Middlebury’s economic health panel gets two-year extension

MIDDLEBURY — The Middlebury selectboard is giving the community’s Economic Health Committee a two-year extension to come up with recommendations to spur business growth in Addison County’s shire town.
The 11-member panel — made up of local residents, officials and business leaders — had been tasked with furnishing a report by Nov. 13. But committee leaders on Sept. 11 persuaded the board to push out that deadline until August 2020. While the committee will provide the board with quarterly progress updates and perhaps some interim suggestions, members believe the two-year extension will give them more time to execute their charge and look at the “‘bigger picture” of how Middlebury could make itself more attractive to prospective employers.
It was in June that the selectboard formed the new Economic Health Committee and charged it with, among other things, with considering ways of retaining and expanding existing retail operations, providing a basic analysis of the economic viability of Tax Increment Financing to support infrastructure improvements in the downtown that could serve as a magnet for future enterprises, and exploring use of Vermont Community Development Program revolving loan funds to support economic development.
Officials reasoned the new 2020 deadline will better dovetail with the scheduled completion of a regional economic survey now being engineered by the Addison County Economic Development Corp.
Economic Health Committee Chairman Fred Kinney Kenney is also executive director of the ACEDC.
Middlebury selectboard members on Sept. 11 also voted unanimously to make a few “tweaks” to the committee’s charge and to give the panel a $2,500 budget (to start off) for minor expenses it might incur.
“We felt the timeline was way too short to adequately address the issues we’ve been asked to address, and we felt really strongly there needed to be a very modest budget,” committee member Becky Dayton told the board.
That budget is being carved from the approximately $82,000 remaining in Middlebury’s Business Development Fund.
Reporter John Flowers is at [email protected].

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