Release Date: Thursday, February 4th 2016
Green Economy Industry Cluster Launches Action Teams
On Wednesday, January 27th, Southeastern Vermont Economic Development Strategies (SeVEDS) and Brattleboro Development Credit Corporation (BDCC) conducted the first meeting of interested stakeholders in the Green Economy Industry Cluster Initiative with the Tri State Region Leadership Team. Three “action teams” are now charged with defining niche market business opportunities that can be acted upon to benefit the region.
The Cluster Initiative is being undertaken as a high priority project from the Windham Region S.M.A.R.T. Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy (CEDS) completed in 2014. A CEDS is a federally approved process and plan for growing a regional economy. The Green Building and Services Sector, Technology Driven Precision Manufacturing and Healthcare were identified as the highest priority sectors for replacing the high skill high wage jobs being lost by the closure of Entergy’s Vermont Nuclear Power Plant. This first Cluster Initiative, funded by BDCC and SeVEDS, The Windham County Economic Development Program and the US. Department of Commerce Economic Development Authority, is due to be completed by November 2016.
The action teams resulting from Wednesday’s meeting, consist of 68 local business and knowledge leaders across the four-county area of Franklin, Cheshire, Windham, and Bennington, who will develop market opportunities identified to-date by lead consultant ViTAL Economy and local partners, BuildingGreen and the Resilient Design Institute, into veritable business cases that will support new job growth.
Participants in Wednesday’s meeting were presented with economic and market research that highlighted the region’s specific challenges, as well as growth markets that the region is well positioned to tap into. For example, population in all four counties studied was lower in 2014 than it was in 2010, compounding the challenge for existing businesses to find qualified workforce and leading some companies to go out of business. Alex Wilson, chair of the cluster explained the region can become “a place where specialized career training takes place to build a skilled workforce in specialized areas. Ultimately increasing the size of the workforce.” Wilson explained that “if we succeed with this project, the region will not only weather the loss of jobs from the closure of Vermont Yankee, but actually grow the workforce in jobs supporting the emerging green economy.”
The 2,200 jobs that currently exist in the green goods and services sector within the region—totaling $238 million in GDP—represent unique assets that can be leveraged to attract more people and companies to the area, according to ViTAL Economy. The national market for green goods and services is estimated to double in the next three years, and given the local concentration of these jobs, as well as the area’s strong culture of green ethics, there is tremendous opportunity for the region to match that growth.
“This is a national and global opportunity to take the real strengths of the region and transform this place,” said Frank Knott of ViTAL Economy. “There is very significant breadth and depth of knowledge about sustainability and resilience here.”
Members of the community action teams will be exploring business cases for the following opportunity areas in pursuing a green economy: creating a Knowledge Center to attract talent, investment, businesses and visitors; developing innovative finance, insurance, and appraisal tools that can be applied nationally; and researching, prototyping, or developing new services for the green construction or resilient design markets. Progress will be reported at the next stakeholder event scheduled for the first week of May.
For more information on the Cluster Inititative visit:
For more information on the SeVEDS Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy visit:
For more information on Building Green:
Resilient Design Institute:
SeVEDS Projects Manager
Southeastern Vermont Economic Development Strategies