Forum Showcases Mayoral Candidates

On Thursday February 15, the Burlington Business Association (BBA)  in cooperation with AARP Vermont, Vermont Digger, and Local Motion hosted the 2018 Mayoral Candidate Forum at the waterfront’s Echo Leahy Center for Lake Champlain. The open-door event featuring Mayor Miro Weinberger, Carina Driscoll and Infinite Culcleasure, gave Burlington residents and the local business community the chance to hear from candidates in preparation for the election on March 6th.

The Future of HOUSING

Perhaps the most heavily debated topic was the cost of housing. Mayor Weinberger made the case that his administration had made “unprecedented progress against Burlington’s housing shortage with units being built at four times the historic rate”. He also directly called out his opponents who he said would take Burlington back to policies that created the affordable housing crisis.

Driscoll pushed back, arguing that the current administration was putting too much focus on building market rate and student housing downtown. She called for a pause on the development of market rate housing following the construction of Cityplace Burlington and Cambrian Rise.

Infinite Culcleasure took time to make the case for imposing rent controls to protect against the rising cost of housing. He also questioned whether the City’s current definition of affordable housing really reflected the needs of its most vulnerable residents.

ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT and the Efficacy of CEDO Debated

Another area of discussion was economic development, where Driscoll and Culcleasure called on current leadership to do more to incent and support small businesses. The Mayor highlighted his administration’s work to meet the specific needs of Burlington companies like Dealer.com in the South End. Weinberger also touted his efforts to partner with community stakeholders in the creation of the Generator Makerspace.

Candidates Highlight Differences on WATERFRONT

Other points of contention included waterfront development. Driscoll criticized Weinberger over his handling of the Moran Plant redevelopment as well as his support for a new private marina on the waterfront.

Mayor Weinberger responded by highlighting his administration’s work on upgrades to the northern waterfront and bike path. He also mentioned the significant public input that went in to decisions regarding waterfront improvements.

Candidates also sparred during their closing remarks. Driscoll called for a pivot that she argued would increase progress for all. Mayor Weinberger highlighted the success during his six years in office and cautioned against Burlington going backwards under Driscoll’s leadership. Meanwhile Infinite Culcleasure talked about his experience as an organizer, while pointing out his opponents were interested in running Burlington too much like a business.

For those who missed it, the forum is available for viewing on Channel 17. Early voting has already begun at City Hall. Voters can cast their ballot during regular business hours.

40th Annual BBA Dinner

This year will mark the 40th anniversary for the Burlington Business Association Annual Dinner and Awards! The event will be held on Thursday, April 5th at the Hilton Burlington. The BBA Dinner is special night to  a celebrate Burlington’s business community, culminating with the presentation of the BBA awards.

 

These awards honor the innovative business practices, individual contributions, and architectural achievements of Burlington’s businesses. Last year we honored Seventh Generation for Business of the Year, David Provost as the winner of the Tim Halvorson Award for Business Person of the Year, and Select for our Architectural Excellence Award, as well as a special recognition for the Vermont Air National Guard.  Each of these winners stands as an example of the businesses and organizations that drive Burlington’s economic vitality.  On April 5th, a new round of winners will share this recognition.

 

The BBA Annual Dinner has a long history of exciting themes that help shape the event, such as Roaring 20’s, A Hollywood Awards Show, and “Our City, Our Lake”, to name a few. This year’s theme has yet to be revealed, but what you can expect is a sumptuous evening filled with enchantment; complete with a cocktail party, a live auction with unique and desirable prizes, a wine and spirits pull, and delicious dinner.  We have plenty of surprises up our sleeve, and this event sells out every year- don’t miss out!

 

Registration is now open. Follow the link below to reserve your spot.

REGISTER NOW

 

BBA Summit Examines the Future of BTV Transporation

The 15th Annual BBA Business Summit brought together industry experts, community leaders, and interested business owners and residents for an in-depth discussion of what transportation innovation will mean for Burlington.

Keynote speaker Jeff  Olson of Alta Planning and Design called on the nearly 100 attendees at the offices of VEIC, to consider the ways in which building infrastructure that supports active mobility can improve the overall quality of life in a community.

Mayor Miro Weinberger also spoke at the event, reiterating his commitment to expanding transportation across a variety of different modes. As well as focusing on supporting options that are in line with Burlington’s community values.

BBA Executive Director Kelly Devine made the case for a robust transportation plan that goes beyond simply providing parking and to look forward to how Burlington can best meet technological changes in transportation.

“I’ve asked all of you to come here today, to discuss a topic I think is a critical piece of being able to grow the Burlington economy.” said Devine, who asked the group to think about what the future of Burlington will look like from a transportation perspective.

Following the speaker presentations, attendees broke into groups to discuss some the beliefs and perceptions of transportation, and solutions to help overcome some of the challenges. This was followed by a panel discussion, featuring Kelly Devine and Jeff Olson, as well as Jim Barr of the UVM Transportation & Parking Services and Charlie Baker of Chittenden County Regional Planning Commission.

To cap off the day, a community dialogue was held at Citizen Cider on Pine Street, where attendees were able to meet with Keynote Speaker Jeff Olson, as well as hear from Hotel Vermont General Manager, Hans Van Wees, and Seventh Generation Manager of Mission Impact, Christopher Lyon about what active transportation has meant for their businesses.

Thank you to everyone who attended on Thursday, as well as our speakers and our many sponsors. The video footage can be watched at www.cctv.org and at youtube via the link below thanks to our media partner, Channel 17.

BBA Announces Mayoral Candidate Forum, February 15th

The Burlington Business Association has partnered with AARP Vermont, Local Motion and VT Digger to host a Mayoral Candidate Forum on Livability, Thursday, February 15th at the ECHO Lake & Science Center.

The forum will offer voters the chance to hear Burlington’s mayoral candidates discuss their vision for the future of the Queen City. The event will feature incumbent Miro Weinberger, as well as his two challengers Carina Driscoll and Infinite Culcleasure.

Please note that registration is required to attend this event.

Mayoral Forum on Livability
February 15th, 2018
ECHO Lake Aquarium and Science Center
6:30 to 9:00 pm.
Dessert Reception
Please register at AARP’s website here, if registration is full you will have the option to be added to the waiting list. 
The aim of the event is to help our collective constituencies hear from the candidates on issues that are important to our shared goal of advocating for a livable and vital Burlington. We hope to inform the voting public on the future of housing, transportation, job growth and safe mobility, and to provide them with the information and tools they need to make an informed decision on which candidate to support on Town Meeting Day.

 

The BBA, AARP Vermont and Local Motion are all non-profit organizations that do not endorse or oppose candidates for office. Our hope is to simply help our members learn where the candidates stand on issues that impact Burlington, so they can make their own informed decision.

Watch the Forum live thanks to CCTV: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5tOaEEbFss0

    

Macy’s Announce Closure of Downtown Store

It was announced yesterday, that Macy’s will close their Burlington location in March, as well as around 100 others.

While this is dissapointing news, it has been clear for some time that the closure of the Burlington Macy’s was a possibility. Competition from online retailers has forced Macy’s to consolidate its national footprint.

“In preparation for news like this, the City has been working proactively with the support of voters to keep the downtown healthy by beginning the transition from a suburban-style mall to a mixed-use neighborhood.” said Mayor Weinberger in a statement.

With the redevelopment of the Burlington Town Center property, changes are already in the work for downtown. The closing of Macy’s may present an opportunity to find a new use for the site, which could better serve the public good.

“We need people even more now to come downtown patronize our local businesses and be a part of this vibrant community, that in a couple of years is going to look totally different which could be really exciting,” BBA Executive Director Kelly Devine told WCAX.

BBA & AARP Host Community Conversation on Transportation in BTV

Following the BBA Business Summit event on the morning of Jan. 11th, the BBA and AARP are inviting community members to take part in a meet n’ greet and community dialogue.

We’ll be joined by national speaker on transportation, Jeff Olsen, as well as local speakers including Hans van Wees, General Manager of Hotel Vermont, and Chris Lyon, Manager of Mission Impact at Seventh Generation, along with others who will share their perspectives and take part in a discussion on Burlington’s transportation assets, challenges, what the future holds, and how we might move in Burlington over the course of the next 20 years.

Enjoy complimentary appetizers by Citizen Cider and a cash bar

REGISTER HERE

BBA Members can register at a discount using the code BBA2018

Special thanks to Citizen Cider for hosting this event!

Council Finalizes Burlington Telecom Sale

Last night, the City Council voted 11-2 to approve the agreement between the City of Burlington and Schurz Communications for the sale of Burlington Telecom.

“Tonight’s tri-partisan City Council vote represents a major step toward final resolution of one of the worst financial crises in our City’s history in a positive and forward-looking manner.  The agreement approved tonight will, when fully implemented, return millions of lost dollars to taxpayers, give the City the opportunity for continued meaningful BT ownership and protections against future resale, protect important community values like net neutrality and privacy, commit substantial future BT revenues toward youth technical education, the local tech economy, and efforts to bridge the digital divide, and much more” said Mayor Miro Weinberger in a statement.

The Schurz bid was initially selected during a late night vote in late November. Councilors had until the end of the year to give their final approval to the deal to maximize the City’s share of the proceeds.

The BBA has been tracking this process from the beginning. It has been our opinion throughout, that Burlington Telecom must be acquired by a group that can ensure its future financial stability and maximize its future benefit to this community. The deal finalizes the Schurz’s LOI which was valued at $30.8M, including $250,000/year for 10 years as community investment, a rate freeze for the next 5 years and a written committment to net neutrality. The City of Burlington will also have the opportunity to carry an equity stake up to 33% in BT.

RELATED

BT Asset Purchase Agreement

Burlington Reopens Northern Bike Path

BBA’s Executive Director, Kelly Devine joined Mayor Miro Weinberger, and City officials and community leaders, to officially reopen the entire northern section of the Burlington Bike Path at Leddy Park the morning of Dec. 20th. Over three miles of the beloved Bike Path, from North Beach to the Winooski River Bridge, underwent major rehabilitation during the 2017 construction season. The entire Bike Path is now open for winter use. Because of the new pavement in the northern section of the Burlington Bike Path, this winter, for the first time, the Department of Parks, Recreation & Waterfront has updated its plowing policy and will be plowing the northern sections.

“Today, as the result of the hard work of the City, the support of our local business community and the generosity of many, our community gets to celebrate yet another upgrade to our beloved Bike Path,” said Burlington Business Association Executive Director Kelly Devine. “It is both an internationally known recreational amenity and a key to what makes Burlington an amazing city. I want to thank Mayor Weinberger, Councilor Wright, DPW Director Spencer, John Bossange, former Parks, Recreation & Waterfront Director Jesse Bridges, and the people of Burlington for their unwavering commitment to improving our bike path over the past six years.”

The Burlington bike path is an important city asset, attracting visitors and providing a recreational outlet for the city’s residents. The bike path is not only a driver of our local economy, but has grown to be a significant part of Burlington’s community and culture. These updates are a significant improvement to one of Burlington’s key amenities.

 

BBA Announces Keynote Speaker for Annual Business Summit

The BBA’s Annual Business Summit will take place on January 11th, 2018. Members of the Burlington business community are invited to join us to learn about the developments in transportation that are shaping the way cities are thinking about the future.

We will be joined by Keynote speaker, Jeff Olson, Principal at Alta Planning & Design. Transportation will impact the quality of life for future generations in Burlington. Tech is changing our options rapidly, are you prepared to take advantage of a new transportation future? Come with your questions and vision for the future of Burlington.

We’ll look at the ways alternative transportation is being implemented in other cities, what the benefits and challenges are, how these changes influence things like company recruitment, appealing to the millennial workforce, and more. Breakout groups will offer the opportunity to get involved in discussions and envision how alternative transportation could work for Burlington.

There is a a revolution in transportation underway; join us to learn how you can prepare your business to benefit.

Additional event information and registration

 

 

City Market Opens South End Location

Last Tuesday City Market executives, staff, local elected officials and others gathered to celebrate City Market reaching a major milestone with the long awaited grand opening of their new South End location.

RELATED: Seven Days-City Market Flynn Avenue Slideshow

The new store will features 27,000 square feet of space as well as ample parking for both cars and bikes.

City Market South End, will provide a new option for neighborhood residents looking for a local grocery option. The store also hopes to meet the needs of commuters heading home from the office, and ease the afternoon rush at City Market’s downtown location on South Winooski Avenue.

Amenities at the new store will include teaching and community spaces, increased prepared food facilites as well as a cafe space. City Market initially announced plans to expand in 2012. Before construction could begin, City Market spent significant time and resources on environmental cleanup and approval for the project.

“The Co-op’s intent is to create a successful and vibrant market in the South End and create more opportunities for community support and engagement as well as employment with above market wages and benefits. We think the South End project has been successful in these areas and we’re excited to share it with our greater community!” said General Manager John Tashiro.

City Market has operated its location downtown since 2002, where last year it saw sales of over $40 Million. Currently the co-op consists of over 12,ooo members.