Friday September 28, 2012

BRATTLEBORO -- Small business owners are submitting applications containing information that could help them gain resources and money to redevelop after being left to pick up the pieces for the past year following Tropical Storm Irene.

The Brattleboro Development Credit Corporation is finding funds through the Vermont Regional Development Corporation's disaster recovery grants and is asking businesses that have been affected by the storm to fill out an application that will measure unmet needs. The deadline for applying is Oct. 1.

"We're still alive," says Laura Sibilia, the BDCC's project director for economic development. "There's a lack of experience with disasters on this scale. We didn't understand how long recovery takes. These needs are going to keep going forward. We're going to have funds coming in -- a year and a half after the flood."

Eleven to 12 small business owners have already come forward to make claims. Businesses that are looking to finish repairs and replace equipment and building space are expected to submit their information on a form with the RDC, which has a goal of getting things back to the way they were, as closely as possible, and rebuild Windham County.

"I'm very optimistic about small businesses. Small communities benefit from it. In Vermont, small businesses fit right in," said David Parker, a contractor who filled out an application. He believes that getting money from these funds will be beneficial to redeveloping the area after Irene, but a lot of hard work is going to be needed.

Another applicant is Ann Coleman, whose entire gallery in Wilmington was destroyed after the storm. Her art work appears all over southern Vermont. She has been fundraising in order to rebuild her business.

At the Vermont Economic Development Authority's request, the BDCC recently submitted another type of grant proposal, which would further help the small businesses in Windham County and Bennington. The grant would go further to assist Vermont businesses in need. This is part of the plan for the ongoing disaster recovery redevelopment.

The state is asking any businesses that need funding over $100,000 to work directly with the state and not submit information for the regional application. The disaster recovery funds are competitive funds for $3 million in economic development out of Vermont's $21-million plan. The BDCC is asking for as many businesses that are eligible to fill out applications so that the regional fund will be as competitive as possible.

Questions about the process can be e-mailed to Laura Sibilia at lsibilia@brattleborodevelopment.com. Phone calls can be made to the BDCC at 802-257-7731.

To submit an application, small business owners are advised to visit

www.springfielddevelopment.org/blog/wp-content/uploads/2012/09/CDBG-Business-Information-Form.doc.