Douglas announces job growth plan

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(Host) Governor Jim Douglas has unveiled a new plan to stimulate job growth in different parts of the state. The governor is calling for the creation of special job zones that will offer new businesses expedited permit reviews and certain tax exemptions.

VPR’s Bob Kinzel reports.

(Kinzel) Douglas says the creation of new jobs throughout Vermont is the top priority for his administration and the governor will ask the Legislature in January to build on a jobs initiative that was passed last session.

The new plan includes a provision that will provide companies with economic incentives to expand their businesses in the state. The governor wants to designate certain areas in Vermont as “Green Mountain Zones.” Companies that agree to locate in these growth centers will be offered a number of financial and administrative benefits:

(Douglas) “We have a number of objectives: one, maintaining the quality of our workforce and an environment that is second to none, taking advantage of the natural beauty of our state by avoiding sprawl and encouraging development in designated centers. It’ll provide tax incentives, expedited permitting and, I think, attract businesses to help revitalize the downtowns of our state.”

(Kinzel) Douglas also will ask lawmakers to take steps to strengthen the state’s telecommunications system, to insure that by the year 2007, the state has 100% wireless service and that 90% of all homes and businesses in Vermont have access to broadband Internet technology.

(Douglas) “Government needs to facilitate it, to provide an opportunity for the private sector telecommunications companies to achieve that ambitious goal. That means assistance with permitting and planning, to provide access to state owned property where it’s appropriate for the location of cell towers. And I think that within four years we can have the major transportation corridors of our state all providing wireless service.”

(Kinzel) Douglas says another key element of his jobs package is the passage of a comprehensive Act 250 permit reform package this winter.

The governor says he’s still optimistic that a meaningful compromise plan will be worked out between the House, the Senate and the administration.

For Vermont Public Radio, I’m Bob Kinzel in Montpelier.

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