The Vermont Futures Project
The Vermont Futures Project promotes the long-term economic health of Vermont that provides opportunity for Vermonters. Through leadership, research and education, the Vermont Futures Project seeks to inform the conversation about Vermont’s economic future and demonstrate how a healthy economy contributes to Vermont’s vibrant communities and unique quality of life.
The Vermont Dashboard
The Vermont Dashboard is a snapshot of the current economic health of Vermont that gives leaders important metrics to understand and measure progress in securing Vermont’s future. The Vermont Dashboard’s key indicators benchmark Vermont’s economic growth to stimulate conversation and prompt action that will achieve measurable and positive outcomes.
(From Commerce Connections Issue: May 2017)
Vermont’s town leaders understand that for their communities to thrive, Vermont must do better. But the reverse is also true. We tell Selectboard members, town Listers, and concerned citizens that Vermont simply can’t “move the dials” without their help. To reach the Targets for economic growth, the coming years will require all hands on deck.
by Jennifer Stromsten
This spring the Vermont Futures Project worked with the local town officials who have a growing interest in economic development and the economic health of their communities. We presented the Vermont Futures Project economic data, what it means for towns trying to improve local economies and the lives of their residents, and improve the bottom line on municipal budgets.
We urged local leaders to become familiar with drivers in their local economy – not just what’s visible like retail or largest employers. Many locally controlled factors can directly help, or hinder, the economy. Some of our suggestions for towns to promote healthy economic growth locally and statewide:
- Speak up about the importance of economic growth – like good jobs and a grand list that enables reinvestment to maintain quality and attractiveness.
- Be an “attractor” for workforce, tourists, and business.
- Collaborate with businesses and employers. Public private partnerships are powerful.
- Align schools and training resources with the needs of local employers.
- Create a positive business climate. Get to know employers and entrepreneurs.
- Take initiative, identify critical projects to champion and get started.
Vermont’s town leaders understand that for their communities to thrive, Vermont must do better. But the reverse is also true. Vermont simply can’t “move the dials” and reach the targets for economic growth without towns succeeding. In the coming years, we will all need work together to make progress on improving the economic health of Vermont.
(From Commerce Connections Issue: April 2017)
Many Vermont employers report that their businesses have never been fully staffed since opening. The cost to these organizations of not having enough people, or the right people, is enormous. The cost to our economy in terms of lost wages and taxes is unfathomable. Workforce leaders in Vermont are striving to attune pipelines and programs to better fit demand. That’s made difficult because that demand data is elusive and imprecise. It’s time to invest in attracting, training, and retaining the people needed to power the Vermont economy.
by Jennifer Stromsten
Recently a business counselor was touring a production facility and asked how many jobs they could fill if they could find the right people.
The manager replied, “Oh, about eighty.” We hear this repeatedly from employers, ranging from the owner of a local restaurant that’s never been fully staffed since opening in 2015, to a bank president with 50 open positions across the state.
The cost to these organizations of not having enough people, or the right people, is enormous. The cost to our economy in terms of lost wages, taxes, and in some cases the employers if they can’t succeed here, is unfathomable.
Business, education, and workforce leaders in Vermont have heard this message and are striving to attune pipelines and programs to better fit demand. That’s made difficult because that demand data is elusive and imprecise. For instance, a job unfilled is a job unmeasured. That means those 80 jobs don’t show up in our data. Vermont must plan and make investments based on current and past data that are turned into projections. And even that imprecise measure is telling us that we don’t have enough people in the right kind of training and education pathways to fill our talent needs.
It’s time to get serious and invest in attracting, training, and retaining all of the people we need to power the Vermont economy.
(From Commerce Connections Issue: March 2017)
The Vermont Futures Project outlined a set of targets to build a future with opportunity for all Vermonters and communities, and where quality of life is better than ever. The future will feature economic success for every region, in addition to a thriving Burlington area. The future will be built on economic diversification and healthy growth, and a state that has the means to invest in itself and its people.
by Jennifer Stromsten
The Vermont Futures Project outlined a set of targets to build a future with opportunity for all Vermonters and communities, and where quality of life is better than ever. Reaching those targets will involve many steps, small and large. Some key elements to realize these targets include:
Vermont’s future success will include every region. The Burlington-South Burlington Metropolitan region accounts for 40% of the state’s jobs. Vermont cannot move forward without widespread success and job growth in other regions of the state.
Vermont’s future economy will be built on economic diversity within and across sectors. Key sectors like tourism will continue to diversify through agri-tourism, cycling, and private resorts, for example. Tech-based businesses and tech-enabled work environments are increasing our ability to attract entrepreneurs and workers anywhere there’s connectivity.
In the future, Vermont will attract people and investment by doubling down on its natural and cultural assets, and making it affordable for working people to live here. Investing in skills training, creating affordable housing, expanding childcare options, and helping companies grow today will provide benefits long into the future.
(From Commerce Connections Issue: February 2017)
“The Triangle” featured in the Futures Project Vision Report illustrates the three sets of values we must balance to create good policy: (1) how we care for one another – equity and fairness; (2) how we care for the land we inherit – environmental stewardship; and (3) how to provide conditions where people prosper – economic opportunity. In Vermont conversations about this balance, or sustainability, have been weak on the economic side.
by Jennifer Stromsten
When we talk with communities, organizations and individuals about the Vermont Futures Project, we bring out “The Triangle” featured in the Vision Report. Many people find this image helpful to explain how three basic sets of values must be balanced to create good policy: (1) how we care for one another – equity and fairness; (2) how we care for the land we inherit – environmental stewardship; and (3) how to provide conditions where people prosper – economic opportunity. The triangle illustrates sustainability, asking us to consider whether current practices can be maintained long-term.
Key indicators show that our economic sources need replenishing. Revenue downgrades and budget tightening are output, i.e. revenue problems. Weak growth in the number of employers and a shrinking labor force points to underlying problems with inputs that need serious attention. The extraction mechanisms, i.e. tax policy and funding formulas, may provide an short-term fix. However, only long-term stewardship of our economic base can sustain Vermont.
The Vermont Chamber Foundation creates a voice for Vermont’s long-term
economic health through sustained leadership and a commitment to research
and education that supports economic growth.