RAYMOND — The Regional Economic Development Center broke ground Thursday on its new training center, which will provide resources to municipalities and developing businesses across the region.
The center will be located at 57 Main St. and will serve southern New Hampshire, spanning 41 towns and cities.
“What we’re doing today represents a quantum leap forward for the work REDC does in economic development,” said REDC Board President Warren Henderson. “This is a first for us.”
The business training center will house features including a reference library, computer center, classrooms and short-term office space. Conference rooms will be available for businesses to use free of charge. REDC will also donate building space that the New Hampshire Small Business Development Center may use to counsel local businesses.
“The support REDC provides will help businesses grow into thriving centers of commerce,” said U.S. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H., in a letter read at Thursday morning’s event.
REDC serves companies through providing them with counseling, pre-loan packaging, assistance in finding a location, alternative financing, and employee training. Its services for communities include guidance in planning and making infrastructure improvements, production of a comprehensive economic development strategy, assistance in determining eligibility for federal grants, and hosting training seminars.
“Our main mission is to help communities, to help companies and employees, to help them grow in good times and survive in bad times,” Henderson said.
The 5,000-square-foot building is being built on a currently vacant lot. According to REDC Executive Director Laurel Bistany, the location was chosen due to its centrality within REDC’s service area as well as its position in a growing downtown area.
“We decided to come to Raymond because we could do a lot of good here,” Bistany said.
Bistany said notable features of the building’s design will include multi-purpose rooms and a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design certification.
“Imagine how this is going to interface with our downtown,” said Raymond Town Manager Craig Wheeler. “It’s going to work so well.”
REDC’s current office is located at 37 Industrial Drive, Suite F2, in Exeter. According to Bistany, REDC began planning for the new center in 2009. The building project will be funded in part by a grant from the U.S. Department of Commerce Economic Development Administration. Bistany said some of those who donated to the building project are businesses that REDC has helped in the past.
“It’s a powerful message when you see clients be able to give back to their lender,” she said.
According to Henderson, REDC was established in 1994 after a group of people involved in business development decided to begin working together on a local level.
REDC Vice President Wesley Moore said, “To make all this happen over the past 20 years has required not only a vibrant board … but teamwork with banks, communities and businesses.”
By Robyn Keriazes