A strong economic future for Rutland
As the Rutland Economic Development Corporation celebrates its 75th anniversary as a nonprofit organization this year, it is appropriate to reflect on REDCís vision for the future.
The primary goal of REDC is the creation and retention of value added jobs that will strengthen the regionís economy and improve the quality of life for working Vermonters and their families.
Our primary focus is the regionís value-added industry sectors, the regionís economic engines. We are dedicated to the creation and retention of good jobs in a clean environment.
A year ago, as our economy struggled with the Great Recession, REDC pounded out a new and exciting strategic plan. The plan was approved by REDCís Board of Directors this year. It is based on a common vision of a thriving economic environment which provides meaningful opportunities for a high quality of life in Rutland County.
Last year, only weeks after Tropical Storm Irene devastated our region, REDC hosted a visit by three nationally recognized site selection consultants who provided us with insights and advice on activities to enhance economic opportunities for the region. The consultants were deeply impressed by the resiliency and resourcefulness of our people, and they marveled over the ability of government leaders and businesses to collaborate and rebuild broken highways and bridges in a matter of weeks. The experience triggered a renewed appreciation for the infrastructure necessary to nurture business development.
Our new strategic plan focuses our efforts in those areas that provide the greatest opportunity for success. Our commitment includes renewed attention to blighted areas, working with the regional planning commission and local municipalities on brownfields redevelopment. We will work to retain the existing business base, and develop new business leaders through a system of mentoring and financing. We will target green energy related jobs and value added food production as they offer promising opportunities for growth. We will continue to address the needs of our high-value employers to insure their growth and development in the region. Lastly, we will maintain contact with legislators and state government officials to communicate concerns and issues affecting our key employers.
Some of REDCís long-term objectives include:
Updating our website to include all ďshovel readyĒ commercial and industrial sites.
Bringing natural gas service out to the Rutland region before the end of this decade.
Establishing passenger rail and airline connections with New York City within the next three to five years.
Expanding Internet capabilities with broadband 4G infrastructure within the next two years.
Working with area employers and educators to provide opportunities for students, especially in the 20- to 25-year-old cohort, to enter the work force in Vermont rather than move to another state.
Continuing to enhance our loan program and workforce training opportunities.
Finding additional ways of financing investments in real estate and infrastructure, such as through the federal EB-5 program, federal grants, and the new markets tax credit program.
Utilizing the $100,000 green growth grant that we received this year from Green Mountain Power and Central Vermont Public Service Corporation to acquire income-producing properties that have affordable space for green growth and energy innovation businesses.
Targeting assistance to local entrepreneurs by sponsoring a business plan competition among the three area colleges, hosting angel investor meetings, and sponsoring a mentor network for aspiring executives.
In summary, REDC will continue its work as a business partner, lender and developer for this region. We have a small staff, so our continued success depends upon the selfless dedication of our volunteers. We look forward to working with the community as we continue the life of REDC as a positive driver of the local economy.
Dale Rocheleau current serves as president of the Rutland Economic Development Corporation (REDC). He is an attorney at the law firm of Downs Rachlin Martin, PLLC in Burlington.