Vermont Restaurant Leaders Meet with Congressman Peter Welch

Vermont Restaurant Leaders Meet with Congressman Peter Welch

The Vermont Chamber of Commerce, in partnership with the National Restaurant Association, facilitated a roundtable discussion with Vermont restauranteurs and Congressman Peter Welch to express gratitude for his ongoing commitment to the hospitality industry and his efforts to secure federal aid throughout the pandemic.  

The event, held at Hotel Vermont in Burlington, brought together several stakeholders from the Vermont restaurant industry and are members of the Vermont Independent Restaurants (VTIR) coalition, a partner of the Vermont Chamber of Commerce.

“Congressman Welch has demonstrated an unwavering commitment to the Vermont restaurant industry,” stated Amy Spear, Vermont Chamber of Commerce VP of Tourism. “We look forward to his continued partnership during his tenure in the Senate and ongoing efforts to ensure the vitality of the Vermont tourism sector.”

VTIR has worked with Congressman Welch on several policy initiatives in recent years, including the original passage of the Restaurant Relief Package, and the replenishment of the Restaurant Revitalization Fund. While in the House, Congressman Welch also supported the reauthorization of Brand USA and pushed for the support of the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP). PPP provided businesses in Vermont with more than 21,000 loans totaling upwards of $1.7 billion. The first round of PPP assisted nearly 12,000 Vermont small businesses, helping save as many as 114,000 jobs.

“Local and federal funding allocated to restaurants for pandemic recovery has improved the chances of many of our businesses to survive. While too many of us are still struggling to return to pre-pandemic operations, we are grateful for the Senator-Elect’s representation in Congress and are reassured by his steadfast support of our work,” stated Leslie McCrorey Wells of Pizzeria Verita and Trattoria Delia.

“The hospitality industry is at the heart of our downtowns,” said Congressman Welch. “From beloved local restaurants to the hotels that bring tourists to our towns and villages, these businesses are an essential part of Vermont’s economy, and they need our support. Through the COVID-19 relief packages, we provided critical aid for our restaurants, performance venues, and hotels, but we can do more to help businesses get through these challenging times. I’ll keep working to help our local establishments thrive in the Senate.”

2022 Outstanding Business of The Year Award Announced

2022 Outstanding Business of The Year Award Announced

The Vermont Chamber of Commerce and VermontBiz have announced the recipient of the 2022 Outstanding Business of the Year Award is Hickok & Boardman Insurance Group.

Hickok & Boardman will accept the award at the upcoming Vermont Economic Conference, which will take place on January 30, 2023, at the University of Vermont Dudley H. Davis Center.

The Outstanding Business of the Year Award is presented annually to the Vermont business that demonstrates a commitment to community, workforce well-being, environmental stewardship, and growth in sales or employment. Award recipients have been based in Vermont for at least 10 years.

Hickok & Boardman is a leading broker in Vermont for business and personal property and casualty insurance. Their mission of developing long-term relationships with their clients, employees, and communities has served them well for over two centuries as their business has grown and their client services have expanded.

CEO of Hickok & Boardman, Scott Boardman, said, “With over 200 years of service to Vermonters, our success and longevity are due to the strong relationships formed with our clients and communities, which are forged by our committed employees who embody our mission and values every day. We are honored to receive this award and we look forward to celebrating with the business community in January.”

Vermont Chamber of Commerce President, Betsy Bishop, said, “Hickok & Boardman has been a keystone of the Vermont economy since 1821. Their record of dedication to Vermont as a service provider, employer, and community leader sets a high bar for doing business in Vermont. I know I speak for many when I say we are eagerly awaiting the opportunity to celebrate with the Hickok & Boardman team at the Vermont Economic Conference.”

VermontBiz Publisher, John Boutin, said, “This prestigious award continues the legacy of annually recognizing top Vermont businesses. As a Vermont staple for over two centuries, this recognition for Hickok & Boardman has been a long time coming. We are eagerly awaiting January when we will present the award and celebrate in person.”

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Vermont Chamber President Betsy Bishop Receives Leadership Award

Vermont Chamber President Betsy Bishop Receives Leadership Award

Vermont Chamber President Betsy Bishop is the recipient of the 2022 Vermont ATHENA Leadership Award. This prestigious recognition honors a Vermonter who has provided mentorship and direction to women in business, helping them strive to attain their highest level of accomplishment and leadership. The Vermont award is presented by the Central Vermont Chamber of Commerce.

The ATHENA Leadership Award has been presented in over 500 regions, including 48 states & 11 countries. The award is presented by chambers of commerce, women’s organizations, and universities to a woman, or man, who demonstrates the qualities embodied in the ATHENA Leadership Model and who:

  • Has achieved the highest level of professional excellence.
  • Contributes time and energy to improve the quality of life for others in the community.
  • Actively assists others, particularly women, in realizing their full leadership potential.

Those who know Betsy, know how well-deserved this award is.

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2022 General Election Results

2022 General Election Results

With most statewide races pre-determined by the results of a competitive Primary and little contest in the General, all eyes were on down ballot races on Election Day. With high voter turnout, election results confirmed that the Democrats will have a veto-proof majority in both the House and the Senate for the upcoming biennium.

A legislative override of a Governor’s veto requires 100 votes in the House and 20 in the Senate. With 109 elected Democrats and Progressives in the House and 23 in the Senate, the majority party will be able to challenge a veto by Governor Phil Scott, even if there is some dissension in party lines on legislation.

What this means for the upcoming legislative session:

Policies championed by legislators on the campaign trail will be in discussion this session, such as universal childcare, affordable housing, climate change solutions, universal school meals, and paid family leave. Additionally, policies that have stalled in recent years due to reprioritization during the pandemic or the execution of a veto, may see new life.

Record-high spending in recent years has been possible by the influx of pandemic-era federal funding. As we look ahead, deliberations on which programs can be sustained must be balanced with the ability of Vermonters to absorb new taxes.

As anticipated, the work of the Vermont Chamber of Commerce this upcoming session will be critical. Our advocacy team will continue to bring attention to the economic and demographic challenges facing businesses by working with the legislature and administration to shape legislation that supports economic growth for businesses, communities, and families.

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Vermont Delegation Attends Aerospace Components Manufacturing Tradeshow

Vermont Delegation Attends Aerospace Components Manufacturing Tradeshow

In partnership with the Vermont Agency of Commerce, the Vermont Chamber led a delegation of Vermont manufacturers at the recent Aerospace Components Manufacturers (ACM) event in Hartford, CT. This participation was in support of the expansion of the Vermont – Québec Aerospace Trade Corridor into Connecticut. The corridor connects Vermont’s combined $2 billion aerospace and aviation industry with an $18 billion Québec aerospace cluster.

Vermont’s delegates included Concepts NREC, Manufacturing Solutions Inc., and Stephens Precision, who met with Connecticut aerospace and defense suppliers to discuss workforce and new business development opportunities. The delegates also met with many of the 1,200 students who were engaged with the Job Fair component of the event.

As a Trade Corridor partner, ACM suppliers were able to participate in the recent virtual 2022 Manufacturing Summit, where they secured NDAs and approved supplier status with OEMs and primes, including Bell Flight, Lockheed Martin, and SAFRAN.

 

Declaration of Inclusion Initiative Reaches Milestone

Declaration of Inclusion Initiative Reaches Milestone

The Declaration of Inclusion initiative is an ongoing effort to raise consciousness about the importance of diversity, equity, and justice and the positive effect that diversity can have on our economy. The Vermont Chamber of Commerce is a proud partner of the initiative, aiding in the grassroots efforts to engage community leaders to reinforce the message that Vermont is a safe and welcoming place for all.

As of November 17, 2022, 80 towns and cities have adopted a Declaration of Inclusion. The Vermont Declaration of Inclusion initiative has now met the milestone of over 50% of Vermont residents residing in a municipality that has pledged itself to welcome and treat all members of marginalized communities who visit, reside, or do business there, fairly and equitably.

With a top threat to the Vermont economy being the severe workforce shortage, this initiative is vital to creating an economically secure future for the state. By amplifying that Vermont welcomes all people, the state can attract workers with diverse skills and traditions to live, work, and raise families here.

In 2021, Governor Phil Scott issued a Proclamation of Inclusion, establishing the second week of May as Inclusion Week. Looking ahead, the goal is to have 100 towns and municipalities adopt a Declaration of Inclusion before Inclusion Week in 2023.

Additional information, resources, and a complete list of municipalities that have adopted the Declaration are available at vtdeclarationofinclusion.org/

Vermont Chamber Announces New Board Members

Vermont Chamber Announces New Board Members

The Vermont Chamber of Commerce welcomed three new Directors to the Board: Chris Karr of The Karr Restaurant Group, Killington, Steve Gagner of 14th Star Brewing, St. Albans, and Steve Boyer of Sonnax, Bellows Falls.

The Vermont Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors is dedicated to economic progress and the Vermont business community. Their collective expertise ensures that the work of the Vermont Chamber of Commerce is rooted in the diverse perspectives of those with lived business experience.

The Chair of the Vermont Chamber Board Peter McDougall, President of Paul, Frank + Collins P.C., said, “As a state-wide Chamber of Commerce, it is important that the Vermont Chamber’s leadership is made up of individuals who reflect our membership-at-large and the diversity of businesses and business leaders throughout Vermont. It is wonderful to add three outstanding Vermont business leaders from different parts of the state to the Vermont Chamber Board of Directors.”

The Vermont Chamber’s current Board of Directors consists of 40% women, 55% men, 5% gender nonbinary or gender nonconforming individuals, 15% BIPOC individuals, 20% immigrant, refugee, asylee, and/or foreign-born citizens, and 10% LGBTQIA+ individuals. Board members work in varied industries across 7 of Vermont’s 14 counties.

Chair of the Vermont Chamber’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) Task Force Willie Docto, Co-Owner of Moose Meadow Lodge, said, “The DEI Task Force has worked to ensure that the recruitment of new Board Members is an inclusive process. We continue to increase diversity in the Board to represent a wide cross-section of business leaders from throughout Vermont.”

Vermont Chamber of Commerce President Betsy Bishop said, “At the Vermont Chamber of Commerce, our work to strengthen the Vermont economy depends on a diverse set of voices.  We are grateful that our Board of Directors is invested in ongoing diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts as we are motivated to ensure all Vermont businesses are represented by our organization’s leadership.”

Tax Revenues Strong, But Can We Afford More Spending?

Tax Revenues Strong, But Can We Afford More Spending?

State revenues in the largest tax sources have recovered since FY19, creating a cushion for budget makers. The “Big Three” – personal income tax, property tax and sales taxes are up from three years ago 45%, 11% and 32% respectively. Each month, the Scott Administration messages caution that due to economic uncertainty, we shouldn’t be eager to spend at these new levels and yet, you can read about the call for more spending daily in the news cycle. Housing, childcare, health care, education, and more.

Why It Matters: With economic uncertainty on the horizon due to inflation, decreased consumer spending, and stock market chaos, higher levels of government spending will set a course for higher taxes on individuals and businesses at a time that everything else is on the rise.

Three Concerns, One Big Question:

  1. Mortgages/rent and food are concerns for individuals while businesses continue to see constrained growth due to a tight labor market, increased wages, inflation, and a disrupted supply chain.
  2. Over the last two years, the state implemented new programs and higher levels of spending for existing programs supported by one-time federal COVID relief. There will be a huge push to continue this level of spending.
  3. If Governor Scott loses the ability to sustain a veto, the Democratic majority will need to manage their caucus’ desire to recalibrate state expenditures based on the ability to pay. Shifting childcare, education, and healthcare costs onto the income/payroll tax are all current discussions with price tags in the hundreds of millions.

Question: Can people and businesses really shoulder more taxes right now?

Vermont Chamber Hosts 9th Annual Manufacturing Summit

Vermont Chamber Hosts 9th Annual Manufacturing Summit

Since 2013, the Vermont Chamber of Commerce has convened manufacturing industry leaders at the annual Manufacturing Supply Chain Summit. In recent years, the pandemic prompted the event to go virtual, increasing accessibility for global buyers, suppliers, and partners to engage with Vermont and New England manufacturers and leaders. Due to the success of the virtual model, the event was once again held virtually this year, bringing together representatives from throughout the United States, Canada, and Europe. The 2022 event was themed “Rebuilding Supply Chains and Workforce through Content, Collaboration, and Contacts.”

85 suppliers and 25 OEMs, Primes, and Government Agencies held 300 meetings between buyers, suppliers, and partners, representing hundreds of new connections between participants. Many of the attendees were leaders in the aerospace, aviation, defense, and naval/marine industries.

The event also offered a rich two-day agenda of seminars and roundtable discussions focused on new and emerging trends in advanced manufacturing for the aerospace, aviation, defense, space, industrial, and naval/marine industries. Sessions were moderated by Vermont Chamber Vice President of Business Development, Christopher Carrigan.

“The Vermont Chamber is proud to continue our legacy of championing manufacturing by hosting an event that is a catalyst for collaboration and innovation. A testament to this is the 26 Canadian, 8 Connecticut, and 8 Ontario suppliers in attendance supporting the Vermont Chamber’s work to build the Vermont – Québec Aerospace Trade Corridor that now extends from Connecticut to Ontario,” stated Carrigan. “We’re already looking forward to celebrating a decade of Manufacturing Summits at next year’s event.“

Senator Patrick Leahy and Governor Phil Scott both delivered virtual remarks at the event, celebrating Vermont’s leadership in the manufacturing and aerospace industries, and addressing some of the top challenges facing businesses.

In response to severe workforce shortages, the event also featured the “Find Your Future Workforce” initiative, a workforce development effort facilitating employer interviews on the virtual platform with University of Vermont and Vermont Technical College students, as well as Vermont National Guard members, interested in careers in manufacturing for the semiconductor and aerospace industries.

The 2022 Manufacturing Summit was made possible by our sponsors:

To join us as a sponsor for the 2023 Manufacturing Summit, please contact Chris Carrigan: (802) 223-0904, ccarrigan@vtchamber.com.

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Vermont Delegation Champions International Collaboration, Manufacturing, at Aerospace Innovation Forum

Vermont Delegation Champions International Collaboration, Manufacturing, at Aerospace Innovation Forum

In partnership with the Vermont Agency of Commerce and U.S. Commercial Service, the Vermont Chamber hosted a delegation of Vermont aerospace companies at Aéro Montréal’s 2022 Aerospace Innovation Forum. This work was in support of the Vermont Chamber’s ongoing commitment to building the Vermont – Québec’s Aerospace Trade Corridor to connect Vermont’s combined $2 billion aerospace and aviation industry with an $18 billion Québec aerospace cluster.

Vermont had the most significant state presence, with the largest delegation to date, featuring Governor Phil Scott and several Vermont businesses; BETA Technologies, Dynapower, G.S. Precision, Kaman Composites, Liquid Measurement Systems, North Country Engineering, Stephens Precision, Ten Fold Engineering.

Funding provided in part by the Vermont State Trade Expansion Program grant allowed these companies to participate in the conference and meet with large Canadian buyers, such as Bombardier, CAE, and Héroux-Devtek, as well as suppliers for new international business opportunities. This work is crucial to reconnect and rebuild supply chains following the pandemic.

In reciprocation, Aéro Montréal and a Québec delegation of suppliers will participate in the Vermont Chamber’s upcoming virtual 2022 Manufacturing Supply Chain Summit. Chris Carrigan, Vice President of Business Development, discussed the success of the visit and the upcoming Summit in an interview with former Governor Jim Douglas. Listen here to learn more:

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