By Rachel Goff

This summer, the Mad River Valley Planning District (MRVPD) and the Mad River Valley Chamber of Commerce (MRVCC) will be collaborating on a workshop series titled Vision and Vitality.

The workshop series was developed to review and implement recommendations from the 2014 Mad River Valley Economic Study which was presented to the community last June at a picnic a Lareau Farm in Waitsfield.

Following the presentation, the MRVPD spent the winter reading and summarizing the municipal plans of the three towns within its jurisdiction, Waitsfield, Warren and Fayston, in order to establish a baseline and context for the community's needs and aspirations that will serve as the foundation for enhancing The Valley's economy.

MRVPD executive director Joshua Schwartz presented this plan at the MRVPD Steering Committee meeting that took place Thursday, March 19. "We feel confident in what we're doing and that it will work," steering committee member Peter MacLaren said.

"It's been a tough road to get to where we are, but we're in a really good spot," steering committee chair Bob Ackland echoed, clarifying that the workshop series "is not creating a vision," he said. "It's trying to operate within this vision that we already have."

Moving forward, Schwartz plans to share and discuss the vision summary with the Waitsfield, Warren and Fayston planning commissions and select boards as well as the broader public to ensure that it captures the community's intent.

According to Schwartz, economic vitality has been a tricky topic in The Valley. "There has historically been conflict around what that means for the community," he said. "We need to work with the vision component of this exercise first."

After the vision summary has been accepted, the community can become engaged in the workshop series, which Schwartz and business consultant Patricia Floyd will lead throughout the summer of 2015.

The 2014 Economic Study and related documents are available online at Please contact Schwartz at 496-7173 or Rebecca Baruzzi of the MRVCC at 496-3609 with questions or feedback.