Vermont Press Releases

ACEDC is awarded USDA grant for first-in-Vermont economic gardening pilot

For immediate release
April 24, 2012

Phone: (802) 388-7953
E-mail: [email protected]

MIDDLEBURY, VT – The Addison County Economic Development Corporation has been awarded a Rural Business Enterprise Grant (RBEG) by USDA Rural Development to be used for an economic gardening pilot program with four Addison County businesses. ACEDC will work with the Edward Lowe Foundation in conjunction with National Center for Economic Gardening to run the program.

As described by the Edward Lowe Foundation, economic gardening is an innovative, entrepreneur-centered economic growth strategy that offers balance to the traditional economic practice of business recruitment, often referred to as “economic hunting.”

Economic Gardening is a proven concept that has been in existence for over three decades. Pioneered by Chris Gibbons in 1989 in Littleton, Colorado, economic gardening is now being used successfully in at least 41 states. This pilot program in Addison County will be the first of its kind, not only in Vermont, but also in the Northeast.

Robin Scheu, Executive Director of ACEDC said, “I’m very excited to have the opportunity to begin this pilot. Economic gardening has had a measurable impact on job creation and revenues in other states where it has been used.”

For example, results from a study commissioned by the Florida High Tech Corridor Council found that the state-funded economic gardening program, GrowFL, helped to create a total of 1,458 direct, indirect, and induced jobs in its inaugural year. According to the results of the study, GrowFL
contributed a more than $280 million impact (direct and indirect) to the state’s economy. The study also found that GrowFL helped generate $8.4 million in state and local taxes, representing a nearly 6 to 1 return to the state’s original investment of $1.42 million.

“While we do not expect to have the same impact in Addison County due to a significantly smaller sample size, it is clear that economic gardening works,” Scheu said.

The economic gardening pilot will provide critical information to businesses through high-level technical assistance. This assistance comes in the form of a 4-5 person virtual National Strategic Research Team (SRT) that will act as extended staff for each participating company. The SRT engagement focuses on
four key strategic issues that best serve the companies and their immediate needs. They include:

• Core Strategy & Business Model – Dealing with changes in strategic direction, the business model, and opportunity development.

• Market Dynamics – Involving the unique relationship between the company, their customer, and their industry.

• Marketing Leads – Identifying and finding very specific markets and customers to match the company as it evolves.

• Management Team – Issues around the changing role of the entrepreneur and their team as the company grows.

The businesses that are participating in the pilot program are: Bowles Corporation of Ferrisburgh, Senix Corp of Bristol, Sunrise Orchards of Cornwall, and Vermont Natural Ag Products of Middlebury. Each business will receive up to 35 hours of SRT time on specific business issues identified by the company with help from the SRT.

ACEDC is an independent, member-supported nonprofit organization whose mission is to be the resource for navigating opportunities and challenges for new and existing businesses in Addison County. Both ACEDC and USDA are equal opportunity providers, employers, and lenders. For more information about ACEDC, go to or call 802-388-7953.

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  • Greg Lapworth

    The Soviet Union called them “collectives”.