Downtown Action Group Committee Report

Committee Report from Kara Alnasrawi, Committee Chair of the Downtown Action Group:

The Downtown Action Group (DAG) meets monthly to share ideas and discuss issues relating to the vitality of the downtown core. In the spring of this year the group launched an “Adopt Your Sidewalk” campaign to encourage business owners to keep the streets of downtown Burlington beautiful and inviting to both tourists and residents alike. DAG has also taken initiatives to address street level safety and security issues that members felt were effecting their businesses.

Moving forward DAG has set out an ambitious agenda which includes addressing the soon to be vacant bus station area on Cherry Street, the beautification and decoration of the side streets, and the street level use of alcohol in and around member businesses.

If you’d like to get involved with this committee, please email our Member Services & Events Manager, Sarah O Donnell.


Waterfront Action Group Committee Report

An update from Afi Ahmadi, Committee Chair of the BBA’s Waterfront Action Group:

The Waterfront Action Group (WAG) of the BBA meets regularly from the early fall until late spring, and concludes it’s work with the highly anticipated “FAM” tour on Lake Champlain each June.  The group regularly discusses and educates itself on the many projects taking place at or near the Burlington waterfront, and other issues which could help establish the area as a four-season attraction.  WAG has also had ongoing discussions on some of the underlying issues and obstacles impeding development.  As a result, the WAG is engaged in active discussions regarding some of the concrete actions its members can take to support not only these efforts, but also the Build a Better Burlington and Together 4 Progress initiatives being undertaken by the BBA.   At its initial 2016-17 meeting in October, the group will identify the action items that it would like to pursue from an advocacy standpoint for the upcoming year.


WAG’s first fall meeting will be held on October 13, 2017. Interested in getting involved with this committee? Email our administrative coordinator, Jack Commo.

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BBA’s 2016 “Best of Burlington” Online Auction


It’s that time of year again! The BBA ‘s 2016 “Best of Burlington” online auction runs September 19th – October 6th.


This year’s auction  features many great items from BBA members and other local businesses to promote “The Best of Burlington” including donations from:

  • Hotel Vermont
  • Jess Boutique
  • The Hilton Burlington
  • Pizzeria Verita
  • Homeport
  • Flynn Theater
  • Lyric Theater Company
  • Common Deer
  • The Skinny Pancake
  • David Eaton Photography
  • Burlington Paint & Sip
  • Lake Champlain Chocolates
  • Burton Snowboards
  • Local Motion
  • Green Mountain Suites Hotel
  • Burlington Discover Jazz Festival
  • Burlington Chamber Orchestra
  • Marketplace Fitness
  • Stephen and Burns
  • Vermont Stage Company

Looking to donate? It’s not too late! We’ll continue to add new items throughout the auction. If you would like to donate to this year’s auction please contact Sarah for more information or head to our website.




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BBA Members honored at Vermont Business Growth Awards

Select Design and BioTek Instruments were among a number of local business honored at the 2016 Vermont Business Growth Awards.

Presented by Vermont Business Magazine and BBA member Key Bank, the awards celebrate the achievements of the five fastest growing companies in five categories over the past five years.

BioTek Instruments, located in Winooski, grew 29.4% over the past five years. It was recognized among other organizations within the “technology” category.

“BioTek is honored to be recognized as a company that continues to grow in Vermont.” said Vice President Kathy Gendron, “We feel that Vermont offers a unique business environment that includes a highly skilled and talented workforce.”

Also recognized on Monday was Select Design. The South End company grew 120.7% over the past five years.

The event is designed as a recognition and celebration of those companies that have grown over the last five years, and to provide a forum for smaller businesses throughout the state to learn from these top 25 company’s experiences.



BTV Ignite Announces Inaugural Innovation Week

Burlington Business Association members BTV Ignite announced today, the first ever Innovation Week, October 14-22, to celebrate Burlington’s entrepreneurial tech community and discuss the future of technological innovation in our area.

Sponsored by, Innovation week will feature a variety of engaging presentations, demonstrations and discussions that highlight innovations in food, beverage and agriculture; energy and efficiency; manufacturing and maker spaces; healthcare and bioscience; software and service tech.

Innovation week kicks off on October 14, with Hack VT, where competitors will spend 24 hours building applications that will help Vermont.

BTV Ignite is a nonprofit that exists to ignite the energy of greater Burlington’s technology and innovation ecosystem by binding institutions, government, educators, businesses, nonprofits, and entrepreneurs together. It collaborates with a nationwide network of similar efforts united by the nonprofit US Ignite.


City Pension Reforms Lead to Savings


Officials announced today, that reforms to the city employees retirement fund have reversed a trend of rising costs and has left the City on stronger financial ground while saving residents $8 million through 2020.

“It has been immensely satisfying to see the Retirement Board come together in unity and accomplish these very important changes.  This bodes well for the future as we continue our search for further improvements in the City’s retirement system.” said Burlington Employees Retirement System (BERS) Board chair Jim Strouse.

The system had been facing troubles since the 2008 financial crisis. Increased payments in to the fund had lead to steady growth in property taxes. The savings have put money back in the pockets of residents and businesses alike, allowing them to grow Burlington’s economy and contribute to the vibrancy of the City.

“Our financial progress as a city continues,” said Mayor Miro Weinberger. “Through a broad, multi-pronged reform of the pension system, we have stopped the dramatic growth in City payments, achieved two years of immediate tax cuts, and put the system on more stable footing for the long term.”



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Together For Progress Advocates for Vibrant Community

The Burlington Business Association has partnered with a group of prominent local organizations to create Together For Progress, a new initiative which aims to address several key issues facing Burlington.

“There are several excellent proposals being discussed by the Great Burlington community right now and we want to show our support for those projects that align with our mission as well as raise awareness about their benefits,” said BBA Director Kelly Devine. “We believe the Burlington area can maintain its character while it evolves into an even more vibrant place to work, live and raise a family.”

In addition to the BBA, Together For Progress will be bolstered by fellow anchor members AARP Vermont, Chittenden County Regional Planning Commission, Lake Champlain Regional Chamber of Commerce and Local Motion.

The group has already started advocacy efforts on behalf of the Burlington Town Center redevelopment and will also look to raise awareness for the importance of initiatives outlined in:
  • The ECOS Plan
  • Plan BTV Downtown and Waterfront
  • Plan BTV Walk/Bike Master plan
  • Downtown Parking and Transportation Plan

“We need to create more affordable housing, more downtown office space, more opportunities for locally owned business in all areas of the city and continue the progress we’ve made over the past decade.” said Lake Champlain Regional Chamber of Commerce President Tom Torti.

People can learn more about the organization as well as sign a petition is support of the Burlington Town Center redevelopment at

The Together for Progress Anchor Partners are:

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White & Burke hosts 2016 Development Conference

On November 2nd, BBA Members White + Burke will present the third-annual Vermont Development Conference featuring discussions of economic trends, PFOAs, the Building Homes Together initiative, development impacts of marijuana legalization, creative financing, the Change The Story initiative, and much more! Join more than 275 development and real estate professionals on Wednesday, November 2, at the Hilton Burlington Hotel for a full day of networking, seminars, and workshops. For more information and to register, please visit


BBA Welcomes John Caulo to Board of Directors

The Burlington Business Association is proud to announce the election of John Caulo to it’s Board of Directors at their most recent meeting.

“The BBA is really excited to welcome John Caulo Associate Vice President at Champlain College to our Board of Directors,” said director Kelly Devine. “The connection between local institutions and downtown vitality is a critical one for Burlington’s vitality.”

In his current position, which he has held since 2011, he is directly involved in the planning and execution of new capital projects undertaken by Champlain as well as providing executive oversight of several departments, including Physical Plant, Events Center, Public Safety and Sustainability. Prior to joining Champlain College, he was the owner of LandPlan Advisors, LLC, a comprehensive set of real estate development services, including land use and strategic planning. He also served as Associate Director of the Real Estate Office at Dartmouth College for 11 years.

“I’ve known John Caulo for years and I’ve always been impressed with the dedication and vision he brings to his work. His input on the Board of Directors for the Burlington Business Association will be invaluable as we work hard to advocate for economic vitality and a strong work, live, play environment downtown.” Said Chairman of the Board Richard Deane, of TruexCullins.

South Burlington Moving Forward on Downtown

The South Burlington City Council heard public comments Monday night, on a proposed TIF district as part of city’s vision for new downtown. If residents support the bond measure on November 8th, it would clear the way for construction to begin on phase one of the transformative project.

City officials have long dreamed of creating a city center for the sprawling community, now the second largest in Vermont. The current plan calls for housing, office, and retail space as well as new municipal facilities, along what is now Market Street. When completed it would provide a live, work, play lifestyle to South Burlington residents.

“We like to look at the Trader Joes, and Pier One, and Healthy Living projects as the beginning of the city center, and it truly is, but the build out is very exciting,” City Manager Kevin Dorn told

Coincidentally, South Burlington voters will weigh in on the project the same day that residents in Burlington will vote on TIF funding as part of the Burlington Town Center redevelopment. The outcome of both projects will play a major role in determining the future vitality of downtown life in Vermont’s two largest cities.