New platform brings startups, investors, and mentors together to advance innovation and business growth in Vermont.

Burlington, VT (October 15, 2020) – The Vermont Startup Collective is a new platform that offers entrepreneurs a dedicated virtual space for building community, advancing business ideas, and connecting with other startups, remote workers, small business owners, freelancers, investors, and mentors. Supported by more than 35 Vermont organizations, the platform is free of charge and designed to be accessible and inclusive to all.

“When COVID-19 hit, we feared we would lose our ‘special sauce’— the connections made, opportunities discovered, and problems solved through casual, daily interactions,” said Dave Bradbury, president of the Vermont Center for Emerging Technologies (VCET). “But in fact, the opposite happened. More than ever, entrepreneurs sought community—for camaraderie, to problem solve, or just for a laugh. The Collective takes all that entrepreneurial energy, focuses it in a trusted digital space, and makes it widely available to everyone who needs it.”

Born from requests by innovators, consultants, and business leaders seeking connection during COVID-19, the mobile/desktop platform surrounds active and aspiring entrepreneurs with constructive guidance from advisors and mentors, thought-provoking conversations with peers, and critical tools and resources to start and scale.

“Innovation in Vermont has always been driven both by creativity and necessity. The pandemic has brought home the ways our businesses can use technology to adapt their operations and how they connect with the broader business ecosystem. Thanks to the work of VCET and its partners, businesses will have access to this powerful tool that brings the essential benefits of Vermont’s startup ecosystem into a digital space,” said U.S. Senator Patrick Leahy.

Soft-launched in September, early signals from users indicate that the fresh, effective approach of The Collective has helped them to connect in new and exciting ways.

“Being an entrepreneur can be isolating in the best of times,” said Stacy Huffstetler, founder and managing director of WidgetBrain. “You’re facing a really unique set of challenges, questions, and opportunities. Building and leveraging a community is a key part of successful entrepreneurship. It’s awesome to have a space dedicated to the shared experience of starting, funding, and running a business with others who are eager to engage.”

Posts on the platform range from a discussion around customer insights to the promotion of an upcoming innovation competition. Users can join groups curated by topic, such as Dismantling Racism, Sustainability, Building a Team, and Capital, and join relevant “circles” including Young Professionals or Female Founders.

“The Collective allows information-sharing and networking beyond the four walls of any individual organization,” said Bradbury. “It invites expertise from anyone and everyone committed to successful entrepreneurism in Vermont and that’s where we start to see a flywheel effect for the innovation ecosystem.”

More than three dozen entrepreneurial support, economic development, and higher education organizations across Vermont have come together to contribute to The Collective. These launch partners include: 12-22 North, Brattleboro Development Credit Corporation (BDCC), Black River Innovation Campus (BRIC), BTV Ignite, Burlington Code Academy, Burlington Community Economic Development Office (CEDO), Center for Women & Enterprise (CWE), Champlain College, Do North Coworking, FreshTracks Capital, The Generator, Greater Burlington Industrial Corporation (GBIC), Hula, Instig8VT, IoT Conduit, LaunchVT, Mercy Connections, The MINT, Reconciled, The Lightning Jar, The Space on Main, The Sustainable Innovation MBA – University of Vermont (SIMBA), UVM Entrepreneurship Club, University of Vermont, Vermont Bioscience Alliance, U.S. Senator Patrick Leahy, Vermont Business Roundtable, Vermont Center for Emerging Technologies (VCET), Vermont Community Foundation, Vermont Council on Rural Development, Vermont EPSCoR, Vermont Small Business Development Center (VtSBDC), Vermont Sustainable Jobs Fund (VSJF), Vermont Technology Alliance (VtTA), Vermont Technology Council, and Vermont Womenpreneurs. The Collective is curated and moderated by VCET.

To learn more or to join The Collective, please visit www.vermontstartupcollective.com.

Press Contact

Sam Roach-Gerber, Vice President
Vermont Center for Emerging Technologies
(e) sam@vcet.co   (m) 413-519-6251

Local candidates for Orange-2 (Bradford, Fairlee, West Fairlee) and Orange-Caledonia (Newbury, Groton, Topsham) joined us for 2 local candidate forums:
5:30-6:30pm Orange-Caledonia: Parsons & Root-Winchester
6:45-7:45pm Orange-2: Copeland-Hanzas & Lang (1:15min into the video)
This event was brought to you by Journal Opinion & The Space On Main. Moderation by Alex Nuti-de Biasi. Technical Facilitation by Monique Priestley.

VBM recognizes Vermont’s Rising Stars Class of 2020

Outstanding young leaders chosen for contributions to the Vermont economy and their community

Vermont Business Magazine is proud to announce the winners of its Rising Stars recognition award. The list is composed of 40 winners under the age of 40. Award recipients were selected by a panel of judges for their commitment to business growth, professional excellence and involvement in their communities.

“We are thrilled by the response to this initiative to recognize these up-and-coming leaders, this is our eleventh year” said VBM Publisher John Boutin. “We received over 190 outstanding nominations this year. Despite the pandemic, we are very excited that people took the time to nominate these great candidates.

The five judges had a difficult time picking the top 40. These young professionals have chosen to make Vermont home.  For these young professionals it’s not just about business. It’s about them making a difference in their communities,” Boutin said.

Vermont Business Magazine will honor Vermont’s most accomplished young leaders at a Rising Stars virtual event in November. The honorees will also be featured in the November issue of Vermont Business Magazine.

FAST FACTS: Of the 40 honorees, there are 16 men and 24 women. There are 15 from Chittenden County, 2 from Windham County, 5 from Rutland County, 4 from Bennington County, 5 from Washington County, 3 from Caledonia County, 1 from Lamoille County, 1 from Franklin County, 1 from Orleans County, and 3 from Orange County.  The average age of the honorees is 34 years old. The oldest is 39 and the youngest is 27 years old.

Read full article at Vermont Business Magazine.

(Woodstock, VT)— The Two Rivers-Ottauquechee Regional Commission (TRORC) hosted its Annual Meeting joined by Commissioners and guests from across the TRO Region. The event was hosted to celebrate and highlight some of the fantastic work being done by TRORC to enhance the region’s quality of life over the past year.

Monique Priestley of Bradford was awarded TRORC’s Volunteer of the Year Award. Her nominator, Nancy Jones, the Chair of the Bradford Conservation Commission, noted Monique’s tremendous personal investment in time and energy in making a difference in her community and the people that live there.  Jones noted her many accomplishments and awards and how her impact is felt way beyond the Town of Bradford.  Monique is passionate about her community and doing her best to serve it.  TRORC congratulates Monique Priestley!

TRORC also elected officers for the coming year: Jerry Fredrickson, Chair (Barnard); Bill Emmons, Vice-Chair (Pomfret); Nancy Jones, Treasurer (Bradford); David Brandau, Secretary (Royalton); Nancy Malmquist, Member (West Fairlee); and Bill Edgerton, Member (Stockbridge). TRORC Commissioner At-Large members were also elected: Jennifer Colby (Agriculture), and Ken Alton (Business), Beth Long (Housing), Meghan Butts (UVLSRPC), and Meg Emmons (Youth).

TRORC also adopted a budget for the fiscal year that allowed the awarding of eight, $1,000 college scholarships to deserving high school seniors.  This is the fourth year TRORC has been able to invest in the education of our future leaders.

TRORC provides professional planning, mapping, facilitation, grant writing, and project management services for its thirty member towns in east-central Vermont.

For more information, contact Peter Gregory at 457-3188 or via email at pgregory@trorc.org. Read full article here.

June 23rd: OUUSD Information Meeting


June 16th: How to Read & Understand the OUUSD School Board Budget


June 15th: OUUSD School Board Candidate Forum

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Founder and Executive Director, Monique Priestley, sits down with Vermont Center for Emerging Technologies for an episode of their Start Here podcast (Ep. 41: Monique Priestley / The Space on Main) “Vermont is a better place with @mepriestley. Listen with us and explore how opportunity in rural Vermont is flourishing thanks to trailblazers like Monique.” @spaceonmainvt #vermont #newhampshire #coworking #oppgap

Executive Director & Founder, Monique Priestley, joined Sarah Waring of The Vermont Community Foundation and Bill Sayre of WDEV during Vermont Council on Rural Development’s 2nd Annual Vermont Leadership Summit. Listen here.

Executive Director & Founder, Monique Priestley, had the honor and privilege of speaking at this year’s 2nd Annual Vermont Leadership Summit (at 38:50 in video below), put on by the Vermont Council on Rural Development. Transcript of Monique’s contribution to the opening “spark stories” here:

This weekend I volunteered as a mentor for this incredible cultural entrepreneurship program that spends a week at Galusha Hill Farm in Topsham. It is hands down the most impressive program that I have ever seen in action. One of the most surprising aspects is that among amazing individuals that are transforming their cities and towns, they all have some degree of imposter syndrome.

I feel imposter syndrome deeply every day. I am someone who will show up, dive into the work, ask questions, and figure things out along the way. In many ways, I don’t know what the hell I’m doing, but I love the challenge of figuring it out – especially when it impacts others. I feel failure when I don’t anticipate every little thing… some may just call that learning. I am a learner that goes all in.

In late 2016, our Main Street was suffering. One of our key businesses, a department store, had gone out of business. Across the street, a global oil company bought out a family business that spanned the block and said they’d keep everything the same – and then left town as soon as the papers were signed. I was on 15 or so boards at the time and every single meeting was discussing what we were going to do. My remote full-time job was in Seattle and I was starting to view it as an escape route.

I went to one of our Business Association socials. The depression was palpable. Previously, I had told a few close friends of an idea I had to create a multipurpose space. Most people smiled, but blew it off. I myself considered it a retirement goal. A mentor of mine came up to me at the gathering and said, “I think it’s time to share your idea.” There was instant buzz, more drinks were ordered, and we sat around talking excitedly.

I went straight to my friend Sam’s house. I didn’t have any money and didn’t have any idea how to pull this off. He said, “You just helped me start a nonprofit – you know that’s a possibility.” I decided I would see if there was any interest in a shared space, what people might pay, and what they might use it for. I left Sam’s, sent out a survey, and Googled “How to Start a Nonprofit”. In 48 hours, I received 85 responses of people who had a critical need for what I was suggesting. I met with each of them one-by-one which led to further coffee dates and dinner with their friends and family. By the time we opened our doors, I had talked to 300 or so people and based everything from furniture to floor plans on those conversations.

I spent the first half of last year raising $100,000 in startup funds. I received a lot of help and had an amazing board to advise me. I had people reviewing documents, listening to my pitch, making email introductions, donating money, giving advice. People like Paul Costello and Ted Brady opened doors and knocked down walls that I had been banging my head against for months. Vermont Community Foundation, Jack & Dorothy Byrne, building owners Vin and Angela Wendell, and many others made investments that made everything possible. I realized very quickly that every effort I had ever volunteered for, every networking dinner I had ever gone to, and everyone in my circle had opened up an entire world in the State of Vermont that I hadn’t dreamt was there. And more than anything, it made me feel incredibly proud to be a Vermonter – to live among strong people who can really pull together.

We opened in mid October as a community-based coworking, maker, conference, event, and gallery space. Our year-end goals were to have 25 monthly members and to serve 1000 people. In 10 months we are at 33 members and have served 5000 people. We have hosted coworkers, kids yoga, Renaissance workshops, business programming, meetups, a senate hearing, youth social justice dinners, and any number of other things.

The Space has taken directions I never would have expected. It has transformed lives. The coolest thing about The Space is that I get people from town as well as all over VT, NH, and MA visiting, calling, and emailing, figuring out how they can create a similar space, open a small business, or pursue any number of random life goals. They saw energy and it awakened something in them.

Every one of our small towns needs that energy. They need someone taking charge and changing the status quo. Current leadership needs to mentor, listen to new ideas, and when the time comes, nudge people to step up. We need to invest in creativity, collaboration, and an atmosphere the encourages someone to take a chance. There are so many efforts that happen behind the scenes in small towns and if that energy and spirit dies, the Vermont we know will cease to exist. There is power in community, in small town grit, and in good old New Englander ingenuity. We have so much potential to do amazing things.

Every single person in this room is a part of that. I know it doesn’t always feel that way. It sometimes gets lonely to care. To show up. But hang in there, even in those moments where you feel like you don’t know what the hell you’re doing. At some critical moment, all the dots will connect and all of your work will make sense. Your potential for impact is very real.

Vital Communities Seeks Proposals from Social Enterprises for Community-Based Crowdfunding Program

August 8, 2019 – White River Junction, Vt. – Vital Communities invites emerging and established social enterprises to submit project proposals to The Local Crowd (TLC) Upper Valley, a new community-based crowdfunding program.

Vital Communities is one of five sites nationwide selected to participate in the National Science Foundation grant-funded project with Wyoming-based company The Local Crowd. TLC combines a world-class rewards-based crowdfunding platform with business and campaign technical support for the emerging fourth sector of the economy—social enterprise. This initiative is designed to uncover the best ways to support social enterprises—mission-driven organizations that use business principles to make their communities and the world a better place.

“TLC Upper Valley is about us—our region, our community—and our goals for economic development and prosperity,” says Vital Communities’ Local First Coordinator Nancy LaRowe. “Many people don’t know who the innovators and entrepreneurs are in the Upper Valley and the cool things they’re doing. Our region is replete with social enterprises, and TLC Upper Valley empowers individuals to support the businesses, organizations and initiatives that grow vibrant and healthy communities. It leverages the power of crowdfunding to cultivate a stronger ecosystem of investors, social enterprises and local economy champions to support a local, green and fair economy in the Upper Valley.”

For this proposal cycle, TLC Upper Valley seeks Upper Valley-based projects with a budget under $10,000 and that support community goals and/or an improvement to community members’ quality of life. All for-profit businesses, nonprofits and community initiatives meeting campaign guidelines within Vital Communities’ 69-town service area are welcome to apply; particular attention will be given to projects based in the White River Valley, Bradford/Cohase and Hanover/Lebanon areas.

TLC Upper Valley will select up to six projects to participate in this crowdfunding cohort, based on the potential of each project to positively impact their local economy and community. Accepted proposals will launch their campaigns in November, with guidance and assistance from TLC Upper Valley Advisors.

More information and the request for proposals are available online at vitalcommunities.org/tlc. All proposals must be received by 5 p.m. on Wednesday, September 4, 2019.

Crowdfunding is the process in which an entrepreneur, business, or organization asks a large number of people (usually through the Internet) to contribute a certain amount of money for a specific project. By leveraging the power of crowdfunding, TLC Upper Valley’s fundraising platform offers an innovative way for community members to support the businesses and organizations they care about right here in our region.

TLC Upper Valley partners include Green Mountain Economic Development Corporation, The Space On Main, Cohase Chamber of Commerce, Vermont Small Business Development Center, BALE (Build A Local Economy), Hanover and Lebanon Chambers of Commerce and SCORE. For more information, visit vitalcommunities.org/tlc or contact Nancy LaRowe at 802-291-9100.

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The Local Crowd Upper Valley is a community-based crowdfunding program helping start-up ventures, early-growth stage companies and community-focused projects find access to capital. TLC Upper Valley is hosted by Vital Communities, a nonprofit organization that cultivates the civic, environmental and economic vitality of the Upper Valley. We bring people together, bridging boundaries and engaging our whole community to create positive change. Learn more at vitalcommunities.org.

For Immediate Release
Contact: Nancy LaRowe, Local First Coordinator
nancy@vitalcommunities.org
802-291-9100 x106