While Vermont faces significant challenges and decisions as we restart our economy and local communities, we are not alone. The pandemic and the resulting impacts are being felt across the globe. Communities are grappling with similar recovery challenges and how to chart a course towards a brighter future. While every community will differ in its approach, there are some strategies implemented in other states and countries that are good examples for meeting the needs of Vermont businesses as we work to reopen and recover.
Supporting Local Businesses and Addressing Community Needs
Vermont and many other states have built creative strategies to access state or federal funding to pay restaurants to provide meals to those in need. This strategy leverages outside funding to meet immediate community needs during the crisis while and helps local restaurants and food producers continue production and retain staff. California launched “Great Plates Delivered: Home Meals for Seniors.” This program delivers three prepared meals daily to seniors enrolled in the program. Restaurants that provide the meals are reimbursed using FEMA funding.
Building Economic Resilience and Recovery
As businesses and restaurants begin their phased restart, communities are considering strategies for retail and food sales while maintaining public health and safety. Tampa, FL built a “Lift up Local” Economic Recovery Plan for businesses to expand their outdoor capacity by temporarily allowing retail sales and dining on sidewalks, parking lots, designated closed roadways, and other private outdoor areas. The plan also permits temporary “parklets” for outdoor dining and sidewalk sales. Vermont’s Department of Housing and Community Development partnered with the Vermont Agency of Transportation to develop a similar guide to help downtowns expand outdoor seating.
A Toolkit for Local Response and Recovery
As communities navigate restarting, Strong Towns, a national organization rethinking our approach to community development, resilience, and leadership, has developed a “Local Leaders Toolkit” with strategies for response, recovery, and building strong towns into the future.
Vermont’s Local Support and Community Action Team—part of the state’s Economic Mitigation and Recovery Task Force—is working to provide Vermont communities with best practices for recovery. By connecting with communities across the globe they are building a toolkit of resources that can be replicated and shared across Vermont.