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Designation 2050: Vermont State Designation Program Evaluation and Reform

Vermont’s Designation Programs guide development and state investment priorities for revitalization by offering benefits to municipalities and property owners like tax credits, grant funding, and easier permitting for housing in designated areas to municipalities and property owners. While the programs have been successful in leveraging hundreds of millions of dollars in funding for local development projects, reform presents the opportunity to accelerate housing growth, climate action, equity, livability, and more. The Vermont Legislature authorized a project, led by Smart Growth America and Community Workshop LLC, to evaluate the Vermont Designation Programs and recommend reforms for the next 25 years.

The result of the work to evaluate and reimagine Vermont’s state Designation Programs is Designation 2050: a report that shares insights and recommendations to guide a reformed designation program and fuel a new wave of community-driven and place-based investment, revitalization, and smart growth. Our work combined robust research and deep stakeholder engagement to explore what’s working now and how a reformed program could be stronger, simpler, and easier to access. Hundreds of Vermonters engaged, representing nearly half of Vermont municipalities and more than 250 organizations.

 The program evaluation and reform recommendations are organized into five key areas: 

  1. Simpler Designation Structure: Number, types, goals, requirements, and processes for designation; ease of access for diverse places and people.
  2. Coordinated Administration and Governance: Oversight and management, decision-making processes and roles, coordination among partners, and alignment of goals and agencies.
  3. Better Benefits and Support: Types and amount of funding, technical assistance, regulatory relief, and other benefits available; impact on local and state goals; equitable access.
  4. Accessible Information and Outreach: Access to clear, simple, and complete information about programs; statewide awareness and knowledge of offerings.
  5. Robust Monitoring and Sharing: Data and metrics for tracking impact; sharing and using success stories and lessons learned.


Read the full report