3-6-15 – Wonder Why Vermont’s Economic Development is Hurting?

by Shayne Spence & Rob Roper

One thing most of us can agree upon is that Montpelier has not been doing a bang up job of creating economic growth and opportunity of late. This little exchange that took place in the House Committee on Commerce and Economic Development provides some insights into why that may be.

Energy costs are one of the most important factors in any business’ decision to relocate or expand their operations, especially in the manufacturing field.  H.40, An act relating to establishing a renewable energy standard and energy transformation program, will have a tremendous impact on this critical factor in our economic development.

Rep. Corey Parent (R-St. Albans City) brought up the example of GW Plastics. GW Plastics’ business manager told the committee during a visit to the manufacturing company that they were considering an expansion, but given energy prices and trends in Vermont it would be more cost-effective for them to expand somewhere else, like Arizona. This is a big deal.

So, Rep. Heidi Scheuermann (R-Stowe) inquired at what point this bill, H.40, that will have such a massive impact on our economy and development potential would be sent to the Commerce and Economic Development Committee for review, input and approval (or disapproval)?

Answer: Never.

The presentation of H.40 in the committee was just a courtesy. There were no plans to give Commerce and Economic Development jurisdiction over the bill.

And, this is the problem. The culture in Montpelier is such that something as monumental as changing our entire energy portfolio, mandating that providers buy high cost renewable energy, and force their customers to buy it, is never seriously considered through the lens of how it will affect business viability or job growth. Which is absurd.

A befuddled Rep. Scheuermann summed things up, “Well I’ll just reiterate what I’ve said in the past, throughout these years, that I hope we get more involved in these bills, energy bills especially. I mean, it’s our role here. I appreciate your presentation, I’d just like to hear more from people, and possibly have a voice as the Economic Development committee.”

Good luck, Heidi. We’d all like that.

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

jim bulmer March 6, 2015 at 10:42 pm

Just one of many, many examples of “we know best and facts and unintended or perhaps INTENDED consequenses be damned”. All we ever hear from the Dems is talk or higher taxes.


Farrightwing April 19, 2015 at 1:23 am

Dittos Jim Bulmer, The only bright spot in the VT Economic Development picture is the appointment of Joan Goldstein as Economic Development Commissioner. Joan has been an oustanding leader here at Green Mtn Economic Development Corp.; if anyone can breathe new life into VT Economic Development, Joan can do it. But she can’t do it if the Legislature continues to throw up roadblocks at every turn as pointed out by Heidi Schuermann. Note also discouraging news about G-W Plastics in Bethel and Royalton. This is a top rated manufacturing company with outstanding leadership. Joan Goldstein and GMEDC have worked hard to encourage them to stay in VT.


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