Economic Development in the NEK

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economic development thumbnailAROUND THE NEK - Economic Development is a topic that can confuse most, and bore most others. That being said, it is one of the most important aspects of an area, given that it helps dictate business in that area. The Northeast Kingdom has not been known as a great area for Economic Development, at least that's what businesses and town governments are told. Some seem to think that rural areas, much like the NEK, are too out in the middle of nowhere, and cannot offer great business since they are not near anything. Local businesses however, take this idea and flip it to their advantage; they believe that economic growth can be great for rural areas like the NEK if it is the destination, not the pit-stop.
One business that discussed this topic eloquently was the Kingdom Trails mountain bike rental service in East Burke. Abby Long, the new Executive Director for the Kingdom Trails, said that their location is what led to their success as a business. "One of the major things that brings customers to our shop is the location. This place is beautiful, and you don't get scenery like this anywhere else." Long was also quick to add that there is also one other factor that has led to their great success. "The local residents have also been the big savior for us, you will never meet a more friendly group of people than you do here in Vermont, they are so quick to lend a hand, and are so understanding when a mutual problem arises."
Another local business just a few miles away is the St. Johnsbury Distillery and tasting room in St. Johnsbury. The owner of the St. Johnsbury Distillery, Brenden Hughes, also took the time to talk about how the location of his new business had to be in the Northeast Kingdom. "It is a great place to be, I grew up here and when I left to attend college I knew that I had to find my way back here," Hughes explained, "The people here are so considerate, and many businesses in our area work together to generate more business for everyone. It really is a group effort, and if we can make this area an attraction like it is already becoming, then we won't need to rely on neighbors and attractions outside of our area, people are starting to realize that they can come to Vermont and enjoy their times right here."
It would seem that Economic Development is possible in the Northeast Kingdom, so long as businesses take pride in where they are, and work to make their business the main attraction.