Randolph Selected As 'Creative Community'

Front Page / Dec. 28, 2006 12:00am EST

Randolph Selected As 'Creative Community'

The Vermont Council on Rural Development (VCRD) has selected Randolph as one of its newest participants in their statewide Creative Communities Program.

This program provides technical assistance, planning support, and strategies for building "creative economy" resources.

Other communities selected have been Grand Isle, Hardwick, Plainfield, Rockingham / Bellows Falls, Rutland City, St. Albans City, St. Johnsbury, and Windsor.

The Randolph version of the program will be called the "Culture, Community & Commerce Initiative," reflecting the three key areas of the creative economy, and their first public meeting will be on January 30.

The creative economy is a perspective that has gained attention across Vermont for its emphasis on individuals’ creative skills. Program Director Helen Labun Jordan points out that this creative focus fits in well with Vermont’s economic strengths.

For example, while Vermont businesses may not be the largest in the world, they are often progressive in developing new products and services that keep them one step ahead of the competition.

"At the same time," Labun Jordan explained, "Vermont’s strong cultural organizations contribute not only to culture but to the economy. They help retain and attract a creative workforce.

"They’re also economic engines in their own right, employing a total of 1800 people across the state, each organization spending an average $121,000 in 2002." Events draw in money as well, such as the annual Open Studio Weekend, which brings over $1 million into Vermont, she said.

The Creative Communities Program helps towns answer the question of how a community can position itself to take advantage of the creative economy. This requires projects that foster creativity and establish a strong link between creative and economic activities.

That process of planning for Randolph’s creative economy begins on January 30th, from 6:30 to 9 p.m. at the Gifford Medical Center, with light refreshments available starting at 6.

A team of facilitators from the Creative Communities Program will lead a discussion of strategies for forming collaborative partnerships between Randolph area’s existing cultural and development resources.

The final product will be an action plan for supporting existing projects as well as building new relationships around the creative economy. This meeting is open to the public.

Sharon Reeves is the local chair for the Culture, Community & Commerce Initiative. Others involved are Chamber President Joe Boyd, Wink Willet, and Tony Keller

Labun Jordan emphasized that the assistance provided to Randolph is meant to complement what is already happening in town:

"We’re simply providing a platform to ensure that Randolph’s great creative assets are being used efficiently, effectively and to the benefit of as many area residents as possible," she said. "The Creative Communities Program will provide a team of experienced facilitators to make sure this is an easy process."

Labun Jordan also pointed to the many creative economic assets highlighted in Randolph’s application to the Creative Communities Program.

Assets include not only major events, like the New World Festival, but also the interest in culture and community shown by economic development programs including the Randolph Area Community Development Corporation and Randolph Area Chamber of Commerce.

For more information on the Creative Communities Program, please visit http://www.vtrural.org.

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