Rockingham, VT – Restoring downtown buildings was identified as a top priority during last year’s Rockingham community visit, led by the Vermont Council on Rural Development (VCRD). To sustain this momentum and address the need for small-scale development in downtown Bellows Falls, the Town of Rockingham sought help through BDCC’s Southern Vermont Economy Project (SVEP). BDCC identified the Incremental Development Alliance (IncDev) which provides technical assistance to transform development plans into tangible action.
Last fall, BDCC introduced local Rockingham partners to IncDev to see how they could help the town proceed. Redevelop Bellows Falls Buildings Task Force, Town of Rockingham, Village of Bellows Falls, Windham Regional Commission, Bellows Falls Area Development Corporation, Great Falls Regional Chamber of Commerce and others supported moving forward with IncDev. BDCC helped secure funding and promised staff support for outreach and meetings. Throughout this winter IncDev has been providing Technical Assistance through a series of presentations, market research and trainings. The series began with an introductory lecture on small development, which can be viewed at this link .
Participants have included local volunteers and officials, as well as non-profit leaders and property owners. “I do renovations in the Bellows Falls area and I love the town… [We should] focus on awareness programs for both owners and tenants to find these funds to bring their housing up to a higher standard” shared Ashley Moduno, a small developer who renovates multifamily homes in Bellows Falls. Local stakeholders can still join the process. More information and registration can be found at this link.
IncDev helps towns identify technical barriers to development (such as prohibitive zoning, permitting, & financing), assess current real estate development opportunities and understand the current market, and then recruit and train potential “developers” who are often just local residents with a home or business property they want to improve or expand. IncDev is a non-profit consulting agency whose goal is to help strengthen local communities by supporting incremental, or small-scale, development. They advocate a pivot from the classic model of rapid, large-scale development to a locally driven model of multiple small projects, led by local actors, and executed over time. IncDev leads public trainings for anyone interested in becoming developers, the next of which is a Virtual Small Developer Boot Camp starting on April 20th and held over the 11-week period. The secret sauce that IncDev promotes is a caring small scale developer who cultivates a place that can endure hard times and asks “Is it good for the neighborhood?” You can learn more by visiting their website at https://www.incrementaldevelopment.org.
The work in Rockingham is just one way BDCC has continued community capacity-building and advancing local projects using virtual meetings and platforms to overcome restrictions due to the pandemic. When the arrival of COVID-19 dictated a shift in approach, SVEP pivoted to immediately focus on capacity building for communities with a slightly different bent: disaster recovery for the local and regional economies. By early summer, SVEP had also resumed normal programming throughout the region on a virtual platform. For more information on trainings available to every community in Southern Vermont please visit www.brattleborodevelopment.com/svep/ . A new project development series is just beginning which includes grant writing, financial workshops and project management training. All trainings are low or no cost and open to the public.
IncDev Technical Assistance to Rockingham was made possible through funding by local and statewide organizations. Support from BDCC’s Southern Vermont Economy Project (funded through USDA RCDI) is matched by contributions from the Vermont Council on Rural Development, Vermont Natural Resources Council, Preservation Trust of Vermont, Vermont Housing and Conservation Board, and Vermont Community Foundation.
About the Southern Vermont Economy Project 2.0:
The Brattleboro Development Credit Corporation’s Southern Vermont Economy Project provides training and technical assistance to increase local capacity, skills, and resources in order to advance local projects critical to Southern Vermont achieving community, economic, and workforce development goals. In its second round of funding by the USDA Rural Community Development Initiative, SVEP 2.0 partners include; the Towns of Rockingham, Brattleboro and Bennington; the Windham Regional Commission; Southeastern Vermont Economic Development Strategies; Bennington County Regional Commission; Bennington County Industrial Corporation; Readsboro Hometown Redevelopment Inc.; and Bellows Falls Area Development Corporation. For more information please visit: https://brattleborodevelopment.com/svep/
About BDCC and SeVEDS:
The Brattleboro Development Credit Corporation (BDCC) 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, Winhall 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. This BDCC activity was made possible in part by a grant from the State of Vermont through the Agency of Commerce and Community Development. 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