Governor Phil Scott and the Vermont Department of Tourism and Marketing announced the expansion of its Stay to Stay Weekends, an economic development tourism program launched as a pilot in 2018 that has successfully relocated over a dozen people from across the country to Vermont.
“We need to grow Vermont’s workforce: it’s the crux of every challenge and cornerstone of every solution we face in Vermont,” said Governor Scott. “And we need to use every tool in the toolbox to achieve this goal. The Stay to Stay program is one of the more unique initiatives we’ve established, and it’s proven on a small scale to be effective in leveraging the draw of our tourism industry to attract people to Vermont who end up calling it home,” Governor Scott added. “It’s a positive step to be continuing and expanding this program.”
The new communities that will host Stay to Stay Weekends include Newport (July 26-29, December 13-16) and St. Johnsbury (September 13-16, October 4-7), located in what is known as the Northeast Kingdom of Vermont.
“Our innovative approach to talent attraction has inspired many Vermont towns to step forward with enthusiasm in partnering with us to bring the Stay to Stay Weekends to their communities,” said Wendy Knight, Tourism and Marketing Commissioner. “We are excited to expand the program into Vermont’s northern region, which is a tourism destination known for its jaw-dropping beauty and outdoor recreation, but lesser known for good employment opportunities and unparalleled quality of life. The Stay to Stay Weekends will help build broader national awareness of the Northeast Kingdom as an exceptional place to not just play, but also live and work.”
The expansion of the Stay to Stay Weekends is part of a workforce development partnership between Northern Community Investment Corporation (NCIC) and the Agency of Commerce and Community Development made possible through a grant from the Northern Border Regional Commission.
“We are thrilled to partner with the Agency of Commerce and Community Development to offer individuals the chance to explore Vermont, specifically the Northeast Kingdom, as more than just a vacation destination,” said Katelyn Robinson, Project Manager at NCIC, a nonprofit community and economic development organization. “There are vast career opportunities in the Northeast Kingdom, ranging from entry-level hospitality workers, to machinists, lenders, engineers, teachers, doctors, graphic designers, and a lot more. The region is full of quality employers who are ready to welcome new talent.”
The four Stay to Stay Weekends in the Northeast Kingdom bring the total number of 2019 weekends to 19. The other Stay to Stay locations include Rutland, Burlington, Brattleboro and the Bennington-Manchester region, also known as the Shires of Vermont.
The 3-day networking weekends are for out-of-state visitors interested in living full-time in Vermont. Weekends begin with a Friday evening reception hosted by a local chamber of commerce or young professional’s network. Saturday and Sunday offer unstructured opportunities to explore the region and get a glimpse into living in the community. On Monday, guests meet with employers, tour the area with a realtor, or visit an incubator/co-working space to meet with entrepreneurs and professionals. The Stay to Stay Weekends in the Newport and St. Johnsbury areas will also include Monday morning visits to local childcare centers to demonstrate the region’s appeal to young families.
The Department of Tourism and Marketing developed the Stay to Stay initiative last year as part of the Scott Administration’s strategy to attract more working families and young professionals to Vermont to address the State’s declining workforce. The 2018 Stay to Stay Pilot Program Recap reveals that of the 140 participants who attended one of the four 2018 weekends, 10 have relocated to Vermont and an additional 36 are actively job hunting and planning a move here. A survey of 94 people who either signed up or participated in the 2018 pilot program revealed that 50% had previously vacationed in Vermont, while 31% had no prior experience with Vermont, suggesting that State’s iconic brand and ThinkVermont economic development marketing are factors in convincing people to consider Vermont as a full-time residence.
Over 70% of survey respondents cited access to outdoor recreation as their reason for wanting to move to Vermont. Earlier this year, the Department of Tourism and Marketing launched three Stay to Stay Ski options, a collaboration between towns and local ski resorts to entice out-of-state skiers and riders to consider Vermont as a place to live and work. The Stay to Stay ski weekends were piloted at Brattleboro/Mount Snow, Manchester/Bromley, Rutland/Killington and more are planned for the 2019-2020 season. The department is also partnering with the Vermont Mountain Biking Association to develop Stay to Stay mountain biking options this fall. Other options being considered are industry-specific weekends that highlight the State’s technology, block chain, manufacturing, food and beverage, hospitality, and outdoor recreation sectors.
For more information about the Stay to Stay initiative, visit www.VermontVacation.com/staytostay.