Business Resource Packet
From the Executive Director
We're glad that you are interested in locating your business within the historic downtown district, and we know you will find the enclosed materials to be helpful as you begin your search for the ideal location. At the crossroads of the two major thoroughfares in Southern
Many volunteers, mentors, town officials, committees and organizations stand ready to assist you as you move forward with your plans to locate or relocate to Downtown Bennington. The Better Bennington Corporation is one of those organizations. We will be with you every step of the way; not only in the beginning, but for years to come. Our mission is to build, improve, and support a vital downtown that benefits our entire community. Our goal is to ensure your success.
John Shannahan, Executive Director
Better Bennington Corporation
Welcome to Bennington
The Better Bennington Corporation is here to help you open your new or expanded business in Downtown Bennington. “Our mission is to build, improve and support a vital downtown that benefits our entire community.” Following are some advantages we offer:
An Historic Downtown
Downtown Bennington is a National Register Historic district, located in the Shires of Vermont, where you will find locally owned shops, unique Vermont made products, quality restaurants, historic and distinctive architecture and friendly people; in short, Vermont’s Main Street Experience. Putnam Square, the heart of downtown, named for the 19th century philanthropist Henry W. Putnam, marks the intersection of the Ethan Allen Highway(US Route 7) with the Molly Stark Trail (Vermont Route 9). Bordered by picturesque 19th century buildings, the square is the hub of commercial streets lined with period lamps, trees, seasonal floral displays and benches.
Fine Arts, Crafts and Music
The Bennington Museum provides American at its best with outstanding collections of pottery, glass, furniture and the largest public collection of Grandma Moses paintings. Galleries are interspersed throughout downtown and the Historic Potter’s Yard is the descendant of a long line of quality potters. Summer in the Park is a concert series that features bluegrass, folk, jazz and acoustic music.
Bennington is home to some of Vermont's greatest outdoor recreation with Wilderness and National Forest. Destinations include the Appalachian Trail, Vermont's own Long Trail and the George Aiken Wilderness, thousands of miles of VAST (Vermont Association of Snowmobile Travelers) snowmobile trails, Nordic skiing and snowshoeing. Bennington also boasts an 18 hole golf course, semi-pro football and baseball teams along with Willow Park. Within a short drive are some of North America's greatest ski destinations, world class paddling and blue ribbon trout streams.
Downtown is home to numerous annual events including: The Mayfest Arts & Crafts Festival, Midnight Madness, Bennington Battle Day Parade, St. Patrick's Day Celebration, Car Show Cruise-In, One Hundred for $100 Art Exhibit and Sale, Fallapalooza!, and Hometown Holiday.
Located at 215 South Street, a former blacksmith shop that now serves as the
Bennington's Town Offices are located at 205 South Street. Formally a Greek Revival residence, the town office is next door to County Court House and across the street from the Bennington Police Department.
A Well-Defined Vision
The Better Bennington Corporation is the downtown development organization. By holding several community forums, it has created a vision that seeks to develop and promote downtown as "Vermont's Main Street Experience" in 5 ways:
Location & Accessibility
Albany International Airport is 40 miles from Bennington and is served by a variety of airlines. William A. Morse Airport in Bennington is a small, private airfield in Bennington.
Local service provided by Green Mountain Express which offers local bus service. 802-447-0477, www.greenmtncn.org
Amtrak in Rensselaer, NY is 40 miles from Bennington. 1-800-872-7245, www.amtrak.com. Rail taxi and limo are available.
Downtown offers free parking in numerous municipal parking lots and on-street parking with no meters.
Resources & Incentives
Bennington has resources and programs to assist businesses in their relocation, start-up or expansion.
Better Bennington Corporation (BBC)
Devoted to strengthening the downtown business district in a variety of ways, BBC has a Business Recruitment and Retention Committee that offers assistance to new and existing downtown businesses. New businesses are offered a mentor from the business community to help them become established. The Design Committee can assist with exterior design. The BBC also has available a Land Use and Circulation Analysis, a Retail Market Analysis for Bennington Downtown and a Complete Developer’s Resource List. The BBC is a member of the National Main Street Program and is a designated downtown organization for the benefits offered by the Vermont Downtown Program. 802-442-5758, email@example.com, www.betterbennington.com.
Town of Bennington Community Development Office
The Economic and Community Development Office encourages job retention and creation through financial assistance and is the liaison for various State & local contacts. We also assist downtown revitalization efforts, promote housing rehabilitation, assist the Historic Preservation Commission, administer the Town's Revolving Loan Funds, acquire state and Federal grants, and process Tax Stabilization requests. 802-442-1037, firstname.lastname@example.org
Bennington Area Chamber of Commerce
The Bennington Area Chamber of Commerce’s purpose is to promote civic interest in, and the development, growth and improvement of, the entire area comprising the Southern Bennington County Region, so that the area may be attractive for industry, business, professions, recreation, and appealing to vacationers, retirees, tourists, permanent residents and conventioneers. 802-447-3311, email@example.com www.bennington.com.
Bennington County Industrial Corporation (BCIC)
An economic development organization whose mission is to promote quality jobs in Bennington County. It provides services and information to businesses, runs an industrial incubator, does development projects, and advocates policies that support its mission. Examples of business services offered by BCIC (mostly free); Manufacturing extension - Business counseling - Export promotion - State permits expediting - Government marketing assistance - Training - Financing and incentives. 802-442-8975, www.bcic.org.
Vermont Small Business Development Center (VTSBDC)
The Centers Mission “Is to strengthen existing business entities and assist start-ups with high-quality, no-cost counseling and affordable training programs. VTSBDC is a service delivery partner of the Vermont Department of Economic Development, and does so through the statewide network of Regional Development Corporations. 802-442-8975, firstname.lastname@example.org, www.vtsbdc.org
Local Bank Programs: Downtown Bennington has numerous banks offering small business assistance.
TD Bank 802-447-7533 www.tdbank.com
Bank of Bennington 802-442-8121 www.thebankofbennington.com
Citizens Bank 802-442-5409 www.citizensbank.com
Peoples United Bank 802-442-6396 www.peoplesunited.com
Trustco Bank 802-447-4952 www.trustcobank.com
Heritage Family Credit Union 888-252-8932 www.hfcu.com
VT State Employees Credit Union 802-371-5162 www.vsecu.com
The Vermont Secretary of State's Office provides necessary paperwork for business and trade name registration and formation of corporations. (800)439-8683 www.sec.state.vt.us.
Economic & Market Profile
Downtown Bennington offers retail and service businesses, tourism, housing, culture, and entertainment. Also of great importance to the Town of Bennington are local manufacturing, technology, healthcare, and agricultural/forestry.
Downtown Bennington Commercial Rental Rates
Real Estate Values
A Center for Higher Education
Bennington is home to five colleges: Bennington College, Southern Vermont College, Northeastern Baptist College, Vermont Technical College, and the Community College of Vermont.
Population is stable in Bennington at 15,000; Bennington County at 37,000
Bennington's trade areas reach into the populous northeast, and are based on geographic location and spending patterns.
Downtown Bennington - our customer profile
Downtown serves a number of customer segments to include: year-round residents, visitors/tourists, college students and second homeowners. The Bennington Retail Market Analysis is available through the BBC for more detailed data.
The BBC is actively recruiting establishments such as:
Women’s Apparel, Bed and Bath Shop, Gourmet Food Store/Deli, Antique Store, Vermont Crafts and Furniture, Kitchenware Shop, General Store, Art Galleries, Wine Shop, Market/Green Grocer, Specialty Stores, Interior Design/Home Furnishing, Shoe Store, Hotel Convention Center, and additional Residential Units.
Quality of Life
The town of Bennington offers its residents and visitors access to a unique array of amenities.
Scenery & Recreation
Nestled in a panoramic valley, our scenery changes from bright spring colors, to the lush green of summer, to the brilliant colors of fall foliage, to the sparkling snows of winter. In town we have two trailheads to the Appalachian Trail, you can cycle, jog or walk through miles of scenic and historic trails, and Willow Park is a full service recreation area. Bennington also has a spectacular 18 hole Golf course and Country Club.
Lodging & Restaurants
The area offers a variety of motels, bed and breakfasts and quiet country inns. More information can be obtained from The Bennington Area Chamber of Commerce 802 447-3311, www.bennington.com
Entertainment & the Arts
History You Can Visit
Success Breeds Success in Downtown Bennington
Jay Zwynenburg, Proprietor, Jay’s Cards & Gifts, Jay’s Art Shop & Frame Gallery
“We have been in business 30+ years, and I have never regretted changing my life style from “Corporate America” to become a downtown merchant. Bennington has been a great place for my wife, Joan, and I to raise our children and watch our grandchildren grow. In just the short walk to our many fine restaurants we are able to greet many friends. Bennington really is the epitome of “small town USA" with a wonderful vision for its future".
Nancy Woltman, Proprietor, Panache
“Being raised in New York City it was my goal to wake up some morning and see the mountains. For years I questioned if I could leave an urban area and still be able to make a comfortable living. I took the leap and moved to Vermont, opening Panache, a women’s apparel and gift shop in 1985. Since then the business has out grown three downtown locations and now occupies 6,000 sq. ft. of retail space, with an expanding inventory of accessories, furniture, home décor, children’s clothing and toys. Location is everything, and to me that meant being downtown where I could get to know both my customers and neighbors. By making the move I have had the good fortune to have the mountains, along with a wonderful community and a thriving business. That not only spells success but fulfillment!”
Norman Greenberg, President, H. Greenberg & Sons, Inc.
“As a native of Bennington and actively participating for over 60 years at H. Greenberg & Son Inc. and through many of Bennington's community organizations. I have seen our town go through ups and downs. Overall, Bennington is a great place to be in business. Greenberg’s move to Main Street in 1949 was the local beginning of a “complete home center” long before the term was coined. Our 22,000 square foot retail store and our lumber yard still serve customers throughout the tri-state area, and their home and building needs bring them to downtown where they can be part of a Vermont Main Street experience. Many other merchants have started or expanded their careers here, and with service and dedication have created a good town for their families, friends and visitors as well as for those who will live, work and shop in Bennington in the future."
Rick & Ellen Havlak, Proprietors, Bennington Bookstore
“My wife and I moved to Bennington in 1979 when we purchased the Bennington Bookshop. Bennington has proven to be a warm, caring community and a great place to do business. There is a strong financial community here which has been very helpful to us as we have twice expanded our business over the past 30 years. We have raised two sons here in Bennington and can attest to the quality of the schools and can’t think of a better or safer place to raise a family. The downtown revitalization projects and streetscape improvements have greatly impacted the way both tourists and local citizens view our community.”
Jack Appleman, Chairman/CEO, Applejack Art Partners
"Since 1999, I’ve had businesses in Bennington and have seen a dramatic change in all areas including industry, education, health care and the arts. Bennington is swiftly moving in an upward trajectory, at a faster pace than any of us have seen in the past 50 years. This charming town is experiencing an evolution of sorts. It’s got it all…a downtown area for shopping, good schools, fine culture in music, theater and arts, wonderful history, and great dining. It’s a perfect time to join in on the Renaissance of Bennington and benefit from its positive spirit.”