MANCHESTER >> An influential force in the town's economy has died.

Ben Hauben, owner of Vanderbilt Equities, the parent company of Manchester Designer Outlets, died Tuesday morning. Many of the high-end brand name stores in the core of the town's business district are tenants of Manchester Designer Outlets, a company started 30 years ago by Hauben and his wife, Lana.

"They were pioneers in the field of designers outlets and they chose Manchester as the place to begin," said Berta Maginniss, executive director of the Manchester and the Mountains Regional Chamber of Commerce. "They were developers of designer outlet stores before there were developers of outlet designer stores."

Manchester Designer Outlets boasts upscale entants such as Coach, Ralph Lauren, J.Crew, and Armani.

Maginniss said Hauben's approach to outlet stores has made Manchester the envy of its neighbors and communities beyond. The building's fit in with the town's sense of aesthetics -Something its residents take quite seriously- and are environmentally friendly.

Habuen was also known for being a patron of the arts and the community. "They've been philanthropists, donating to the arts and community in so many ways," said Maginniss.

"Ben Hauben was a tough negotiator and savvy businessperson who had a big impact on Manchester, the surrounding area and the overall Vermont economy," said John O'Keefe, town manager. "His entrepreneurial spirit and sense for national retail, along with his passion for Manchester, will be sadly missed."


A service is planned for 9 a.m. on Thursday, March 10, at the Israel Congregation of Manchester.

— Contact Keith Whitcomb Jr. at 802-447-7567 Ext. 115