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SeVEDS 2016 Town Meeting Summary

Posted March 22, 2016 / Jodi Clark

SeVEDS 2016 Town Meeting Summary

Town Meeting season was a time of visiting many of the communities SeVEDS work is is impacting. Being a regional initiative, we strive to share the progress of our work with the municipalities we are serving. Southeastern Vermont Economic Development Strategies (SeVEDS) petitioned for support requests at Town Meetings in 9 Southeastern Vermont towns this year: Dover, Wilmington, Rockingham, Londonderry, Brattleboro, Marlboro, Westminster, Vernon, and Putney. The visits to these towns also provided us the opportunity to connect directly with these communities to share our progress and answer questions.

Kristin Mehalick, SeVEDS Project Manager shared that, “This was the first year that SeVEDS petitioned in this way.  It was an exciting opportunity to be part of the first team to visit each of the nine towns in support of the inclusion of an article on the Town Meeting Warnings. We look forward to continuing this kind of interaction to help further inform the communities about our work and how it relates to their town.  We appreciate the support of the voters for our initiatives and the increasing engagement from the community members.  We are now seeing increased interest in what we are doing and interest to be part of that work from community members in different municipalities.”

For the fourth year in a row SeVEDS, asked voters in the region’s towns to support the regional effort at a $3 per person calculation, and for the first time, human resources were dedicated to the petitioning process in  Westminster, Vernon and Marlboro.  On Town Meeting day the requests in the towns of Rockingham, Westminster, Putney, Vernon, Wilmington, Dover and Marlboro were funded by voters, raising $51,474 to continue to augment and develop the regional workforce initiatives.  Brattleboro Town Meeting Representatives voted on Saturday, March 19th to appropriate $25,000 for funding SeVEDS, bringing the total up to $76,474.  While most towns voted to raise the funding through the municipal tax, in Brattleboro the funding will come from a program income fund established with state and federal funding for economic development.

Municipal support continues to leverage existing state and BDCC financial to support staff execution of the Windham Region CEDS. 2011 and 2012 funding from the region’s municipalities has allowed SeVEDS to fund a Director of Workforce Development, facilitate the formation of the Six College Collaborative, launch a new Internship Program, and develop a young professional networking group.

SeVEDS ensures that it maintains a regionally-based board.  They also seek funding from both public and private funders with the majority being private regional funders. The regional investment in southeastern Vermont shows how multiple municipalities have demonstrated their commitment to growing the regional economy and workforce. Reversing the declining population and workforce of the Windham Region is beyond the capacity of any one or two towns alone. Reversing the declining population and workforce of the Windham Region is beyond the capacity of any one or two towns alone.

With municipal support, SeVEDS has been able to connect extensive labor market research and a Windham County Hiring Inventory to career awareness and readiness programming across Windham County high schools, bringing a highly contextualized and uniquely relevant curricula that will best prepare students to enter the regional economy.