Vermont is a small business state. 96 percent of Vermont businesses employ fewer than 50 employees and those businesses pay nearly half of all wages in the state. What ideas do you have for how Vermont could further support a healthy small business economy?
US Senate Candidates
Edward S Gilbert Jr - U.S. Senate, Statewide
Cut Taxes, Vermont needs a far friendlier Small Business Tax Code for a good decade or more to grow the tax base. Dropping Vermont from #7 Most Taxed State to mid-20's while improving #49 Worst Business Friendly State improving to the Mid-20's. Vermont is in dire need of Economic Prosperity across all 14 Counties in order to recover, allowing more money in Small Businesses to grow their business models. People are leaving the State of Vermont due to a tax code rigged for failure rather than for success. Better opportunities for 1 good paying job with benefits, allowing families to get out of poverty, despair and stress. Restoring our Economic Prosperity helps across so many areas, it is a very important issue as a Federal Representative to work in the best interests of Vermonters rather than working in a Federal Representative working for their own self interests. Vermont needs a Federal Representative working to attract funding rather than resisting, causing delay on key economic incentives that would help more Vermonters. Vermont needs a Federal Representative working with the Federal Administration to attract the funding needed for the State of Vermont to ease it's over regulation, complicated tax code, shrinking huge State Government, cutting costs while growing a sustainable successful business environment.
Folasade Adeluola - United States Senate, Statewide
We Must Expand The State Businesses By Inviting and Bringing Other Businesses To The State To Make Lives Better For People With Easy Access To Transact Business In The State For Everyone.
Attorney General Candidates
Rosemarie Jackowski - Attorney General, Statewide
If done the right way, Single Payer health care would help by taking the burden off small business.
Charles Laramie - Governor, Statewide
Limit the amount of workman's comp they have to pay. In doing this they could perhaps pay their workers more. Cut some of the red tape for starting a business.
Christine Hallquist - Governor, Statewide
Small businesses are a critical part of Vermont's economy and employ more than 50 percent of Vermonters. As Governor, working to support small businesses would be a priority of mine, because supporting small businesses is critical to supporting Vermonters. This includes expanding broadband access to all areas of the state, a vital prerequisite for business growth. It also includes investing in job training programs and higher education to ensure Vermont remains home to a robust, skilled workforce and supporting access to universal healthcare which will reduce costs for employers while improving employees' quality of life. Paid Family and Medical Leave Insurance along with better healthcare access will also make smaller employers more competitive in attracting and retaining good workers.
Em Peyton - Governor, Statewide
I will present a budget that removes taxation from Vermont made items. I also want to look at methods of making money available for Vermonters, creating financial mentorships, and much much more. I am concerned about the manner that budgets are developed in state governance, there is no incentive for departments to come in under budget. We are not "making vermonters' money work for them" as much as we could. I believe we need to learn how to circulate public money, so that we do not need to create panic amongst the financially powerful that we will take from them, triggering an overwhelmingly destructive response, but rather, what freedoms to we have to employ greater liberty from economic enslavement with our existing powers. For this I have great passion, and would engage all who have staying power to work on freeing our people from economic hardship.
Trevor Barlow - Governor, Statewide
I would like to offer innovation grants to each of our regions to promote the creation of new, local businesses. This would be managed through a public/private partnership for innovation and selection of qualified business for financing and prioritize geographies that need the economic boost. We need to support and more effectively market new and existing training and development programs for workers. We also need to attract more workers and make sure that the businesses we are creating and support offer living wages.
Secretary of State Candidates
Brooke Paige - Secretary of State, Statewide
Government is not the principle driver of a healthy economy - free enterprise and competition is ! The best thing that Vermont's government can do is to concentrate on reducing the tax burdens on individuals and companies as well as reducing the regulatory burdens imposed by the legislature and the various departments under their control.
State Auditor Candidates
Marina Brown - Auditor of Accounts, Statewide
Universally funded healthcare would remove the need for small businesses to worry about providing insurance. The state should immediately cease providing tax benefits to huge corporations to locate in Vermont. Large corporations do not need state support to further their monopoly status and crush small businesses.
State Senate Candidates
Alison Clarkson - State Senate, Windsor County District
Continue our work building an educated workforce: supporting a wide variety of internships, apprenticeships and post-secondary education options to create a competitive 21st century Vermont workforce to help all businesses grow and thrive in VT.
Andrew Perchlik - State Senate, Washington County
I support furthering our efforts to strengthen our downtowns and city centers where many of our small businesses provide key goods and services and are a backbone to a healthy local economy. I also think that by focusing on strategic economic development (economic development that is also helping us to reach state goals) we will be more likely to support small and local businesses. Increasing child care is a good example. We have a state goal to increase child care, and by focusing out economic development efforts in this sector we will helping to reach that goal as well as supporting, and creating, the many small businesses in the child care sector (there are no large business in the child care sector that I konw of).
Ann Cummings - State Senate, Washington County
It is difficult to give a simple answer because it presumes that all businesses are the same and need the same thing. They aren't and they don't. Every business is different and may need different assists to grow and prosper. The one thing they have in common is that they need to make a profit and it has to be enough to cover the cost of the benefits we want them to provide their employees. We have to respect that fact. Rather than offer one size fits all programs, we need to work with each business to find out what they need. We also need to do a better job of guiding small businesses through the process.
Anthony Pollina - State Senate, Washington County
Increase wages to strengthen the economy from bottom up, target economic incentives towards smaller businesses...redirect money now wasted on VEGI etc...provide paid family leave to small employers, lower health care costs. Affordable housing is also important to keep small business workers in the state.
Christopher Pearson - State Senate, Chittenden
More and more I am seeing small businesses in the same league as consumers and working families. That is, constituencies that are harmed by big businesses and policies that are geared to large corporate entities. I was proud to be the lead sponsor of two bills that were enacted into law this year: the small business web portal bill and the credit card terminal bill. I would like to see Vermont re-commit to rural broadband and explore tuition-free higher education. Too many businesses struggle to find qualified workers and better access to higher education would help.
Christopher Bray - Vermont Senate, Addison
Provide cost-effective programs to offer (1) health care; (2) paid family leave; (3) workforce education and training -- thereby enabling smaller employers to offer benefits often only found at large employers. (4) affordable housing; (5) better public transportation.
Debbie Ingram - State Senate, Chittenden
I hear from businesses that making our permitting and regulating process more streamlined and predictable would be a huge boon to them. I will advocate for a comprehensive review of regulations in many industries and of the Act 250 process. I will also work to make a public health care option available in order to take the burden of paying for health insurance off our businesses who want to do the right thing for their employees. And I will support a public pension plan that employers can pay into and thus save setting up their own retirement plans.
Jeff Kaufer - State Senate, Bennington County
We need to stop stifling business growth. We need to do more to invite industry to VT. To help small business, we need to stop burdening them with additional programs and taxes.
Pam McCarthy - State Senate, Franklin
We need to attract more young people to Vermont to work, play, and live. We need to support entrepreneurs, and promote the Vermont brand effectively. We need to grow vibrant downtowns like St. Albans has, capitalizing on creativity and collaboration. We need to ensure that people have reliable internet and cell access across the state, so that telecommuting can really work, and Vermont products can be marketed and shipped worldwide. We need to figure out how to make healthcare affordable and assure all Vermonters of universal primary care. Though it's been argued differently, I believe that raising the minimum wage and offering paid family and medical leave will ultimately strengthen small businesses.
Robert (Bobby) Starr - State Senate, Essex-Orleans
We could change the tax system to help small business, change regulations
Ruth Hardy - State Senate, Addison
Small businesses and small community organizations are the heart of the Vermont economy. It's important to acknowledge the diversity of these operations, ranging in scope from agriculture and food, to arts and recreation, to manufacturing and production, to service and care. Many of these entities are for-profit businesses and many are non-profit organizations, both are economic drivers for our small towns. Because of this diversity, there is not likely one easy answer to supporting their work. We should focus on existing and homegrown businesses with direct connections to Vermont, rather than attempts to lure out of state businesses. We can grow businesses here through technical support, mentorships with successful businesses, better access to capital, improved physical infrastructure, and consistent and fair rules and procedures, and promotion of the unique Vermont brand. Some small businesses are having difficulties attracting qualified, skilled employees. Efforts such as Vermont Talent Pipeline Management, which works with employers and educators to communicate about and source skilled labor, are important resources to ensure employers have the workers they need to succeed. Some businesses are hindered by confusing procedures or requirements, so we should strive for a reasonable path to compliance, while ensuring human rights and public health and safety. Some businesses are having difficulty finding adequate space to grow or infrastructure to support such growth. Improvements in Vermont's broadband access, wastewater systems, building stock, and electric grid are necessary, and such improvements would likely grow the economy. We can do more to connect small businesses with the resources they need at the time they need them. Often, the most difficult challenge for busy employers is finding the right person to talk with or the right service provider to help. We can do a better job identifying available resources and actively promoting the ways that businesses can access them. We can maintain and expand programs like the Vermont Working Lands Enterprise Initiative which helps relevant entrepreneurs with technical and financial assistance. Events like Financing the Working Landscape Conference, started by the Addison County Economic Development, is an opportunity for entrepreneurs and small businesses in agriculture, forestry, and food businesses to connect with financial and technical resources. Vermont is a tourist destination, and we can do more to help promote tourism, including agricultural tourism and tourism spurred by our thriving adult beverages sector. Finally, small businesses are made up of people, and we should be sure that we are taking care of people so they can be better employers and employees. We need to ensure people have access to affordable healthcare and childcare, the ability to take time off to care for relatives young and old, livable wages, and suitable housing and transportation options. Divorcing care of people from care for business is short-sighted and ineffective.
State House of Representative Candidates
Anne Donahue - State Representative, Washington-1
Avoid creating new burdens -- whether tax-based or regulatory-based - Address equitable access to health care for employees of small businesses
Avram Patt - State Representative, Lamoille-Washington
High speed broadband access statewide. This will promote small business development in some areas of the state that need it the most, including home-based businesses (and remote work too). This-should be considered a public works project like rural electrification was when much of Vermont had no electric service and wasn't going to get any otherwise. Continued support by policy and incentive, for socially and environmentally positive small business: renewable energy and efficiency, agriculture
Ben Joseph - State Representative, Grand Isle- Chittenden
Lower property taxes would stimulate small business growth.
Carol Ode - State Representative, Chittenden 6-1
Pass paid family and medical leave in the form it took in 2017, except that I would provide a longer time for parental leave after the birth or adoption of a child. Also, lower health care and health insurance premium costs, which is now too big a bill for businesses. Also, connecting those looking for work with employers and matching skills taught in schools with those needed by business. In a nutshell, growing a strong economy and a strong and healthy state.
Chris Bates - State Representative, Bennington 2-1
The Outdoor industry is our largest employer It generated over 5.5 billion dollars in 2017, small business's that are built around the the outdoors in some capacity has a great chance at being viable, I know this because I came here in 2012 and started an outdoor business and it is very successful here in the southern part of the state
David Yacovone - State Representative, Lamoille- Washington
We need to help small businesses to help absorb the high cost of health care. We need to make strategic investments of one-time revenues to help open and sustain markets. For example, by expanding hone weatherization efforts we will stimulate economic activity while addressing reducing our reliance on fossil fuels.
Diana Gonzalez - State Representative, Chittenden 6-7
I think internet connectivity is key to building small businesses in VT.
Emilie Kornheiser - State Representative, Windham 2-1
A strong, well funded state administration can enable small businesses to focus on their core business. FMLA, Universal Health Care, and a supportive regulatory structure take the costs and logistic pressures off of small businesses and into the public sphere where we can achieve economies of scale.
Frank Davis - State Representative, District 7-3
NOT wait for 2024, raise the minimum to $15 and hour now; subsidize where we must. Find creative ways to raise revenues beyond property taxes, and apportion a percentage on grants issued against a panel that reviews business plans, that acts in concert with SCORE and other agencies to assure small business growth. There are other ideas, but this should get things started.
Frank Davis - State Representative, Orleans 1
There are possibilities for state chartered banks to create credit card systems for our residents and small businesses that would provide some relief from national/international banks high fees and penalties. This would be one provision that could be an incentive for local and small businesses to lower costs and for consumers to shop locally. I would be open to any sensible ideas.
Heather Juliussen-Stevenson - State Representative, Rutland 5-1
I would support legislation to prevent large corporations from gaining an unfair advantage in competition with small businesses. I would also support legislation to boost the attractions of a small business economy to the world at large, with marketing strategies like "Small Business Saturday" and "Shop local." Finally, I would support initiatives intended to build and sustain local economies.
James O’Connor - State Representative, Benn-1
Vt has the 7th highest cost of "doing business": taxes and regulations! cut restaurant tax to 6% cut gas and cigarette taxes making vt the go to border state compare and model our business laws on TX,UT,CO and MN, not CA, NY, NJ, RI, WA, MA & D.C
Jeremy Hansen - State Representative, Washington-1
I've been working on building a publicly-owned fiber Internet Service Provider in Central Vermont. Increasing access to truly high-speed Internet and removing the digital divide will help people start their own businesses and help existing businesses.
Kari Dolan - State Representative, Washington-7
I would support our communities' economic vitality. I would want to find and promote strategies that support our "farm and forest" rural economy including local foods businesses, and enhance recreation and tourism. I also want to support and welcome entrepreneurs, and support investments such as in broadband, and incentives that attract and support business hubs. I also want to focus on affordability and livability to encourage growth that complements our villages and enhances our pedestrian and bike-friendly region. Finally, I would like to focus on supporting a climate economy that supports renewable energy and energy efficiency businesses. By promoting and supporting these businesses, we will be able to keep more money in the state, support entrepreneurs, create new jobs, and reduce our carbon footprint.
Kate Larose - State Representative, Franklin 3-1
In my current work we support over 200 current and aspiring entrepreneurs a year who have low and moderate incomes. Paid family/medical leave and access to child care for starters, access to affordable health care, and continuing to fund effective small business development services and low interest loan funds.
Maida Townsend - State Representative, Chittenden 7-4
I need to look to the experts such as yourselves. I need you to tell me what, ideally, we should do. Whatever we do, I believe that predictability and stability are key factors, as opposed to "the flavor of the month."
Martha Allen - State Representative, Essex Orleans Caledonia
High speed internet is vital to the success of small businesses in our rural areas. If we want to encourage young entrepreneurs to move to Vermont, and to our rural areas, we must provide them with the necessary technology to succeed. There are many willing to work in manufacturing, even on a small scale, but small business owners need support to provide jobs for these willing Vermonters.
Marybeth Redmond - State Representative, Chittenden 8-1
Small business and small business growth is the engine of a future burgeoning economy in the state. How can we make investment capital more available to new and established business owners, particularly women? How can we hold small business to high standards, but not "break its back" with excessive regulation and hoop-jumping in order to begin operations. I want to learn more about this common perception that "it is hard to do business in Vermont." I hear it over and over again. How do we build on the "buy local" campaign that was begun in Vermont years back and keep our purchases and investments in the state - and engage Vermonters to push back against the Amazonation of our retail industry. More and more of our purchase power is leaving the state. We need a campaign that details the loss of revenue/income that leaves the state per month, per year due to Amazon purchases. Perhaps this is a promotional campaign for the Commerce department!
Matt Birong - State Representative, Addison 3
Address workforce housing shortage. Permit reform to ease the cost of growth and expansion.
Maxine Grad - State Representative, Washington-7
Increase Broadband, increase minimum wage, pass family leave, promote flexible work hours, centralize/streamline permitting process, improve VT's infrastructure.
Mollie Burke - State Representative, Windham 2-2
I would like to see Vermont subsidize child care for all families. Or pay employers to provide this. I sponsored a bill in a previous biennium on this issue. I also believe that universal primary care would greatly help small businesses who can't afford to provide health care for their employees, or who are struggling to do so.
Nader Hashim - State Representative, Windham-4
Millennials love small businesses and artisanal products. We should do a better job of advertising outside the state to attract younger people here so they may establish their own businesses and also participate in small, local economies. Antidote Books, in Putney, is a prime example of such a business. I believe there is also potential in fostering small businesses in the cannabis industry once a tax and regulate system is in place.
Neil Johnson - State Representative, Washington -7
This has far more points than can be addressed in a little survey. Education, people have little or no understanding of free markets, business and how to handle money. We make it difficult for people to be their own business, set their own wages and hours, by making becoming a sub contractor difficult. Business development is next to impossible, our proof is in our fruit. Would love to discuss in more detail. Let us know if you have any group discussions, place to meet.
Peter Anthony, State Representative, WASH - 3
Support the Treasurer's efforts to expand access to pensions for small entrepreneurs. Obviously, lowering health benefits costs, and where appropriate differentiate the effects of policy/regulatory requirements as between employers of 25 or more versus the rest.
Robert Hooper - State Representative, Chittenden 6.1
Small businesses flourish when local citizens have funds to support them. Therefore our tax system must be examined. Government should not be sending so much money out of state to support other economies, like in the exporting of our prison population example. Why enrich a local Mississippi economy?? A constant eye on the necessity of small business regulation should always be a priority of local and state administrators. Small businesses especially should not be looked to as a cash cow for taxation and fee generating opportunity. However, neither should they be exempted. Government can supply support, such as the new GMSRP that offers retirement plan mechanisms to small employers to help them be competitive.
Sam Young - State Representative, Orleans-Caledonia
I have long pushed for increased funding for broadband in Rural Vermont. I think it is the job of government to provide the infrastructure needed for business to flourish.
Sarah Copeland Hanzas - State Representative, Orange 2
Workforce shortage hurts my small business. Weatherization programs that put more contractors to work and support the redevelopment of downtown housing in our small towns will help. It will ensure a better stock of affordable housing, it will pump more money into the local economy and it will allow more people to live in the downtown which benefits economy and environment.
Scott Campbell - State Representative, Caledonia-3
We need to build the infrastructure that supports businesses now and in the future. Broadband internet to all corners of the state is critical; it's the equivalent of building out the electrical grid in the 1930s, '40s and '50s. We also need infrastructure and amenities that attract and support the workforce that business needs: decent housing, both affordable and market rate, whether owned or rented; quality childcare at affordable rates; better transportation links for millennials who prefer not to own cars; support for arts, culture and recreation; affordable comprehensive healthcare; continued support for education.
Seth Chase - State Representative, Colchester 9-1
I would encourage build out of usable broadband internet (100m symmetrical dedicated service) at an affordable price to all parts of the state, not just urban centers. In addition, sharing health care and other costs among the community at large would allow small biz to focus on their core business.
Tim Briglin - State Representative, Windsor-Orange 2
One of the biggest challenges I see for employers in my corner of the state is housing. Businesses can't find enough workers partially driven by the lack of good, affordable places to live. Making it easier to develop housing for median income families will play a major role supporting area businesses while also improving the lives of working families.
Tim Guiles - State Representative, Rutland-6
Vermont must continue to strive for an efficient, simple, and predictable regulatory environment. We must insist on the LEAST regulation necessary to achieve the social and economic benefits we seek.
Tommy Walz - State Representative, Washington-3
One big way to help small business would be to unlink health insurance and employment. The state could also do more to help employees with child care.
Assistant Judge Candidates
Scott Norman Rosenthal - Assistant Judge Orleans County
Changes at the Federal Level.