Reflections on Another Busy Year for SoVTYPs
2019 was a big year in many ways for the Southern Vermont Young Professionals. SoVTYPs was launched in Fall 2012 as a Southeastern Vermont Economic Development Strategies (SeVEDS) population retention strategy. It has operated since then as a program of the Brattleboro Development Credit Corporation. The network and activities have grown steadily over the years, always with the goal of helping young people choosing to stay or move here to thrive. We want to highlight a few of this year’s milestones that speak to the unique value of this program.
In early 2019 SoVTYPs launched our very first membership! Currently, the Southern Vermont Young Professionals has 116 self-identified members. While Southern Vermont Young Professionals is one of the strongest YP organizations in the state, we can do more! Membership helps us stay connected so we can adapt programming to evolving needs and deepen collaboration between YPs and regional employers. We provide membership benefits like discounts and special events, and opportunities for volunteerism and professional development. Membership also helps us deploy our terrific YP community to welcome new Southern Vermonters to the region.
SoVTYPs defy assumptions about what it means to be a Young Professional. Our members include brewers and teachers, architects and farmers, software engineers and postal workers, stay-at-home parents and executive directors. What has been so inspiring about this membership drive is the range of ages and vocations among people that identify as young professionals. A messages we promote through this group is that in Southern Vermont, we hope everyone considers themselves professional in their pursuits. Typically young professional groups are seen as something for only white collar workers in metro areas, but the Southern Vermont Young Professionals is for anyone who is searching for employment or employed, in school or training, developing a business or building professional networks.
Another milestone reached this year is the adoption of a more formal steering committee structure. The Southern Vermont Young Professionals is run by a coordinator staffed at the Brattleboro Development Credit Corporation, and advised by a group of young professionals. At the beginning of FY20, the advisory group adopted official guidelines and voted in officers; two co-chairs, treasurer, secretary and subcommittee chairs. With this new structure, decisions are more easily made or voted on, responsibility is shared across all members of the group, and it provides more avenues for members to become more involved.
This year we continued offering some of the most popular social events. Over the 7 years that the Southern Vermont Young Professionals program has been operating, we’ve come to find that certain events provide benefit and joy year after year. Since winter tends to last longer than anyone wants it to, one of our most popular events celebrates the snow at Grafton After Hours at Grafton Trails and Outdoor Center. The Southern Vermont Young Professionals rent out the facility, providing cross-country skis, snowshoe, and tube rentals. We consistently have 30 or more people every year who come to enjoy the snow-based activities. Another way we avoid the winter blues is with our Creative Black Tie Gala, held last year at the Brattleboro Museum and Art Center. This gives young professionals and friends a chance to dress up, drink delicious cocktails, dance, win fabulous local raffle prizes, and eat tasty food, all in the dark of winter. Every year we’ve increased attendance, topping out at over 300 people with sponsors such as The Richards Group, Long Falls Paperboard, People’s United Bank, Chroma Technologies, Stevens & Associates, Brattleboro Savings and Loan, Green River Software, New Chapter, and Berkley & Veller Greenwood Country Realtors.
Social and networking events are a great way to provide a space for young professionals to meet other young professionals and widen their personal and professional networks. However, education and professional development is also extremely important for young professionals. Two of our most popular workshops focus on tax prep and buying your first home. Over the past 4 years we’ve partnered with United Way of Windham County to provide a tax prep class for young professionals. United Way provides tax prep assistance using MyFreeTaxes.com which walks people through step by step on submitting their tax returns. There have been a total of 45 participants over the past four years. We’ve also partnered with Windham-Windsor Housing Trust to host a First Time Home Buyer Informational Session. This brings young professionals together with a home buying specialist, a mortgage lender, and a realtor in a space where they can ask all their burning questions on how to buy their first home. Over the past four years, there have been a total of 65 attendees. Some have gone on to take the official home buying class through Windham-Windsor Housing Trust and purchased homes here. Additionally, we’ve added a new educational opportunities such as our Financial Workshop Series with a young professional financial planner. This allows YPs to explore their financial questions and worries, ask specific questions about investing, budgeting, and retirement, and get advice from a fellow young professional.
With a network of over 500 people, 116 members, and an advisory group of 12 people, Southern Vermont Young Professionals has grown into a robust network that leverages incredible volunteer commitment alongside funding and staffing provided through BDCC and SeVEDS. Just as important is the social and professional network that has been created, one which helps people find jobs and housing, and welcomes newcomers to the region. SoVTYPs have also become an important voice for young professionals here, and across the state. Federal and state officials take the time to meet with SoVTYPs regularly to understand what attracts and keeps us here, and what we need to stay and thrive here. Even though SoVTYPs have a lot of fun, we take very seriously our role in promoting the long term goals which originally inspired BDCC & SeVEDS to host the program, like increasing the 25-44 population and fostering diversity in southeastern Vermont.
To learn more about how Southern Vermont Young Professional events, membership or how to support SoVTYPs, visit www.brattleborodevelopment.com/sovtyps or email Sarah Lang at firstname.lastname@example.org
About Southern Vermont Young Professionals
The Southern Vermont Young Professionals is a workforce initiative of Southeastern Vermont Economic Development Strategies (SeVEDS) and the Brattleboro Development Credit Corporation (BDCC). Our mission is to attract, retain and support Young Professionals in Southern Vermont by providing engaging opportunities and networking through social and educational events, and volunteer opportunities. The YP initiative is increasingly important to Southern Vermont’s businesses and communities as a strategic approach to growing the size of the region’s workforce and increasing the number of younger households in the region. For more information please visit: https://brattleborodevelopment.com/sovtyps/
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 understand and create long term strategies needed 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 received federal approval for the Windham Region’s federally recognized S.M.A.R.T. Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy (CEDS). SeVEDS partnered with Bennington’s Regional Economic Development Group in 2018 to develop the 2019 Southern Vermont Zone CEDS. For more information visit: www.seveds.com