Working Lands Enterprise Board Announces $750,000 in Available Investments

Today, the Working Lands Enterprise Board (WLEB) is pleased to announce the opening of this year’s grant cycle and the availability of approximately $750,000 in investments for the 2018 program year. Funds support projects across forestry and agriculture that enhance Vermont’s communities, economy and culture.

“The Working Lands Enterprise Initiative is critical for our Vermont farm and forest economies. The program demonstrates a strong partnership between the public and private sectors, led by the Agency of Agriculture, Food & Markets, Department of Forests, Parks & Recreation, and the Agency of Commerce and Community Development. This is an important use of funds to strengthen our working lands economies here in Vermont,” said Gov. Phil Scott.

“The Working Lands Program is stronger than ever. It's growing the Vermont economy. We are entering our 6th year of this program, with more than $750,000 to invest in farm, food, forestry, and wood product businesses and service providers. If you are a Vt. working lands business or service provider, we encourage you to apply,” said Secretary Anson Tebbetts, Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food & Markets.

There are three types of grants Vermont business can apply for. Links to the requests for proposals, applications and deadlines can be found online athttp://workinglands.vermont.gov/apply/rfp.Recorded Informational videos are posted athttp://workinglands.vermont.gov/video for 24/7 viewing.

This year, the Business Grant Letter of Intent period is open from October 3, 2017 – November 7, 2017. Business Grants over $20,000 will be analyzed for demonstration of supply chain or industry impacts.

Again in FY2017, $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.

The investment areas are as follows:

1. Business Grants: $5,000 - $50,000

RFP AVAILABLE: 10/3/17
LETTER OF INTENT DUE: 11/7/17 at 4pm
APPLICANT NOTIFICATION OF ACCEPTANCE/DENIAL OF LETTER OF INTENT: Late December 2017
INVITED FULL APPLICATION DUE: 2/9/18 at 4pm
APPLICANT NOTIFICATION: Late March 2018
ESTIMATED PROJECT START DATE: After April 2018

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); and Research and Development (testing new systems or technologies or developing innovative solutions).

2. Service Provider Grants: $5,000 - $20,000

RFP AVAILABLE: 10/31/17
LETTER OF INTENT DUE: 12/8/17 at 4pm
APPLICANT NOTIFICATION OF ACCEPTANCE/DENIAL OF LETTER OF INTENT: Late January 2018
INVITED FULL APPLICATION DUE: 3/7/18 at 4pm
APPLICANT NOTIFICATION: Late April 2018
ESTIMATED PROJECT START DATE: After May 2018

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; research and development; and/or pilot programs.

3. Service Provider Partnership Pilot: Up to $250,000 for Multi-Year Projects

RFP AVAILABLE: Early November 2017

New this year, the Working Lands Enterprise Initiative is seeking proposals from technical assistance providers who deliver fundamental services to Vermont’s working lands businesses. To become a pre-qualified partner, applicants must demonstrate significant prior experience and must provide services in the pre-established priority areas listed below. Becoming a pre-qualified partner does not guarantee any level of funding. Specific scopes of work will be identified by the Working Lands Enterprise Board and negotiated with pre-qualified partners. Priorities of Funding include:

  •  Business Assistance and Capital Readiness
  • Intergenerational transfer and land access, including/especially for new/beginning farmers
  • Beginning farmer/journey farmer training (start-up and pre-farm viability enterprises)
  • Wholesale readiness and scaling up, including assistance complying with third-party audit programs
  • Nonprofit governance, systems improvements and capacity building
  • Coordinating, advising about access to capital from a variety of sources within the capital continuum

###

The Working Lands Enterprise Initiative, (Act 142), is administered by the Agency of Agriculture, Food and Markets in partnership with the Vermont Department of Forests, Parks & Recreation and the Vermont Agency of Commerce and Community Development.  The Working Lands funds are administered by the Vermont Working Lands Enterprise Board (WLEB), an impact investment organization whose mission is to grow the economies, cultures, and communities of Vermont’s working landscape by making essential, catalytic investments in critical leverage points of the Vermont farm and forest economy, from individual enterprises to industry sectors.

About the Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food, and Markets: VAAFM facilitates, supports and encourages the growth and viability of agriculture in Vermont while protecting the working landscape, human health, animal health, plant health, consumers and the environment.  www.Agriculture.Vermont.Gov