Vermont Business Roundtable Blog

VBR Releases Letter of Support for H. 361

March 30th, 2015 by Union Street Media

March 30, 2015 – Vermont Business Roundtable released today the following letter to Vermont legislators in support of H. 361, a bill addressing Education, Education Funding; Education Spending and Education Governance.

H 361 letter to House


Click Here to view pdf if letter is not displaying correctly.

VBR Releases Letter of Support for H.76 [3.24.15]

March 25th, 2015 by Union Street Media

March 24, 2015 – Together with the Vermont League of Cities and Towns, Vermont School Boards Association and the Vermont Superintendents Association the Vermont Business Roundtable released the following letter in support of H. 76 to the Vermont General Assembly. Read the rest of this entry »

VBR and Vermont Chamber Release Statement on Payroll Tax

March 16th, 2015 by Union Street Media

Business Organizations Oppose Payroll Tax
Claim as Bad Public Policy at Any Rate

3.16.15 – (South Burlington, Vt.) Today the leadership of two major statewide business organizations released a joint statement in opposition to the Administration’s proposed payroll tax on businesses. Read the rest of this entry »

President’s Winter Column: Quick Start

February 2nd, 2015 by Union Street Media

By Lisa Ventriss

The New Year is off and running with early activity around some familiar themes here in the Roundtable. Our strategic plan for the year focuses on advancing PreK-16 education reforms (simplified governance, student-centered learning, and sustainable funding); monitoring the build out of the Administration’s health care plans and providing timely feedback; and, creating a vision for economic development that reflects the Roundtable’s priorities around capital, infrastructure, and people. We have task forces around those three areas and urge your direct participation in the efforts. You do not need to be a content expert in any of these areas; instead, what we do want is your passion and engagement.

The Legislature is also off to a fast start and our legislative partners in Downs Rachlin Martin are representing our interests well. Also helping around the state is Mary Schwartz, E.D. for the VBR Research & Education Foundation; she is involved in coalition building around the build out of the Green Mountain Imperative. You will be hearing from here in the near future.

Key to a successful Grass Tops campaign on any issue is the mobilization of our CEO members. Once armed with information and context, we’ll set you loose to talk among your various networks, including legislators and employees, to convey our messages for making Vermont the best place in America to do business, be educated and live life. Stay alert for additional materials to come your way this winter.

We have a very busy first quarter with numerous legislative luncheons. These are the lowest hanging fruits, so I hope that you will attend any and all that you are able. And, in the interim, I hope to see you on the slopes!

CEO Spotlight: Joyce Judy Interview

February 2nd, 2015 by Union Street Media

By Lisa Ventriss

Interview with Joyce Judy, President of Community College of Vermont
September 17, 2014


Photo Courtesy: CCV

My interest in interviewing President Joyce Judy was largely due to the continuing pressures that the employer community feels regarding the availability and capacity of the current labor market. It is still hard to find the right people for the right slots. And as the second largest college in Vermont, CCV plays an important role and does an excellent job of helping a variety of students (primarily Vermonters) to earn some form of post-secondary education that can be a launch pad for their economic and social wellbeing.

 The drive to CCV’s Montpelier administrative offices was on a beautiful late summer morning when the sunshine was warm, but the cool temperature hinted at the changing of the seasons. The campus itself is tucked back from the road and nestled against a hillside where from Judy’s office, which itself seems to be an extension of the wooded environment outside her window, I had the unexpected delight of watching a doe traverse the slope not 30 feet from where we chatted. “Oh, yes,” said Judy casually. “They always come through here.”

 Ventriss: Let’s start with an easy set of questions about your path to the corner office. Where are you from? How long have you been in higher education, and how did you get here?

Judy: Well, I am originally from New Hampshire where I grew up on our family’s farm. I received my bachelor’s degree from UNH and master’s from Antioch New England Graduate School. I have worked in higher education in one form or another for many years but I began my career at CCV in 1983 as a coordinator of academic services in our Springfield academic center. I later served as dean of students, then in 2001 I was named provost. In 2009 I was appointed interim president, and then president in 2010. Throughout my time here at CCV we have focused on strengthening student success and access and on building relationships throughout Vermont with businesses, organizations, government agencies, and schools. That commitment to our students and to ensuring that the education we provide is practical and responsive to Vermont’s needs is really what has made CCV such an important part of the educational landscape here in Vermont.

Ventriss: Vermont has an embarrassment of riches when it comes to colleges and universities; with 23 public and private institutions, we have more per capita than any other state in the nation. So, tell me, how does CCV differentiate itself from its competition?

Judy: For starters, we are the college in people’s backyard, and that really does set us apart from the other colleges. When Governor Deane Davis created CCV in 1970, the challenge was how do you make college accessible to the entire population across a very rural state? The solution was to make college local. To start, CCV opened with a single center here in Montpelier. Now, 44 years later, we have twelve academic centers in every area of the state, and that really does put us within 25 miles of just about every Vermont household. And over that time CCV has also focused on creating additional ways to make college more local and accessible to Vermonters. Take for example our online programs, which we began in 1996, before any other college in the state. Today, CCV offers the largest undergraduate online course catalog in Vermont. We have also reached out directly to high schools and the other colleges around Vermont to create some of the most efficient routes for Vermonters to earn a college degree. And finally, I’d also like to point out that we are the only open enrollment college in Vermont; our doors are open to anyone who would like to attend college.

Ventriss: What does a “typical” CCV student look like? Is there, indeed, a typical student or is the student body that diverse?

Judy: In my 30 years here I can honestly say each graduating class has been very different from the last. CCV really does have a diverse student body, so there is not a typical CCV student. We serve more veterans and military-connected students than any other undergraduate college in Vermont, we serve a high number of new Americans, and our classes can range in age from 16 to over 60. But that is part of what makes a CCV education so strong. Our students benefit from having a diversity of opinions and backgrounds in every class. It is amazing to witness the learning that happens when high school students, grandparents, single parents, veterans, working adults, and you name it, sit in the same classroom and discuss course material.

Ventriss: What have been some of the most profound changes that you’ve observed during your tenure?

Judy: I would have to say there are two things that really stick out, the first being our growth. We began with 50 students attending 10 classes. Today we serve approximately 10,000 students a year and offer about 1,000 courses. That growth is really just a result of the second thing that has struck me about this school. Since its beginnings, and still today, CCV has been constantly evolving to meet the changing needs of Vermonters. As I mentioned earlier, when Gov. Davis started CCV, the college’s path was laid out based on his vision of educating all Vermonters. In the 1980s, CCV took on the role of almost a social service agency. At that time we served primarily women because that was the population coming to us wanting to earn degrees. In the 1990s, we realized that Vermonters needed better opportunities to complete four year degrees, and so we devoted our energies towards solidifying articulation agreements with other colleges. In the 2000s, we have recognized a number of needs and are actively working on addressing them. We knew the state would have an influx of veterans who would need systems in place to support their college work, so we built the most comprehensive veterans services program in Vermont. We recognized that employers would need help training workers, so we’ve been strengthen our relationships with businesses and shaping curriculum to meet the current and future workforce needs of Vermont.

Ventriss: What messages do you have for Vermont?

Judy: I don’t have so much a message as I do a request, and that would be for Vermonters to let us know what it is they need from CCV. Employers, help us to understand the programming that is going to help you grow in the upcoming years, and encourage your employees and applicants to invest in their futures through training and education. I’d ask high school teachers and administrators and guidance counselors to let us know how CCV can help their students better understand the options available to them for earning a college degree. And I invite everyone to visit a CCV academic center or our website to see all that we offer.

#  #  #


Education Matters

February 2nd, 2015 by Union Street Media

by Mary Barrosse Schwartz, Executive Director
VBR Research and Education Foundation

Since its inception, the Roundtable has maintained that a core component of Vermont’s economic well-being is a well-educated citizenry. Given its goal to, make Vermont the best place in America to do business, be educated, and live life, the Roundtable asks its members to engage in removing barriers to success for Vermont’s students.

Over the last few years, the Roundtable’s Education Task Force has met to study and discuss education reform, including policies promoted by business groups from other New England states. The effort lead to the 2014 Green Mountain Imperative Summit, which sought to broaden support for better policy, while continuing to make the urgent case for change.

The Roundtable focuses on building a strong workforce because its members believe that Vermont’s potential for economic growth relies heavily on how we confront a looming workforce skills gap. According to recent VBR member surveys, creating more good jobs is of the highest priority, and making the most of taxpayers’ investment in public education to ensure achievement of all students will help to build the human capital qualified to do the work of the future. At the same time, a focus on achievement beyond pre-k to grade 12 is necessary, since Vermonters who continued their education beyond high school express much higher levels of job satisfaction than do those with less education, earn more, and are healthier.

In the coming months, the VBR Education Task Force and the Green Mountain Imperative coalition will continue to examine and shape policy to eliminate barriers to student success. Finance, governance and accountability, and improved approaches to education such as student centered learning, will be among the policy areas.

Through advocacy for strong public policy and continued speaking out in support of education reform, Roundtable members will help to ensure student achievement and efficient use of taxpayer resources. By working with a broad coalition of leaders across the state and in local communities, successful passage of meaningful reform is possible.

Green Mountain Imperative – a Call-to-Action

February 2nd, 2015 by Sherra Bourget

GMI-ReinventionTogether with eight other partners, eight funders and 200 participants, the Roundtable convened a full two-day summit in mid-November to examine in-depth analysis of the most pressing issues facing public education in Vermont, and to embark on breaking through the barriers to improving the education delivery system for all of Vermont’s children.

Participants, comprised of a broad cross-section of stakeholders,  committed to leaving personal and political agendas at the door, and ground in discussion in clear data and a common dedication to ensure quality learning is available equitably for all students.

Two reports have been produced from the Summit – the first, a process report on the inputs and outputs of the GMI Summit and the second, a Call-to-Action report. If you have not yet read them, and particularly the Call-t0-Action, we highly encourage you to do so now.

Both reports, as well as many other supporting materials and links to media coverage of the event, are available for download at this resource page:

To get a flavor for the energy and participant take-aways from the Summit, take a few moments to check out the Green Mountain Imperative video, which was filmed and edited by Champlain College student, Justine Gerns (’15):

GMI-Video-Static-Image2 Click Here to Watch Video

December Roundtable Today! Discusses 3rd Qtr Business Conditions Survey

February 1st, 2015 by Union Street Media

RoundtableToday LaackmanOn the most recent Roundtable Today! December episode, Lisa Ventriss and Amanda Wassel (Economics and Policy Resources) discuss third quarter Business Conditions Survey findings. New member, Don Laackman (Champlain College) joins them to talk about the outlook for higher education.

Click Here to Watch this Roundtable Today! segment

Missed the 2nd Qtr Roundtable Today! Segment?

February 1st, 2015 by Union Street Media

RoundtableToday DanielsIn addition to discussing the second quarter Business Conditions Survey findings, the August edition of Roundtable Today! also featured Phil Daniels, Market President of Vermont and Northern NY, TD Bank talking about business conditions for the New England banking industry.

Click Here to watch this episode

Welcome New Members

February 1st, 2015 by Sherra Bourget
The Roundtable is pleased to welcome a number of new Members and Associate Members:
  • Jesse Beck, CEO, Freeman French Freeman, Inc.
  • Rich Bundy, President & CEO, UVM Foundation
  • John Casella, Chairman & CEO, Casella Waste Systems, Inc.
  • Michael Casella, General Manager, Casella Waste Systems, Inc. (Associate)
  • Patrick Guinee, Maintenance Group Commander, Vermont Air National Guard
  • Geoffrey Hesslink, President & CEO, Merchants Bank (Associate)
  • Andrew Martin, Vice President, Neagley & Chase Construction (Associate)
  • Rob Miller, Chief Executive Officer, VSECU

We are delighted to welcome back returning Member:

  • Mark Neagley, President & CEO, Neagley & Chase Construction
We are also pleased to welcome several new Members of existing companies. They are:
  • Don Rendall, President & CEO of Vermont Gas Systems, Inc., who succeeds Don Gilbert, Jr.
  • Jeb Spaulding, Chancellor of Vermont State Colleges, who succeeds Tim Donovan
  • Charlie Tzoumas, Senior Director of Business Development of Comcast, who succeeds Associate Member, Tuck Rainwater

We invite you to make our new colleagues feel welcomed by reaching out to them at your first opportunity.