It Takes a Village…to Make Vermont’s Downtowns Thrive this Holiday Season

Designated Downtowns Call on Vermonters to take the 50/50 Challenge

MONTPELIER, Vt. – As downtown businesses across the state ready themselves for the holiday shopping season, the Dept. of Economic, Housing and Community Development (DEHCD) is pleased to announce the 50/50 Challenge, a call to Vermonters to support their community by doing at least half their holiday gift buying with Vermont's local retailers, artisans and craftspeople.

For every dollar spent downtown, more than 87 cents stays in the local community, compared to only 38 cents from purchases with national retailers. In 2011, Vermont downtowns were host to 200 new jobs, 94 new businesses and 121 building renovation projects with more than $17 million in private investments. Many of these local downtown organizations do this form of economic development on a shoe string budget, but Vermonters stand behind their communities with more than economic support; downtowns were strengthened by 25,000 volunteer hours this year alone.

“Whether it is a vibrant city downtown or the classic Vermont village with a country store, church, school, and just a handful of businesses, Vermont’s centers provide critical economic and community contributions to the Green Mountain State’s identity both for the people who live here and for the nearly 14 million that visit here annually,” DEHCD Commissioner Noelle MacKay said.

Downtowns face the challenge or remaining vital community and consumer hubs, in the face of malls and the Internet. Small, but committed groups of people have formed local downtown organizations such as Montpelier Alive, The Bristol Downtown Community Partnership, Building a Better Brattleboro, and the Better Bennington Corporation just to name a few.

The Vermont Downtown program was established in 1998 by the Downtown Act.  More than 500 volunteers work to produce events, plant flowers, display holiday decorations, coordinate clean up days, and develop marketing campaigns and future streetscape planning.

The Vermont Downtown Program utilizes the Main Street Four Point Approach® which is a consensus building program that fosters community pride and encourages the growth of small businesses, employment and income opportunities, tax revenues, property values and general quality of life.

The 50/50 Challenge runs now through New Year’s Day. Learn more about holiday events and special promotions at www.vermontvacation.com/5050, and sign up for an opportunity to win a gift certificate for shopping in Middlebury or Montpelier.

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