VERMONT INNOVATOR NEWS • WEEK OF AUGUST 26, 2019

U.S. Department of Commerce Invests $440,000
to Improve Critical Infrastructure In
Brattleboro Opportunity Zone
BRATTLEBORO, VT – The federal government has awarded $440,000 to the Town of Brattleboro for critical water and wastewater infrastructure improvements needed to support commercial development. On July 29th the U.S. Department of Commerce Economic Development Administration (EDA) announced funding for the project, to be located within Brattleboro’s designated Opportunity Zone. Federal dollars will be matched with $320,000 in local funds. This investment will create system-wide improvements and help growing employers in the Exit One Industrial Park.

Brattleboro Development Credit Corporation (BDCC) has provided pre-development and application assistance to the Town of Brattleboro and will assist with project management. While originally linked with development of a new dairy startup which did not ultimately take off in 2019, the need for these water and sewer improvements pre-date that effort: The Exit One infrastructure project was first named a Vital Project of the Windham Comprehensive Development Strategies (CEDS) back in 2013. Brattleboro was able to make the case for federal assistance based on current and planned economic activity, the new Opportunity Zone designation, and the project being a CEDS priority.

Vermont has 25 Opportunity Zones, census tracts which have been designated based on population-based needs. Within an Opportunity Zone, private investment made to qualifying projects and businesses benefit from reduced capital gains liability. Brattleboro and Rockingham both contain an Opportunity Zone and seek to leverage this special program to attract investors for whom capital gains advantages make up for low investment returns when investing in distressed communities.

Governor Scott highlighted the project and partnerships in a recent statement, “Congratulations to the Town of Brattleboro on its recent award from the EDA to make infrastructure improvements at the Exit One Industrial Park and Delta Business Campus. I’m pleased to see the Town and the Brattleboro Development Credit Corporation working together to make economic expansion a reality in southern Vermont…These partners have set the table for economic growth by positioning prime developable land to anchor industrial sites that host more jobs in both traditional and new or expanding industries. I also want to thank our federal partners and Vermont’s congressional delegation for supporting funding for the EDA.”
          
The Town sought technical assistance on the application and project from BDCC, based on the regional development corporation’s expertise managing development projects and federal funding. BDCC began developing this special capacity to help communities during Tropical Storm Irene Recovery when it helped administer Disaster Recovery funding through the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) program. “Partnering with Brattleboro allows us to strategically leverage our experience in order to bring more federal funding into the region,” explained Adam Grinold, Executive Director of BDCC. “When we can use our capacity to help communities better leverage the investment of town funds that’s a huge win for everyone here.” Brattleboro’s water and sewer system supports thousands of residents, and much of the region’s services and employment. For more details about the grant, visit https://www.eda.gov/news/press-releases/2019/07/30/brattleboro-vt.htm

Brattleboro Development Credit Corporation is a private, nonprofit economic development organization that serves as a catalyst for industrial and commercial growth throughout Southeastern Vermont, including Windham County and the towns of Readsboro, Searsburg, Winhall and Weston. BDCC serves as the State of Vermont’s certified Regional Development Corporation (RDC) for the greater Windham County area. BDCC is one of 12 RDCs throughout Vermont. This BDCC activity was made possible in part by a grant from the State of Vermont through the Agency of Commerce and Community Development. For more information visit: https://brattleborodevelopment.com/

Southeastern Vermont Economic Development Strategies (SeVEDS) is an affiliate of BDCC that grew from a 2008 grassroots effort, initiated by BDCC, to reverse the economic decline of the Windham Region and plan for the economic impacts from the closure of the Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant. In 2014, after multiple years of regional input, education and data gathering, SeVEDS submitted the Windham Region’s federally recognized S.M.A.R.T. Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy for federal approval. The new 2019 Southern Vermont CEDS is now complete and available online in draft form. For more information visit: www.seveds.com

VERMONT INNOVATOR NEWS • WEEK OF AUGUST 12, 2019

Central Vermont Medical Center Launches
Workforce Development Program
Berlin, Vt. — Central Vermont Medical Center (CVMC) – in partnership with the Community Colleges of Vermont (CCV) and the Vermont Technical College (VTC) – is launching a new workforce development program aimed at addressing the shortage of nurses in Vermont. The new program will make it easier for employeed Licensed Nursing Assistants (LNAs) to train to become Licensed Practical Nurses (LPNs) by reducing the two biggest barriers to higher education: time and money.

“Right now, we have the lowest unemployment rate in Vermont’s history,” says Robert Patterson, Vice President of Human Resources and Clinical Operations. “That makes it challenging to find skilled nurses. We realized that we couldn’t just wait for qualified people to apply for jobs, and the alternative of hiring traveling nurses is expensive. We needed to look at how we could invest in our staff to move them into key positions.”

Eighteen LNAs from the medical center will start down the path of becoming LPNs by taking prerequisite courses this fall through CCV. After, the pilot group will go through an 11-month LPN training program through VTC. Students in the program will continue to work part-time but receive full-time pay and benefits during their training hours.

The staff at CVMC are deeply rooted in our community,” says Anna Tempesta Noonan, President and Chief Operations Officer. “They’re committed to our organization and the patients, residents, and families that we serve. Supporting their career development is one of the best investments we can make.”

One of the newly enrolled students, Sydney Konopka, an LNA at Woodridge Rehabilitation and Nursing, is optimistic about how this program will impact her life and allow her to keep serving her residents. “I want to expand the ways I can help our residents,” says Sydney. “This program is an opportunity to grow while gaining knowledge that I can use to help them more.”

Like many hospitals, CVMC offers tuition reimbursement, but they found that many staff – including LNAs – still couldn’t balance the demands of a fulltime job, family, and schooling all at the same time.

“When we were creating this program, we sat down with our LNAs,” says Matt Choate, Chief Nursing Officer. “We asked them, ‘what are the barriers preventing you from growing your career?’ What we heard was that we need to pay people while they’re learning, and we need to make the school and the classroom content really easy to access.” The program will be held on weekends at Central Vermont Medical Center’s main campus. Funding for the LNA-to-LPN program comes from CVMC and a combination of state and federal grants.