The Entrepreneurship Committee is proud to report the results of some of the work we have done throughout this very busy year. We are fortunate, as our committee is represented by a strong group of local leaders focused on the development of future visionaries, entrepreneurs, and business leaders throughout our region.
This was the first full year of operation for The MINT – Rutland’s Makerspace, an initiative supported by this committee. This is just one more exciting resource as we work to build out Rutland’s entrepreneurial ecosystem. State of the art equipment and one-on-one support within the space, coupled with the resources at REDC and within the community, will ensure a solid foundation for growth. The MINT is creating a powerful place to incubate the growth of businesses, individuals, and the community, united under the common goal of increasing the economic vitality of the region. It is this committee’s intention to continue to fully support the development of this regional asset.
This year, the committee passed off the hosting and organization of the Rutland leg of the Road Pitch to the organizers at The MINT. On August 1st, over 130 Road Pitch riders, businesses leaders, and members of the community attended this event. This was another successful Rutland Road Pitch event, made all that much more impressive by the space within which it was held – surrounded by innovation.
This year, the committee has been partnering with the Center for Women and Enterprise (CWE) to help the committee formalize a mentorship support system for emerging businesses. CWE works with entrepreneurs throughout their development through coaching, training, and collaborations, and they have developed a ten-week business planning course that they have offered for free three times this year in the Rutland area. Over 40 participating entrepreneurs have taken advantage of this opportunity. Augmenting this course, through our committee members and area partners, is a mentorship component that is designed to carry forward a mentor/mentee relationship beyond the ten-week course to further develop and support the entrepreneur participants. The mentors represent a wide variety of areas of expertise, and it is our hope that initiatives such as these will allow small businesses the resources they need to succeed and grow within the region without feeling the need to move their businesses elsewhere.
The momentum we are experiencing in our region would not be possible without the dedicated support of many community members and businesses. As we move into 2019, this momentum looks certain to continue and strengthen. This committee will continue to support and further develop The MINT and the mentoring programs, focusing on the development and sustainability of the businesses and entrepreneurs that come through these channels.
Committee members include: John Casella II, Brian DeClue, Mike Doenges, Brennan Duffy, Collin Fingon, Rick Gile, Jerry Hansen, Bernie Krasnoff, and Russ Marsan.
John Casella II, Committee Chair
As we end fiscal year 2018 (12 months ended September 2018), REDC continues to operate in a position of financial strength and security. Revenue generated this year was $460,294.33. Revenue is diversified and is generated from membership dues, rental income from 112 Quality Lane, grants from the Agency of Commerce and Community Development (ACCD) and the Small Business Development Center (SBDC), loan fees, and interest from banks. Expenses this year totaled $440,764.86 and included operating expenses (including expenses related to the Castleton contract for a portion of the year), mortgage and maintenance for 112 Quality Lane, and deployment of Green Mountain Power (GMP) money. The year-end net income total is $19,529.47.
The ownership of the building at 112 Quality Lane continues to provide long-term stable cash flow to support REDC operations. The existing primary tenant is ending the second year of a five-year lease for 82% occupancy of the building. The remaining 18% of the building – roughly 8,000 square feet – was donated to The MINT – Rutland’s Makerspace for a three-year period to enable start-up and continued success, and they enter their third year of this agreement in 2019. Maintenance on the building was minimal this year, and we continue to anticipate sections 1 and 3 of the roof will need replacing sometime in the next ten years.
Some time ago, GMP gave REDC $100,000 for the beneficial investment in local economic development. In fiscal year 2016, $60,000 of this money was invested: $10,000 towards the Regional Marketing Initiative and $50,000 towards start-up costs associated with The MINT. This year, $15,000 has been committed from the GMP money to hire a part-time staff assistant at The MINT for one year at twenty hours per week to help establish systems to generate the necessary revenue for growth and sustainability. The part-time staff member, Jeff DeJarnette, is a REDC employee working directly out of The MINT at 112 Quality Lane.
In February, Castleton University chose to exercise their option in the shared services contract between REDC and the university and terminated the agreement effective May 31st. Combined with the resignation of Executive Director Lyle Jepson in May and part-time Finance Director Sharon Traverse in June, this allowed REDC the opportunity to reorganize the staffing and organizational structure. In June, the board approved hiring former Assistant Director Tyler Richardson as Executive Director. The Finance Director position was not filled, opting instead to contract financial services to a local accounting firm, thereby saving the organization significant expense annually. Kim Rupe was hired as Assistant Director and began on October 1st. Erin Anderson remains as Outreach Coordinator.
The Finance Committee received several loan inquiries in fiscal year 2018 but only two applications. Both applications were approved totaling $76,500 in lending for the year. Prior year’s loan activity necessitated further funding from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to maintain our ability to lend, and in November USDA approved a $350,000 revolving loan to REDC. REDC matched 25% of this amount totaling $437,500 in new lending capability for lending to Rutland County businesses. There is currently $700,000 in available lending as we end the fiscal year. REDC has prioritized increasing REDC’s lending portfolio in fiscal year 2019.
REDC is audited annually by an outside accounting firm. These audits continue to be “clean” audits citing no issues of materiality and no issues regarding internal controls.
Committee members: Mark Foley Jr., Scott Gregg, Rolf Hirschman, Chris Keyser, Deb Quirk, Andrew Simonds
Karen Garrow, Chair
Joint Regional Marketing Committee
The past year has been a wonderful time for marketing the Rutland region! REDC and the Rutland Regional Chamber of Commerce, with the support of the joint Regional Marketing Committee, made great strides in telling the Rutland Region’s story.
Through hard work and a lot of visits to communities throughout the county, aimed at demonstrating the regional nature of our efforts and the collaboration necessary to make progress, REDC and RRCC staff were able to work with town leaders to put the Regional Marketing Initiative in budgets or on ballots in 14 towns last spring. The results were excellent, with 12 communities approving funding in the amount of $38,375 specifically for the Regional Marketing Initiative.
Those funds, combined with $102,500 from local businesses that continue to support the effort, and a $30,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, provided a budget of $171,235 for the second year of the marketing campaign.
The committee, representing REDC, RRCC, the Downtown Rutland Partnership, Rutland Redevelopment Authority, I Love Rutland, Green Mountain Power, Killington Resort and the Killington-Pico Association, has adjusted our focus to build on the successes of the first year. Year one was largely focused on local, state and regional audiences, starting with an in-state focus on building community pride and beginning to build local support as we begin to change the story of Rutland County. We were extremely pleased with the first year of the campaign, dubbed “Real Rutland,” which included great media coverage, well over a million impressions from digital and traditional media, and positive responses from our partner communities.
In Year 2, working with our vender Mondo Mediaworks, we are focusing on making the Real Rutland campaign even more focused on real people. Mondo has upgraded the Real Rutland website, and has begun to develop 40 “stories” that will be used in advertising, social media and on the website. These pieces, which include strong video profiles of local community members in their own words, as well as photos and written pieces, explain why people choose to stay or move to the region, and what makes it special to them. The first three video pieces are among the best marketing materials we’ve seen in years.
Meanwhile subcommittees, focused on tourism and outdoor recreation and informing local high school and college students about the opportunities to grow their careers here, continue their efforts.
In conclusion, we are very pleased with the quality of the campaign so far and look forward to its continuing evolution as we build on each year’s successes.
Steve Costello, Mary Ann Goulette, Committee Co-Chairs
REDC / Chamber Public Policy Committee
Through a joint Public Policy Committee with the Rutland Region Chamber of Commerce (RRCC), REDC monitors and weighs in on legislation that could impact the business community. REDC and the RRCC continue to strengthen collaborative efforts on issues that are relevant to our region – the joint Public Policy Committee is just one example.
This past year saw the continuation of the Legislative Breakfast Series, a series of forums that are intended to be informative and timely regarding current and future legislative activity. We are fortunate to have an engaged Rutland County Delegation eager and willing to maintain ongoing lines of open communication between the committee and members of the public. Similarly, the Governor and his staff have been generous with their time and attention and understand and support our focus: that strategies and actions need to be taken to strengthen our region’s ability to grow economically.
This past year saw us helping to drive legislation introduced by the entire House delegation from Rutland County. H.665 sought to “require the District Environmental Commission under 10 V.S.A. chapter 151 (Act 250) to issue a decision on an application within 20 days following the close of a hearing, to allow them to grant land use permits on condition that other State approvals are received, and to direct that certain State and municipal permits and approvals constitute conclusive evidence on specified Act 250 criteria.” We view these as sensible changes designed to eliminate untimely delays, to encourage the elimination of duplication of effort, and to inspire trust in the agencies empowered to provide permits with the authority to do their jobs, thus allowing businesses to grow, jobs to be created, our population to grow, and tax revenue to be generated for the state of Vermont. We testified on this bill in April in the House Natural Resources Committee. While no action was taken, we plan on supporting the reintroduction of this bill in the coming session, and the conversation will continue to move forward.
This past year has seen the progression of the work of the Commission on Act 250, designed to evaluate the effectiveness of this legislation over the previous fifty years and determine recommendations for the legislation moving forward. We have been engaged in this process since the beginning, attending commission hearings and public forums. The recommendations of the Commission on Act 250 are due mid-December 2018, and we will continue to monitor and voice the concerns of Rutland County’s business community. Our mantra has been: permitting procedures need to be predictable, timely, and cost-effective if we are to see the growth of high skill, high paying, high demand jobs which will generate the revenue necessary to protect Vermont’s environment.
We have been working closely with Downs Rachlin Martin, who contract through the statewide Regional Development Corporations to provide lobbying services, to help us monitor legislation that is important and impactful to the business community. The team at the Vermont Chamber of Commerce have been in frequent contact with us, as well, to update us on their legislative priorities and keep us in sync with the work they’re doing with the Vermont Futures Project. We are fortunate to have many partners in the work we are doing for the Rutland region.
The Joint Policy Committee of Rutland Economic Development Corporation and Rutland Region Chamber of Commerce suggest that actions be taken to strengthen our state’s and, specifically, the Rutland Region’s ability to grow economically and to pay for our future. To support the goal of protecting Vermont, it is essential that we grow the tax base upon which financial support can be drawn. We need strategic and incremental growth of business and industry, which in turn can contribute to maintaining the way of life to which we have become accustomed. We need a healthy tax base upon which to draw funding so that we can clean up our lakes and waterways, protect our air, and secure a healthy future for our children and grandchildren.
Committee members: Ray Ault, Ed Bove, Blair Enman, Jerry Hansen, Caprice Hover, Jim Goss, Tara Kelly, Nicole Kesselring, Shana Louiselle, Wayne Wilmans
Tyler Richardson, REDC
Mary Cohen, RRCC
Real Estate Committee
The Real Estate Committee submits the following updates for the year:
112 Quality Lane Building Update
Ellison Surface Technologies is in their third year of a five-year lease for 82% occupancy of the building. The signing of the lease prompted the committee to identify capital improvements that should be addressed while a long-term tenant is in place, for the benefit of the tenant as well as maintaining our asset. Much of this work was conducted in FY 2017, including significant parking lot resurfacing, replacing two sections of the roof, and significant landscaping. Therefore, this year, little work was needed comparatively. Exterior lights were added and replaced, and a few minor repairs on the exterior AC unit were conducted. Looking ahead, it is anticipated two other sections of the roof will need to be replaced within the next ten years.
The MINT, Rutland’s Makerspace
The remaining space in the building at 112 Quality Lane, roughly 8,000 square feet, has been donated to The MINT, Rutland’s Makerspace, for a period of three years concluding at the end of 2019. In further support of The MINT, REDC is also providing free utilities in the space for two years – The MINT is due to begin paying for utilities in 2019. The MINT Operations Committee has taken on the work of renovating the space, acquiring equipment, and partnering with community collaborators to spur their development. The MINT celebrated their first full year of operations in August.
The committee continues to research and monitor incentives, trends, and creative partnerships to spur development in Rutland County. This is a long-term process and continually progressing. This year, we have met with experts to discuss ways to leverage state incentives like the housing bond and homeowner rehabilitation tax credits, as well as federal programs like new market tax credits and the impact of Opportunity Zones. The focus on Opportunity Zones is particularly important going forward, as the rules are still being written for this new federal program, but it has the potential of spurring significant investment in the area.
Committee members: Mark Foley Jr., Jerry Hansen, Nicole Kesselring, Jim Watson, Mark Werle
John Russell III, Committee Chair