Middlebury’s development fund puts the onus on advocates

Passage of the Middlebury Business Development Fund, 125-64, at Middlebury’s Town Meeting, presents a double-edged sword for ardent proponents: the promise of success and the prospect of failure.
To land a handful of successes in the first three to five years would be to fulfill the essence of the American Dream: that is, if you take a good idea with a sound basis, work hard and execute well, success will come. As with all business ventures, that is the hope. We are gambling that we have a good product to sell (life in Middlebury); and that we have a solid business plan — helping existing businesses grown by making new connections for them, as well as recruiting new businesses to town, through connections with Middlebury College and others.
To fail is to lose a bit of the American dream; but it is not out of the question.
As those of us pushing this proposal have long acknowledged, small rural towns across the country are competing to attract those same new jobs; striving to attract the next new industry; working hard to leverage existing assets to grow from within. The competition is fierce and not every lead, nor every start-up, will be successful.
And there are many residents who, for several valid reasons, think the town’s money could be better spent on other endeavors; or simply not spent.
But to do nothing to solicit new business is a recipe for gradual decline. As Jeremy Rathbun said during Town Meeting, “nothing ventured, nothing gained.” He went on to say that while he couldn’t afford the extra taxes, he also realized he couldn’t afford to say no. (For those of you who missed the meeting, we’ve posted a short, but succinct, two-minute video on our website that captures the flavor of the issue.)
The test, now, is to demonstrate that you can grow jobs in Middlebury through a very focused effort. The stakes are high, the pressure’s on; we appreciate the opportunity to give it our best shot.
Angelo S. Lynn

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