I hope you, your loved ones, and your colleagues are staying safe and healthy during these challenging times. For those of you working at businesses providing essential services, thank you for your energy, hard work, and dedication to keeping Vermont safe and functioning.
Despite our difficult day-to-day realities, I am doing my best to look beyond the horizon through our work at the Vermont Futures Project. Supporting Vermont’s economy will be more important than ever in the months ahead.
Our first step after the COVID-19 pandemic took hold was determining early indicators of economic recovery. Together with the Vermont Chamber of Commerce, we created a COVID-19 Economic Recovery Dashboard. We are regularly monitoring key data points on unemployment insurance claims, consumer confidence, sales tax revenues, rooms and meals tax revenues, and consumer spending data (coming soon). Please also visit our newly designed website where we continue to update current Vermont economic data and trends.
In other exciting news, work is underway to create a Young Professional (YP) Advisory Council, a key recommendation from our focus group report last Fall. Our YP Advisory Council will further the Vermont Futures Project’s mission and provide the Vermont Futures Project and the Vermont Chamber of Commerce with valuable insight. More than ever, we need to ensure young professionals have a voice and seat at the table as we reimagine the future of our state.
Just before the pandemic struck, the Vermont Futures Project was set to launch a remote workforce feasibility study. COVID-19 forced all of us to rapidly shift, to allow for or participate in remote work where possible, and starkly highlighted Vermont’s uneven broadband infrastructure, which broadly impacts our work and lives.
I agree with Vermont Chamber President Betsy Bishop that the time is now to expand our broadband infrastructure to create economic resiliency in rural communities, bolster our education system, expand telehealth access, and attract remote workers. With improvements, as Betsy notes in her op-ed, Vermont could position itself as a work-from-home capital with world-class outdoor recreation, walkable downtowns, peaceful communities, and ample public space.
The future feels far away, but I hope you can see the light approaching. Our team at the Vermont Futures Project will continue to use data, research, education, and key partnerships to move our state forward. Thank you for your support of and engagement with our work. And a special thank you to our devoted donors whose financial support allows this important work to continue.
Be Safe and Well,
Lori A. Smith, Executive Director
Vermont Futures Project