Senators Release Economic Development Plan

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Senators Release Economic Development Plan

Tue, 01/13/2004 - 8:00pm -- tim

Sen. Matt Dunne (D-Windsor) and Sen. Hinda Miller (D-Chittenden) announced today the results of a nine-month economic development effort to identify a new way of creating job growth in Vermont. The CREDability initiative, with input from a wide range of business leaders with facilitation by the Snelling Center of Government, includes a broad range of strategic investments specifically targeted to support Vermont innovators to compete and flourish in the new economy.
"This economic development package represents a fundamental change in economic development strategy," said Sen. Miller, former co-founder and CEO of Jogbra. "It is an integrated effort to retain, develop, and attract entrepreneurs, rather than spending precious resources to try to compete with Alabama, Mexico, and even China to land a multi-national corporation."
Through the development process, the bi-partisan group evaluated the areas that make Vermont attractive to entrepreneurs and the areas where there are significant gaps. The Gund Institute for Ecological Economics at the University of Vermont helped develop a survey of in-state innovators to collect the data. The group then looked to address those gaps by providing resources in the plan. They also looked to invest in the types of businesses that currently make Vermont attractive.
"Entrepreneurs want to stay in an area with a unique sense of place and look for an environment that provides the infrastructure for innovation," said Sen. Dunne, a former software marketing executive. "This proposal invests in our current assets, builds opportunities to capitalize on those assets, and creates new opportunities for Vermont entrepreneurs to succeed in building their own enterprises."
The proposal specifically provides a Center for Entrepreneurship to support the development of a network of incubators, entrepreneurship training, technology transfer, and financial resources. There is also funding for broadband demonstration projects, downtown and brownfield redevelopment, and a start-up capital fund to provide early stage resources. To support global competitiveness, the legislation calls for more resources in the International Trade Office, a quasi-governmental agency dedicated to supporting Vermont business sell products to other countries. The legislation also includes "higher education challenge grants" that will provide seed money to encourage permanent centers of higher education in areas where Vermont has succeeded in competing globally including environmental engineering, value-added agriculture, historic preservation, eco-tourism and IT software development.
"In a small state we need to be sure our economic development investment are integrated and address the barriers to competing globally," said Sen. Miller. "Our hope is to provide a structure to focus and integrate current efforts and use one-time money to build on our strengths."
"As is our history, Vermont entrepreneurs are planning the next breakthroughs all over the state * in our university, on shop floors and in garages," said Sen. Dunne. "We just need to give them the tools to get their innovations to market."
The 2.6 million dollar package uses mostly one-time or capital bill resources so as not to increase the base spending for subsequent years.
"This economic development initiative is extremely important to Vermont. We will make it a top priority in the Senate," said Senate President Pro Tem, Peter Welch.