Economic Development

Economic Development 
Chair:  Terri O’Shea

    Notes from November 16, 2016 Economic Development Task Force Meeting

    Location: Swanton Municipal Complex
    Time: 5:35pm

    Attendees: Ron & Sandy Kilburn, Adam Paxman, Brian Savage, Don Collins, Molly Lambert, Suzanne Washburn, David Jescavage, Monica Greene, Marianna Gamache

    Agenda Item #1: Brownsfield Update

    Update:

    * So far, so good. Nothing negative has come from discussions on the project area.
    * Meeting on December 8th at 5:30pm at the Swanton Town Office to continue discussion and determine sites to work on.

    Agenda Item #2: Update Community & Economic Development position

    * There are 3 individuals who have applied.
    * Swanton Selectboard will create a committee to interview the candidates. EDC may be asked to participate (UPDATE 12/14/16: Terri O’Shea is on the interview committee).

    Agenda Item #3: 2017 Rural Business Development Grant

    * It was mentioned that we should re-submit our paperwork for the 2017 Rural Business Development Grant. As Molly Lambert mentioned, we had a very good grant-writing and many were surprised we didn’t get it.
    * This will be on the agenda for the next meeting to discuss.

    New Business

    * This will be on the agenda for the next meeting to discuss.
    * Ron Kilburn mentioned that he worked on a $5000 grant with the Northern Forrest Canoe Trail to help promote canoeing in Swanton (?). We won! Way to go Ron!
    * Monica Greene presented the task force with exciting news of an expansion plan for VPT. It is a 3-5 year vision that includes 30-50 new jobs at VPT over the 3-5 years, with a portion of the expansion expected to occur in the next 6-9 months. She requested support from our legislators should permits get delayed in the approval process.
    * Molly Lambert brought up the Highgate border with regards to only having one truck lane to get thru. Rep’s Savage and Gamache were asked to look into.
    * Action: Reps’ Savage and Gamache will explore border crossing and report back when they have answers.
    * It was asked when the new digital sign would be installed. It is expected to be here on Dec. 8th and, weather pending, installed shortly thereafter.

    Meeting adjourned at 6:45pm

    Next meeting: To be determined, Will look at having it at the next No. Gateway meeting in Jan.

    ”Read

    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.

     

    ”Read

    Economic Development Meeting - 10/7/15

    Revised Notes from Economic Development committee meeting

    October 7, 2015

    Attendees: Brian Savage, Tim Smith, Neal Speer, Sandy Kilburn, Ron Kilburn, Molly Lambert, Marianna Gamache, Suzanne Washburn, Terri Oshea

    Update on SEP

    Dam Duck Derby

    Ron Kilburn gave an update on the duck derby. It was a huge success, especially for a first time event. Many volunteers helped and 240 ducks were purchased. Over $1,000 was raised; proceeds will go to the Swanton Historical Society and SEP. There was a discussion about other towns that have similar events and adding some of their ideas to ours (e.g., Newport has businesses buy special ducks and have them race as well as the rubber duck race). Thanks to Mary Metayer and Ron and the volunteers for bringing the community together and making it fun.

    High School Presentation at Faculty Meeting

    Molly talked about how Kathy L and Judy P had talked to the guidance counselors at MU, and how we have the opportunity to talk with the full staff at an after-school faculty meeting on October 21st. Molly, Hank and the chairs will present at the meeting. The committee gave suggestions on what our committee would like for help:

    * Agricultural – flowers and veggies, bridge, farmers market, which will be at Methodist Church on scheduled Saturdays this winter)

    * Data research (businesses that exist, other)

    * Videography

    * Local job expo

    * Offer to do something for businesses (paint storefront for holidays, etc.)

    High School Internship status and Graduate Student Intern (Ben Doyle)

    Molly gave an update on how we are trying to get high school interns to help with the committee work as appropriate, and at the same time we are trying to get a graduate student to work part time as an intern overseeing SEP. The graduate student would be the point person and would supervise the high school interns. We talked about the job descriptions later in the meeting.

    Farmers Market Update from Suzanne

    Suzanne updated us on the Swanton Farmers Market. It is going to continue inside during the cold weather. She said she would get us the specific information to put in the minutes. Here it is: “The Village Green Farmers Market located on the Village Green and sponsored by the Swanton Chamber of Commerce will be sponsoring a Winter Village Farmers Market. The market will be held inside the Memorial United Methodist Church, across from the Swanton Village Green. The market dates are Nov. 7 and 21, Dec. 5 and 19, Jan. 19 and 23, Feb. 6 and 20 and Mar. 5 and 19. The market starts at 9 and ends at 2. To be considered as a Vendor please call the Chamber at: 802.868.7200 or send us a Facebook message with your complete name, a phone number to reach you at and a description of your offerings.

    Thank you to Suzanne.

    Guest Speaker: Tim Smith (ways we can support and align with his work)

    Tim started by telling us that he considered himself part of our committee and would like to attend on a regular basis. We expressed our appreciation for his coming tonight and how he has been working with us.

    Tim explained the ways we could look at community economies:

    1. Strong economy which is the exchange of money in a community where money leaks out or

    2. Economic development which brings money into the community (example: VT Precision)

    Tim suggested that we do a tour – it would be interesting and important for us to be aware of what exists when we talk about economic development. We need information to be good ambassadors. The businesses we would like to visit are:

    * Dave Fosgate’s sites (3 sites at 10,000 sq. ft.)

    * VT Precision tools

    * Rays tools

    * Leader Evaporator

    And we need research on telecommunication

    Action Item: Arrange for tours for committee to take of local businesses

    Who: Who will volunteer to be point person on this?

    Action Item: Arrange for research on telecommunication access

    Who: High School intern

    Tim was asked at what point is a community ready to have a position dedicated to economic development. Tim said a community like ours could start at 20 hours and then grow. The committee discussed how we could definitely keep the position busy. Swanton needs a strategic plan and grants. There are a lot of grants available to help communities with economic development.

    The Norther Border Regional Commission got a $250,000. Tim talked about the focus on the border and opportunities.

    A big bonus for Swanton is the Welcome Center being discussed. The discussions have focused on two sites:

    1. Building a 20 x 20 log cabin next to the interstate on property owned by one of the gas stations

    2. The old Highgate welcome center

    Discussion followed about which would be better for Swanton, which is most feasible, and what we could do. It was pointed out that all major routes into Vermont have a welcome center except Highgate. The ideal is probably HIghgate with a Swanton component. We definitely want to advocate for a welcome center.

    Action Item: Our group will recommend to the Steering Committee that we meet with the delegation and let them know we want to make Welcome Center a high priority. We will also recommend that we work with surrounding community to meet with delegation.

    Who: Terri will recommend at October steering committee.

    Tim had some other recommendations. He believes people want to get out and meet their neighbors. The Chamber has done a good job of holding events. Tim suggested we have a calendar with a community event every month, such as the duck derby in October, the Easter egg hunt in April, the Swan ice in winter, etc. It strengthens economy and builds community.

    Action Item: Recommend to the Steering Committee that we develop a calendar with monthly events that will build community and strengthen economy.

    Who: Terri will recommend at October meeting.

    Another recommendation…Economic development is a whole system – workforce, downtown, restaurants. A way to help this is to have a local job expo. It will get people educated about what is out there. We want to try and get people to stay local.

    Action Item: Work with Tim and others to have a local Job Expo

    Who: Who will volunteer to be point person?

    An update and another recommendation… We have a brand for our counties: True Vermont. How can we get it moving?

    Action Item: Talk with Steering Committee about ways to get this moving. Also keep it on radar in committee work

    Who: Terri talk with Steering Committee. Keeping it on the radar of committee is everyone’s responsibility

    Also, housing stock plays a huge role in economic development. Tim asked if any incentives were available for turning rental properties into single family homes. Is Swanton top heavy on rentals? What is the vacancy rate?

    Action Item: Look into housing statistics. Look into incentives to encourage ownership.

    Who: Intern could help with research. Who will volunteer to be point person?

    We thanked Tim and told him we look forward to his continued help.

    Information needed for “Interim Internship position”

    Terri handed out copies of draft job descriptions and asked for input. It was agreed that they would go out electronically with the notes and that people would make recommended changes and get back to Terri

    Update on Gamache/Prouty Building by Ron Kilburn

    Ron has gotten in touch with the architect, Lars, who is working on the report and is halfway done. He told Ron it should be ready by end of October. Thank you to Ron for seeing this through and Marianna for allowing it.

    Action Item: Consider report and what it means for moving forward – to the owner and to SEP.

    Who: Ron and Marianna

    Other

    Brian Savage is offering a seminar, “How to turn your hobby into a business”. He is doing it through the Chamber and the Arts Council. A date is not set but will be advertised when finalized.

    Thank you to everyone for your participation.

    Next meeting: First Wednesday of November, which is November 4, 2015, from 6:30 – 8:00 at the Swanton Village Complex.

    Notes respectfully submitted by Terri O’Shea

    ”Read

    Economic Development Subcommittee meeting - September 2, 2015

    Notes from Economic Development committee meeting

    September 2, 2015

    Attendees: Reg Beliveau, Neal Speer, Terri O’Shea, Sandy Kilburn, Ron Kilburn, Molly Lambert, Marianna Gamache, Shawn Cheney

    I Welcome

    II Update from Molly Lambert

    Molly gave an overview of the August steering committee meeting. Some of the salient highlights follow:

    1. It was agreed that committee interns would be valuable. SEP will request a meeting with MVU’s administration to update them on the efforts of the SEP and outline opportunities for the students to participate. Kathy will do this and aim for a date in late September or early October. Each task force chair will prepare a list of tasks with which an intern could help, and send the list to Molly, who will turn the listed tasks into a “job description.”

    2. The Steering Committee of the Swanton Enhancement Project voted to support the creation of a paid position within the Town entitled “Community and Economic Development Coordinator” as outlined in the proposed Town Plan which is scheduled for adoption in September 2015. The motion was approved unanimously. SEP will develop a letter to be presented to the Joint Legislative Body at its September meeting. Joel volunteered to prepare a draft of the letter for the SC’s consideration. More on the letter in the next part of the meeting.

    Molly also gave an update on discussions she has had with Paul Costello about building capacity – glue to hold us together. They discussed looking at as many sources for help as we can. These are some of the possible resources:

    1. Vermont Community Foundation (possible source of funds)

    2. Windham Foundation (possible source of funds)

    3. Regional Economic Development (REC) sometimes have revolving loan funds available

    4. USDA – has a community development position to help after VCRD leaves

    5. Center for Rural Studies at UVM – maybe could use a graduate student

    6. AmeriCorps VISTA (needs to be project based and need emphasis on poverty relief)

    Molly will follow up with all these people and organizations.

    III Larger discussion regarding intern and committee needs

    The discussion started with questions about what the committee needs. We talked about Swanton village and Swanton town and how confusing it is sometimes (for some of us) to know who to go to, who does what, and how the town and village work together as a “holistic Swanton”. Joel will do an overview for the steering committee at the next steering committee meeting. (Action)

    Reggie suggested that we go to the School board to fill them in on what SEP is doing and how student interns could help. We will recommend it to the steering committee. (Action Item)

    Some of the intern job functions we would find helpful are:

    * Note taking

    * Research

    * Phone calls

    We also emphasized the need for a self-directed person.

    IV Larger discussion regarding Community and Economic Development paid position

    Joel showed us a letter he has drafted for the town and city that requests the creation of a Community and Economic Development position. Joel plans to make a few edits. The committee thought the letter was wonderful and recommends the steering committee approve it. (Action)

    The committee will also help with the job description and PR. We will need to help sell it to the community.

    V Update on Mark Fenton and October community meeting

    Mark Fenton, speaker and national expert on walkable, bikeable communities, is scheduled to come October 7-9 to meet with 3 communities – Highgate, St. Albans and Swanton. Molly has asked Amy Brewer about whether or not we could use some of our Healthy Communities Award to have him be our featured speaker for the October public meeting. Amy is slated to get back to Molly on the possibility at the end of this week.

    VI Update on Prouty/Gamache Building

    Ron gave an update on what has been done with the building. The following notes are a combination of Ron’s written report to me and his presentation at the meeting.

    ‘Marianna gave permission, and she, Ron, Charlie Prouty and Laz Scangas (the architect specialist who works a lot with Preservation Trust of Vermont) met on Friday, Aug. 28 at the site on #1 Canada Street. The purpose was to inspect the condition of the buildings in order to consider possible future uses of the properties. They were aided by historic photographs and Charlie's knowledge of changes that were made to the market building and the adjacent former Champlain Theater. Laz made extensive measurements of the interior and exterior of the buildings and took many photographs of the present conditions. With the information gained he will write a complete report on his conditions assessment with photographs, drawings, etc. He will also estimate the potential cost of needed repairs.

    The cost of the report/assessment is funded by Preservation Trust of Vermont (Paul Bruhn, $500) and SEP (500).

    Ron let us know that it will be a long process. The building is on the State Registrar of historic buildings. One of our greatest resources is Paul, who has offered to help us move forward.

    The building is on the market for $325,000.

    Next Step is getting the report and what it means for going forward. If Marianna is interested in proceeding, we will ask Paul to come back and talk to us. We also will arrange for some of us to go on the tour we discussed after Paul’s visit in July.

    Next meeting: October 7, 2015 at 6:30 at the Swanton Village Complex

    Respectfully submitted by Terri O'Shea

    ”Read

    Economic Development meeting - Aug 5th, 2015

    Revised Notes from Economic Development committee meeting
    August 5, 2015
    Members present: Brian Savage, Reg Beliveau, Monica Greene, Neal Speer, Adam Paxman, Chris Leach, Terri O’Shea

    Update on July community meeting

    We discussed the July community meeting and how impressed we all were with the discussion and work Rutland has done. We also are optimistic about efforts in Swanton. Reggie gave a follow up report on what Swanton is doing. He met with police: they understand the importance of connections and are already doing a lot of partnering with other organizations. Joey is trying to get twenty hours of time into the elementary school so kids can build relationship with police. He hopes this can break a cycle – kids see police as helpful, even if their parents do not. As mentioned at the July meeting, Swanton crime statistics reinforce the effective measures our police department is doing. The committee wondered if maybe we are lacking PR.

    Reg also mentioned the September Block Party in September at Second and York Street (a good place to change things up).

    Update/report on Brownsfield sites by Neal Speer

    Neal did a great job of researching the Brownsfield situation and provided us with a report from NRPC (report is attached). We discussed the identified sites and the possibility that we identify other sites that may be conducive to business development. We discussed how great it would be to “clean up” and develop the western entry into town. Neal has volunteered to continue to take the lead on this.

    Request from Arts committee for marketing ideas

    We discussed the request from the Arts committee for ideas on how individual artists can market themselves. The ideas mentioned included websites, facebook, Tyler Place, Farmers Market booth. We think it would be great if we had a space/building available where they could offer classes, display work. Something similar to Enosburgh where the artists who display also staff the Gallery. We talked about the Beauty Salon that is leaving and the possibility of that space.

    Update from Adam Paxman on planning

    Adam has been attending planning meetings and told us that the SEP work will be included in the plan. We talked about the designated growth center (exit 20) and the fact that we may want to be consistently aware of how that will impact Swanton’s economic development.

    Update on Historical Appraisal of downtown building for sale

    Ron Kilburn and the owner are discussing it. Brian is also talking with owner about the building.
    Other

    1. Adam mentioned Promise Community and their $200,000 pot. We are not quite sure how it will affect Swanton.

    2. Karissa Stell has developed a Swanton “bragging” brochure for us. It will be on our Sept agenda. It is attached to this email as well. Thank you to Karrisa!

    3. We discussed the lack of commercial building space in Swanton. Monica mentioned how it is hard to find space. The committee discussed how that is a barrier to growth of existing businesses and beginning of new ones.

    4. Reggie went to a Northern VT Economic Development Board of Directors Meeting. It is funded again (limited amount) and NW Regional Planning will be the holder of the $30,000 funding.

    Next Actions

    1. Communication – how do we help the communication between select boards, planning, etc.? It would be good to have a more formal way to ensure all are talking with each other.

    2. We see a need to focus on hiring someone to be a community and economic development person. We need someone, even if they are inexperienced…

    3. We need to have something to sell. One of the things the state does is look outside rather than inside. For example, Mylan. Maybe they need more space. We need someone to help walk people through the process – like a Tim Smith.

    Next meeting: September 2nd, 6:30 – 8:00 PM, Swanton village complex

    ”Read

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