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.

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Funding for Montreal Trade Office Advances

Funding for Montreal Trade Office Advances

As part of Governor Scott’s $210 million economic development and reinvestment plan, the Vermont Agency of Commerce and Community Development’s proposal to establish a Business Attraction Investment Program has passed in both the Senate and House budgets. The proposed budget appropriation of $300,000 would be used to hire a Canadian foreign trade representative firm over a period of two years to generate foreign direct investment (FDI) leads and prospects for the State in the areas of aerospace, biotechnology, and renewable energy, and provide Vermont with statewide representation in Québec. The goal of this initiative is to increase FDI investment with Canada, Vermont’s largest trading partner, and promote cross-border trade and tourism when the border reopens.

In keeping with our record of working with Québec on cross-border trade and legislative issues and building the Vermont – Québec Aerospace Trade Corridor, the Vermont Chamber supports this initiative. It will help strengthen our ties with Québec, promote tourism as we come out of the pandemic, and will also help to attract and recruit Canadian companies interested in establishing a footprint in Vermont to access the North American market for contracting opportunities. Successful business recruitment, in turn, will create jobs for Vermonters and grow the state’s economy. To learn more, please contact Vermont Chamber Vice President of Business Development Chris Carrigan.

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Vermont and Québec Aerospace Trade Corridor Endures the Pandemic

Vermont and Québec Aerospace Trade Corridor Endures the Pandemic

 In December, the Vermont Agency of Commerce and Community Development and the U.S. Small Business Administration partnered with the Vermont Chamber of Commerce and U.S. Commercial Service to host a delegation representing Vermont’s aerospace, aviation, and defense sectors at a reinvented 100% virtual edition of the 2020 Aerospace Innovation Forum by Aéro Montréal, with the theme of “Smart Travelling Rethought.” This effort was in support of the work to build a U.S.-Canadian Aerospace Corridor linking Vermont’s $2 billion aerospace and aviation cluster with the $28 billion Canadian aerospace industry for cross-border contacts and contracts. This was also part of the vision of the Memorandum of Understanding between the Vermont Chamber of Commerce and Aéro Montréal, signed in 2013 and now enhanced by extension of the corridor to Connecticut.
 
Due to generous support provided through the U.S. Small Business Administration’s State Trade Expansion Program (STEP), and coordinated at the state level by the Vermont Department of Economic Development, Vermont’s delegation gained access to rich content on new and emerging trends from industry leaders, as well as online B2B meetings with prime contractors, Tier 1 suppliers, and fellow SME suppliers that represent Québec’s $13.8 billion aerospace cluster. According to Gartner Research, 80% of B2B sales interactions between suppliers and buyers will occur in digital channels by 2025.  
 
As a special highlight, Vermont-based Beta Technologies was prominently featured in the Flying Taxis presentation by Martine Rothblatt of Unified Therapeutics at the 2020 Aerospace Innovation Forum. Beta is a visionary aerospace manufacturer developing the next generation of electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) aircraft, which will transform urban mobility and the future of flight.  
 
Vermont Governor Phil Scott said, “I’m pleased to support the partnership of the Vermont Agency of Commerce and Community Development, U.S. Small Business Administration, Vermont Chamber of Commerce, and U.S. Commercial Service to advance Vermont’s aerospace and aviation industry. Vermont’s participation in Aéro Montréal’s Innovation Forum was one of many positive steps we have taken as we work to grow our state’s aerospace sector and strengthen the U.S.-Canadian trade corridor.”
 
Vermont Chamber of Commerce Vice President of Business Development Chris Carrigan said, “Our delegation and work in December is the culmination of seven years of inter-clustering and supply chain integration, which is optimizing global supply chains by providing our companies and northern neighbors with access to new markets, contacts, innovation, business opportunities, and contracts in a new virtual supply chain landscape.”
 
The 2020 Vermont delegation consisted of Beta Technologies, Burlington International Airport, Cam Development & Micro Components, KAD Models & Prototypes, Liquid Measurement Systems, Mansfield Heliflight, Manufacturing Solutions Inc., North Country Engineering, and Stephens Precision. For more information, visit www.themanufacturingsummit.com or Vermont Division of International Trade.

About the Vermont Agency of Commerce and Community Development
The Vermont Agency of Commerce and Community Development’s (ACCD) mission is to help Vermonters improve their quality of life and build strong communities. ACCD accomplishes this mission by providing grants, technical assistance, and advocacy through three divisions: The Department of Economic Development, the Department of Tourism and Marketing, and the Department of Housing and Community Development. For more information on ACCD please visit: accd.vermont.gov.
 
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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