Windham County Promotes ‘Vital’ Development Projects

BRATTLEBORO – Economic development meetings typically don’t include talk of trapeze artists.

But the New England Center for Circus Arts’ high-flying expansion plan was a big part of the buzz here Monday morning at the announcement of 14 high-priority economic projects for Windham County.

The ‘vital projects’ announcement comes with no funding attached; rather, it’s part of an update of the region’s federally approved comprehensive economic development strategy. Nevertheless, officials place a lot of emphasis on this year’s list, in part because it shows the variety of projects happening in a county that is losing one of its biggest employers, Vermont Yankee.

The circus center’s expansion into a new, centralized headquarters is just one example of that growth. And administrators brought good news: A ground-breaking for the $2.5 million project could happen this spring.

“We are creating something that is going to be unique in the United States, and we hope to be the national center for circus arts,” said Elsie Smith, the center’s artistic director and co-founder.

The area’s comprehensive economic development strategy, also known as the CEDS, is a project of Southeastern Vermont Economic Development Strategies, also known as SeVEDS. While it’s easy to get lost in the acronyms, officials say the strategic plan bestows eligibility for some federal funding programs.

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