Vermont Business Magazine The Northern Vermont University-Lyndon coworking initiative in downtown Lyndonville is moving forward to stimulate the local economy with the support of a $125,000 gift over five years from NorthCountry Federal Credit Union. NorthCountry CEO Bob Morgan will present NVU President Elaine Collins with a check at an event 3-4 p.m. Thursday at the former Bag Balm building at 320 Broad St. in Lyndonville, where the coworking space will be located. The event is open to the public.
The 2,000-square-foot space, scheduled to open officially in the fall on the building’s second floor, will provide rentable office facilities for nearly 50 entrepreneurs and remote workers at a time to expand their businesses, network and collaborate. The initiative aims to help revitalize downtown and strengthen the connection between NVU-Lyndon and the Lyndonville community.
“NorthCountry Federal Credit Union is committed to the economic health and vitality of the greater Lyndon area. Small and micro-businesses have an especially significant impact on the community, and a modern coworking space will support their growth and expansion,” NorthCounty CEO Bob Morgan says. “Through the coworking space, nearby residents will gain improved access to the university’s offerings and awareness of the resources the university offers…We fully expect the coworking space to be a catalyst for growth and small-business success well into the future.”
“We feel grateful and reassured that NorthCountry Federal Credit Union also sees the positive impact the NVU coworking space will have on the area. They have contributed not only the key funding necessary to get the space up and running but also are helping to build the spirit of innovation and entrepreneurship that will lead Lyndon to a brighter future,” says Ann Nygard, director of NVU-Lyndon’s Center for Professional Studies.
The coworking initiative is part of the center, which offers non-degree education such as certificate, diploma and licensure programs through on-site classes and online platforms.
NVU is using the coworking space support from NorthCountry and other funding partners to leverage matching funds from federal and other grants. The coworking initiative also is supported by startup gifts from the Northeastern Vermont Regional Hospital Community Health Fund, the Northeastern Vermont Development Association and Northern Counties Health Care Inc.
Using a membership model, the coworking space will have high-speed internet, photocopiers, state-of-the-art audiovisual equipment, sound-proof phone booths and a high-tech conference room, which will be available for the public to rent. The site will host workshops, classes and events to support entrepreneurship, innovation and collaboration.
In addition to entrepreneurs, the office space will help people who work remotely and vacationers who want to add time to their trip for business. NVU students will be available to provide technical assistance to businesses in the coworking space.
"The transformation of the Bag Balm building from an 'old school' hands-on manufacturing plant to a high-tech hub for innovation and collaboration is an exciting opportunity for Lyndon and surrounding communities,” Lyndon selectboard member Chris Thompson says. “This facility will attract both established businesses and entrepreneurs to the downtown area, where they can grow not only their businesses, but those already there. Folks using the coworking space will shop downtown and contribute to our business district year-round, which is really needed.”
With the unification of Lyndon State College and Johnson State College as Northern Vermont University official as of July 1, “This is a pivotal time for the university to consider how it can bring added value to the community and have a positive impact,” Nygard says. “By rooting itself downtown in the heart of the community and playing an active role in providing some of the resources needed for economic development, it really is fulfilling a greater mission in line with its university status.”
On July 1, Johnson State College and Lyndon State College will become Northern Vermont University, a two-campus institution of higher education that combines the best of both colleges’ nationally recognized liberal arts and professional programs under a single administration. Driven by a mission to provide a high-quality, accessible, inclusive education for students in the state, the region, the nation and online, NVU is recruiting for its first class, which starts in the fall. Learn more at NorthernVermont.edu.