The Brattleboro Development Credit Corporation (BDCC) helps companies stay, start and grow in Vermont.
BDCC operates on the action-oriented belief that the economy is not a static reality. Staff executes planning, programs and projects with the knowledge that they can help businesses do better and in doing so help the region to thrive.
“We strive to leverage every possible asset in order to grow this economy. We run major real estate projects and foster tiny startups. We connect high-schoolers with career opportunities and help small businesses adapt and scale. We pay special attention to young adults and entrepreneurs working to build a life here. We work every day to increase investment and opportunities so every Windham resident can thrive here,” says Executive Director Adam Grinold.
BDCC is constantly evolving to better serve economic development. Presently, the organization helps businesses in several ways. BDCC Development Services provides insight into the market to advise businesses on site selection and expansion opportunities. As a nonprofit with in-house expertise on complex financing and real estate projects, BDCC is in a unique position to use federal programs available to support costs associated with commercial expansion.
In the case of Chroma Technology in Bellows Falls, the company was faced with a difficult decision of needing to upgrade and expand, but with the knowledge of diminishing returns on a rural real estate investment. The BDCC deployed New Market Tax Credits to execute a $22.1 million expansion for Chroma Technology, enabling this employee-owned, high-tech manufacturer to hire 25 more high-wage earners.
BDCC also works with a variety of other federal programs. It is conducting environmental assessment and cleanup at the Long Falls Paperboard plant, having secured EPA funding this summer. BDCC partners with local and state agencies to promote two new Opportunity Zones in Brattleboro and Bellows Falls, designed to attract more private investment to the region.
BDCC impacts other facets of the economy through diverse programming. This includes workforce education from the ground-up in its Pathway to Pipelines Program. A full-time educator serves all four regional high schools to develop career awareness and opportunities and work-based learning for all students. BDCC operates a paid college internship program. INSTIG8 for entrepreneurs is a suite of services that help imagine, start, run and grow business through workshops, events, and technical assistance.
“Our programs are all a means to an end, a way to reach a set of clear objectives to improve the regional economy,” says Grinold.
BDCC owns and manages 1.1 million square feet of commercial and industrial space in Brattleboro and Bellows Falls, which hosts more than 85 businesses and 1,167 employees, tenants, ranging from single proprietorships to industrial production. Some tenants are part of an incubator program with reduced rent as part of a planned growth strategy.
Many tenants, like Tavernier Chocolate, Laura Zindel Pottery, Food Connects and Back Roads Granola, work on business planning and financial strategies with BDCC and its statewide partners like Vermont Small Business Development Corporation and the Vermont Economic Development Authority.
When you call BDCC with a question, BDCC can help or tell you who to call. But sometimes there is no easy solution. One of these situations is in the case of small businesses seeking loans without a lot of collateral or financial track record, so BDCC came up with its own solution, a USDA-backed micro-enterprise lending program or “MELP.” The micro-loan program has helped Hermit Thrush Brewery expand capacity and add staff. It has also allowed Outerlimits Health club to continue under new ownership and remodel. And it just helped launch Vermont Vermouth, part of the burgeoning Vermont spirits scene.
BDCC is working to create new specialized tools to fill additional gaps in financing and investment available for entrepreneurs.
BDCC is a connector, and a starting place. All companies want to grow, but few entrepreneurs have the know-how to navigate every challenge on their own. BDCC is there to figure out how to help because they understand through thoughtful research the multiple positive impacts of supporting businesses to start, run, grow and prosper.
“Whether it is a construction project or new financial structures, we are working to build a vibrant economy. No matter how large or small, from scale-up to startup, BDCC has a way to help out,” says Grinold.