MINT Makerspace

Seen here is a custom-made sign at the MINT.

Those eager to start their own business can now apply for some added help from Rutland’s “makerspace.”

The MINT, a shared workspace at 12 Quality Lane, announced Monday that it’s now taking applications for its new OnRamp program. Those chosen will get a year of free MINT membership, access to a nine-month long business course through LaunchVT, access to Vermont Center for Emerging Technologies’ “ScaleHere” program, and mentoring.

Karen McCalla, MINT maker “evangelist,” said Monday six applicants will be chosen for the OnRamp program. The MINT invites anyone with an idea for a business, be it a restaurant or stove maker, to apply. She said the final six will represent a broad spectrum of business types. While the MINT is geared towards those in the manufacturing and trades sector, any kind of business is eligible.

People can apply at rutlandmint.org/onramp.

McCalla said the application is fairly simple and easy to manage. Applications are kept confidential as well. This program, she said, is aimed at people who want to start or expand a business but don’t know what steps to take or what resources they have available. This program is designed to help people get whatever education or resources they need to make their business happen.

Funding for this comes from a $15,000 ThinkVermont Innovation Grant, said McCalla, but the business course from LaunchVT is provided from another grant. She said the cost of that resource would exceed the $15,000 ThinkVermont grant.

Aug. 1 is the deadline for applications, McCalla said, with awardees chosen around mid-month. The program will also facilitate a business lecture series which is free to attend by members of the public. McCalla said those chosen for the program will get preferred seating at these. The hope is those who aren’t chosen will also attend these lectures and perhaps make use of the MINT if they’re not already.

“The Rutland region is rich with an entrepreneurial spirit and already has so much great support for small and growing businesses,” said McCalla, in a release. “The goal of OnRamp is to unite these resources to ensure our cohort can get familiar with everything already available while adding a bunch of new offerings, all structured within a supportive and collaborative environment.”

The MINT is supported by the Rutland Economic Development Council (REDC).

“We’ve identified entrepreneurship as a real area of opportunity and growth in the greater Rutland community, and we’re excited about the impact this program will have,” said Tyler Richardson, executive director of REDC, in a release.

He said the MINT has officially been operating for two years and helped get several businesses off the ground and helped others expand.

Besides REDC, those involved with the OnRamp program will be put in touch with the Center for Women and Enterprise, the Small Business Development Center, the Women Business Owners Network, the SCORE program, the Small Business Administration, local businesses, and others, said McCalla.

keith.whitcomb

@rutlandherald.com

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