2019-03-09 00:56:15

If you have an idea for a business but no idea how to start or run one, The MINT wants to hear from you.

The MINT is a shared working space for people who want to make things be it for a business, school project or just for fun, said Karen McCalla, maker evangelist for The MINT, 112 Quality Lane in Rutland. McCalla said people essentially join The MINT the same way they would a gym, and can use the facility’s space and tools.

The MINT was recently awarded a $15,000 ThinkVermont Innovation Grant from the Vermont Agency of Commerce and Community Development. McCalla said the award, along with $5,000 in local donations, will be used to help six entrepreneurs get their venture off the ground.

Fifteen other projects received awards totaling $150,000, according to Nate Formalarie, communications director for the agency. Among them was CVFiber, which was award $12,500 for a broadband feasibility study.

The funds were appropriated by the 2017 Legislature, Formalarie said.

McCalla said The MINT will soon have an application form available to aspiring entrepreneurs, but until then, those with a business idea should email info@rutlandmint.org.

Those who are chosen will take a year-long course that will help participants build a business plan and secure funding for it.

“We’ll connect those entrepreneurs with all the robust support we have in the region,” McCalla said.

She stressed The MINT can consider any sort of business idea, even if it doesn’t require a wood or a metal shop.

“The initiative is designed to help us invest in local small business projects with grants that can be accessed more quickly and with fewer restrictions than traditional federal initiatives,” Gov. Phil Scott said in a news release. “It is telling to see such great interest in this program. Vermont has many small businesses looking to grow through new ideas and strategies, and I’m pleased we can support economic growth in this way.”

According to Formalarie, businesses with 20 or fewer employees were eligible for a ThinkVermont Innovation Grant. There were 45 applications in total. The grants were aimed at projects that support training, recruitment, facility upgrades, improving internet speed and access and leveraging federal funding.

“The diversity of these projects, both in intended goals and geography around the state speaks to their importance,” said Michael Schirling, Agency of Commerce and Community Development secretary, in a release. “There is innovation in business happening in every corner of our state, and all Vermonters can benefit from seeing its local business community grow.”

Formalarie said as of now, there are no funds for a second round of grants; however, if this run is successful, he hopes the Legislature will appropriate money for a second series of awards.

keith.whitcomb @rutlandherald.com

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