Rutland rolls out the red carpet for potential residents

RUTLAND, Vt. (WCAX) We've told you about efforts to convince people to move to Vermont to fill jobs and address the state's aging population problem. In Rutland, they're rolling out the red carpet to make it happen. Our Cat Viglienzoni found out what they're doing-- that works.

"Just that one fateful day," Darian Fagan said.

That fateful day would eventually lead to Fagan's new job working for the VNA in Rutland. She and her husband were ready to leave New Jersey and had initially been looking at Manchester or Burlington. But then, driving through Rutland in February 2017, they happened to stop in for the city's Winterfest.

"We quite literally just stumbled upon a community event going on in a downtown park," Fagan said, "and met these people who were like, 'Oh, you're here for the weekend?'"

Offering to lend them snowshoes and going even further-- building them a social support network to turn to for questions about housing, jobs, social life and more.

Regional Marketing Committee Co-Chair Steve Costello describes it as like having a best friend assigned to help you with a move.

"Nowhere else that they've looked at is anyone really reaching out and helping them make the connections they need to become part of the community. And people are really looking for that, especially younger people," Costello said.

Now, that informal process is an official program announced last week. Called "Rutland Red Carpet," it connects potential future residents with a well-connected "concierge" to help them navigate the moving process.

Costello says it can seem too good to be true.

Steve Costello: It's so unusual that it actually can be a little disconcerting for people at the very beginning.
Reporter Cat Viglienzoni: So, they think it's a scam?
Steve Costello: Yeah! I think Tom and Darian were like-- what are these people doing?

Cat Viglienzoni: Were you a bit suspicious of it?
Darian Fagan: Oh, yeah. Absolutely.

But Fagan says their actions were what landed her in her new home.

"One-hundred percent," she said. "Absolutely. There's no question about it."

Costello says it's an idea that other communities could also adopt. There's basically no cost other than time spent.

"This is a lot easier than it sounds," Costello said. "It sounds like an incredible amount of work for somebody to do, but it really isn't. It's a little bit of caring and compassion and it's got to be genuine. If it's not, this would fall flat really, really easily."

It isn't just the Fagans. Costello says he's had a handful of other families express interest in Rutland. And in fact, one of them is moving here Feb. 15.