Economic Development

Economic Development 
Chair:  Terri O’Shea

    Economic Development Task Force Meeting - January 3rd, 2018

    Present: Adam Paxman, Chair; Elisabeth Nance; Reg Beliveau; Nicole Draper; Teri
    O’Shea; Ron Kilburn; Sandy Kilburn; Suzanne Washburn; Don Collins; Molly Lambert;
    Nicole Gadouas; Judy Paxman
     Agenda Review – Reg asked to add item to Community Events
     CED update (Elisabeth Nance) – Elisabeth gave a broad update on the Main
    Street grant that was submitted at the end of December 2017 and the VCRD
    Climate Economies Model Communities program the SEP is applying for as well
    as the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Phase II application. Reg noted as a
    related matter Swanton would be getting electric car charging stations from
     Grant received for 2018 Fall Forum, update (Elisabeth-Adam) – No update yet
     ECD Public Forum in Spring 2018 – No update yet
     Round-the-Table Discussion
    o Adam informed the group the I-89 Exit 21 ramp signal survey is in progress
    o Nicole Draper asked about the South River Street sidewalk project, which is
    on hold due to funding limitations and local concerns
    o Ron gave an update on the Lamoille Valley Rail Trail expansion and the
    historical society security upgrade
    o Nicole Gadouas is in favor of moving forward with the MVU sidewalk project
    when possible. Nicole gave an update on the Youth Art Show and gave an
    update on the dazzling dames in the park
    o Suzanne reminded those present the chamber’s Citizen of the Year dinner is
    January 19, 2018 at the My-T Fine Restaurant. The chamber held elections
    after which the officers remain the same; Adam was elected to the board.
    Suzanne stated they are thinking about holding mixer events like the Franklin
    County Regional Chamber does.
    o Don believes the focus needs to be on outdoor recreation opportunities and
    Swanton needs to think about parking during the summer when cyclists and
    others come into Swanton. Don would like to see the chamber building move
    from its current location.
    o Molly congratulated Elisabeth, Hank, and Betsy for getting to Phase II of the
    Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Culture of Health Prize Award.
    o Sandy stated the years between now and 2013 when the SEP first formed have
    been like a dream. Sandy informed the present Paul Bruhn, of Preservation
    Trust Vermont, is planning to do a bus tour looking at restaurants and
    community centers in the spring.

    o Neal stated he is happy with the spirit of cooperation between the village and
    the town. He said the village is looking into improving the lighting at
    Merchant’s Row.
    o Elisabeth updated everyone on the regional outdoor recreation collaborative
    which is holding a planning meeting on January 10 in Enosburgh.
    o Reg informed those present Swanton and Highgate are collaborating on an
    outreach effort on smoke alarms and detectors.
    o Judy gave an update on SAC events such as the Business of Arts series around
    Real Artists Don’t Starve on January 10, 17, and 24 at 6:00 pm as well as a
    planned Turning Your Hobby into a Business discussion tentatively scheduled
    for late March, three art shows, and discussion about starting a theater group
    o Teri asked about outreach to individual businesses. The EDTF has received
    inquiries in the past and she wondered if that was something on which the task
    force wanted to follow up
     Strategic Planning – There was discussion about the need to begin the process of
    strategic planning to develop goals and measurements to guide decisions. Molly
    cautioned this is not a short process. Nicole Gadouas will reach out to a someone
    who she recently heard speak on the topic to get further information from her. It
    may be that a smaller group would take up this project and then present a draft
    plan to the task force. Scheduling presented a challenge but dates will be
     Upcoming Community Events (FYI only)
    o Jan. 2018: Swanton Chamber Citizen of the Year
     Adjournment – Task force adjourned at 6:53 p.m.
     Next meeting: 2/7/18, 5:30 p.m. at the Village Complex


    Economic Development meeting - November 1st, 2017

    November 1st, 5:30pm at town office:

    Present: Adam Paxman, Chair; Sandy Kilburn; Ron Kilburn; Teri O’Shea; Reg Beliveau; Molly Lambert; Elisabeth Nance; David Jescavage; Brian Savage; Don Collins

    • Agenda Review – No changes

    • CED update – Elisabeth gave a broad update on some of the projects she is working on,including an update on the Village’s move to become a Certified Local Government and networking. Elisabeth also presented a draft letter for Greta at NRPC in support of its Brownfield Program; the letter was approved with a correction suggested by Molly. Adam will sign as Chair of the task force. The task force also agreed to provide a letter to the Town as part of the upcoming budget discussions in support of the Economic Development Coordinator position being funded through the end of 2018. Adam will draft the letter.

    • Economic Development community event – There was discussion about the form a winter 2018 economic development community event would take and whether other task forces are able to participate. Originally tentatively planned for February the event may be pushed back to April with the idea that those from State agencies not able to join us for the October walking tour would be able to do so prior to the event itself. Elisabeth noted she volunteered the task force to “host” but, as with prior community events, the other task forces and the Arts Council would be included. It was decided that the event would be added to the SEP Steering Committee agenda.

    • Any New Business

    • Molly informed the task force she and Hank, with Ross’s okay, will present the SEP Annual Report at the Multi-Board meeting on November 16th
    • David informed the task force he has set up an Economic Development page on the Town’s website that is a work in progress but one that will be a useful tool to existing and potential businesses.
    • David noted the electronic sign has been a huge success and gave some of the posting guidelines he uses, specifically that the event must benefit the community as a whole.
    • Teri gave an update on the school board vote noting the board’s preference for a “no merge” vote. Don stated he had run the numbers and the short-term reduction on his tax bill was not enough. There was agreement the wording on the ballot was confusing and it was noted that the vote is non-binding.
    • Brian noted that MVU has a note meant to consolidate and standardize budget line items.

    • Upcoming Community Events (FYI only)
    Nov. 25th: Christmas in the Park

    Adjournment – Meeting adjourned at 6:45 p.m.
    Next meeting: December 6, 2017 at 5:30 p.m. in the Village Complex.


    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


    * 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.


    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.



    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


    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