Chamber Made Column
April 15, 2017
A Resource That Allows Us To All Speak With One Voice
Every single week in a town clerk or chamber office throughout the Northeast Kingdom, we all get the same request. A person comes in our doors, usually book bag in hand, wondering what it might take to start a business in the area. They are usually from outside our borders, have vacationed in our beautiful region for years and realize on a frustrating day in their home city, “Is this all there is to life: traffic jams, long lines and constant frustration?”
These folks yearn for a place that is simpler, where the people are friendly and welcoming and the landscape is spectacular. Do you know of any place like that? Why, yes, they are hoping they can make a living in the Northeast Kingdom.
In my almost 22 years at this job, I have had many such people come through our doors at five different offices, and each time their requests are remarkably similar. They have loved this place forever and are hoping and dreaming they can somehow find a way to make our Kingdom their home.
Granted, meetings are usually boring, but at numerous Northeast Kingdom Chamber Economic Development gatherings, we all came to the same conclusion, that we should make the process for these people a lot easier. There was no greater priority as a committee, they believed, than to have the state’s most comprehensive online business resource guide. This factor was an important consideration because we wanted to appeal to businesses looking elsewhere in Vermont and New England. We wanted, honestly, to have these business owners choose the Kingdom over other parts of our region.
Given that charge, the chamber went to work. We talked with as many people as we could on the committee and business people in the area on what they needed in such an online guide and we heard a mouthful. While there was a mountain of resources out there, this necessary information was not quite organized enough to lead that business person from start to end, telling them exactly what they should do and when. It was not enough to provide these people with an ocean of information; we had to present it in a way that it could be easily digested.
With the help of the Vermont Department of Labor, the Small Business Development Center, Northern Community Investment Corporation and Northeastern Vermont Development Association, we believe we have done just that. Go to our web site, nekchamber.com, and you will find timelines on starting a business, growing a business, relocating a business, selling a business and a comprehensive workforce training and business calendar. The chamber could not have developed what we did without the incredible support of our partners, the Cambium Group and USDA Rural Development, which gave us the grant to help transform our web site.
For the first time, chambers, economic development authorities, libraries and, yes, even town clerks can all speak with one voice on how to succeed in business in the Northeast Kingdom. Please note that this resource is as much a guide for existing companies in our region as it is for those embarking to establish a business foothold in the region, so please use it. I often ask for your help in this column, and this is one such time, as I would like you to spread the word about this wonderful business guide. We can truly help the Northeast Kingdom if word gets out there is such assistance. Thank you.
(Darcie McCann is the executive director of the Northeast Kingdom Chamber.)