Douglas holds southern Vermont jobs summit

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(Host) Governor-elect Jim Douglas held his first regional jobs summit in southern Vermont Monday. Douglas says he wants to hear directly from business leaders concerning ways to create new good paying jobs across the state.

VPR’s Bob Kinzel reports:

(Kinzel) Douglas traveled to Brattleboro and Bennington on his first “jobs summit” because the governor-elect wants business leaders in the southern part of Vermont to understand that developing programs for their region is an important priority for the new administration. Douglas says there’s no substitute to hearing directly from business leaders about ways that state government can hinder or enhance efforts to create new jobs:

(Douglas) “A lot of what I heard confirmed theses that I developed during the course of the campaign concerns about the timeliness and responsiveness of government agencies, concerns about the predictability of the permitting process, concerns about various regulations and the way in which various agencies have responded to business concerns.”

(Kinzel) To boost employment opportunities in southwestern Vermont, Douglas is encouraging the owners of the Green Mountain Racetrack in Pownal to reopen their track for horse racing. The owners have indicated an interest in this plan but they say the only way the track can be profitable is if the Legislature amends laws governing the simulcasting of races from other tracks.

Currently, Vermont law only allows betting on simulcast races from out of state when the Pownal track is open and features races. The owners want the law changed to allow betting on simulcast races throughout the year at the track. Douglas says he supports these changes:

(Douglas) “I’m certainly willing to look at that. I want to make it very clear, though, that I’m not suggesting casinos or video games or off-track betting parlors around the state. None of that. There are some in the media who are trying to suggest otherwise. I’m talking about utilizing a resource that the voters of Vermont agreed in the 1960s in a referendum that they felt was acceptable for horse racing. So I want to make sure we utilize that asset and do what we can to improve the economy of that part of the state.”

(Kinzel) Douglas says he also wants to meet with the top managers of Vermont’s 100 largest companies during the first 100 days of his new administration.

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

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