Economic Development Meeting – September 7th, 2016

Location: Swanton Municipal Complex
Time: 5:00pm
Attendees: Reg Beliveau, Adam Paxman, Terri O’Shea, Brian Savage, Neal Speer, Don Collins, Hank Lambert, Molly Lambert, Suzanne Washburn, David Jescavage

Terri introduced Adam as the new EDTF Chair. Adam thanked Terri for all she has done and will continue to do.

Agenda Item #1: Brownsfield Update

Update from Reg:

  • There were 3 candidates that made proposals for the Brownsfield area.
  • Fairweather won the bid. They do a lot of community meetings; also have follow-up after the meeting. They did a great job with the interview. They work with Stone Environment as well.
  • The area that was looked at was where the old Beacon Feeds grain shed was, the Riviere Hotel and the surrounding area.
  • The reason for choosing this area for the brownsfield study is we couldn’t decide on a location, so a location was chosen. This area is in the “northern gateway” and seemed most likely to be able to get going on.
  • It is expected that Fairweather will start in October.
  • Our team consists of Reg, Neal, Suzanne and David and Greta from NRPC and Ron Kilburn.

Agenda Item #2: Update Community & Economic Development position

  • Adam and Terri attended the 9/6/16 Swanton Selectboard meeting, with the position of C&ED on the agenda.
  • After much discussion and a 3-2 vote, the Selectboard voted to approve a part-time position for one year using the $31,000 salary.
  • Adam and Terri thanked the Selectboard for moving ahead with this position but had many reservations about it being part-time, not finding a good candidate, the time-frame for this position (1 year was proposed,  2-3yrs was suggested).
  • It was mentioned that Tim Smith would be happy to work with the new hire.
  • David cautioned us to think about the state laws regarding hours worked. Also how would travel expenses be handled?
  • Adam expressed to the selectboard that the EDTF would like to participate in the interview process. Maybe the Selectboard could form a hiring committee.
  • Molly suggested we reach out to Ben Doyle from the USDA to get an idea if there are other resource possibilities.

Action: Molly will email Ben Doyle to engage his services

Agenda Item #3: Priorities Update

  • #1: Investigate other county towns’ economic development committees to see what they accomplish and how they work.

 

    • Using the Johnson Town ED job description, David has started a Swanton CED job description.
    • Action: Molly to invite Ben Doyle to our Oct. 5th meeting to discuss this position.
  • #2: Work with Northwest Regional Planning Commission on the region-wide brownsfield assessment to identify and plan for redevelopment of Swanton brownsfields.
    • In process. We are on phase 1, have 2 more.
  • #3: Connect with the Planning Commission to review draft of Swanton Town Plan and contribute ideas on economic development

 

    • Adam has been attending the Planning Commission meetings but since July they are caught up with the renewable energy planning.
    • Reg talked about the need for growth (renewable energy is NOT growth).
    • The Vision Group came to Swanton earlier this year (they were part of a Chamber function). The State doesn’t seem to be doing much planning for growth. Swanton has infrastructure for growth.
  • #4: Establish a “Swanton Bragging Plan” to tell great stories about Swanton assets, activities, and good news! Draw on each of the other task forces’ work to share a variety of stories for local media and for media beyond Swanton.

 

    • Karissa Stell did some work.
    • Action: Terri will find it, talk to Kristine and send it out.
    • Action: Suzanne will bring this to the Communications committee (along with the Vergennes brochure).
  • #5: Evaluate the idea of attracting, supporting or developing a community restaurant downtown.

 

      • We did talk to Paul Bruhn (VT Preservation Trust) and tried to do a field trip. We’re hoping the brownsfield study will address this.
      • Molly suggested expanding this item to promoting a vibrant downtown, including a restaurant. The group agreed to expand the priority.

 

  • #6: Support agricultural enterprises and agri-tourism as key features of Swanton’s economy.

 

    • Don Collins has agreed to be a contact and will follow up with the task force.
    • Don mentioned that Virginia Holliman is also doing work I this area.
    • Did you know… Agriculture is worth about $388 million in Franklin County.
  • #7: Go business to business in Swanton – what do they need to grow? Build an inventory of local businesses. Use a common set of questions and ultimately build a list of resources that can be shared with businesses.

 

    • Let Fairweather do their thing
  • #8: Get an overview of workforce needs and programs from Kathy Lavoie at the Workforce Development Board and define strategies to build the workforce.
    • Invite Kathy Lavoie and Mary Hartman to our next meeting.
    • Action: Adam will invite Kathy and Mary to the Oct. 5th meeting
  • #9: Support the work-in-progress to develop a welcome center and signage by the Swanton Interstate exit.
    • This project is on hold for the time being.    

It was briefly discussed to adjust the start-time of the meeting so as many task force members could get to the meeting. Adam made the executive decision to change the meeting time to start at 5:30pm and to run no more than 90 minutes max. Adam’s plan is to keep the meetings to 1 hour, business pending

Meeting adjourned at 6:15pm

Next meeting: October 5th at 5:30pm at the Village Complex.

 

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