Rural Economic Development Initiative

  • Albany General Store_2021
    Albany General Store, Albany VT. REDI supported the Albany Community Trust with securing a USDA Rural Development grant as part of its fundraising to develop and renovate the Albany General Store, which opened in June 2021.

    The Rural Economic Development Initiative (REDI), a program of the Vermont Housing and Conservation Board, helps rural communities access the funding they need for community and business development.

    REDI provides grant writing assistance to rural communities and small businesses interested in applying for federal funds and other funding sources when applicable. Funds can be used to hire a grant writer, complete a necessary step to make a grant application more competitive (such as a business plan or engineering), and in some cases to help make a fundraising plan for a project. 

    REDI Focus Areas:

    • Working lands projects (such as dairy processing, value-added food enterprises, and forest products sector)
    • Outdoor recreation projects (trails, connectivity to downtown/village center)
    • Community-based economic development (such as  historic preservation, community infrastructure, and downtown revitalization)
    • Projects focused on implementation/ seeking federal grants

    Eligibility:

    • Funding is targeted to small communities, so projects should be located in or serving communities with populations under 5,000.
    • Projects must demonstrate readiness, community buy-in, and projects should leverage applicable resources. REDI is intended to complement and support the assistance provided by Vermont's Regional Development Corporations and Regional Planning Commissions.

    A program summary presentation is available by clicking the yellow button below.

    For more information and to discuss potential projects, please get in touch with Mariah Noth (contact information at right).

    REDI Program Summary

  • Recent projects

    • Community Center in Bridgewater: The Bridgewater Area Community Foundation received REDI support that led to two successful grant awards from ACCD’s Vermont Community Development Program (VCDP): A $30,000 Planning Grant in 2019 and a $400,000 Implementation Grant in 2020 to redevelop a retired school building into a community center with childcare and space for local businesses.

    • Farm and artisanal meat processing in Panton: With assistance through REDI, Agricola Meats was awarded s $204,098 USDA Value Added Producer Grant to support a marketing campaign to grow from producing 70 pounds of salami per month to 1,400 pounds, which will significantly increase local sourcing of meat for the cured product

    • General store in East Calais: When Calais Store on Route 14 in East Calais was shuttered, a local nonprofit quickly formed to save this local economic hub. The East Calais Community Trust accessed $105,000 in Northern Border Regional Commission funds, as well as $75,000 in ACCD tax credit funding, enabling the Trust to renovate and reopen the store.

    • High-speed internet in the NEK: The NEK Community Broadband Communications Union District formed in 2020 to address the critical need to bring affordable, high-speed internet options to the Northeast Kingdom. Two successful grant applications will kick this project off: $60,000 from the Vermont Dept. of Public Service Broadband Innovation Grant for a feasibility study and business plan, and a $60,000 USDA Rural Business Development Grant for network layout design.

    • Community library in Brandon: The Town of Brandon secured a $30,000 VCDP planning grant to develop a design for the revitalization of a historic building housing its public library. The renewed library will be fully accessible, provide critical technology, and offer a welcoming space for community activities.

    • Agri-Cultural center in Charlotte: Clemmons Family Farm is one of 0.4% of farms in the United States that are African-American owned, and is a site along Vermont’s African-American Heritage Trail. The farm hosts an arts and cultural center showcasing Black artists. Clemmons Family Farm is developing new agricultural and culinary heritage programming, and was awarded a $5,000 Ben & Jerry’s Foundation Grant to build additional farm infrastructure. REDI also assisted the farm in accessing a highly competitive ArtPlace America grant in 2017.

    • Recovery center and community space in Johnson: REDI supported Jenna’s Promise, a community nonprofit, with an application to the VCDP. Jenna’s Promise received $300,000 to transform an abandoned building in Johnson into a Recovery Residence as well as a café and roastery to employ those overcoming opioid addiction.

    • Dairy and creamery in Glover: Sweet Rowen Farmstead is a dairy and creamery in the Northeast Kingdom run by Paul Lisai, a farmer with a focus on water quality and grass-based agriculture. Sweet Rowen secured a $114,043 USDA Value Added Producer Grant to invest in its bottled milk, cheese, and yogurt lines and access new markets in Vermont as well as Massachusetts and New York metro areas.