Visit www.cabotplan.com to follow meetings, process and outcome.
Look for the strategy to be completed in May 2018.
Beginning the Village Revitalization Strategy for Cabot: Some Principals for Success
Peter Fairweather, Fairweather Consulting
The Town of Cabot and the Cabot Community Association has hired Fairweather Consulting to work with the community on a Village Revitalization Strategy. We’ve worked with towns, villages and small cities throughout the Northeast on economic development strategies and are very excited about the opportunity to work in Cabot.
Our goal is to craft an economic development strategy that will have a long-term effect on the strength of our current businesses, provide an inviting climate for new vibrant business, and encourage and support entrepreneurship. This strategy will include concrete steps Cabot can take to create a village center that serves residents and businesses well and is sustainable.
As we begin the process, it may be helpful to list a few principles that our experience suggests help make a project like this successful. They are listed below in no particular order.
1) Seek the truth, it builds business. Successful economic development depends upon on clear understanding of what your community’s strengths and weaknesses are. Economic development strategies can be visionary and far-reaching, but most important, they must be realistic. As we go through the village revitalization strategy process, we will be trying to clearly understand Cabot’s economic development assets and how they can be used to help create jobs and wealth in the community. Such an understanding is the foundation for any successful revitalization effort.
2) Gather as much good information as you can. Getting to the truth relies on gathering good information. We will be putting together a variety of data on the economy, demography and overall business climate of Cabot. Another equally important source of information on any community is the experience and perceptions of people that live and work there. During the village revitalization strategy process, we will seek opinions from residents, business people, local officials and others through community meetings, surveys, interviews, etc. If you happen to be asked to participate, please consider helping out. The more thoughts and ideas we can gather in the process, the better the final strategy will be. The initial public meeting for this project will be Tuesday, June 13 at 7PM in the Willey Building Auditorium.
3) Keep the planning process as transparent as possible. We find that more people are willing to contribute to a strategy if they are able to track the planning process and review the results as they come together. We have created a website for local residents and others to keep track of the planning process, read draft documents and share their comments and ideas. It can be accessed at www.cabotplan.com.
4) Be persistent and be patient. Creating a revitalization strategy for the village is only the first step in a larger process. At that point, it is critically important that the community embrace the strategy and be willing to use it as a long-term guide for action. One common mistake some communities make is to assume that, once the strategy is done, things will automatically improve in the next two months or so. It is important to remember that local economies are complicated things. Even when everything is ideal for a business to grow, it can still take time for the right opportunities to come along. The key is for the community to stay prepared and be ready to spring into action when a local business needs the kind of assistance called for in the revitalization strategy or a when local government needs to adopt a land use policy or some other local action to help move things forward. There is no substitute for the combination of persistence and patience.
5) Enjoy what your community has to offer. While the village of Cabot has some important economic issues that it needs to address, it is an extraordinarily beautiful place with a high quality of life. The Village Revitalization Strategy will seek to create economic opportunities that will build upon and help preserve and strengthen Cabot’s quality of life. Therefore, while we go through this process it is important for everyone to continually remind each other of what is special about Cabot, and how the revitalization strategy can contribute to a village economy in ways that take advantage of and highlight those strengths.
Municipal Planning Grant Press Release – Click to download a PDF version
Village Economic Development Study Wins Funding
The Town of Cabot has been awarded a $20,000 Municipal Planning Grant from the Vermont Department of Housing and Community Development, to be used in support of the Cabot Village Revitalization Plan. Cabot was one of 38 communities funded among 70 applicants for the grant.
Municipal Planning Grants are awarded annually, and are intended to support local community revitalization and planning initiatives. Since 1998, the program has provided more than $11 million to 234 cities and towns across Vermont.
Cabot’s attention to economic development can be traced back to a community-wide survey conducted in June of 2010, which aimed to solicit residents’ opinions about the town. Out of 85 respondents, 84 (98.8 percent) noted that “a healthy economy” was the number one factor in maintaining a high quality of life within the Town of Cabot.
The Town of Cabot and Cabot Community Association (CCA) worked together to submit the application. The funds will be applied to two main goals: To evaluate the constraints and opportunities for Cabot’s Designated Village Center, and to create a detailed economic development plan designed to revitalize the village and solidify its place as the economic and civic hub of the community. The application requires $6,000 in matching funds which will be provided by the CCA.
Bobby Searles, a member of the Economic Development Workgroup and owner of two village stores, is confident that the study will be a boon to the town and surrounding area.
“Being a business owner in a small town has changed a lot in the recent past. Any help we can get to keep businesses alive and provide services to community members is a good thing.”
The CCA is well-positioned to address these development issues. The Cabot Economic Development Workgroup, a program of the CCA, formed in early 2016, is currently focused on efforts to revitalize the village center, a specific goal of the 2012 Town Plan. The grant funding will be used to hire an economic development or planning consultant to work with Cabot residents, business owners and town leaders.
Steering Committee members of the workgroup are: Select Board Chair Jack Daniels, Zoning Administrator Karen Deasy, Jan Westervelt, Johanna Thibault, Gary Gulka, Erica Burke, Rich Aronson, Niels Larsen, and CCA Executive Director Lori Augustyniak. The group is actively seeking a candidate with experience in small towns and rural communities. The committee will also seek assistance from the Central VT Regional Planning Commission in assessing candidates and making a hiring decision.
According to Cabot Zoning Administrator Karen Deasy, “We hope this project will tell us what we need to know in order to take action on some of the goals identified in our Town Plan and Community Visit Report and Action Plan, including state and local regulations and an objective look at improving community infrastructure to support development.”
Specific project goals are to objectively review current conditions in the village, learn about strategies to attract and support businesses, and identifying the types of businesses that are likely to be successful in Cabot village.
To ensure that this plan serves the real needs of the Cabot community, all planning meetings and forums will be open to the public. Notes will be taken at all meetings and available on the town and CCA websites. The workgroup will also submit articles to The Cabot Chronicle to keep the public apprised of activities, upcoming events and progress.
Additionally, there will be at least two public forums to provide Cabot residents an opportunity to provide input on key issues and help ensure that the plan will benefit the entire community.
Community members willing to invest time to attend meetings and review documents throughout the project are invited to join the Workgroup. Please contact the CCA at 563-3338 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Cabot will have eighteen months to complete this project and according to Jack Daniels, volunteers are ready to get to work. “Within the next few weeks the Steering Committee will hire a consultant to launch this critically important initiative in support of fostering greater economic development in Cabot,” said Daniels.
The next meeting of the CCA Economic Development Workgroup will be held in January, watch Front Porch Forum and community postings for date and time, or call the CCA at 563-3338.