The Northeast Kingdom of Vermont is comprised of three of Vermont’s most rural counties, located in the northeast corner of the state. People here tend toward an intensely local focus, and don’t always consider what’s happening in neighboring towns or counties. From its inception, the Northeast Kingdom Collaborative has worked to bring to the table people who might not otherwise hold conversations about mutual interests. We continue to encourage exchange of information and opportunities through various sorts of conversations. With the Strategic Plan we are attempting to identify what sorts of efforts residents consider to be priorities. We are actively working to revise the plan so that it is more useful in identifying priorities. We are working with USDA-Rural Development to make the plan more useful in evaluating projects seeking funding (through the REAP designation or otherwise). With the direction of the Collaborative’s strategic plan, millions of dollars in state, federal, private and non-profit assistance can be induced to flow into the Northeast Kingdom of Vermont by:
- Improving economic viability, diversity, and competitiveness of the local economy and enhancing its participation in state, national and global markets;
- Assisting local communities to develop cooperative strategies that will maintain and expand essential community functions, basic infrastructure, education, health care,housing, and telecommunications;
- Assisting families with crises resulting from displaced employees and joblessness;
- Providing financial and technical assistance to implement a citizen-built strategic plan.
The Collaborative is not a “service provider” but rather a service enabler. An abundance of local, state and federal providers exist but their efforts are not always coordinated between and among agencies. State-directed community partnerships also exist but sometimes they, too, do not communicate their strategies and opportunities. What the Collaborative does best is offer a neutral ground for exploration, expansion and leveraging of ideas. It provides a meeting space and facilitates the appreciation of the most important resource we have in the Kingdom: its people.
Our 2016 Strategic Plan is ready. Our previous strategic plan (ask for a link if you want a copy) was developed in 2010. Over the summer of 2015, The Vermont Council on Rural Development (VCRD) helped organize a set of forums to get at the vision and priorities residents have for the region. The Report from these sessions is available on their site [PDF]. This, along with other input, went into reworking the strategic plan.