Crowdfunding Available for NH Projects

New Hampshire businesses, farmers, entrepreneurs, nonprofits, community initiatives: Do you have an incredible project just waiting to happen? Want to grow your organization, our community, and the local economy, but don’t have access to capital?

The Local Crowd Upper Valley is a rewards-based local crowdfunding platform that helps communities invest in local businesses, entrepreneurs, nonprofits, and initiatives that are mission-driven social enterprises. If your organization contributes to the community and could use a lift, apply to be part of a Route 11 Corridor cohort of campaigns.
Vital Communities is partnering with TLC Monadnock to bring local investment and capital access to the Route 11 Corridor of New Hampshire thanks to funding from USDA Rural Development.

Selected Route 11 Corridor proposals will receive a $500 stipend to produce a crowdfunding campaign video. Studies show that crowdfunding campaigns with videos raise four times more funds than campaigns without videos.

All crowdfunding campaign teams receive hands-on technical assistance to help them launch a successful crowdfunding campaign. Campaign teams also receive a free crowdfunding assessment to ensure that they receive the coaching and training that best fits each team’s needs.

Submit a proposal for 2021 crowdfunding campaigns if:

  • Your organization is based in Claremont, Newport, Kearsarge Region
  • Your project is budgeted for under $10,000 .
  • Your project is simple, achievable, and will generate excitement in your community (and, if part of a bigger project, has stand-alone value.)
  • Your project will create an economic and/or social benefit to your business and the community
  • You are able to invest time to build a successful fundraising campaign

Sample project ideas: Farm infrastructure, renewable energy installation, community garden or art project, vehicle to expand nonprofit service, capital to launch a new rural enterprise, food business equipment

Submit your project proposal by May 7, 2021

The Local Crowd Upper Valley will select up to eight projects to participate in this crowdfunding cohort, based on the potential of each project to positively impact their local economy and community. Selected proposals will launch their campaigns in 2021, with support and guidance from The Local Crowd Advisors.
The Local Crowd Upper Valley FAQ here.
 

The Local Crowd details:
You (project/campaign creator) will need to:

  • Form a Campaign Team to actively promote your fundraising project
  • Work closely with the The Local Crowd team to leverage training, marketing, and community outreach tools
  • Adhere to the keys of success promoted by The Local Crowd platform:  YOU share with your personal network. YOU make it happen.

You will receive:

  • Support from The Local Crowd team to run a successful funding campaign
  • Access to business development support from project partners including NH SBDC and SBA
  • Marketing and outreach support to spread the word about your project
  • Free Crowdfunding Readiness Assessment ($85 value)
  • Funds raised via the crowdfunding campaign for the designated project (less platform and credit card fees)
  • Opportunity to reduce platform fees if you meet campaign milestones

Questions? Contact 

nancy@vitalcommunities.org

Community. Connection. Capital.

“Put Your Money Where Your Life Is”: Reclaiming Our Local Economy

“Put Your Money Where Your Life Is”:
Reclaiming Our Local Economy

Event series focuses on local investment as a tool for rebuilding our region’s economy

“When the pandemic recedes, we all will be called upon to take extraordinary steps to revive the local businesses that serve as the foundation of our communities. One critically important step will be for you and other members of your community to move your investment capital from Wall Street to Main Street.”                                       

– Michael Shuman, Community Economist  

After a year of COVID shutdowns, bankruptcies, deaths, and economic despair, how can we, as individuals, help rebuild our economy and community? A series of events and workshops over the next several months aims to provide information and resources about local investment AND opportunities for action. Yes, opportunities−in addition to the economic disruption and heartache, the pandemic has brought opportunities for relocalizing our economy, catalyzing innovation, and shifting capital to where we live to fuel the entrepreneurs, businesses, and projects our communities need to be more sustainable, vibrant, and resilient.

The Upper Valley Indie Impact Study reported that businesses rooted in the Upper Valley keep up to 4 times more money circulating in the region’s economy than national chain stores, and that remote online retailers suck hundreds of millions of dollars from our economy each year. Local businesses create stable jobs, enhance community character, and support our communities with donations of time and money, and have proven to be critical resources during the pandemic emergency. Browse resources on how to invest locally!

Increasing the development and success of more locally based businesses and innovations will make our region more resilient and strengthen our economy so that we can better handle future disruptions and challenges. Investment in these enterprises is critical to their success. Reclaiming our economy will require that we all “invest” in our future−whether by committing to shop locally more and click less, or by actually investing some retirement savings in the sectors, businesses, or projects that will make the Upper Valley a better place to live, work, and play for generations.  The goal of this series is to build awareness of the ways we can currently invest in reclaiming our economy as we recover from economic disruption, and to find new and creative tools and networks to move money from Wall Street to Main Street.

Many thanks for the sponsors of this event series: Mascoma Bank, King Arthur Baking Company, Savings Bank of Walpole, Hanover Co-op Foods Stores, Valley News, Monadnock Food Co-op, Green Energy OptionsNorwich Solar Technologies, LaValley Building Supply, The Local Crowd, The Keene Sentinal

Learn more about local investing on our resource page

Local Investment 101: How to Reboot the Region’s Economy After COVID-19

March 4, 11, 18, 25, 2021

5:30 to 7:00 pm

A four-session virtual workshop designed to help grassroots investors and community groups develop practical, local investment strategies, to fuel innovation and resilience in the community.  
Presenter: Michael Shuman, Community Economist and Author of Put Your Money Where Your Life Is

Small businesses throughout Vermont and New Hampshire have been devastated by the COVID-19 pandemic and related shutdowns, as have the local economies that depend on them. One readily available solution—one that does not depend on government bureaucracies—is to mobilize grassroots investment. Americans now have $56 trillion in stocks, bonds, mutual funds, pension funds, and insurance funds—nearly all of it invested in global corporations. Here in the Upper Valley, one conservative estimate is that there are $5-6 billion in locally managed investments; this figure does not include the untold billions invested by local residents but managed out of state. 

Recent changes in the law (around investment crowdfunding, for example) make it cheaper and easier for nonaccredited investors to put money into local businesses. However, most of us believe we have no choice but to continue to invest our money in the stocks and bonds of the world’s biggest companies, even if we barely understand them. There are real alternatives, but few of us know about or consider them. In fact, you can invest in everything that matters to you. You can put your money into that neighborhood grocery store you love, your little sister’s first house, or your nephew repayment of high-interest student loans. If you’re smart about local investing, you can do this in a way that provides substantial, stable financial returns and lower risk than for Wall Street investments. Plus, local investments come with social returns on investment and wind up strengthening your community, local resilience, and the tax base.

Local Investment 101 aims to help participants answer three essential questions:

  1. How can I rebuild my community and the local economy after the ravages of COVID-19?
  2. How can I make my community more resilient to better prepare for future global crises?
  3. How can I move my money into the businesses, projects, places, and people I know and love?
Workshop structure:
Four 90-minute Zoom sessions built around 15 videos (20-40 minutes each) with homework assignments to be completed prior to each scheduled session.

Session 1

  • Introduction of the class objectives, materials, and assignments.   
  • Introductions of classmates to one another.  
  • Introduction to the first eight videos.

Session 2 

  • Review of the first eight videos.
  • Preparation for assignment #1 (a personal investment strategy).
  • Introduction to the final seven videos.

Session 3 

  • Presentation and discussion of assignments.  
  • Review of seven videos. 
  • Preparation for assignment #2 (a community strategy).

Session 4

  • Presentation and discussion of assignments.
  • Next steps.
Who should attend?

The Local Investment 101 series is intended to help grassroots investors, businesses looking for capital, and policymakers committed to facilitating local investment.

Cost:

$100 fee for the entire four-part series. Scholarships are available upon request (contact nancy@vitalcommunities.org).

About the presenter: 

Michael Shuman is an author and leading visionary on community economics, serving as Director of Local Economy Programs for Neighborhood Associates Corporation and Adjunct Professor at Bard Business School in New York City. He is also a Senior Researcher for Council Fire and Local Analytics, where he performs economic-development analyses for states, local governments, and businesses around North America. His three most recent books are:

  • Put Your Money Where Your Life Is: How to Invest Locally Using Solo 401ks and Self-Directed IRAs
  • The Local Economy Solution: How Innovative, Self-Financing Pollinator Enterprises Can Grow Jobs and Prosperity
  • Local Dollars, Local Sense: How to Shift Your Money from Wall Street to Main Street

Register for Local Investment 101 Workshop Series

 

Local Investment: An Introduction

February 23, 5:30-7 pm

What is local investing? What can it do for a community? Why is it important? Who can do it, and how? Join us for a panel discussion with local and regional entities that are mobilizing local capital for local businesses, projects, and people. 

Panel participants:

  • The White River Investment Club – Peter Reed and Charlie Page
  • New Hampshire Community Loan Fund – John Hamilton
  • Vermont Community Loan Fund – Will Belongia
  • The Local Crowd – Jen Risley
  • Norwich Solar Technology Community Investment Impact

A virtual conversation to learn more about local investing from the people already doing it, and learn how you can put your money to work right here at home.  Watch this event recording.

Learn more about local investing on our resource page

Thank you to the Series Sponsors:

   

Mascoma Bank is a Certified B Corporation® which means we use “business as a force for good.” Practically speaking, being a B Corp™ inspires us to consider the impact of our business decisions on our communities, our customers, our employees, and our environment. It is helping us to discover new ways we can deliver positive change in the cities and towns where we work and live. For 120 years, Mascoma Bank has put community first. Our status as a B Corp™ is just the latest example of our commitment to the communities we serve.

   

King Arthur Baking Company is an employee-owned company, every one a bakers at heart. There mission is to be the ultimate resource and inspiration in the kitchen, to inspire connections and community through baking, and to use our business as a force for good.

  
The Hanover Co-op Food Stores‘ vision is a well-nourished community cultivated through cooperation. With locations in Vermont and New Hampshire, the Co-op Food Stores is owned by more than 20,000 families, and is one of the oldest and most successful co-ops in the United States. Serving the good folks of the Upper Valley since 1936! Anyone can shop, member or not.

 

The Valley News is the Upper Valley’s source for news, sports, and more serving 22 western New Hampshire communities and 24 communities in eastern Vermont.

The Monadnock Food Co-op is a community-owned food store offering a diverse selection of local, organic, and natural foods to the Monadnock Region. The Co-op is located at 34 Cypress Street in Keene, NH.

 

For more than 145 years now, Savings Bank of Walpole takes very seriously the responsibility that comes with being our community’s truly local bank. We’re here to provide financial products that are in our customers’ best interest, not ours. It is and always has been the very foundation of our existence. More importantly, as the only bank headquartered right here in our community, we know that we are in business because of our community and for our community. This is our only home – and we know we cannot continue to thrive or survive without a strong local economy.

 

 

The leader is commercial, municipal & institutional solar solutions. Norwich Solar Technologies‘ mission is to continue to advance the integration and deployment of affordable solar power for regional organizations – enabling them to improve their bottom line while reducing their carbon footprint. Our clients include municipalities, community services institutions, schools, businesses large and small, and community solar residential clients.

 

Green Energy Options is a mission based certified B Corporation that supports the use of cleaner, more efficient, and renewable sources of energy. Specializing in residential solar, home heating and cooling, our team of energy experts provides friendly advice, quality products, and excellent installations to homeowners in the Monadnock Region and beyond. We listen carefully to our customers so that we can offer the best products for their needs. Our goal is 100% customer satisfaction. Please stop in, meet the team, take a tour of our showroom and talk about our shared vision for a healthy local economy and environment.

      

 

Series Partners:

       

Upper Valley Everyone Eats and Vermont Everyone Eats is Put on Pause

The following is a press release from Vermont Everyone Eats, for which Vital Communities is the Upper Valley hub, operating as Upper Valley Everyone Eats.

SPRINGFIELD, December 29, 2020 —The innovative Vermont Everyone Eats program that has provided free restaurant to-go meals to COVID-impacted Vermonters since August is being put on hold as of December 31. Everyone Eats has engaged over 170 Vermont farms and food producers, played a key role in keeping over 150 restaurants in business, and provided over 500,000 meals to members of communities in all 14 Vermont counties. This creative program was made possible in 2020 with CARES Act funding through a grant from VT Agency of Commerce and Community Development to Southeastern Vermont Community Action (SEVCA) and partnerships with 14 Community Hubs around Vermont. All program partners would like to continue and are working to identify new sources of funding to continue in 2021.  

As we continue to live with this health pandemic and economic crisis, the need in Vermont is significant. From one recipient: “Everyone Eats has been a lifeline. In addition to providing us with amazing food, it has also given us a much-needed break. We are living in difficult times and every little bit of connection with our community is invaluable.” From another: “The quality, time, and care that has been put into these meals is nothing short of outstanding. Finding a way to be resourceful and still feeding us as if we were eating in a restaurant means so much.”

Vermont Everyone Eats is on pause starting December 31st while the partners work tirelessly to explore funding options through various channels. Given the ongoing nature of the pandemic and its impact upon our local economies, there is effort and great hope that funding will be available to restart the program.  As Jean Hamilton, Everyone Eats Statewide Coordinator, says: “This program was born through a collaboration of lawmakers, state agencies, non-profits, and grassroots organizers. Our partnerships continue to be strong and we are optimistic about relaunching Everyone Eats with a new funding source ASAP.” 

Hamilton adds, “It has been an honor to work on Everyone Eats with so many caring partners across the state and heartening to see our community weave closer together, supporting one another through this difficult time. We will do everything we can to keep supporting Vermont restaurants, farms, and our vulnerable neighbors. If you need help right now, please dial 2-1-1 to learn about numerous programs that are available to support you. And if you have help to give, please support your neighbors in need, including local restaurants. Remember, if you want them to be here tomorrow, please buy local today.”  

### 

Vermont Everyone Eats provides nutritious meals to Vermonters in need of food assistance as well as a stabilizing source of income for Vermont restaurants, farmers, and food producers. Vermont Everyone Eats is funded by the federal Coronavirus Relief Fund and made possible through a grant provided by the Vermont Agency of Commerce and Community Development to Southeastern Vermont Community Action 

For more information visit www.vteveryoneeats.org or email vee@sevca.org 

Video Excerpts: “Buy Local to Feed Local: Upper Valley Everyone Eats,” Nov. 24

At a virtual gathering on November 24, people from social service agencies and restaurants across the Upper Valley gave powerful testimony about the beneficial impact Upper Valley Everyone Eats has had on local farms, restaurants, and people in need.

Upper Valley Everyone Eats is the local hub of Vermont Everyone Eats, which pays hard-hit Vermont restaurants $10/meal to prepare free, nutritious meals for Vermonters in need. Vermont Everyone Eats is funded by the federal Coronavirus Relief Fund and made possible through a grant provided by the Vermont Agency of Commerce and Community Development to Southeastern Vermont Community Action (SEVCA). Upper Valley Everyone Eats will provide ~40,000 meals to patrons across 17 meal sites between September 8 and December 31.

Here are video excerpts from the event.

Special Sessions for VT & NH Legislators

Vital Communities is hosting four virtual meetings for legislators in the Upper Valley region, from both New Hampshire and Vermont, connecting them with key voices and resource people on critical issues.

Home Availability in Our Region
Wed, Nov 18 & Tues, Dec 1, 9 – 10 am
Via Zoom; email Mike Kiess (mike@vitalcommunities.org) to RSVP and receive link.

Upper Valley legislators are invited to attend either of these discussions about opportunities to meet our collective housing needs, with members of Vital Communities’ Corporate Council. The Council is a volunteer group of this region’s largest and best-known institutions, businesses, and nonprofits that collectively employ more than 16,000 people and reach well over half the households in the region. Council members are deeply committed to working across boundaries to meet shared challenges.

Each session includes:

  • Update on housing-related legislative actions and opportunities in Montpelier and Concord (brief presentations);
  • Update on Upper Valley actions and opportunities, including new homes data from 2019 and in pipeline (brief presentations);
  • Identification of collaboration opportunities (breakout group discussion followed by report to the large group).

 

Buy Local to Feed Locals: Upper Valley Everyone Eats
Tues, Nov 24 , 1-2 pm

Register here for the Zoom event.

Join us  at a virtual panel and discussion about Upper Valley Everyone Eats, our local hub of the statewide coronavirus relief program Vermont Everyone Eats. We’ll hear directly from participating restaurants, meal sites, farms, and project coordinators, as they share their experiences with Upper Valley Everyone Eats, and discuss its impacts. We’ll save plenty of time for questions, too.

Vermont Everyone Eats pays hard hit Vermont restaurants $10/meal to prepare free, nutritious meals for Vermonters in need. Upper Valley Everyone Eats will provide ~35,000 meals to patrons across 17 meal sites between September 8 and December 18. We also may continue to the end of December, and we may be able to freeze meals for later distribution.

Vermont Everyone Eats is funded by the federal Coronavirus Relief Fund and made possible through a grant provided by the Vermont Agency of Commerce and Community Development to Southeastern Vermont Community Action (SEVCA).

Our Vermont legislators were a part of making this program possible, so thank you! We particularly invite you to attend, to gain a clearer picture of UVEE’s impacts. However, we welcome all officials to attend to hear about the innovative program. We are also inviting members of the Upper Valley Hunger Council, and Upper Valley Strong, and interested members of the public.

 

From the State House to the Farm House
Wednesday, December 16, 10 am to noon
Via Zoom.  RSVP (required) here  

Farmers and legislators are invited to this third annual event, hosted by farms across Vermont and focusing on citizen advocacy at the intersection of the working lands, community members, and policymakers. This virtual event is about building relationships among farmers/farmworkers and the (recently!) elected legislators who represent them, through dialogue about how policy can support the transition to a resilient and equitable agriculture that benefits all of our people, communities, and landscapes. In the midst of a year where so much has changed on farms and within our greater food web, and so many structural inequities have been exacerbated, there is much to discuss.  We look forward to this conversation.

The event will include regional breakouts with dialogue between farmers/farmworkers and legislators. Luna Bleu Farm will “host” the Windsor County session and Orange County will be “hosted” by Cedar Circle Farm & Education Center.

Details here.

Why Bank Locally?

Where You Bank Makes a Difference!

When you use a bank or credit union rooted in our community, you’re making a conscious choice to support our local economy. Local First Champion member Mascoma Bank is a great example of why it’s important to move your money to a local institution. Mascoma Bank has been committed to investing in and lending in our region since 1894. They prioritize supporting Upper Valley communities, small businesses, and entrepreneurs – keeping our economy and community vital!

5 Reasons to Move Your Money and Bank Locally

1. Get the Same Services at Lower Cost
Most locally owned banks and credit unions offer the same array of services, from online bill paying to debit and credit cards, at a much lower cost than big banks. Average fees at small banks and credit unions are substantially lower than at big banks, according to national data. Studies show that small financial institutions also offer, on average, better interest rates on savings and better terms on credit cards and other loans.

2. Put Your Money to Work Growing Your Local Economy
Small businesses, which create the majority of new jobs, depend heavily on small, local banks for financing. Although small and mid-sized banks control less than one-quarter of all bank assets, they account for more than half of all small business lending. Big banks, meanwhile, allocate relatively little of their resources to small businesses. The largest 20 banks, which now control 57 percent of all bank assets, devote only 18 percent of their commercial loan portfolios to small business.

3. Keep Decision-Making Local
At local banks and credit unions, loan approvals and other key decisions are made locally by people who live in the community, have face-to-face relationships with their customers, and understand local needs. Because of this personal knowledge, local financial institutions are often able to approve small business and other loans that big banks would reject. In the case of credit unions, control ultimately rests with the customers, who are also member/owners.

4. Back Institutions that Share a Commitment to Your Community
The fortunes of local banks and credit unions are intimately tied to the fortunes of their local communities. The more the community prospers, the more the local bank benefits. This is why many local banks and credit unions are involved in their communities. Big banks, by contrast, are not tethered to the places where they operate. Indeed, they often use a community’s deposits to make investments in other regions or on Wall Street.

5. Support Productive Investment, Not Gambling
The primary activity of almost all small banks and credit unions is to turn deposits into loans and other productive investments. Meanwhile, big banks devote a sizeable share of their resources to speculative trading and other Wall Street bets that may generate big profits for the bank, but provide little economic or social value for the rest of us and can put the entirefinancial system at risk if they go bad.

Downtown vs. Out-of-Town: Community Conversations

Which uses of our land provide the best economic returns to our towns? The answers might surprise you.

Developing big parcels of land on the fringes of town as malls, big-box stores, or suburban tracts? No.

Building up existing downtowns with mixed uses – residential, commercial, social services, and more? Yes. Acre for acre, this type of development raises more property tax revenue and requires less new infrastructure for taxpayers to pay for. In addition, mixed-use downtown development can have positive implications for climate change, public health, historic preservation and community architectural “character,” and social equity.

This broad issue is explored in a series of engaging, accessible, virtual presentations featuring renowned planner Joe Minicozzi of the North Carolina-based firm Urban3, The series began with the session From the Outskirts to DowntownTaxes, Land Use & Land Value Analysis of 15 New Hampshire Communities, on Thursday, October 15, 10 am. Watch the video here. The first 20 minutes are a great introduction to why this information should affect our choices.

Minicozzi is following the statewide session with presentations focused on the communities that were studied, including a session focusing on Lebanon, Claremont, and Hanover, on Thursday, October 29, 11 am.  Register for this free LOCAL event.

Urban3 derived its findings by analyzing the property tax revenues of Berlin, Claremont, Concord, Dover, Exeter, Hanover, Hudson, Keene, Laconia, Lebanon, Nashua, Pelham, Peterborough, Portsmouth, and Rochester. Minicozzi, the principal of Urban3, is an urban planner who utilizes new ways to think about and visualize land use, urban design, and economics.

By using these data to create 3D visualizations, Urban3’s analysis reveals the potential for improving the fiscal health of each of these 15 communities. The visuals show what types of development create the greatest tax return for communities, and create a clear and data-driven understanding of the economics of place. Communities can use these findings as a tool to make public policy adjustments, with the goal of creating long-term financial resiliency.

The Lebanon-Claremont-Hanover conversation will drill down from the statewide picture presented on October 15. Analysis, charts, and observations of data for each of the three towns will be presented. A panel with planning officials from each of the towns and the Upper Valley Lake Sunapee Regional Planning Commission will provide local context and answer questions in a facilitated discussion.

The series aims to give participants another way to look at how we use our land, and the implications for local health, prosperity, climate, and social equity. They should be able to use the information to make choices that enable and protect what they value in their local communities. Although the data was derived from studying particular New Hampshire communities, residents and officials of towns of all sizes can gain valuable insight from this discussion.
Questions to be explored include:
  • What are the financial implications of different land uses, and how can this knowledge help us make and implement good decisions for our homes, businesses, schools, and other needs?
  • Who really pays for infrastructure and its continued maintenance?
  • How can we preserve and replicate the homes and buildings we appreciate most, that give our communities character, and offer the greatest benefits to the public as a whole?

 

 

Upper Valley Housing, 2010-2019: The Numbers Are In

How many and what kind of homes are we creating in our region? Vital Communities and Upper Valley Lake Sunapee Regional Commission partnered with 29 towns to measure the numbers, types, and values of homes created since 2010, with a look ahead at the next few years.

Click these links for the summary of results, and the details by town.

The study will help planners and municipalities size up the kinds of partnerships needed to meet our region’s housing demands, and include more communities and residents in the effort – which encompasses everything from big-dollar multi-unit new development to individual homeowners adding accessory dwelling units.

Some of the chief findings are:

  • The number of new places to live created in 2019 was about the average rate for the last 10 years: 221 units in 2019 compared to an average rate of 248.
  • New places to live over the past 10 years are about evenly split between single-family and multi-family homes.
  • The majority of units added over the past 10 years were assessed at under $300,000.
  • Based on an analysis of building permits issued in some towns, about 6 percent of permits were for replacing or adding an additional dwelling unit to an existing structure.
  • Partnerships of employers, developers, finance, municipalities are making large projects possible.

Contact Mike Kiess Mike@VitalCommunities.org with questions, and learn more at https://vitalcommunities.org/workforce-housing/

The 29 towns that were studied (about three-fourths of Vital Communities’ service area) are:
In New Hampshire:
Charlestown
Claremont
Enfield
Grantham
Hanover
Haverhill
Lebanon
Lempster
Newbury
New London
Newport
Plainfield
Springfield
Sunapee
In Vermont:
Bethel
Bradford
Fairlee
Hartford
Hartland
Newbury
Norwich
Randolph
Rockingham
Royalton
Springfield
Thetford
Weathersfield
West Windsor

Windsor

Hartford Dollars Sell Out in Two Days!

Buyers gobbled up $18,000 worth of Hartford Dollars within just days of the new “currency” going on sale! And organizers hope it’s only the start of more and stronger trends and programs toward keeping dollars local.

Hartford Dollars give the bearer a 50 percent discount at more than 40 participating businesses throughout Hartford. Offered in $30 and $50 values sold for $15 and $25, respectively, they are a  COVID recovery project jointly coordinated by the Hartford Area Chamber of Commerce, Vital Communities, the Town of Hartford, and Hartford Development Corporation and partially funded with federal funds through the State of Vermont. 

A total value of $18,000 Hartford dollars went on sale on Friday, October 16, and by end of Sunday had been purchased by approximately 200 people. Those buyers have until November 30 to use the dollars at any of the participating businesses. The dollars may not be used to purchase tobacco, cannabis, alcohol, lottery tickets, firearms, tax, or tips. No change will be given for Hartford Dollars. 

The program’s organizers hope to find funding to extend the program and perhaps help other communities launch similar programs, said Lori Hirschfield, director of planning and development for the Town of Hartford. “I know there are lots of people in the Upper Valley that want to support local businesses so keep doing that even if you don’t have local currency,” said Hirschfield.

We are thrilled at the response and already hearing lots of great stories about people using their Hartford Dollars,” she said. “We started this as novices, thinking it might take a week or so to get the word out.  The sell-out in less than 48 hours shows us how much this is needed and desired by consumers and businesses.”

At Vital Communities, the project is part of a network of initiatives aimed at encouraging Upper Valley residents to buy from locally owned businesses – a practice that contributes money to the local economy at a rate up to 4 times that of chains and online vendors, according to a recent study commissioned by Vital Communities.

“In addition to shining a light on Hartford businesses, we want to underscore the need for people to keep their dollars – Hartford Dollars and regular currency – in the Upper Valley, to support the businesses that we love and help them make it through the pandemic,” said Nancy LaRowe, manager of Vital Communities’ Vital Economy initiative. “They contribute to our unique downtowns, create stable jobs, give expert service, and give back to the community in many ways,  including generous donations of time, money, and products. And they have adapted in so many ways to help the community during the pandemic. This is a chance to help them hang in there.”

Many Upper Valley small businesses have been devastated by the economic disruption caused by the pandemic. Vital Communities, the Hartford Area Chamber of Commerce, and other Hartford partners created the program to increase foot traffic and sales for struggling businesses, using a Restart Vermont Regional Marketing and Stimulus Grant from the Vermont Agency of Commerce and Community Development. 

Hartford Dollars can be spent at any of these participating businesses: BE Fit Physical Therapy, Cloverleaf Jewelers, Deirdre Donnelly Jewelry Art, Dynamic Natural Athletes, Elixir Restaurant, Fat Hat Clothing Co, Flourish, Beauty Lab, Jake’s Market & Deli, JUEL Modern Apothecary, Little Istanbul. Living the Dream Alpaca Farm, Long River Gallery, Massage Eminence, Northern Stage, Open Door Integrative Wellness, Piecemeal Pies (shown above), Pizza Chef, POST., Public House at Quechee Gorge., Public House Diner Quechee, Raq-On Dance, LLC, Revolution, Scavenger gallery, Scout Hair Design, Small Batch Design Company, LLC, Stern’s Quality Produce, Steven Thomas, Inc., Strafford Saddlery, Sugarbush Farm, Sunrise Farm, The Collection, The Skinny Pancake – Quechee, The Uncommon Home LLC, Thyme, Trail Break taps + tacos, Tuckerbox, Upper Valley Aquatic Center, Upper Valley Yoga, Valley Flower Company, Vermont Institute of Natural Science, Wicked Awesome BBQ, and Wolf Tree.

 

Upper Valley Everyone Eats

We are launching Upper Valley Everyone Eats! Between September 8 and December 18, approximately 2,500 meals from local restaurants will be available weekly across the Upper Valley’s Vermont community meal programs and food pantries. These nutritionally balanced meals, made in part with ingredients from local farms and food businesses, are being  offered through a new Vermont state program which pays hard-hit Vermont restaurants $10 per meal to create nutritious meals for Vermont residents in need of food assistance at this difficult time. Get the details!

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