Building on the regional marketing campaign and grassroots efforts to help people move to Vermont, Rutland’s Regional Marketing Initiative (RMI) is “rolling out the red carpet” to prospective new Rutland County residents.
The RMI today announced the creation of Rutland Red Carpet, a program to provide a local “concierge” to help people considering a move make a host of connections and facilitate the transition.
“Having a Rutland Red Carpet concierge will be like having a really good friend with great connections in the community,” said GMP Vice President Steve Costello, the Regional Marketing Committee co-chair, who developed the concept with Rutland Chamber Executive Director Mary Cohen. “Moving to a new place can be daunting, but having someone you can rely on to build a network, answer questions or just listen can help people go from considering a move to taking a step toward a great new future. We’ve already seen it happen, and this will continue that great momentum.”
Rutland Red Carpet’s roots began growing in February 2017, when Darian and Tom Fagan met Cohen and Costello in Main Street Park during Rutland Winterfest. The newlywed Fagans were considering moving from New Jersey to Manchester or Burlington, but decided to take a look at Rutland at Cohen and Costello’s urging.
“We were not considering Rutland at that point, but that chance meeting changed our lives for the better,” said Darian Fagan, now an occupational therapist with Visiting Nurses and Hospice of the Southwest Region. “Mary and Steve made the move simple, with a genuine interest in us, answered all our questions, and made connections that lead to jobs, housing, and deep and caring social and business networks. We were blown away!”
Over several months, the Fagans moved from “maybe Rutland” to landing professional jobs, then leasing a Mendon house for a year, and most recently, purchasing their first home, a brand-new house in West Rutland. “We found everything we wanted here: good jobs, spectacular scenery and recreation, affordable land and housing, and a sense of community we’d only dreamed about. We can’t wait to help welcome more people to this great region,” Tom Fagan said.
The Fagans’ experience was one of the inspirations behind the creation of Vermont’s Stay to Stay Program, which includes social and business connections provided over a weekend. The idea for Rutland Red Carpet was inspired by the experience with the Fagans, networking assistance as part of the prize package in the GMP Innovation Home Contest, and by Amanda and Michael O’Connor, who participated in Stay to Stay last fall. Costello has been in regular contact with the O’Connors for months, by email, phone and in person, and they have made multiple visits to Rutland. During a recent visit, nearly two dozen people turned out at an informal meet-and-greet.
“Since we first connected by email, we’ve been amazed by the time, energy and ideas that have been shared with us,” Amanda O’Connor said. “It’s been like having old friends in the community, and it played a huge role in our decision to move to the area. We’ve never felt so welcomed or part of a community, and we’re not even there yet!”
Tyler Richardson, executive director of the Rutland Economic Development Corp. and a member of the RMI Steering Committee, said Rutland Red Carpet is a natural extension of the Real Rutland campaign to draw new people to Rutland County and fill local jobs, and efforts by Rutland Young Professionals to welcome new arrivals. “What we’ve found through the experiences with the O’Connors, Fagans and others is that personal attention from passionate, connected and caring people can make all the difference,” Richardson said. “We think Rutland Red Carpet will be another positive tool in our drive to reverse the region’s population trends and ensure a healthy, vibrant community.”
Numerous business leaders have been enlisted as concierges, including Cohen, Costello and Richardson, Eliza Wilcox and Melinda Humphrey from GMP, Carrie Allen from Heritage Family Credit Union, Kim Rupe and Erin Anderson from REDC and Rutland Young Professionals, Bill Ackerman from Green Mountain Marketing and Advertising, Russ Marsan, Matt Cataldo and Joshua Lake from Carpenter and Costin, and Mary Ann Goulette, committee co-chair and West Rutland town clerk. As prospective newcomers are identified through the Real Rutland campaign, Stay to Stay or other methods, each will be assigned a concierge.
“This is exactly what we need as we continue to work on growing our population and community development,” Marsan said. “A little bit of help, encouragement and networking adds up to a positive force that can spark so much progress.”