Gaucher touts list of successful prospects in Middlebury business recruiting

MIDDLEBURY — Jamie Gaucher, director of the Middlebury Office of Business Development & Innovation, said he fields inquiries from an average of seven to 10 prospects each month exploring Addison County’s shire town as a possible place to lay down roots.
He said some of those inquiries are “very serious,” from entrepreneurs who already have a business plan in the works and who are seeking information about land availability in Middlebury and advice on financing and/or how to navigate the permitting process. Some of the calls come from folks who are simply putting out basic feelers, instilling little confidence that they might call back.
Gaucher invites some of these prospects to speak at the monthly gatherings of the Middlebury Business Development Fund Advisory Board. Since January, according to Gaucher, the MBDF Advisory Board has entertained such prospects as Ekopolimer, a company with the capability of turning tough-to-recycle plastics into such durable products as manhole covers, railroad ties and portable mats that will allow crews to work in areas with soft, wet soils; Tata Harper Skincare; Fairpoint Communications; Vermont Livestock; and representatives of the Vermont Green Line power transmission project.
Gaucher provided a list of what he called business “success stories,” and another one citing prospects that are considering a Middlebury location.
Gaucher’s list of “success stories” includes:
Full Sun. Co-foundedby Netaka White and David McManus, Full Sun produces canola and sunflower oils in the former home of Vermont Soap on Exchange Street. Gaucher said he helped Full Sun get off the ground and settled into its new home.
Seedsheet. Gaucher said the MBDF worked with company to refine its initial (gardening) product offering and services, and then helped its founder locate production and office space on Pond Lane.
Stonecutter Spirits –The MBDF, according to Gaucher, “hosted the company’s exploration of several potential sites” for its gin company.  Company officials opted to locate on Exchange Street.
Mechanical Advantage –Worked with the company to identify markets and customers in Vermont and to formally incorporate in Vermont and register with the Vermont Secretary of State’s office, according to Gaucher.
Caroline’s Dream –Gaucher said the MBDF worked with company CEO Susan Shashok on diversification of its skin care products, as well as on a marketing campaign and business strategy.
Skihaus –Assisted the company in closing down, liquidating its inventory and engaging in the bankruptcy process in a timely and orderly fashion, Gaucher said.
Parlour –Helped the owners of the full-service spa and beauty salon in its relocation from Brandon to its current home at 8 Elm St.
Win Before Trial –MBDF assisted the company — which makes a software tool for lawyers and litigation professionals to assess legal costs —with identification of an appropriate business model, potential markets and targets for a soft launch of its first product. The MBDF also coached the company around potential investments/venture capital opportunities.
Denecker Chevrolet –The MBDF helped the company successfully navigate Middlebury’s local permitting process when it proposed a major renovation/expansion of its facility on Route 7 south.
Otter Creek Kitchen & Electronics –Gaucher said he reviewed the company’s original business plan and eventually helped the company move to its current Merchant’s Row location.
Buy Again Alley –MBDF provided the owner of this clothing/accessories retail shop with advice for its business plan, and on marketing prior to its launch in the Frog Hollow area, Gaucher said.
J and M Aviation –Gaucher said he helped secure a regional maintenance contract for the company thanks to a partnership with a German aircraft manufacturer, Stemme.
Middlebury Foods –The MBDF worked with the founders (several Middlebury College students) around marketing, a digital presence, evolution of the original business/expansion and logistics, Gaucher said.
Gaucher also provided a list of what he said are current business prospects. Two of those prospects have already gone “public”: The aforementioned Ekopolimer, a plastics recycling firm eyeing Middlebury College-owned land near the town’s industrial park on which to build a plant; and Vermont Livestock, a slaughterhouse and meat cutting operation that wants to move from Ferrisburgh to Middlebury. Gaucher said the list also includes the following prospects, which he said cannot yet be identified by name due to ongoing negotiations and/or promises of confidentiality:
• An entity that’s expressed interest in purchasing and re-purposing the Ben Franklin store building on Main Street.
• Two companies that voiced interest in opening locations at the Middlebury State Airport.
• A company casting about for a Middlebury location in which to make skin care products.
• A construction firm interested in opening a Middlebury office.
• A beverage company looking to expand in Middlebury and potentially offer space to like-minded entrepreneurs.
• A farm products store that has inquired about building a store in Middlebury.
• Two telecommunications companies that have expressed an interest in possibly building a fiber network within the seven Addison Central Supervisory Union towns.
• A local gaming company that is seeking to move from rental space to a building of its own.
• An out-of-county spirits company that is eyeing Middlebury as an expansion spot. Gaucher said the company owners are intrigued about becoming another in a growing number of beverage companies that have settled in Middlebury.
In addition to its work with businesses, Gaucher said the MBDF has been promoting infrastructure improvements designed to help companies move their products more safely and efficiently. For example, Gaucher has been lobbying for a roundabout intersection at Exchange Street/Route 7; a bike/pedestrian path in the industrial park; a parking garage in downtown Middlebury; and an economic development project (the EDI building) on town-owned land off Bakery Lane.
See related story, “Middlebury business outreach at crossroads as development fund up for renewal.” Reporter John Flowers is at [email protected].

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