Wednesday May 8, 2013

NEWFANE -- Whether they're still struggling with post-Irene recovery or just dealing with everyday economic challenges, officials want to hear from Newfane business owners.

A meeting has been scheduled for 4 p.m. Thursday at Williamsville Hall so that those who run businesses in Newfane can meet with Anthony Summers, a flood-recovery officer with Brattleboro Development Credit Corporation.

"We're trying to find out, what are the needs of businesses in the area," Summers said.

Town Clerk Gloria Cristelli distributed an invitation saying the intent of the fact-gathering meeting is for Summers to "gain an understanding of current economic conditions and needs in the town of Newfane."

She noted that Summers "is working with municipalities and businesses in Windham County to provide resources for lasting effects" of Tropical Storm Irene, which caused widespread flooding damage in August 2011.

Summers was hired earlier this year as part of what's been dubbed the Southern Vermont Post-Irene Recovery Project, a 15-month, federally-funded effort that involves regional planning commissions in both Windham and Bennington counties.

Flood recovery officers are expected to "work with businesses to evaluate their needs, provide technical assistance and act as a clearinghouse to direct clients to appropriate means of assistance," officials said.

The recovery officers also are working with municipalities to revitalize downtown and village centers. And they are supposed to help lay the groundwork for a long-term marketing strategy for the region.

But Summers also noted that, in spite of his job title, he isn't focusing only on post-Irene issues.

"We're looking at ongoing recovery needs as far as Irene goes," he said. "We're also looking at challenges that business face and the opportunities businesses see in southern Vermont."

Summers said the Newfane session is the first of its kind. He said he has heard of businesses still dealing with lost revenue from Irene, but he added that officials will attend to "listen and learn" about any issues.

"I'd like to hear if they still have Irene needs and what they are," Summers said. "And, in general, I'd like to hear what it's like to own and operate a business in southern Vermont."

Mike Faher can be reached at mfaher@reformer.com or 802-254-2311, ext. 275.