Regional Economic Development Capacity and Coalition Building
The Regional Economic Development (RED) Group, convened and supported by BCIC staff, continues to meet monthly to discuss regional data and directions for Bennington County and Southern Vermont. The most recent meeting included an overview of several local-level economic development initiatives around the region, demonstrating the extent to which several towns in the region are responding to economic development concerns, and ways to frame the narrative of regional development at the local scale.
In October, the US Economic Development Administration accepted an application for grant funding to support the creation of a Comprehensive Economic Development Zone for Southern Vermont, which was one of the primary recommendations of the Southern Vermont Economic Development Zone Committee’s 2015 report. The grant will provide a total of $70,000, split evenly between the Bennington County Regional Commission and the Brattleboro Development Credit Corporation, to match the $70,000 the two entities will direct towards staffing and consulting capacity for the process. To build familiarity with the CEDS process, two RED Group members have agreed to participate in the project selection process for the final year of the Windham County CEDS, which is now underway.
At the conclusion of the November meeting, three RED Group members agreed to work with three SeVEDS Board members to review and approve of the Request for Proposals that will be issued to consulting firms for assistance in creating a Comprehensive Economic Development Zone for Southern Vermont. This committee will also evaluate the proposals received, and make recommendations for a selection in early 2018.