VERMONT IS GOOD FOR PEOPLE
by Joyce Marcel
American Reporter Correspondent
October 23, 2010
DUMMERSTON, Vt. -- Just in time to influence the Vermont gubernatorial election, Forbes Magazine has released its annual report on the best business states in the Union. Vermont comes in 45th - up two spots from last year.
The only states "worse" in are Hawaii, Michigan, Mississippi, Rhode Island and poor little Maine, stuck at the bottom. The best state? It's Utah, so pack your bags now.
There are other magazines, however, and other reports. And in those reports. Vermont is usually at or near the top as the healthiest state, the smartest state, the safest state or the best state to raise a family in.
In other words, Vermont is good for people.
But people need jobs. So is Vermont, as our Republican Gov. Jim Douglas and the man he hopes will replace him, Lt. Gov. Brian Dubie, like to point out, bad for business?
While there are many ways to look at the Forbes report, no one seems to question the methodology they use to rank states as being "good" for business.
Forbes says it used "six vital categories for businesses: costs, labor supply, regulatory environment, current economic climate, growth prospects and quality of life. ... Business costs, which include labor, energy and taxes, are weighted the most heavily."
Using those criteria, how does Vermont compare?
Translated, it means that we get positive points for having an educated workforce and our quality of life, but get dinged for having higher wages and energy costs, more environmental and business regulations and higher taxes.
As a result, businesses looking for a low wage, low regulation, low tax place to build a factory are looking elsewhere. The huge pump-and-dump, rapacious multinational corporations will always avoid a place like Vermont.
But the small, ecologically mindful, creative and resourceful businesses seem to thrive here.
As many of you know, my day job is writing profiles of Vermont entrepreneurs for Vermont Business Magazine. To be profiled, a company usually has to show more than $1 million in yearly revenue, and often a lot more. During the interviews, one question has become standard: "Is Vermont bad for business?"
Here are some of the more recent answers:
Over the past decade, I've heard similar things from dozens of other successful men and women who still believe that Vermont is place worth doing business in. These are the people who are the backbone of today's Vermont economy. We can only wonder why they are barely a blip on the radar of Douglas, Dubie and the rest of the Vermont Republican Party.
Joyce Marcel (joycemarcel.com) is a journalist and columnist. You can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.