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Chamber, REDC to merge

New organization will more efficiently serve region, businesses, aid community development

RUTLAND—Two of Rutland County’s key community and economic development organizations have decided to merge. The boards of Rutland Economic Development Corporation (REDC) and Rutland Region Chamber of Commerce voted unanimously Thursday, July 30, to create a merged, streamlined organization to better serve their members and the greater Rutland region.

“We applaud REDC and the Chamber for doing the difficult work of reimagining what has been in place for decades to create a more efficient and dynamic one-stop-shop for community development in Rutland County,” said Ted Brady, deputy secretary of the Agency of Commerce and Community Development. “This is the kind of thinking we all should be doing to ensure the best possible outcomes for Vermont.”

Lyle Jepson, who served as REDC’s executive director from 2016 to 2018 and now serves as director of career and technical teacher education at Vermont Technical College, will return as executive director when the merger is completed in September.

A new name for the united organization will be announced at a future date.

“With Covid-19 and the economic challenges we face, this isn’t about merely rebranding,” Jepson said. “This is personal to these organizations, and to me. This merger is about supporting our businesses as efficiently as possible, highlighting our strengths to recruit new people to the region, and protecting and preserving what we love. It’s about our businesses’ and families’ futures. It’s about hope.”

Mary Cohen, executive director of the Chamber, was recently named executive director of the Housing Trust of Rutland County. She will join the board of the new merged organization.

“It has been a privilege to serve the people, businesses, and communities of Rutland County, and I am thrilled to join the board so I can continue that work in a new capacity,” Cohen said.

The merger announcement comes after four months of intensive conversation about how the nonprofits could strengthen and expand services to better meet the economic and community development needs of businesses and residents.

“This has been discussed off and on for years, and the pandemic helped highlight the importance of thinking differently, rapid planning and delivery of information, access to financial support, and member and customer care,” REDC President John Casella II and Chamber President Laurie Mecier-Brochu said in a joint statement. “The merged organization will provide the best of both worlds while cutting duplication of services, expenses, and effort. We will serve the region better than ever.”

The new organization will be housed in the Chamber offices at 50 Merchants Row, on the corner of Merchants Row and West Street. The staff of both organizations will have modified and exciting new roles.

Businesses that were members of one organization or the other will see their dues remain unchanged for the coming year. Businesses that are members of both organizations will see a decrease in their dues.

Jepson said he is energized to take on the challenges facing Rutland County and Vermont and pledged that collaboration would be at the forefront.

“This merger provides an incredible opportunity to refocus and re-energize ourselves to better support Rutland County businesses,” he said. “We look forward to working even more collaboratively with other regional organizations, partners, and towns, and, in particular, I look forward to reconnecting with the Rutland region.”

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