Rutland Economic Development Corporation (REDC) held its 80th Annual Meeting on Thursday evening, November 2, 2017 in the Casella Theater at Castleton University. Over 250 people attended the event.
In addition to electing officers and directors to the board and presenting on the state of the organization, the annual event is an opportunity for REDC to celebrate the successes of the region’s businesses and entrepreneurs. Ann Clark Cookie Cutters and Killington/Pico Ski Resort were recognized as the 2017 Business Members of the Year.
This year’s Young Entrepreneurs of the Year award was given to the Rutland Robo-Rattlers, one of 32,000 First Lego League Robotics teams worldwide. In 2016, the Rutland Robo-Rattlers competed among 40 teams to win the Vermont State Championships in a competition programming robots to solve problems and complete missions. The team went on to compete against 100 teams at the worldwide competition in St. Louis.
The Robo-Rattlers, ranging in ages from 9 to 14, competed in the Rutland stop of the 2017 Road Pitch presenting their product the Breeze N’ Leave, a device that monitors the temperature in cars to alert pet owners by text when it is too hot for their pets. They received a standing ovation from the over 100 investors and community members present at the pitch event.
As part of their award, REDC presented the Robo-Rattlers with a $1,000 grant to support their programs. During his presentation, REDC Executive Director Lyle Jepson emphasized the importance of developing our workforce and supporting the next generation of innovators.
“Ultimately, the most important role we play as civic, business, and governmental leaders is supporting the generations that follow us,” Jepson said. “Our legacy will be how well we have cultivated and supported our entrepreneurs and our leaders of the future.”
In addition to the awards, REDC’s presentation included an update on progress being made on policy initiatives, real estate development, and small business support through REDC committees and programs, highlighting support of The Mint, Rutland’s Makerspace. Grants and available loans through REDC’s revolving loan fund were announced, as well, and Jepson presented on the progress of the Regional Marketing Initiative as a way to grow our population and strengthen our workforce.
Governor Phil Scott was in attendance to help REDC congratulate the award winners and gave the keynote address for the evening.
“REDC’s support and work to secure funds to secure business growth has been essential,” Governor Scott said. “The collaboration and focus on marketing to grow our population, and the unique partnership with Castleton University to maximize economic development is incredibly important. It’s innovative, it’s valuable, and it’s the answer to what ails us and I thank you for your work.”
Outgoing REDC president Mark Foley, Jr. thanked the REDC board and committee members for their service, and thanked everyone in the audience for their contributions to the region.
“Look around,” Foley said. “You are what makes this region such a great place to live, work, and play.”
“We believe in collaboration, innovation, nimbleness, and transparency, and we set the bar very high,” Jepson said. “This is the new normal in Rutland County.”