Did you know that Wilson Industrial Park, Barre Town Forest, City Place, the Blanchard Block, and the Washington County Railroad all have something in common? Aside from being home to several jobs and recreation opportunities for Barre residents, they are all projects that came to life with the help of Barre Area Development Corp. (BADC). Those outside of Barre’s business community and municipal leadership may not have direct experience or familiarity with BADC, leaving many to wonder who this group is and what they do.
Barre Area Development is a nonprofit economic development corporation serving the Town and City of Barre. In layman’s terms, our job is to help grow the local economy by working with both municipalities, groups like the Barre Partnership, and local businesses to help make Barre a better place to live, visit, and do business in. BADC has been involved in many projects around Barre throughout our 60-year history, typically focusing on behind-the-scenes needs. Whether big or small, all development projects have one main thing in common – teamwork. No one person or entity can revitalize a community on their own, so our mission is to help spark the minds of those who will. In partnership with the Times Argus, BADC will give readers a monthly update on business news, issues facing Barre’s economy, and a breakdown of business programs and development opportunities in effort to do so.
To kick off our first monthly contribution, we thought it would be a good time to ask some questions.
How is the local economy recovering from COVID? Are businesses coming to Barre?
To put it simply, entrepreneurs in the Granite City have been busy. Over twenty businesses have relocated, expanded, or opened in Barre since last fall. Everyone from retailers and restaurants to service professionals have recently sought new opportunities here. Green Light Real Estate, a Montpelier based company, opened a new office in the Blanchard Block. Apollo’s Dog Grooming and Daycare, a venture started by a young couple from New Hampshire, opened their doors this summer. Rebecca Smedy brought a new women’s clothing store to downtown called Brave, LLC. Ismina Francois opened LilBuddy Beauty Supply on Prospect Street, bringing a new selection of hair care products and beauty supplies to the Granite City. Green Tax Services and Made In Brazil, a Brazilian restaurant, recently moved to the former home of Project Independence and are finishing interior and exterior renovation projects. Mulligan’s Irish Pub recently completed a large-scale construction project, creating another permanent outdoor dining option to Barre. A new Yoga studio called Rooted Yoga is hosting a ribbon cutting ceremony at 10:00 am on Monday, November 1st at their studio in the Blanchard Block. Pearl Street Pizza, another new business expecting to open its doors in downtown Barre soon, will offer wood fired pizza in the Granite City.
What’s working? What’s the key to Barre’s success?
Your investment and faith in this community is what’s working. Since the Great Recession of 2008 – 2009, there has been over $110,000,000 in capital investment in the Barre area. This includes investment in private businesses, nonprofits, housing, and infrastructure. Barre City’s “Big Dig” project made much needed improvements in the downtown. Blanchard Block and City Place renovations created new, upscale commercial space. In Barre Town, there has been new building acquisition, construction and fit ups in Wilson Industrial Park including the expansion of Vermont Creamery. There has also been new housing development and other projects.
In other words, Barre is on the move and businesses throughout Vermont are taking notice.
There are many issues facing the Barre area that are not unique to Central Vermont – housing, infrastructure, and childcare among others to the list. Barre City recently partnered with the Vermont Council on Rural Development to host “All in For Barre” community forums this fall to brainstorm ways to make Barre better. Both Barre’s are evaluating the needs of their communities and determining where to make the best use of their one-time ARPA funds. One-time funding for state business programs, peacemaking, and housing has caught the attention of public and private sector leaders as communities seek to make transformational change coming out of the pandemic. Stay tuned for how you and your business can participate.
Those interested in learning more about Barre and business development services are encouraged to visit barrevt.com or check us out on Facebook @BarreAreaDevelopment.