BRATTLEBORO >> Strolling of the Heifers has been awarded $40,000 under Vermont's Working Lands Enterprise Initiative. This grant will help support Windham Grows, the Stroll's new program designed to create jobs by supporting innovation and entrepreneurship at farm and food businesses in Windham County.
A total of $634,000 was awarded to 44 businesses and organizations across the state in the 2016 round of Working Lands grants. The grant to Strolling of the Heifers was one of four grants to service providers offering technical assistance to agricultural businesses.
Based on the Stroll's successful Farm/Food Business Planning Competitions, the Stroll describes Windham Grows as "a food and agriculture business hatchery."
In collaboration with state and regional partners, Windham Grows will build the food and agriculture business sector in Windham County by connecting startup and early-stage businesses with critical services, resources and financing.
Led by a pair of seasoned entrepreneurs-in-residence, Windham Grows will help build businesses in a three-stage annual development cycle.
Step 1 is discovering opportunities, a program of outreach, workshops and cross-sector networking events designed smoke out ideas for new products, new methods and new markets that represent business opportunities
Step 2 is a competitive evaluation, a process designed to develop, test and rank business models, plans and financial projections for these opportunities
Step 3 is a custom-tailored support for growth, continued support to bring the best of these opportunities to market in a systematic approach, custom tailored for each business, that includes mentoring, physical office, lab or maker space, land, or kitchen space, as appropriate, as well as assistance in gaining access to capital, services including legal, accounting, strategic advice, tech support, and more.
Windham Grows activities will be centered at the Robert H. Gibson River Garden, The Stroll's headquarters building in the heart of downtown Brattleboro, where 4,000 square feet of new space has been developed as offices, collaborative meeting and working space, and a kitchen for research and development work.
Strolling of the Heifers was previously awarded $90,000 toward the Windham Grows project under the Windham County Economic Development Program.