Keeping It Local: NEK to offer more jobs

A big concern for youth looking to stay in Vermont is finding a job. One initiative seeks to change this problem by revitalizing the state’s Northeast Kingdom.
Called the Northeast Kingdom Economic Development Initiative, this project consists of five projects to bring money and economic success to this region of the state.
A federal fund called EB-5 allows foreigners to invest $500,000 to $1 million in exchange for the method of providing a green card.
Five projects are currently being planned and completed: renovations to Jay Peak Resort; the construction of a forty-acre research campus called AnC BIO and a Menck Window Systems manufacturing facility in Newport, Vt.; construction of a Newport Marina Hotel & Conference
Center in Newport; a Newport city block will be transformed into commercial and residential space; and renovations to Burke Mountain Ski Resort.
Bill Stenger, president and chief executive officer of Jay Peak, has raised more than $600 million for the projects and spoke of the recent developments this summer.
“There is a tremendous amount of work going on here at Jay Peak, which is the conclusion of what we call the stateside hotel project,” Stenger said. “We started that project in April and will open in December which is a rather remarkable construction cycle.
Stenger said the lodge and townhouse project is coming along very well and is scheduled to be completed this fall.
“Our business level at Jay Peak this summer is continuing to grow,” he said. “All of that is very positive here.”
The AMC bio project is continuing to raise funds and meet with the design team and architects.
“That project is an extremely complicated architectural project because of the sophistication of all the elements that go into an FDA approved facility, but we’ve made great progress,” Stenger said. “We hope to be underway with some inground work by late fall and be in full construction next summer.”
In the Newport area, Stenger said he has signed a purchase and sale agreement for the main street renaissance block and expects to get into construction next summer.
The waterfront hotel will not be in Stenger’s possession until January 2016 because of the existing leases that are there, but they are moving forward with the land acquisition.
In terms of job creation, Stenger said that the projects will make around 2,500 direct jobs available, but also there will be indirect jobs created as a result of these programs.
“For instance, the school district in Newport that has been seeing a declining student population and has been struggling with their budgets,” Stenger said. “They are looking at some stabilization and maybe even some growth in the student population as a result of these projects.”
Stenger believes that the wide range of job types will help a lot of people in Vermont, young and old.
“Our hope is obviously that the job creation we’re talking about is going to have a positive impact on the whole community,” he said. “And provide a host of different kinds of jobs both permanent and part time for kids and young adults that live and work here now.”
An outline of the projects:
PROJECT: Jay Peak Resort
Timeline- 2013 through 2015
Total Investment- $170 million
Highlights- West Bowl: New lifts and trails; hotel complex; skier services facilities; Stateside: 100 dwellings and an 84-unit hotel; new lift construction; Medical Center. The Center will serve the local communities of Jay, Troy, North Troy, Westfield, Lowell, Montgomery and Montgomery Center. It will also be a resource for the 1,000 staff members of Jay Peak and their families, and the guests of Jay Peak, which will reach up to 4,000 overnight visitors by 2014.
PROJECT: AnC BIO. Newport, VT
Timeline- 2013 through 2014
Total Investment- $104 million
Highlights- A forty-acre research campus overlooking Lake Memphremagog. Fundraising is fully underway and manufacturing and distribution from the 90,000-square foot facility is scheduled for spring of 2013.
A 75,000-square foot Research Tower is scheduled to be built on the campus in the fall of 2013.
The Research Tower will be an F.D.A.- approved facility designed to develop and manufacture
artificial organs using patented hybrid bio-digital technology.
PROJECT: Menck Window Systems manufacturing facility. Newport, VT
Timeline- Fourth quarter of 2013 and first quarter of 2014.
Total Investment- $20 million
Highlights- The Menck company will occupy 40,000-square feet on the AnC BIO campus. Renowned for its high quality, energy efficient wood built windows for commercial and residential purposes, this family owned 130-year old company will establish a U.S. base that will
employ over 140 people. The Menck facility will produce a product that fits Vermont’s energy efficient, renewable resource strategy and environmental brand. This company will be set up for operation in the fourth quarter of 2013 and first quarter of 2014.
Rolf Menck is the President of Menck Window Manufacturing. Bodo Lisenfeld, a German-born US resident and international businessman, was instrumental in bringing Menck Windows to Vermont.
PROJECT: Newport Marina Hotel & Conference Center. Newport, VT
Timeline- 2014 and 2015
Total Investment- $100 million
Highlights- This 150-unit hotel will be located at the Waterfront Plaza location. The facility will have restaurants, retail and conference facilities, a marina and boardwalk from which the public will be able to access the facility. It will be able to welcome up to 600 guests in the 150 suites.
The Conference Center will be able to accommodate events with up to 600 participants as well.
PROJECT: Renaissance Block. Main Street; Newport, VT
Timeline- 2013 through 2014
Total Investment- $70 million
Highlights- The Newport city block currently known as the Spates Block, located adjacent to the Orleans County Courthouse, will be acquired and a new facility will be constructed in its place.
Commercial facilities will occupy the first two levels with residential facilities on the top four floors.
With the Newport Marina Hotel and the Renaissance Block constructed, an attractive pedestrian experience will be created from the Eastside Restaurant site, along the waterfront to the
Gateway Building and up to Main Street, and down and back to the Newport Hotel Marina site.
This two facilities’ design will provide anchors for Newport’s revitalization and create a downtown experience that will blend the beauty of Lake Memphremagog and the vibrancy of a creative retail community along Main Street.
PROJECT: The Newport Airport.
Coventry, VT
Timeline- 2013 through 2014
Total Investment- $20 million
Highlights- With the recreational, manufacturing and other economic development projects ongoing within the community, the importance of transportation has intensified. The Newport
Airport has been earmarked for expansion and development. The State-owned Fixed Base Operation (FBO) has been acquired by Jay Peak owners Ariel Quiros and Bill Stenger.
Lakeview Aviation, owned by Dan Gauvin, will remain as a valued employee and continue to provide the excellent service Newport is known for.
The new ownership team will however:
· Expand the pilot and passenger terminal.
· Expand hanger space for regional passenger service aircraft.
· Construct a bonded warehouse and Free Trade Zone facility.
· Expand flight school offerings to winter flight and jet training.
· Recruit a new private aviation light plane manufacturing and repair facility.
PROJECT: Burke Mountain Resort
Timeline- 2013 through 2015
Total Investment- $108 million
Highlights- Burke Mountain is receiving over $1 million of snowmaking upgrades for the upcoming season. The most important addition Burke Mountain and its region needs is onmountain accommodations. The new ownership company will construct over the next three years four mountain lodge facilities. (Each will look much like the Tram Haus Lodge at Jay Peak.) Two will be built just below the mid-Burke detachable quad. A third at the site of the current mid-Burke Lodge and the last at the base area near the Tamarack Grill.
Nat Rudarakanchana of vtdigger.org and VBM editor Tim McQuiston contributed to this report.