Economic Growth - a letter from Secretary Miller, July 2013

Economic growth the Vermont way 

A letter from Lawrence Miller, Secretary of Commerce and Community Development

as published http://bfpne.ws/1839GgB

Nearly 200 business and government leaders met in Rutland on June 3 to review the Vermont economy, identify our state’s strengths and address the challenges that we face in the future. Over the next year, that discussion will continue and result in Vermont’s first Statewide Economic Development Strategy. 

It is clear that Vermonters want growth, but in a way that doesn’t compromise our environmental goals or quality of life. Vermonters want growth in opportunities for our workers; growth in the value of the Vermont brand and growth in the community character that defines our great state. We also want to cultivate responsible strategies that do not lead to congestion or sprawl. We chose Rutland as the site for these first conversations because the spirit of innovation and rebirth fostered by city leaders and Green Mountain Power provides a model for the rest of the state; economic growth and adherence to communities’ core values are mutually attainable.

At the summit, attendees reiterated that Vermonters are well educated and committed to hard work. Due to these strengths and our natural resources, we live in an area that others consider a vacation destination. As Tom Moffitt from Commonwealth Dairy noted, “Vermont means a lot of great things to people throughout New England. A unified way to market this more coherently would benefit not only tourism-related business segments, but everyone.”

The Vermont economy is measured by more than paychecks and retail sales. Our economy is defined by decisions made that lead to quality products and a stronger community.

Vermont is unique in the scale of its economy. Our small scale presents challenges but also allows businesses to be nimble and still able to compete in the global marketplace.

Vermont is a leader in value-added agricultural production. Our state continuously leads the nation in providing its citizens with access to locally produced foods — from produce and specialty foods to artisanal cheeses, maple and world-class beer.

We will continue to grow our CSAs and more of our food will be available through farmers markets.

While the Vermont economy is small and geographically removed from large urban economic drivers, these barriers can be overcome by new information technologies. Much of the future economy no longer demands physical proximity. We must continue to invest in transportation and telecommunications infrastructure to support our 21st-century economy.

The meeting in Rutland was a first step in developing a strategy for the state’s economic future. Over the next 8 months, we will continue to foster discussion and include representatives of each economic sector. The result of this effort will be Vermont’s first economic plan. The plan will expand on the summit’s outcomes by highlighting Vermont’s strengths to communicate with partners interested in living and investing in Vermont.

The plan will include preparatory and recovery procedures for future unplanned challenges. The plan will also identify strategies to ensure that we address the weaknesses that keep Vermonters from reaching their fullest economic potential.

Please visit http://accd.vermont.gov/business/strategic_planning and offer your reactions to help us move forward. Thank you, I look forward to hearing from you.

- Lawrence Miller, Secretary, Vermont Agency of Commerce & Community Development