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Meeting to Highlight Economic Development and Housing Programs

The March meeting of the Bennington County Regional Commission will include a presentation on best practices for facilitating economic development in villages and downtowns, an introduction to programs offered by NeighborWorks of Western Vermont (NWWVT), and the first of two public hearings on a proposed (energy plan) amendment to the Bennington County Regional Plan. The meeting, which is open to the public, will be held on Thursday, March 16, at the Park House at the Dana Thompson Recreation Center in Manchester. Click for directions.

The Vermont Department of Housing and Community Development has developed a comprehensive overview of tools and techniques available to support economic development in downtowns and villages. Among the factors that need to be addressed to support business growth and diverse, active municipal centers are financing for development and growth, provision of infrastructure adequate to sustain economic drivers, and a diverse and skilled workforce. Each community will have a different need and focus in each area. mailto:bcolvin@bcrcvt.orgBill Colvin, BCRCs coordinator of regional community and economic development, will facilitate the discussion and provide relevant local examples.

NWWVT provides a diverse array of homeownership and home improvement programs from its offices in West Rutland and, working with Shires Housing, has just established a local office in Bennington County. Ludy Biddle, executive director ofNWWVT, said staff at her agency wanted to be able to provide more services by being centrally located with a permanent location in Bennington County. We started providing services to Bennington County as early as 2004, I think, but always at a distance, Biddle said.

A recently awarded community development grant will allowNWWVT to run a pilot program that would improve the physical condition of rental housing units in Bennington through permanent staff in the town. The grant will fund the first year of the pilot project. NWWVT staff will present information about programs and opportunities available through the organization.

The proposed regional energy plan has been the subject of several recent public meetings. Comments received have been incorporated into the plan and after this hearing and a second hearing on March 23, commissioners may vote to adopt the plan as an amendment to the comprehensive Regional. Plan.

A light meal will be provided free of charge at 5:30, followed by a brief business meeting, and these two presentations. Please contact Jim Sullivan at the BCRC for more information: jsullivan@bcrcvt.org, or see the agenda.