Saturday March 3, 2012
Several good things are new in the area of business development. On Thursday I plan to be on News & Views on WBTN radio. My guests should be the gentlemen from St. Albans who are buying Catamount Elementary School and planning an indoor soccer center.
As you may know, the Bennington Economic Development Task Force has been working on many different fronts. Peter Odierna from the Bennington County Industrial Corp. has gone to Brattleboro with me to meet the president of the Brattleboro Foreign Trade Zone.
This is another tool in recruiting business to our area. In addition, we continue to work with our “first in line” company to help them achieve designation. We plan to go to Albany and meet with a company involved in that FTZ to see how it operates from their perspective.
We have been in contact with a company expressing interest in expanding into Bennington. As a manufacturer, it has some specific needs. We hope it gets the building it is looking at and then we can help secure the work force it will need. All parts of the Task Force Team have been involved: School, Workforce Development, Town, BCIC, State, CDC, Realtors, Chamber and BBC.
The Welcome Center project is rolling along. We anticipate completion in late summer or early fall of 2013. The Chamber of Commerce will be managing the facility. One of our goals is to have a staff trained in several foreign languages to welcome visitors from abroad.
will also be able to host nonprofit groups who can give snacks to visitors for a donation, hold small music performances and other types of civic events. These will all need to be booked through the Chamber. Our office will remain at its current location.
The Bike Pathway Committee met again and we have more tasks. Our letter of support is being drafted and will soon be available for individuals and organizations to sign. The Town, State and Vermont Railway are working on a plan to make it possible to go from downtown to Molly Stark Elementary School and the Willowbrook and Applegate housing projects. Meanwhile, we are looking into right-of-way questions, and figuring out the easiest way to Silk Road. We anticipate a lot of community support for getting this segment started and available for public use this summer. There are so many people that want to ride bikes, and there are a lot of potential paths. The most sought after routes will be those that are truly off the road. However, to begin, we are willing to have a composite Bike Way. Don’t forget, there are also mountain bike trails around Bennington. So, stop in this summer and pick up the Bike Path maps.
If anyone out there is familiar or interested in EB5 projects please call me and sign up to join the committee. If you don’t know what it is, you probably don’t want to be on it.
The North Bennington Rail Committee has been working to provide the Track III Grant consultants with more information regarding potential ridership thanks to statistics from our local attractions. Costa Pappas who coordinates the project for Vermont Department of Transportation welcomes the data. It can only improve the quality of the study.
March 15 is an important date. Vermont state, federal, business and nonprofit leaders will meet in Bennington to host a Community Visit with the Council on Rural Development. From 2:30 to 8:30 p.m., there will be on-going workshops on various topics. Contact Margaret at VCRD at 802-223-6091 for more information.
The B.E.D. Task Force met last Saturday for a workshop to determine our mission and vision. We needed to distill it down to a easy phrase that we can all remember and quote. With the help of facilitator Michael Keane, a group consisting of Bill Colvin, Dan Monks, Joe Krawczyk, Jeannie Jenkins, Lindy Lynch, John Shannahan, and Brenda Jones worked hard from 9 to noon. We will bring the results to the bigger group and then present it to the community. This preliminary work will make it a more streamlined process when we have our focus study project under way.
Joann Erenhouse is executive director of the Bennington Area Chamber of Commerce.
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