SeVEDS, founded in 2007 as an affiliate of the Brattleboro Development Credit Corporation (BDCC), takes a proactive approach to long-term regional economic development. Improving wages, attracting and keeping people in the region, and fostering a healthy regional jobs base are critical and beyond the capacity of any single community to substantially affect. SeVEDS creates strategies and attracts resources to help us act together to build a vibrant regional economy. BDCC, Southeastern Vermont’s Regional Development Corporation, develops and implements these strategies. We use municipal funding in three key ways:
- To fund implementation of programs & projects.
- For capacity. We use SeVEDS regional municipal funds to create programs (see below), conduct research and planning, secure and administer grants, and to help regional partners – last year we helped bring another $2.7 Million directly to other organizations – towns, businesses and non-profits (not including COVID relief).
- As seed funding to leverage bringing more money into the region (in FY20 we administered $635,699 of federal and state funding for BDCC & SeVEDS programs and projects)
Background & Request
Our work is guided by the 2019 Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy (CEDS), a 5 year regional plan with simple goals: Strengthen Business, Support People. The CEDS, available online at www.seveds.com, is developed by the regions people and businesses. SeVEDS requests funding at $3.00 per person from all 27 towns we serve to support this work. In 2020, sixteen communities funded SeVEDS, representing 82% of Windham region residents.
2020 Pandemic Response
SeVEDS history includes leading regional economic development, and recovery, with strategy and insight. We took a leading role on charting the path for economic response and recovery for both Tropical Storm Irene and the closure of the VY Nuclear Plant. During the pandemic, BDCC adapted our regular programming to the current conditions, and to emerging needs. In March, we shift staff from full-time CEDS driven program work into the COVID-19 Impact team which provided support directly to regional establishments and entrepreneurs. We remain focused on ensuring pandemic relief for small businesses and non-profits is understood and accessed locally. This has helped, and is still helping, direct resources to the Windham Region:
- Over 500 businesses in the Windham Region have received liaison support or technical assistance from BDCC to apply for federal & state relief.
- We have provided 15 webinars so far specific to COVID-19 Resiliency, along with How-to-Zoom webinars, municipal trainings on short and long term impacts of COVID-19.
- We convene twice monthly Business Economic Resiliency Webinars to ensure local people can be heard and get answers directly from legislators and state and federal officials.
- We convene twice monthly Windham Resiliency Team Webinars so local officials have direct access to up to date information on economic recovery programs, direct access to their Windham and Federal delegations, and that needs for Windham County’s COVID-19 economic recovery consistently heard.
SeVEDS helps fund the following initiatives which stem from the CEDS strategies and SeVEDS research:
- Capacity-building for communities. BDCC’s Southern Vermont Economy Project which helps towns and non-profits improve community vibrancy through local projects. Since 2017 we’ve provided 100+ trainings with over 2,000 participants, plus 43 online webinars to help solve problems and find resources. This fall we provided a Funders Roundtable and Grant Writing workshop to connect towns with the resources they need to achieve local goals, and help local officials and volunteers build the relationships and skills.
- Direct technical assistance – we help towns with Community Facilities projects through our USDA CF program which supports planning through construction for town buildings, libraries, childcare and other essential facilities. We help communities with grant applications and fund-finding, and with running online meetings.
- The Pipelines and Pathways Program (P3) operates in the regional high schools and serves all students who attend these. P3 was in full swing from September to March, with field trips, mock interview and professionalism workshops and career awareness classes. When COVID-19 halted in-person classes and field trips, P3 Pivoted to provide online resume and interview training for LNA students at Vermont Technical College as they entered the job market. This fall P3 is bringing online career content to the regional high schools through Flexible Pathways so students graduate with skills they need to navigate the working world.
- We conduct survey-based research to identify promising career pathways in this region to increase access by underemployed, unemployed and young workers to jobs that will allow them to thrive here. Please check out our three new Hiring Needs Assessments at the BDCC web site: Accounting & Bookkeeping, Manufacturing & Production, and CDL Drivers. Coming in 2021: Facilities Maintenance and Mental Health careers.
- Southern Vermont Young Professionals, puts on monthly networking events, annual financial wellness and homebuyer trainings, and now a professional development scholarship fund.
- BDCC Paid Internships has placed 109 interns since 2014, visited over 20 campuses since 2017, and worked with over 175 employers. 25% of interns are hired on to stay. We place regional college students of all ages, and students returning for summer or for good.
- Recruitment and Retention – We welcome new people to the region and welcome back returning Vermonters. We’ve recently launched the Southern Vermont Welcome Wagon chapter to connect local hosts with newcomers.
- BDCC’s Workforce Center of Excellence is building a regional workforce development system connecting people with opportunities, and employers with people. We help fund or run a diverse range of workforce training programs that invest in people.