Officials from Green Mountain Power provided a first glimpse inside their new $2.5 million energy innovation center in downtown Rutland Thursday. It’s an investment that city officials say is having a positive ripple effect on the entire downtown.
About 75 people gathered for the tour. GMP’s Steve Costello joked that it was nice to invite people in without having to wear masks.
"For those of you who haven’t been in here in ten years, this is beautiful compared to what it looked like when we bought it," Costello said.
The two buildings Green Mountain Power purchased had been empty for years and mold and other decay were rampant.
When renovations are finished in October, Costello says about 40 people will work in the completely redesigned space – 30 from Green Mountain Power and the rest from Efficiency Vermont and NeighborWorks of Western Vermont.
Besides offices, Costello says the space will also include a large interactive display area where people can come in and learn about energy and how to use it more wisely.
Mike Coppinger, head of the Rutland Downtown Partnership says he’s excited at how much GMP’s investment has encouraged other downtown development.
"It’s not a coincidence that so many things are happening since Green Mountain Power announced they were coming to downtown," said Coppinger. "If you haven’t noticed and I hope you have," he said, "we are nearing about a 90 percent occupancy rate which is fantastic. It hasn’t been anywhere close to there in at least 8 years – so that’s really great."
Small Dog Electronics will soon open a store around the corner. Two new art galleries and a second solar energy business have opened downtown and Coppinger says just a few days ago, he just heard about a new Mexican restaurant opening soon.