I read an article back in March highlighting Bennington County's economic development efforts and something stuck with me.
I'd been looking out for articles from Windham and Bennington Counties since I connected with Dimitri Garder of The Lightning Jar last fall, learning about their pioneering partnership with VSECU to bring an innovation hub to Bennington.
The term that stuck with me was "economic development gardening".
What, exactly, is that? And, why was it so compelling?
To quote the article, "...the "economic gardening" model calls for helping entrepreneurs through programs and resources that encourage someone to start or expand their business, creating new networking opportunities and promoting coworking spaces."
It boils down to creating the requisite entrepreneurial conditions including "fertile soil" and an ecosystem of "fertilizers and catalysts" to make good things grow - to drive prosperity from the inside. The ultimate in "grow your own". Sounds easy.
With the rise of the information (dare I say the attention) economy, there are more opportunities than ever for businesses to sprout in place. Data infrastructure, access to capital, a skills aligned workforce, things that are challenging in Vermont, are necessary. Have you heard about the workforce supply gap?
Small town coworking / shared office / innovation spaces will be a key piece of any community's economy within the next 5-10 years. They'll be table stakes in a Vermont economy that honors the past while looking to the future.