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Press Release: Pownal Selected as First Climate Economy Model Community

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2017-04-11

The Vermont Council on Rural Development (VCRD) joined with partners Green Mountain Power and Efficiency Vermont to announce that the town of Pownal was selected as the first to participate in the Climate Economy Model Communities Program. VCRD and town leaders will lead engagement to develop locally identified initiatives modeling state-of-the-art rural development in an age of climate change. The goal is to transform Pownal into a “climate smart” community by implementing comprehensive efficiency efforts, transportation system improvements, renewable energy generation, entrepreneurship and business incubation to spur economic progress.

“The interest we have seen in this new program is encouraging. We had a tough decision to make in selecting from wonderful Vermont communities in all corners of the state,” noted Paul Costello, Executive Director of the Vermont Council on Rural Development. “The Pownal team showed their readiness to embrace the opportunity to lead our transition to a new climate economy. They also made a compelling case that this effort must improve the financial health and well-being of all sectors of their community.”

“Thanks to the energy and vision of many individuals, Pownal is an emerging climate economy community,” said Bill Botzow, Pownal State Representative. “Recent solar and small hydro renewable energy projects, recycling with a vision at TAM, value-added agriculture, farmers market producers, foresters, neighborhood health care and more define us as a resilient community built on tradition and innovation. This project offers Pownal the opportunity to see itself in a new light and take the next steps on this promising path. I am grateful to the VCRD for the recognition and assistance.”

“This program builds upon one of Pownal’s great assets - our incredible natural resources,” added Shannon Barsotti, Pownal Planning Commission member. “We can focus on protecting our natural environment while also encouraging local economic development through clean energy investment, sustainable farming and forestry, recreational tourism and affordable, energy efficient housing. We want to link Pownal to the economic progress happening throughout our region, from the arts and cultural boom in the Northern Berkshires to the redevelopment of downtown Bennington. This is an exciting opportunity to partner with VCRD and engage our community in planning for the future.”

“Community engagement is an effective way to drive energy savings,” said Liz Gamache, Director of Efficiency Vermont. “We are excited to kick off efforts in Pownal. In partnership with local businesses, residents, and organizations we will help to identify and implement energy efficiency improvements that will reduce costs, increase comfort, and strengthen the local economy.”

“We are thrilled to be part of this team and deliver transformation on a town wide level that will strengthen the economy and help families and businesses,” said Mary Powell, Green Mountain Power President and CEO. “Initiatives like this will create a more sustainable future, and that is what GMP is focused on – delivering clean, cost-effective and reliable power. Working together we can accomplish so much.”

Work will start right away to plan a community kick-off event that will launch the Climate Economy Community Initiative in Pownal.  At the kick-off, a statewide team of experts will join with the community as they look at Pownal’s assets and opportunities and brainstorm ways to create a secure and vibrant future for the town and residents. All members of the Pownal community are encouraged to participate and there will be broad invitation announcing the date and time of the kick-off event. Those wanting to be involved can contact the Program Director Jon Copans at jon@vtrural.org or (802) 225-6393.

Pownal, in Bennington County, is located in the southwest corner of Vermont. It is a community of about 3,500 people and serves as a gateway to Vermont. It is known for its beautiful farmland, forests, and scenic Hoosic River Valley.

The Vermont Council on Rural Development is a non-profit organization charged by the federal farm bill to act as a neutral convener at both the local and policy level supporting the progress of Vermont communities.

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