State Announces Economic Program for Springfield, NEK
(Host) The Dean administration unveiled a new proposal Thursday that is designed to stimulate economic development in Springfield and the Northeast Kingdom. In those two areas of Vermont, the unemployment rate is higher than the statewide average.
VPR's Bob Kinzel reports.
(Kinzel) For the past few months, local and state economic development officials and a group of business leaders have been working to draft a new strategic plan to encourage more growth in two parts of the state that did not significantly benefit from the economic boom of the 1990s. While other regions of Vermont experienced solid employment growth in the past decade, Springfield and the northeast Kingdom have not.
The new proposal calls for much better coordination of local, state and federal efforts to provide these regions of the state with technologies that are needed to attract new businesses. The plan also calls for a top-level state official to oversee the development effort in each of these two regions.
Governor Howard Dean believes the plan will help revitalize the economies of these areas :
(Dean) "We've made a lot of investments in both St. Johnsbury and in Springfield and one of the things we need now is individuals ¿ which we're prepared to assign ¿ who will specifically concentrate on these particular areas in terms of business, new businesses, permitting and so forth. But it's going to be a lot of little things. It's going to be a partnership with the local folks and the congressional delegation. There's no big quick fix item here."
(Kinzel) Commerce Secretary Molly Lambert says assigning specific roles to local, state and federal officials is a critical part of the plan:
(Lambert) "We've all been working in each of those areas in our respective capacities but drawing this collaboration together succinctly, describing the issue areas and where people are going to take part ¿ I think is the power of it."
(Kinzel) The plan also calls for new workforce training projects and it recommends efforts to expedite the financing of new business proposals.
For Vermont Public Radio, I'm Bob Kinzel in Montpelier.