursday, Leahy, the Vice Chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, authored a partnership between the Northern Border Regional Commission and the U.S. Economic Development Administration which resulted in the agencies awarding $390,130 to the Northeast Kingdom Development Corp.

The announcement from Leahy’s office stated that, “The award to the Northeast Kingdom Development Corporation will provide funding to build out electrical infrastructure and power distribution at the former Gilman Paper Mill site in Gilman, Vt.. The infrastructure will allow commercial entities to develop on the site, creating jobs regionally in Vermont and New Hampshire.

Andrea Brochu, Director of Economic Development of NCIC, said this week that “NCIC is working to collaborate with multiple additional funding partners to secure funding to move this project to fruition.”

On Friday, Brochu said of the Gilman project, “The total project budget is just over $800 thousand. The grant award is $390,130, leaving the project short, which we are working with other partners to put together a comprehensive funding package.”

“The build-out of the hydro power distribution will provide power connection to the Bag Mill building, which is where future businesses will be able to fit-up for manufacturing,” explained Brochu.

Richard Isabelle, president of the NEK Development Corporation NEK Development Corporation said of the funding, “The project develops opportunity for tenancy of multiple businesses within the facilities and on additional acreage. It significantly lowers the barrier to entry and paves the way for bringing jobs back to Gilman, a village that was historically a major employment center.”

According to the grant information for the Gilman site, “The NEKDC Gilman Mill Site Revitalization Initiative will establish an electrical infrastructure and power distribution system to strategic locations for commercial businesses on the mill site. The project is part of multiple investments geared toward transformational results relative to community economic revitalization and funding is critical to making the reuse of the paper mill site in Gilman, VT possible and increase the ability of the two-state region to attract new opportunities. Gilman VT is a border town that neighbors Dalton, NH.”

“When completed, the project will increase the ability of the two-state region, to attract new opportunities. The project is part of multiple investments geared toward transformational results relative to community economic revitalization,” the grant information goes on.

According to information furnished through the Northern Community Investment Corporation this week, “Now owned by Ampersand Gilman Biomass, LLC (AGB), the site has been cleaned up and its hydro-generation assets are fully operational and generating clean power. NBRC funding will enable the construction of the project which consists of hard infrastructure; such as cabling and wiring, conduits, transformers, Motor Control Center(s) (MCC) upgrades, assembly and installation, and project management, administration and overall project oversight.”

“Additionally business growth at the Gilman Mill site will draw from the skilled workforce from both northern Vermont and New Hampshire,” the grant information states. “Research shows that 1 job in a wood mill equals 3-4 jobs additional harvesting and trucking. Therefore creating additional jobs beyond those at the Gilman Mill site and increasing taxable income annually within a 50 mile radius.”

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