By Amanda Kuhnert
When it comes to attracting future business owners, Vermont has a lot going for it. This year CNBC ranked Vermont as the best state to live in based upon our No. 1 ranking for Life, Health, & Inclusion in the network’s annual “America’s Top States for Business” study. And we know, based upon other data, that quality of life is increasingly important to people when deciding where to establish their careers.
As a state, we must seize this opportunity for economic growth by making sure we have supports in place to help our aspiring entrepreneurs and small business owners find success. This has been the work of the Vermont Small Business Development Center (VtSBDC) for the past three decades—to positively impact and strengthen established businesses and startups throughout the state.
“As we approach the end of our 30th anniversary year, we are looking ahead at how we will build upon our strong foundation of support, one-to-one no-fee advising, and a wide variety of online and in-person resources,” said State Director Linda Rossi.
VtSBDC is working to broaden its reach and impact through a variety of existing and new programs:
Small Business Support from Start-Up to Transition
As a new business owner, there is so much to learn. VtSBDC offers a wealth of resources for entrepreneurs at all stages of business ownership. Their online library includes guides and templates on business planning and management, human resources, marketing, financials, business transition, and more.
Throughout the year, business advisors provide online training and workshops on a range of topics, from start-up assistance to tech trends. The well-attended Starting Your Own Business workshop takes place online every two weeks, and an even more in-depth self-paced curriculum is in progress to launch in early 2023.
The Community Navigator Pilot Program
VtSBDC is the hub of the SBA-powered Community Navigator Pilot Program, working with nine other Vermont “spoke” organizations to reach underserved small businesses and entrepreneurs, focusing on the BIPOC population, veterans, women, and people in rural areas. The two-year program facilitates outreach efforts that are designed to be sustainable into the future. This fall, as part of the CNPP program, the organization hosted “Representation Matters,” a virtual event featuring a panel of young entrepreneurs to broaden high school students’ perspective about business ownership opportunities in Vermont.
Student and Educator Programs
Future economic growth in Vermont depends in part on Gen Z being able to envision a promising future in our state. VtSBDC’s high school and college-level entrepreneurship programs help to bridge the gap between education and business ownership. Advisors who focus on secondary education and college-age entrepreneurs provide statewide programs for students and curriculum-based courses for educators to bring back to their classrooms with an eye toward the future of Vermont’s workforce.
“VtSBDC is prepared to guide small business owners and entrepreneurs no matter what stage of growth their business is in, and to meet the changing needs of Vermont’s business community and workforce now and into the future,” Rossi said.
The Vermont Small Business Development Center is a statewide program of the Vermont State Colleges, hosted by Vermont Technical College. It is funded in part by the U.S. Small Business Administration and the State of Vermont Agency of Commerce and Community Development and is nationally accredited by the Association of Small Business Development Centers.