Shoreham takes aim at business growth

 

SHOREHAM — With its quaint town park, venerable historic buildings and sprawling farmland, it is easy to stereotype Shoreham as an idyllic rural hamlet.

But that Rockwellian portrait belies a growing business community that is organizing itself to give Shoreham the added reputation as a destination for goods and services.

The Shoreham Economic Development Committee (SEDC) hosted its first Business-to-Business meeting late last month, an event that drew more than two dozen local vendors and entrepreneurs.

The gathering provided an opportunity for the business owners to meet, educate each other on their products and services; share ideas on how to promote economic growth and sales; and offer suggestions for how the SEDC can best serve their business interests, according to SEDC Chairwoman Barb Wilson.

“We were surprised by how many businesses there were in town, and wanted to give them a chance to showcase what they do,” Wilson said.

Participating businesses showcased handcrafts, agricultural and wood products, catering resources, publishing and specialty foods. The gathering also drew some consultants, including those involved in the education and environmental sectors.

The SEDC was formed a year ago in wake of the Vermont Council on Rural Development’s study of Shoreham’s potential and its future priorities, as seen through the eyes of its citizens. Based on that study, townspeople established committees to focus on three different priorities: Advancing economic development; improving civic participation; and building a town energy committee.

Wilson stressed the SEDC isn’t banking on changing Shoreham’s business dynamic overnight. But local entrepreneurs have brainstormed some short- and long-term ideas that include:

•  Creating an SEDC web page that would include links to local businesses, notification of community events and a directory of local goods and services.

•  Designing and distributing a biking/touring map of Shoreham that would attract more visitors and consumers.

•  Establishing a town newsletter that might feature coupons for local goods and services.

•  Building an outdoor kiosk or bulletin board.

•  Erecting Shoreham “welcome” signs.

•  Developing a monthly Shoreham farmers’ market.

•  Establishing Shoreham as a destination for agri-tourism and workshops.

•  Offering help to locals trying to launch new businesses.

More grandiose ideas included developing a local industrial park, biomass facility, business plaza, senior housing and improved biking routes.

Shoreham has already taken some steps to improve its business climate. Last year, the SEDC produced the first “Shoreham Brochure” highlighting several Shoreham businesses and attractions. More than 1,000 copies of the brochure were distributed at various locations in Addison County.

Shoreham selectboard Chairman Paul Saenger said he’s pleased with the SEDC’s work thus far and believes even bigger things are in store on the local business front.

“There will be more effort on this, and hopefully a lot of success stories,” Saenger said.

Shoreham’s effort is even drawing some attention across the border in Orwell.

“I think it’s a great thing,” said Marlene Latourelle of Norton’s Gallery of Orwell. Marlene and her husband Norton Latourelle both attended last month’s SEDC gathering and want to be active participants in Shoreham’s business momentum.

“I think it’s a great thing,” Marlene Latourelle said. “I hope other people will also see the advantages of it and become involved.”

Local business owners seeking to be involved and included on the SEDC email distribution list should contact Barb Wilson at barb@solar-haven.com or 897-5430.

Reporter John Flowers is at johnf@addisonindependent.com.


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