Times Argus - MDC appoints new executive director
Article featured in Times Argus.
MONTPELIER — The Capital City has a new business leader with the appointment of Laura Gebhart as executive director of the Montpelier Development Corporation.
Gebhart, 25, has been the economic development manager for her native Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, since January, and previously was the county’s economic development coordinator from November 2015 to December 2017.
She earned a bachelor’s degree in 2015 in community, environment, and development from Penn State University, where she also played Division I field hockey. More recently she has been a high school field hockey coach.
Gebhart starts work in Montpelier on Monday. She replaces Joe Evans, who stepped down unexpectedly in January after only nine months on the job, reportedly for family reasons.
The MDC was established last year to coordinate the comprehensive Economic Strategic Development Plan approved by the city in 2016 to boost job growth, attract new business, encourage new housing development and increase enrollment in city schools. The plan calls for potential annual returns of $5.6 million in new economic activity and $550,000 in new taxes for the city. The City Council has allocated $100,000 a year to fund the work of the MDC and the executive director’s position.
Current projects being supported by the MDC include the Taylor Street Transit Center, the Caledonia Spirits distillery on Barre Street, the French Block affordable housing project on Main Street, and the proposed Hampton Inn & Suites hotel and garage complex off State Street.
Gebhart said she’s looking forward to her new role at the MDC.
“A lot of what I’ve been doing in Lancaster is applicable to Montpelier,” Gebhart said in a phone interview Monday. “With most communities, there is always a uniqueness to economic development opportunities and challenges but for the most part there’s a similar application you have with all of them.”
Gebhart said she would begin her new job in Montpelier meeting with city, business and community leaders to discuss prospects for partnerships, and business and development opportunities.
Gebhart said she was attracted to Vermont in part because of her fondness for the outdoors, and recently traveled to the state to ski at Sugarbush in Waitsfield.
“Laura Gebhart is a talented and charismatic person with educational and professional experience in the field of economic development,” MDC Board Chairman Michael Nobles said in a release. “The other board members and I are excited to work with Gebhart to help implement Montpelier’s Economic Development Strategic Plan, focusing on the growth and sustainability of Montpelier.”
Montpelier Mayor Anne Watson and City Manager Bill Fraser have already met with Gebhart.
“I think she’s going to be a great fit for Montpelier,” Watson said.