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Effort to improve local economic climate kicks off Monday

MIDDLEBURY — Groups looking to spur the economy in Addison County’s shiretown will host a series of workshops on Monday, Sept. 18, called the Greater Middlebury Community Climate Economy Initiative. The half-day program, sponsored the Vermont Council on Rural Development (VCRD), Efficiency Vermont and Green Mountain Power, will launch a process for residents to identify and advance priorities that strengthen the community in the face of climate change, including measures to improve economic opportunity and affordability.
VCRD Program Director Jon Copans said this event will provide a “chance to come together to brainstorm and select new initiatives that strengthen the community and model state-of-the-art rural development in an age of climate change.”
Middlebury will be the second community to participate in the VCRD’s Climate Economy Model Communities Program. The VCRD selected Middlebury for the program based on an application from local citizens along with support from the selectboard.
“This program represents a great opportunity for our town and surrounding communities to rally behind an economic vision for the future,” selectboard Chair Brian Carpenter said. “I am looking forward to seeing what ideas our community comes up with through this process.”
The kick-off event will feature eight forums on different topics that were developed by a planning committee made up of local residents. There will also be a free community dinner (see the full schedule online at  tinyurl.com/yc8q8bmo).
Forums from 2:30-5:45 p.m. will be held at three venues: Middlebury Town Offices at 77 Main St. St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church on the green, and Ilsley Public Library. Topics include such things as Renewable Energy Generation Opportunities and Neighborhood Scale Initiatives. A 6 p.m. dinner will be held at Middlebury Union Middle School, followed until 8:30 p.m. by forums on job creation, transportation and visioning.
Joining community members at the kick-off and dinner will be an invited visiting team of federal, state, business, and non-profit leaders from around Vermont who come to listen and learn about what is happening in Middlebury and to provide some reflection about what they have heard. In subsequent months, the community will gather again to choose from a list of possible action ideas brainstormed by local residents, and then will form task forces to implement the chosen initiatives.
ALL members of the greater Middlebury community are invited to participate.
“Those communities that develop the innovative models for addressing climate change and increasing economic vitality will thrive as our state, nation, and world all unite to tackle this global challenge,” noted Robin Scheu, a Middlebury state representative and executive director of the Addison County Economic Development Corporation. “This program provides an inclusive process for Middlebury to come together to brainstorm, prioritize, and implement innovative solutions.”

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