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Designation 2050: Evaluating and Reimagining Vermont's Designation Programs for the Next 25 Years

Vermont's five state Designation Programs bring benefits like tax credits, grant funding, technical assistance and regulatory relief to 257 municipalities.


After 25 years of the programs developing and evolving, it's time to evaluate: How are they working? Who's accessing them and benefitting, and who's not? What would make them easier to use and more impactful?


Vermont’s State Designation Programs include nearly towns, cities and villages all across the State. Managed by the Department of Housing & Community Development (DHCD), they offer a diverse range of benefits for downtowns, village centers, new town centers, growth centers, and neighborhood development areas.


About the Project


The Vermont Legislature authorized an evaluation and reform project for 2023, to review how well the programs are working and develop recommendations for their future. DHCD hired a consulting team in the Spring of 2023 (led by Smart Growth America, with Community Workshop) to design an evaluation and engagement process, evaluate the programs, and explore case studies from other states.


Developing Recommendations


By the end of December, 2023, the team will develop a suite of recommendations for the next 25 years of the Designation Programs.

  • Are these the right five programs, or should the structure and designations change?

  • How can the programs be easier to use and more equitable and accessible, particularly for communities with less professional capacity?

  • Are the benefits utilized, accessible and impactful? How could they be aligned and improved?

  • How can the designation types and requirements better align with regional plans and future land use maps?

  • How can the programs better impact Vermont's emerging priorities, such as housing needs, climate change and flood resilience, tax reform, equitable state investment, and more?

  • How can the programs be modernized, streamlined, and more efficient for both users and program managers?


We Need Your Input and Ideas!


A critical component of evaluation is hearing from Vermont stakeholders about their experiences and ideas for improvement. The project will include many opportunities for a diverse range of stakeholders to share their input on the current programs and visions for the future, draft recommendations, and ideas for program design. Watch for surveys, events, focus groups and more chances to weigh in.








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