Governor Scott, with Vermont Community Foundation President Dan Smith, announced a new Vermont Strong license plate fundraising push for the holidays to help businesses recover from the summer floods. ORCA Media screen grab.
Vermont Business Magazine Governor Phil Scott today at his weekly press conference announced a six-week holiday campaign to raise funds for Vermonters and businesses impacted by this summer’s flooding through ongoing sales of Vermont Strong license plates and limited-edition socks.
Since the “Vermont Strong” license plates were reintroduced in August, $715,000 in proceeds have been donated, with half going to individual needs via the Vermont Community Foundation and half to help businesses through the State’s Business Emergency Gap Assistance Program (BEGAP).
The holiday campaign announced today will hyperfocus funds raised for individual needs in four main areas:
- Housing needs, like home repairs and heat;
- Food security;
- Individual and family assistance for critical needs, like groceries, filling a gas tank, replacing clothing and bedding that was destroyed, medications and more; and
- Mental health services and support.
The other half of the funds will continue to help businesses through BEGAP, supporting needs that will exceed existing program funds. These additional funds will work to continue to get Vermont businesses reopened, housing units back online, and bring employees back to work.
“We know how much Vermonters care about each other. The way you showed up over the summer and into the fall is a testament to the strength of our communities and our Vermont resilience,” said Governor Scott. “But there’s more work to do, and more money to raise, to help. Because the fact is, the destruction from the flood will take a long time to clean up, and has a lasting effect for those who lost so much. Vermonters need ongoing help, and this fundraising effort will help.”
The State is hoping to raise another $1 million through this six-week campaign given the ongoing needs for Vermont families and employers.
“As we head into the holiday season, it’s important to be thankful for what’s been done and also to be clear about what yet remains to be done. This campaign offers an important opportunity for Vermonters to step up for their neighbors in those areas of the state that are still recovering.”
“We have heard from so many businesses about the real impact the BEGAP funds had – in getting their doors open, their inventory replenished, and their employees back to work. These funds also support landlords working to get needed housing units back online,” said Lindsay Kurrle, secretary of the Agency of Commerce and Community Development. “While the initial funds have been distributed, there is still a substantial amount of unmet need from businesses who have yet to receive a payment – and we know every penny can help them get to that next stage of reopening.”
Purchase your Vermont Strong gear or visit the DMV’s Vermont Strong page to support flood impacted Vermonters with housing, food security, individual every-day financial needs, and mental health support, and businesses who need help reopening and bringing back employees. Multiple options are available, including “We Are Vermont Strong” and “We Are Vermont Strong and Tough Too” plates, or a bundle with a plate and pair of Darn Tough “Vermont Strong and Tough Too” socks (sock supplies are limited).
Other Presser News
- Also at the press conference, the governor said the FEMA trailers should be ready for installation now that FEMA and the city of Montpelier have come to an agreement on the many aspects of siting them at a former golf course.
Scott admitted that the slow development of the housing for flood victims has been "discouraging," but there are many elements to the project including electric, water and sewer, plus the bureaucracy of dealing with federal, state and local bureaucracies.
- Scott said of the 250 or so people who lost their heating systems during the summer storms, the state has been able to reach all but 20 or 30 of the homeowners. He said resources are available and sufficient to restore heat to anyone who lost it.
- The governor is lamenting a recent report that the state pension funds (retirement and health insurance for state workers) is still running about a $200 million shortfall. Scott said he doesn't expect the Legislature to reverse course and find a more aggressive solution. Lawmakers passed a bill last session that Scott vetoed because he said it doesn't go far enough; his veto was soundly overridden. The recent news of the shortfall, he said, shows that his concerns were valid.
- The economic impact from the flooding on tourism is still being assessed, Development Secretary Lindsay Kurrle said. It will likely be another quarter before the full impact can be quantified. She said, however, that anecdotal reports suggest that the impact on hospitality was not as great as initially feared. Scott said that while places like Johnson and Hardwick were battered, Stowe was more "packed" on a recent visit than he has ever seen.
Kurrle said that tourism officials did well in their "come to Vermont, we're open" marketing.
Scott said it will be interesting to see how Ludlow does this winter, as it is a ski town with Okemo located there.
- The governor also addressed the debris issue as a result of the storms. He expects much work still to be done after the winter, with an emphasis on Green Up Day next May.
- As for stormwater mitigation, he said one mitigation focus will be on expanding capacity of the natural floodplains and wetlands, so the water will have a place to go, other than into downtowns, because there will be more storms.
- He also discussed the public safety forum held earlier this month in Rutland, which he attended. Scott said there is much frustration, fear and anger, as there is in other places in the state, like Burlington. Scott said the pendulum has perhaps gone too far in criminal justice reform and may need to swing back.
Source: 11.20.2023. Berlin, Vt. - Governor. Montpelier, www.vermont.gov