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July 9, 2015

The Circle of Prosperity

Filed under: SRDC — admin @ 9:41 pm

(the following is a column from SRDC Executive Director Bob Flint, from the Summer 2015 SRDC Newsletter)

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