The Rutland Region continues to see improved activity across much of the manufacturing sector, which in turn has helped to revitalize village and city centers. At the same time, several meaningful projects to address areas of concern have been initiated.
By addressing deficiencies at a time when we are also expanding economic opportunities, the region will continue to grow and prosper for some time into the future. While we have had strong growth in employment, we also had the major employer loss when Rutland Plywood burned to the ground. Losing 175 jobs has created some new challenges, but the region as a whole has worked together to support the transition for this new pool of labor.
GE Aviation continues to be the largest “for-profit” employer in the region. And as GE goes, so goes the county. There has been a high level of investment in the Rutland facility, improving and modernizing the plant to make it a truly “state-of-the-art” facility. Their apprenticeship program is giving folks with a variety of backgrounds and ages an opportunity for educational and career advancement for a global player in the aviation industry. At the same time GE is focused on continuous improvement in their facility, they are supporting numerous supply chain operations that have seen large increases in business and employment from GE based work. Most notably is the continued expansion of Ellison Group with major investments in real estate, capital equipment, and employment.
Following decades with no movement on improving the public infrastructure in Center Rutland (an area which had become most notable for several decaying structures), the Town of West Rutland, in collaboration with Rutland Town, have begun the process to bring water and waste-water services to the Business Route 4 corridor. This will allow companies to make improvements to their properties that had previously been impossible. Additionally, properties that are ripe for redevelopment will now have the needed infrastructure to support growth.
Southwestern Vermont Regional Airport (Rutland Airport) continues to see major improvements to the facility. This past year included the lengthening of the runway and construction of an improved safety area. On top of the lighting and ILS systems, the new runway length will allow more traffic and a wider variety of airframes to use the airport. Currently three flights a day provide access to Boston for passenger service through Cape Air, and connect to anywhere through their affiliation with Jet Blue. Additionally FedEx operates daily at the airport, and several local businesses utilize the airport for corporate jets. With plans to improve the terminal space and expand hanger availability, this airport will continue to play an increasingly important role in our regional infrastructure.
With major leadership and support from Green Mountain Power, this region continues to lead in the development of solar installations and generation of green power. Several companies new to Vermont have established operations in Rutland, in large part because they see a community which has made solar a priority for defining our future.
And finally, the higher education institutions in the region have all seen growth and investment in the past year. The College of St Joseph has seen strong growth of their student body, with planned expansions of programs which will continue to increase student counts. Castleton State College is growing their programs with new Masters level curriculum and improvements to their physical plant.
The Rutland region continues to be a great place to live, work, and play. With innovative businesses leading the way, the region is the perfect place for business to prosper.