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Brattleboro, VT - Southern Vermont has experienced decades of economic decline like much of rural America where essential infrastructure for the New Economy remains elusive. This rural region, like many, is severely underserved. Long-term generational outmigration has produced distress within specific municipalities affecting approximately 12.4 percent of the region’s total population. With Vermont being the second smallest State by population, the collaborative efforts of both Bennington and Windham Counties demonstrates an authentic “do-it-yourself” approach to regional, community-driven economic development.
In September 2017, EDA invested $70,000 in Partnership Planning funds to the Brattleboro Development Credit Corp to fund the development and implementation of a Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy for the two rural counties of Bennington and Windham in Southern Vermont. The project also received matched funds of $70,000 from the Bennington County Regional Commission and the Brattleboro Development Credit Corporation. Both are State enabled non-profit planning and development groups.
Key initiatives will be measured though a “SMART” framework (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Timely). Success of the strategy will promote regional actions, create an entrepreneurial environment and culture to enhance businesses, improve wage parity, increase the quality and size of the workforce, and retain and attract younger talent through expanding meaningful career opportunities. Since 2014, in Windham County alone, 480 jobs have been retained, and 170 new jobs have been added to local payrolls. Based on these 2014-16 metrics, the current co-recipients estimate that this strategy will aide in the creation and retention of a similar number of jobs within the two counties.