March 20th, 2018

Guest Opinion: Connecting Our Sustainable Heritage to Economic Development and Jobs for Vermonters

By Rachel Carter

Most Vermonters would agree we live here among the Green Mountains so we can enjoy a quality of life as individuals, families, and businesses that affords us a decent standard of living, our independence, and the use of our natural resources now, and for generations to come.

Our deep rooted Yankee ingenuity, inventiveness, drive towards self-sufficiency, connections to the working landscape, and our commitment to community define who we are and how we do business, and are important values for us to bring into the future. But our ability to thrive as Vermonters is challenged by stagnant wages in jobs without career ladders, the high cost of housing and childcare, an aging workforce, the opioid epidemic, and a need for more young adults to enter the workforce.

How can we take advantage of our assets and historical strengths while also attracting and growing 21st century businesses to employ Vermonters and strengthen the vitality of our communities?

The answer is the same as it ever was—working together.

Uncivil political discourse is at an all-time high which has created animosity among colleagues, friends, families, and neighbors. But we all want the same outcome, right? To thrive here in Vermont.

The Vermont Sustainable Jobs Fund is seeking to collaborate more deeply with statewide and community economic development partners to strengthen product and service supply chains in agriculture and food systems, forest products, waste management, renewable energy, and environmental technology sectors—representing a competitive advantage for all of the businesses involved in the production and distribution of these goods and/or services.

By helping to create the conditions that lead to expanded market opportunities in these sectors, we are able to accelerate the creation of good paying and sustainable jobs for Vermonters. Manufacturing, engineering, distribution, retail, marketing, and financing are all examples of jobs that arise out of expanding the in-state supply chain, as we have seen in our work growing the local food economy through the implementation of Vermont’s Farm to Plate food system plan.

We serve clients from private sector businesses, nonprofit organizations, and government agencies to create positive, systems-level change for the 21st century that elevates the well-being of Vermonters, our communities, and takes care of our clean air and fresh water so we can preserve what we cherish from our heritage and way of life, now and for future generations.

The Vermont Sustainable Jobs Fund is a nonprofit organization created by the Vermont Legislature in 1995 to partner with state government, private sector businesses, and nonprofits to build a thriving economic, social, and ecological future for Vermont. Learn more about our services, programs, and impacts at www.vsjf.org and join the conversation on Facebook/VermontSustainableJobsFund.

Rachel Carter served as communications director at the Vermont Sustainable Jobs Fund for five years, and concluded her work in February, 2018 due to health reasons. She lives in Plainfield, Vermont.

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