MONTPELIER -- For the third year, Designated Downtowns in the Vermont Downtown Program through the Agency of Commerce's Division of Community Planning and Revitalization, saw increases in businesses and jobs created, rehabilitation projects, and public and private investments in downtown. With a seven percent increase over 2012, Vermont Downtowns realized nearly 600 new jobs and more than $100 million in private investments.

This despite the disruption of major construction projects in downtowns around Vermont. Barre and St. Albans completed major streetscape re-designs which included infrastructure improvements, sidewalk replacement and new lighting while Montpelier completed a district energy project.

"People see the opportunities in historic downtown renewal in this state," said Chip Sawyer, Community Development Director for the City of St. Albans. "Despite our major streetscape construction, 11 businesses opened, expanded or moved into Downtown St. Albans in 2013, and brought about 200 jobs with them."

"Our downtowns have seen incredible business and job growth, even threw challenging, but much needed, transportation projects," said Noelle MacKay, Commissioner of the Department of Housing and Community Development. "Much of this success is due to the leadership of the local downtown organizations who spearheaded innovative marketing campaigns and worked with local businesses on promotions that continued to draw Vermonters and visitors."

Many of the 23 Designated Downtowns reporting reinvestment numbers, saw vacancies filled and described shop local movements such as the "We Dig Barre" campaign designed to keep customer traffic flowing in downtown during the major construction known in Barre as "The Big Dig," or Waterbury's "Wrap it up and Win" promotion which resulted in increased sales revenues for downtown businesses during the 2013 holiday shopping season.

Additionally, downtowns' organizations reported 87 public improvement projects amounting to more than $13 million reinvested downtown, 196 rehabilitation projects, 90 new housing units created, and more than 27,000 volunteer hours were donated making downtowns special places. Learn more at http://accd.vermont.gov/strong_communities.