By ROSALYN GRAHAM
“Important work” was how guest speaker Bill Shouldice described the purpose of the gathering at Shelburne Museum last week.
The president of Vermont Teddy Bear, and chairman of the Vermont Futures Project, Shouldice said: “We’re here to think about what you want Shelburne to be and how to achieve it.”
He drew on his business leadership experience and data regarding the economic strengths of the area and the state to create some plans for future growth and development.
The evening’s program, “Envisioning Shelburne’s Tomorrows,” was organized by the Shelburne Business and Professional Association. It attracted a large and diverse crowd of business leaders, town officials, longtime residents and newcomers alike, all eager to participate in the conversation for developing a strategies and plans for an economically vibrant and livable town.
Shouldice noted that the Shelburne community has had recent accomplishments such as the Shelburne Green development and the ongoing construction project to rebuild Pierson Library and renovate the historic Town Hall.
He pointed to challenges facing the next generation: jobs, social justice, the environment, cost of education, low unemployment, declining population and the supply of affordable housing.
Suggestions from the program included:
• Improve ease of in-town transportation with drop-off bikes or pedal cabs.
• “Shelburne-for-a-Day” packages to help visitors get to know the town.
• An economic development officer to foster business development and answer questions.
• Encourage employers in Shelburne to keep young people here.
• Build better connections between business and higher education so students get relevant training.
In a challenge to the crowd, Shouldice quoted the proverb: “A vision without action is a hallucination.”
To that he added: “Don’t hallucinate, Shelburne.”