The St. Johnsbury Chamber of Commerce exists to stimulate and promote the vitality of St. Johnsbury by focusing on the commercial, cultural and community assets of our Downtown.

The St. Johnsbury Chamber of Commerce is both a Designated Downtown organization, part of the National Main Street Program, and a business network. We’re efficient and effective because we combine the interests of our residents, merchants and professionals with the structure of a Designated Downtown organization to accomplish community-wide goals.

We make it easier for businesses to thrive, give residents reasons to love where they live, and greet guests with the help they need to discover what’s great about St. J.

We are based in St. Johnsbury’s historic Welcome Center. Our trained ambassadors make sure that visitors receive a warm and informed message about where to stay, eat, shop and play. We’re constantly working behind-the-scenes to build stronger connections between St. Johnsbury’s Town Offices, Selectboard and our business community.

The St. Johnsbury Chamber of Commerce is staffed by a director. Most of the work of the Chamber is carried out by a dedicated team of volunteers, who believe and invest in our community.

Here are a few highlights of what we do:

  • work with our Town Officials and Select Board members on economic and community priorities;
  • maintain our community Facebook page and website (discoverstjohnsbury.com);
  • promote St. Johnsbury as a destination for visitors and businesses;
  • host networking sessions to connect local businesses with resources;
  • provide access to incentives for investments in our downtown;
  • organize events throughout the year that draw people to St. Johnsbury.

Our success means a more vibrant community, and we welcome your participation! Join a committee or come to a meeting to learn how your skills and expertise can build safe and vibrant neighborhoods. Call us to find out more about contributing your time and energy to make your community stronger, healthier, and more beautiful.

We’re involved because we believe in St. J and want to make it a terrific place to live, an excellent choice for your business, and a destination for visitors throughout the year. Volunteers staff the Welcome Center, plan events, and provide essential services that make our community thrive. Come to a meeting to learn how your skills and expertise can build safe and vibrant neighborhoods, a thriving retail district, and outstanding attractions.

Here’s what you need to know to get involved:

St. Johnsbury is one of 24 Designated Downtowns in the State of Vermont. The St. Johnsbury Chamber of Commerce is the organization that serves as liaison with the State Agency of Commerce and Community Development to make these benefits available. Downtown programs provide tax incentives and support for revitalization.

We use the National Main Street structure to work on community priorities. You can join any of these public committees to make a difference:

Economic Restructuring

The Economic Restructuring Committee works with the Town of Saint Johnsbury to facilitate economic initiatives in order to retain, promote, and attract Downtown business investment. We identify new market opportunities for the traditional commercial district, finding new uses for historic commercial buildings and stimulating investment.

Design

The Design Committee objectives are getting Main Street into top physical shape and creating a safe, inviting environment for shoppers, workers, and visitors by directing attention to all of its physical elements: public and private buildings, storefronts, signs, public spaces, parking areas, street furniture, public art, landscaping, merchandising, window displays, and promotional materials.

St. Johnsbury Image/Marketing

Using print, digital, and broadcast media, this committee focuses on presenting St. Johnsbury’s resources and opportunities to draw more people to our community and increase investment. Community events are organized through this committee by volunteer groups who celebrate St. Johnsbury’s unique traditions with a full-year calendar. (Meets monthly on the 2nd Tuesday, 8 – 9AM – all are welcome)

St. Johnsbury Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors identifies priorities, sets goals, and manages the Chamber’s resources. Board officers include President, Vice President, Secretary, and Treasurer. Board members are nominated and approved on an ongoing basis; you can join the Chamber’s Board of Directors by getting involved with a committee or volunteering at the Welcome Center.

“Discover St. Johnsbury” is our marketing message. It calls attention to the extraordinary happenings, shops, and people of downtown and greater St. Johnsbury.

Committees

Image/Marketing

This committee is a combination of the Chamber’s Marketing committee and the St. Johnsbury Image Task Force that was formed through the 2015 Vermont Council on Rural Development Community Discussion. The goals and priorities of this committee are defined by the VCRD Community Discussion report. The committee’s mandate is to create a positive image that will rekindle community pride and improve consumer and investor confidence in our commercial district.

2017 – 2019 priorities

  • Annual Report to the Community – What has been accomplished? Consolidate available data – (point of sale info, web analytics, employment info, construction, new businesses, number of visitors, $ benefits returned to Town and businesses as a result of DT Tax credits & grants) measurements.
  • Positive Articles to be written and provided to Caledonian-Record.
  • Coordinate Walking Tour with AARP
  • Evaluation of Events – Staff/volunteer time involved, cost, return, benefit
  • Downtown Map & E-Map– Design, printing, cost
  • Remain active in Regional Marketing program w/o Northeast Kingdom Travel & Tourism – Northern Forest Center Grant (USDA 2016)

Economic Development

The goal is to build a commercial district that responds to the needs of today’s consumers by retaining and expanding successful businesses to provide a balanced commercial mix; sharpening the competitiveness and merchandising skills of business owners; attracting new businesses that the market can support; and converting unused or underused commercial space into economically productive property

2017 – 2019 priorities

  • Working Lands (opportunities for small farmers and locally produced ag)
  • Small & Micro-Enterprise Development/Technical Assistance (training, creativity)
  • Business Recruitment/Marketing.

Design

Getting Main Street into top physical shape and creating a safe, inviting environment for shoppers, workers, and visitors by directing attention to all of its physical elements: public and private buildings, storefronts, signs, public spaces, parking areas, street furniture, public art, landscaping, merchandising, window displays, and promotional materials.

2017 – 2019 priorities

  • Determine Interest in pocket park development
  • Banners on Railroad Street, Main Street, Portland Street
  • Public Arts projects
  • Façade improvement on downtown buildings

The 21st Century Rural Entrepreneurship Project (funded by USDA/RBDG)

The 21st Century Rural Entrepreneurship Project is designed to align with the economic development activities identified in the St. Johnsbury Town Plan.

St. Johnsbury’s downtown is a destination for creatively prepared local foods, unique hand-made crafts, fine arts and furniture. St. Johnsbury hosts the largest farmers market in Caledonia County and the only State Craft Center in the Northeast Kingdom. The abundance of start-up entrepreneurs, artisans, small-scale agriculture in the area reflects the landscape and the richness of traditions in the region. St. Johnsbury’s quality products and services complement established arts and culture organizations that give St. Johnsbury its strong identity: St. Johnsbury Academy, Catamount Arts, Fairbanks Museum, and the St. Johnsbury Athenaeum.

Our marketing goals solidify partnerships among communities that work well together and share interests and common goals to enhance tourism, business expansion, and second-home investments. Promotions will work closely with the Vermont Attractions Association and Vermont Department of Tourism and Marketing to increase awareness within the state and among visitors of Caledonia County based assets that are fully developed, such as Kingdom Trails (Burke), Dog Mountain (St. Johnsbury), Northeast Kingdom Artisans Guild (St. Johnsbury). These marketing initiatives will amplify existing marketing investments made by the Fairbanks Museum & Planetarium and Catamount Arts (St. Johnsbury), The Great Vermont Corn Maze (Danville) and Northeast Kingdom Tasting Center (Newport).

Deliverables:

Working Lands

  • Agriculture/Working Lands sector needs assessment and prioritization
  • Enhanced opportunities for small farms and support for locally produced agriculture
  • Opportunities to network and share resources

Small and Micro-enterprise Development/Technical Assistance

  • Growth in the number of people actively investing in and benefiting from small and micro-businesses
  • Visible improvements to storefronts in downtown St. Johnsbury
  • Leadership training that invests in local workforce development and widens our network of resources
  • Technical assistance and creative approaches to bolster start-ups and seasonal businesses

Business Recruitment/Marketing

  • Integrated St. Johnsbury and Caledonia County marketing plan
  • Strengthened partner marketing that includes Burke and Lyndon area to recruit businesses to the area
  • Close, ongoing partnerships with neighboring communities to amplify marketing messages for visitors and second home buyers

Timeline:

July 2016 – April 2017

St. Johnsbury Sector Series – St. Johnsbury Chamber of Commerce to host a series of networking gatherings to identify and prioritize needs. Each networking event will involve research to build a database of contacts involved with various business activities. Each participant will be asked to complete a survey developed specifically for the sector interest so data about economic sectors will be collected and analyzed.

July – August 2016

Fast Tracks Capital Road Pitch

September – December 2016:

St. Johnsbury Chamber of Commerce Marketing Committee will work with area attractions (Northeast Kingdom Artisans Guild, Dog Mountain, Kingdom Trails) to apply for membership with Vermont Attractions Association.

Working Lands Needs Assessment Study – The St. Johnsbury Chamber of Commerce will work with the Caledonia County Farmers Market, individuals and small businesses that rely on locally-sourced resources to create value-added goods to identify and assess needs. These needs might include a community storage facility, shared commercial kitchen space, access to distributors, connections with value-added producers, marketing assistance.

Local Markets – The St. Johnsbury Chamber of Commerce will negotiate with local property owners to find space for reduced rent opportunities for short-term rentals that could support a pop-up holiday market or temporary retail effort.

September 2016 – March 2017

Small and Micro-Enterprise support – The St. Johnsbury Economic Restructuring Committee will advertise technical assistance for start-ups and retail businesses that need assistance with legal advice, online fundraising campaigns, façade improvements, and marketing.

Canadian Business Recruitment – St. Johnsbury Chamber of Commerce will collaborate with the Vermont-Quebec Enterprise Initiative to establish Quebec-Friendly business messages, including creating and posting a welcoming page on the community website (discoverstjohnsbury.com) in Quebecois French. We will coordinate messages and meetings to reinforce efforts to attract Canadian businesses to the Free Trade Zones in St. Johnsbury and Newport.

St. Johnsbury Chamber Economic Restructuring Committee will review the Working Lands sector needs assessment study and identify priority areas for investment. The resulting report will be drafted in collaboration with Town Officials and representatives from the Working Lands sector.

Capacity-building – The St. Johnsbury Chamber of Commerce will support its director, who manages Welcome Center Ambassadors and serves as liaison with Town Officials, in a professional development program to enhance leadership skills.

March – May 2017

Support for priority objectives identified through the Working Lands Needs Assessment – The St. Johnsbury Chamber of Commerce will work with area farms and value-added producers to invest in community-based solutions to barriers that have impeded growth. These might include seeking investments for a commercial kitchen, community storage facility, access to distributors or targeted, cooperative marketing.

June – August 2017

Sector Series/Resource Summit – The St. Johnsbury Chamber of Commerce will review and assess data collected through ongoing economic sector gatherings. This data will contribute to our understanding of the areas where there is potential for growth. We will seek creative solutions, such as business incubators and community-supported business investments to encourage entrepreneurship.

Community Marketing – St. Johnsbury and nearby communities will create sustained and collaborative communications that reinforce each other and generate interest in the assets that are established in this region. For example, Kingdom Trails (Burke) and the Lamoille Valley Rail Trail (trailhead in St. Johnsbury) could partner on a series of bicycle features that showcase these resources to residents of Vermont and out of state.