Let’s Talk Progress is an eight part speaker series about what Burlington can be – and how smart growth can help us get there. The series is produced by the Lake Champlain Regional Chamber of Commerce in association with community partners with a grant from the Kauffman Foundation. Throughout the series, local and national experts will talk about different aspects of smart growth and how it can impact jobs, housing, transportation, social equity and the environment. The series is designed to fuel the conversation for a better Burlington with examples and practical solutions for making the metro-area more economically prosperous, socially equitable, and environmentally sustainable.

We understand that good quality of life and affordable housing are essential for local businesses to attract talent, grow, and create jobs that support the community.

Through the Let’s Talk Progress series, we’re creating events and educational resources that help the community better understand the importance of smart growth and how it leads to a better, more affordable quality of life in the Greater Burlington area.

Who’s Talking?

Our first speaker was Joe Minicozzi from Urban3. He is a leading urban economist and his firm is using Key Indicator Analysis to guide the future of urban spaces. He collects data and provides simple calculations that planners and local officials can use to inform their policies and development work. He showed us how mixed-use development in downtown areas creates prosperity, preserves green space, and drives social equity.

Our second speaker was Andrew Howard of Team Better Block. He is working to strengthen the connection between people and the places they share through Community Placemaking, a hands-on approach to collectively re-imagining and then re-shaping public spaces at the heart of the community. By creating a safe and accessible place to gather, quality public spaces strengthen the community and support local businesses. After Andrew’s talk we had a placemaking workshop at Alternator, where we built features like benches, bike racks, and planters. Through a partnership with Local Motion and AARP, and with help from the Vermont Department of Public Works, the features were installed at the intersection of St. Paul and Howard Street (where Shy Guy Gelato is) to demonstrate how that space can be re-shaped to make it safe for people to gather, spend time together, and support local businesses.

Our third speaker will be Svante Myrick, the mayor of Ithaca, New York. Ithaca faces many of the same challenges as Burlington and we’ll hear how their visionary mayor is addressing everything from housing affordability, to decaying infrastructure, to panhandling. Mayor Myrick will talk about how adopting form-based code, investing in the revitalization of the downtown commons, and creating innovative incentives has led to economic growth, thriving public spaces, and lower individual tax rates.


Why “Let’s Talk Progress”?

It’s a series of “talks”, so there is a reference to that in the name, but more importantly – the word “progress” gets thrown around a lot, and has become very politicized. Ask 100 different people what progress is and they will give you 100 different answers. The one thing everyone agrees on is making the Greater Burlington metro-area better, so we wanted to create an opportunity to talk about what progress looks like and how to make it happen, outside of the political context of a specific project or policy. We also wanted the name to be a call to action. We face real challenges of affordability, accessibility, and equity, but we can capitalize on the great work already being done and build momentum for meaningful progress if we can work collectively on creating the city we envision. The Lake Champlain Regional Chamber of Commerce produces this series because we are committed to making Vermont a better place to do business, and economic growth is stimulated by a vibrant metro-area.

The mission of this series aligns with the Chamber’s goal to support the community and promote the region as the ideal place to live, work, visit, and do business.


What’s Being Talked About?

Throughout the series, speakers will share their insights on how smart growth can create more jobs, more affordable housing, and a more walkable and bikeable Burlington, while honoring the city’s social and environmental integrity. Smart growth is an approach to development that encourages a mix of building types and uses, diverse housing and transportation options, development in downtown areas, and community engagement. Speakers will be discussing a wide range of topics, including: Community Placemaking, Public Policy, Housing, Transportation, Entrepreneurship, Technology, and Equitable Growth.

How Can I Help?

You can help us by spreading the word about the series and joining us at our events. You can visit the Let’s Talk Progress website to see upcoming speakers and learn about smart growth and the five impact areas we’re focusing on. You can also sign up for our newsletter, watch our explainer video, watch past talks, like our Facebook page, and share our Facebook posts, website, videos and past talks with your networks.


The time is now to improve our city’s future.



Leave a Reply