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VBSR Testimony to House Commerce re: Economic Development Priorities

Vermont Businesses for Social Responsibility
Testimony to House Commerce- January 12, 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 360,000 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,

Champion Members!

Sponsor: All Earth Renewables Sponsor: Ben and Jerrys Sponsor: Dinse/Knapp/McAndrews Sponsor: Gardeners Supply Sponsor: Green Mountain Power Sponsor: Keurig Green Mountain Sponsor: Marketing Partners Sponsor: New Chapter Sponsor: NRG Systems Sponsor: Seventh Generation Sponsor: SunCommon Sponsor: Villanti & Sons, Printers, Inc. Sponsor: Vermont State Employees Credit Union