Joan Goldstein: American Rescue Plan Act money a ‘once in a lifetime moment’ for Vermont

This commentary is by Joan Goldstein, commissioner of the Department of Economic Development.

Vermont is face-to-face with the opportunity to infuse federal American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) dollars into transformational projects throughout the state. This is a once in a lifetime moment and the Department of Economic Development is focused on growing the workforce and shoring up a foundation of strong economic activity that will persevere into the future. We know the COVID-19 crisis has exacerbated workforce and housing issues around the state, from our largest to our smallest communities. The need for investment is great. The Governor has made several proposals that will set us on a course for success in the long term.

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Joan Goldstein, commissioner of the Department of Economic Development

The sharp increase in housing prices and drastic shortage of available units has intensified throughout the duration of the pandemic. As the Governor mentioned is his budget address, in mid-January there were only 136 homes for sale that a middle-income family can afford and only five in Chittenden County. What’s more, according to the Tax Department, more than half of Vermont towns have seen their grand list decline or remain stagnant as town and school budgets increase. I’ll repeat that, more than HALF of our towns are struggling to grow.

Vermonters in these towns who want to ensure their children and staff have the resources they need to thrive will surely face a higher portion of the tax burden unless we can increase the property development or redevelopment to lift the total value of all properties in a town. This is also known as growing the town’s grand list.

The State can encourage investments by helping property owners improve, renovate, and build housing and businesses – projects that both add value to the community and affirm new and existing residents have safe places to live and work. In return, a portion of the increase in property value would be shared with the property owner. The $30 million Grand List Enhancement Program proposed by Governor Scott is intended to assist recovery efforts in communities that have been left behind even before the onset of the pandemic and fervent real estate market. It is an extension of the current Capital Investment Program, for which the Governor has also asked for an additional $50 million infusion in response to strong demand.

Over 100 applications and $90 million in funding requests were received in the current Capital Investment Program with only $10 million available to fund projects. The demand is there from non-profit organizations and for-profit entities to take on projects that will invest in childcare facilities, performing arts venues, food supply chain capacity and hospitality projects, as well as small businesses like cafés and country stores.

While these programs are about growing, recruiting, and investing in capital projects, there are businesses still suffering from the cash constraints caused by the pandemic. To meet the needs of those businesses, the Vermont Economic Development Authority (VEDA) under the Governor’s budget will offer a forgivable loan program. This program is designed much like the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) that many Vermonters are already familiar with but will offer more flexibility to better meet the existing needs of local businesses seeking additional working capital.

To secure the future we want, we need to invest now.

Each of these initiatives depend on a strong workforce to fully succeed and I’ll continue to share more about efforts being made to help create jobs, fill vacant positions, and bring business and opportunity to all corners of the state. In the meantime, I welcome your input and invite you to reach out via https://thinkvermont.com/connect/ or sign up to receive updates on programs, budget proposals, and our ongoing economic development work.

Images courtesy of Flickr/401kcalculator.org and LinkedIn
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8 thoughts on “Joan Goldstein: American Rescue Plan Act money a ‘once in a lifetime moment’ for Vermont

  1. The illusion our currency is worth anything is unprecedented. Crossing the threshold of $30 trillion US debt (what is on the books anyway – estimates say off the books is an additional $20 trillion) should crater the Fed – yet, here we are still pretending solvency. There is no American Rescue Act – there is Klaus Scwaub and his merrry band of nihilists ushering in a global take over. “You will own nothing!” Klaus wrote in his book. You will be on your knees begging for bread and milk – which you will get if your social credit score shows you are an obedient serf. Anyone believing what the government is selling is a fool and we know the old saying about a fool and their money.

  2. Towns aren’t growing because people find better places to live.

    Even the immigrants legal and illegal chose other states why?

    Is it because our government doesn’t spend enough money?

    Perhaps, more homes, better schools, less drugs, better government and business friendly state are taking away our population? Add onto that freedom from stupid mask mandates and Marxist attitudes and it’s surprising people aren’t leaving in droves. Oh wait they are, ask anyone with children….

    If we have to pay people $10,000 to move here that might be a clue were doing something wrong.

    Ps communist housing isn’t attractive to Americans, they don’t want to own nothing and be happy. They’d like to own their home.

  3. What they do is fund new state and school employees with the free money, and when it runs out, hit the taxpayer for the costs, since they will doing such valuable work that no one will say no. — Except the people with brains.

  4. Joan Goldstein, you really need to read “Economics in One Lesson” by Henry Hazlitt and “The Wealth of Nations” by Adam Smith. It never ceases to amaze me how the people in positions of great influence and power have absolutely no understanding of either history or economics.

  5. “Over 100 applications and $90 million in funding requests were received in the current Capital Investment Program with only $10 million available to fund projects. The demand is there from non-profit organizations and for-profit entities to take on projects that will invest in childcare facilities, performing arts venues, food supply chain capacity and hospitality projects, as well as small businesses like cafés and country stores.”

    What does anything listed in these $90M of funding requests have to do with the Vermont economy?
    Why do these “requests” need any funding at all?

    Maybe some real soul searching is needed in this State as to whether or not continued support for these programs is required and what the true implications are.

    It’s not an easy answer, especially after decades of abdication to political whims, but maybe the the time has come to say NO! You can’t have any more, move away from the table and either learn to live on your own abilities or leave.

    Good luck to all of you, but I believe this State will endure as envisioned.

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