A Healthy Economy
The future of Vermont depends on a healthy economy. A strong economy provides jobs, lifts people out of poverty, and reduces the pressure on an already overburdened social services system. With a virtually flat rate of growth, an aging population, fewer young people and young families in Vermont, we need to develop policies and practices that provide opportunities for our citizens which will in turn strengthen our economy.
Support for local businesses: We need to build on Vermont's strengths: a spirit of innovation and entrepreneurism, vibrant downtowns, working lands, and an incredible natural beauty. In my current role as Executive Director of the Addison County Economic Development Corp., I work daily with our small businesses and entrepreneurs to get them the resources they need to start a business or grow their business. I am a strong believer in "economic gardening" or "grow your own" local businesses. These entrepreneurs and business owners are our friends and neighbors and they make a significant contribution to our local economy. We need to provide them with the tools, infrastructure, and transparent processes to allow them to thrive.
Workforce Housing: A critical component to a healthy economy is housing. In particular, workforce housing is needed to keep people and good jobs in Vermont. Legislation related to a workforce housing pilot project to build housing in designated downtowns nearly made it through this legislative session with the blessing of virtually everyone in the Statehouse, on both sides of the aisle. In the end, legislators weren't able to find the funding to move it forward. When I am in the legislature, I will make this important issue a priority.
Vermont is known for its scenic beauty, working lands, recreational opportunities, and vibrant downtowns. Climate change threatens our economy, our environment, and our way of life. It is critical to plan for the future now and take responsible leadership in reducing Vermont's climate impact. The Vermont Climate Change Economy Council recently released its report and action plan, Progress for Vermont. The report proposes a seven-point platform to advance Vermont's climate economy and mitigate climate impacts, including:
Comprehensive Energy Efficiency: Build efficiencies in home heating, weatherization, and make transportation changes that can reduce the use of fossil fuels.
Climate Economy Network Development Initiative: Spur innovation by attracting, supporting, and actively cultivating a new generation of entrepreneurs.
Codes, Regulations, and Incentives: Use smart growth principles for development (such as in the creation of workforce housing) to stimulate economic activity in our downtowns, keep our working landscape vital, and protect water quality.
Taking a leadership role by creating appropriate policies and practices will both protect our environment and advance our economy.
Our education system is linked directly to our economy. Without a well-educated citizenry, employers are unable to find the workers they need and people will be unable to obtain well-paying jobs
Universal Pre-K: A quality education is key to lifting people out of poverty. It begins with early childhood education. Universal Pre-K helps make child care more affordable, gets children better prepared for school, and increases the chances for all children to succeed in school and beyond.
Tech Centers: Not all of our students will go on to a 4-year college and not all jobs require a 4-year degree. Our tech centers, including the Hannaford Career Center here in Middlebury, play a critical role in providing educational and career opportunities for those not college bound. Investing in our tech centers allows students and adults to get the knowledge and skills they need through secondary and post-secondary training so they can enter the workforce and get a good job with a livable wage. Internships and apprenticeships are additional pathways to successful careers.