Tag Archives: Robert Fisher

23 May 2013 Deerfield Valley News • The Wilmington Fund VT helps to Establish Wilmington Works through the Vermont Downtown Program

4 Jun
New board holds first meeting
by Jack Deming

WILMINGTON-At their inaugural meeting Wednesday morning, the newly formed Wilmington Works advisory board got to work with an organizational session, opting for two co-chairs instead of a chair and vice chair, and selecting representatives for the group’s subcommittees.

Wilmington Works is a nonprofit committee, created through the Vermont Downtown Program, which will work on improving and supporting the downtown by following the program’s Main Street Four Point Approach, which focuses on organization, economic restructuring, design, and promotion. The work involved with each category will be delegated to four subcommittees, which can add members and volunteers for projects as needed.

After approval of the downtown program in March, an advisory board was put together consisting of 11 members. Program requirements included two selectboard members, Diane Chapman and Susie Haughwout; two members of the Wilmington Fund VT advisory board, John Gannon and Bob Fisher; and a member of the Mount Snow Valley Chamber of Commerce, a role filled by executive director Adam Grinold. Other members of the board include Tom Fitzgerald, Doug Laplante, Susan Lawrence, Lisa Sullivan, Sheila Osler, and Alice Richter.

The Wilmington Fund VT will serve as the committee’s 501(c)(3) tax-exempt financial sponsor for a minimum of five years, as required by the program, but over time the group will consider creating their own 501(c)(3). Bypassing this process and using the Wilmington Fund VT for the time being will speed up the group’s immediate effectiveness, says Gannon. “Rather than move into an area which takes months to establish, we can begin work immediately and worry less about the financial side of things.” Wilmington Works has also received financial support from the town to the tune of $8,000.

The advisory board’s first big decision was to elect an advisory board chairperson. After the nomination of Gannon, Sullivan, Haughwout, and Lawrence, those nominated had difficulty saying for sure if they would be able to fulfill the role. Since Wilmington Works will be responsible for reporting to both the Wilmington Fund VT and the selectboard, Haughwout said that it would be best to not appoint a chairperson who also serves on one of those two boards.

“It would be nice to have a business owner be chair,” said Haughwout. “That way no one from those boards has too much control and instead we have someone working in the depths of the business community in charge.”

The board decided instead to create two co-chairs who will delegate their responsibilities between them, such as running meetings and creating agendas, and Sullivan and Gannon then agreed to serve as the group’s one-year co-chairs, while Haughwout volunteered and was affirmed for the “unrewarding” job of secretary.

While the Wilmington Fund VT will handle the group’s finances, the board decided to appoint Diane Chapman as treasurer to oversee the group’s bookkeeping. The board will also need to appoint a project coordinator who will oversee the daily work of revitalization.

The board also voted to approve a memorandum between Wilmington Works and the Wilmington Fund VT, which outlines the roles and responsibilities of each through the program.

Meetings of the advisory board will be open to the public. The board will create a set meeting day at their next meeting, Wednesday, May 29, at 8 am.

Read more: Deerfield Valley News – New board holds first meeting

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Cracker Barrel Winter/Spring 2013 A part of Irene’s aftermath: The Wilmington Fund VT

9 Mar

One Part of Irene’s Economic Aftermath:  The Wilmington Fund VT

Two months ago Hurricane Sandy slammed through the Northeast.  Those of us in the Deerfield Valley had a true understanding of damage that can be left behind.  Our thoughts and prayers were with everyone harmed by the climactic event.

Nearly a year and a half ago (28 August 2011), Tropical Storm Irene ravaged many Vermont towns, including Wilmington.  By January, The Wilmington Fund VT was established and hard at work.

Founding:

Tamara and Dan Kilmurray, longtime Wimington second homeowners felt the losses and destruction of Wilmington’s village viscerally.  Throughout the clean up process in which they physically contributed, they discussed what could be done on a long term basis.  Dan communicated with Deborah Emmet Pike, another second home owner who had introduced him to the valley over three decades ago.  Deborah put Dan in touch with local business owner Julie Lineberger as someone who could assist him in gathering a group of people to create a long term difference.

By February 2012 the full Board was established including Dan as President, State House Representative Ann Manwaring as Vice President, financial planner Bruce Mullen as Treasurer and Julie as Secretary of the Board.  Rounding out the group were Tamara Kilmurray, Deborah Emmet Pike, attorney Robert Fisher, business owner John Gannon and innkeeper John Pilcher who, reluctantly, resigned from the Board in November.

Recently the Board created an Advisory Council to assist in with the mission through brainstorming fundraising ideas, acting as ambassadors to The Wilmington Fund VT.  This group includes Mount Snow Partner Dick Deutsch, West Dover second homeowner Bob Kaufman, Halifax second homeowner Walter Jones, local active volunteer Alice Greenspan, and Wilmington second homeowner Sophie Ackert who raised a significant amount of money for The Wilmington Fund VT through her Bat Mitzvah project.

Grant Process

The primary mission of The Wilmington Fund VT is to contribute to the the economic vitality in the area by encouraging established pre-Irene businesses to reopen, help new businesses launch and create jobs in Wilmington’s historic village center.  This includes shrinking the number of empty storefronts in the village.  Steadily, albeit slowly, we are advancing towards these goals.

In order to accomplish the above goals, The Wilmington Fund VT established parameters and protocols for grant applications and approval.  Each project is evaluated on its own particular set of circumstances by our general requirements that include submission of a complete business plan to establish, or reestablish, a business in the Village.  Part of the requirement is that any submission must include a substantial financial investment on the part of the applicant business owner.

Once a letter requesting funds accompanied by a completed business plan is submitted, a small group of our Board vets the project through interview and other due diligence measures.  When approved by the small group, the project is brought to the full Board of Directors for discussion.

So far, the Wilmington Fund VT invested $145,000 in the approval and distribution of  and distribution six grants.  The recipient business owners are on target to invest in excess of $1 million in their respective projects.  This multiplier effect is a key requirement for any grant application and approval of The Wilmington Fund VT.

Progress

The grants distributed include five businesses and an infrastructural project to support all village businesses.  The businesses that either opened, or are in the process of reopening, are well funded and have solid articulated business plans.  The Wilmington Fund VT is highly confident of their success and believe that a total of 30 local jobs will be created.

North Star Bowl – REOPENED. The center for local activity offering both bowling and informal food is owned by Steve Butler and Bev Lemaire.  Over 75% of this structure was destroyed in the storm.  Although not technically in Wilmington’s Village Center, we felt this business to be a significant contributor to the economic vitality of the area.

• Dot’s Restaurant – REOPENING SOON.  The iconic breakfast to dinner restaurant is owned by Patty and John Reagan.  http://www.rebuilddots.com

Note:  Funding and elbow grease from many individuals and many groups, most notably the Friends of the Valley, is what enabled both North Star and Dot’s to even think of reopening.  The Wilmington Fund VT was but one aspect of the reestablishment of these businesses.

Beyond Imagination – OPENED. A beautifully designed women’s clothing and household furnishings boutique is owned by Melinda and Bill Coombs.  http://www.beyondimagination.com

Chapman’s InTown Antiques – OPENED. Diane and Len Chapman have been running an antique business on their Medburyville property just outside of town for many years.  Along with neighbors JoAnn and David Manning, they decided to open a store in the village.  With assistance from The Wilmington Fund VT, the team of four renovated a storm ravaged building and are offering both antiques and local Vermont crafts.

Restaurant in the historic Parmelee & Howe Building – OPENING SOON. The Wilmington Fund VT purchased and began renovating this anchor building on the corner of Routes 9 & 100.  Mid-way through we were approached by a local individual with a vision and an interest in purchasing the property.  Acknowledging the ample investment and undertaking by the purchaser, as a demonstration of support the accepted negotiated price was less than our investment. The Wilmington Fund VT is pleased to have accomplished its goal with the sale of the Historic Parmelee & Howe building and look forward to its success.

• Village Walkway – PARTIALLY COMPLETED.  Led by the Long Term Recovery Parking and Green space Committee of Carolyn Palmer, Lilias Hart and Sue Spengler, the project links a new parking lot with Main Street with a soon to be lit walkway.

Future Challenges:

Because of these early successes, morale in the village is recovering and the ambiance greatly improved.  The robust Village Stroll Committee is working diligently to create various events to entice people downtown.  In addition, the increase in tourist traffic this fall was very encouraging.

However, there remain numerous damaged and empty buildings requiring a great deal of work.  The scope of these future projects is larger than our accomplishments to date, and 80 or so jobs still need to be restored.  The Board is exploring various options, including the establishment of a revolving loan fund, to stimulate economic growth in the village.

The Wilmington Fund VT has been prudent stewards of donated capital.  Close to 100% of fund donations go to economic vitality efforts with a minimal amount used for insurance and accounting fees.  All Board Members work voluntarily, truly a tireless effort by a talented group of individuals.

To continue our work, The Wilmington Fund VT is in a constant mode of fundraising.  We are also establishing two annual fundraisers.  The Summer Event of 2012 was extremely successful.  This included an art show curated by Mary Wright of Gallery Wright, a Pig Roast Dinner at the home of the Kilmurrays, and a Memorial Hall concert produced with great support of Dale Doucette.  Plans for the 13 July 2013 Summer Event are in currently in the works.

The Wilmington Fund VT is also in the midst of working with Mount Snow to create an annual Winter Event.

The long term success of our cause will ultimately be determined by continued strong governance, solid decision making and, of course, successful fundraising.  All are invited to keep on top of our progress through http://www.TheWilmingtonFundVT.org