Economically Speaking Serving the communities of: Andover, Baltimore, Cavendish, Chester, Ludlow, Reading, Springfield, Weathersfield, Windsor and West Windsor
Opportunities and Recovery By Bob Flint, Executive Director
Yes, it’s been over a year since this long, strange trip began. But as glimmers of hope appear, there are some common threads that come up in our conversations with businesses around the region, and beyond.
1 – WE NEED PEOPLE!!! This was a common refrain before COVID, but it’s become a daily topic in the past few months (and we’re not alone in this area – my colleagues in the RDC’s are all hearing the same thing from their companies). One can speculate on the issues involved, but the reality is that businesses are compromising their productivity/output because of the lack of labor.
SRDC is part of the Springfield Area Working Communities Challenge (WCC), which is attempting to address, through systems change, some of the barriers that are preventing people from getting in/staying in the workforce. This includes perceived barriers that come up from employers as well as individuals who struggle with sustaining workforce participation, including areas like childcare and transportation. Amanda Porter has more on WCC later in this newsletter and I would continue to encourage folks to consider sending someone to the FREE monthly Springfield Area Employer Resource meetings (next one is on 5/7!)
2 – WE NEED SPACE! It’s always a bit of a challenge to match available commercial space with the needs of prospective clients. It’s more difficult when there is a dearth of turn-key space in the region or it’s not the right square footage (for the specific specs) or it’s only available for purchase not lease or it’s already under contract.
It reinforces the work that we are doing to bring properties back online, including those with environmental challenges, such as the former J & L Plant 1 site. As of this writing, H.315 has passed the Legislature and is awaiting Gov. Scott’s signature. In H.315 is $14 million for funding the cleanup of the 4 projects in the state that are enrolled in the BERA program – J & L Plant 1 is one of those 4. The demolition/cleanup project is already out to bid and we expect to be ready to hit the ground, assuming that the legislation becomes law. The Legislature is also considering another $11 million in brownfield funding (as part of the general FY22 budget), which could help fund the significant assessment/cleanup needs that exist with several properties in the region.
SRDC is working closely with our friends at the Mt. Ascutney Regional Commission on this, and other programs that are presenting themselves with potential ARPA (American Rescue Plan Act) funding for our area communities.
We are looking at this moment as an unprecedented opportunity for investment and growth as our region, state and country emerge from the challenges of the past 13 months.
The ECVEDD District has announced their spring workshop. The designated day is June 10th at 4:00pm. Broadband will be the topic of discussion and the presentation will be virtual. More details to come.
As always, let us know if you have any questions about the ECVEDD! Please email Bob at firstname.lastname@example.org or go to ecvedd.org
By Amanda Porter, Business Navigator
The Springfield Area Working Communities Challenge team has been working diligently to tackle the initiatives outlined in the initial 6-month Work Plan designed at the beginning of 2021. The overarching goal for the SAWCC Team is to focus on increasing workforce participation in the region by addressing systemic barriers that prevent residents from maintaining consistent employment.
At the beginning of the WCC process, the core team members identified several specific barriers directly impacting employment. For the initial six month launch the team select three to focus on: transportation, childcare and technology barriers. Core Team members and community partners have formed subcommittees, known as Child Care Counts and the Transportation Taskforce. Each committee has started evaluating the current landscape of resources and potential pitfalls faced by those living in the region. Both groups began meeting in March and will continue to do so monthly.
To address technology barriers faced by community members, the SAWCC team has developed the Laptop Distribution Program. The program provides a laptop refurbished by the team at the River Valley Tech Center to those actively seeking employment or education related to advancing employment. By April, the program has received over thirty applications and distributed twenty-six devices.
Additionally, in partnership with Adaptiva HR, the SAWCC team has created the Springfield Area Employer Resource meetings. These meetings are an opportunity for employers to learn about HR-related topics, such as onboarding best practices and navigating difficult conversations with staff. The group meets on the first Wednesday of the month from 9-10:30 am and is open to all employers. To register for the next meeting, please visit our Facebook page.If you are interested in learning more information about the initiatives or committees, please contact Amanda Porter at email@example.com.
New Business Outreach Effort
By Amanda Porter, Business Navigator
As the Business Navigator, I have been working to provide outreach to new businesses in the region and form connections with existing organizations that may be unaware of our services.
During the ReStart Vermont Technical Assistance Program, it became evident that a number of the businesses in our region are uninformed on the assistance offered by SRDC. We have developed a simple, detailed brochure that I will distribute while doing safe, in-person outreach.
Additionally, when a new business joins the region, I send an introductory email providing information about SRDC and offering guidance on accessing resources, such as working with SBDC. These outreach efforts will allow businesses to become better acquainted with SRDC and hopefully expedite resource utilization.
Working knowledge of your business’s financials (and how to navigate the information they provide) is your greatest tool for sustained success. Nothing else will give you a more accurate assessment of how your business is doing.
Yet the finances of the business is often one of the biggest challenges for many, many business owners. Some of us love numbers but more of us feel uncomfortable and uncertain about how to compile them, what they mean, and how to use them.
Know Your Number$ is a series of advisor/accountant-guided modules that introduces the basic financial statements and how to use them. The modules are short, with specific examples, and can be used as an introduction if you are completely new to the financials or as a review if you have a working knowledge you would like refreshed (no matter what sector or stage of business). Each module is designed to assist you in confidently achieving your data-driven business goals:
Bob Zider, Director & CEO of the Vermont Manufacturing Extension Center (VMEC), has publicly announced his plans to retire on June 30, 2021 after 25 years with the Center.
At a VMEC Board meeting held on April 13, VMEC Assistant Director Patricia Giavara received a unanimous vote of approval to succeed Bob Zider as Interim VMEC Director & CEO effective July 1. Patricia Giavara has been part of the VMEC team for more than 18 years, and she has served as VMEC Assistant Director since 2009 while also delivering a range of client services and support in the areas of innovation, growth, process improvement, coaching and more.
According to Bob Zider, “For everything there’s a season, and now is the time for me to step into retirement following a work career that has included 44 years in manufacturing-related leadership roles and 9 years on active duty in the U.S. Coast Guard. VMEC’s leadership transition has been part of our strategic planning for more than 2 years and will be smooth. VMEC is strong and has an exceptionally talented team of highly experienced professionals who are passionate and resolute about assisting enterprises and fulfilling VMEC’s primary mission, ‘To strengthen and empower Vermont manufacturers.’ We have a committed Board comprised of proven manufacturing and other leaders, along with supportive stakeholder partners in NIST MEP, the State of Vermont, and our host Vermont Technical College. I feel honored to have had the opportunity to help the VMEC Team execute its Mission and achieve its Vision to be ‘Vermont’s go-to trusted resource to ensure a thriving manufacturing industry.’ Working with VMEC has been the capstone of my career and has provided a journey of continuous learning with many great opportunities to serve companies of all sizes, including their leaders and workforce in impactful and rewarding ways that far exceeded whatever I could have imagined over 25 years ago.”
Counselor: Ed Williams
SRDC Board of Directors
Bob Kendall Rick Bibens
Ex-Officio Board Members
Town of Springfield
Town of Chester
Town of Windsor
Vermont Agency of Commerce and Community Development
All Seasons Constr.
Bibens Home Center
Black River Produce Claremont Savings Bank
Community Bank Countryside Lock & Alarm
Drew's Organics Dufresne Group
Graham & Veroff, PC CPA
Green Mountain Power
Gurney Bros. Constr.
HB Energy Solutions Image- Tek Mfg.
JELD - WEN
Lawrence & Lober Electric Services
Lamb & McNaughton, PC
Lawrence & Wheeler LBL Fabrication
Mascoma Savings Bank
Okemo Valley Chamber of Commerce
One Credit Union
Peoples United Bank
River Valley Credit Union
Springfield Realty Stone Enviromental
Town of Cavendish
Vermont Packing House
Vermont Timber Works
Winstanley Enterprises, LLC
The Black River Innovation Campus's inaugural Actuator cohort is well underway. Digitally-enabled companies - all pre-seed and early stage - have participated in a 12-week curriculum led by BRIC staff and renown subject matter experts. Companies are now preparing for their first pitch events, at which they will pitch their ideas to mentors and potential investors. Founders will continue to work with BRIC to develop their companies as enrollment opens for the next cohort, to begin this summer.
Speaking of summer, BRIC looks forward to the sunny days ahead! Stay tuned for announcements regarding the return of professional workshops, events, and STEM and computer science summer camps!
We would like to welcome and introduce our newest member, Stone Environmental. Stone Environmental has worked with SRDC for a good part of twenty years. Whenever questionable areas of contamination show up, Stone is always there to help determine the best course of action, for the purposes of remediation and redevelopment.
Stone Environmental is a 100% employee-owned environmental science, engineering, and field services firm located in Montpelier, Vermont. Founded in 1992, our mission is to provide tools, information, and analyses to help our clients solve environmental challenges with integrity, expertise, and innovation. Our diverse team of over 50 scientists, engineers, modelers, developers, and support staff share a commitment to excellence, creativity, and accountability through employee ownership. Our capabilities include environmental assessment and remediation, water resources management, environmental modeling, data quality assessments, support for agrochemical product stewardship and registration, geospatial analysis, data visualization, and application development. The company’s headquarters is in Montpelier, Vermont with remote employees in New Hampshire, Maine, and Missouri. Learn more about who we are, how we work, and the markets we serve at www.stone-env.com.