The Grow Bennington Initiative
Its history is hundreds of years in the making and it's rich and storied. As we enter into a new era of downtown living and the new pedestrian experience our streetscape is being reinvented into a center of commerce, dining, and entertainment while retaining the retail experience that can only be found on Main Street America.
Below is the story of how Downtown Bennington is moving into that new era with the Grow Bennington Initiative, but as you scroll down please note just a few of the companies and individuals who are helping make our efforts possible through their financial generosity and their community spirit.
A New Downtown for a New Era
In today’s environment of Amazon Prime and overnight deliveries, communities nationwide are finding a need to fundamentally change the way they view their downtowns. If you don’t own a downtown business, you may wonder why you should care. The Grow Bennington Initiative originated with a group of citizens and business owners located outside of the downtown. Yet . . . We believe we all benefit from a thriving downtown. We believe we all can contribute.
A vibrant downtown creates a better place for all of us who live here while also helping to:
Recruit and retain employees.
Retain and attract millennials to fight Vermont’s declining and aging population.
Improve the value of our homes.
Improve economic vitality in our community.
The Grow Bennington Initiative started with a few citizens collecting some good ideas – 45 as a matter of fact – consolidating them into a plan, and collaborating with the Better Bennington Corporation and the Town of Bennington to make a few of them happen.
Four Demonstration Projects
Phase one of the Grow Bennington Initiative starts with four demonstration projects. We need your help to make them happen. With an initial fundraising goal of$101,000, every dollar goes to work right away as we work our way through the following projects:
Light up Bennington’s downtown district with white tree lights in the cold-and–dreary season and tree up-lighting in the summer.
Steer visitors downtown with re-designed and additional way-finding signs. Start at the edge of town: ‘Historic Bennington Downtown Ahead’. Highlight our assets: Bike racks; Parking; Car charging stations; And restrooms ― the number one reason visitors stop in a town!
Create a sense of Arrival! Implement new colorful pole banners to give visual cues that visitors have arrived in the Bennington Downtown.
Create a sense of something’s happening here! Build on the Bennington’s downtown planting program. Add Facade planters against downtown building-fronts to help soften the transition from building to sidewalk, drawing in passer-bys1.
Successful downtowns invest heavily
In streetscapes and retail curb appeal. They communicate that their downtowns are alive and buzzing and family-friendly with plazas, water features, and awesome downtown playgrounds2. We believe that small wins add up. With your help, the four demonstration projects above will be just the beginning!
(we’ll be forever grateful and we’ll put your dollars to work right away!)
Please make checks payable to “BBC” with "GROW BENNINGTON INITIATIVE" in the memo line. Better Bennington Corporation (BBC) is the 501(c)(3) financial custodian for the Grow Bennington Initiative.
The Task Force
Lynn Green, Chairperson – Owner, The Four Chimneys Inn
Shannon Barsotti – Director of Community Development, Town of Bennington
Michael McDonough – Board of Directors, Better Bennington Corporation
Dan Monks - Assistant Town Manager, Town of Bennington
John Shannahan – Executive Director, Better Bennington Corporation
Betsy Woods – Owner, The Knotty Pine Motel
Downtown Advisory – Madison Brewing Company
Christiana Salem - Salem Dentistry
Vicki Jerome - Colgate Park
Alicia Holden - Elm Street Market
Nicole Sauer - Career Development Center
Lee Jacobs - Jacobs Law Offices
Implementation Partner – Better Bennington Corporation
Implementation Partner – Town of Bennington
Lynn Green, chairperson, at 802-447-3500 extension 1.
We are not Alone
Of the 19,500 towns and cities in the U.S. 18,500 have populations under 40,000 ― most have struggling downtowns3. We don’t have to start from scratch. We can build on some of the good work that has already been done. We can cherry-pick from the success of others and add our own Bennington twist. With a little ingenuity, a lot of hard work and a little help from you, we can make a difference.