February 12, 2021
In a letter sent to legislative leaders, the Vermont Chamber, Vermont Businesses for Social Responsibility, the Lake Champlain Chamber, and Vermont Main Street Alliance called for additional economic recovery grants to support Vermont businesses. The last round of recovery grants covered $330 million out of the $718 million in need that accrued between March and September, as demonstrated by the Agency of Commerce and Community Development (ACCD) and Department of Taxes. The Vermont Chamber recently testified in support of establishing an additional recovery grant program for businesses that were ineligible for past relief programs, businesses with existing unmet need, and businesses that are bracing for economic hardship that is likely to extend into the summer. The Vermont Chamber will continue to prioritize advocacy for relief grant programs that offer a level of predictability and stability for businesses as they face an uncertain future. Please contact Vermont Chamber Director of Government Affairs Charles Martin with questions. 
The Vermont Chamber provided testimony in the House Committee on Ways and Means in support of expanding the Manufacturing Tax Exemption as proposed by the Vermont Department of Taxes. The proposal moves away from taxation at consumption theory and direct use standard to an integrated plan that would make tax exempt the ancillary processes that occur throughout the manufacturing process, from raw materials in the beginning to the final product and packaging. The proposed expansion would benefit manufacturers by enabling them to achieve greater compliance, ensure quality assurance for their products and customers, reinvest in workforce recruitment, new machinery and equipment, and updated technology for cybersecurity compliance. The expansion would also help companies recover from the pandemic, rebuild their supply chains, and compete in a global economy. Expansion would serve as an important economic development tool to attract, recruit, and retain our larger, anchor manufacturing employers. The change would help grow our $3 billion manufacturing industry and increase tax revenues and economic activity. To learn more or to share how this proposal would impact your business, please contact Vermont Chamber Vice President of Business Development Chris Carrigan
Heather Pelham, Commissioner of the Vermont Department of Tourism and Marketing (VDTM), briefed the House Committee on Commerce and Economic Development on the Scott Administration’s proposal to boost tourism marketing for the state, and also on the overall economic impact of Vermont’s tourism industry. Sectors dependent on tourism were most impacted by the pandemic, causing rooms and meals tax receipts to drop by $48 million and overall visitor spending to decline by $700 million. The proposal by VDTM includes $1 million in seed funding for a tourism and marketing fund that is tied to rooms and meals tax performance. Despite tourism being one of Vermont’s largest economic contributors, the State’s tourism budget is the smallest in the Northeast. In addition to improving existing marketing efforts, the proposal would also contribute to economic recovery when the state begins to fully reopen. Please contact Vermont Chamber Vice President of Tourism Amy Spear with questions. 
The House Committee on Ways and Means reviewed the Scott Administration’s proposal to exempt military retirement pay from personal income tax. Vermont is currently one of only seven states that fully taxes military retirement pay, which disincentivizes military retirees from moving to Vermont upon conclusion of their service. The Administration’s plan would phase in an exemption over two years. Military retirees often conclude service in their 40s and typically possess a high degree of professional skills that uniquely position them to continue contributing to the workforce until they reach traditional retirement age. Military retirees are also a significantly more racially diverse population than the general population of Vermont. The Vermont Chamber believes incentivizing military retirees to move to Vermont would increase the diversity of our communities while also strengthening the workforce. The Vermont Chamber has supported this exemption in past legislative sessions and will continue to advocate for the passage of the exemption as the current legislative session unfolds.  
Sean Brown, Commissioner of the Department for Children and Families testified in the House Committee on Human services on legislation that could cost the State between $300 and $500 million, according to the Department. The bill seeks to make significant changes to the State’s existing child care apparatus. The Vermont Chamber believes that building a stronger, more equitable, and sustainable child care system is vital to restarting our economy in the wake of the pandemic. Improvements in child care will also help maximize our state’s workforce potential and attract new families. However, a significant injection of federal resources is essential to ensuring that improvements in Vermont’s child care system do not result in unsustainable cost increases. Striking a balance between additional child care investments and the tax capacity of Vermonters is essential to the sustainability of any new investment. This is particularly true as sectors of the economy continue to suffer from unprecedented financial hardship because of the pandemic. 
The House Committee on Natural Resources is considering H.175, a bill that expands bottle redemption regulations by requiring deposits for bottled water, hard cider, wine, and other beverage containers. The bill would also double the deposit for most containers, moving from five to ten cents per container. Deposits are charged by distributors to retailers and grocers for each individual container, with the retailer recouping that deposit from consumers at point of sale. Restaurants are charged the same deposit when purchasing from a distributor, but typically do not recoup the deposit when they sell a canned or bottled beverage to a customer. Doubling the deposit and expanding the program could present an additional cost for restaurants. If you have questions about this legislation, please contact Charles Martin.
As part of Governor Scott’s $210 million economic development and reinvestment plan, the Vermont Agency of Commerce and Community Development (ACCD) discussed the proposal to establish a Business Attraction Investment Program in the House Committee on Commerce and Economic Development. The proposed budget appropriation of $300,000 would be used to hire a Canadian foreign trade representative firm over a period of two years to generate foreign direct investment (FDI) leads and prospects for the State in the areas of aerospace, biotechnology, and renewable energy, and provide Vermont with statewide representation in Québec. In keeping with our record of working with Québec on cross-border trade and legislative issues and building the Vermont – Québec Aerospace Trade Corridor, the Vermont Chamber supports this initiative as it will help strengthen our ties with Québec, promote tourism as we come out of the pandemic, and will also help to attract and recruit Canadian companies interested in establishing a footprint in Vermont to access the North American market for contracting opportunities. Vice President of Business Development Chris Carrigan testified on the Vermont Chamber’s work on aerospace and the Vermont – Québec Aerospace Trade Corridor in the House Committee on Commerce and Economic Development. To learn more, please contact Chris Carrigan.  
The Scott Administration’s Fiscal Year 2022 budget proposal includes $25 million for brownfield remediation. “Brownfield” is a term that refers to properties where expansion, redevelopment, or reuse may be complicated by the release or threatened release of hazardous material. Brownfields are found throughout Vermont and are often historically significant to communities, considering their common past uses as manufacturing centers and places of employment. The House Committee on Commerce and Economic Development heard testimony from the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC), Agency of Commerce and Community Development (ACCD) and regional development corporations that highlighted the economic and environmental benefits the budget proposal would provide, if advanced by the Legislature. The proposed funds would be directed toward a program that allocates money to sites that have the greatest environmental and economic impact for all 251 communities in Vermont. ACCD and DEC would jointly administer the program.
The Vermont Chamber of Commerce is collecting resources for employers and businesses throughout Vermont, produced by the Chamber and externally. View this week's roundup for information from the Vermont Department of Health about COVID-19 vaccines in Vermont and the recording from this week's seminar in our Economic Conference, featuring Mathew Barewicz, Director of Economic and Labor Market Information. To share helpful content to our resource roundup, please send it to us by email.
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In business since 1912, the Vermont Chamber of Commerce is a private, not-for-profit business organization with 1,500 members employing 45,000 people and representing all sectors of the state's economy. Our mission is to create an economic climate conducive to business growth and the preservation of the Vermont quality of life. Copyright ©2018 The Vermont Chamber of Commerce. All Rights Reserved.

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