The Wilmington Fund VT continues its rebuilding efforts! Currently nearly a dozen historic village structures are under construction to rehabilitate after the devastating effects of Tropical Storm Irene.
On Saturday, July 26, Steve Forbert will give a special benefit performance at Memorial Hall in downtown Wilmington to help raise funds. Please plan a summer weekend up here and enjoy dinner and a great concert. Dinner with the artist starts at 5:00pm at Tamara & Dan Kilmurray’s home in Wilmington. Then make your way back to Memorial Hall for the 8pm concert.
Link for ticket purchase: http://www.eventbrite.com/e/steve-forbert-concert-tickets-6964022579
This event is the first weekend of the Deerfield Valley’s BlueberryFestival. (http://www.vermontblueberry.com)
The Wilmington Fund VT, a nonprofit corporation, was established by second homeowners, local citizens and business owners in response to the devastation from Tropical Storm Irene.
We recognize the town’s impact on the local economy and for the last two years have made good on our pledge to help. Please join us on the 26th and see for yourself!
Thank you for your support,
Daniel and Tamara Kilmurray
by Jack Deming – Deerfield Valley News 12.27.2012
The Vermont Department of Buildings and General Services has awarded the Mount Snow Valley Chamber of Commerce a $10,000 Regional Economic Development grant to help the chamber finish projects, as well as begin new ones. The Wilmington Fund provided a match so the chamber could meet grant application requirements, bringing the total to $20,000.
According to chamber executive director Adam Grinold, the grant provides a win-win scenario for both the chamber and the Wilmington Fund, fulfilling their common goal of promoting commerce and business growth in town. “We only had a three-week window to apply,” said Grinold. “So we considered going to the town, but didn’t think they would be able to respond quick enough. I came to the Wilmington Fund out of nowhere, and they were willing to listen, and they immediately recognized it would double what they’re trying to do and what we’re trying to do.”
The money will be spent on two projects, beginning with the completion of the parking lot behind the businesses on the south side of West Main Street. The Wilmington Fund, which was established in the wake of Tropical Storm Irene, earmarked the parking lot as a project they wanted their grant match to support. Grinold says the parking lot is in need of lighting, and the exploration of paving options.
Carolyn Palmer, owner of Roseate Creations on North Main Street and co-chair of the Wilmington Parking and Greenspace Committee, says the completion of the parking lot is imperative to the success of downtown Wilmington. “I’m fortunate to have off-street parking at my business, but most in town don’t,” said Palmer. “I don’t know how many times we hear people say there’s no parking, and after Irene, two building sales fell through because there was no parking. If we want Wilmington to recover we have to provide parking.”
The parking and greenspace committee has worked with volunteers and road crew, constructing a walkway, with mostly donated materials, from the lot to West Main Street along the side of Pickwell’s Barn, and plans to install an information kiosk where the walkway meets the lot. Railroad ties have been installed in the back of the lot to separate it from the Valley Trail, and plans for a walkway across the Deerfield River are in the works as well.
According to Palmer, lighting is a necessity to finishing the project, but may require an additional $10,000 to illuminate the lot, walkway, and the Valley Trail.
The other portion of the grant will be used to help facilitate new businesses moving to the area, including a database of business logistics, including traffic, sales, and lodging statistics. “If someone came to me now and said ‘I’m interested in a property on Route 100, how many cars drive by a day?’ we don’t have that answer by month or by season,” said Grinold. “So basically we lump that into business climate demographics, and all this information will be available for someone looking at a vacant building, and they can assess if there is the traffic and the potential business for their model to work.”
Grinold says the information will need to be collected first, citing the loss of any data the chamber had in Tropical Storm Irene’s flooding. It will be a time-consuming project, but one that Grinold says will facilitate the growth of valley commerce.
This strategy of attracting new business will include the production of videos that would provide a visual promotion of the area to prospective residents and business owners, to go along with business demographics. Grinold says the plan is aimed at helping every town in the valley succeed and continue recovering.
“There was a point in time after the flood, and from that point forward, that we had a sense of urgency,” said Grinold. “There may have been a need for this prior to the flood, but there is certainly a sense of urgency now, and I don’t think anyone doubts it’s there. Wilmington village is the gateway to the valley, and the village’s vibrancy in Wilmington is just as important to Dover and other towns.”
Brattleboro Reformer Article
Monday December 24, 2012
WILMINGTON — The Mount Snow Valley Chamber of Commerce received a grant award on Wednesday that will help complete a parking lot project in Wilmington as well gather data for economic development in the valley.
“We learned of the grant and then immediately set about finding a partner with matching dollars that could act fairly quickly,” Mount Snow Valley Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Adam Grinold said.
The Chamber of Commerce needed a partner that could put together the money in two or three weeks before the deadline. With a shortage of time, Grinold approached the Wilmington Fund board about applying for this grant through the State of Vermont Department of Buildings and General Services.
Although, the Wilmington Fund board doesn’t usually go about projects on such short notice, its members thought the goal was worthwhile.
“They were very receptive of what we’re trying to do. We came at them from out of nowhere. This isn’t really their model of how to do things, but we explained that this is an opportunity, ‘If we have matching dollars, we can double our money.’”
The Wilmington Fund board wanted to put its money toward the completing a parking area behind the shopping district.
The board was very supportive, Grinold said, and it wanted to see the application get awarded, although the chamber is valleywide.
The Chamber of Commerce was trying to get more funding to study economic development in the Deerfield Valley. Its main job is to gather data for the entire valley.
“We’re trying to be able to provide potential businesses with some collateral information on what the demographics are.”
Grinold gave the Reformer specific examples of things a potential business owner would want to know when evaluating the business model in the valley. The list included getting traffic counts, rooms and meals receipts, tax receipts, a bed count in the valley and the ratios of second-homes to hotels to condominiums.
“Anything that we as a chamber had, went down the river with Irene. We need to rebuild that information. It’s something you need to stay on top of. The freshness of that data is very important.”
The chamber and the Wilmington Fund board worked together on filling out the grant application.
The board wanted to put $10,000 towards completing the parking lot behind the Sotheby’s International Realty and Pickwells Barn buildings, which was redone in the summer. Lighting for the lot is mostly what is left in terms of work to be done, which will be funded by this grant.
Its location has Riverwalk Trail going right through it. In the future, the Valley Trail, which starts in Dover, is slated to eventually meet the Riverwalk Trail.
The remaining $10,000, which comes from the state, is going to go towards data collection and producing a comprehensive report from that information.
The data will be helpful for gaining insight into marketing plans for businesses in the Deerfield Valley. It will be for potential businesses looking for a spot in the area, too.
A video will also be produced, “to highlight attributes of owning businesses in the valley and attracting new businesses,” Grinold said.
The ceremony was held at the State House in Montpelier. Senator Hartwell attended the event, who has been crucial to helping Vermont rebuild its economy after Irene. Lt. Gov. Phil Scott was there as well.
Chris Mays can be reached at 802-254-2311, ext. 273, or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow Chris on Twitter @CMaysReformer.
Note: This post was to be published in July, but was lost in cyberspace! Apologies for the delay.
Thank you to all who supported the Concert to ReBuild Dot’s. We raised over $20,000 for the effort! Thank you to all who purchased tickets making it a very full house on a very hot night. Thank yous also to:
• Stephens & Associates – Brattleboro, VT
• Orvis – Manchester, VT
• The Haystack Club – Wilmington, VT
• SMR Contracting – Jacksonville, VT
• Mount Snow – West Dover, VT
Non Concert Going Donors:
• Betty Emery – Enfield, CT & Wilmington, VT: This is not for a concert ticket, but just a contribution to “Help Save Dot’s”. We always loved Dot’s and look forward to it being reopened. Thanks.
When the flood hit Wilmington a year ago the local economy was already on its knees. But just this month, with the help of a local non-profit two new businesses are opening in the downtown and a once flood-damaged building was sold.
The wail of a skill saw is annoying in some places, but in Wilmington it’s like a beautiful aria. Dots, the iconic restaurant which Irene destroyed in the center of town, is getting rebuilt.
“You can see the foundation’s being poured. They’re starting to do the framing of it right now.” said Julie Lineberger from the Wilmington Fund VT.
The Fund has raised nearly $600,000 to invest in downtown businesses like Dots.
“You need the village to be economically vital and vibrant “in order to have people to come here and spend money here,” said Lineberger,
The Fund bought, fixed up and just sold a historic brick building that hugs the corner of Wilmington’s main intersection. The new owner plans to open a restaurant. The Fund also gave a grant to Beyond Imagination, a clothing boutique which is having its grand opening tonight. Melinda Coombs is launching this store, despite the slow economy, for several reasons.
“To help the town as well as start a new business for myself, ” said Coombs. “But the main one is that I grew up in this town.”
So has her son and her granddaughter. But Coombs lost her job at another store a year ago after the downtown was nearly destroyed by Irene.
“It’s like losing your home,” said Coombs tearing up. “The thought that you might have to go out of the area to live because the economy might not recover. The thought of that just isn’t an option for me. I love living here.”
Lenny Chapman is opening another new store in the village of Wilmington called Chapman’s In Town Antiques. He shows off a cake box from the early 1800s.
“They used to make cakes and put them in here and keep them so the mice wouldn’t get at them”
Chapman says he believes the economy is coming back. He has another antique business in a barn just down the road.
“We had a good summer out at the barn,” Chapman said. “That’s one of the reasons why we would try to open here.”
But some business owners who have been downtown a long time have a different view, such as Meg Streeter who has been a realtor here for nearly three decades. She’s also a member of Wilmington’s select-board.
“It’s really tough here, I feel.” said Streeter. “The recession has never ended here. It has never ended in the Mount Snow area.”
Eileen Ranslow, whose been selling carpet and tiling at the Wilmington Home Center for 42 years says she’s holding on, but just barely.
“The economy for the last 2 ½ years, 3 years has been non- existent” recalled Ranslow. “And then we had Irene pass through. That pretty well flattened us, We’re still doing business, but it has been very, very tough.”
The official numbers bear that out, but they also show a ray of light. Economist Richard Heaps of Northern Economic Consulting says before the flood the number of businesses in Wilmington fell by 16 percent. But he says in the past year there’s been a little shift in the right direction.
“Couple more businesses opened up, but the total employment fell and wages grew a little. So there was a hint that Wilmington was beginning to see a turn.,” said Heaps. “And now, the recent news of a couple of businesses coming in is building on that. It’s not much, but it’s beginning to show that they’re turning the corner.”
Melinda Coombs is hoping for a domino effect as new businesses like hers attract more customers to the entire town.
“If word gets out that ‘Gosh, there are a lot of really nice shops in Wilmington. Maybe we’ll go there from Bennington or Brattleboro or other places,’ it’s just going to help everybody!”
No one here is predicting a quick turn around, but they’re planting seeds hoping a better economy will eventually take root.
Celebrating Vermont downtowns and their strength
Preservation Trust of Vermont hosts annual conference in Wilmington
By Olga Peters/The Commons
Link to Full Article: http://www.commonsnews.org/site/site05/story.php?articleno=5581&page=1
WILMINGTON—The Preservation Trust of Vermont gave awards to five Wilmington organizations and individuals at its annual conference held on June 8 in Wilmington’s Town Hall.
The trust commended Friends of the Valley Foundation, Wilmington Vermont Fund, Flood Stock, Deerfield Valley Rotary, and Lisa Sullivan and Philip Taylor of Bartleby’s Books for their collective work in rebuilding Wilmington after Tropical Storm Irene.
“Sunday, Aug. 28, 2011, is a day that will forever be remembered in many parts of Vermont,” wrote the Trust in its awards narrative. “In Wilmington, local residents, second home owners, business owners and visitors literally stood by and watched the raging Deerfield River rise and take over their village as a result of the torrential rains from Tropical Storm Irene.
“We have all heard and seen the stories of what happened – buildings flooded or washed away, roads collapsed, businesses destroyed, people left homeless. The collective response to the flood, and the immediate effort and effectiveness to rebuild, demonstrates a deep commitment to partnership and perseverance in the name of the greater community.”
The Friends of the Valley Foundation, founded by Lynn Bucossi, Kevin Ryan, and Chris Zizza, provide community members with scholarships for camps and colleges and grants for a person or family in a crisis situation. After Irene, the foundation worked toward rebuilding the severely flooded North Star Bowl bowling alley on Route 100. The team has also pledged to help rebuild Dot’s Restaurant.
Also committed to Dot’s, Tamara and Daniel Kilmurray, second home owners in the area for more than 10 years, started the Wilmington Vermont Fund with a donation of $250,000. According to the Trust, the foundation purchased the Parmelee & Howe Building at the corner of Route 9 and Route 100 north, and provided financial resources to businesses.
“These are not just businesses they are people’s lives,” said Daniel Kilmurray.
In a separate interview, board member John Gannon said the fund hopes to find a tenant for Parmelee & Howe after it completes renovations. The challenge, he said, is attracting someone with the business savvy to build a business in Wilmington’s cyclical economy.
Rep. Ann Manwaring, D-Wilmington, is also involved with the Wilmington Vermont Fund. She said that new business owners must commit to producing an “outstanding product” to attract customers. Vermont does well in producing quality and Wilmington will strengthen overtime, she said.
Wilmington and Dover’s economies are primarily tourism-based. Manwaring suggested that new entrepreneurs build non-tourism based businesses.
“It needs to happen,” she said. “Not just here [but across Vermont], but we’re working for here.”
Manwaring asserted that saving struggling businesses requires a sea change in Vermont. After Irene, recovery resources have flowed mostly to homeowners. The state and funding agencies place businesses into the “rubric of economic development.” Businesses owners receive loans, and rarely receive grants, as homeowners do.
In Vermont, most business owners are individual owner/operators struggling as much as independent homeowners, she said.
At issue, said Manwaring, is that “businesses don’t vote, and homeowners do.”
If the state wants to build jobs it needs to support businesses, she added.
The fund has raised more than $475,000 with a goal of $3 million.