Author Archive

Win Smith Op-Ed: Killing Us with Kindness [5.28.15]


Thursday, May 28th, 2015

by Win Smith, Jr., President, Sugarbush Resort and
Chair, Vermont Business Roundtable

A childhood friend of mine had a mother who had a wonderfully loving and generous heart. Meals at their home were always a feast with large portions of tasty food, which usually included a pile of creamy mashed potatoes. She would insist that we have seconds before serving us a large slice of fresh apple pie with vanilla ice cream. My friend later moved away, and I did not see him for many years until I heard he was suffering from terminal heart disease. (more…)

Ventriss OP-ED: Having the Courage to Change [5.12.15]


Tuesday, May 12th, 2015

Opinion Editorial by Lisa Ventriss, President

The good news is that Vermonters have had a very robust dialogue on education reform this year, which has moved us farther than previous years in terms of understanding of and agreement on the need for system-wide change. This is due primarily to the tremendous work of Vermont’s Education Secretary Rebecca Holcombe who, in a very brief period of time, has created a database of “current state” information on every school in Vermont. The bad news is that so much of our school data is suppressed because of micro-sized schools, but the available data tell a very troubling tale of the students currently in our PreK-12 education system. The worse news is that we have an even more challenging population coming into the system and we are not prepared for them. (more…)

Green Mountain Imperative – a Call-to-Action


Monday, February 2nd, 2015

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

Welcome New Members


Sunday, February 1st, 2015
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.

VBR Announces New Directors and Officers for 2015 [1.13.15]


Tuesday, January 13th, 2015

Top: Mary Burns; Tom Dee; Mark Foley, Jr. ; Walter Frame, III Bottom: Judy O’Connell; Michael Tuttle; Michael Walsh


1.13.15 – (South Burlington, Vt.) At its 28th Annual Membership Meeting held at The Essex Resort and Spa, the Vermont Business Roundtable elected seven new directors to their first three-year term, including: Mary Burns, President and CEO of Greater Burlington YMCA; Tom Dee, President and CEO of Southwestern Vermont Health Care; Mark Foley, Owner and President of Foley Services; Walter Frame III, Executive Vice President of Trapp Family Lodge; Judy O’Connell, CEO and Managing Partner of Champlain Investment Partners; Michael Tuttle, President, CEO and Director of Merchants Bancshares; and, Michael Walsh, President and CEO of Hackett Valine and MacDonald.

Elected to their second three-year term were the following directors: Jo Bradley, CEO of Vermont Economic Development Authority and Win Smith, President of Sugarbush Resort.

Continuing Roundtable Board members: Leon Berthiaume, St. Albans Cooperative Creamery; Renee Bourget-Place, KPMG; Jill Berry Bowen, Northwestern Medical Center; Don George, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Vermont; Geoff Glaspie, Husky Injection Molding; Tommy Harmon, Sonnax Industries; Pierre LeBlanc, Engelberth Construction, Inc.; Leslee MacKenzie, Coldwell Banker Hickok & Boardman Realty; Paul Millman, Chroma Technology; Brian Murphy, Dinse Knapp & McAndrew; Michael Seaver, Peoples United Bank/Vermont; Bill Shouldice, IV, Vermont Teddy Bear; and John Wilking, Neville Companies.

Officers of the Roundtable include: Chair, Win Smith, Sugarbush Resort; Immediate Past Chair, Mary Powell, Green Mountain Power; Vice-Chair Rob Simpson, Brattleboro Retreat; Treasurer Renee Bourget-Place, KPMG; Secretary Jo Bradley, VEDA and, President, Lisa Ventriss.

VBR & EPR Release 3rd Qtr Business Conditions Survey Results [12.10.14]


Thursday, December 11th, 2014

12.10.14 – (South Burlington, Vt.) Today Lisa Ventriss, President of Vermont Business Roundtable (VBR) and Jeffrey Carr, President, Economic & Policy Resources (EPR), announced the 3rd Quarter results of their joint initiative, the VBR-EPR Business Conditions Survey. The survey, which is conducted quarterly, takes a look back at the economic conditions of the previous quarter and provides a predictive index going forward.

The economic indicator, constructed as a Diffusion Index, is designed to follow economic sentiments of Roundtable members over time, and serve as a tool for analyzing and presenting insight into the Vermont economic outlook as a leading economic indicator.

The 3rd Quarter survey achieved a response rate of 68 percent overall and included a 50 percent or greater response rate from all but one sector within the membership. The survey asked eight questions about the economic outlook, demand, capital spending, and employment. Survey results show that…

  • For the third quarter in a row, most responses to the overall question about the state’s business climate outlook were neutral to mildly optimistic.
  • More than half of respondents (56 percent) shared negative outlooks specifically with ease of hiring for available positions; and,
  • For the third quarter in a row, the manufacturing sector had the most optimistic outlook (67 percent) on expected demand and employment.

The first graph below shows the Diffusion Index of overall economic outlook, which measures the level of confidence (optimism or pessimism) respondents have about different aspects of the economy, and can range from 100 (where 100% of respondents answered “strong positive”) to -100 (where 100% of respondents answered “strong negative”). The historical survey data extends back to 2004; the new Diffusion Index methodology began in Q3 2013. The neutral, or “zero” line, is highlighted in red.

For this reporting period, the Diffusion Index of overall economic outlook, shows a declining level of optimism from Q2 2014 to Q3 2014, indicating that Vermont CEOs continue to feel mildly optimistic to neutral about the business climate in the coming three months.


The next graph below shows the composite index of the Diffusion Index points for the questions relating to demand, capital spending, and employment in the last three months. The majority of responses were neutral or mildly positive, keeping the line steady between 20 and 30 index points.


When given the chance to express their opinions on other topics, members of the Roundtable gave voice to concerns and uncertainty regarding the state’s efforts around health care reforms, including health care financing. According to members, such uncertainty has resulted in many businesses being unable to make investments in their growth strategies.
The next survey will be conducted in late January of 2015.

#  #  #

The Vermont Business Roundtable (VBR) is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization of chief executive officers of Vermont’s leading private and nonprofit employers, representing geographic diversity and all major sectors of the Vermont economy. The Roundtable is committed to sustaining a sound economy and preserving Vermont’s unique quality of life by studying and making recommendations on statewide public policy issues.

Economic & Policy Resources, Inc. (EPR) has been providing private and public sector clients throughout the U.S. and Canada with problem-solving economic research and analysis services for more than 25 years. Our professionals bring a broad spectrum and a deep reservoir of problem-solving knowledge and experience in applied economics to each assignment. We put our capabilities and experience to work for our clients so that they have the insight and understanding necessary to move forward with confidence. EPR has successfully completed assignments throughout the United States and in eastern Canada.

VBR Launches Executive Leadership Series with Award-Winning Filmmaker


Tuesday, September 2nd, 2014


Women’s Advocate, Filmmaker and ‘Dynamo’
Jennifer Siebel Newsom Is Coming to Vermont in October

Vermont Business Roundtable Launches Its Inaugural Executive
Leadership Series with ‘What’s Holding Women Back in the Workplace?’

September 2, 2014 – South Burlington, Vt.—Despite graduating from college and graduate school in greater numbers than men, women continue to face significant hurdles in the workplace. (more…)

Mark Your Calendars for a Powerful Event


Wednesday, July 9th, 2014


On October 1st, the Roundtable will proudly present Jennifer Siebel Newsom, award-winning filmmaker, speaker and President and CEO of the non-profit organization, The Representation Project. She wrote, directed and produced the award winning documentary film, “Miss Representation,” which exposes the underrepresentation of women in positions of power
and influence in America. Newsom was also recognized on Newsweek’s List of “150 Fearless Women Who Shake the World”, Fast Company’s “League of Extraordinary Women” and San Francisco Business Times’ “Most Influential Women in Business.” Her latest movie, “The Mask You Live In”, asks: As a society, how are we failing our boys?

We invite you to plan to join us, with your team, as we address the question, “How can we increase the ranks of eligible women at the highest levels of influence and leadership within Vermont’s private, public, and not-for-profit sectors?”

Click Here to take a look at Newsom’s work
Click Here to check out some astounding statistics on women’s leadership

Contact the Roundtable’s office if you would like to help sponsor this event.

Roundtable Supports Economic Development Planning [7.01.14]


Tuesday, July 1st, 2014

Roundtable Supports Economic Development Planning

Education is the Foundation


(South Burlington, Vt.) The recent escalation in discussions at the statewide and national levels as to whether IBM will close or sell its facility in Essex Junction have created an opportunity for Vermont to strategically plan for the future at this important facility, regardless of ownership.

The Greater Burlington Industrial Corporation (GBIC) released a proposed Action Plan to encourage IBM or future tenants to continue to utilize the facilities and the talented workforce.  The Vermont Business Roundtable acknowledges the significant positive impact that IBM and this campus has on the economic vitality of the entire state of Vermont and supports the purposes of the proposed Action Plan; to retain the jobs that exist today while working to attract new future economic activity to this location. (more…)

VBR and EPR Release 1st Qtr Survey Results [4.15.14]


Tuesday, April 15th, 2014

Vermont Business Roundtable and Economic & Policy Resources
1st Quarter 2014 Survey Results Show Positive Outlook

(South Burlington, Vt.)  Today Lisa Ventriss, President of Vermont Business Roundtable (VBR) and Jeffrey Carr, President, Economic & Policy Resources (EPR), announced the 1st Quarter results of their joint initiative, the VBR-EPR Business Conditions Survey.  The survey, which is conducted quarterly, is the next generation of the Roundtable’s economic outlook surveys that began in 2004, and provides a more meaningful and predictive index going forward. The new economic indicator, constructed as a Diffusion Index, is designed to follow economic sentiments of Roundtable members over time, and serve as a tool for analyzing and presenting insight into the Vermont economic outlook, as a leading economic indicator. (more…)