Gov. Shumlin today pledged his Administration's continued support and assistance on a package of jobs bills designed to keep Vermont's strong economic recovery moving forward.
Noting that key indicators show the state is steadily rising out of the worst recession since the Great Depression, the Governor said now is the time to fight for legislation that supports employers, prepares young Vermonters for the STEM jobs of the future, and ensures Vermont remains on the cutting edge of new industries and programs.
"I'm proud that Vermont's unemployment rate has dropped to among the lowest in the nation, we've created nearly 11,000 jobs in three years, and businesses across so many industries are hiring," Gov. Shumlin said. "But we can't take our foot off the accelerator, and my Administration has been working with lawmakers to ensure Vermont continues to grow jobs and strengthen our economy."
Among the initiative supported by the Governor and lawmakers:
Expanding a VEDA loan program for early growth stage businesses and start-up companies (a program currently reserved for high tech companies).
Adding $500,000 for downtown tax credits to encourage development in our community centers. The bill includes a provision to support technology infrastructure within the downtown buildings qualifying for the credit.
Encouraging local investment by Vermonters in Vermont small businesses through the Vermont Small Business Offering Exemption (VSBOE); an amendment to the VSBOE rule is making its way through the rule-making process to increase the amount of money a company can raise as well as the number of Vermonters who will be allowed to invest.
Increasing funding for worker training, regional development, and other core economic development initiatives throughout Vermont in fiscal year 2015 budget proceeding through legislature.
Providing small grants to Vermont businesses for Vermont businesses to grow their domestic export market.
Creating the Vermont Strong Scholars program, a loan reimbursement initiative to encourage college graduates to stay in Vermont working in high-demand sectors.
Launching the Made in Vermont Program will help Vermont businesses leverage the power of the Vermont brand to increase sales and grow their business.
The Governor thanked the Legislature for passing bills that ensure the continuation of one of the most successful renewable energy programs in the state by raising the caps for local utilities for net metering of renewable energy projects, creation of the Vermont Legacy Insurance Management Act (LIMA), the first insurance transfer and management option in the United States, and makes strategic changes in the captive insurance law to ensure our continued placement as the gold standard in the industry.
The Governor said these changes will build on the economic progress made in recent years. Indicators include:
Declining unemployment rate, at 4 percent for January for the first time since November 2007, and 5th lowest in the nation. Note: February's unemployment rate is expected to be announced on Friday.
Jobs gains spread across several industries: professional and business services, education and health services, leisure and hospitality, and non-durable manufacturing.
In 2013, the Vermont Department of Labor identified over 9,000 open positions that employers hoped to fill.
Meals, rooms and alcohol tax receipts are up nearly 6 percent over calendar 2012.
An 18.2 percent increase in real estate sales over last year.
Vermont rated 1st by Assets and Opportunities Scorecard (based on the financial security of families in America), and the Opportunity Index (based on a number of indicators that contribute to economic opportunity and mobility).
Solar Foundation rated Vermont 1st for solar job creation (1,000 jobs in 2013), and Vermont has added 199 businesses and 2,162 jobs in the food sector since 2009.
The Working Lands Initiative is projected to increase 45 new jobs in agriculture and forestry in its first year.
"Like all states, Vermont has seen some businesses downsize or close over the years, and we do everything in our power to support the displaced workers and their families on those situations," Gov. Shumlin said.
"But overall we are seeing strong job growth, with companies like Commonwealth Dairy in Brattleboro, WCW of Manchester, Mylan in St. Albans, Freedom Foods in Randolph, Biotek Technologies in Winooski, Green Mountain Coffee Roasters in Waterbury and more, either increasing staff or currently planning expansions," Gov. Shumlin said.