• Where’s the innovation?
    March 06,2014
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    Windham County will receive from Entergy $10 million facilitating economic development replacing Vermont Yankee in Vernon and neighboring towns, which are being asked at town meeting to raise and appropriate their property taxes to support Southeastern Vermont Economic Development Strategies (SeVEDS).

    Self-appointed SeVEDS recently quietly completed its Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy (CEDS) and submitted it to the U.S. Economic Development Administration (EDA). “Once accepted by the EDA, the CEDS will serve as a blueprint for economic development activity in the Windham region” (seveds.com).

    The best jobs are created and sustained by proven innovative employers whose skilled employees add unique value to materials, then sell the competitive result for significantly more than it cost: the foundation of Windham County’s prosperity and where the $10 million should be spent.

    There are many proven innovative employers in Windham County, just three of which are represented on the 18-member SeVEDS board of directors: Chroma Technology (optical filters, employee-owned); Grafton Village Cheese (Windham Foundation); and New Chapter (nutritional supplements, Procter & Gamble, Cincinnati).

    Local businesses are represented, not by the Brattleboro Area Chamber of Commerce, but by the Mount Snow Valley Chamber of Commerce, in another world than Vernon and neighboring towns.

    Seven board members represent government, supported by taxpayers: Towns of Brattleboro (two), Putney and Rockingham; Brattleboro Development Credit Corporation; Windham Regional Commission and Bennington County Regional Commission (“southeastern” Vermont?).

    Seven board members represent conventional service businesses and organizations supported by clients, shoppers, sponsors or tourists: Bartleby’s Books (Wilmington); Brattleboro Retreat (mental health and addiction treatment); Richards Group (insurance and financial services); Stevens and Associates (architecture and engineering); Stratton Mountain Ski Resort (Intrawest Resorts Holdings, Denver); Strolling of the Heifers (event promoter, Brattleboro); and Vermont Geeks (two computer consultants, Wilmington).

    Why are just three of Windham County’s proven innovative employers represented on a board of directors planning to spend $10 million to facilitate economic development replacing Vermont Yankee with equivalent jobs?

    Is the current 18-member SeVEDS board of directors, dominated by 14 members representing government and conventional service businesses and organizations, qualified to do this?

    HOWARD FAIRMAN

    Vernon
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