Tiny Hardwick, Vermont wins $3 million to revitalize rural economy. Will restore and reuse historic barn as business accelerator

The U.S. Department of Commerce‘s Economic Development Administration (EDA) recently awarded a $3 million grant to the town of Hardwick, Vermont, to restore the historic Yellow Barn Accelerator facility and construct a new building for the local agricultural and forestry industries.

The EDA grant will provide opportunities to leverage the emerging food tourism sector and will be matched with $4.8 million in state and local funds.

“(we champion) the farmers and food manufacturers who drive our country’s agricultural economy,” said U.S. Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross.

In addition to providing current food and forestry tenants with production and storage space, the project will include a visitors center program that will enable businesses to capitalize on food tourism opportunities,” he added.

This project is essential to developing the agricultural economy in Vermont,” said Dana Gartzke, Performing the Delegated Duties of the Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Economic Development.

This grant will provide the Yellow Barn Accelerator with critical infrastructure, such as parking, commercial loading, and utilities, needed to support tenants working to bring Vermont products to market,” she continued.

This is a transformative investment in the Yellow Barn project that promises to be a game-changer for business activity in the Northeast Kingdom,” said Senator Patrick Leahy, Vice Chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee.

Vermont has a culture of entrepreneurial activity, particularly around local food. Through this federal grant more businesses will be able to scale up their production, strengthening the local economy in the Hardwick area,” he explained.

Back on April 23, 2020, Hardwick’s Town Manager, Shaun Fielder, signed a Financial Award Letter from the Economic Development Administration (EDA) for a $3 million investment in the Hardwick Yellow Barn Accelerator Project. The EDA investment is funded under its Public Works Program of the Public Works and Economic Development Act of 1965.

The award is the latest development in a three-year effort to establish a best-in-class production space for new and expanding businesses. The project – called “Yellow Barn” for short – will consist of a new multi-purpose accelerator alongside an adaptive reuse of the historic yellow barn, which is already an iconic presence along the Route 15 gateway to downtown Hardwick.

The Town of Hardwick owns the Yellow Barn. The Center for an Agricultural Economy (CAE) will provide operational oversight. Yellow Barn will have two anchor tenants: The Cellars at Jasper Hill, who will establish a cheese aging facility in the new structure, and Cabot, who will open a retail store in the historic Yellow Barn.

The unique public-private partnership is already supported by a mix of state, federal, and private grants and loans, including a $900,000 grant from the Vermont Community Development Program, a $2.1 million loan from Vermont Economic Development Authority, and a $80,000 grant from the Preservation Trust of Vermont.

Today’s signing occurred against a backdrop of unprecedented disruption and uncertainty caused by the COVID 19 pandemic,” noted Fielder. “Yet this signing also signals our commitment to keeping this project as originally envisioned on target as it will be a critical component in our region’s economic recovery.

The Yellow Barn Project Team is a public-private collaboration among Hardwick municipal officials, the CAE, Northeastern Vermont Development Association (NVDA), Vermont Agency of Commerce and Community Development, Northern Forest Center, Vermont Economic Development Authority, and local business leaders. They have been working with Coe + Coe Architects. The Northeast Kingdom Development Corporation, a non-profit economic development entity, will act as fiscal agent for the facility.

Photo of the Yellow Bar Accelerator courtesy of NVDA.

See Yellow Barn website.

See EDA website.

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