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Testimony to Senate Economic Development- Jobs Bill

Vermont Businesses for Social Responsibility
Testimony to Senate Economic Development- April 8, 2011
Andrea Cohen, VBSR Executive Director

I. About VBSR
Vermont Businesses for Social Responsibility is a statewide business association with over 1200 members--large and small from a variety of business types.  VBSR just celebrated our 20th anniversary this past fall.  Our members generate $4 billion in revenue annually and employ over 36,000 people, which equates to about 13% of the state’s workforce.   60% of our members have been in business in Vermont more than 10 years. (75% more than 5 years).

II. Messages From our Members (Annual Policy Survey-Excerpts)

  • Vermont is a good place to do business- 87%.
  • The greatest barrier to the success of our member businesses is the cost of providing health insurance (70% gave it a “4” or “5).  “Taxes” ranked lower than availability of affordable housing, state economic development priorities, and telecommunications infrastructure.
  • The greatest contributor to the success of our member businesses is “Vermont brand and quality of life”.  That was followed by retaining/attracting a skilled workforce, networking and peer support, and government accessibility.  Tax incentives were ranked last.

III. VBSR Initiatives/Programs of Interest:
In addition to our policy work, networking events and conferences, our Vermont Internship program and our Local First Vermont programs may be of special interest to committee members:
Local First Vermont Resource Guide and Coupon Book- The first edition of the book included 141 businesses and a value of $23,000 in local savings. 4000 copies were printed and in distribution. The intention of the book is to raise awareness about the importance of buying local and to drive business to local Vermont businesses.
Vermont Internship Program- (See attached summary report).

Contact information:
Andrea Cohen, Executive Director, 760-7198,
Daniel Barlow, Policy Manager, 355-7461,
Tara Pfeiffer-Norrell, Internship and Local First Program Manager, 862-8347,

The Vermont Intern Program through Vermont Businesses for Social Responsibility (VBSR)- January 2011
Summary Report- Spring 2008 – December 2010

Now in its third year, the Vermont Intern Program successfully connects students at Vermont colleges and universities with career opportunities at Vermont businesses.  Seven thousand students graduate from Vermont schools each year and leave Vermont, while Vermont companies are left to find the skilled employees they need.  The Vermont Intern Program helps bridge this gap.
With support from the Vermont Department of Labor, VBSR has placed 94 students from 19 colleges and universities, with about 70 different businesses. Seven interns have been hired to work at the company beyond their internship.
The Vermont Intern Program works statewide with students, career services offices, and businesses to identify internship opportunities, create work plans, match student’s career aspirations with internships, and help manage the process to successful outcomes. An Internship Program Advisory Council representing colleges, business and students helps guide the program toward future success.
Vermont Intern Program Advisory Council

  • Vermont Energy Investment Corporation- Emilie Grenier, Human Resources
  • University of Vermont- Mary Beth Barrit, Assistant Directory Career Services
  • Champlain College- Pat Boera, Career Services
  • Saint Michaels College- Donna Atwater, Career Development Counselor, and Joanne LaBrake-Muehlberger, Internship Program Director

The Vermont Intern Program has recently been interviewed for the “DOL Working for You” section of U.S. Labor Secretary Hilda Solis’ weekly electronic newsletter.  The newsletter reaches 80,000 people, and will give the Vermont Intern Program national attention.
Survey Results

  • 2008-2011 69% of students report that the internship experience affected their likeliness to pursue work opportunities in Vermont after graduation.
  • 2008-2011 100% of students stated that their internship gave them valuable work experience.
  • 2008-2011 100% of businesses reported that their business benefited from having a Vermont Intern Program intern.
  • 100% of businesses believe that internships are a good way to attract skilled workers.

A Sampling of Businesses Involved with the Vermont Intern Program
BattenKill Communications
Ben and Jerry’s
Black River Produce
Catamount Carpet
Central Vermont Community Action
Chroma Technology
CX Associates
Digital Wish
Encore Redevelopment
Girl Zone
Green Mountain Coffee Rosters
Hope for Women
Kimbell Sherman Ellis
Know Your Source
Lamoille Valley Artisan and Farmers Market
Light Works
Line Sync Architecture
Liz Lovely Cookies
Long Meadow Financial
Lund Family Center
Nathaniel Group
North Western Financial Network
Pale Morning Media
Points North Energy
Prevent Child Abuse
Prompt, Inc.
Reina Trust Building
Samara Foundation
Seventh Generation
Solar Wrights
Spectrum Youth
Stone Environmental
Tamarack Media
Vermont Businesses for Social Responsibility
Vermont Country Store
Vermont Energy Investment Corporation
Vermont Natural Resource Council
Vermont Sustainable Exchange
Way Out Wax

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