Entergy fund group plots strategy for money
BRATTLEBORO --The town's Entergy Settlement Funds Working Group met Thursday to begin plotting Brattleboro's strategy for accessing the Windham County Economic Development Entergy Settlement Fund.
The Windham County Economic Development Entergy Settlement Fund is a $10 million fund that the state is going to receive over five years from Entergy Vermont Yankee following the closing of the nuclear power plant in Vernon.
The Selectboard formed the Entergy Settlement Funds Working Group to make sure the town was prepared to apply for the funds and support other projects.
The committee is trying to determine how the town will decide when to apply for the money.
It also is going to come up with a scoring system for offering support for non-profit, or for-profit, organizations that are applying for their own projects.
"We have two roles," Planning Director Rod Francis said. "We have to decide how the town would apply for the grants and how the town would demonstrate support for project applicants."
Francis said he had some discussions with Agency of Commerce and Community Development Secretary Pat Moulton about what the town's role would be in supporting projects that originate outside of the municipal center.
When organizations or business owners apply for state money through other business development sources the town does play a role in supporting projects.
Francis said he expects the town to also have a hand in supporting projects through the Entergy fund.
One of the charges of the committee is to come up with a system for evaluating and grading those projects, though Francis said the Town Plan would be a guiding document for most of the decisions made about the Entergy funds.
"We need to propose a range of programmatic changes and initiatives to take advantage of the funds," Francis said.
He said the town would use the Economic Development chapter of the Town Plan to guide the town's scoring sheet when considering projects that might receive funding under the Entergy fund.
The state will be receiving $2 million each year, for five years, from Entergy, though when Moulton was in town earlier this month she said the town was not necessarily committed to distributing all of the money in the year the state receives it.
The state said any business venture in Windham County that creates jobs can apply for the funding.
The Agency of Commerce and Community Development, which will be making the decisions on the fund, has not yet released the applications and a number of questions remain about how the money will be dispersed and how the state will make its decisions about projects.
The state is also still deciding how the money will be divided up between grants and loans.
The agency said the applications will be available within the next few weeks, and once the applications are released, the first round of grants and loans will be released within 60 days.
The Entergy Settlement Funds Working Group will have to make some of its decision soon if the town is going to be ready for the first round of applications.
Francis said the Selectboard will likely have a role in any decisions that the working group makes.
Francis said Brattleboro will feel the greatest impact from the closing of Vermont Yankee, and he said the town should be well positioned to be in contention for some of the Entergy money.
Francis said Entergy has been a big supporter of the Brattleboro social service organizations that serve people from throughout Windham County.
Those services will continue to be in demand and Francis said the town will need support as Vermont Yankee closes and is decommissioned.
Francis said he expected there to be a lot of competition for the money.
Tom Appel attended the meeting as a representative from Brattleboro Development Credit Corporation.
Howard Weiss-Tisman can be reached at email@example.com or 802-254-2311, ext. 279.
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