by Eric Remick
HARDWICK – Kudos to the Gazette for interviewing candidates for the select board. This is even a greater public service than usual because options to meet in person are so limited during the pandemic.
I was heartened to read that all three candidates support the upgrades to the sewer plant. The sewer plant is a critical piece of infrastructure that supports the town’s ability to attract and retain businesses and residents. Investing in the plant upgrades is a smart move for the town.
There was a general theme across all three interviews of supporting economic development, creating opportunities for young people, and creating and retaining jobs in our area. Given the general enthusiasm for promoting economic development and creating opportunity and jobs, I would like to highlight the Yellow Barn’s role in accomplishing these objectives.
The Yellow Barn project will create 50 new jobs in the first three years. Projections from the Vermont Agency of Commerce and Community Development indicate that in the first five years the Yellow Barn will cause a net increase of over 100 jobs and a net personal income growth of $8.1 million in our area. The project will rehabilitate the historic barn at the Western entrance to Hardwick, sprucing it up on the outside and re-purposing it on the inside into a retail store for Cabot Creamery. The project also includes a new building on the same property to house a cheese aging facility for Jasper Hill Farm, a new food hub space for the Center for an Agricultural Economy, and space for two more businesses yet to be determined. There will be patio space on the back of the barn, facing the rail trail and open to the public. Two of the three anchor tenants (CAE and JHF) are already filling open positions in anticipation of expansion. And this is only the beginning.
The Yellow Barn project is a public-private partnership over three years in the making in which both the public and the private aspects are necessary for success. Under town ownership, the project has been able to garner unprecedented local, state, and federal support. These grant funds are already leveraging private investment: the anchor tenants are investing significant resources to fit the buildings up to meet their specific needs. The combination of this public and private investment will bring a state-of-the-art facility to Hardwick that will be an economic engine which creates jobs and opportunities for youth (and the more advanced in age). Once built, the project will be completely self-supporting. Under town ownership the Yellow Barn will not be on the grand list. However, the project will make payments to the town in lieu of paying a municipal tax bill.
The Yellow Barn project is one example of the town taking an active role in working to attract and retain businesses in our community to create jobs and opportunities. In the same way that investing in the sewer plant is an investment in the future of our town, investing in the Yellow Barn is also an investment in our future. For more information visit nvda.net/yellow_barn/.
[Eric Remick is the chair of the Hardwick Select Board.]