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Valley Venture Mentors Joins Forces with Western Massachusetts EDC

SPRINGFIELD — The Western Massachusetts Economic Development Council (EDC) announced it has welcomed Valley Venture Mentors (VVM) into the EDC ranks as a regional leader in the entrepreneurial ecosystem. With a shared vision in stimulating and facilitating a vigorous regional economy, the EDC is committed to supporting local entrepreneurship, which ultimately leads to the acceleration of economic development and community vitalization.

“VVM has played an integral role in the entrepreneur ecosystem as a leader in scaling businesses to the next level of operation, promoting innovation in every aspect of business and generating regional wealth for our local economy,” said Rick Sullivan, president and CEO of the EDC. “We are eager in taking an inclusive approach in supporting our local entrepreneurial network as they grow into economic engines in Western Mass.”

EDC and VVM leadership have been in discussion on the future of the entrepreneurial ecosystem and have decided to join forces. The board of directors of VVM issued the following statement:

“VVM started with a simple mission: to help entrepreneurs succeed. That mission has guided the organization for over a decade, through economic boom and bust times, as VVM grew from an all-volunteer, ragtag organization into a professional, fully staffed operation with an inspiring space in downtown Springfield. Along the way, VVM has witnessed the explosion of entrepreneurship across the Pioneer Valley, with new programs like EforAll Holyoke, the Berthiaume Center at UMass and its summer student accelerator, LEVER in Berkshire County, and WNEU’s expanding entrepreneurship program, to name a few. VVM has also seen the addition of several new options for startup funding, including the Alchemy Fund, the Maroon Fund, Launch413, and the Springfield Venture Fund.

“We are thankful for the support that VVM has received over the years from its lead funders, MassMutual and the MassMutual Foundation, the Irene E. & George A. Davis Foundation, MassDevelopment, Massachusetts Technology Collaborative, Berkshire Bank, and countless other supporting businesses and individuals. We are also thankful for the thousands of hours that individual mentors gave to young (and some old) entrepreneurs. Many business relationships were started at VVM, and hopefully these will continue into the future. Many friendships were also started at VVM, and these have enriched all of our lives.

“The leadership at the Economic Development Council of Western Massachusetts recognizes the unique value of VVM, its impactful programming, and diverse pool of mentors. We are excited to hand over the reins to the EDC and watch VVM and the EDC work more closely together to fulfill the mission of helping all entrepreneurs in Western Mass. not just succeed, but thrive.”

With this new transition, the EDC has appointed Hope Ross Gibaldi as executive director of VVM.

“Hope’s leadership has been instrumental in navigating VVM through the pandemic while simultaneously developing meaningful and effective relationships and enriching the organization’s programming,” said Xiomara Albán DeLobato, chief of staff of the EDC. “VVM will continue to support entrepreneurs through curated mentoring and networking opportunities — and we are very excited to share more information [in the near future] on the innovative opportunities coming to Western Mass. for the betterment of our entrepreneurs, residents, and overall economy.”

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