Ensuring the state retains and creates good jobs in a range of fields is the best way to help Vermonters get ahead. And ensuring Vermont employers can survive, grow and thrive is essential to generating the revenue needed to invest in protecting the vulnerable, supporting workers and advancing state priorities. While there is more work to do, the Scott Administration has focused on creating more predictability for employers, slowing growth in costs, making Vermont more competitive – or trying to avoid becoming less competitive – with other states, and supporting small businesses and entrepreneurs, and nurturing targeted industries like outdoor recreation, agriculture, aerospace and financial services.
Helping businesses survive and recover from the COVID-19 pandemic
Driving Recovery - Governor Scott proposed multiple initiatives to help Vermont businesses recover from the economic impacts of the pandemic, and secured nearly $120 million in state fiscal recovery funds for Vermont employers. This included the FY22 Economic Recovery Bridge program, and the FY23 VEDA Forgivable Loan and Community Recovery and Revitalization programs.
Capital Investments - Governor Scott proposed and worked with the Legislature to pass a Capital Investment Grant program, providing $10 million to help Vermont employers impacted by the pandemic make capital investments to ensure they could survive and grow. Awardees have included non-profits, child care centers, arts and entertainment venues and other employers critical to their communities and local economy.
Emergency Aid - In the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Governor worked with private partners to implement Federal programs and with the Legislature to ensure more than $100 million in State coronavirus relief funds were used to help businesses survive closures and operational restrictions. This included State programs like the Emergency Economic Recovery Grant Program, and Federal programs like PPP and SBA's EIDL.
Strengthening Our Rural, Farm and Forestry Economies
- To support lower workers’ compensation rates for employers, the Departments of Financial Regulation and Forest, Parks and Recreation directed the National Council on Compensation Insurance to combine the log hauling employer class with the contract trucking class, resulting in a 24% rate reduction for log haulers. This will result in significant cost savings for employers in this sector.
- Proposed and passed a Sales and Use Tax exemption for logging and processing equipment and parts.
- Proposed and passed clarification to existing law that dyed diesel is not subject to Vermont’s sales and use tax.
- Proposed and passed a change to Act 250 permitting to allow sawmills under 3.5 million board feet to be processed as "minor" applications, making it easer for these businesses to responsibly operate.
- Proposed exempting recreational trails from Act 250 jurisdiction. The Legislature passed a directive to the Commission on Act 250 to evaluate regulation of trails and alternative structures for the planning, review, and construction of future trail networks and the extension of existing trail networks.
- The Agency of Commerce and Community Development is working on recommendations for a program to designate parcels in rural areas as industrial parks for the purposes of providing regulatory and permitting incentives to businesses sited in the industrial park.
- Proposed and passed requirement for the Department of Public Service to report on the effect of electric utility demand charges on the ability of industrial enterprises to locate in rural towns.
- Proposed and passed protections for forest operations from liability as a public or private nuisance.
- Signed into law Act 77 of 2017, supporting an initiative from the Legislature that caps the air contaminant permit fee for emissions from anaerobic digesters at $1,000 and clarifies that phosphorus removal technology is eligible for assistance under Agency of Agriculture.
- The FY20 budget invests $1 million to support working lands—with $500,000 dedicated to the dairy industry—as well as $120,000 to strengthen our forest products economy and support logger safety.
- Boosted funding for farm-to-school by an additional $50,000 in the FY20 budget.
Supporting the Aviation and Aerospace Corridor
- Proposed and passed legislation, Act 69 of 2017, to make permanent the airplane part sales tax exemption, supporting the aviation sector and strengthening the emerging Vermont-Quebec aerospace corridor.
Growing the Financial Services Sector
- When changes in federal law meant many reinsurance businesses – previously ceded to offshore affiliates – will be returning to the U.S. Capitalizing on Vermont’s leadership in the captive insurance industry, the Administration and Legislature acted quickly to update Vermont law so the State could support these businesses, making Vermont a top destination for re-locating businesses in this sector.
Supporting Small Business Development
- Proposed and passed an increase in the number of small business advisors in Vermont, with priority for underserved counties, to provide small businesses greater access to resources and counsel, helping them thrive.
- Proposed and passed the ThinkVermont Innovation initiative to accelerate small business growth by making funding available, leveraging federal programs, testing cutting edge broadband deployments, and assisting in the development of co-working and other non-traditional work environments.
- Proposed legislation that would modernize the Vermont Employment Growth Incentive (VEGI) by making it easier for small businesses and mission-drive businesses (B-corps, L3Cs, etc.) to utilize the program.
Reducing Workers' Compensation insurance costs
- Workers’ Compensation rates have decreased for six consecutive years under the Scott Administration, resulting in Vermont employers collectively paying an average of 41% less in premiums than they did in 2016. This is the result of a concerted effort by the Scott Administration, led by the Department of Financial Regulation, to design new programs and new constructs to lower rates while maintaining benefits, alongside employers’ success in keeping employees safe.