By Evan Johnson
Growing Rutland’s economy and making it a more accessible place for young people to work was the focus of Rep. Peter Welch’s recent visit to Rutland on Monday, July 31.
After attending a groundbreaking ceremony for a $20.8 million road project in Brandon, Welch and members of his staff traveled south to Rutland, where they visited the newly opened makerspace on Quality Lane. The Mint, as the space is called, is a community workshop, business incubator and classroom. Operated by a volunteer board of directors and made possible with investment from the Rutland Economic Development Corporation, The Mint has equipment, tools and other resources available to inventors, hobbyists, business owners, artists, etc.
“It’s helpful to have everything you need in one space along with people who can help and collaborate with you, instead of being isolated in your garage,” explained Pete Gile, the Mint’s executive director.
Welch met with some of the space’s users, who work with wood, metal and 3D printer.
“It’s been an great resource,” said Tim Vile, a Shewsbury resident and Mint user who is using a 3D printer and other Mint equipment to develop an automatic valve controller in the space to present to potential investors. “It’s cheaper and faster to use some of the equipment here to create a prototype.”
A grand opening of the space is scheduled for Aug. 12 from 12-5 p.m.
Welch said he was impressed by what he saw: “Rutland is where it’s happening,” he said.
From there, Welch headed to downtown Rutland, where over a pizza lunch he talked with members of the Rutland Young Professionals (RYP) about issues of economic growth, housing, student debt and attracting more young people to the Rutland area.
RYP recently celebrated its fourth birthday and has seen its membership grow.
RYP members asked about rural development and student loan debt.
President Trump’s proposed budget would cut rural development programs and eliminate funding for small business programs, Welch said. It would also cut rural housing subsidies and mortgage loan guarantees, making homeownership and revitalization more difficult.
Welch said both Republicans and Democrats would fight to protect funds for rural development . “I have some-to-great confidence that we’re going to be able to maintain funding because both parties have seen the benefit in their communities.”
Welch also addressed the growing burden of student debt on recent college graduates and the growing cost of living. He also heard from members at General Electric about concerns for the company’s longterm commitment to the area.
By Evan Johnson
Rutland Young Professionals pose with Rep. Welch after a lunch discussion in Rutland.