The Vermont Council on Rural Development will hold its last major session in the ReNewport Community Visit process on February 21st at the North Country Career Center; all Newport community members are welcome to help line up action plans to move priority projects forward.
On January 17th around 100 Newport community members came together to set core priorities for future action. They reviewed 18 ideas that were gathered from focus forums held in December at the ReNewport Community Visit Day, and chose priorities designed to boost the community and advance the city’s economy into the future. At the end of the session, participants signed up as volunteers to advance these new initiatives.
On February 21, these new task forces will meet to frame out action plans and work with a resource team of federal, state, business, and non-profit leaders to identify next steps and resources that can help them succeed. The new task force groups will work to:
- Enhance and Market the Newport Tourism Experience
- Support and Attract Businesses and Entrepreneurs
- Expand Community Events and Celebrations
- Improve and Coordinate Health and Wellness Services and Early Childhood Care and Education
All members of the Newport Community are invited to participate in this third phase of the Vermont Council on Rural Development’s (VCRD) Community Visit to Newport.
ReNewport Resource Meeting
Wednesday, February 21, 2018
6:30 – 9:00 pm
North Country Career Center
209 Veterans Ave, Newport
The Vermont Council on Rural Development is a non-profit, non-partisan organization dedicated to advancing rural Vermont communities. For more information, contact Jenna at 802-225-6091 or firstname.lastname@example.org or go to: http://vtrural.org/programs/Community-Visits.
Here’s more about the three priorities identified for action:
Proving that those who live, work and raise their families in a community are best qualified to understand its needs and potential, Newport community members whittled down a list of 21 issues through discussion, reasoned arguments and thoughtful reflection. In the end, voting with dot stickers, close to 100 participants chose four action ideas that offer opportunities to enhance existing resources, and to strengthen the town through exciting new ventures. Residents concluded the January 17th meeting by signing up for Task Forces in the selected areas.
Enhance and Market the Newport Tourism Experience
From the Lake to the bike path to the Tasting Center, downtown restaurants, natural beauty, proximity to Canada, and the airport, Newport residents built a long list of assets that attract visitors to the City. Many are concerned, however, that Newport is not taking full advantage of these assets and missing opportunities to attract visitors and provide necessary services and experiences. A task force could come together to build a Newport tourism plan to celebrate and showcase the town’s cultural and historical identify while providing quality information, tours and guides, and year-round activities for all ages. The group could build and share the Newport brand and message, improve signage, revitalize support and resources for the Chamber, plan events and activities to attract visitors with diverse interests, build a Newport tourism brochure, build collaboration and regional experiences, coordinate tourism services and events with Jay Peak, and provide other activities to enhance a positive tourism experience. This group could also support the development of an Electric Vehicle charging station in downtown Newport in order to provide convenient charging for visitors to the downtown.
Support and Attract Businesses and Entrepreneurs
Newport has many economic assets including a scenic lakeside location, outdoor recreation opportunities, a vibrant downtown with restaurants and retail, supportive community banks and business resources, and a strong business community. A task force could form to leverage these assets and support entrepreneurs and boost economic development, attract new businesses, restaurants, and perhaps breweries. The group could look at business incentives, tax credits, and other financial tools to stimulate development and reduce barriers, and build a pitch packet to attract businesses to Newport. The group could also help to connect existing business owners and entrepreneurs with the startup and growth resources and technical assistance they need to succeed. Additionally, the group could explore the development of an incubator or makers space that would include shared resources and utilities, mutual support, cooperative marketing, shared tools and materials, and technical assistance from local and regional economic development organizations. The group could also work with the City to identify funding sources to hire an Economic Development Coordinator to provide additional leadership around events, grant writing, tourism and marketing, and economic development strategies to help the community move forward.
Expand Community Events and Celebrations
Community events are a way to celebrate together, showcase local talent, and build engagement in Newport. Many residents value existing community events, including Wednesdays on the Waterfront in the summer, the 4th of July celebrations, Kingdom Games, and other events that bring folks together throughout the year. Many would like to see Newport expand and coordinate events both to bring people together locally and attract visitors. An events task force could come together in support of existing events and to expand offerings to include winter activities at Gardner Park, community dinners, downtown music and arts events, bicycling and other sporting events, contests and competitions, and more. The group could explore sustainable funding sources for events including local business sponsorship and perhaps the Walmart funds, and could explore the long-term idea of hiring an events coordinator to take the lead on community events, festivals, and celebrations.
Improve and Coordinate Health and Wellness Services and Early Childhood Care and Education
Newport schools, the hospital, the wellness center, non-profits, and other service providers offer a wide range of resources to support health and wellness for people of all ages and backgrounds. However, some residents have concerns about access, coordination, and communication of these key resources. A task force could form to unite providers, community members, and key leadership to coordinate services and optimize the health, safety, and well-being of Newport residents of all ages. The group could build an inventory and coordinate resources and programs and effectively share information with individuals and families through family and community programming, education, and events such as an annual Wellness Week. The group could also work to boost community volunteerism in health and wellness services and seek funding and creative models to increase capacity and staffing to manage critical health issues such as mental health, nutrition, substance abuse prevention, and primary care. The group could also explore opportunities to improve access to early childhood care and education.