Expert predicts renewed job creation

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(Host) The president of the Vermont Business Roundtable says many of her organization’s members are nervous about the economy, and they’re trying to find ways to survive. 

But Lisa Ventriss says a few are also experiencing growth. She cites businesses like groSolar of White River Junction, which has become one of the largest businesses of its type in the country.

Ventriss says today’s situation is similar to the business environment in the 1970s and ‘80s that led to the creation of nationally known Vermont-based companies like Ben and Jerry’s, and Seventh Generation.

(Ventriss) "What was unique back then is actually what’s going on in today’s landscape.  In the ‘70s, it was Vietnam, it was political and social turmoil and there was a gas crunch. So, here we are."

(Host) Saint Michael’s College economics professor Herb Kessel says the question is whether Vermont will see similar business expansion in the future.

Kessel says even before the current recession, Vermont was experiencing a steady loss of good-paying jobs.

(Kessel) "If one were to get a list of industries that have lost at least 500 workers since 1988, one finds that there were six major industries that lost at least 500 jobs during this 20-year period.  Five were offering wages at least above state averages."

(Host) Kessel is the coauthor of a study called Vermont in Transition, which charts trends in the state over the past 20 years. 

The report is the topic of a series of programs airing this week on VPR’s Vermont Edition.

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