WATERBURY — Current and prospective local businesses now can get free help from a consultant.
The community has hired the former executive director of the Barre Area Development Corp., Darren Winham, to create a similar local development corporation for Waterbury. His office will be open beginning the first week of February at 65 S. Main Street in Waterbury, and he’s currently taking phone calls and working to recruit and assist businesses. The town and village are splitting the cost of paying him.
“If you are a business in Waterbury or a business considering moving to or expanding,” Winham said, “whatever your business issue or challenge is, I want to help.”
The nonprofit, which has a working title of Waterbury Area Development Corp., will seek to promote and assist the expansion of sustainable economic development, Winham said Friday.
In the past, he worked with town and economic development officials to help a Barre firm, SB Electronics, create a roughly 50,000-square-foot facility in Barre Town, he said. A $9 million stimulus grant helped the $18 million project.
He also assisted city officials in Barre in the creation of a tax increment financing, or TIF, district, which basically allows communities to redirect a portion of education taxes to finance public infrastructure improvements. And he helped facilitate the sale of the Blanchard Block on Barre’s Main Street, a 48,000-square-foot vacant property that developers are turning into offices.
In his proposal to Waterbury officials, Winham outlined his vision for the area, part of which included an 11- to 13-member board for the local development corporation. He said Friday, though, that he’s aiming for nine to 11 members.
Winham will be acting as the executive director of the Waterbury Area Development Corp. Eventually, he will find and train a permanent executive director for the organization.
He said it may take six months to put the board in place and that he has spoken to three people so far while seeking board member possibilities.
Winham also will develop a plan to identify the best areas for business growth and what kinds of business development should occur. According to the proposal, he’ll also hire a firm to help launch a website for the local development corporation to provide information about business resources.
Winham, a Barre Town resident, can be reached by email at email@example.com or by phone at 505-0463, including on weekends.
“Call me anytime,” he said. “No business issue is too small.”
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