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Through Grants, Bill Would Invest In Working Landscape



(Host) Turning milk into cheese, apples into cider and trees into furniture are some of the key ways to keeping Vermont's working landscape vital in the future.

That's the idea behind a bill introduced on Wednesday by a group of lawmakers and it's a plan that's strongly supported by the Vermont Working Landscape Partnership.

The bill calls for an initial appropriation of $3 million to finance new loans and grants to small entrepreneurs who are trying to add value to raw materials harvested in Vermont.

Paul Costello is a spokesperson for the Partnership.

(Costello) "A lot of the investment is going to be grants and equity. It's going to be looking at that slaughterhouse and the business case of that slaughterhouse and what they need in terms of equity to leverage private sector development. It's going to be start up grants that will help entrepreneurs who are ready to take risks but have a low return or who lack built equity get started in their businesses that are on the farm or in the forest."

(Host) And Costello would like to eventually increase funding for the program to $15 million a year.

(Costello) "We're interested in doing this at a scale that will signal to businesses in Vermont a different set of opportunities and signal businesses out of Vermont that Vermont is the place to go."

(Host) The Vermont Woodlands Association says one example of the problem the bill hopes to address is that lumber cut from Vermont sugar maples is often sent to Canada for processing.

With the passage of the bill, they say this is work that could be done in Vermont.