The Economy

Growing Vermont's Economic Base

The economic downturn of 2009 has not left Vermont unscathed, although our situation is certainly not as dire those of other parts of our country. Vermont has been losing high-paying jobs even before the financial crisis of 2008-2009.

Job creation in Vermont is a difficult nut to crack, but it is a key element in keeping Vermont's economic and social fabric healthy. We have seen numerous and innovative entrepreneurial enterprises spring up during the last decade in Vermont; but we have also seen huge reductions of personnel by major employers as well as the closure of smaller manufacturing enterprises. Reductions in both residential and commercial building activity have also had an impact on our workforce. The same is true for employees of the state due to decreased tax revenues and for teachers due to declining student populations. Efforts to disincline Vermont youth from leaving the state are hampered by the limited job opportunites that exist here.

That's the problem. But what's the solution? The best thing that Vermont has going for it is that it is a great place to live. Many residents of Vermont telecommute to jobs in Boston, New York and elsewhere simply because they want to live in Vermont. We can improve the opportunities for working remotely in Vermont by improving our broadband infrastructure. High-speed internet access is a requirement for this type of potential. It will also improve the ability of Vermont-based companies to do business online.

Another prerequisite for a healthy economy is the availability of sustainable and affordable energy. With Vemont Yankee's future in question and our contract with Hydro Quebec coming up for renewal soon, we have to have a plan for our energy future. See my position on energy here. There is a great potential for job creation in Vermont with the growth of green energy. State policy should continue to support innovative companies like NRG Systems, All Earth RenewablesGro-Solar, and the wind and solar system installation sector.

Vermont should also support smaller startup businesses via grants and tax incentives to encourage business growth while working with large employers like IBM to bring more jobs into Vermont instead of exporting them out of state and out of country.

Finally, we must continue to guarantee the continued excellence of our educational system to ensure that Vermont will have a well-qualified workforce that will attract employers to our state.