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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 12/7 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 Thursday, December 7th 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!

June 15, 2017

SRDC Receives VEDA Financing for Bryants Redevelopment Project

Filed under: SRDC — admin @ 11:16 am

Springfield Regional Development Corporation announced that it has received financing of $625,000 from the Vermont Economic Development Authority (VEDA) to assist with the redevelopment of roughly 35,000 square feet of the former Bryant Grinder facility in Springfield.

SRDC will utilize the VEDA funds to continue repairs to the southern portion of the building to prepare it for future occupancy. Bob Flint, SRDC Executive Director, said that the support from VEDA comes at a critical time. “The north and south ends of the building are in the best condition and can be put back into use. The VEDA financing will allow us to have usable space to market for commercial use for Springfield,” Flint said.

Flint said that SRDC has been working with environmental and historic preservation consultants on a variety of issues with the building since it was acquired in 2010. He said that the property on Clinton Street is in a New Market Tax Credit-eligible census tract and that the eventual site redevelopment would likely utilize this resource.

VEDA Chief Executive Officer Jo Bradley said that the loan was an example of VEDA’s continued support for economic development in Vermont. “VEDA has worked closely with SRDC on a number of projects over the years, and we are pleased to support their efforts to bring this important building in Springfield back to life,” Bradley said.

Flint added that work on the redevelopment project is expected to begin by the end of the summer.

April 6, 2017

Next Start Your Business Workshop on 4/20 in Springfield

Filed under: SRDC — admin @ 2:33 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 April 20th at Springfield Regional Development Corporation 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.

March 29, 2017

SRDC Announces Staff Promotions

Filed under: SRDC — admin @ 1:16 pm

Springfield Regional Development Corporation (SRDC) Executive Director Bob Flint announced that two long-time SRDC employees have been promoted to new positions. Heather Hartford now serves as SRDC’s Assistant Director and Paul Kowalski has been named the Senior Project Manager.

Hartford is a native of Springfield and has been with SRDC since 2014. In her role as a Project Manager, she has overseen the construction of the new Blake Hill Preserves facility in Windsor, the recent renovations to the Robert S. Jones Industrial Center in Springfield and is coordinating the redevelopment of the former Bryant Grinder property.

Kowalski has been a Project Manager for SRDC since 2013. He administered the Community Development Block Grant – Disaster Relief program that provided assistance to businesses that were impacted by Tropical Storm Irene. Currently, Paul is working with Windsor Improvement Corporation on a variety of projects in that community.

Flint indicated that these promotions illustrate the importance of Hartford and Kowalski to SRDC. “Heather and Paul are key members of the SRDC team. We are grateful for their talents and passion for the region”, Flint said.

March 9, 2017

Seminar on Business Ownership Succession on 5/2 in Springfield

Filed under: SRDC — admin @ 4:24 pm

An introduction to business ownership succession planning will be offered on Tuesday, May 2 from 2:00 to 5:00 p.m. at The Hartness House Inn, 30 Orchard Street in Springfield, Vermont.  Attendees will receive a copy of “An Owner’s Guide to Business Succession Planning.” There is no cost for this event, but registration is required.

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, including an overview of the business valuation process, 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 accountant Jeffrey Graham of Graham & Graham, P.C. <http://www.grahamcpa.com/meet-our-firm.html>,with Don Jamison of the Vermont Employee Ownership Center <http://www.veoc.org/>.

Our special guest at this event will be Steve Birge, co-founder of Black River Produce, who recently completed the succession process.

Attendance is limited to business owners and key managers.

Sponsors of the event are the Regional Development Corporations of Vermont/Springfield Regional Development Corporation, the Vermont Small Business Development Center, Vermont Manufacturing Extension Center and the Vermont Employee Ownership Center, with funding provided by the Vermont Agency of Commerce and Community Development.

To register, please click here <https://www.eventbrite.com/e/the-search-for-a-good-exit-introduction-to-ownership-succession-planning-springfield-2017-registration-32471616479>.

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