Last September, we announced five recovery initiatives that address key challenges magnified by the COVID-19 pandemic and set the state on a pathway to more equity and greater community and economic resilience in the face of future disruption: Rural Entrepreneurship, Food System Resilience, Rural Connectivity, Learning in Transition, and Welcoming, Equitable, Anti-Racist Communities. Over the past few months, we have interviewed the team leaders for each recovery initiative to understand why the Community Foundation chose to focus on each as part of its pandemic recovery strategy.Read more about "What We're Learning from the VT COVID-19 Response Fund Recovery Initiatives"
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The Vermont Community Foundation Announces Nearly $1 Million in Business Relief Grants for Arlington, Dorset, and Manchester
The Vermont Community Foundation, in partnership with area philanthropists, has announced almost $1 million in grants from the Main Street Business Relief Fund for Arlington, Dorset, and Manchester. Led by an anonymous donor’s $500,000 contribution and match challenge, community members stepped up to help regional businesses overcome financial challenges stemming from the pandemic.
Fifty-five businesses in particularly hard-hit sectors will receive grants ranging from $4,000 to $30,000, including 13 restaurants, 12 service and wellness businesses (such a hair salons), 10 inns and other lodgings, 9 retail shops, 8 artisans and art galleries, and 3 media and entertainment operations. Grants were prioritized for businesses with annual revenues under $1 million, and all eligible applicants received a grant.
“Arlington, Dorset, and Manchester are important regional employment hubs,” says Dan Smith, president & CEO of the Vermont Community Foundation. “The restaurants, shops, and services in these Northshire towns attract visitors from throughout the world, and the economic value they generate is critical to sustaining the community and maintaining the recreational and cultural opportunities the area has to offer.”
Prior to the pandemic, these 55 businesses generated $17.8 million in economic activity and employed 121 full-time and 191 part-time staff. These 55 business lost $1.9 million in revenue in the spring due to the pandemic, as verified by The Bank of Bennington, which acted as the financial partner for the Fund.
“The Bank of Bennington is committed to supporting the local economy and the women and men who dedicate their lives to keep small businesses vibrant, which is exactly why we partnered with the Community Foundation on this project,” noted Jim Brown, president and CEO of The Bank of Bennington. “The Community Foundation is playing a pivotal role in our region through management of economic development and human services initiatives.”
Elizabeth Berger, co-owner of the Arlington Inn and grant recipient, highlighted the importance of the grant funding. “Local inns have been devastated by the pandemic. By adhering to the Governor’s social distancing orders, many prospective guests who cannot or will not quarantine decided not to visit, significantly decreasing anticipated revenue. This grant will help to pay our carrying costs from the spring as we remain committed to keeping our community healthy through this difficult time.”
The anonymous donor shared his appreciation for the Community Foundation’s support in making the Fund a reality. “We are grateful and impressed by the fair and confidential application and review process the Vermont Community Foundation developed. They assembled a terrific team and went above and beyond to be flexible and respond to the business community’s needs and questions.”