Middlebury Money offers college students and community members a chance to support the Middlebury economy by keeping their dollars local.
Since the fall of 2018, the Better Middlebury Partnership and the National Bank of Middlebury have partnered on the Middlebury Money initiative, which allows people to get a check from the bank and spend it at any business in town.
“The purpose of Midd Money is to encourage people to keep their dollars local, helping our own community by bolstering our economy,” explained Karen Duguay, executive director of the Better Middlebury Partnership.
Middlebury Money can be used at over 100 businesses in town, including American Flatbread, the Marquis Theatre, Haymaker Bun Company and the Middlebury Natural Foods Co-Op. “Any business can take Middlebury Money, and the vast majority of them do,” Duguay wrote in an email to The Campus. “If someone doesn’t accept it, it’s usually because it’s a new staff person who might not have seen it before or understand how it works.”
Customers can go to the National Bank of Middlebury to purchase Middlebury Money in a unit of $5, $10, $20 or $50. When one buys the money, Duguay wrote, the value is deposited into an account owned by the Better Middlebury Partnership at the bank. Then, when the customer redeems the check at a local business, the money is drawn from the partnership’s bank.
If the customer does not end up spending the full amount of the check, the business will give them the remainder of the money as cash back, according to the Better Middlebury Partnership website. “For example, you can buy socks, groceries, dine out and pay your water bill,” the website reads. “You can give it as a gift so the recipient can spend it where they want!”
The National Bank of Middlebury doesn’t actually benefit from the Middlebury Money initiative, Duguay added, other than that it aligns with their goals of helping the local Middlebury economy. The bank also helps the Better Middlebury Partnership track the purchasing and redemption of the money so they have an idea of how much cash is being used and where.
The Better Middlebury Partnership started the program a couple of years ago, inspired by a number of towns across the country that have had successful local currency programs. A couple other Vermont communities also have, or previously had, similar programs, including Bristol Bucks, Vergennes Green, Burlington Bread, Green Mountain Hours (Montpelier) and Buffalo Mountain Hours (Hardwick).
The partnership has also collaborated with the college Student Government Association (SGA) in the past to put on special events that include the use of Middlebury Money. For example, last December’s MiddKid Night allowed Middlebury students to receive $10 in the form of Middlebury Money to be used at nearly any business in town.
According to its website, the Better Middlebury Partnership is “a civic organization dedicated to making the greater Middlebury community a better place to live, work and play.”
The partnership has other plans to encourage spending locally, such as the Midd Summer Market series, which will take place every Thursday between June 1 and August 31 at Triangle Park in downtown Middlebury. The market will be open between 3:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. with prepared food, live music, crafts and produce.
The organization is also sponsoring two special pop-up markets in Triangle Park on September 30 and October 7 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., along with a downtown block party on Saturday, July 29, with activities, games, music and food. Main Street will be blocked off to allow maximum space for the event, Duguay wrote.
“It’s going to be a full summer of activities,” she added.
More information about Middlebury Money and a full list of upcoming Better Middlebury Partnership Events can be found at https://www.experiencemiddlebury.com.
Maggie Reynolds '24 (she/her) is the Editor in Chief.
Maggie previously served as the Senior Local Editor, a Local Section Editor, and a Staff Writer. She spent this past J-term interning for VTDigger, covering topics from affordable housing in Addison County to town government scandals. She also interned for Seven Days VT as an arts & culture reporter summer 2022 and as a news reporter for the Daily Gazette in Schenectady, NY summer 2021.
Maggie is majoring in History and minoring in Political Science and Spanish. She was a three-year member of the Women's Swimming and Diving team. Maggie enjoys running, hiking, and iced maple lattes.