Forum to explore addressing climate change while advancing economy

BRATTLEBORO — On Oct. 6, southern Vermont will host the Vermont Council on Rural Development's regional public forum: “Advancing Vermont's Climate Change Economy” at the Latchis Theatre from 7 to 9 p.m.

I encourage everyone to participate in this timely discussion, which will directly impact the recommendations that will be presented to the governor and state legislature in February.

The VCRD is leading the Vermont Climate Change Economy Initiative with the premise that confronting climate change through innovative economic development can be a competitive strategy, one that will build national reputation, create jobs, and attract youth and entrepreneurism.

In the Windham region, we have seen and supported a great deal of business collaboration and innovation around green building, including the Green Building Cluster projects we have recently gained federal funding support for.

We are excited to join with business and community leaders around Vermont in proactively addressing climate change while also advancing our economy.

I look forward to the opening panel with Orly Munzing, Peter Yost, and Bob Stevens as well as the ensuing conversation to consider the opportunities we have to reduce our carbon footprint and advance Vermont's prosperity. Many innovative companies in southern Vermont are already leading the way.

The Brattleboro Development Credit Corporation (BDCC) and Southeastern Vermont Economic Development Strategies (SeVEDS) have been following our local leaders in the green building and renewables industry for some time now.

The Windham Region Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy (CEDS) was accepted in 2014 and identified the green building sector as one in which southern Vermont is already a leader. Across the tri-state area, this sector features businesses and institutions already producing innovation and employing a skilled workforce.

This sector shows major growth potential and the capacity to generate a wide range of high value jobs and workers, to replace those lost from Vermont Yankee.

On Sept. 8, BDCC and SeVEDS were awarded an Economic Development Authority (EDA) grant to combine with local and state investment for a total project investment of $530,000 to support the creation of a Green Building Cluster Study and a Southern Vermont Business Innovation Accelerator.

The cluster study is the next step towards establishing a Southern Vermont-Based Center of Excellence for Resilience and Sustainability. A comprehensive sector analysis will fully identify the strengths, needs and growth potential of a Southern Vermont Green Building Cluster.

The Southern Vermont Accelerator is designed to speed the creation of new jobs and products for export. It will provide the comprehensive entrepreneurial infrastructure and financial resources needed to fulfill the CEDS goals and objectives.

This Oct. 6 forum on the Climate Change Economy will be a great chance for the region to learn more about this growing sector and how the Green Building Cluster Analysis will help to serve as local catalyst for our 21st century economy.

For more information, visit vtrural.org/programs/climate-economy/forums/brattleboro.

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