BENNINGTON — In May, the Bennington Select Board adopted three new business and residential incentive programs that will directly impact the community's downtown core. The three programs use funds already earmarked for economic and community development efforts, but put a fine point on a broad brush as to how a portion of these funds can be applied.

"These programs are designed to achieve three objectives for Bennington," said Michael Harrington, the Town's economic and community development director. "The first, to facilitate the timely opening or expansion of a business; second, to encourage property owners to reinvest in their buildings; and finally, to increase residential density in the downtown."

The programs identified below focus on Bennington's Historic Design Review District and include additional sections along the Route 7 and Route 9 corridors. Harrington shared the Town's overall goal for this effort by saying, "quality infrastructure, strong community support, and more feet on the street are the cornerstones to a vibrant downtown, and that is what we are hoping to facilitate with the implementation of these programs."

Matching Grant / Forgivable Loan Program


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The goal of this program is to encourage property owners to undertake, and complete, capital improvement projects that will enhance critical infrastructure within Bennington's Historic Design Review District, including portions of Main Street from Convent Avenue to Branch Street, and Route 7 from County Street, south to Weeks Street. The source of funding for these projects will come from the Bennington Economic Development Fund. To be considered eligible for this program, applicants must complete a pre-screening process by the Office of Economic and Community Development, which will assess overall impact of the project based on a variety of factors (job creation, community impact, financial viability, etc.). The owner's investment in the project must be at least equal to, if not greater than, the funding request. Applications must receive select board approval and focus on capital improvements of a downtown building (i.e. façade, interior redevelopment, code improvement, etc.). Funds will be assigned in the form of a secured, deferred loan with accruing interest as part of a highly competitive review process. The decision to forgive both principal and accrued interest will be at the discretion of the Select Board if/when the project is completed and all conditions of the loan have been met. Failure to meet these conditions will result in the activation of the amortization pay-back schedule and repayment required as set forth in the loan agreement.

Low Interest Business Facilitation Loan Program

The goal of this program is to remove roadblocks that would otherwise prevent the timely opening or expansion of a business in Bennington's Historic Design Review District, including portions of Main Street from Convent Avenue to Branch Street, and Route 7 from County Street, south to Weeks Street. Funds earmarked for this program will come from the Bennington Revolving Business Loan Program. To be considered eligible for this program, applicants must complete a pre-screening process by the Office of Economic and Community Development, which will assess overall impact of the project based on a variety of factors (job creation, community impact, financial viability, etc.). The owner's investment in the project must be at least equal to, if not greater than, the loan request. Funds will be offered with terms that are highly competitive with regards to amortization and interest (i.e. This rate would be lower than the standard municipal loan interest rate, which is ½ of the prime interest rate, plus two points.). Funds for this project shall be used for façade improvements, lighting, ventilation, code improvements, or other capital building improvements. This loan is borne by the business owner, who could also be the property owner, and would require collateralization, as determined by Bennington Select Board.

Upper Floor Residential Loan Program

The goal of this program is to increase housing density in Bennington's Historic Design Review District, including portions of Main Street from Convent Avenue to Branch Street, and Route 7 from County Street, south to Weeks Street. Funds earmarked for this program will come from the Bennington Revolving Housing Loan Program and will be used to supplement the owner's capital expenditures to renovate and/or convert upper floor space to market-rate housing or above. The owner's investment in the project must be at least equal to, if not greater than, the loan request. To be considered eligible for this program, applicants must complete a pre-screening process by the Office of Economic and Community Development, which will assess overall impact of the project based on a variety of factors (Unit size and capacity, community impact, financial viability, etc.). Funds will be offered with terms that are highly competitive with regards to amortization and interest (i.e. This rate would be lower than the standard municipal loan interest rate, which is ½ of the prime interest rate, plus two points.). This loan is borne by the property owner, and requires collateralization, as determined by the Bennington Select Board.

Property owners looking to participate in one or more of these programs are encouraged to contact Michael Harington at the Office of Economic and Community Development at 802-442-1037 or mharrington@benningtonvt.org.