The Northeast Kingdom Enterprise Collaborative was formed in 1996 to find ways to collaborate on economic development and community development issues in Orleans, Essex and Caledonia Counties of Vermont, an area known as the Northeast Kingdom. Members include regional development organizations, educators, social service and employment agencies, local government officials, business people, nonprofit organizations, health care providers and conservation organizations.
In November of 1999, United States Senator Patrick Leahy’s office identified an opportunity within USDA–Rural Development to have the Northeast Kingdom apply for Rural Economic Area Partnership (REAP) designation. REAP designation requires creation of a comprehensive, long term economic and community development plan. In return, designated REAP areas receive special access to Rural Development and other federal funding opportunities. In December of 1999, the Northeast Kingdom Enterprise Collaborative decided to pursue REAP designation and committed to developing the required plan. On November 9, 2000, Senator Patrick Leahy informed the Collaborative that its REAP designation was approved. The designation has been extended multiple times since then and the plan re-developed roughly every five years.