Last year the Mad River Valley Planning District (MRVPD) engaged consultants to undertake a study of The Valley’s economy. The economic study was commissioned to help define the economic profile of the Mad River Valley and to recommend policies and initiatives that support economic vitality. The findings were presented to the community at a well-attended Economic Summit last June.


This work identified four major components of The Valley’s economy: agriculture and food systems, recreation and tourism, professional services and manufacturing, and incubation. Among the recommendations were the creation of a recreation plan, increasing quantitative data for measuring leading and lagging indicators, addressing policy issues, implementing integrated economic thinking, identifying capital projects, researching a local options tax and enhancing inter-agency coordination.


In a commitment to moving the Economic Study recommendations to action, the planning district and the Mad River Valley Chamber of Commerce have been working together since the economic summit. The two entities created an advisory group to assist in implementing recommendations from the Economic Study.


The first step was to create a framework that provides a comfortable community discussion on how the economy is evolving; this has historically been a stumbling block. Joshua Schwartz, executive director of the planning district, has distilled Valleywide visioning documents and current Town Plans to create a draft vision statement for The Valley. The draft has been presented and discussed at planning commission meetings in Waitsfield, Fayston and Warren. The draft will then be brought to the public for input and review.


The next step is to bring the economic stakeholders to the table with their peer groups to discuss the issues and opportunities that exist while doing business in the MRV. The draft Valley vision statement will serve as a touchstone and as framework for these economic discussions. There will be 10 of these workshop-style meetings that will take place between July and September of this year. The workshops are called the Mad River Valley Economic Vitality series.


The first workshop takes place on July 14 at the Round Barn in Waitsfield from 1 to 3:30 p.m. That workshop is geared toward people in the accommodations (lodging) and food business. The scheduled for the subsequent workshops is as follows:


July 23: Retail, Three Mountain Café, 6:30 to 9 p.m.

July 30: Agriculture and food production, Round Barn, 6:30 to 9 p.m.

August 6: Homeowner services, Round Barn, 3 to 5:30 p.m.

August 13: Professional and technical services, Round Barn, 1 to 3:30 p.m.

August 20: Financial activities and information, Round Barn, 1 to 3:30 p.m.

August 28: Arts, entertainment and recreation, Mad River Glen, 1 to 3:30 p.m.

September 10: Health care and wellness, Round Barn, 3 to 5:30 p.m.

September 17: Manufacturing, Round Barn, 1 to 3:30 p.m.

September 24: Educational services, Moretown Elementary, 4 to 6:30 p.m.

The grouping of the economic sectors is based on a federal classification system (NAICS Code). While most Valley businesses are diverse and might fit in multiple peer groups, this has been determined to be the most concise way to identify similar businesses and data that already exists. Information on which businesses should attend which workshops is available on the planning district’s website,

A final meeting will take place at the conclusion of the 10 peer group meetings to identify broad economic priorities, determine what projects or relationships are needed to make them happen and, if necessary, to analyze which revenue sources may be pursued to help finance efforts.

It is planned that the vision and the economic plan will be presented to the community at large for discussion and input in November of this year.

The 2014 MRV Economic Study and related documents can be found at Feedback and questions are encouraged; contact Joshua Schwartz at 496-7173 at the planning district, or Rebecca Baruzzi at 496-3409 at the chamber of commerce.

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