For Immediate Release:
July 21, 2015
Patricia Moulton Adam Grinold
Secretary, Agency of Commerce Executive Director
and Community Development Brattleboro Development Credit Corporation
(802) 828-5204 (802) 257-7731
Windham County Economic Development Program Re-Launched
BRATTLEBORO, Vt. – The Agency of Commerce and Community Development (ACCD) and the Windham County Advisory Council announced today that the new and improved Windham County Economic Development Program (WCEDP) is up and running.
Following the announcement of the first round of grants last December, Governor Shumlin called for ACCD to work with regional and local partners to redesign the program to ensure more regional input and participation and a more efficient program that ensures job creation and economic transformation in the region.
ACCD has worked closely for several months with regional partners including the Brattleboro Development Credit Corporation (BDCC), SeVEDS, Windham Regional Commission (WRC), several municipal representatives, and the Vermont SBDC and VEDA to redesign the program.
“This redesign is responsive to suggestions from the region, said Pat Moulton, Secretary of ACCD. “The new process enables funding to work at the speed of business and be targeted at transformative investments in the local economy.”
“Our region has invested in understanding our local economy and has built the road map to direct our limited resources toward objectives that will allow for sustained, incremental growth,” said Adam Grinold, Executive Director of BDCC. “We are excited to have been given the opportunity to work with ACCD to explore ways to help improve the WCEDP for the upcoming reboot. We are pleased with and proud of the recent regional collaboration that has gone into this reboot.”
Program funds will now be made available for projects that advance the regional comprehensive economic development strategy through:
- Direct loans to businesses, offering special rates and terms, underwritten and administered by VEDA. Loan applications will be submitted directly to VEDA on a continual basis and will require only approval by ACCD based on the underwriting recommendation by VEDA.
- Competitive grants to organizations responding to an annual Request for Proposals that will define eligible applicants and the types of projects to be funded each year. These grants will be scored on a competitive basis, prioritized by VEPC, with final approval by the Governor.
- Incentives, in the form of grants or loans, which are part of “rapid response” incentive packages offered by the state, region, and municipalities for the retention and creation of jobs by regional employers or new employers.
- Non-competitive grants by ACCD to partners that will market and help administer the program.
ACCD has granted program funds to BDCC and SBDC to provide better regional marketing of the program, ensure coordination and collaboration among applicants, ensure applicants are aware of and leverage other funds, to provide local technical assistance including workshops for potential applicants, and provide local post-award grants management and monitoring.
Loan and competitive grant applicants are required to file a Letter of Intent to Apply which must be approved before a full application is submitted. Mandatory Letter of Intent to Apply and Application workshops, plus one-on-one technical assistance will be offered in the region to ensure applicants understand the program intent and requirements. The schedule of workshops and contact information for technical assistance is available on the program website: GoWndham.Vermont.gov.
Loans available to businesses offer very competitive rates at 2% fixed for the term of the loan, with 60% of the project eligible for financing (90% if the project meets the definition for projects eligible under VEDA’s Entrepreneurial Loan Fund), and minimal fees. Maximum loan amount is $350,000.
Key to the redesign was the local creation of the Windham County Advisory Council consisting of BDCC, SeVEDS, ACCD, SBDC, WRC, and towns with downtown designations – Brattleboro, Wilmington, and Rockingham – plus Vernon. The Council provides local and regional input and advice to ACCD on program development, reviews Letters of Intent to Apply, and provides annual program review to suggest ways to improve and redirect the program, including appropriate projects in the annual RFP for competitive grants.
The purpose of the WCEDP is to promote economic development in Windham County by providing funds to stimulate job creation through business start-up, expansion, or relocation, encourage entrepreneurial activity, and strengthen the economic development infrastructure to ensure a strong foundation for transformational economic activity. The primary focus is private sector job creation and retention, and direct support of entrepreneurial activities, followed by support of economic development systems and activities that encourage an entrepreneurial, innovation and business start-up environment and culture.
The program funds were made available through the settlement that Gov. Shumlin and his team negotiated in 2013 regarding the closure of the Entergy VY plant in Vernon, which included, among other considerations, that Entergy would provide $10 million over five years to the State of Vermont “to promote economic development in Windham County.” The funds are administered by the Agency of Commerce and Community Development (ACCD) in cooperation with the Windham County Advisory Council.