Public input sought for 2019 Southern Vermont plan


Bennington County and Windham County are coming together to develop a first ever joint strategy to guide the Southern Vermont region’s economic future. The outcome of this exciting process will be an action plan with specific projects and programs intended to spur economic and community development throughout the region to create job opportunities, improve quality of life, and address major issues facing residents and businesses. Initiatives identified during this process will be eligible for federal, state, and other funding and will benefit from public recognition and opportunities for partnerships and collaboration.

“We are pleased to be updating our original, award-winning CEDS and very excited to be including our Bennington County partners going forward,” stated 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.”

For Bill Colvin, Acting Director of the Bennington County Industrial Corporation, the beginning of this process marks an important milestone.

“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 three years and we sincerely appreciate BDCC and SeVEDS including Bennington County in the next iteration of its already successful CEDS planning and implementation efforts.”

The 2019 Southern Vermont Economic Development Zone CEDS will build off the momentum from implementation of the 2014 Windham Region S.M.A.R.T. CEDS and the 2015 Southern Vermont Economic Development Zone Report.

“What we have learned in Southern Vermont is that no one is coming to save us, collaboration is the key to success for rural economic development planning, and that means there is room for everyone to participate,” claimed Laura Sibilia, Brattleboro Development Credit Corporation’s Director of Regional Strategies.  “We have seen almost 800 jobs created and $38 million projected GDP growth to date from the implementation of the 2014 Windham Region S.M.A.R.T. CEDS and look forward to improving our planning and strategy development for the 2019 CEDS. This is a tremendous opportunity for businesses, residents and service providers across Southern Vermont to come together to identify assets and challenges within our control and develop data backed strategies to improve Southern Vermont’s future.”

Funded by the U.S. Economic Development Administration, this strategic planning process had the official kick off at the 2nd annual Southern Vermont Economic Summit on May 30th, and is continuing through the summer and fall with a series of public meetings.

Camoin Associates, a nationally recognized economic development consulting firm, has been selected to assist with the development of the strategy. “The energy in the room at the Southern Vermont Economic Summit was a clear indication that the time is right for the region to make some changes to address the challenges facing area residents and businesses,” said Rachel Selsky, Camoin’s Senior Project Manager. “As a Brattleboro resident, I am thrilled to be involved in this important project and looking forward to the public engagement sessions to gather important feedback on the goals and vision of community members.”

Public invited to weigh in June 18th and 19 in Bennington, Manchester, Brattleboro, Bellows Falls, Wilmington

The first set of public meetings will be in both Bennington and Windham. Residents and business owners are invited to attend any sessions that are convenient for them.

  •       June 18 from 10:00 – 12:00 at Bennington Fire House
  •       June 18 from 2:00 – 4:00 at Manchester Town Hall
  •       June 19 from 8:00 – 10:00 at SIT Room 101 Lowey Center in Brattleboro
  •       June 19 from 11:30 – 1:30 at Lower Theater in Bellows Falls
  •       June 19 from 6:00 – 8:00 at Old School Library in Wilmington

These sessions will be interactive and engage participants in discussions around the assets and opportunities in Southern Vermont that make the area attractive and competitive for businesses and residents. Southern Vermont is at a critical point in time, in terms of the ability to change the region’s trajectory and accelerate in a positive direction.Involvement from the public is vital to shaping the strategy and vision for the future.

Focus Groups in July and August of 2018

Leaders from across southern Vermont are assisting in the coordination of a number of focus groups with subject matter experts on Tech and Innovation, Childcare, Human Services Non-Profits, Housing, Arts, Small business, K-12 Education and Tourism/Hospitality for the 2019 Southern Vermont Economic Development Zone CEDS.
The goals of the individual focus groups:
  • articulate the current major shared and individual challenges and opportunities of the Southern Vermont focus group
  • share important data, trends the focus group is seeing
  • identify missing resources or unique assets
  • identify how the members of the focus group are related
  • articulate a 10 year vision for Southern Vermont
This focus group information will be shared with the Consultants and the SeVEDS and RED Boards to consider consider as they develop strategies for Southern Vermont’s economic and community development through 2024.

For more information about the Economic Development Strategy process, please contact: Laura Sibilia at 802-257-7731 ext 217 or Jonathon Cooper at Jonathan Cooper 802-442-0713 ext. 312


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.

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:

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:

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

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.