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Selectboard to hold discussion on town’s role in economic development

BRATTLEBORO—The Selectboard hopes members of the public will participate in a discussion on the municipality’s role in economic development, during a special Selectboard meeting on Sept. 29.

“The core role of a municipality is to deal with municipal services,” Selectboard Chair David Gartenstein said Sept. 1.

Tasks like maintaining roads, supporting emergency services like police and fire departments, and hosting quality of life programs like the library and recreation departments all fall under a municipality’s traditional role.

The Selectboard has also questioned its role in supporting economic development in addition to, or in collaboration with, organizations like the Brattleboro Development Credit Corp., or local businesses.

Towns have a role in “making sure the town has got the stability in order to create the environment for there to be economic growth and development,” Gartenstein added.

Gartenstein highlighted things happening in town that signaled positive growth to him. Over the past year, an average of 10 new businesses opened a month in town.

On a recent tour of the Black Mountain Estate, Gartenstein counted between 10 to 20 new homes with nine ready for homeowners. The 55-unit Red Clover Commons that is under construction is also a positive sign.

However, he asked, how active of a player does the municipality want to be in the town’s economic development?

The town really needs to focus on just what our role can and should be with respect to economic development,” he said.

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Originally published in The Commons issue #322 (Wednesday, September 9, 2015). This story appeared on page A4.

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