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Southern Vermont Economy Summit
May 12th, 2022

Session Details

Summit opening                                 8:30-8:45 am

Cultivate Change

Adam Grinold, Brattleboro Development Credit Corporation

Bill Colvin, Bennington County Regional Commission

Summit Sponsor, People's United Bank, a division of M&T Bank:  Jody Cole, Region Manager for Commercial Banking in Vermont

Plenary keynote speaker                   8:45-9:15 am

Building Systems to Welcome New Americans

Plenary Keynote Speakers: Joe Wiah and Thomas Huddleston, ECDC Multicultural Community Center

Introduction: Dan Yates, Brattleboro Savings and Loan

Concluding remarks: Robyn Lucius, Against the Grain Gourmet

Sponsored by Brattleboro Savings and Loan

This winter Southern Vermont welcomed 90+ people displaced from Afghanistan. Learn about the process of refugee resettlement, from arrival to making community connections and accessing job opportunities.

Morning Breakout Sessions                 9:30-11 am

Housing for a Strong Town

Featured Speaker: Daniel Herriges, Strong Towns

Sponsored by Vermont Agency of Commerce and Community Development

Record-high housing prices and few options mean nearly everyone is feeling the squeeze these days. Join us for a workshop with one of the country's foremost experts, Daniel Herriges from Strong Towns, to understand what's in the way of meeting our communities' housing needs, and what we can do about it.

Local ARPA Funding: An Opportunity to Strengthen your Community

Presenter: Katie Buckley, Vermont League of Cities and Towns with help from the Windham Regional Commission and the Bennington County Regional Commission

How is YOUR town going to use ARPA funding? Learn the ins and outs of getting the most from American
Rescue Plan Act dollars, along with ideas and examples from communities that are already deep into ARPA
planning. Start thinking beyond reducing the municipal budget! From understanding rule changes to
learning how to leverage additional funding using ARPA, this session will help your community look at the
big picture and seize this opportunity.

Passing the Torch: Succession Planning for Your Business

Moderator: Alyssa Baldino, Owner, Trend Innovative Business Solutions

Panelists: Tommy Vorio, Development Director, Ready For Next Cities (RFN)

              Tammy Richards, business broker, Country Business Inc.

              Matt Cropp, Executive Director, Vermont Employee Ownership Center

              Debra Boudrieau, Area Advisor, VT Small Business Development Center

This session will explore National, State and Regional perspectives on business succession. Panelists will provide insight into examples of successful business transitions and explore opportunities for business owners on the cusp of retirement, as well as aspiring business owners who are ready to make a move!


According to the California Association of Business Brokers, there are approximately 70,000,000 Baby Boomers on the verge of retirement. Retiring Boomer business owners will sell or bequeath $10 trillion worth of assets over the next two decades. Some of that wealth will transfer in the form of business assets, of which 12 million private entities are owned by baby Boomers. In Southern Vermont residents are older overall than those in the region. According to the Southern Vermont CEDS, in 2017 over 52% of the roughly 80,000 residents were 45 or older.

On Belonging

Presenter: Özge Savaş, Bennington College

Panelists: Amir Samar (BDCC); Célestin Nkusi Ntaganda; Robyn Lucius (Against the Grain)

Southern Vermont is welcoming international arrivals through asylum and refugee projects. The focus is often on immediate or material needs. Özge Savaş of Bennington College is a psychologist who goes further to understand the aspirations and challenges that newcomers face as they build self, identity, and community in a new place. The session will conclude with a panel discussion with community members who have arrived in Southern Vermont over the past year, and those who have been working to help them through this process.


Lunch keynote speaker              11:30 am-12:15 pm

Decriminalize Development

Lunch Keynote Speakers: Chet Clem, Lyme Properties

Introductions: Jason Dolmetsch, MSK Engineering

Sponsored by MSK Engingeering

Did your last planning board hearing feel like a parole board? Is it hard to remember the last time any project came before the planning board? Why are we holding housing development projects in contempt in the midst of a housing crisis? How can we get the built-environment outcomes we want, like vibrant village centers or more homes for teachers and seniors, when hostility >> delays >> bankruptcy? 


Like the War on Drugs and the War on Terror, the War on Development isn’t getting us the outcomes we want. Although well-intentioned, our anti-change attitudes are harming our communities in ways we’re just beginning to understand and enumerate. 


Change is coming. If we respond correctly, we can use it as a powerful tool to direct energy and investment so it can help revitalize our communities. What if we re-orient our development processes towards facilitating smart growth that creates local community value, instead of kowtowing to the kind of anti-anything rhetoric that nearly everything seem impossible? 


To do so, we need to change the conversation around the D-word: development. Add a little levity, common sense, and collaboration to ensure that our planning processes are less prosecutorial and more productive. It’s time to shift our thinking, respond and react to our present reality, and Decriminalize Development.


afternoon Breakout Sessions        12:30-2:00 pm

Jumpstarting Downtown

Featured Speaker: Daniel Herriges, Strong Towns

Sponsored by Vermont Agency of Commerce and Community Development

Has mixed-use development on Main Street stalled out? Can entrepreneurs afford to get a start in your town, and can local businesses find the workforce they need to grow? This interactive workshop with national expert Daniel Herriges of Strong Towns will help you identify and alleviate barriers to local incremental development.

Sparks to Shovels: The Messy Project Process 

Facilitator: Katie Buckley, Vermont League of Cities and Towns 

Panelists: Eric Durocher, Economic Development Director, Town of DoverDover Town Forest 

Martin Langeveld, Board Chair, Friends of Vernon CenterGovernor Hunt House

Jessica Martin, Executive Director, Springfield on the Move: Springfield Main Street Master Plan (and subsequent projects)

We keep hearing about “once in a lifetime” funding, from ARPA to infrastructure. When funding isn’t the biggest problem, the challenge remains: how do you translate great sparks of ideas into shovel-ready projects? Katie’s project stewardship experience ranges from town to state level, including public and private sector projects. Join her, and our panelists, in exploring a range of projects from across Southern Vermont to learn more about how our region is getting things done. 

Recognize the Elephant in the Room: Preparing your business for changes and seeing opportunities

Moderator: Daniel Schöener, Independent Consultant & Innovation Leader 

Panelists:  Deb Raber, Head Women's Soccer Coach, MCLA

               Nancy Koziol, Owner, Couch & Cork

               David Hiler, Co-Owner, Whetstone Brands

A diverse panel will discuss tactics and strategies for dealing with change. This will include managing team dynamics, perceived challenges, vulnerabilities, and recognizing opportunities all while being able to make the decision to adapt your business in an ever changing world. Panel is moderated by Daniel Schöener, who is passionate about radical innovation and is an active mentor in the New England innovation ecosystem supporting upcoming startups in Diagnostics, Digital Health and Clean Tech. In his corporate career, Daniel has directed late stage tech integrations, global tech transfers, R&D partnerships and held senior leadership positions in Business and R&D. He is intimately familiar with taking teams through changing environments, while instilling confidence in achievement and assuring focus on positive outcomes.

How Do We Create More Welcoming Workplaces?

Co-Facilitators: Dr. Mary M. Gannon, Ed.D., Racial and Social Equity Consultant, Trainer and Strategist - Strategies for Growing Diverse Organizations and Communities

& Steffen Gillom, MA, President, Windham County NAACP


Michelle Coursen, HR Director, Brattleboro Savings and Loan

Jonathan Phipps, Equity Coordinator, Southwestern Vermont Supervisory Union

Leslie Addison, HR Director, United Counseling Service

Beth Wallace, Family & Community Partnership Manager, Bennington County Head Start

Rebecca Collins, HR Director, Cersosimo Lumber 

Mikaela Simms, Director of the Office of Diversity and Equity, Windham Southeast Supervisory Union

We’re seeing more women in manufacturing, growing racial diversity among VT high school grads, and increasing numbers of newcomers in our community and workforce from across the country and world. Vermont’s community, and future workforce, is increasingly diverse. Learn about steps employers are taking to embrace change.

Summit Close and Emerging Leaders Recognition                                   2:30-2:45 pm

Summit close

Emerging Leaders Awards:  sponsored by the Vermont Futures Project, presented by Kevin Chu

Recognition of the 20 top Emerging Leader in our region for all they do to Cultivate Change! Let's take a minute to give these hard working movers and shakers a well deserved round of applause.

"Hot Topics" Networking session    3:00-4:00 pm

Join panelists, speakers, and area experts for informal conversations in specific subject areas of interest. Here's your chance to connect, ask questions, and lean into anything the day brought up or didn't address yet! Areas to include: Housing, Community Facility Development and Funding, Startups and Small Business Development, Municipal Projects and Infrastructure, Workforce Development, Welcoming Communities programs, Broadband and Connectivity, Equity, Diversity & Inclusion, Emerging Leaders Meet and Greet, Local EDO/Chamber Network,  and more!  

Summit Hosts

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