Business community honors leaders

MIDDLEBURY — Cornwall residents Becky and Chris Dayton and Exchange Street business Maple Landmark Woodcraft were honored as Citizens of the Year and Business of the Year, respectively, by the Better Middlebury Partnership at the organization’s annual meeting this past Thursday evening.
Out-going president Ben Wilson, who has held the post for the past three years, presented the honors to the 65 members gathered at the Middlebury Inn along with brief remarks.
“In preparing for tonight’s remarks,” Wilson said of the Daytons, “I realized that it might have been easier to identify the few places in town where Becky and Chris are not active, as opposed to the lengthy list of everything they do.At a time when we have seen Vermont’s volunteer rate tick down, Becky and Chris serve as shining examples of engaged citizens.
 “They’re active in youth sports, serve on the boards that include the BMP, the DIDC, HOPE and several others. They’re eager and willing to volunteer at events and other activities in the town, and they use their downtown business (the Vermont Book Shop) to give back to the community.”
Of this year’s Business of the Year, Wilson lauded Maple Landmark as one of Middlebury’s longstanding businesses that had successfully carved out a niche producing products that could be sold nationally and even internationally, and is consistently growing to meet demand.
“Maple Landmark,” Wilson said, “represents the essence of Vermont scale economic development. It takes Vermont resources, skillfully crafts them into artful products, and then sells them across the country.  If we are serious about maintaining the working landscape in Addison County, we need to be promoting and recruiting businesses like Maple Landmark to Exchange Street.”
 Wilson also noted that today was the time for the communityto begin celebrating Exchange Street “as Vermont’s premier food and maker hub, because that is exactly what it is. Nowhere in the State is there a similar concentration of recognizable Vermont brands. Exchange Street is a gem that we should be systematically promoting throughout the Northeast and Eastern Canada.”
“Not only is their business a draw for visitors,” Wilson said of the wooden toy manufacturer, “but they also give back to the community in a variety of ways each year.” Accepting the award were founder and president Mike Rainville, his wife, Jill, and their son, Adam, who has also joined the family business.
In his departing remarks as president for the past three years, Wilson reviewed some of the organization’s ongoing accomplishments, including:
• Ongoing success with their four signature events: Midd Summer Fest, Spooktacular, Very Merry Middlebury and the Vermont Chili Festival.
• Improving the BMP social media outreach with its new branding campaign, Experience Middlebury.
• Seeing Middlebury nominated as one of Outside Magazine’s 2015 Best Towns, and working with the Chamber of Commerce to stir up interest and community votes that saw Middlebury reach the Final 8 and assure media coverage in the magazine this fall.
• Helping to revive Middlebury’s Young Professionals Group.
• Launching a telecommuter networking group.
• Working with the Addison County Chamber of Commerce to develop and launch the Vermont Gran Fondo.
Former BMP Vice President Lindsey Wing was voted in as the organization’s new president, who will serve with an executive board composed of Wendy Hirdler, vice president; Jed Malcolm, treasurer; Ted Shambo, secretary; and Wilson as past president.
Other board members include: David Donahue, Nancie Dunn, Katherine Kramer, Bryan Phelps, Nancy Rosenberg, Lauren Taddeo, Emily Blistein, Christy Lynn, Adrienne Illick MacIntyre, Nick Perzanoski, Sarah Pope, Liz Robinson, Amey Ryan, Tara Smith, and newly elected members Sammy Barnes and Megg Del Giacco. Special status board members include Gary Baker, representing the Middlebury selectboard, Sue Hoxie of the Addison County Chamber of Commerce, and Ken Perine of the Downtown Improvement District Commission.
Wing takes over as president following three years as vice president and a board member for the past five years. She also serves as treasurer of the Addison County Board of Realtors, and is a loan officer with the First National Bank of Orwell. Wing has more than a dozen years of experience working in the mortgage and banking industry and has lived and worked in the Middlebury area for most of her life.
“It has been a privilege leading the BMP,” Wilson said after the event. “The goals we set were aggressive, and our progress is testament to the wonderful town in which we live.”

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