BDCC

The Brattleboro Development Credit Corp. is establishing a special team to provide technical assistance and support to local businesses. The team includes, from left, Eyad Salha, BDCC’s business technical assistance provider; Gabriel Sistare, business prosperity and community projects specialist. It is being led by Director of Business Acceleration R.T. Brown.

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BRATTLEBORO — The Brattleboro Development Credit Corporation is adjusting its model coming out of the COVID-19 pandemic to provide more support for small businesses in southern Vermont.

“The coronavirus pandemic and its impact on the Windham Region demonstrated that small businesses, which are vulnerable even in the best of times, can easily be pushed past the point of no return by such a crisis,” said Executive Director Adam Grinold. “Businesses owned by women and minorities can be even more vulnerable to economic downturns.”

In response and using money made available through federal COVID relief programs, the BDCC is establishing a three-person business team to provide technical assistance and support to businesses at all stages — from idea, startup, and growth, to reorganization and succession, and lending, all at no cost to the client.

The team is being led by Director of Business Acceleration R.T. Brown, and includes Eyad Salha, BDCC’s business technical assistance provider, and Gabriel Sistare, business prosperity and community projects specialist.

“During the pandemic, it became clear that more technical assistance was needed to support local businesses trying to survive,” said Grinold. “BDCC redeployed staff from other areas to rapidly assist organizations navigating numerous state and federal support programs.”

Grinold said BDCC has run specific relief programs, such as a Community Development Block Grant that was developed as part of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act, and the Restart Vermont Technical Assistance Program, which provided grants to businesses to support pivoting their operations.

“These experiences motivated BDCC to build a team that could improve economic recovery and create lasting impact,” said Grinold.

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The business team also has its roots in economic recovery efforts in the wake of the closure of Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant — the Windham County Economic Development Program and INSTIG8, he said.

“The team’s approach is informed by years of work which paved the way for BDCC to add new resources such as the USDA’s Rural Microentrepreneur Assistance Program and programming like REGENER8, succession planning for businesses,” said Grinold.

The business services team will offer technical assistance, training, and startup support in the region including: Business planning; manufacturer sourcing; small business lending; expense analysis; growth-focused work plans; and financial projections.

The business services team is also prioritizing outreach and relationship building to make sure underserved community members are aware of resources available for their own entrepreneurial initiatives.

For more information, visit brattleborodevelopment.com/counseling-and-technical-assistance.

BDCC is one of 12 regional development corporations in Vermont.

Bob Audette can be contacted at raudette@reformer.com.