Archive for the ‘In the News’ Category

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

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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…)

New Video Encourages Vermonters To Engage in Public Education Debate [4.13.15]

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Monday, April 13th, 2015

 

Green Mountain Imperative Says Get Smart, Talk, Vote

 

[4.13.15] A new two-minute animated video from a Vermont coalition appeals to Vermonters civic-mindedness and urges them to participate in the ongoing debate about the future of public education in the state.

 

The video, created by the Green Mountain Imperative coalition and viewable at the coalition’s YouTube channel (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bKefVjPCfk4), suggests that the future of public education in Vermont is too important to our state’s future to leave the debate exclusively to our representatives in Montpelier.

 

“Depending on who you talk to, Vermont’s public education system is either the best in the nation or near collapse,” observes Lisa Ventriss, president of the Vermont Business Roundtable and one of the Green Mountain Imperative coalition members. “The truth is somewhere in the middle.

 

“What we aim to do with this video is begin to help Vermonters better understand the challenges and complexities of the critically important civic resource we call public education.”

 

The video follows a two-day summit meeting hosted by Green Mountain Imperative in November, 2014. At the summit, 200 students, teachers, administrators, lawmakers, business leaders, and others collaborated to figure out how Vermonters can fulfill the promise of equal education opportunity at reasonable cost. The participants identified six areas of focus:

 

  • Building student-centered learning systems,
  • Establishing new accountability and metrics for evaluating school systems,
  • Simplifying education governance,
  • Establishing a sustainable funding system,
  • Creating a 0-20 education continuum, and
  • Tackling poverty through greater education and human services integration.

Green Mountain Imperative is a non-partisan coalition organized in 2014. Its convening members include:

 

  • Julie Coffey, Building Bright Futures
  • Stuart Comstock-Gay, Vermont Community Foundation
  • Steven Dale, Vermont School Boards Association
  • Jeff Francis, Vermont Superintendents Association
  • Scott Giles, Vermont Student Assistance Corporation
  • Rebecca Holcombe, Vermont Secretary of Education
  • Stephan Morse, Vermont State Board of Education
  • Shap Smith, Speaker, Vermont House of Representatives
  • Lisa Ventriss, Vermont Business Roundtable

 

The video was produced and animated by Urban Rhino in Burlington.

 

 

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VBR & EPR Release 1 Qtr 2015 Business Conditions Survey Results [3.31.15]

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Tuesday, March 31st, 2015

1st Quarter 2015 Business Conditions Survey Results Show Neutral Outlook

March 31, 2015 –  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, provides both a look back at the previous quarter and a predictive index going forward. The data for both the backward and forward-looking questions are weighted to the Vermont economy by sector employment and turned into “diffusion indices”.1 These diffusion indices provide a tool for analyzing and presenting insight into the Vermont economy over time through the sentiments of the Roundtable members.

The survey also looked closely at the non-weighted, “raw” data that the survey provides. The raw data can be easily compared to the national Business Roundtable CEO Survey, a quarterly survey of national and multi-national companies. The national Business Roundtable CEO Survey contains similar questions to the VBR/EPR Survey in terms of employment and capital spending. Comparing these two surveys revealed that Vermont companies expect a greater degree of hiring or stability than national companies, while both national and Vermont business expected a similar degree of capital spending.

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1 Each question on the survey is weighted by sector employment and the diffusion number is formulated by giving each “strong positive” answer a numerical value of 1.0, “mild positive” answers a numerical value of 0.5, neutral answers a value of 0, “mild negative” answers a value of -0.5, and strong negative values of -1.0. The diffusion index numbers are then formulated based on these numerical values. A value of 100 would mean that every respondent answered “strong positive”, a value of 0 would mean that every respondent answered neutrally, and a value of -100 would mean that every respondent answered “strong negatively.”
__________________________________

The latest survey, which was conducted during the first two weeks of March 2015, achieved a response rate of 70 percent overall, and included a 50 percent or greater response rate from all but two sectors within the membership. The survey asked eight retrospective and prospective questions about the economic outlook, demand, capital spending, and employment. Survey results show that:

  • For the fourth 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 (62 percent) shared negative outlooks specifically with ease of hiring for available positions; and,
  • For the first time, the professional/technical services sector had the most optimistic outlook on expected demand and employment (58 percent and 50 percent, respectively).

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 based on the first question on the survey, and can range from 100 (where 100% of respondents answered “strong positive”) to -100 (where 100% of respondents answered “strong negative”).
For this reporting period, the diffusion index of overall economic outlook shows an overall decline in optimism from Q1 2014 to Q1 2015, indicating that Vermont CEOs continue to feel neutral to mildly optimistic about the business climate for the coming three months.

BCS-Diffusion-Index-1Qtr15

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 next three months. The majority of responses were neutral or mildly positive, keeping the line steady between 15 and 20 index points (recall that the maximum index points would be 100, and 0 would be true neutral).

BCS-Composite-Index-1Qtr15

Also included in the survey was the opportunity for Roundtable members to express their opinions on other topics affecting their businesses. The greatest frequency of responses from members concerned the state’s efforts around health care reforms, including health care financing (including the payroll tax increase). According to members, such uncertainty has resulted in many businesses delaying investments in their growth strategies.

The next survey will be conducted in early June, 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. www.vtroundtable.org.

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. www.epreconomics.com.

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VBR Releases Letter of Support for H. 361

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Monday, March 30th, 2015

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]

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Wednesday, March 25th, 2015

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. (more…)

VBR and Vermont Chamber Release Statement on Payroll Tax

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Monday, March 16th, 2015

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. (more…)

VBR Announces New Directors and Officers for 2015 [1.13.15]

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Tuesday, January 13th, 2015
NewMemberNewDirectors_Web

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]

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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.

3QtrSurveyDiffusionIndex

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.

3QtrSurveyCompositeIndex

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.

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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. www.vtroundtable.org.

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. www.epreconomics.com

VBR Launches Executive Leadership Series with Award-Winning Filmmaker

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Tuesday, September 2nd, 2014

2014-Newsom-PR-Web

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…)

VBR & EPR Release 2nd Qtr Business Conditions Survey Results

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Tuesday, August 19th, 2014

Vermont Business Roundtable and Economic & Policy Resources
2nd Quarter 2014 Business Conditions Survey Results Show Neutral Outlook

8.19.14 – (South Burlington, Vt.) Today Lisa Ventriss, President of Vermont Business Roundtable (VBR) and Jeffrey Carr, President, Economic & Policy Resources (EPR), announced the 2nd Quarter results of their joint initiative, the VBR-EPR Business Conditions Survey. (more…)