(Host) Governor Peter Shumlin has released a jobs bill that he says will put Vermont in an excellent position to create new employment opportunities in the next year.
The plan calls on several agencies of state government to better coordinate their efforts to expand manufacturing and agricultural-based jobs.
VPR’s Bob Kinzel reports:
(Kinzel) The governor unveiled his jobs bill at the Vermont Butter and Cheese Company in Graniteville. The company has developed a national reputation for its unique cheese products and it now employs 40 people.
The Governor says Vermont Butter and Cheese serves as a perfect model for his jobs bill.
(Shumlin) "It is by far one of the most comprehensive jobs bill that reflects our commitment to grow jobs in Vermont one job at a time."
(Kinzel) The plan creates tax credits for companies that hire veterans, it includes an additional million dollars to help dairy farmers diversify their operations and it offers financial incentives to businesses that hire new graduates in various scientific fields. Shumlin is asking lawmakers to pass the bill this year.
(Shumlin) "We have an opportunity right now as the economy is starting to show some signs of life…the question for Vermont is, ‘are we going to be smart enough, nimble enough and fast enough to harvest some opportunity from economic recovery, or is it going to pass us by‘?"
(Kinzel) Commerce Secretary Lawrence Miller says the key to the plan is better coordination between his agency and the Agriculture Agency.
(Miller) "This is not about spending a lot of money in new areas, it is about focusing our efforts, being strategic about our thoughts and working together across agencies and across the private sector with our educational institutions to get things done."
(Kinzel) Shumlin also wants to use the federal EB5 investment program to build new agricultural processing plants in Vermont. The program gives foreign investors and their families a U.S. visa if they invest at least $500,000 in a local business.
(Shumlin) "Our dream is to have processing facilities close to Interstates that will allow our farmers to in effect rent or lease the space on a temporary basis, to get their value added product packaged, processed and out to market."
(Kinzel) Essex – Orleans senator Vincent Illuzzi is the chairman of the Senate Economic Development committee. He likes the governor’s approach.
(Illuzzi) "What I see the governor and his team doing is taking a number of programs that we’ve created over the last several years – which exist but really have had no coordination and no real direction. What this bill does, based on the briefing that we received, brings those programs together."
(Kinzel) Shumlin says his plan for a single payer health care system and expanding broadband services throughout the state by 2013 are also critical pieces of his jobs initiative.
For VPR News, I’m Bob Kinzel in Montpelier.