|Program||# of Grants||EDA Funds|
|Economic Adjustment Assistance||2||$1,563,073|
General demographic trends in the Windham region indicate that it is becoming less vital through out-migration and population loss. According to the 2013 Southeastern Vermont Economic Development Strategy (SeVEDS), the ten-year span from 2000 to 2010 saw a population decline in the 20- to 44-age bracket, while the population over 65 years of age increased. These shifts have caused Windham County to age faster than the whole of Vermont, resulting in stagnant job creation and economic decline. This decline in economic prosperity is reflected in the region’s farm and food production sectors. The 2013 SeVEDS marked and characterized two critical needs: to bring in new and younger farm operators to advance product opportunities and create more opportunities for scalability and cross-sector collaboration in the food production sector. These needs within the Windham ecosystem are exacerbated by the lack of an “entrepreneur and innovation ecosystem,” which the SeVEDS identified as a substantial “capacity gap.”
In September 2016, EDA invested $150,000 in Economic Adjustment Assistance funds to assist Strolling of the Heifers, a nonprofit development organization, with its Windham Grows (Hatchery) business accelerator program. The program will provide targeted technical assistance and organizational development to farm and food production entrepreneurs. A three-phased approach consisting of public outreach opportunity sessions, annual business planning competitions, and customized support for competitive, viable business plans will accelerate the growth and success of start-up and early stage enterprises.
The Windham Grows (Hatchery) business accelerator will increase the capacity of the local and regional farm and food cluster. At least 16 new jobs and private investment of $685,000 are projected in one to two years. Marlboro College also estimates that 43 new businesses, 270 new jobs, and a cumulative private investment of $8.1 million will be introduced to the region within five years as a result of this project.