As chair of the Economic Development/Recruitment & Retention Committee of the Better Bennington Corporation, I am delighted for the opportunity to share with the community the focuses of our committee and the work we are doing to revitalize and enhance the downtown experience.

Look at any successful, vibrant downtown, and you’ll find a common theme -- a good mix of thriving businesses. These shops, restaurants, service providers, and entertainment venues don’t just happen to open their doors downtown. It requires continued focus and strong community partnerships.

The mission of the BBC is to build, improve, and support a vital downtown that benefits our entire community.

To support the mission, the Economic Development/Recruitment and Retention Committee represents the BBC and its downtown partners on the Bennington Economic Development Partner group. We research and focus on community initiated businesses, coach new and existing businesses by offering workshops and seminars, and provide advice tailored to the individual business owner.

A few examples of our workshops and seminars include window merchandising, advertising and marketing, Google maps street view, customer service, and safety and security. We strive to provide topics that will be informative and useful tools to support existing businesses.

From an idea formed at a brainstorming session of the committee, a downtown volunteer program was formed in 2013.


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The wonderful docents of the BBC partner with downtown merchants to provide individualized support and assistance with projects.

An exceptional tool we offer to support a new business opening downtown is our "New Business Toolbox." The toolbox provides a wealth of helpful tips, contact information, forms, etc. that are essential to be successful in starting a business. The toolbox provides a central, organized manner in which to keep this information.

The BBC’s Business Resource Guide is yet another tool at the ready. This guide is available for folks inquiring about starting a business, and the committee uses this in conjunction with our recruiting efforts. The Business Resource Guide includes information about Quality of Life, Location and Accessibility, Economic and Market Profile, Resources and Incentives, Testimonials, Trade Area, and a local map.

The BBC’s website is essential to achieve our mission, providing a list of available downtown properties, happenings around town, and links to websites of downtown businesses and business partners, including the Chamber of Commerce and the Town of Bennington. I would encourage you to view the website at www.BetterBennington.com.

The dedicated members of Economic Development/Recruitment & Retention committee are myself, Shelley Colvin (People’s United Bank, Committee Chair, and treasurer of the BBC), John Shannahan (executive director of the BBC), Jeannie Jenkins (Community College of Vermont and BBC Board President), Eric Peterson, (Oldcastle Theatre and BBC board member), Ted Bird, (Hoisington Realty and BBC board member), Michael Keane, (Bennington Select Board and BBC board member), Nancy Woltman (owner of Panache), Heather Maneely, (ex-officio-BBC docents), and Michael Harrington (ex-officio-Town of Bennington).

We are a committed group with a vested interested interest in the prosperity of our community. We choose to live and work here for the quality of life Vermont and Bennington has to offer.

Our goal is to fill our storefronts a make our downtown thriving with successful businesses. Get out there and enjoy the summer and all the great things happening in our downtown.

Shelley Colvin is treasurer for the BBC Board of Directors and committee chair.