Shawna Peterson, left, is chair of the Eastern Oregon Border Economic Development Board. (Enterprise/File)

ONTARIO – The Eastern Oregon Border Economic Development Board is now taking applications for three grant programs designed to boost workforce training and improve local communities.

The three programs will dispense up to $450,000.

“We are really excited about it,” said Shawna Peterson, border board chair.

 The board was created by the Legislature and aims to spark economic development along a 20-mile corridor of the border with Idaho and includes Malheur County. The board has $5 million from the state for economic development including loans and grants.

Two of the grants – the Education and Work Force Training Grant and the Community Improvement Planning Grant – will provide up to $200,000 for eligible applicants.

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The work force grant is aimed to help local schools and colleges with programs, equipment and building upgrades. A one-to-one match is required.

“That means if they apply for $50,000 from us they need to put in $50,000,” said Peterson.

The planning grant is intended for local governments to help finish master plans along with transportation, airport and park upgrades. The grant can be used as a match with local, state or federal planning funds. The maximum grant for a local government is $200,000.

According information from the border board, the $25,000 Scott Fairley Memorial Edge Grant will be awarded to applicants who can show they will boost economic vitality and “opportunity by way of innovative and creative solutions in the border region.”

The Scott Fairley Memorial Edge Grant, named for a former state economic development official, is open to all residents in the county and schools, businesses, local governments and nonprofit organizations.

Applications can by submitted by mail or email and the application is available in print or online at www.oregon4biz.com/EOBED-BOARD. The deadline is March 31.

Peterson said board members are now visiting with local service groups and government entities to brief them on all three grants.

“The reception has been really good at the presentations we’ve done so far,” said Peterson.

News tip? Contact reporter Pat Caldwell at [email protected]

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