A new partnership to speed economic recovery in Vermont by strengthening public and community spaces
Governor Phil Scott, the Agency of Commerce and Community Development (ACCD) and the Vermont Community Foundation announced $90,000 in grant funding to launch Better Places on Dec. 9, a statewide initiative that aims to speed economic recovery by creating places in downtowns and village centers to safely serve residents and visitors this winter and into the coming year.
“Even before the pandemic, my administration has focused on growing the economy, creating opportunities and revitalizing Vermont’s downtowns and village centers in all 14 counties,” Gov.Scott said. “As we begin to rebuild in 2021, grants like Better Places are essential to ensuring the benefits of our recovery are felt in every corner of the state.”
The funding will help communities reimagine and reopen public spaces for safe dining, shopping and recreation, while showcasing the unique sense of place their community offers. The goal is to encourage entrepreneurship-friendly communities through creating safe ways to conduct local activities. The types of qualifying place-making projects is vast, from pocket parks and parklets to creative art projects to village events and cultural programming, pop-up spaces, winter markets, streetscape improvements, and many more.
“The grants will help communities quickly and creatively transform sidewalks, streets, parking lots, town greens and other public spaces to support public health and expand commerce in their communities,” said ACCD Secretary Lindsay Kurrle. “Jump-starting projects that enable small businesses to continue to operate is a critical component to sustaining economic and community vitality this winter, while making the places Vermonters call home better.”
The partnering organizations on this opportunity include AARP-VT, Local Motion, Vermont Dept. of Transportation, Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food and Markets, Vermont Dept. of Health and many others. In addition to working on program design, this team has provided leadership and collaboration across sectors and government agencies.
“The Better Places partnership has worked incredibly hard for over two years to deepen the collaboration between the arts, community development leaders and Vermont-based funders to inspire local leaders to make transformative investments that generate wide-ranging economic and social benefits,” said the Vermont Community Foundation’s Vice President for Grants and Investments Sarah Waring. “For the Community Foundation, this is a critical component of our longer-term recovery strategies through our Covid-19 Response Fund, particularly focusing on ensuring that communities have the capacity to support small and growing businesses. We are thrilled that the National Life Foundation, the Vermont Arts Council and the Preservation Trust of Vermont are joining to help empower local leaders to create better and safer places.”
Municipalities, nonprofits, and other community groups may apply to ACCD for grant awards of up to $20,000.
Program guidelines, application, and FAQs are at accd.vermont.gov/community-development/funding-incentives/better-places. Applications are due Jan. 22, 2021, and awards will be announced in mid-February. Eligible projects must comply with the Governor Scott’s State of Emergency Executive Order and its addendums.