NCRC Brainstorms Newport’s Future

NEWPORT CITY – The Community College of Vermont (CCV) is in the middle of launching the Governor’s Career Ready Certificate Program.The program is free to participants approved by the Department of Labor. The 10-week course will meet three to four hours twice a week. Mercedes Pour, Academic Coordinator at CCV, told the Economic Restructuring Committee, which is part of the Newport City Renaissance Corporation (NCRC), that the school will be able to run a full class. A second class for those who can’t attend an evening one may be held later.Pour is not sure how the class will immediately affect the downtown area. Many of the people who showed interest want to focus on areas like manufacturing, she said. That led Trish Sears, executive director of NCRC, to ask how the area begins to recognize Newport as a “college town.”“I think it’s really exciting because there’s more work to be done,” said Pour. “CCV needs to get out in the community.”Newport City resident Diane Peel, a member of Northeast Kingdom 99% and a nurse at North Country Hospital, said many of her Second Street neighbors would like to take training in career fields like healthcare but can’t afford the classes. She also said many of them don’t have transportation or anyone to look after their children while they’re taking the classes. Peel said one person in particular would make a good nurse, however, that person’s benefits will only pay for her while she’s working.“If you’re going to develop a workforce, you need to realize the needs, and, actually, most people don’t have cars,” Peel said. Pour told Peel that there are programs for people like her friend.Ellieen Illuzzi, Adult Services Coordinator for North Country Career Center, said NCCC and Vermont Association of Business, Industry and Rehabilitation are having a course that deals with retail customer service. The class will probably start around March.Earlier in the meeting, Trish Sears told committee members that a lot has been happening on Main Street in regards to restaurants and different aspects of economic and community development. In February, Sears and Newport Zoning Administrator Paul Dreher will present at the National Partnership Conference of Smart Growth in San Diego, CA. Sears and Dreher won the opportunity by submitting a proposal to the Partners for New Partners for Smart Growth Institute.  “One of the things that really intrigued this particular group was our Form Base Code success that we had,” Sears said, "because a large part of that is due to community partnership, and partnership private and public."Dreher will also speak with the Form Base Code Institute about Newport’s efforts for turning the new zoning structure into a reality.  Sears and Dreher will present with Joel Mills' team leader for Rural/Urban Design Assistance Team (R/UDAT) at the National Main Street Conference in Baltimore in May.NCRC is working on a USDA Rural Development grant to help market downtown businesses. NCRC has plans to kick off the Fresh by Nature Campaign, which connects local farms to downtown restaurants.NCRC intends to seek a USDA Rural Development grant that will look at "active living by nature" and how Newport approached it before and after R/UDAT. Active Living by Nature includes looking at the lake, rivers, mountains, fields as well as the different sports.“Let’s work from an assets-based approach,” Sears said. “We don’t have time to invent anything. Why should we? We are Newport Genuine by Nature. We are going to capitalize on the assets we that have. Enhance them and expand them.”“It’s kind of exciting when you start writing,” Sears said. “How do we put it together, package it, and talk about it out loud?"First of all, we're obviously most concerned with those of us who work, live and play here," Sears. "How do we get more of us to actually do and take advantage of - to get in the water and do other things around here? Also by celebrating for us, what our assets are."Employers looking to hire people can market the region’s lifestyle. There will be a group of people who like quiet recreation and extreme sports while being close to Boston and Canada, Sears said.Another part of the proposal is an economic impact study on active living, on recreation and "growing entrepreneurs" that would lead and support active living ventures.Kristen Sotherden said she’d like to turn Newport into Lake Placid because that area celebrates art. “You walk down the street and there are tons of stuff to look like,” she said. “They highlight the natural things they have. They advertise, market and highlight. Whiteface isn’t really that great of a mountain. It’s Ice Face and it still draws a lot of people there because Lake Placid is a huge bonus.”That area also uses their lake during the winter months, Bruce said.