With just under 16,000 people, Rutland is the fifth largest municipality in Vermont, and the largest municipality in the southern portion of the state. The city has many positive attributes, including a robust and well articulated entrepreneurial ecosystem, residents who support local business, access to many nearby outdoor recreation resources, and ample historical buildings.
However, residents and businesses have been working to weather the declining population and economic shifts; with relatively high property crime, difficulty filling jobs, a decrease in businesses (down by 200 in the county from 2017 to 2018), the recent closing of the College of St. Joseph, the city is working through its share of challenges.
The city is also facing the significant problems facing many Vermont communities, including declining and aging populations, an obsolete housing stock, and limited commercial investment. Many economic development, business, and planning entities have invested effort into boosting Rutland’s quality of life and economic conditions.
And the efforts are working – whether it’s being a finalist in a national downtown competition, encouraging new people to move to Rutland via the “Rutland Red Carpet” and the state’s Stay to Stay program, building community connection via one of the many annual events, or offering business incentives and assistance to new and established entities.
The Rutland Redevelopment Authority (RRA), the Downtown Rutland Partnership (DRP), and other partners invested in an action-oriented market analysis and strategic plan for the City of Rutland’s Downtown Special Benefits District (SBD) that involves broad collaboration of both public and private sector organizations and public engagement. Guided by staff from these organizations and a steering committee, this collaborative process gained insight into the area’s competitive advantages resulting in tangible economic goals for strategic growth.
The resulting Downtown Strategic Plan is organized into the following chapters:
Baseline Assessment | This includes a demographic and socioeconomic profile of the city and economic data and trends analysis that understands industry strengths, growth, and concentration. This creates a baseline of information that will inform subsequent portions of the report.
Real Estate Market Analysis | The purpose of a market analysis is to ask, “what are the opportunities that private businesses, developers, and investors would be interested in”, and “what are the challenges and barriers that may prevent them from investing in those opportunities in downtown Rutland?” This section explores the retail and entertainment, commercial office, residential, and lodging markets as potential opportunities for (re)development and economic growth given the market conditions of Downtown Rutland.
Opportunities and Challenges | This chapter summarizes the critical issues, key opportunities, and major themes that emerged from the research and analysis of Downtown Rutland. The findings in this section of the report help lay the foundation for the strategic plan’s goals and strategies.
Goals and Strategies | This chapter outlines the goals, strategies, and tactics that compose the Downtown Strategic Plan. Based on the research, analysis, interviews, and public input, four overarching goals were crafted and detailed strategies and action items were established to achieve each.
Implementation | This chapter provides implementation guidance for each strategy, including action items to complete, priority level, timeframe, resources, and partners.