The Chamber & Economic Development of the Rutland Region (CEDRR) held its annual meeting on November 14 at the newly opened Hub CoWorks in Downtown Rutland. At the public gathering, four members of the community were honored with awards for Innovator of the Year, Business Leader of the Year, Community Leader of the Year and Volunteer of the Year.
Jeff DeJarnette, the founder of Tacitly LLC, a virtual reality startup focused on healthcare, was named Innovator of the Year. Lyle Jepson, Executive Director of CEDRR said: “I met our Innovator of the Year when he helped launch The MINT Makerspace. Jeff’s energy and intellectual abilities light up a room. This award recognizes his work in leading the Rutland region towards a more innovative, creative and inspired future.” DeJarnette’s virtual reality lab is located at The Hub CoWorks in Downtown Rutland.
The Business Leader of the Year award was presented to the Dream Maker Bakers team in Killington. Owner Megan Wagner accepted on behalf of the team. Dream Maker Bakers received this honor for their commitment to the community, particularly during the Whoopie Pie Festival. When Wagner was challenged to make Vermont’s largest whoopie pie, he assembled a team, researched the largest whoopie pie on record, found a large enough oven, prototyped and built a special baking pan, and then delivered the day from the event. “Megan and her team deserve this award for their inspiring leadership, teamwork and focus on customer satisfaction, as well as creating the largest Whoopie Pie ever made in the state of Vermont at 542 pounds,” said Jepson.
John Casella II, Co-President of Casella Construction Inc. in Pittsford, was named community leader of the year. Casella is the former chairman of the board of directors of CEDRR and a current board member. He was a driving force when Rutland Economic Development Corporation (REDC) and the Rutland Region Chamber of Commerce (RRCC) merged to form CEDRR in 2020 and continues to show promise for the Rutland region. Jepson said, “John’s tireless commitment to the communities he serves and his exemplary leadership in creating what has become CEDRR is why he earned this award.”
Rick Gile was named Volunteer of the Year after spending hundreds of hours helping shape and develop The Hub CoWorks and StartUp Rutland. Over the years, Gile has affectionately referred to the Rutland region as “The Land of Oz” and the town of Rutland as “The Emerald City.” said Jeff.
“Because of Rick’s commitment to supporting entrepreneurs and his inspiring vision for the growth of the Rutland region, in particular ‘The Emerald city’ Volunteer of the Year,” he added.