July 9, 2015
The Circle of Prosperity By Bob Flint, Executive Director Welcome to summer! SRDC is busy on a number of fronts, with remediation work going on as of this writing at J & L (with more behind the scenes efforts underway to set the stage for major demolition and cleanup next summer) and planning for reuse of the north and south ends of the Bryants property.But we’re also spending a lot of time on issues related to creating and maintaining a successful economy. Elsewhere in this newsletter, you can read about the work of the East Central Vermont Economic Development District. We hope to be undertaking an update of the strategic plan for this region in the next year. The existing regional plan is based on a tenet of the “Circle of Prosperity”, which is simply the interrelationship between good paying jobs, a healthy social infrastructure which attracts and retains the human capital needed to create and fill the good paying jobs (and fund the healthy infrastructure). We know how fragile that “circle” currently is in our area. The common thread from businesses now is how difficult it is to hire people, at all levels. Yet, there is a significant part of the population who is unemployed and, in some circles, “unemployable”. How do we have the honest conversations about why is it is so challenging to attract people to move to this area, and stay in our communities? What are the connecting pieces between the realities of substance abuse and social issues with the ability to train and grow a local workforce? How does education fit into this picture, with the perceived disconnect between the local economy and primary/secondary schools? As we solve the riddles that has been holding back redevelopment of major industrial space, we need to look at the types of businesses those properties will house. But we also need to maintain, and increase, our focus on the workforce that our area economy needs to be able to move forward. We can’t let the “Circle of Prosperity” become its own Gordian knot for Southern Windsor County or even Vermont
May 28, 2015
Springfield Regional Development Corporation (SRDC) announced today that they have been selected for a $200,000 grant from the Environmental Protection Agency. The funding will be used for environmental cleanup work at the former Bryant Grinder facility on Clinton Street in Springfield.
SRDC was selected as one of 243 recipients nationwide of funds to assist with the remediation and redevelopment of brownfield properties. The EPA announced grants totaling $54.3 million for projects in 147 communities across the country.
Bob Flint, Executive Director of SRDC, said that the timing for the grant was very fortuitous. “We’re already moving forward with the development of a Corrective Action Plan for the north and south ends of the existing building and this will allow us to move directly into cleanup work later this year”, Flint said. He added that SRDC hopes to have those portions of the site available for occupancy within the next 12 – 14 months.
“Slowly, but surely, we’re making progress with these large, complicated, brownfield projects. We are very grateful for this grant and this will be a big part of moving Bryants forward”, Flint added. He also expressed his thanks to Dan Potter of the Southern Windsor County Regional Planning Commission who assisted in preparing the application to EPA for this grant.
May 27, 2015
The Vermont Small Business Development Center (VStBDC) is offering a four hour workshop on how to start your own business and write a business plan. Debra Boudrieau, a business advisor for the VtSBDC will run the course. The course will be offered on Thursday, June 18th from 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. at the Springfield Regional Development Corporation, 14 Clinton Street in the 1st floor conference room. Space is limited. To register, sign up online at www.vtsbdc.org (click on the training tab). Any questions please email Heather Gonyaw at email@example.com. or contact Debra at firstname.lastname@example.org. The registration fee is $99.00. Your payment includes a start-up workbook in hardcopy and pdf format.
May 6, 2015
Springfield Regional Development Corporation announced today that they are the recipient of two $15,000 grants to support a pair of economic development projects in the region. The awards were part of the Regional Economic Development Grant Program, administered by the Department of Buildings and General Services. The goal of the program is promote stimulation or retention economic opportunities in the state.
The grants that SRDC received will support two business projects in the region. The first is to assist with the Vermont Beer Shapers space at One Hundred River Street. A local group has purchased the business assets of the former Trout River Brewery and is constructing a local brewing operation. The other grant will help Drew’s LLC in Chester install a membrane bioreactor filtration system for the wastewater needs at their facility.
SRDC Executive Director Bob Flint said that the grants would be an important part of projects for job creation and retention. “We appreciate the support from the state for these projects. In one instance, it’s a key part of setting up a new business. The other grant will help to solve a long-standing challenge for an important company in our region”, Flint said.
SRDC serves the ten towns in Southern Windsor County. To learn more about Springfield Regional Development Corporation and how it can help existing companies as well as those looking to start a business, call 802-885-3061 or email email@example.com.
May 3, 2015
Members from the private and government sector are hosting a public forum about financing for local small businesses owners from 9 to 10:30 a.m. May 19th at Springfield Town Hall.
“If you are looking to start or grow a business, this is a rare opportunity for entrepreneurs to learn about a wide variety of financing options from subject matter experts,” said Vallerie Morse, Small Business Administration. “Topics will include government guarantees, refinancing, revolving lines of credit, microloans and more.”
Speakers will include representatives from U.S. Small Business Administration, USDA Rural Development, Community Capital of Vermont, Vermont Community Loan Fund, Vermont Economic Development Authority and Vermont Small Business Development Center. The panel members will explain how they have assisted small businesses in the region and how their respective loan programs work.
Attendees can meet with representatives one-on-one following the meeting.
The financing forum is cosponsored by Springfield On The Move, Springfield Regional Chamber of Commerce and Springfield Regional Development Corporation, with assistance from the SBA. The event is free and open to the public, but registration is requested. It will be held in the Selectmens’ meeting room at Springfield Town Hall at 96 Main Street in Springfield.
To register, contact Springfield On The Move at 802-885-1527 or firstname.lastname@example.org
March 26, 2015
(This column, by SRDC Executive Director Bob Flint, appears in the SRDC Spring Newsletter)
“All that most maddens and torments; all that stirs up the lees of things; all truth with malice in it; all that cracks the sinews and cakes the brain”
- Herman Melville, “Moby Dick”
One can’t help but have some gallows humor when you consider the experience that SRDC has had with its ownership of the former J & L Plant 1. We have now owned the property for 12 years (after a long period of trying to pry it from the hands of the Goldman Group) and it looks pretty much the same as it did in 2003, except for the crumbling bricks and rapidly deteriorating roof.
We have had struggles. The contamination on the property is unique, in its magnitude and complexity. The assessment process seemingly took forever with the sheer amount of work and the associated bureaucracy with every, single, step. The conversations with public officials about the historic importance of the site were, at times, maddening and disconnected.
Then there was litigation to throw into the gumbo. While we made progress on the above items, ultimately, we have been stymied for the past several years by litigation tied to an enforcement action against a neighboring property owner that is related to one of the contaminants that has migrated onto the J & L property. That ended at the end of 2014 with a ruling from the State Environmental Court.
I look around carefully, up and down, before I say this, but it would appear there are no further barriers to moving forward with the cleanup and redevelopment of the J & L Plant 1 property. Once you realize this, it’s actually very exciting!
In the coming months, you’ll hear about various grants and applications, bid documents and an “enterprise zone” designation. Puzzle pieces that have been gathered over the years and hoarded away, waiting for this moment. I’m not going to speculate on a timeline, but we are moving full steam ahead, finally.
Because, at the end of the day, we not only have a mission to accomplish, but there is a wonderful opportunity in front of us. We will have 12 acres of flat land, with full utilities (and VTel fiber!) on a 4-lane highway, close to I-91. Combined with the redevelopment of the former Bryants property (there will be work on the north and south ends this year), it presents a blank canvas for the economic future of Springfield and the region.
We will keep the membership, and public, updated as we move forward. It’s going to be an adventure, but one that I know will ultimately have a happy ending. Stay tuned, and many thanks for the support, as always!
February 27, 2015
Representatives from Peoples United Bank, Vermont Community Loan Fund, Vermont SBA, Vermont Economic Development Authority, and Springfield Regional Development Corporation will participate in a three-hour workshop and panel discussion to help small businesses develop a better understanding of best practices and resources for financing a business in Vermont.
As part of the Economic Development Agency’s support for continued recovery from the 2011 flooding disasters, this workshop is offered jointly by Springfield Regional Development Corporation (SRDC) and the Vermont Small Business Development Center (VtSBDC). The three-hour workshop is free by registration and begins at 9:00 am on Friday, March 20, at the NewsBank Conference Center on Main Street in Chester.
“To grow and thrive in today’s competitive economy, small businesses need to understand how to manage their money and develop solid financing relationships,” says Bob Flint, SRDC Executive Director.
Attendees can expect to learn how to address their financing needs by:
• understanding how to determine the mix of equity and capital that’s right for their situation
• learning about what sources of capital are available to them
• knowing how to put together a winning application to present to lenders
Small business owners, managers, and entrepreneurs can register online:
CLICK HERE TO REGISTER
Or go to this address:
February 2, 2015
An introduction to business ownership succession planning will be offered on Thursday, March 5 from 2:00 to 5:00 PM at the Howard Dean Education Center, 307 South Street in Springfield. There is no cost for this event. Attendees will receive a copy of “An Owner’s Guide to Business Succession Planning.”
In this seminar, you will learn the basics of how to choose a path for ownership succession in your business. We will take a close look at four different ways of selling a business: to an outsider, to family members, to managers or to the larger group of employees. While we will get into some technical details, the focus will be on stories about each path, told via video by owners who have been involved in the sale of Vermont businesses. Our lead presenter will be Jeffrey Graham, owner and managing officer of Graham & Graham, P.C., a full service accounting and consulting firm with offices located in Springfield and Barre, Vermont, and Laconia and Concord, New Hampshire.
Attendance is limited to business owners and key managers.
Sponsors of the event are the Springfield Regional Development Corporation, the Vermont Small Business Development Center, the Vermont Manufacturing Extension Center and the Vermont Employee Ownership Center, with funding provided by Northfield Savings Bank and the Vermont Agency of Commerce and Community Development.
To register, please click here.
December 15, 2014
(This column by SRDC’s Executive Director Bob Flint appears in the December SRDC Newsletter)
I’ve used this anecdote before, so excuse me if you’ve already heard this. But it’s handy to trot this out from time to time to make a point.
I was at a meeting several years ago where there was grumbling about the state of the economy. Someone asked what was needed and the response was “jobs!” Any specific type of jobs? And the response was again “jobs!”
Like anything else, there are layers and nuance to the sustenance of the economy, whether it’s global or here in our backyard. We deal with many of the same challenges my colleagues around the world do on a daily basis. I serve on the Board of Directors for the Northeastern Economic Developers Association, which covers 11 states and the District of Columbia. At our quarterly meeting last week, I heard many of the issues that we wrestle with here, from workforce development concerns to energy costs.
But we also shared the regional quirks from our various home bases. Since we just came off an election in November, it was interesting to hear how “economic development” is inherently so politicized, both as an issue that government wants to enable, but also in the other areas that directly impact the ability of businesses to survive and prosper.
In Vermont, we are in regular communication with our companies and hear about the challenges they’re facing. Some issues are beyond our control, to a point, like transportation (we’re not going to have an international airport in our region, although we do have Hartness State Airport, which is a great resource!).
However, there are others where there is a direct interface with public policy in the state. Land use and permitting come to mind, as there’s an understandable desire to protect the “Vermont” we all love, but occasionally that collides with the need to build or expand a facility to provide the “jobs” that are needed.
Sometimes, I’m putting out fires where a public regulator is a little too gung ho in implementing and administering rules and treats the customer/ businessperson in a less than appropriate manner.
Or it’s trying to find that balance on an important issue like Health Care or Education and figuring out how to ensure that the residents of the state have the highest quality possible. While, at the same time, developing a way to pay for it that is sustainable and allows Vermont companies to remain competitive in the global marketplace.
The Legislature will be back in session shortly and they will be working on these, and many other, issues. But, it’s important for all of us to help them remember that, while all of us want “jobs!” it’s critical to truly understand what is necessary for that to happen and appreciate what it already preventing that from occurring on a larger scale. As well as ensuring that, just like our friends in health care, they “do no harm” in whatever laws are enacted.
Many thanks for your continuing support of SRDC this past year! There’s a lot in the hopper for 2015 and we look forward to sharing more good news with you in the coming year. Happy Holidays to you and your families!
December 4, 2014
Springfield Group Purchases Assets of Trout River Brewing, Opening Brewery at One Hundred River Street
A group of Springfield-area entrepreneurs, Vermont Beer Shapers, announced that they have purchased the brew recipes, equipment and name of Trout River Brewing Company of Lyndonville. They will be opening their brewery in the One Hundred River Street facility in downtown Springfield Vermont.
Vermont Beer Shapers is a local company created by Trevor Billings, Gabe Streeter and Kelen Beardsley, who have been interested in developing a brewing business for some time. According to Beardsley, this was an opportunity to purchase an existing Vermont brand. “Trout River is an established name in Vermont and is known for great beer. We’re looking forward to continuing the traditions of the brewery, while working to make it our own”.
Beardsley said that equipment has been moved to Springfield and work will be starting soon on renovations for the new brewery space. He said that they hope to have the new facility up and running this winter. Initially, the focus will be on the production and distribution of beer. There is the potential of a tasting room or even a brew-pub in future years, he added.
Claremont Savings Bank provided the financing for this project. Beardsley added that Vermont Beer Shapers also appreciated the help they received for their efforts from Springfield Regional Development Corporation and their Small Business Development Center. Beardsley Stated “There was a tremendous amount of support from the local community to help us with this project, we are extremely excited to bring this business to our hometown”.
Trout River Brewing was started in 1996 by Dan Gates. Terms of the sale were not disclosed.