Montpelier, Vt. – Governor Phil Scott and the Department of Economic Development (DED), alongside the Vermont Professionals of Color Network (VT PoC), announced a new partnership to provide technical assistance and development services to Black, Indigenous, and Persons of Color (BIPOC) business owners and professionals statewide.
"Building equity across the state is a priority of my Administration and that means including all of our community members in these efforts,” said Governor Phil Scott. “This exciting partnership will help support businesses, our workforce, and further assist Vermont’s economic development efforts.”
The initiative, established by Act 183 of 2022, is part of the State of Vermont's commitment to build on local, state, and national efforts to advance equity and to increase meaningful inclusion and representation of BIPOC communities. An appropriation of $250,000 American Rescue Plan Act dollars will provide outreach, support, training, technical assistance, networking, and resource navigation for BIPOC business owners and workers. Leveraging existing community resources and collaboration with community partners is central to the initiative’s efforts to optimize the funding and bridge gaps in critical services and resources. DED released a competitive Request for Proposals (RFP) to solicit vendors to perform this work.
“VT PoC submitted a compelling proposal to bolster this work statewide and we are confident in the organization’s ability to effectively reach more Vermonters and make connections to the information and services they need to thrive,” said Department of Economic Development Commissioner Joan Goldstein. “We are excited about this partnership and the additional opportunity to transform our state and generate economic opportunity for all Vermonters.”
VT PoC’s mission is focused, in part, on providing support for BIPOC business owners and their entrepreneurial ventures. The partnership will expand upon the work VT PoC has been engaged with since it was founded in 2019, to build opportunities to improve the experience, representation, and success of BIPOC professionals and businesses in the state.
“We are the only Vermont organization with BIPOC leadership and staff that is focused on driving a new era of BIPOC professional mobility,” said VT PoC Director of Operations and Development Weiwei Wang. “We do this by promoting professional development, recruitment, and retention of BIPOC professionals in Vermont, and by building a strong social network for our BIPOC community. This partnership with the State will increase our capacity to expand our programing, our reach, and our impact into more areas of Vermont.”
Since 2021, VT PoC has worked with statewide organizations to provide BIPOC-specific outreach and assistance, including developing a BIPOC Non-Profit Leaders Series on grant writing, budgeting, and management with input and participation from BIPOC leaders from across the state. They also promoted and provided application support for BIPOC businesses and individuals applying for the Vermont Arts Council’s Creative Futures Grant and Vermont Economic Development Authority’s Forgivable Loan Program.
VT PoC is part of the Vermont Small Business Development Center’s Community Navigator Pilot Project through which the organization surveyed BIPOC business owners and hosted 21 listening sessions to expand on the limited data available on the challenges and opportunities for BIPOC-owned businesses in Vermont, and to inform the distribution and implementation of business development services to the BIPOC community and beyond. VT PoC has also organized networking events, educational sessions, and job fairs and plans to expand these to more regions.
Adding to the suite of resources administered by DED to bolster the state’s economic infrastructure, the department released the RFP for BIPOC business technical assistance proposals in December 2022 with an elongated runway to encourage quality and complete submissions for a spring 2023 competitive bid selection process.
Those interested in learning more about VT PoC or pursuing business or professional development services should contact the Vermont Professionals of Color Network at vtpoc.net.