Page 72 - BusinessWest May 2, 2022
P. 72

     Stephanie Welch has her own working I thought, ‘I can do this.’” City officials thought
definition of the phrase that now appears on her business card (or one of them, anyway): community development.
“To me, it means removing equity barriers
for those around you,” she told BusinessWest, adding that she goes about this assignment
in a number of ways through her role with
the town of West Springfield, everything from help administering a down-payment assistance program to those looking to buy a home to work assisting the local food pantry in securing a much-needed new home.
And this same basic goal also defines her work outside of her day job as a consultant and as a controller for a local manufacturer.
“Everyone I work with is tied to the same goal,” she said. “All the organizations, from West Springfield to the private companies I work with — they’re trying to remove equity barriers for people.”
Prior to the pandemic, Welch was working as a project manager for a large consulting firm that specialized in work with small- to medium- sized businesses when she decided she wanted to make a career shift. She saw the position of community developer in West Springfield as a natural fit and a logical move.
“A lot of it is administering grant funding, but it’s also basic accounting and budgeting and doing strategic planning,” she explained. “And
the same thing, and she started just after the pandemic hit.
Since arriving, she’s been involved in the multi-phase renovation of the West Springfield Boys & Girls Club, which she calls her “pride and joy,” as well as a number of paving projects, job-training initiatives for non-English-speaking residents (there are many in this community), and that aforementioned down-payment assistance project, administered in conjunction with Way Finders, which is helping many city residents become homeowners.
“Many people will say, ‘I can afford the mortgage, but I can just never get caught up to make the down payment,” she explained, adding that the program provides $5,000 to those who quality to get them over that hump.
That’s just one example of barrier removal, she said, reiterating that her work outside of Town Hall usually takes a similar course. Indeed, she serves as controller to the Coating House,
a manufacturer working to bring more women into that industry.
Outside of her many kinds of work, Welch skis, hikes, and hangs out with her rescue dog, Whiskey.
— George O’Brien
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     A 4 8 2022
Stephanie Welch
Community Development Director, Town of West Springfield; Age 25

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