Chittenden County is expected to grow significantly in the next 20 years. To address these trends, the Chittenden County Regional Planning Commission (CCRPC) and the Greater Burlington Industrial Corporation (GBIC) have adopted an integrated regional and economic plan – called the ECOS Plan – to address the coming challenges. On June 19, the Board of Commissioners of the CCRPC voted to adopt the plan, and the GBIC Board voted to adopt the plan just six days later.
The ECOS Plan integrates what used to be three separate plans: the Chittenden County Regional Plan, the Metropolitan Transportation Plan, and the Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy. The new combined Plan not only takes into consideration economic development and planning but also health, education, transportation, housing, and natural resource. For the past two years, the 65-member steering committee, along with numerous topic-specific committees, have been working to do analysis, create benchmarks, and develop strategies to become a more healthy, inclusive, and prosperous community. The process resulted in the creation of eight strategies and multiple actions aimed at addressing concerns across sectors. Important issues like climate change and transportation are integrated into several different strategies, rather than treated as separate issues.
The key strategies of the Plan include:
• Improve and strengthen economic systems
• Concentrate growth in town/village centers
• Improve water safety and quality
• Invest in working lands
• Focus on optimal health and personal safety
• Equip residents with the education and skills they need to thrive
• Develop financing and governance systems
• Ensure equity across all activities
The ECOS Project, which stands for Environment, Community, Opportunity, and Sustainability, is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to engage citizens, organizations, and municipalities in a conversation about the future of our communities and the region as a whole. The Steering Committee for the ECOS Project was made up of all 19 municipalities and 45 partner organizations in Chittenden County. Charlie Baker, executive director for the CCRPC, explained that there will be ongoing outreach, including a bi-monthly television show on CCTV called ECOS in Action. For more information, or to download copies of the Plan, visit www.ecosproject.com.