The Brattleboro Development Credit Corporation (BDCC) and the Bennington County Regional Commission’s (BCRC) application to develop a Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy (CEDS) for the Southern Vermont Economic Development Zone has been approved and awarded short term planning funds by the US Department of Commerce’s Economic Development Administration. The project is slated to be completed by late Spring 2019.
“We are pleased to be updating our original, award-winning CEDS and very excited to be including our Bennington County partners going forward,” noted BDCC Executive Director Adam Grinold. “Vermont’s two southernmost counties share a number of demographic, geographic and economic characteristics. This will help in developing a shared understanding throughout Southern Vermont about the most urgent issues affecting economic growth. While we anticipate much of the 2019 CEDS will be implemented regionally, we will look for opportunities for new joint ventures.”
A CEDS is a five year plan designed to bring together the public and private sectors in the creation of an economic roadmap to diversify and strengthen regional economies. The CEDS analyzes the regional economy and serves as a guide for establishing regional goals and objectives, developing and implementing a regional plan of action, and identifying investment priorities and funding sources. A CEDS also provides a benchmark by which a regional economy can evaluate opportunities with other regions in the national economy. The plan is reviewed and updated annually.
The 2014 Windham Region S.M.A.R.T. CEDS received a 2016 award for implementation from the International Economic Development Council in 2016. Putting the action plan into effect as well as developing projects listed within the CEDS are done with private and public sector partners from around the region, our neighbors in border counties, state and federal agencies. To date, cross-regional, entrepreneurial and workforce program developments have been leading BDCC’s staffed implementation efforts. Highlights include a 2015/16 tri-state partnership project with the State of Vermont and the Economic Development Administration to mitigate the impacts of the tri-state job losses resulting from the closure of the Vermont Yankee Power Plant. This project has resulted in the Ecovation Hub, Instig8, and the national release of a best practices for nuclear host communities white paper: When People and Money Leave (and the Plant Stays) – Lessons Learned from the Closure of the Vermont Yankee Power Station: A Tri-Region Experience.
The Southern Vermont Economic Development Zone was created by act of the Vermont Assembly during the 2015 legislative session as a result of continued population and tax receipt decline. It is comprised of the geographic areas served by the Brattleboro Development Credit Corporation and the Bennington County Industrial Corporation. Work has been ongoing since 2015 with a Zone Committee report chaired by Wayne Granquist of Weston, the well attended Southern Vermont Economic Summit last May, and the USDA funded Southern Vermont Economy Project sponsoring training sessions across Windham and Bennington county for economic and workforce development entities.
“In rural economies we almost always find that there are not enough bodies, money or time to sustain the type of effort necessary to change individual economic futures,” explained BDCC Director of Regional Economic Development Strategies Laura Sibilia. “When we have found past successes in our efforts in Southern Vermont it has been because of our ability to collaborate regionally with our neighboring businesses, towns, counties, states and non-profits. And to engage regionally with our state and federal partners. The Southern Vermont Economic Development Zone CEDS is the next evolution of regional cooperation and action.”
BDCC and BCRC have a historical track record of working together in the past including a collaboration across Windham and Bennington on flood recovery projects. A joint CEDS will also allow Southern Vermont to consider pursuing EDA Economic Development District Designation. The work will be guided by their respective strategy development boards; Southeastern Vermont Economic Development Strategies (SeVEDS) in Windham and the Regional Economic Development (RED) effort in Bennington. Both boards are private sector led with intentionally diverse regional participation added from citizens, municipalities and non-profits.
BCRC Assistant Director Bill Colvin said, “We are delighted to be moving forward with a Southern Vermont CEDS in conjunction with our partners in Windham County. We have worked hard in the Bennington Region to build capacity and understanding of how to do regional economic development over the past two years and we sincerely appreciate BDCC and SeVEDS including Bennington County in the next iteration of its already successful CEDS planning and implementation efforts.”
Wednesday November 1st, leadership from SeVEDS and Bennington County’s RED board will be meeting to chart the next 18 months of Southern Vermont CEDS development.
At noon, there will be a celebratory announcement and project kick-off for the Southern Vermont Economic Development Zone CEDS. Representatives from the Vermont federal delegation, the Vermont Agency of Commerce and Community Development and representatives from both Bennington and Windham County delegations will join the two boards and Southern Vermont’s private sector leadership. Vermont ACCD Deputy Secretary Brady will speak on behalf of the administration.
The Brattleboro Development Credit Corporation is a private, nonprofit economic development organization that serves as a catalyst for industrial and commercial growth throughout Southeastern Vermont, including Windham County and the towns of Readsboro, Searsburg, and Weston. BDCC serves as the State of Vermont’s certified Regional Development Corporation (RDC) for the greater Windham County area. BDCC is one of 12 RDCs throughout Vermont. For more information visit: https://brattleborodevelopment.com/
Southeastern Vermont Economic Development Strategies (SeVEDS) is an affiliate of BDCC that grew from a 2008 grassroots effort, initiated by BDCC, to reverse the economic decline of the Windham Region and plan for the economic impacts from the closure of the Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant. In 2014, after multiple years of regional input, education and data gathering, SeVEDS submitted the Windham Region’s federally recognized S.M.A.R.T. Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy for federal approval. For more information visit: www.seveds.com
The Bennington County Regional Commission (BCRC) was created by the seventeen towns and villages it serves and works on behalf of those municipalities to build strong, resilient and sustainable communities, to foster economic prosperity, and to promote a high quality of life for residents of the region. For more information visit www.bcrcvt.org.
The Regional Economic Development Working Group (RED Group) is a volunteer body committed to increasing the shared prosperity and quality of life for the seventeen municipalities in southwestern Vermont. The group has a diverse membership that reflects the varied community, business, workforce, and demographic characteristics of the region. The RED Group focuses on the internal and external economic development issues that affect the Bennington County region as a whole; the regional implications of local economic development issues; the process of regional economic development from local, state, and federal perspectives; and options for future initiatives.