Progress Continues on Ambitious Northeast Kingdom Economic Development Initiative

September 13, 2013 (Jay, VT)- Jay Peak Resort President Bill Stenger today addressed members of the media and town officials from throughout the Northeast Kingdom on the progress of the ambitious plan he announced close to a year ago. Last September Stenger, along with his partner Ariel Quiros, stood before a packed conference center to announce the Northeast Kingdom Economic Development Initiative. N-KEDI, as it’s come to be known, is a $500 million, multi-year venture believed to be the largest of its kind in Vermont’s history.

“We’ve come a long way from where we were a year ago,” said Stenger. “And we still have a lot of work to do, but we’ve made significant progress on several of the projects and there is tremendous positive momentum in the marketplace.”

Stenger and a delegation of state officials will be in China to continue to raise funds for the initiative on September 27th, the one-year anniversary of the announcement.

The projects Stenger referred to include: an expansion of Jay Peak’s trail system and more base development; a new biotechnology campus in Newport; construction of a hotel, conference center and marina on the shores Lake Memphremagog; the redevelopment of an entire city block on Main Street in downtown Newport; hangar and facility construction as well as the creation of a Free Trade Zone at the Newport Airport; and the building of four new base lodges and hotels at Burke Mountain Resort.

Stenger said Jay Peak has been a hub of activity since May when construction began on the new Stateside Hotel, base lodge and rental center along with more than 100 new mountain cottages, a wedding and events facility, and a brand-new entrance for the resort. Progress on the other projects has focused primarily on funding, permitting and completing architectural plans. All of the projects are being funded through the federal EB-5 program that allows foreign capital to flow into U.S. projects provided those projects create jobs.

Stenger said one project from last fall’s list is not progressing forward. Menck Windows, which he had planned on housing in the other half of the old Bogner plant that will be the home of the AnC Bio facility, was dropped from consideration when he learned that the plant would not be able to create enough jobs to meet the EB-5 requirements.  

“This past summer Menck began the process of upgrading its manufacturing facility in Hamburg, Germany and concluded that more and more of the jobs formerly performed by employees were being replaced by high-tech machinery,” said Stenger. “Obviously we’re disappointed by this development. When we invited Menck to be a part of N-KEDI they were a perfect fit: a family-owned business using state-of-art technology to make a great, energy-efficient product. But in the past 12 months, that technology has evolved to such a point that the company was not going to need the number of employees it had originally thought it would a year ago, and the EB-5 program is, at its heart, a job-creation program. If we cannot create the required number of jobs, then a project should not move forward.”

Stenger added that an EB-5 project’s job-creation numbers are evaluated multiple times at various stages of a project’s evolution as he ultimately has to ask the state for a Memorandum of Understanding based on those figures. He recently concluded the Menck project could not go forward and did not seek an MOU.   

Stenger went on to say that he had already started looking for a project to replace Menck and that the other five projects comprising N-KEDI are progressing well. Eighty percent of the funding for the AnC Bio project has been secured and construction will begin this spring. A spring ground-breaking is also scheduled for the first hotel and conference at Burke Mountain.

“AnC Bio and Burke will begin construction this May,” continued Stenger. “We’ve signed the purchase-and-sale agreement on the Renaissance Block and will begin taking down the old (Newport) city block this spring. And we just put a non-refundable deposit check down on the site where the marina hotel will be constructed. When all of these projects are completed over the next three to five years, the economy of the Northeast Kingdom will be forever improved.”

Stenger, along with Vermont Governor Peter Shumlin and a state delegation, leave for China in 10 days to continue fundraising efforts for the Kingdom initiative. 

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