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September 18, 2018

$1 Million For New Digital Economy Initative in Springfield VT

Filed under: SRDC — admin @ 2:40 pm

Governor Phil Scott and Congressman Peter Welch joined Springfield Regional Development Corporation (SRDC) and the Center on Rural Innovation (CORI) to announce $1M raised for a new economy initiative in Springfield. The Black River Innovation Campus (BRIC) will bring together digital job training, computer science education and an entrepreneurship center to create innovation jobs.

“Springfield was once the center of technology in the region,” said Bob Flint, Executive Director of SRDC. “Today marks the start of our journey to bring that innovative spirit back to this valley and create the new companies and jobs for generations to come.”

Built on exceptionally fast gigabit broadband infrastructure in this historic downtown, BRIC will use proven strategies for encouraging entrepreneurship, but with a new long term residency approach that will provide selected teams free live/work space for a year along with direct investment capital. The startups will receive training, connections to other innovation resources from around the country, including those at Dartmouth College, and mentorship and support from LinkedIn founder Reid Hoffman of Greylock Partners.

“Today we celebrate a robust collaboration of businesses, individuals, non-profits, and government groups working together to revitalize the Springfield region,” said Congressman Welch. “I applaud participants for their leadership and am excited about the enormous potential of this vital project.”

The initiative is not waiting for the startups to take off in order to have an impact. PurposeLab, a California-based software product development studio, is partnering with CORI to train and hire up to 24 software developers over the next year. The entry level programmers will participate in an intensive online training program and, once selected, will work out of a live/work space based in Springfield. The application process for the program will begin by the end of this year.

“This initiative is about providing high paying jobs for the next generation of Vermonters, which is so important for our work to expand our workforce and bring more families and businesses to Vermont,” said Governor Scott. “We’re pleased to support this initiative through the Vermont Training Program, which provides for digital skills training that will lead to new job opportunities today and a trained workforce as these startups start to grow in Springfield.”

The unique approach of this initiative and the focus on rural communities caught the attention of national foundations and regional organizations. The Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation and Siegel Family Endowment joined forces with the Vermont Community Foundation and other members of the VT innovation community to fund this effort. BRIC has also applied for a grant from the federal Economic Development Administration.

“Digital economy jobs are a critical piece of any healthy economy and yet we have not seen this sector effectively engage rural communities,” said Katy Knight of the Siegel Family Endowment, which funded the creation of the computer science education platform Scratch and committed the first $250,000 to the BRIC initiative. “We are excited about this inclusive approach that addresses both entrepreneurship and building the future workforce.”

BRIC announced the launch of a search for an Executive Director that will be led by the newly formed board of directors. This first hire will craft the strategy for the residential entrepreneurship center, solidify partnerships and onboard the first entrepreneurs.

“The Center on Rural Innovation is committed to bringing digital economy jobs to rural communities across the country,” said Matt Dunne, Executive Director of the Vermont-based Center on Rural Innovation, which led the fundraising and partnership building efforts. “There was no better place to start than right here in Springfield, VT. We believe this can become a model for hundreds of small towns.”

While BRIC will initially locate activities in buildings along the Park Street corridor, the organization is actively working with partners on the potential redevelopment of the former Park Street School building into a state-of-the-art live/work/community facility that would eventually serve as BRIC’s permanent home. The organization and project leaders are currently seeking additional pre-development funding with hopes of moving forward with the redevelopment project in early 2019.

August 28, 2018

River Valley Employment Fair Coming Up on 9/12 in Springfield

Filed under: SRDC — admin @ 10:13 am

The River Valley Workforce Investment Board is hosting the 2018 River Valley Employment Fair on Wednesday, September 12th, from 2 – 5 pm at Riverside Middle School in Springfield Vermont. This event is free and open to the public! Representatives from area employers, employment agencies, and educational organizations will have tables set up and will be available to talk to prospective employees about the career opportunities and programs they offer. Windsor county and surrounding area residents of all ages and various employment levels will be able to look for full or part-time jobs and look ahead to explore careers pathways and the training needed to pursue them.

This year’s Employment Fair has a dual-focus, offering opportunities for jobseekers who are unemployed and also those who are under-employed who would like to explore training, professional development opportunities, or simply find a better job.

The WIB is currently in the process of registering businesses, organizing sponsorships, and inviting county high schools, colleges, and the general public. By raising awareness of the job opportunities available to graduating high school and college students, companies will have access to well-qualified candidates ready to enter the workforce.

Employer table registration, jobseeker resources, and detailed information can be found by calling Derek Williams at 802-885-8302 or by visiting rivervalleyemploymentfair.org

The 2018 River Valley Employment Fair is brought to you by the River Valley Workforce Investment Board in partnership with River Valley Technical College, Creative Workforce Solutions, Vermont Department of Labor, Springfield Regional Chamber of Commerce, and Springfield Regional Development Corp., and is sponsored by Springfield Medical Care Systems. Please join us at the 2018 River Valley Employment Fair on Wednesday, September 12th, from 2 – 5 pm at Riverside Middle School in Springfield Vermont!

July 16, 2018

Next Start Your Own Business Workshop on 7/26 in Springfield

Filed under: SRDC — admin @ 8:06 am

The Vermont Small Business Development Center (VtSBDC) would like to announce an upcoming workshop for those thinking about starting their own business. This workshop, titled ‘Starting Your Own Business,’ is aimed at helping future entrepreneurs turn their passions into a full-fledged business venture. The workshop will be held on Thursday, July 26th at Springfield Regional Development Corporation office on Clinton Street in Springfield from 9 am to 1 pm.
Starting a business can be challenging. The workshop, conducted by an experienced business advisor, is designed as a guide for the first-time business owner. Participants receive a comprehensive start-up workbook, handouts and resources in marketing, financing, management and operations. By the end the workshop they will be well-informed about the tools and resources available to them and the ‘next steps involved in launching a successful business. The price of the workshop is $129 to attend and you can register online at www.vtsbdc.org under the training tab.
A few workshop highlights include how to:
• Use the “Business Model Canvas” to evaluate whether there is a viable business in their good idea
• Identify target customers and “unique selling proposition(s)”
• Register their business and apply for tax numbers
• Consider start-up costs, sales, expenses and financing options
• Pitch their idea and develop a business plan
• Plus much more!
Vermont Small Business Development Center is a non-profit partnership of government, education and business, organized to help Vermont small businesses succeed. No-cost, confidential advice is provided to existing business owners and new entrepreneurs throughout the state. The local VTSBDC office is located at Springfield Regional Development Corporation. For more information visit www.vtsbdc.org or contact Debra Boudrieau at (802) 885-2071 or dboudrieau@vtsbdc.org

May 1, 2018

Next Start Your Own Business Workshop on 7/26 in Springfield.

Filed under: SRDC — admin @ 1:44 pm

The Vermont Small Business Development Center (VtSBDC) would like to announce an upcoming workshop for those thinking about starting their own business. This workshop, titled ‘Starting Your Own Business,’ is aimed at helping future entrepreneurs turn their passions into a full-fledged business venture. The workshop will be held on Thursday, July 26th at Springfield Regional Development Corporation office on Clinton Street in Springfield from 9 am to 1 pm.
Starting a business can be challenging. The workshop, conducted by an experienced business advisor, is designed as a guide for the first-time business owner. Participants receive a comprehensive start-up workbook, handouts and resources in marketing, financing, management and operations. By the end the workshop they will be well-informed about the tools and resources available to them and the ‘next steps involved in launching a successful business. The price of the workshop is $129 to attend and you can register online at www.vtsbdc.org under the training tab.
A few workshop highlights include how to:
• Use the “Business Model Canvas” to evaluate whether there is a viable business in their good idea
• Identify target customers and “unique selling proposition(s)”
• Register their business and apply for tax numbers
• Consider start-up costs, sales, expenses and financing options
• Pitch their idea and develop a business plan
• Plus much more!
Vermont Small Business Development Center is a non-profit partnership of government, education and business, organized to help Vermont small businesses succeed. No-cost, confidential advice is provided to existing business owners and new entrepreneurs throughout the state. The local VTSBDC office is located at Springfield Regional Development Corporation. For more information visit www.vtsbdc.org or contact Debra Boudrieau at (802) 885-2071 or dboudrieau@vtsbdc.org

December 5, 2017

Springfield School District Launches First-in-Vermont School-Wide Computer Science Initiative for Middle and High School Students

Filed under: SRDC — admin @ 12:22 pm

This Computer Science Education Week, the Springfield School District announced the launch of a comprehensive, school-wide computer science initiative for the middle and high schools supported by grants from the Siegel Family Endowment and the Vermont Community Foundation. In conjunction with this initiative, the Springfield School Board voted to make the school district the first in Vermont to make one semester of coding a high school graduation requirement.

Zach McLaughlin, Superintendent of the Springfield School District, explained the decision. “Our school district is constantly thinking about how to best prepare our students for their social, civic, and economic lives. As we follow societal trends, we know that their lives will be intertwined with computer science. Whether as a community member, a voter, or a wage earner, our students’ worlds will be impacted by the growing integration of technology with all aspects of their lives. Computer science skills will set our graduates up for success.”

Designed to leverage Springfield’s best-in-country gigabit internet, the computer science program will provide every student with a basic knowledge of coding with an aim to develop critical problem-solving skills. The initiative intends to offer additional in and out of school clubs and activities, including a First Robotics team and 3D Vermont club to enhance experiential-learning and to increase confidence and achievement in skills with tangible, real world value. In addition, the program will use strategies proven to empower girls to feel welcome and excited about computer science, and to fight gender disparity in the field.

To increase the breadth and depth of student knowledge and relevance of computer science beyond the school, the initiative hopes to include a dedicated three-season CS coach and activity-specific mentors who offer school-wide workshops, facilitate small-group activities and support individual student endeavors, all designed to unlock new opportunities and encourage the active pursuit of student interests.

Southern Vermont native Marguerite Dibble will serve as senior consultant to the initiative and help guide development of the co-curricular activities and the Girls Coding program. Marguerite is a graduate of the Champlain College gaming program, and founder of the award winning gaming company GameTheory.

“Technology, when used to its best potential, can provide empowerment and opportunity for many. As an industry, technology needs to diversify and broaden, and to do that we need to teach tech enthusiasm in a way that focuses on creativity, empathy, and impact,” said Marguerite. “If we can build a program that helps all kinds of kids see through mentorship, hands on experiences, and self-discovery, that technology skills can be a platform of opportunity for many diverse and exciting careers, that will be a great success.”

A major focus of both the curricular and co-curricular offerings will be to “show-by-doing” how computer science can be applied across industries and professions, and to help students pursue computer science internships and career pathways. “Springfield has a long and rich history of innovation,” said Bob Flint, Executive Director of the Springfield Regional Development Corporation. “This initiative in our schools ensures the next generation has the tools get and create innovation jobs of today and the future.”

The computer science initiative is part of a larger economic development partnership in Springfield between Springfield Regional Development Corporation and the Vermont-based Center on Rural Innovation (CORI), an organization committed to helping rural economies succeed in the digital age.

Significant funding for the initiative has been provided by The Siegel Family Endowment and by a block grant by the the Vermont Community Foundation (VCF) on behalf of the Vermont Women’s Fund, the McClure Foundation and VCF donors.

Dan Smith, President & CEO of the Vermont Community Foundation, reaffirmed the foundation’s support. “On behalf of the VCF funders involved, we are excited to be supporting innovative practices in the Springfield School District that will offer more students in the community a chance to develop skills and knowledge that are a crucial step on the path to economic opportunity. This strategic co-funding partnership is a model we hope to see grow into the future.”

Katy Knight, Deputy Executive Director for the Siegel Family Endowment, explained their organization’s motivation to support the project. “We believe deeply in the power of computational thinking and being able to engage with technology as creators rather than consumers. It is critical that we equip students everywhere with the skills they need so that the next generation of innovators can come from all parts of the country, bring to the table a diverse set of skills informed by their surroundings. Innovation-driven growth should be accessible to people everywhere, and we are excited to support the vision of the Center on Rural Innovation and the Springfield School District to make that a reality.”

The program will launch January of 2018 with full implementation expected for the 2018/2019 school year.

November 27, 2017

Next Start Your Own Business Workshop on 1/26 in Springfield

Filed under: SRDC — admin @ 3:18 pm

The Vermont Small Business Development Center (VtSBDC) would like to announce an upcoming workshop for those thinking about starting their own business. This workshop, titled ‘Starting Your Own Business,’ is aimed at helping future entrepreneurs turn their passions into a full-fledged business venture. The workshop will be held Friday, January 26th at Springfield Regional Development Corporation office on Clinton Street in Springfield from 9 am to 1 pm.
Starting a business can be challenging. The workshop, conducted by an experienced business advisor, is designed as a guide for the first-time business owner. Participants receive a comprehensive start-up workbook, handouts and resources in marketing, financing, management and operations. By the end the workshop they will be well-informed about the tools and resources available to them and the ‘next steps involved in launching a successful business. The price of the workshop is $129 to attend and you can register online at www.vtsbdc.org under the training tab.
A few workshop highlights include how to:
• Use the “Business Model Canvas” to evaluate whether there is a viable business in their good idea
• Identify target customers and “unique selling proposition(s)”
• Register their business and apply for tax numbers
• Consider start-up costs, sales, expenses and financing options
• Pitch their idea and develop a business plan
• Plus much more!
Vermont Small Business Development Center is a non-profit partnership of government, education and business, organized to help Vermont small businesses succeed. No-cost, confidential advice is provided to existing business owners and new entrepreneurs throughout the state. The local VTSBDC office is located at Springfield Regional Development Corporation. For more information visit www.vtsbdc.org or contact Debra Boudrieau at (802) 885-2071 or dboudrieau@vtsbdc.org.

October 6, 2017

Next Start Your Own Business Workshop on 10/19 in Springfield

Filed under: SRDC — admin @ 3:48 pm

The Vermont Small Business Development Center (VtSBDC) would like to announce an upcoming workshop for those thinking about starting their own business. This workshop, titled ‘Starting Your Own Business,’ is aimed at helping future entrepreneurs turn their passions into a full-fledged business venture. The workshop will be held Thursday, October 19th at Springfield Regional Development Corporation office on Clinton Street in Springfield from 9 am to 1 pm.
Starting a business can be challenging. The workshop, conducted by an experienced business advisor, is designed as a guide for the first-time business owner. Participants receive a comprehensive start-up workbook, handouts and resources in marketing, financing, management and operations. By the end the workshop they will be well-informed about the tools and resources available to them and the ‘next steps involved in launching a successful business. The price of the workshop is $129 to attend and you can register online at www.vtsbdc.org under the training tab.
A few workshop highlights include how to:
• Use the “Business Model Canvas” to evaluate whether there is a viable business in their good idea
• Identify target customers and “unique selling proposition(s)”
• Register their business and apply for tax numbers
• Consider start-up costs, sales, expenses and financing options
• Pitch their idea and develop a business plan
• Plus much more!
Vermont Small Business Development Center is a non-profit partnership of government, education and business, organized to help Vermont small businesses succeed. No-cost, confidential advice is provided to existing business owners and new entrepreneurs throughout the state. The local VTSBDC office is located at Springfield Regional Development Corporation. For more information visit www.vtsbdc.org or contact Debra Boudrieau at (802) 885-2071 or dboudrieau@vtsbdc.org.

October 2, 2017

Tonka Trucks & Building Blocks

Filed under: SRDC — admin @ 5:48 am

(This column by SRDC Executive Director Bob Flint appears in the SRDC Fall Newsletter)

Even though my father and oldest brother were carpenters (Barry still is), I never really had much interest in playing with toy trucks or plastic hammers. Sure, I had them and enjoyed pushing them around the dogs and cats, but it never felt like my destiny.

I thought of that a couple of weeks ago when I was standing with Doug Gurney (and you know he surely had the best toy trucks!) behind J & L Plant 1. We were there to check out the work that the EPA Removals program was completing, removing the “grinding swarf” behind the building. It was pretty impressive – Doug figured it was 450 tons of material. Yet, both of us realized it was just another step (albeit a good sized one) in the seemingly never-ending journey of J & L. Yes, the equipment was a bit larger than the toys of yesteryear!

Across the street, we’re working to put the former Bryants building together, piece by piece. We hope to have space at both ends of the property available for cold storage for this winter (roof and interior work will be taking place in a bit) and we’re working to determine what stays/goes of the existing building.

In Windsor, SRDC is working with Distinctly Windsor/Windsor Improvement Corporation to assume operations of the former Goodyear property. SRDC will also have a regional Revolving Loan Fund to build upon the good work that CRDC has done for many years, assisting small businesses in Southern Windsor County.

Next door to the former Goodyear site is the Jarvis Street area of Windsor. Distinctly Windsor/Windsor Improvement Corporation is taking the bold step of “lifting” one of the small houses that has been in disrepair for many years. The elevation solves a flood zone issue, which has precluded this (and other homes in that area) from accessing the funding to put it back in shape. We have been providing oversight for this project which, along with Goodyear, are significant puzzle pieces for the revitalization of downtown Windsor.

We’re also involved with efforts in downtown Springfield, working with old friend Matt Dunne on a potentially exciting project centered around the former Park Street School. It’s early in the process, but we’re cautiously optimistic that we’ll have some interesting things to announce in the coming weeks and months. The project is built upon the remarkable gigabit (and more) connectivity we have because of the vision and investment that VTel has made in the region.

I still have my father’s yellow Connecticut Valley Construction hat kicking around. I’m not sure he ever entirely understood whatever it is I do at SRDC, but he knew it had something to do with “building”. In some ways, I guess, I’m swinging a metaphorical hammer each and every day!

August 10, 2017

Next Start Your Own Business Workshop on 9/1 in Springfield

Filed under: SRDC — admin @ 2:06 pm

The Vermont Small Business Development Center (VtSBDC) would like to announce an upcoming workshop for those thinking about starting their own business. This workshop, titled ‘Starting Your Own Business,’ is aimed at helping future entrepreneurs turn their passions into a full-fledged business venture. The workshop will be held Friday September 1st at Springfield Regional Development Corporation office on Clinton Street in Springfield from 9am to 1 pm.
Starting a business can be challenging. The workshop, conducted by an experienced business advisor, is designed as a guide for the first-time business owner. Participants receive a comprehensive start-up workbook, handouts and resources in marketing, financing, management and operations. By the end the workshop they will be well-informed about the tools and resources available to them and the ‘next steps involved in launching a successful business. The price of the workshop is $129 to attend and you can register online at www.vtsbdc.org under the training tab.
A few workshop highlights include how to:
• Use the “Business Model Canvas” to evaluate whether there is a viable business in their good idea
• Identify target customers and “unique selling proposition(s)”
• Register their business and apply for tax numbers
• Consider start-up costs, sales, expenses and financing options
• Pitch their idea and develop a business plan
• Plus much more!
Vermont Small Business Development Center is a non-profit partnership of government, education and business, organized to help Vermont small businesses succeed. No-cost, confidential advice is provided to existing business owners and new entrepreneurs throughout the state. The local VTSBDC office is located at Springfield Regional Development Corporation. For more information visit www.vtsbdc.org or contact Debra Boudrieau at (802) 885-2071 or dboudrieau@vtsbdc.org.

June 30, 2017

Harnessing Civil Society

Filed under: SRDC — admin @ 3:23 pm

(This piece by SRDC Executive Director Bob Flint appears in SRDC’s Summer Newsletter)

I was at an EDA event in Burlington, Mass last month about “resiliency”. Frankly, I was dreading having to go, but figured I should make an appearance. It turned out to be a really interesting event with useful information that we’ll try to incorporate into our work at SRDC.

But what has really stayed with me was a comment that was made by the keynote speaker, a gentleman, Dr. Stephen Flynn, who was discussing the challenges of getting logistics and systems functional again in New York City after 9/11. It was a moving talk and he talked about how people pulled together, in an ad hoc way, because they cared and how powerful that was. In his words, it showed:

“The importance of harnessing the capabilities of civil society”.

That phrase has lingered with me over the past several weeks. Maybe it’s because of the turmoil going on with the national political scene (which has hit Federal agencies that SRDC deals with). Maybe it’s because another example of this that was discussed was the way Vermont responded to the challenge of Irene a few years ago.

But it was a timely reminder, as we are celebrating our nation’s 241st birthday, of the power of what we can accomplish together.

In that spirit, SRDC has a lot going on, from redevelopment work at the former Bryant Grinder property to assisting Windsor Improvement Corporation on considering the acquisition of the former Goodyear property. There’s a potential tech accelerator that’s gaining momentum, but there’s also the logistical challenges presented by the recent (temporary) closure of County Road, the main access to Precision Park.

There are also visible examples of collaboration, from the Better Connections-granted funded programs in the region. Springfield’s just crossed the finish line, Chester’s close behind and Windsor’s getting in the starting gates.

And, speaking of “Collaboration”, there is the “Collaboratory”, the “Makers Space” that SRDC has partnered with the River Valley Tech Center on, which is located at RVTC. This has turned into a wonderful success for students in the region and the Space has opened to the public this spring (and will be open again this August).

We hope your summer is going well and, as always, we are grateful for the continued support of our communities and our members!

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