NEWPORT, VT - The Newport City Council is considering a request by the Newport City Renaissance Corporation (NCRC) for a $25,000 increase to its appropriation, already $25,000. NCRC would use the funds for its operations, marketing efforts and things like bike racks.
NCRC would like to bring in a second person to help CEO Trish Sears’ office efforts. Sears is the organization’s only paid employee, but NCRC does have some contract workers who do such things as work on the organization’s website. Board members volunteer their time at no cost.
“We’ve been making a lot of good things happen with the $25,000, but we’ve got a lot more things to do,” said Sears. NCRC will be working with new businesses coming in to Newport, the foreign trade zone and looking for more opportunities for the city. “We have been basically the ones doing the research and development of a number of different grants for the city they aren’t able to do because they don’t have economic staff.”
NCRC is starting a capital campaign by reaching out to area businesses, NCRC Board Chair Rob Hodgkins said. The board wants increased support from the city as it progresses through the future.
“We’ve grown over a number of years and have done a tremendous job at leveraging the support the city has provided,” said Hodgkins.
Board member Steve Breault, who owns Newport Natural Market and Café, credits NCRC for an increase of his full-time employee base and increased sales. He spoke highly of newspaper and magazine articles written about NCRC’s projects. Newport is getting attention from the rest of the state, which wasn’t the case a few years ago, Breault said. In the past he had to defend why he decided to have a business in Newport.
“I do think a lot of the really positive publicity that NCRC provides for the city and business climate here has really made a big difference,” said Breault. “I’ve seen the growth. I’m willing to support NCRC from a business point of view.”
The proof is in the advertisements and events NCRC sponsors, Breault said.
If approved, the city tax rate would increase a penny or the council would have to get the money elsewhere.
Baraw said he supports the increase but is not sure others would feel the same way. He said there are many people who are having difficulty paying their taxes.
NCRC board members believe the organization could help bring additional employers to the area.
Alderman Tim de la Bruere wondered what other department heads would think if the council increases NCRC’s budget but level funds the others.
The answer came from Newport City Manager John Ward Jr. who said he thinks the other department heads support the level funded budget he presented to the council.
“That’s the one we’re willing to defend and support,” said Ward. The goal, he said, is not to increase the tax rate. “This is different. We’re talking city operations.”
Twenty percent of NCRC’s income comes from the city taxpayers. The remaining comes from grants, donations from businesses, and events.