Giving Employers and Employees the Resources They Need to Drive Electric

Giving Employers and Employees the Resources They Need to Drive Electric

Story provided by Vermont Businesses for Social Responsibility (VBSR).

Transforming Vermont’s transportation system is essential to reaching our state’s emissions reductions requirements codified by the Global Warming Solutions Act and creating a more vibrant, equitable, and thriving Vermont economy.

  • Vermonters spent roughly $1 billion on transportation fuels in 2019 alone and of that, 77% left the state’s economy. On the other hand, electricity kept .62 cents per dollar in Vermont’s economy.
  • Transportation fuel costs also disproportionately fall on the shoulders of rural Vermonters. Meanwhile, driving an electric vehicle instead of a gasoline powered one can save rural Vermonters up to $1,500 per year on operational and maintenance costs alone.
  • Studies have shown that there is a strong positive correlation between car ownership, educational attainment, and economic mobility. Yet, fossil fueled transportation has resulted in disproportionately higher transit costs for rural and low-income Vermonters—creating major barriers for those looking to get an education or enter the workforce.

State and federal dollars can and must be used to protect jobs and promote economic mobility for the roughly 7% of Vermonters who do not have access to a car. Without alternative transportation options, Vermont households—especially those who are older, disabled, and/or low-income— experience reduced employment and education opportunities and have a much more difficult time getting to grocery stores, social events, and medical appointments.

As leaders in the Vermont business community, we recognize that embracing clean transportation options like electric vehicles (EVs) can benefit both our employees and our bottom lines. However, we also see the high costs associated with the installation of EV infrastructure as a major barrier for our members and the widespread adoption of electric vehicles. That’s why VBSR is urging leaders on the House Transportation Committee to advance an EVSE Charging Grant Program as part of this year’s transportation bill.

This program would provide Vermont businesses with grants of up to $5,000 per port for level two chargers for between two and 10 ports, with a max grant amount of up to 75% of the total project cost, and a grant amount of up to $40,000 for up to five level three chargers, with a maximum grant amount of up to 50% of the total project cost. The cost to purchase and install a level two charger varies quite a bit based on proximity to power supplies, trenching needs, and other complicating factors, so the totals can range between $2,600-$21,000.

Whether it is a large or small employer, installing EV charging stations can be immensely beneficial for businesses, local economies, and our environment:

  • With more and more people purchasing EVs, charging stations boost brand image and reputation, increasing customer loyalty and bringing in new clientele. In fact, EV owners spend twice as much time at retailers than average customers and 43% are likely to return to retail areas with charging infrastructure. They also help to attract and retain employees who, like consumers, are increasingly concerned by environmental issues and drawn to the cost savings EVs offer.
  • Charging stations can help to encourage environmentally friendly practices among employees and customers who are yet to “go green.” The US Department of Energy found that workers were 20 times more likely to buy an electric vehicle if their employers offered free charging at work. Knowing there are charging stations at the workplace reduces range anxiety and makes EVs more feasible for employees with limited or inconvenient residential charging options.
  • According to the Vermont Energy Action Network (EAN), Vermont should have 90,000 EVs on the road by 2025 and 194,000 EVs on the road by 2030 in order to reduce climate pollution at a rate consistent with the Paris Climate Accord. That means we’ll need roughly 3,600 workplace plugs to support our 2025 targets and roughly 7,700 workplace plugs to support our 2030 targets.

Transit Updates on Vermont Rail Plan and Airport System Plan

Transit Updates on Vermont Rail Plan and Airport System Plan

By Chris Carrigan, Vice President of Business Development

Vermont Rail Plan Readies the State for Recovery

Rail is an essential and integral component of Vermont’s “multimodal transportation system” that moves freight, passengers, and visitors and drives our economy. With 580 miles of active track, Vermont’s rail system moved 6.9 million tons of freight in 2018. Over the past five years Amtrak service carried 95,000 passengers in Vermont annually. While the COVID-19 pandemic suspended rail service by Amtrak in March, 2020, the draft Vermont Rail Plan presented by the Vermont Agency of Transportation (VTrans) offers a commitment to restore service and provides important updates and recommendations that will ready the State as we work toward recovery. For example, extension of the Ethan Allen Express to Burlington, with stops in Vergennes and Middlebury, will begin running in 2022 and allow passengers and visitors to travel between Burlington and New York City. Extending the Vermonter, which operated daily between Washington D.C. and St. Albans, to Montreal is included in the first priority set of recommendations, along with rebounding from the pandemic, improving passenger rail stations, and upgrading State-owned freight rail lines. The Vermont Freight Plan will be released later in 2021. As a member of the Freight Plan Advisory Committee, the Vermont Chamber applauds the work that VTrans is doing to modernize our rail infrastructure and ready the State to recover from the pandemic and move our economy forward.

Vermont Airport System Plan Essential for Recovery

Civil aviation, according the Federal Aviation Administration, generated $1.17 billion in economic output, accounted for $298 million in earnings, supported 9,505 jobs, and represented 2.2% of Vermont’s gross domestic product. Then the pandemic happened in 2020 and passenger traffic for both commercial and private aviation suffered a drastic decline, crippling the travel and tourism industry. Now as we see a hopeful light at the end of the tunnel with vaccinations on the rise we also have the Vermont Airport System plan by the Vermont Agency of Transportation (VTrans). The draft outlines a 20-year strategic plan for developing and maintaining the State’s sixteen public-use airports with recommendations to improve and modernize. From runway extensions and technology upgrades to new facilities and services, such as restaurants, the plan’s recommendations are key components of economic development and essential as we work towards recovery and travel rebounds. Additionally, and, importantly, the plan is visionary, making recommendations to support electric aircraft development and related infrastructure upgrades. Electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) aircraft, such as Vermont-based Beta Technologies, will electrify aviation, revolutionize the way we travel, and is the future of urban mobility. As a member of the Governor’s Aviation Council, the Vermont Chamber supports the important work VTrans is doing to propel our airports, which serve as engines of commerce and economic development, forward and into the 21st century.  ​

How Vermont Businesses Are Helping Our Communities

How Vermont Businesses Are Helping Our Communities

Vermont and the nation are experiencing an unprecedented public health emergency, coupled with an abrupt economic downturn. 

Our thousands of statewide businesses and their employees and families across all industries are facing hardships. Even in the face of significant challenges,  Vermont businesses have shown compassion, innovation, and care for their communities. 

Below are examples of Vermont businesses and organizations helping during the  pandemic:

  • Northfield Savings Bank donated $15,000 to Vermont Foodbank
  • Darn Tough donated 5,000 pairs of socks to the UVM Health Network and is knitting a sock that benefits the Vermont Foodbank
  • Vermont Evaporator Company is making and donating durable, washable cloth masks to Vermont public schools to help them reopen safely
  • O’Brien Brothers is donating $20,000 to two Vermont organizations to help Vermonters in need to get basic necessities this winter
  • GLOBALFOUNDRIES donated tools and equipment to Generator Inc., a local nonprofit makerspace and donated $20,000 to the University of Vermont Medical Center to help in the fight against COVID-19
  • TD Bank thanked their employees with $500 pandemic bonuses
  • Vermont Mutual Insurance Group is contributing $1 million in charitable donations to help with COVID-19 relief efforts in Vermont
  • RunVermont is holding a Get Out, Give Back virtual run/walk three-race series supporting Vermont non-profits
  • Gordon’s Window Decor is re-purposing cellular shade material to produce comfortable masks and donating 25 masks to non-profits in need for every 25 masks purchased
  • Vermont Housing Finance Agency is accepting applications for their Vermont COVID Emergency Mortgage Assistance Program
  • ECHO Leahy Center launched two programs to support Vermont families: ECHO Virtual STEM Academy and ECHO Care and Enrichment
  • Lake Champlain Chocolates donated chocolate hearts to teachers and support staff in Chittenden County and teamed up with Vermont Creamery for a sweet collaboration to raise money for the Vermont Foodbank
  • PieMatrix in Burlington is offering free CDC-based COVID-19 back-to-business and back-to-isolation plans for businesses to use when opening or closing operations 
  • Vermont Community Foundation announced $380,500 in grants in the fourth round of grantmaking from the VT COVID-19 Response Fund
  • Vermont Teddy Bear is sewing more than 3,000 face masks to donate to medical professionals and is spearheading an effort to  help make 125,000 masks available in Vermont
  • Teknor Apex is manufacturing TPE resin that is converted into the straps for the 95 facemasks, breather bags on ventilators, and face mask respirators
  • Hops for Hope, a 5k run and walk to benefit the American Cancer Society, goes virtual to continue supporting cancer treatment and research
  • Vermont State Colleges System partnered with Vermont Electric Power Company to offer free Wi-Fi to the general public on the campuses of Northern Vermont University, Castleton University, and Vermont Technical College
  • The Community Bank NA New England branches donated $15,000 to The DREAM Program
  • The MEND Fund was created to respond to the burden faced by downtown businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic; supporters include Union Mutual Insurance Company, Vermont Mutual, National Life, Northfield Savings Bank, and Noyle W Johnson
  • Farrell Distributing and The Foundry at Summit Pond are partnering with Yealands Wines and Palm Bay International to create a “Raise a Glass” program supporting local healthcare workers
  • The Skinny Pancake is feeding Vermonters in need with free meals through their new food response program, ShiftMeals
  • Tuttle Printing is producing face masks to help businesses comply with state guidance and regulations, available for order by email
  • Farrell Distributing helped develop a coalition of Vermont businesses  to serve communities with needed sanitizer
  • Birchgrove Baking is offering “Sweeten a Day” boxes; customers can purchase a box of pastries to donate to hospitals, health care workers, and first responders
  • Fat Hat Clothing Company is pitching in to make protective masks
  • Sugarsnap launched a delivery service to help workplaces and homes provide sustenance and care as well as social distance and safety
  • Vermont Glove is pivoting to produce protective gear
  • Burton is donating half a million KN95 masks to hospitals around Vermont, to Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center in New Hampshire, and to other areas where they are urgently needed; they have also donated over 1,000 Anon Optics goggles through Goggles for Docs
  • Dunkin’ is sending care packages to Central Vermont Medical Center, Grace Cottage Family Health and Hospital, and Gifford Medical Center health care workers
  • Bar Harbor Bank is donating to help adult education programs in Vermont
  • The Vermont Country Store is sharing advice on safely bridging the social distance and checking in on neighbors and loved ones
  • Green Mountain Power is temporarily suspending collections-related activities, including service disconnections through the end of April
  • Orvis answered Southwestern Vermont Health Care’s call for personal protective equipment
  • Awesome Graphics in Rutland is printing signs with COVID-19 etiquette reminders and thank-you’s to essential workers and health care workers
  • Distilleries around Vermont, including Green Mountain Distillers, SILO Distillery, Barr Hill by Caledonia Spirits, Mad River Distillers, and Smugglers’ Notch Distillery are producing hand sanitizer for those in need 
  • In a press conference on March 23, Governor Phil Scott made special note of the good work underway as communities respond to COVID-19 by Casella Waste Systems, Inc., Autumn Harp, General Dynamics, GlobalFoundries, Cold Hollow Cider Mill, and others
  • Two Brothers Tavern is serving deeply discounted wines 
  • Yoga Six in South Burlington offered free online yoga classes 
  • Spectrum Internet is offering two free months of internet and WiFi services for new Pre-K to 12, college student and teacher households who don’t have internet or WiFi service
  • Effective until further notice, Green Mountain Transit is operating bus service fare free
  • In response to the pandemic, the Vermont Housing Finance Agency awarded $120,000 in grants to meet housing needs and is providing help through a new Mortgage Assistance Program to Vermont homeowners who have fallen behind on payments 
  • ​NPI Technology Management is offering web content to help Vermont businesses make remote workplaces work and free consultation to provide technical advice
  • Arts and humanities organizations in Vermont can apply for emergency relief funding through a new partnership between the Vermont Arts Council and Vermont Humanities
  • Union Mutual is partnering with Montpelier businesses Langdon Street Tavern and Pinky’s Deli to sponsor meals each week for Montpelier and Central Vermont residents in need
  • Consolidated Communications is helping students learn from home, upgrading networks so doctors can focus on patients, and providing tools to help employees collaborate remotely
  • Leonine Public Affairs created a thorough COVID-19 resources page
  • SKIRACK in Burlington donated googles to health care workers through Goggles For Docs
  • Burlington maker space Generator started prototyping personal protective equipment for area hospitals in response to nationwide shortages
  • The National Life Group Foundation approved grants of $100,000 each to community foundations in Vermont and Texas
  • Chroma’s filter technologies are letting biotech firms develop tests for coronavirus
  • Little Morocco Café in Burlington is serving free hot soup and rice three times a week, and Stowe Street Café in Waterbury is also making and distributing free community meals
  • Trent’s Bread in Westford, Vermont, is donating loaves of bread to local food shelves
  • The Vermont Institute of Natural Science is offering at-home education resources 

Retailers and grocers are making extraordinary changes to the way they do business in order to ensure the safety of their staff and customers. The Vermont Retail and Grocers Association is updating this list of what retailers and grocers throughout the state are doing to combat the COVID-19 pandemic. Services range from delivery to curbside pickup and designated shopping hours for vulnerable populations.

To support the fight against COVID-19, the Vermont Chamber, partnering with state and federal government agencies, engaged manufacturers to quickly locate urgently needed medical supplies and to identify manufacturers who could retrofit and adapt their operations to manufacture essential personal protective equipment (PPE), medical devices, and life-saving medicines. Many Vermont manufacturers are stepping up to make medical protective gear.

Additionally, businesses looking to donate PPE (personal protective equipment) are advised:

  • You can drop PPE off at the Vermont Emergency Management building at the Waterbury State Complex between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m. daily, at 45 State Drive, Waterbury, VT 05676.
  • If you can’t get to Waterbury, you can drop it off at the closest State Police Barracks with locations listed here.

The Vermont Chamber of Commerce is determined to continue ensuring the well-being of Vermont’s business community during these unique and trying times. Please contact us if you have any questions, and access our COVID-19 Resources page for the latest information and resources for businesses.​