Douglas meets loggers, talks growth

ESSEX JUNCTION Gov. Jim Douglas met with members of the Northeast Loggers Association and toured their trade show recently to highlight elements of his Vermont Economic Growth Initiative plan; he sought additional ideas for strengthening the forest products industry in Vermont. Douglas said strengthening the economy is his administrations top priority. The comprehensive, 15-point Economic Growth Initiative I pushed through the Legislature included, among other steps, more sustainable harvesting of timber on state land. But there is more we must do to strengthen the forest products industry in Vermont, he said.For example, we can reduce barriers to job creation by reforming workers compensation insurance and eliminate onerous and redundant red tape. I look forward to hearing the ideas of the men and women of this important legacy industry. Douglas presented a 15-point economic package to encourage growth, create jobs and help Vermont emerge from the current national economic challenge with a stronger and more resilient economy. After a decidedly unenthusiastic reception, and steady insistence from the governor, legislative leaders eventually warmed to Douglas plan and passed, with a few minor modifications, an overwhelming majority of his proposals. Among other items, the Governors Economic Growth Initiative includes homeownership and mortgage assistance programs, investments in transportation jobs, job creation tax credits, very low interest capital for small businesses and startups, two sales tax holidays, investments in downtown development and the governors New Neighborhoods affordable home construction initiative. In total, Douglass package has the potential to generate more than $200 million in direct economic activity and millions of dollars more in indirect economic multipliers.

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