Vermont’s Economic Outlook

Forbes ranks Vermont 48 out of 50 for economic outlook.  Vermont’s overuse of the ‘Grant’ process has a lot to do with this abysmal ranking. We need to stop listening to the state as to how to grow our economy. They clearly don’t know.

Every dollar secured through a grant is a dollar that a working family cannot spend on food, clothing, housing, education, or healthcare. It’s a dollar a business can’t spend on expanding, hiring, or increasing wages. And it is a loss of control at the local level. Grants are for state initiatives, many of which would be done better through local government and/or charity. The result is wasted money, and a deterioration of our social fabric.

Pownal is now looking at hiring a full time administrator, with the idea that this person will spend a lot of time trying to secure more grants. Stated another way, we are considering a tax-payer funded full time position, with benefits for someone to spend most of their time thinking up new ways to spend other peoples money. The cost to the taxpayers and the working families isn’t even considered. Grants are incorrectly treated like ‘free money’. This is not only not sustainable, it is destroying Vermont’s economic outlook. Pool money at the state level, and then pit each town against each other to compete for it.

Best States For Business
Utah, North Carolina and Nebraska lead Forbes’ annual study of the states with the best business climates.

Position Statement


1. What are your top goals if you are elected to this office?
Ensure that Pownal is business friendly. Economic opportunity is the primary need of Pownal residents.  I want to do all I can to help provide a stable, predictable business environment that treats all businesses fairly and equally. To achieve this, we will need to curb the rapid growth of town government and spending. Vermont’s out of control spending has now earned us a 48 out of 50 ranking for economic outlook by Forbes. A select board member is limited in what can be done about this, but this has to change. That change needs to start locally.
2. In your view, what are the most pressing issues related to this position and/or the town?
I am becoming increasingly concerned about a growing trend of separation and vilification of opposing political views. The divide is even greater along socio economic lines. The local government has not been listening to the voices of locals. This has become most evident in the recently proposed town plan, which has as a majority of its vision geared towards creating an art community. While the arts are important and always enriching, this lopsided focus as a primary need for Pownal shows a deep lack of connection with the true needs of Pownal citizens, especially those in financial stress. Our town needs elected officials who are willing to challenge the status quo, and to make sometimes very hard evaluations of policy, spending and municipal actions. This needs to happen now before we lose even more struggling families and workers to states that have more financial opportunity and less constrictive regulations on business and industry development.

Conversation – Large Employers

Fred Miller
Fred Miller Master of Science in Manufacturing Engineering. I’d bet you could provide some insight and guidance toward bringing manufacturing jobs back to Pownal, Are there some local and State imposed barriers to manufacturing here? I remember Pownal as a vibrant manufacturing town. I remember one or two large employers providing a pretty solid foundation off which lots of smaller businesses could build. Restaurants and lodging, hardware and lumber stores, we even had a bank for awhile. Lets do it again, but do it smart.
Fred Miller
Fred Miller At that first “Empower Pownal” meeting, when someone brought up the subject of manufacturing jobs, someone from the Empower Pownal camp boldly stated manufacturing jobs are gone and will not be coming back. I say “oh is that so? Who says they won’t be coming back?”
Bob Jarvis
Bob Jarvis I glad you brought up the statement about manufacturing jobs not coming back. This defeatist position has now been written into our proposed town plan. Rather than approach your question from an engineering standpoint, I would prefer to approach from an economics standpoint. Since it is not just manufacturing jobs that Vermont, and our proposed town plan have put on the chopping block. It is any large employer.

Our proposed town plan offers a lot of assistance and resources for farms, farm to table, the arts (heavily weighted towards the arts), home based business, and cottage industries. But when large employers are discussed, there is a warning to avoid becoming dependent on them, and the planning commission includes a list of 8 ‘requirements’ before Pownal will let them into our town. The requirements listed are absurd, and do NOT exist for any other type of business.

Why do we demand that a large employer ‘Contribute to our social fabric’ (for example), particularly when the same requirement does not exist for any other type of business? We are sending a clear message to any potential employer that our town government will not hesitate to insert themselves into their internal business decisions. THE REAL MESSAGE IS THAT LARGE EMPLOYERS ARE NOT WELCOME. My pleas to the planning commission to make Pownal business friendly were not incorporated into the latest draft of the town plan.

It is not hard to see why the proposed town plan does not represent the people of Pownal. Just read the ‘Vision Statement’. Not including the opening paragraph, or the 1 sentence closing paragraph, the vision has 4 paragraphs with substance. The first talks about farms, small business, home businesses, and cottage industry. The other 3 are EXCLUSIVELY dedicated to the arts community. Not only does the proposed town plan not represent the people of Pownal, it was never intended to. 

This might seem like a harsh statement, but I don’t know how else to interpret such a hostile position towards those businesses that can bring the most benefit to our citizens. To me, the town plan reads like someone’s fantasy image of what rural Vermont life should be like (apparently from someone who watched too many episodes of Green Acres).

Bob Jarvis
Bob Jarvis I should add that it is wonderful that we have a strong arts community in Pownal. But that is only part of our town. The town plan MUST represent all Pownal citizens. A lopsided focus on one sector of our economy will hurt all sectors of the economy; including the arts. The economy is interdependent, and all types of business should be treated equally.