H-2B Returning Worker Exemption Act​

H-2B Returning Worker Exemption Act
Earlier this month, the Department of Labor (DOL) announced that it had received requests for more than 136,000 H-2B workers and there are only 33,000 available under the congressionally authorized statutory cap. Many hotels rely on the H-2B program to augment their domestic workforce during their peak season to ensure they can operate at full capacity. With ongoing concerns due to OMICRON and COVID-19 pandemic, combined with an acute workforce shortage, access to H-2B visas are more crucial now than ever before especially for the lodging industry. 
The recently introduced H-2B Returning Worker Exemption Act would provide a returning worker exemption and increased integrity measures to strengthen the H-2B visa program. Act now to urge your representative to co-sponsor the H-2B Returning Worker Exemption Act.

Will There Be Equity in the Lodging Industry?

Will There Be Equity in the Lodging Industry?

In July, Governor Scott vetoed S.79, an Act Relating to Improving Rental Housing and Safety, which included a short term rental (STR) registry. There was wide disappointment in this action from both advocates and legislators. As a long-time lodging advocate, the Vermont Chamber sees a registry as the next step toward equity and ensuring a safe rental environment.

While the House and Senate will not be attempting to override the Governor’s veto, legislators and advocates have returned to the drafting table to collaborate on a new iteration of the bill which will include efforts to address concerns expressed by select legislators and the Administration. Contact Vermont Chamber Vice President of Tourism Amy Spear with questions.

Feel Fall in Vermont

Feel Fall in Vermont

By Vermont Chamber Vice President of Tourism Amy Spear

Have you ever picked crisp apples fresh from an orchard, been surrounded by bright red and orange mountains, or hiked through a towering corn maze?

In Vermont, you can do all that and more on an ordinary fall day. This year, visitors can enjoy the season in a distinctly Vermont way – with activities and attractions that draw in people from around the globe.

Our state has options everyone will love.

  • Delicious food and drink

After shopping and cider sampling at Cold Hollow Cider Mill in Waterbury, enjoy a meal at Apple Core Luncheonette & Brew, which offers homemade breakfast and lunch seven days a week.

Stop by Citizen Cider’s Tasting Room in Burlington for flagship hard ciders and seasonal limited releases, all made from apples sourced locally. The full food menu has something for everyone, featuring items made with their infamous cider.

  • Stay somewhere serene

The Essex Resort & Spa, a centrally located luxury resort, is the perfect home-base for exploring Vermont in the fall from north to south. End the day at on-site restaurants or spend an afternoon unwinding at the spa.

Or stay at Manchester’s Equinox Golf Resort & Spa. Located in the heart of the Green Mountains, this iconic resort is steeped in history. Surrounded by natural landscapes, this destination is beautiful in every season, but is especially stunning during fall.

  • Get active in fresh air

Featuring one of the best corn mazes in the state, kids and adults of all ages enjoy hiking through the towering corn at Hathaway Farm in Rutland and the challenge of solving a maze.

Shelburne Orchards

Enjoy apple picking and cider donuts while taking in the view of Lake Champlain on Shelburne Orchards’ 60-acre family owned and operated apple orchard.

You can also use our trip planning tool at VermontVacation.com to narrow your search and discover unique accommodations, restaurants, attractions, and recreation.

If you’re traveling, why not visit the most vaccinated state in the country?

Last month, Vermont had the highest vaccination rate in the country. If you’re going to travel this fall, why not come to one of the safest states in the nation?

Vermont has a tradition of welcoming visitors to our state. In the wake of Covid-19, the state continues to offer safe travel guidance to visitors and Vermonters. Before you come, take a few minutes to learn what our state leaders are recommending regarding masking and physical distancing.

Community care is at the heart of Vermont life. When you visit, we know you’ll feel the Vermonter spirit in our safety measures and in every smile and wave.

While you stay, play with us by sharing on social media with hashtags #ThisIsVT and #VermontFall.

We would love to see and share your photos this fall. The Vermont Chamber of Commerce tourism team will share your Instagram posts in our stories from our Visit Vermont account.

We’ll also be creating an album with your photos on our Facebook page.

Every year, Vermont sees more than 13 million visitors to the state.

As you plan your visit, be sure to check your plans carefully by reading updates on lodging and business websites. Due to staffing shortages, their hours of operation and policies may have changed.

We are so excited to welcome you to Vermont.

Amy Spear, of Killington, is the Vice President of Tourism at the Vermont Chamber of Commerce, whose mission is focused on creating an economic climate conducive to business growth while enhancing Vermont’s quality of life.

Vice President of Tourism Amy Spear on S.79 Veto

Statement from Vermont Chamber Vice President of Tourism Amy Spear on S.79 Veto

Montpelier, VT (July 2, 2021) –

“We are surprised and disappointed by Governor Scott’s veto of S.79. The Administration did not indicate they had a serious problem with the bill, which had a wide range of supporters, at any point during the 2021 legislative session. The sudden change of course is difficult to understand, considering several Administration officials publicly offered support [1] for the legislation over the last few months.

S.79 would have ensured a safe rental environment while also moving Vermont toward greater regulatory equity in the lodging marketplace. As an example, licensed lodging properties were subject to onsite visits from officials throughout the pandemic for compliance checks. Short-term rentals (STR) were exempt from this because they are permitted to operate anonymously; owners could not be contacted and there is no system in place for open lines of communication with the State. With thousands of STR units in Vermont, we believe it is important that these property owners receive communications on how to ensure the health and safety of the traveling public.

Vermont’s lodging businesses have suffered disproportionately throughout the pandemic, yet they have been public health champions. The passage of this bill would have provided a glimmer of hope for licensed lodging properties and would have demonstrated that the Administration understands the need to level the playing field for businesses providing overnight accommodations. The Vermont Chamber will continue advocating for the establishment of an STR registry when the Legislature reconvenes.”


About the Vermont Chamber of Commerce

The largest statewide, private, not-for-profit business organization, the Vermont Chamber of Commerce represents every sector of the state’s business community. Its mission is to create an economic climate conducive to business growth and the preservation of the Vermont quality of life.

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[1] A review of recorded testimony offered by the Administration shows Department of Housing and Community Development Housing Program Administer Shaun Gilpin explaining the benefits of the bill for BIPOC homeownership and saving costs through the establishment of a rental registry and Department of Health Public Policy Advisor Shayla Livingston explaining the Department had no objections to the bill. These are just two of several examples of Administration officials speaking favorably of the bill.

Legislature Sends Lodging Bill to Governor

Legislature Sends Lodging Bill to Governor

The Legislature passed S.79, a lodging bill that would establish a statewide short-term rental (STR) registry. The bill was messaged to the Governor’s office where it awaits further action.

The Vermont Chamber has long believed that registration of STRs is a necessary first step to improve communication while also providing valuable data if, in the future, the State chooses to enforce health and safety regulations like those implemented to protect public health during the pandemic. The foundation set by establishing a STR registry would be a positive development toward ensuring a safe rental environment and moving towards equity in the lodging marketplace.

Prior to the bill’s passage in the Legislature, the Vermont Chamber sent a letter to the full Senate expressing support for S.79. Governor Scott has recently voiced concern over the legislation, and it is unknown whether he will allow the bill to become law.

If the Governor vetoes the bill, the Legislature will likely attempt to override the veto when they reconvene in October or January. Contact Vermont Chamber Vice President of Tourism Amy Spear with questions or for assistance with contacting Governor Scott to voice your support for S.79.

Legislature Adjourns After Passing Several Vermont Chamber Priorities

Legislature Adjourns After Passing Several Vermont Chamber Priorities

The Legislature adjourned Friday until October or January after passing bills that address several legislative priorities the Vermont Chamber worked to support over the past five months. A bill with a tranche of economic development proposals, including investments in tourism marketing, foreign trade, technology-based economic development, workforce development, and BIPOC business support was just one result of the session.

Other legislation that made it over the finish line includes additional economic recovery grants, the largest investment in broadband buildout in Vermont history, investments in child care, health care cost savings for businesses, and additional incentives to recruit workers to Vermont. While these actions will benefit the business community, regrettably the Legislature did not meaningfully respond to the reality of overwhelming unmet financial need in the business community as a result of the pandemic. Lawmakers advanced only $30 million in relief grants, despite the Agency of Commerce and Community Development identifying over $500 million in existing known unmet need. The Vermont Chamber’s lobbying team recognizes the challenges the business community has faced over the last 14 months and worked extensively to understand members’ individual policy needs and advocate for legislative outcomes with the goal of ensuring economic recovery and supporting Vermont’s economic future.

The Legislature passed a $7 billion budget that includes many unprecedented investments across state government, including in economic development. Some notable allocations are:

  • $20 million to the Agency of Commerce and Community Development (ACCD) to fund additional economic recovery grants
  • $20 million to Vermont State Colleges for system transformation over the next four years
  • $11 million to ACCD to be used in the same manner as the Brownfield Remediation Fund
  • $800,000 to ACCD for technology-based economic development grants
  • $1.5 million for the Better Places Program
  • $2 million to the Vermont Department of Tourism and Marketing in additional funds, beyond the agency’s regular budget for marketing and regional stimulus
  • $650,000 for additional funds for new and remote worker programs
  • $100,000 for adult CTE scholarships
  • $300,000 for adult CTE program improvements
  • $150,000 to ACCD for outreach and technical support for BIPOC-owned businesses
  • $300,000 to support foreign trade with Canada
  • $900,000 to ACCD to fund the Entrepreneurs’ Seed Capital Fund

Funds for much of the budget rely heavily on resources provided to Vermont in the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 (ARPA). This massive injection of federal money allowed legislative leaders and the Governor to advance bold proposals that may have otherwise not come to volition for many years.  Please contact Vermont Chamber Government Affairs Director Charles Martin with questions.

Walk-in Vaccine Clinics Across Vermont for Hospitality Workers

Walk-in Vaccine Clinics Across Vermont for Hospitality Workers

Media Contacts:

Maggie Wilson
Vermont Chamber Director of Communications

Nate Formalarie, Communications Director
Agency of Commerce and Community Development
(802) 522-7323; nate.formalarie@vermont.gov

Vaccine Clinics to be Held Across Vermont for Tourism and Hospitality Workers

“Ensuring Vermont’s hospitality industry is safe and healthy is crucial to our state’s recovery”

Montpelier, VT (May 13, 2021) – In partnership with the Vermont Chamber of Commerce and Vermont Department of Tourism and Marketing, the Vermont Department of Health will begin hosting walk-in COVID-19 vaccine clinics for restaurant, hospitality, and tourism workers over the next week.

The initial wave of clinics will take place at seven locations, with each site offering Johnson & Johnson vaccines for tourism and hospitality workers on a walk-in basis. Clinics will be staged at restaurants, lodging properties, ski resorts, and other tourism attractions to bring the vaccine directly to the workers in this sector. 

Vermont was recently ranked first in the nation for its COVID-19 vaccination rate, and more than 628,000 doses have been administered throughout the state. Governor Phil Scott’s Vermont Forward Plan for reopening is dependent upon Vermonters doing their part and getting vaccinated as soon as they can. These upcoming sector-specific vaccine clinics will make accessing the vaccine easier for hospitality workers and help Vermont continue on the path to fully reopen by July 4th.

“The hospitality sector is eager to welcome guests back to our businesses,” said Jed Davis, owner of the Farmhouse Group of restaurants. “Providing ease of access to our industry workers and employees recognizes the important role our teams play in the social and economic recovery of Vermont.”

“Ensuring Vermont’s hospitality industry is safe and healthy is crucial to our state’s recovery,” said Amy Spear, Vermont Chamber Vice President of Tourism. “Employees in the industry maintain a high level of contact with the public and often work hours not conducive to traditional vaccine appointment times. These clinics will make vaccines more accessible to the tourism and hospitality workers who provide welcoming, world-class experiences for Vermonters and visitors alike.”

“As the state looks forward to the next phases of reopening, making sure vaccines are easily available will be key,” said VDTM Commissioner Heather Pelham. “We are all eager to enjoy gathering together at events and meeting up with friends and family at our local restaurants. With this extra support for the tourism industry, we can help make sure everyone stays safe, as we welcome back visitors to the state and work to recover from the economic impacts of COVID-19.”

The first wave of clinics will be in Waterbury, Woodstock, Waitsfield, Windsor, South Burlington, Middlebury, and Warren. To see all dates, times, and locations for these tourism and hospitality worker vaccine clinics, please visit the ACCD Recovery Resource Center.

More than a dozen additional clinics, including in Rutland, Killington, Stowe, and Vergennes, are being planned now and will be added as details are confirmed.  If a tourism or hospitality business would like to host a clinic for industry employees in their area, please contact Amy Spear at aspear@vtchamber.com

About the Vermont Chamber of Commerce

As the largest statewide, private, not-for-profit business organization, the Vermont Chamber of Commerce represents every sector of the state’s business community. Its mission is to create an economic climate conducive to business growth and the preservation of the Vermont quality of life.

About the Vermont Department of Tourism and Marketing

The Department of Tourism and Marketing promotes Vermont’s travel, recreation, cultural and historic attractions, as well as the state’s goods and services, in coordination with public and private sector partners. The department also works to market to a global audience in a manner consistent with the values and traditions of the state for the economic benefit of all VermontersVermontVacation.com

Spotlighting Waybury Inn

Spotlighting Waybury Inn

This month, we are spotlighting Vermont Chamber member Waybury Inn. Waybury Inn is kicking off the New Year with their Vermont Savings Plan, which is a great way to get away and enjoy their best available room with a rate of $100 per night (double occupancy) Wednesday through Saturday. This comes with a complimentary breakfast and 10% off the food portion of your dinner bill while staying with them.

Sunday through Tuesday you can get their best available room and rate of $150 per night (double occupancy), a discounted breakfast at $10, and an arrival amenity prepared by their Chef. Receive a gift certificate to Waybury Inn for Christmas? Please note this can be also be used on takeout food orders.

Visit Waybury Inn’s website to learn more!

​Business Not as Usual: Legislative Priorities for 2021

​Business Not as Usual: Legislative Priorities for 2021

By Betsy Bishop, President of the Vermont Chamber of Commerce, and Charles Martin, Government Affairs Director of the Vermont Chamber of Commerce

It has been a challenging year for businesses across the country. Pandemic restrictions have significantly reduced occupancy and revenues. Small businesses in Vermont are struggling, and nearly every industry has been impacted. Some, like restaurants and lodging properties, were hit hardest. And the hits keep coming.

The pandemic, which started in spring of this year, continues, and Vermont remains in a state of emergency. This month, Vermont broke its own record for single-day COVID cases.

Throughout the public health crisis, legislators have listened carefully to businesses across the state and to the Vermont Chamber’s ongoing advocacy for swift relief. 

Next week, the Legislature reconvenes, and the legislative cycle begins anew. At the Vermont Chamber, we have listened to our partners and 1,200 member businesses share their concerns, and this input has shaped our 2021 priorities.

  • Additional Business Grants

It is certain that Vermont businesses need more help to reach a post-pandemic economy. In early November, the Agency of Commerce and Community Development estimated the existing unmet need of businesses to be around $500 million just through September 30. The scope of unmet need will grow as the pandemic continues to impact our communities, which means businesses will require additional federal aid to recover from fourth quarter losses and anticipated loss through the first half of 2021. We will urge the Scott Administration and the Legislature to release business grant relief quickly to avoid widespread, long-term, or permanent closures and subsequent waves of unemployment.

  • Special Help for Restaurants & Lodging Properties

Understanding that the hospitality sector is severely impacted by operating and travel restrictions, the Vermont Chamber will work to advance specific restaurant and lodging relief legislation. Our advocacy will include pushing for support in the form of adjustments to alcohol-related regulations, consent legislation to ensure restaurants have approval over third-party apps that offer restaurant delivery, and reform of Vermont’s short-term rental (STR) regulations, including through the establishment of a STR registry.   

  • Unemployment Insurance Relief

With the pandemic has come widespread unemployment, and Congress has been instrumental in providing recipients extended and enhanced benefits. It is anticipated that a rate hike from the lowest rate to the highest rate will be set in July. The Vermont Chamber will encourage the passage of a bill to prevent that rate shock by setting a limit for any rate increase in a 12-month period.

  • Increased Investment in Child Care & Broadband

For immediate and long-term economic health, Vermont’s economy would greatly benefit from additional investment in child care and broadband infrastructure. While these critical needs were important prior to the pandemic, the last several months highlighted the severity of these issues. We believe that the massive amount of investment for these issues must be a priority for federal funding. Without substantial investment from Congress, Vermont would need to increase taxes to a level that is not sustainable for our businesses, our workers, and all Vermonters. We must prioritize these needs for federal funding to help our rural economy recover. 

Addressing these outlined needs is essential to ensuring the health of our local communities and Vermont’s economic future. We will continue to work with state and federal legislators, our partners, and Vermont’s business community to make progress in 2021 on these important issues.​

Get Cozy, Light a Fire, and Shop Vermont This Holiday Season

Get Cozy, Light a Fire, and Shop Vermont This Holiday Season
Sun and Ski Inn
Photo by Stowe Beautiful
Vermont’s mountains are covered with snow, wood smoke is rising from chimneys, and holiday lights are brightening towns and cities across our state.
As the holiday spirit fills Vermont this December, we encourage you to shop local for your gifts. Local businesses are struggling because of the public health crisis. Your gift-giving this winter can support Vermont businesses while you buy high-quality and thoughtful presents. The Vermont Chamber of Commerce and Vermont Attractions Association have collected gift ideas for you to consider this winter:
Picture Photo from Danforth Pewter
Gifts Handmade in Vermont A selection from Bennington Potters cookware or dining pieces is the perfect accompaniment to homemade meals. Glassware and decor from Simon Pearce will add subtle shine and sparkle to any home. Give the gift of Christmas with ornaments, nativities, and decorations from Christmas Days. Shop locally sourced and made silk scarves, pottery, and jewelry at Artisans Hand. Find something for everyone on your list at Vermont Country Store, one of Vermont’s most iconic shopping experiences. Get custom sculptures and art from Stone Revival Gallery or shop their handmade collections of fine art and décor. Pewter décor or jewelry from Danforth Pewter make the perfect heirloom gift. Clothing and Accessories Give the ultimate gift of comfort with sleepwear, blankets, or clothing from Vermont Flannel. Shop premium Merino Wool socks from Darn Tough, perfect for outdoor adventures or staying warm at home. Find unique clothing and accessory items for the trendy women in your life at Fat Hat Clothing. The updated basics or luxe loungewear from Commando are perfect for comfortably staying in or going out.

Picture Photo from King Arthur Baking
Food Support restaurants in your neighborhood by purchasing gift cards for your loved ones. Shop King Arthur Baking for the baking mixes and tools every home baker needs. Give the gift of maple with Sugarbush Cheese & Maple Farm’s edible gift boxes, or gift pancake mix, maple products, and berry syrups from Maple Grove Farms. Satisfy your loved one’s sweet tooth with Lake Champlain Chocolates’ specialty chocolates and Christmas truffles, or Snowflake Chocolates’ popcorn, brittles, and chocolate snowflakes. You’re bound to find something for every foodie in your life at Stowe Mercantile, with their selection of handmade fudge, maple products, specialty products, and more. Vermont Ski Staycation Ski resorts are implementing extra health and safety measures so that everyone, from guests to their communities at large, stays healthy. State guidance considers industry best practices, CDC guidance, and state regulations. Ski with peace of mind and enjoy the snow at these Vermont ski areas:
Use Ski Vermont’s 2020 Holiday Gift Guide to plan your Vermont staycation. You can find more Vermont businesses to support using our categorized Vermont Chamber member directory or by browsing through our Stay & Play Directory. Have a happy holiday season and thank you for shopping Vermont.