Economically Speaking Serving the communities of: Andover, Baltimore, Cavendish, Chester, Ludlow, Reading, Springfield, Weathersfield, Windsor and West Windsor
2019 – A Busy Year for SRDC! By Bob Flint, Executive Director
2019 has flown by and, as we look back, it’s been a good year for SRDC and Southern Windsor County! As I reported at last month’s Annual Meeting, we have been very busy with a number of projects.
The subject of Workforce Development continued to permeate our work, as every business we spoke with quickly brought up the challenges they have had with finding and retaining employees. Those discussions culminated last month in a regional Workforce Summit with participation by over 50 employers and providers in a full-day session at the River Valley Tech Center. This was one of 12 similar events held around Vermont with our fellow RDC’s and the results will be presented at a Statehouse event late next month in Montpelier.
In Springfield, the Black River Innovation Campus set sail in the former Park Street School. BRIC hired Springfield native Trevor Barlow at its Executive Director. Trevor is driving a variety of activities and projects designed to create a tech ecosystem in the region. SRDC took title to the property a few weeks ago and are working with Bill Niquette, our Project Developer, and Matt Dunne on the overall redevelopment project, to begin in 2020.
SRDC also has been providing property management services for Windsor Improvement Corporation as they have taken ownership of the former Goodyear Site and Windsor Resource Center. Paul Kowalski has been working with Don Griswold on operating the properties and we look forward to helping WIC move these sites forward in the coming months.
Paul is also managing SRDC’s new River Valley Revolving Loan Fund, which we acquired this fall. We look forward to working with existing small businesses and those looking to start an enterprise in providing assistance, in partnership with our area financial partners.
Heather Hartford continues to oversee the Robert S. Jones Center where she, and Bob LaPlante, our longtime property manager, take care of our tenants and the needs of the building, which got a new paint job this year! Heather also has been spearheading the work at the former Bryant Grinder property, which now has occupancy in the south end of the building as well as use of the parking lot areas.
The new Opportunity Zone designation has been a major factor for development activity in Springfield. The recent sale of the former Artisan Surfaces to LBL Fabrications was our first OZ business transaction and that property is the 3rd such acquisition (with more in the wings). We also welcome LBL Fabrications as one of SRDC’s newest members!
As 2019 comes to a close, we also are preparing to release bid specs for the demolition of J & L Plant 1.
Whew! And that’s just a quick sampling of some of our work this past year, with plenty going on throughout the region and with our area businesses. It’s been a good year with growth as several employers and we hope for more in 2020.
Thanks to everyone who came to our Annual Meeting and special thanks to Governor Phil Scott, who came to serve as our Featured Speaker! Sandy Clifford did her usual wonderful job in pulling the event together and we appreciate the help from Crown Point County Club as our host.
On behalf of all of us here at SRDC, thank you for another great year and for your continued support. Best wishes for a Happy Holiday season to you and yours and we look forward to being of service this next year.
Windsor Region Workforce Summit
Held on November 20th
The Regional Development Corporations (RDC’s) of Vermont, in partnership with the Vermont Department of Labor, hosted 12 Regional Workforce Summits this fall and early winter around the state. These summits were intended to build upon existing collaborations to provide actionable solutions for employers as well as better awareness and partnerships among regional and statewide service providers.
SRDC sponsored the Windsor Region/Southern Windsor County Workforce Summit on Wednesday, November 20, 2019 at the River Valley Technical Center in Springfield. The output from this event will be used in the region to make the existing systems strong as well as by the State Workforce Development Board as it prepares its 2020 Workforce Strategy.
Many thanks to all of the employers and providers who took the time to participate! We expect that the Summit will become an annual event.
SRDC Takes Title to Park Street School for BRIC Redevelopment Project
Springfield Regional Development Corporation (SRDC) recently took title to the former Park Street School in Springfield from the Springfield School District. SRDC and the District will work to ensure current operations in the building for the remainder of the current fiscal year.
Park Street School is the headquarters for the Black River Innovation Campus (BRIC), which opened earlier this year. Plans for the property include developing additional space for BRIC, including creating several housing units, as well as restoration of the auditorium, preservation of the gymnasium and other spaces for BRIC and community use.
SRDC appreciates the efforts of the School District and Town of Springfield in facilitating this property transfer and will be working with our partners, including the Southern Windsor County Regional Planning Commission, to continue this redevelopment project.
Work is continuing on the update of the 5-year Comprehensive Economic Development Strategies (CEDS) Plan. Recently, the CEDS Strategy Committee has been working on a SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats) analysis for the 40-Town ECVEDD region in such areas as Land Use, Transportation, Economic Investments, Infrastructure and more.
The timeline calls for having a draft plan available for review in the spring of next year.
Debra Boudrieau, Area Business Advisor
End of the year? Yes, it has happened again. 2019 was a challenging year for my clients.
Great challenges and interesting challenges and just plain old wish-we-could-have-skipped-them challenges.
But the biggest challenge that all business owners share, as business expands and contracts (which all businesses do naturally), is time management. I just finished doing my end of year list for my boss on the top challenges that I dealt with with my clients in 2019 and time management topped my list.
So I am making it my first focus with my clients starting in 2020.
Why is it such a concern? Because as humans we have 168 hours a week…that’s all. As business owners we have what is left after life and family. And here is the list of things my heroic business owners deal with every day:
Marketing (including the now ever changing landscape of the internet and social media)
Networking and Key Partner Management
Oh, and doing what the business is…
I’m going to ask my clients to make the time (yes, am adding something else to their list) to get a handle on this for 2020. When we do they will have a clearer plan for managing themselves as they manage their business.
Happy Holidays and Happy New Year.
Vermont PTAC, Counselor: Ed Williams 802-885-3061 ext. 202 firstname.lastname@example.org
Principles of Lean Manufacturing 101
February 04, 2020
8:00AM - 4:00PM
Chroma Technology Corporation, Bellows Falls, VT
10 Imtec Lane, Bellows Falls, VT (map)
Black River Produce
Claremont Savings Bank
Graham & Graham, PC CPA
Green Mountain Power
Gurney Bros. Constr.
HB Energy Solutions
Image Tek Mfg.IVEK
JELD - WEN
Kelley Sales & Service
Lawrence & Lober Electric Services
Lamb & McNaughton, PC
Lawrence & Wheeler
Mascoma Savings Bank
Okemo Mountain Resort
Okemo Valley Chamber of Commerce
Peoples United Bank
River Valley Credit Union
Town of Cavendish
Vermont Packing House
Vermont Timber Works
Von Bargen's Jewelry
Winstanley Enterprises, LLC
From our Members
SRDC is very happy to welcome LBL Fabrications ( formerly known as Artisan Surfaces) as our newest member. They remain located at 200 Clinton Street. SRDC has been pleased to help facilitate this transaction, for both the real estate as well as the retention of this longtime local business.
We are pleased to announce that effective November 1, 2019, Engineered Tooling, Inc. became a division of Lovejoy Tool Company, Inc., a full line manufacturer of precision cutting tools.
Engineered Tooling and Lovejoy have enjoyed working closely together for many years. Lovejoy looks forward to continuing to provide the comprehensive line of replaceable, indexable cutting tools for the high precision Swiss style CNC market that Engineered Tooling's customers are accustomed to.
Lovejoy is excited about the partnership and is looking forward to serving the customers of Engineered Tooling.
Some Notes from 2019
Mascoma Bank has had a very busy and productive 2019.In October the bank had the busiest residential mortgage month in the bank's 120 year history.
Mascoma Bank is still expanding and heading north. A branch was opened in South Burlington, VT, this year and two other branches in the Burlington area are on track to open in 2020.
Mascoma Bank is very much aware of the demands on working parents and take pride in being proactive for their employees. A new policy was instituted this year to help ease the burden of working parents. Mascoma's Paid Parental Leave Program (part of FMLA) applies to parents of a newborn, adoption, or surrogacy. Maternity leave for 12 weeks is at 100% pay and paternity leave for 2 weeks is at 100% pay.
Mascoma Bank is annually recognized as a "Best Place to Work" in both New Hampshire & Vermont, and their forward thinking benefits package is a big reason why.
Helping the communities that Mascoma Bank is a part of is very important to them. The bank offers a Volunteer Time Off benefit that encourages employees to find opportunities to help their community. The picture below is a perfect example of this.
Ron Dupuis, Carrie Kellow, and Dan Harrington volunteering at The Upper Valley Haven. Carrie and Dan are part of the Springfield branch team.
Businesses Have a Partner in Saving Energy and Reducing Costs
Efficiency Vermont partners with businesses across Vermont to help them identify opportunities to reduce their energy use, and in the process improve their bottom line.
Over the years, the lightbulb has emerged as the symbol for energy efficiency. And while it’s true that in the early years of Efficiency Vermont’s work much of the “low hanging fruit” of energy efficiency came with lighting improvements, some of the most substantial savings opportunities for large Commercial & Industrial customers go well beyond changing lightbulbs.
Forging Energy Efficiency
For example, last summer Efficiency Vermont joined Vermont Castings to celebrate the completion of a project at their Randolph-based foundry that included upgrading the air compressor system. An Efficiency Vermont account manager worked with Vermont Castings Vice President and General Manager Jeff Nelb to assess opportunities at the plant, develop a custom incentive plan to help lower Vermont Castings’ upfront cost, and review bids from engineering firms to implement improvements. The compressor upgrades will save Vermont Castings and estimated $61,000 a year in energy costs and bring the added benefit of increased reliability to the foundry’s operations.
Efficiency Vermont works with customers to encourage continuous energy improvement, and Vermont Castings continued on its path by investing in a lighting upgrade as well. Switching to new LED lights not only will save an estimated $20,000 in annual energy costs, but also improves the safety and work environment for employees. Visit Efficiency Vermont’s blog to read more about the Vermont Castings project.
Changing Energy Landscape
Reducing the total amount of energy used during the course of a year is the traditional way Efficiency Vermont tracks and reports its performance. But as the energy system evolves, the value proposition of saving energy – particularly electricity – is changing too. Efficiency Vermont is finding that helping customers change when they use electricity can be just as impactful as changing how much electricity they use.
As many managers of large commercial and industrial facilities know, peak demand charges can be significant; working with Efficiency Vermont technical experts to develop comprehensive energy management plans can be an effective way to reduce those charges. Efficiency Vermont partners with its colleagues at Vermont’s electric distribution utilities, who also offer incentives for energy projects that help customers use electricity more strategically and reduce fossil fuel use in the process.
Here to Help
Energy is one of the cornerstones of a modern economy. Finding ways to lower the cost of energy while maintaining, and often improving, productivity is an important component of helping businesses succeed in Vermont. Businesses that would like to explore energy management opportunities are encouraged to contact Efficiency Vermont speak with one of our technical support staff. Efficiency Vermont can be reached at (888) 921-5990.
Vermont Governor Phil Scott and SRDC Board of Director's President Doug Gurney at the SRDC Annual Meeting held in November at the Crown Point Country Club in Springfield.