Vermont's outdoor recreation businesses hiring, state offering incentives to move

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Vermont's outdoor recreation businesses hiring, state offering incentives to move

Thu, 08/08/2019 - 6:05am -- tim

Vermont Business Magazine If you are looking for work in the outdoor industry — or in another industry, but still want great access to 20 ski areas, 50 mountain bike trail networks, and countless parks and waterways — businesses across Vermont are hiring. Darn Tough Vermont, maker of the legendary socks that come with a lifetime guarantee has dozens of positions open at its facility in the scenic town of Northfield, Vt, not far from ski resorts such as Stowe and Sugarbush. 

“We have more than 34 positions – both hourly knitting positions and exempt ones – open right now and expect to create ten more new ones this year,” says Jennifer No, Darn Tough’s Talent Acquisition Recruiter. The company currently employs 280 and makes all of its socks in Vermont. 

Burton Snowboards is also looking to fill many year round, full time positions, as well as hire Guides with an eye to the winter and holiday seasons. Other businesses are posting for temporary positions, such as Gordini, distributor of gloves, mittens, and goggles, with open warehouse positions, Skida Headwear and Accessories with retail and fulfillment needs, and retailers with specific outdoor recreation pursuits in mind, such as Outdoor Gear Exchange’s bike mechanic position. 

“With a growing diversity of outdoor recreation businesses that range from established brands such as Orvis and Burton to custom hard good manufacturers such as J Skis, PowderJet, and Budnitz Bicycles, Vermont is building on its long-standing reputation as an incubator of high quality outdoor products and services,” says Justin Worthley,  Burton Snowboards’ Senior Vice President of Global Human Resources and board member of the Vermont Outdoor Business Alliance, or VOBA. “Outdoor recreation companies are not unique to other industries in that it can be challenging to find the right talent to help them grow. “

“VOBA’s mission is to strengthen, expand, attract, and retain outdoor recreation companies in Vermont,” says Josh Pombar, Turtle Fur’s Director of Marketing and VOBA’s board chair. “Therefore, one of our key priorities is workforce development and training in order to enhance job opportunities and career pathways in outdoor recreation in the Green Mountain State.”

In 2018, CNBC named Vermont the best state in the country to live in and, in 2019, it finished second after Hawaii. Among the reasons; low crime, quality of life and strong public education. Still, in July, the Vermont Department of Labor reported low unemployment of 2.1 percent and that at least 40% of Vermont employers polled have at least one job vacancy. 

To address this worker shortage, the state is working with the business and outdoor recreation communities on several new programs. Stay to Stay Weekends invite out-of-state visitors who are considering a move to special weekend gatherings in Vermont - some in ski towns as well as a mountain bike specific package in the fall. There, they meet with local businesses, realtors and learn more about moving to the state. So far more than 56 people have moved as a result and 70% of those that participated in 2018 cited access to outdoor recreation as their reason for wanting to move to Vermont.

As recently reported by NBC, last year Governor Scott launched the Remote Worker Grant Program which reimburses qualified workers who either work remotely or in a telecommuting space up to $10,000 in relocation expenses. In 2020, a New Worker Grant program will provide rewards for qualified individuals who move to Vermont to work full time for employers that are based in the state. State grants for co-working and innovation spaces have led to expanded locations across the state from Vermont Center for Emerging Technologies in Burlington to DO NORTH in Lyndonville providing professional shared spaces and networking opportunities for entrepreneurs.

In addition, educational institutions such as Middlebury College, University of Vermont, Champlain College, Castleton, and Northern Vermont University are creating undergraduate and graduate curricula focused on entrepreneurship, outdoor education, outdoor recreation, and tourism. In some cases, students have worked directly with local employers through internships and in other cases skilled graduates have landed local jobs, Additionally, new outdoor recreation businesses have taken root in Vermont, including Skida, whose founder and VOBA board member Corinne Prevot has been named to Forbes Magazine’s “30 Under 30” list in manufacturing.

“As we see more and more outdoor recreation companies in other states moving their workforce offshore, we hope that we can get the message out that Vermont’s not only a great place to live, but that it’s a great place to work and to grow a business. Outdoor businesses have a promising future here and there are plenty of open jobs,” says Worthley. 

ABOUT VOBA

The Vermont Outdoor Business Alliance (VOBA) is a statewide organization of outdoor recreation businesses dedicated to strengthening, expanding, attracting, and retaining outdoor recreation economy businesses in Vermont. VOBA works to educate Vermonters about outdoor recreation and Vermont outdoor recreation businesses about business development so Vermont can continue to be a vibrant place to work, live and play.

Source: Montpelier, VT — Vermont Outdoor Business Alliance www.vermontoutdoorbusinessalliance.org