Windham Grows and a Vernon Post-VY Community Engagement Process are the latest projects approved for funding from the Windham County Economic Development Program (WCEDP).
“These projects will help build economic development foundations in the region, providing promising business opportunities in the food and agriculture sector in Windham County and a forum for Vernon residents to continue post-VY economic development planning,” said Gov. Peter Shumlin.
The Vermont Council on Rural Development (VCRD) was awarded $40,000 for a “Vernon Community Visit,” which will create a forum for community decisions that will drive action in Vernon over the next two years. VCRD’s five-month process will unite residents of Vernon to examine issues before the community, prioritize actions to respond to challenges and opportunities, build local task forces and implementation plans for community and economic development projects, and connect to human and financial resources to help advance community goals.
Strolling of the Heifers was awarded $90,000 for the Windham Grows project, which will develop the most promising business opportunities in the food and agriculture sector in Windham County. The project will seek out, evaluate, and provide development support for selected entrepreneurs, providing them with the resources they need to gain high-value management skills, resulting in new, dynamic businesses that create meaningful jobs and increase average wages in the food and agriculture sector.
The WCEDP funds were made available through the settlement that Gov. Shumlin and his team negotiated in 2013 regarding the closure of the Entergy VY plant in Vernon, which included, among other considerations, that Entergy would provide $10 million over five years to the State of Vermont “to promote economic development in Windham County.” The funds are administered by the Agency of Commerce and Community Development (ACCD) in cooperation with the Windham County Advisory Council.
To date, $1.3 million in grants, loans, and incentives have been awarded by the WCEDP for eleven projects in the region that advance the regional comprehensive economic development strategy through:
- Direct loans to businesses, offering special rates and terms, underwritten and administered by VEDA. After approval of a Letter of Intent to Apply, loan applications can be submitted directly to VEDA on a continual basis and require only approval by ACCD based on the underwriting recommendation by VEDA. One loan has been approved and six other companies are preparing applications.
- Competitive grants to organizations responding to an annual Request for Proposals that defines eligible categories to be funded each year. After approval of a Letter of Intent to Apply, grants are scored on a competitive basis, prioritized by VEPC, with final approval by the Governor. Six competitive grants have been awarded to date.
- Incentives, in the form of grants or loans, which are part of “rapid response” incentive packages offered by the state, region, and municipalities for the retention and creation of jobs by regional employers or new employers. Two companies, Vermed and GS Precision, have received incentives.
- Non-competitive grants by ACCD to economic development partners to market and help administer the program. Two awards have been made to BDCC and SBDC.
Click here for a detailed list of approved projects.
For further information, visit the program website: GoWindham.Vermont.gov or contact RT Brown, WCEDP Program Director at BDCC.