MEND Fund hopes to help heal Montpelier's downtown

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MEND Fund hopes to help heal Montpelier's downtown

Thu, 05/21/2020 - 4:18pm -- tim

Google image of Bear Pond Books storefront on Main Street in Montpelier. Eligible businesses will have access to grants to help offset the economic crisis caused by the COVID-19 pandemic

Vermont Business Magazine The Montpelier Development Corporation (MDC) with one of its partners the Montpelier Foundation (MF) announced today the launch of the Montpelier Economic Need and Distress (MEND) Fund. The MEND Fund was created last week to respond to the burden faced by downtown businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic and the State of Vermont’s subsequent ‘Stay Home, Stay Safe’ order. MEND will provide funding to downtown storefront businesses in the form of grants to assist with their recovery and revitalization efforts during this time of unprecedented economic hardship.

“Everyone involved in the creation of the Fund understands the importance of Montpelier’s downtown businesses,” said Michael Nobles, President and CEO of Union Mutual Insurance Company, and member of the Board of the MDC. “When I reached out to my peers at Vermont Mutual, National Life, Northfield Savings Bank, and Noyle W Johnson, they immediately expressed their support.”

Collectively, those five companies are hoping that the over $200,000 that they have already pledged to the Fund will be matched with additional donations from other businesses and individuals.

Amounts raised by the Fund will be provided to businesses in the form of grants that will be awarded without restrictions.

Any first floor store front in Montpelier’s Designated Downtown with fewer than four locations is eligible. The store is asked to make a pledge to stay open or to reopen when it is safe to do so.

"The fund is a welcome relief for us,” said Claire Benedict, co-owner of Bear Pond Books. “There are so many pressures being a small business owner right now and we are so grateful for the assistance from MEND. MEND is truly representative of the Montpelier spirit of supporting local business and the downtown. The grant will help ease some of the anxiety of these difficult times while we make sure our staff and patrons can remain safe. This will provide a much needed and appreciated relief." 

Businesses seeking financial assistance from the MEND Fund can use the MDC website (https://www.mdc-vermont.com/mend-covid-relief) to sign and submit their pledge by June 5th for review by MDC. Businesses will get their grants before the end of June. Tax-deductible donations to the MEND Fund may be made by going to https://www.mdc-vermont.com/mend-covid-relief

“Montpelier, like all Vermont downtowns, is a community center where city’s conversations and commerce happen so helping our downtown sends positive ripples throughout the local ecosystem,” said Bill Kaplan, Chair of the Board of the Montpelier Development Corporation. “We want to do whatever we can to prevent COVID-19 failures from happening in Montpelier and believe this could be a model for the State” 

“The generosity of these donors is overwhelming,” said Wes Hamilton, co-founder and co-owner of Three Penny Taproom. “It’s a reminder of how lucky we are to be a part of this community.” 

He said for a place whose business model counts on a crowded happy hour, curbside service only has been a difficult transition. Getting a grant to carry them through one month's rent can be a great help, he said. The grant is crucial because they simply cannot borrow more money.

Catherine Coteus, MEND Fund Project Manager said the Pledges must be in by June 5 and the money will be dispersed by the end of June. The money will be awarded based on how much is available and on the proportional size of the business.

The Montpelier Development Corporation (MDC) serves as the steward of the Economic Development Strategic Plan for the City of Montpelier. Working closely with local government, area businesses and organizations, MDC assists individual entrepreneurs and already existing firms to establish, relocate or expand their businesses within the City of Montpelier.

The Montpelier Foundation (MF) enhances the city’s ability to make investments in capital  improvement projects and complements revenue generated from taxes, appropriations, grants and other sources. Created by the Montpelier City Council in 1994, the Foundation receives gifts, bequests and donations of cash or property to support capital projects that provide long term public benefits in Montpelier.

For more information about the Fund, please contact Catherine Coteus, MEND Fund Project Manager, at (802) 828-7050.

Source: Montpelier, Vt. -- The Montpelier Development Corporation 5.21.2020