News Release — Town of Bennington
September 30, 2013
BENNINGTON – What would you do with $13,500 to put towards promoting your community? That is the question that Bennington is prepared to answer after receiving over $12,000 from the U.S. Department of Agriculture as part of its Rural Development program. The additional funding making up the $13,500 will come from the Town’s own marketing budget.
According to Michael Harrington, economic and community development director for the Town of Bennington, marketing has been an on-going discussion for the past couple of years, but the struggle has always been finding the funding needed to support the efforts. “There’s only so much brainstorming you can do before you need money to turn those ideas into something tangible. We’ve been talking a long time about creating a number of promotional items; however, we continually found ourselves up against a wall when it came to resources to get these items produced. Receiving this funding changes everything,” says Harrington.
In early spring of 2013 Bennington applied for funding through the USDA-RBEG program, which provides grants for rural projects that finance and facilitate development of the small and emerging rural business landscape. In the case of Bennington, the RBEG grant will go toward producing marketing materials designed to encourage business growth in the community, thus creating jobs and supporting already existing businesses by increasing traffic to the area. “This USDA investment in Bennington will pay great returns by helping Bennington brand itself and celebrate its attributes,” said Ted Brady, USDA Rural Development State Director for Vermont and New Hampshire.
Much of the preliminary work has already been done by a small sub-committee that reports to the Bennington Economic Development Partners. This group of local individuals has met regularly over the past year and a half to identify the most meaningful way to promote the town of Bennington, VT. Included in those discussions have been strategies such as the production of a handful of video vignettes that would eventually make up a larger video, the creation of a joint recruitment packet for area business development organizations, and the design and development of a town-wide brochure.
“We [the municipality] are seen by the community as the entity that should be leading the charge on business growth within the town; and yet, we lack some of the most basic tools to make that happen. Once these marketing items are developed we will be able to actively promote our community to potential businesses, developers and visitors,” Harrington shared.
The Town of Bennington is looking at a number of different strategies for building business in the community. These efforts include: using grant monies to develop property feasibility studies that would aid in the redevelopment of vacant and underutilized properties, the creation of municipal ordinances that would encourage owners of vacant properties to actively seek tenants for their buildings, and the implementation of better signage in, and around, Bennington’s historic downtown.
Bennington was chartered in 1749, making it the first chartered community in the State of Vermont. Located in the southwesternmost corner of the state, its location is ideal given its proximity to Albany, NY, New York City and Boston, MA. Today, Bennington is home to a number of cutting-edge manufacturing businesses that specialize in the production of various composite compounds, earning the area the moniker “Composites Valley.”