Project Aims to Assist Those Affected by So VT College Closure
A group of concerned business owners and operators in Bennington have been working with the local Bennington Regional Chamber of Commerce to pull together a multi-effort project to provide financial support for staff and faculty of Southern Vermont College. In early March of this year, College trustees determined there was “no way forward” for the college because of enrollment decline and debt, and its closure was announced for the end of the spring semester. “Many of the challenges of the closing look to be figuring themselves out especially with Castleton, Vermont Tech and other institutions providing support for degree programs that are in high demand for the area,” said Matt Harrington, executive director of the Bennington Chamber of Commerce. “ Additionally, many of the students have had success finding other colleges through intensive transfer initiatives by the college, and the facilities are now being sold by local and national real estate companies. The one ‘nut’ that’s been perhaps the hardest is how to make staff whole by the time the school closes. As certain parties became aware of this challenge, the Chamber was asked to work with those business parties to see what we, the business community, could do to help.”
Throughout the coming weeks and months, this business group hope to pull together various initiatives to benefit a Staff Support Fund for faculty and staff of the College. “The closing of this institution is devastating, both culturally and economically, to many of us,” added Harrington. “The best possible way to channel our emotions and concern is by pulling together as a community and making the closure … as seamless and caring as a possible. The faculty and staff are our friends and neighbors, they are our customers, [and] they have been through a terrible ordeal. Coming to their aid is the right thing to do.”
Many of the group’s efforts will focus on what the local businesses can do to generate revenue to assist the college and staff. There will also be opportunities for individual residents to give back as well. “In a way, this is also a thank you to SVC. As much as it’s a good bye, it’s also a celebration of the many, many students that came through the college and made a big impact on this town. We want to show our appreciation to the school for many years of shopping local and being a part of our community,” Harrington stated.
For more information, go to bennington.com/the-remember-svc-project.