Rendering of exterior of Park Street Innovation Center in Springfieldl, VT

$3 Million Earmark Will Spur More Development at Springfield Innovation Center

With a $3 million earmark secured by U.S. Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., and almost $2 million more from the state, leaders of the Black River Innovation Campus in Springfield hope it can spur further revitalization downtown.

The money will update the 500-seat auditorium and gymnasium inside the Park Street School, a multi-use building that now houses 6,000 square feet of the campus’s workspace, plus Springfield School District administrative offices and a podcasting studio.

“​It gives us a more modernized space to host people for events, as well as for our program we call ‘Actuator,’ which is our hybrid incubator accelerator program for scalable tech companies,” said Trevor Barlow, executive director of the Black River Innovation Campus, known as BRIC.

The federal money, distributed by the Department of Housing and Urban Development, will be used to bring the space up to fire codes, upgrade the HVAC and electrical systems and address accessibility issues, Barlow said. 

BRIC envisions transforming the Park Street School into a 90,000-square-foot live-work center with 24 apartments, entrepreneurial workspace and the tech infrastructure needed to train a new generation of Vermonters for the 21st-century workforce, he said.

The building is located within walking distance of the downtown area that was once a major manufacturing hub, but has been battered by the opioid epidemic and decades-long loss of industry.

According to Barlow, the combination of Covid-19 and climate change has drawn an influx of new residents from urban centers such as Boston and New York.

“All of them have told us that, in doing their research, BRIC was a key element to them locating regionally, just knowing that there were those types of things happening,” he said.

BRIC’s Actuator — the program for scalable tech companies — has already begun supporting companies working in medical technology, waste management automation, and wearable technology, Barlow said. 

Read the full article in VTDigger

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