Submitted by Marji Graf, Executive Director
Okemo Valley Regional Chamber of Commerce
The Okemo Valley Regional Chamber of Commerce had a busy January. We welcomed new Board of Directors and formed committees. The Chamber of Commerce day at the Statehouse was Jan. 21. Chamber of Commerce executives from around the state gathered in the building to talk with legislators about business concerns, tourism, and economic development, as well as hear from other business leaders.
Participating Okemo Valley businesses were Dakin & Benelli, Heritage Deli and Bakery, DaVallia Art & Accents, The Vermont Country Store, Good Commons, The Good Bus, Salt Ash Inn, WAAWEE Family Farm Market with Senator Alice Nitka, Rep. Dennis Devereux, Rep. Kathy Pellet and Rep. Ernest Shand. Our Okemo Valley had the strongest showing of participants throughout the state.
We had breakfast and lunch together to discuss topics of concern (Chester bridges and taxes) as well as sat in on the Jobs Forum. Senate President Pro Tempore Peter Shumlin and House Speaker Shap Smith greeted a full room of business leaders, advocates, and legislators to express their desire to improve Vermont's ability to create more jobs.
The focus of the forum was to hear from Vermont's business leaders about what is working and how the Legislature could help. Ten Vermont business leaders gave opening statements addressing the strengths and weaknesses of the state's business and job climate.
Strengths identified included the size of the state and access to state leaders, as well as the value of the Vermont way of life. However, these positives were countered, according to many on the panel, by the increasing tax burden, the lack of infrastructure, and the need for a quality workforce. Due to time and space constraints, not all businesses were able to be heard. However, in order to get a broader spectrum of ideas, businesses were encouraged to submit written comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.