BRATTLEBORO — The Brattleboro Development Credit Corp. has received a $250,000 federal grant to boost the region’s tech innovation, jobs, businesses and economy.
The U.S. Commerce Department recently announced the grant, and that 50 organizations — including nonprofits, institutions of higher education, state government agencies, and other entrepreneurship-focused organizations — from 26 states will receive grants totaling $36.5 million to support programs that fuel innovation and tech-based economic development.
The grants are part of the “Build to Scale” program, which is administered annually by the U.S. Economic Development Administration. The program aims to accelerate technology entrepreneurship by increasing inclusive access to business support and startup capital.
The FY21 Build to Scale program was comprised of two competitions — the Venture Challenge and the Capital Challenge.
The BDCC’s grant money, a 2021 Capital Challenge Grant, includes a matching local grant to be used for the Windham Seed Fund to increase capital access in a rural region where risk capital investment tools do not currently exist.
The fund will invest in businesses located in the Windham region that can scale and generate jobs and wealth, ultimately helping to build resilience and diversify the economy of Southeastern Vermont.
While the fund is sector-agnostic, it will prioritize inclusiveness and equity, job creation, the digital economy, wealth generation, and projects that have the greatest economic impact within the region. The BDCC anticipates that 12 to 15 businesses will receive early-stage risk capital funding and create 124 new jobs during the performance period.
Businesses will have access to mentors and peer-to-peer entrepreneur support, incubation, acceleration services, and professional technical assistance.
Ultimately, the Windham Seed Fund will help support:
• the formation and launch of investment funds that will invest capital in scalable startups and growth-stage companies;
• the expansion of capital deployment within the Windham region;
• and, the practice of equity-based investing and cultivate other equity-based investment models appropriate for the region.
The Capital Challenge increases access to capital in communities where risk capital is in short supply by providing operational support for early-stage investment funds, angel capital networks, or investor training programs that focus on both traditional and hybrid equity-based models.