Castleton University has proven it’s very invested in the economic development of the Rutland region. There are secondary locations for five of the university’s offices located at Castleton Downtown on Merchants Row. The school has two separate galleries downtown, shares office space with the Rutland Young Professionals and as of January, is the executive director of the Rutland Economic Development Corporation.
One of the first offices to get a second location in Rutland was the Center for Community Engagement. Chrispin White is the director and helps students find internships and volunteer opportunities in the area.
He says Rutland area businesses have good jobs available but are having trouble finding qualified people to fill them.
“One of the beautiful things about being down here is … to find out what the jobs are and making sure that our students are familiar with these opportunities,” White said.
White said that once these students get their foot in the door of an internship, they can learn and grow within the company. Local internships and volunteer positions give students the opportunity to stay in the area and for local businesses to meet their employment needs.
“We’ve been trying to help our students gain some experience and hopefully become gainfully employed in this area,” White said.
The school’s presence took on a much more impressive role than art exhibits at the galleries or even connecting students with internships when it became the executive director of REDC last month.
The Castleton University offices at Castleton Downtown will be combining efforts to advertise local jobs to some 15,000 Castleton University alumni and will be teaming up with other local schools in the future to expand their reach.
Lyle Jepson, dean of Entrepreneurial Programs, is carrying out the job of executive director for the university.
“They approached President Wolk and asked if the university would like to play a role in economic development in the region and already there were a number of things going on, we were already in the area,” said Jepson.
Castleton Downtown also houses the Center for Schools, Polling Institute, Small Business Development Center, Rutland Young Professionals, Vermont Procurement Technical Assistance Center, and Castleton classrooms where business classes are held.
The university’s efforts combine with those of local businesses that are also working toward greater economic development in the area.
Emma Blaiklock is a social work and sociology junior at CU. She has worked at Castleton Downtown for a year and holds the title of economic development assistant. Her position is supported by Green Mountain Power.
“I actually have fallen in love with Rutland in a weird way and I hope to stay in the area for years,” she said.
The Heritage Family Credit Union is also involved. They own the Castleton Downtown building and support the Rutland Young Professionals events along with Castleton University.
“It’s a very positive time. The downtown Rutland region hasn’t looked this good in years as far as occupancy rates. There’s positive things happening and that will continue … We understand that if the university prospers then the area prospers, it’s really a symbiotic relationship,” said Jepson.