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YCQM: June 9, 2013 - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

YCQM: June 9, 2013

Posted: Updated:
BURLINGTON, Vt. -

FROM VERMONT'S MOST TRUSTED NEWS SOURCE, WCAX BRINGS YOU YOUR NEWSMAKERS, YOUR NEIGHBORS. THIS IS "YOU CAN QUOTE ME."

>>> GOOD MORNING, EVERYBODY. I'M KRISTEN CARLSON. OUR NEWSMAKER THIS SUNDAY IS COMMERCE SECRETARY LAWRENCE MILLER. WE HAVE A HOST OF TOPICS TO GET TO, BUT FIRST, LET'S GET AN UPDATE ON THE STATE'S ECONOMY FROM OUR BUSINESS REPORTER, GINA BULLARD.

>> AFTER THE WORST RECESSION THE U.S. HAS SEEN IN DECADES, VERMONT IS MAKING PROGRESS.

>> WE'VE HAD A PATTERN TO THE PACE OF THE LABOR MARKET RECOVERY IN VERMONT WHICH VERY SOON WE'LL RECOVER ALL THE JOBS WE LOST DURING THE VERY DIFFICULT LAST RECESSION.

>> THE NEW ENGLAND ECONOMIC PARTNERSHIP SAYS THAT OF THE SIX NEW ENGLAND STATES, VERMONT'S RECOVERY IS ONLY BEHIND MASSACHUSETTS, WHICH RESTORED ALL OF ITS JOBS LOST. THE GREEN MOUNTAIN'S HIGHEST PERFORMANCE RATES ARE FOUND IN THE TRADE, TRANSPORTATION, UTILITIES AND GOVERNMENT SECTORS. THE CONSTRUCTION SECTOR IS RANKED ONE OF THE LOWEST. PROJECTS AFTER TROPICAL STORM IRENE ARE NOW COMPLETE, CAUSING PROJECTIONS OF CONSTRUCTION JOCKS TO BE DOWN. PREVIOUS -- JOBS TO BE DOWN. PREVIOUS SESSION EMPLOYMENT LEVELS ARE EXPECTED TO RETURN IN THE NEXT SIX TO 12 MONTHS.

>> THOSE JOBS WILL BE DIFFERENT, HAVE A DIFFERENT CHARACTER. SOME OF THE JOBS WE LOST DURING THE GREAT RECESSION ARE NOT GOING TO COME IMPACT.

>> THE RESTETION IN EUROPE IS DAMAGING THE EXPORT MARKET AND FEDERAL SPENDING CUTS BECAUSE OF SEQUESTRATION ARE HURTING NEW ENGLAND'S ECONOMY.

>> POSTPONE TYPICAL RATES OF RECOVERY IN THE LABOR MARKET AND TYPICAL RATE MUCH GROWTH IN THE OUTPUT GOING FORWARD.

>> ECONOMISTS SAY A SUCCESSFUL PRODUCT DIFFERENTIATION ASSOCIATED WITH THE VERMONT BRAND IS HELPING STAGE A COMEBACK FOR THE MANUFACTURING SECTOR. GINA BULLARD, CHANNEL 3 NEWS, BURLINGTON.

>> A LITTLE BACKGROUND FOR YOU AND NOW WE'RE JOINED BY COMMERCE SECRETARY LAWRENCE MILLER WHO HAS BEEN WITH THE SHUMLIN ADMINISTRATION SINCE THE BEGINNING. JOINING THE QUESTION IS DARREN PERRON.

>> LET START WITH THE JOBS, GETTING BACK TO NORMAL HERE IN VERMONT. HE SAID VERY SOON, WHAT'S HE TALKING ABOUT FOR A TIME FRAME TO GET ALL OF OUR LOST JOBS BACKS?

>> I THINK HE'S TALKING ABOUT OVER THE COURSE, SOMETIME IN UNDER A YEAR WE'RE GOING TO GET BACK TO THAT POSITION, CONSIDERING NO NEW SURPRISES.

>> LET TALK ABOUT A NATIONAL OUTLOOK ON JOBS AND, YOU KNOW, FOLKS HIRING AGAIN. A LOT OF JOBS, AT LEAST AT THE NATIONAL LEVEL, THAT WERE LOST WERE EITHER MIDDLE OR HIGHER INCOME EARNING JOBS, AND NOW WE'RE SEEING THAT SOME OF THOSE JOBS THAT ARE RETURNING ARE NOT QUITE AS HIGH. IS THAT THE CASE HERE IN VERMONT? ARE WE SEEING FEWER HIGH-END JOBS, MIDDLE-INCOME JOBS COMING BACK?

>> YOU KNOW, I'M SEEING JOBS ACROSS THE SPECTRUM COMING BACK, AND WE DON'T SEEM TO BE BEHAVING LIKE THE REST OF THE COUNTRY AND WE RARELY BEHAVE LIKE THE REST OF THE COUNTRY. AND IT DEPENDS ON WHERE YOU ARE IN THE STATE. CERTAINLY CHITTENDEN COUNTY HAS THE STRONGEST PERFORMANCE STATEWIDE, AND ADJOINING AREAS ARE VERY STRONG. WE'VE GOT, YOU KNOW, CONTINUING CONCERNS AROUND WINDHAM COUNTY, BENNINGTON COUNTY, POPULATION ISSUES IN THE MIX, BUT OVERALL FEEL MUCH MORE POSITIVE, I THINK, FROM MANY OF MY COLLEAGUES AROUND THE COUNTRY.

>> I COULDN'T HELP BUT HEARING WHEN YOU WERE TALKING ABOUT THE JOB GROWTH, YOUR OPTIMISM HAS A HINT OF CAUTION. YOU SAID BARRING ANY NEW SURPRISES. NO NEW SURPRISES. LET TALK ABOUT IBM. AS YOU KNOW, THERE'S SOME RUMORS SWIRLING FOR WEEKS AND WEEKS THAT SOME LAYOFFS COULD BE COMING. THERE'S NO IDEA OF THE SCOPE, NO IDEA IF THIS IS ACCURATE OR NOT. THE COMPANY WILL NOT RESPOND TO ANY SORT OF POTENTIAL LAYOFFS, THEY WON'T TALK ABOUT ANYTHING LIKE THIS. WHAT ARE YOU HEARING?

>> WE DON'T HEAR ANYTHING. IBM, LIKE MANY LARGE EMPLOYERS, ISN'T GOING TO TALK ABOUT SOMETHING LIKE THAT AHEAD OF TIME. IF THERE'S ANY BASIS TO IT. BUT, YOU KNOW, LOOKING AT WHAT THIS PLANT DOES FOR IBM AND HOW IT'S STANDS ON ITS OWN TWO FEET, IT'S A STRONG PLANT AND I FEEL THAT IBM HAS GIVEN ME NO REASON TO BE CONCERNED ABOUT THEIR NEAR-TERM OUTLOOK.

>> DO YOU THINK THERE WILL BE LAYOFFS? WE'RE HEARING THERE COULD BE LAYOFFS THIS MONTH.

>> I HAVEN'T HEARD ANYTHING DIRECTLY TO THAT EFFECT, SO I COULDN'T SAY.

>> WOULD LAYOFFS AT THE PLANT SURPRISE YOU?

>> SUBSTANTIAL LAYOFFS PROBABLY WOULD SURPRISE ME. BUT --

>> BY "SUBSTANTIAL," WHAT DO YOU MEAN?

>> WELL, ANY BUSINESS'S SCALE HAS SOME ADJUSTMENTS FROM TIME TO TIME. YOU KNOW, IF THAT SIZE WORKFORCE, EVEN UP TO 100 WOULD BE UP IN THE RANGE OF ORDINARY ADJUSTMENTS. IF IT WERE LARGER THAN THAT, I WOULD BE SURPRISED, BUT I DON'T KNOW THAT IT'S GOING TO EVEN HAPPEN AT ALL. THERE'S BEEN NO INDICATION THAT THEY'RE CONSIDERING ACTION HERE AT THE ESSEX PLANT.

>> DURING THE ECONOMIC OUTLOOK SUMMIT, THE REPORT THAT GINA JUST DID, I THINK THAT SOMETHING THAT MAY HAVE BEEN A BIT SURPRISING IN THAT IS THAT MANUFACTURING SEEMS TO BE DOING BETTER THAN ANYONE ANTICIPATED.

>> YES. JOB GROWTH IN MANUFACTURING IS STARTING TO PICK UP AGAIN. WE DID HAVE A LOT OF JOB LOSSES OVER THE COURSE OF ABOUT 15 YEARS IN MANUFACTURING. WHAT WAS GOING ON, THOUGH, WAS THAT THERE WERE TREMENDOUS PRODUCTIVITY IMPROVEMENTS AT THE SAME TIME. OVER THE SAME PERIOD THAT WE HAVE THAT JOB LOSS, VERMONT'S MANUFACTURERS INCREASED THEIR OUTPUT ABOUT 2 1/2 FOLD SO THEY WERE ADAPTING TO COMPETITIVE PRESSURES, A LOT OF THEM GLOBAL PRESSURES. NOW THAT THEY ARE IN THAT STRONG COMPETITIVE POSITION AND AS WE'RE SEEING WAGES INCREASE IN OTHER COUNTRIES, AS WE'RE SEEING TRANSPORTATION COSTS GO UP, AS WE'RE SEEING SOME OF THE PITFALLS OF OFFSHORING CERTAINLY KINDS OF PRODUCTION -- CERTAIN KINDS OF PRODUCTION, SEEING A LOT OF STRENGTH IN DOMESTIC MANUFACTURING IN SOME SECTORS AND THAT'S TREATING VERMONT BUSINESSES VERY WELL.

>> ARE YOU ANTICIPATING ANY NEW BUSINESS, NEW INDUSTRY COMING IN TO THE STATE? WHAT'S THE SCUTTLEBUTT ABOUT TRYING TO LURE IN NEW MANUFACTURERS?

>> WHAT WE'VE THOUGHT OVER TIME IS THAT THE STRONGEST COMPANIES IN VERMONT IS THOSE THAT GREW HERE AND THEY HAVE THE STRONGEST COMMITMENT, SO WE SPEND A LOT MORE TIME WORKING WITH VERMONT-BASED COMPANIES AND ENTREPRENEURS, HELPING THEM TO GROW, THAN TO GO OUT RESEARCHING FOLKS THAT MIGHT CHOOSE TO COME HERE. OBVIOUSLY, WE'LL PICK UP THE PHONE IF ANYBODY ANNOUNCES AN INTENTION TO MOVE SOMEWHERE OR IF THEY WANT TO COME VISIT WITH US AND TAKE A LOOK, BUT THE WORK THAT USED TO BE DONE IN TRADITIONAL ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT OF GOING TO SITE SELECTOR CONFERENCES, IT JUST HASN'T TURNED OUT TO GIVE US A WHOLE LOT OF BUSINESS, AND I'D MUCH RATHER BE CONNECTING WITH PEOPLE THAT HAVE A VERMONT CONNECTION, WHETHER THAT SECOND HOMEOWNERS, THEY WENT TO SCHOOL HERE. THOSE ARE THE TYPES OF CONNECTIONS THAT WHEN WE PURSUE THROUGH NETWORKING, WE HAND THOSE BUSINESSES.

>> AND WHEN YOU'RE NEGOTIATING OR TRYING TO KEEP THESE COMPANIES HERE IN VERMONT, WHAT ARE THEY SAYING IS THEIR BIGGEST CONCERN? IS IT HIGH TAXES, HIGH UTILITY RATES? WHAT ARE YOU HEARING?

>> WORKFORCE?

>> WORKFORCE IS THE BIGGEST ISSUE. I THINK THAT'S TRUE FOR ANY BUSINESS AT ANY TIME. IF YOU DON'T HAVE THE PEOPLE TO DO THE WORK YOU NEED TO GET DONE, THAT'S THE GAME CHANGER, AND ONE OF THE THINGS THAT'S PARTICULARLY REWARDING ABOUT TALKING TO SOME OF THE MULTI-STATE FIRMS THAT HAVE OPERATIONS IN VERMONT IS HOW HIGHLY REGARDED THE VERMONT WORKFORCE IS.

>> BUT WE NEED SKILLED WORKERS, SO THERE'S A PROBLEM DO.

>> WE DO. THERE'S AN OPPORTUNITY THERE, AND WE'VE GOT TO MAKE SURE THAT WE DO A BETTER JOB CONNECTING WITH KIDS IN HIGH SCHOOL, TALKING TO THEM ABOUT WHAT OPPORTUNITIES REALLY ARE OUT THERE. WE NEED TO DO A BETTER JOB CONNECTING GUIDANCE COUNSELORS AND TEACHERS WITH MANUFACTURERS, WITH OTHER BUSINESSES IN THE STATE SO THEY HAVE A CLEAR UNDERSTANDING OF WHAT THE OPPORTUNITIES THEIR STUDENTS HAVE GOING FORWARD, AND MAKE SURE THAT PEOPLE ARE PAYING ATTENTION TO THE RIGHT THINGS IN SCHOOL AND JUDGING THEIR OPPORTUNITIES IN THE RIGHT WAY. THERE'S A GAP BETWEEN THE NUMBER OF STUDENTS THAT GO ON TO POST-SECONDARY EDUCATION AND JOBS THAT REQUIRE POST-SECONDARY EDUCATION. SO WE DO NEED MORE KIDS TO CONTINUE AND COMPLETE THEIR COLLEGE OR SOME OTHER FORM OF SECONDARY EDUCATION. WE TALK ABOUT POST-SECONDARY EDUCATION, WE TALK ABOUT THAT, IT'S NOT JUST. SOMETIMES IT'S TRADE SCHOOL, SOMETIMES IT'S CERTIFICATES, THERE'S A MIX. BUT WHAT'S CLEARLY TRUE IS THAT A HIGH SCHOOL DIPLOMA DOESN'T DO IT FOR MOST PEOPLE ANYMORE.

>> ONE OF THE REGIONS IN THE STATE I KNOW YOU'RE KEEPING A CLOSE EYE ON IS THE NORTHEAST KINGDOM. THERE'S A HUGE REDEVELOPMENT AND EXPANSION PLAN GOING IN THAT REGION SPARKED. HOW IS IT GOING WHEN IT COMES TO FINDING WORKERS TO FILL THOSE JOBS? WE'RE TALKING ABOUT THOUSANDS AND THOUSANDS AND THOUSANDS OF WORKERS ARE GOING TO BE NEEDED IN A SHORT TERM AND THE LONG TERM.

>> THERE'S A COMBINATION OF STRATEGIES THAT BOTH THOSE THE COMPANIES AND THE STATE AND THE REGIONAL PARTNERS ARE PURSUING. THE FIRST THING TO RECOGNIZE IS THAT THE OVERALL NUMBER OF 10,000 JOBS IS DIRECT, INDIRECT, AND INDUCED, SO IT'S NOT JUST THE JOBS THAT ARE RIGHT THERE IN THE KINGDOM AND THOSE THAT ARE BEYOND. THERE'S GOING TO BE AN AWFUL LOT OF OPPORTUNITY FOR PEOPLE WHO ARE COMMUTING OUT OF THE AREA TO STAY CLOSER TO WORK. I KNOW A NUMBER OF PEOPLE WHO COME DOWN TO MONTPELIER WHERE I'M LIVING RIGHT NOW TO WORK WHO WON'T HAVE TO HAVE AN HOUR AND A HALF LONG COMMUTE. THERE'S A LOT OF FOLKS WHO FACE THAT, SO I THINK THAT'S THE FIRST OPPORTUNITY FOR THE WORKFORCE. WE HAVE A GROUP OF PEOPLE LED BY THE COMMISSIONER OF LABOR WORKING ON LOCAL WORKFORCE DEVELOPMENT OPPORTUNITIES. THE STATE COLLEGE SYSTEM, INCLUDING THE COMMUNITY COLLEGE SYSTEM OF VERMONT IS HIGHLY ENGAGED, LOCAL TECH CENTERS HIGHLY ENGAGED, WORKING DIRECTLY WITH THOSE BUSINESSES TO TALK TO THEM ABOUT WHAT KIND OF TRAINING NEEDS TO HAPPEN AND THEY'RE BEGINNING TO DEPLOY THAT. PARTICULARLY IN THE HOSPITALITY FIELD AND ALSO THE FOLKS IN THE BIOTECH, BUT THESE ARE A NUMBER OF DIFFERENT ENTERPRISES AND THE WINDOW MANUFACTURING, FOR EXAMPLE, THAT'S COMING FROM GERMANY LIKES THE AREA BECAUSE THERE ARE A LOT OF SKILLED FOLKS WHO HAVE EXPERIENCE IN FINISHED WOOD PRODUCTS INDUSTRY. THEY UNDERSTAND MANY OF THE ELEMENTS OF WHAT GOES INTO PRODUCING THOSE PRODUCTS. THEY'RE GOING TO BE WORKING WITH VERY NEW TECHNOLOGY AND SO THEY'RE GOING TO NEED TO BE TRAINED SPECIFICALLY ON THAT, BUT THERE ARE FOLKS IN THAT AREA WHO HAVE THOSE SKILLS BUT DON'T HAVE THE OPPORTUNITY TO USE THEM AT THE HIGHEST AND BEST.

>> YOU MENTIONED THOSE 10,000 JOBS ARE DIRECT, INDIRECT, BUT CAN THAT REGION REALLY -- ARE THERE REALLY 10,000 PEOPLE THERE WHO ARE AVAILABLE TO FILL THOSE JOBS? THOSE NUMBERS, WHEN YOU LOOK AT THE POPULATION, JUST DON'T SEEM TO ADD UP.

>> I THINK WE'RE PROBABLY TALKING ABOUT 2500 JOBS WITHIN THAT AREA, SPECIFICALLY, THAT ARE GOING TO BE NEW FULL-TIME JOBS. A LOT OF THAT WAS LOOKED AT THE MIGRATION OF PEOPLE IN COMMUTING, A LOT OF IT WILL BE FILLED BY PEOPLE IN THAT AREA AND THAT'S GOING TO PUT PRESSURE ON OTHER EMPLOYMENT MARKETS FOR SURE, BUT THAT'S PART OF WHAT OUR CHARGE IS, IS TO IMPROVE WAGES. SO WE DO EXPECT THAT TO BE A LITTLE BIT OF A CHALLENGE. THERE WILL BE SOME PEOPLE MOVING TO THE AREA, NO QUESTION. THERE'S GOING TO BE SPECIFIC SKILLS THAT DON'T EXIST IN THE MARKET AND PEOPLE WILL COME INTO THE AREA. THERE IS SOME HOUSING STOCK AVAILABLE. CERTAINLY SOME OF IT NEEDS TO BE UPGRADED AND CERTAINLY THERE'S GOING TO BE SOME OPPORTUNITY TO BUILD NEW HOUSING, BUT THIS WILL UNFOLD OVER A PERIOD OF TIME. IF WE LOOK AT SCHOOL CAPACITY, NUMBER OF STUDENTS NOW COMPARED TO PEAK, LOOKS LIKE THERE IS THE PHYSICAL CAPACITY TO ACCOMMODATE WHOEVER NEEDS TO MOVE TO THE AREA FOR THESE OPPORTUNITIES.

>> PIGGYBACKING ON WHAT CHRISTEN JUST BROUGHT UP AND HOW REALISTIC THIS PLAN IS, OF COURSE, THIS IS ALL SPURRED BY THE E BE-5 PROGRAM, FOREIGN INVESTORS BRINGING A LOT OF MONEY TO THE NORTHEAST KINGDOM TO MAKE THIS HAPPEN.

>> YES.

>> DO YOU ANTICIPATE THIS BEING A LONG-TERM FINANCIAL FIX FOR THE ECONOMY OF THE NORTHEAST KINGDOM? AND HOW CAN THAT SUSTAIN, ONCE THE INITIAL INVESTMENT IS GONE?

>> WELL, IT'S THE LARGEST CAPITAL INVESTMENT IN THE REGION, I THINK, PROBABLY EVER. AND WHEN YOU TALK ABOUT THIS MANY NEW JOB OPPORTUNITIES IN THAT POPULATION BASE, IT'S PROBABLY NOT DISSIMILAR TO, YOU KNOW, WHAT HAPPENED WHEN IBM DECIDED TO OPEN A PLANT IN CHITTENDEN COUNTY. IT'S BIG, AND TRANSFORMATIONAL, I THINK. THERE ARE RISKS THAT NEED TO BE MANAGED. WE KEEP IDENTIFYING THOSE AND KEEP TALKING TO PEOPLE ABOUT WHAT THOSE ARE. THERE'S RISKS AROUND MAKING SURE COMMUNITIES RETAIN THEIR INTEGRITY AND THEIR SENSE OF SELF, THAT THOSE COMMUNITIES DEVELOP THE WAY THEY WANT TO, BUT ONE OF THE THINGS I FIND VERY ENCOURAGING IS WE'RE NOT TALKING ABOUT A CONCENTRATION OF ONE NEW BIG BUSINESS. WE'RE TALKING ABOUT MULTIPLE ENDEAVORS, AND SO THE DIVERSIFICATION OF THE REGION'S ECONOMY IS AS IMPORTANT AS ITS EXPANSION, BECAUSE THAT'S WHAT GIVES YOU RESILIENCE. ONE DOESN'T WORK OUT, THERE ARE OTHERS THAT WILL. AND IT COMMENCES A VIRTUOUS CYCLE. ALL OF THE PEOPLE, ALL OF THOSE BUSINESSES NEED ADDITIONAL SUPPORT BUSINESSES THAT HELP THEM. THOSE FOLKS ALL GO OUT TO EAT GO, OUT TO THE MOVIES, GROCERY SHOPPING, SHOE SHOPPING, ALL OF THE THINGS THAT ONE DOES. SO I THINK IT'S GOT THE OPPORTUNITY TO REALLY DO SOMETHING FUNDAMENTALLY TRANSFORMATIVE FOR THE ECONOMY.

>> LET'S TALK ABOUT THAT. I THINK THAT SOME FOLKS IN THE KINGDOM, BECAUSE THERE ARE SO MANY QUESTIONS ABOUT THIS, YOU'RE TALKING ABOUT TRANSFORMING THE KINGDOM, YOU'RE TALKING ABOUT SOME RISKS HERE. WHAT WILL THE KINGDOM LOOK LIKE ONCE THIS IS ALL DONE?

>> I THINK THAT'S REALLY UP TO THE COMMUNITIES THEMSELVES. I THINK IT VARIES AS TO HOW MUCH THOUGHT HAS PRECEDED THIS MOMENT.

>> I MEAN, IS IT GOING TO BE THE NEXT STOWE, I MEAN --

>> NO, I THINK THIS IS AN OPPORTUNITY FOR THE COMMUNITIES THAT ARE THERE TO STEP UP TO A LEVEL OF WELL-BEING THAT'S BETTER THAN IT IS NOW, BUT WE'RE NOT TALKING ABOUT A TRANSFORMATION TO AN AFFLUENT WORK COMMUNITY. WE'RE TALKING ABOUT HOW TO MAKE SURE THAT PEOPLE CONTINUE TO LIVE THE WAY THEY CHOOSE TO LIVE, SAME RECREATIONAL OPPORTUNITIES, SAME OUTDOOR OPPORTUNITIES, SAME CULTURAL TRADITIONS. A LITTLE MORE INCOME AND A LITTLE MORE CHOICES OF WHAT TO DO FOR A LIVING. NEWPORT'S BEEN PLANNING FOR THIS KIND OF DEVELOPMENT, THIS KIND OF OPPORTUNITY FOR A LONG TIME, AND A LOT OF PIECES ARE IN PLACE AND I SEE THOSE COMMUNITYIES' STRENGTHS AS BEING THE FOLKS WHO LIVE THERE AND THERE WILL BE SOME NEW PEOPLE COMING INTO THE AREA AND WHAT WE TALK ABOUT IS THE IMPORTANCE FOR PEOPLE WHO HAVE BEEN IN THOSE COMMUNITIES FOR A WHILE TO WELCOME PEOPLE INTO THE COMMUNITY AND TO SHARE THE LOCAL VALUES AND ACTIVITIES, MAKE SURE THAT THEY PRESERVE WHAT THEY LOVE BEST, AND THAT CAN BE DONE.

>> WE NEED TO TAKE A BRIEF BREAK. WE'RE TALKING ABOUT COMMERCE

>>> WELCOME BACK, EVERYONE. WE'RE TALKING JOBS, ECONOMY AND DEVELOPMENT WITH COMMERCE SECRETARY LAWRENCE MILLER. I'M GOING TO GET TO A RECENT SUMMIT THAT WAS HELD IN RUTLAND THAT YOU HELPED HOST, TALKING ABOUT WHAT NEEDS TO HAPPEN IN VERMONT'S JOB SECTOR AND THE GOAL OF NETWORKING. WHAT WAS THE GOAL OF THAT AND WHAT DO YOU THINK HAS COME OUT OF IT?

>> THE GOAL WAS TO KICK OFF A LONG-TERM ECONOMIC STRATEGY DISCUSSION AND PROCESS. POST-IRENE, WE APPLIED TO THE ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT ADMINISTRATION FOR A GRANT TO DO A STATEWIDE ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT STRATEGY SIMILAR TO WHAT WAS JUST COMPLETED FOR CHITTENDEN COUNTY. WE'RE NOT GOING TO OVERLAY THE EXISTING SET, BUT WE WANTED TO MAKE SURE THE ENTIRE STATE WAS COVERED AND ONE OF OUR KEY OUTCOMES WAS HAVING A GOOD RESILIENT STRATEGY FOR BUSINESSES THAT ARE AFFECTED BY NATURAL DISASTERS IN THE FUTURE, SO THAT'S A PART OF IT. BUT WE ALSO RECOGNIZE THAT THERE'S NEVER BEEN A SUSTAINED ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT CONVERSATION. THIS WAS THE FIRST STATEWIDE SUMMIT THAT WE'RE AWARE OF TO BRING ALL OF THE PROFESSIONALS TOGETHER, GOING BACK TO GRAFTON IN THE MID '80s WHERE THERE WAS A SMALL EFFORT TO HAVE A CONVERSATION, BUT I THINK THIS IS THE FIRST ONE THAT'S BEEN DONE IN QUITE A WHILE AND OUR GOAL IS OVER THE NEXT TEN MONTHS TO HAVE OUR GROUP INTERACT WITH THOUSANDS OF VERMONTERS AND HAVE A CONVERSATION ABOUT WHAT REALLY IS OUR SHARED OBJECTIVE FOR ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT. FOR ME, ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT IS ABOUT IMPROVING PEOPLE'S QUALITY OF LIFE. IT'S ABOUT WELL-BEING. IT'S NOT A QUESTION OF WHAT THE FINANCIAL OUTCOME IS. IT'S A QUESTION OF WHAT THE FINANCIAL OUTCOME IS RELATIVE TO COST AND RELATIVE TO PEOPLE'S QUALITY OF LIFE, SO OUR COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT ASPECTS ARE JUST AS IMPORTANT. WE WANT TO DO ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT IN A WAY THAT IS HARMONIZED WITH VERMONT'S VALUES. WE'RE NOT GOING TO PURSUE ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT STRATEGIES THAT LOOK LIKE NEW JERSEY, RIGHT? SO THAT INVOLVES A LOT OF PEOPLE. SO I WAS REALLY GRATIFIED AT THE TURNOUT WE HAD, BUT IT'S REALLY JUST THE START OF THIS LONG GR CONVERSATION. WE'RE GOING TO BE HOSTING IN THE FALL AND EVERY YEAR AN ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT SUMMIT TO BRING SOME PRACTITIONERS, THE LENDERS, AND INTERESTED COMMUNITY MEMBERS TO TALK ABOUT THAT.

>> WHEN YOU CAME FROM THE PRIVATE SECTOR, YOU HAD A SUCCESSFUL COMPANY BEFORE YOU WORKED IN STATE GOVERNMENT. IN 'PHILOSOPHY -- YOUR PHILOSOPHY, DOES GOVERNMENT CREATE JOBS OR DOES THE PRIVATE SECTOR CREATE JOBS?

>> THE PRIVATE SECTOR CREATES THE JOBS. IT'S INDIVIDUAL ENTREPRENEURS TAKING THE RSKS A PEOPLE TAKING THE RISK TO JOIN THEM. IT'S REALLY A TREMENDOUS LEAP OF FAITH FOR SOMEBODY TO JOIN A BRAND-NEW COMPANY AND ONE OF THE THINGS WE HOPE TO DO IS TO MAKE THAT LEAP OF FAITH AS ACHIEVABLE AS POSSIBLE FOR MANY PEOPLE. THAT'S ONE OF THE REASONS THAT I THINK THAT DECOUPLING HEALTH INSURANCE FROM EMPLOYMENT STATUS IS ONE OF THE MOST ADVANTAGEOUS THINGS WE COULD DO, BECAUSE SO MANY PEOPLE I KNOW CHOSE NOT TO GO OFF ON THEIR OWN OR CHOSE NOT TO JOIN A START-UP SIMPLY BECAUSE THEY DIDN'T WANT TO RISK LOSING THEIR BENEFITS. THEY COULDN'T SEE GOING OUT HEALTH INSURANCE, WHICH IS NOT UNCOMMON IN THE START-UP STAGE. SO I REALLY DO THINK WE IN GOVERNMENT NEED TO PURSUE POLICIES THAT MAKE IT EASIER AND MORE ENDCOURAGEING FOR ENTREPRENEURS TO START MORE BUSINESSES. NOT EVERYONE WILL BE SUCCESSFUL, BUT THE FAILURE RATE IS WAY OVERSTATED. WHEN WE HEAR THIS 80% OF NEW BUSINESSES FAIL, THAT'S A TWIST ON AN OLD SBA STUDY THAT FOUND THAT FIVE YEARS AFTER THEY STARTED, ONLY 20% OF BUSINESSES WERE IN THE SAME FORM FIVE YEARS LATER, CORPORATE GOVERNANCE FORM. THAT DOESN'T MEAN THE 80% WERE FAILURES. IT MEANS THAT THEY DID SOMETHING ELSE ALONG THE WAY, AND IF WE WANT MORE BUSINESS SUCCESSES IN VERMONT, WE NEED MORE BUSINESS STARTS. SOME OF WHAT WE DO IS IMPORTANT AROUND THOSE POLICIES, TAX POLICIES ARE IMPORTANT IN THE CONTEXT OF THE COMPETITIVE SITUATION, BUT I THINK IT'S IMPORTANT TO RECOGNIZE THAT WORKFORCE IS WAY MORE IMPORTANT THAN TAXES. ACCESS TO CUSTOMERS IS WAY MORE IMPORTANT THAN TAXES. AND WE HAVE TO BE CAREFUL ABOUT ASCRIBING TOO MUCH NEGATIVE IMPACT TO ANY ONE FACTOR.

>> LET'S TALK MORE ABOUT THAT, THE WORKFORCE ISSUE, AND THE STATE'S NEED FOR SKILLED WORKERS AND TO LESSEN THE SO-CALLED BRAIN DRAIN WHERE WE'RE SEEING YOUNG PEOPLE LEAVE THE STATE RIGHT AFTER SCHOOL. THE LEGISLATURE JUST WRAPPED UP. DID LAWMAKERS DO ANYTHING RIGHT TO ADDRESS THAT?

>> THERE'S SOME ONGOING DISCUSSIONS ABOUT HOW TO DO WORKFORCE RETENTION AND TRAINING AND THOSE WILL CONTINUE. I DON'T THINK THIS IS SO MUCH A LEGISLATIVE ISSUE AS AN EXECUTION ISSUE. OUR BUSINESSES NEED TO WORK TOGETHER WITH OUR EDUCATION INSTITUTIONS TO MAKE SURE THAT THOSE CONNECTIONS ARE MADE, THAT THERE'S MORE INTERNSHIPS AVAILABLE, THAT PEOPLE HAVE MORE WORK EXPOSURE, AND THAT THERE'S A BETTER OUTREACH. I ACTUALLY DON'T SHARE THE SENSE THAT IT'S A BAD THING FOR OUR YOUTH TO GO AWAY WHEN THEY FINISH SCHOOL. IT'S A HUGE COMPLEX WORLD AND TO HAVE SOME EXPOSURE TO OTHER WAYS OF DOING THINGS, TO SEE WHAT ELSE IS GOING ON OUT THERE, THERE'S NO SUBSTITUTE FOR REALLY ENGAGING WITH THE WORLD IN THAT WAY. I THINK THE OPPORTUNITY TO REACH OUT TO PEOPLE WHO HAVE LIVED IN VERMONT AND INVITE THEM TO COME BACK AT THE APPROPRIATE TIME IN THEIR LIVES, THAT'S THE MOST IMPORTANT OPPORTUNITY WE'VE GOT. WE'RE WORKING WITH THE COLLEGES TO CONNECT WITH THEIR ALUMNI SO THAT WHEN THEY'RE AT THE POINT IN LIFE WHEN TAKING A JOB BACK IN VERMONT IS THE HIGHEST INTEREST FOR THEM, THAT WE'RE ABLE TO CONNECT THEM, AND I THINK THAT'S OUR BIGGEST OPPORTUNITY. THAT AND THE SHEER NUMBER OF STUDENTS THAT COME TO VERMONT'S OUTSTANDING COLLEGES AND UNIVERSITIES FROM AWAY.

>> BUT EVEN THOUGH, SECRETARY MILLER, THE PROBLEM ISN'T GETTING BETTER, THE OPPOSITE IS GETTING WORSE. THE GRAYING OF THE GREEN MOUNTAINS IS SOMETHING THAT'S BEEN HAPPENING AND HAPPENING FOR DECADES AND CONTINUES TO HAPPEN. IS THIS SUSTAINABLE IF YOU CONTINUE TO HAVE AN OVERPOPULATION?

>> IT'S NOT. WE DO NEED SOMETHING DIFFERENT TO HAPPEN, BUT IT'S ALSO IMPORTANT TO RECOGNIZE THAT WHEN YOU CONTROL FOR EDUCATIONAL ATTAINMENT, RACE, INCOME LEVEL, VERMONT'S POPULATION CHANGE LOOKS A LOT LIKE THE REST OF THE COUNTRY. IT'S THAT WE DON'T HAVE MANY OF THE POPULATIONS THAT ARE GROWING IN THOSE YOUNGER DEMOGRAPHICS IN VERMONT. ONE OF THE THINGS THAT'S GOING TO HAVE TO CHANGE IS THE NUMBER OF PEOPLE FROM DIFFERENT CULTURES THAT WE HAVE IN VERMONT. IT'S JUST A NATURAL PROGRESSION OF THINGS, BUT THOSE TWO THINGS ARE LINKED AND I'M HOPING VERY STRONGLY THAT SOME OF THE IMMIGRATION REFORM EFFORTS THAT ARE UNDERGOING REVIEW IN THE U.S. CONGRESS RIGHT NOW WILL BE SUCCESSFUL BECAUSE IT'S CLEARLY GOING TO BE ONE OF THE KEYS TO OUR FUTURE.

>> WHEN YOU TALK ABOUT, YOU KNOW, LETTING THESE YOUNG PEOPLE LEAVE AND TRYING TO GET THEM BACK, WHAT KINDS OF THINGS CAN THE STATE DO TO LURE YOUNG PEOPLE BACK TO THE STATE?

>> A LOT OF IT IS COMMUNICATION. I THINK IF WE LOOK AT IT IN THE SENSE THAT WE HAVE ALUMNI, VERMONT ALUMNI OUT IN THE WORLD, YOU KNOW, ANY GOOD DEVELOPMENT OFFICER AT A COLLEGE OR HIGH SCHOOL KNOWS THAT KEEPING IN TOUCH WITH YOUR GRADUATES IS THE MOST CRITICAL THING, RIGHT? I KEEP UP WITH MINE, SO ANY TIME THAT WE DO WORK ON THE VERMONT BRAND THAT KEEPS US OUT THERE NATIONALLY AND INTERNATIONALLY, THAT'S IMPORTANT. THINGS THAT WE DO THAT CELEBRATE WHAT A GREAT PLACE VERMONT IS TO LIVE FOR MANY OF US, GET THAT OUT NATIONALLY, THAT DOES IT. I THINK IT'S IMPORTANT TO REMEMBER THAT EVERYWHERE PRIDES THEMSELVES ON THEIR QUALITY OF LIFE, RIGHT? WHEREVER PEOPLE LIVE AND THEY LIKE TO LIVE, THEY PRIDE THEIR QUALITY OF LIFE. WE HAVE A PARTICULAR QUALITY OF LIFE AND WE NEED TO BE SURE THAT WE ATTRACTING PEOPLE WHO HAVE LIVED HERE, WHO WANT TO COME BACK, AND ATTRACTING PEOPLE WHO DO WANT TO LIVE HERE BOTH, BUT THE KEY TO ME IS THAT WE HAVE VIBRANT COMMUNITIES THAT PEOPLE WANT TO LIVE, AND I THINK ONE OF THE REASONS THAT YOU SEE BURLINGTON GROWING THE WAY IT IS RIGHT NOW IS BECAUSE BURLINGTON HAS DONE A GREAT JOB OF COMMUNICATING WHAT THE COMMUNITY'S VALUES ARE AND WHAT YOU FIND HERE AND HAVING GOOD ACTIVE LIFE AND WE'RE HAVING THE DOWNTOWN -- WE HAD THE DOWNTOWN CONFERENCE IN BARRE ON FRIDAY AND THAT'S THE OTHER SIDE OF THAT EFFORT IS MAKING SURE THAT WE HAVE VIBRANT COMMUNITIES FOR PEOPLE TO MOVE TO, PARTICULARLY WHO HAVE YOUNG FAMILIES.

>> ARE THESE COMMUNITIES AFFORDABLE, THOUGH?

>> IN SOME CASES, WE'VE GOT AFFORDABILITY ISSUES ACROSS THE NORTHEAST, SO HEATING IS SOMETHING THAT'S GOTTEN MORE EXPENSIVE. THE FACT THAT WE'RE RELYING ON FUEL OIL WITHOUT MUCH NATURAL GAS AS ISSUE. WE NEED TO CONTINUE TO DRIVE ON THERMAL EFFICIENCY, WE NEED TO CONTINUE TO DRIVE ON ELECTRIC COSTS, CONTINUE TO DRIVE ON TRANSPORTATION COSTS. THERE ARE A LOT OF THE ASPECTS OF BEING IN A RURAL COMMUNITY THAT TEND TO COST MORE THAN LIVING IN AN URBAN CENTER, SO WE HAVE TO BE MINDFUL OF WHAT THOSE ARE AND HELP VERMONTERS MAKE THE DECISIONS THAT ARE GOING TO MAKE VERMONT A LESS EXPENSIVE PLACE TO BE, RELATIVE TO WHAT IT COULD BE. AND THOSE ARE OFTEN INDIVIDUAL THINGS. I JUST HAD TO REPLACE MY 15-YEAR-OLD VAN THAT DIED, AND, YOU KNOW, THE FACT THAT I COULD MOVE TO SOMETHING THAT GOT 45 MILES A GALLON WAS PRETTY ATTRACTIVE.

>> WELL, THERE YOU GO. SORRY TO HEAR ABOUT YOUR VAN. COMMERCE SECRETARY LAWRENCE MILLER, WE APPRECIATE THE DISCUSSION AND THE TIME AND GOOD LUCK WITH YOUR NEW CAR.

>> THANKS VERY MUCH.

>> YOU WILL FIND OUT SOON HOW IT HANDLES IN THE WINTER. THANKS TO YOU AT HOME FOR WATCHING, EVERYONE. TAKE CARE.

>> SEE YOU. CAPTIONING PROVIDED BY CAPTION ASSOCIATES, LLC www.captionassociates.com

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