Survey: Small businesses down about Vermont’s economic climate

Small business owners in Vermont are feeling the effect of strict tax laws and regulations, according to findings from an economic outlook survey released by Davis and Hodgdon Associates and the Vermont Chamber of Commerce.

More than 130 small business owners in Vermont completed the semi-annual survey, and the findings suggest Vermonters are optimistic about the nation’s economy but do not share the same optimism about the state’s economic climate.

The recent 2018 survey reported that 27 percent of Vermont business owners feel the state’s economy is in decline, 27 percent believe the economy is improving and 44 percent saw no change.

Wikimedia Commons/Mike Kalasnik

Business is booming across the U.S., but small businesses in Vermont say they are up against a wall of regulations and taxes that make it hard to grow.

For Vermont business owners with out-of-state interests, 25 percent believe the economy is improving, 33 percent believe the economy is in decline and 32 percent saw no change.

Betsy Bishop, president of the Vermont Chamber of Commerce, sees a parallel in those findings.

“So when I look at those two things together, what it says to me is that if your business is primarily in Vermont with Vermont customers, your optimism is lagging,” she said. “But if you are doing business predominately out-of-state or have more out of state customers, there’s more growth opportunity there.”

Bishop said a possible reason that Vermont business owners’ optimism may be lagging is the increased regulations and taxes being imposed by the state government through the Legislature.

There are around five bills right now that would mandate how business owners handle endeavors with their employees, including paid leave and minimum wage bills that are making their way through the process, Bishop said.

“There are endless proposals for tax increases and laws — the governor said he’s not interested in passing any of those — but we still are working hard to fight them,” she said.

In one section of the survey, business owners were asked to identify one economic issue they would like to see addressed by Legislature this year. The results proved that they are concerned about high taxes and excessive cost of doing business in Vermont.

Many hope to see deregulation and tax reform to improve the perception that Vermont is an unfriendly business environment.

Jennifer Krause, marketing coordinator for Davis and Hodgdon Associates, said that based on comments left on the published surveys, business owners do not want to leave the state, and are “adamant” about seeing results from the state’s legislators to make Vermont a more “business-friendly” environment.

“They are so overwhelmed with the red tape, the taxes too. Just make it easier for them to do business,” Krause said. Deregulate, make it easier for them to do business and be profitable.”

Briana Bocelli is a freelance writer for True North Reports. She lives in the Northeast Kingdom and is a senior at Castleton University.

Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons/Mike Kalasnik

8 thoughts on “Survey: Small businesses down about Vermont’s economic climate

  1. More of us would comment on this story,but we’re too busy packing up our businesses for the move over the river.New Hampshire is much better for business.

    • Jerry, VERY smart move indeed.

      Hopefully these same folks are relocating their residence as well. Only way the legislature will get the message is with people voting with their feet. It’ll be a hard lesson but one that NEEDS to be to taught.

      It will take many years for Vermont to recover. The next recession will hit VT hard.

  2. Vermont’s government is also rated among the most corrupt in the US, and ranks 48 in business friendliness, according to Forbes; it used to be 44.

    Vermont has an inefficient, bloated government and a Democrat legislature that spends and spends and gives tax breaks, such as Bray unwisely giving $1800 to upscale income people if they buy an electric vehicle that would be sluggish as molasses in Vermont’s winters, on top of the federal cash hand out of $7500; pure nonsense it is.

    The Shumlin era of tax, spend, subsidies, and handouts is over. Democrats have to finally get used to it and adjust. The people have spoken. They elected Scott, by a landslide, so there finally would a smaller, more responsive Vermont government that does not act as a wet blanket on the hollowed out private sector.

    Vermont ranks 48th in business climate, per Forbes surveys.

    Vermont has had an amemic, near zero, real-growth Vermont economy for the past 6 years, but the real growth of state spending has been much greater.

    Government growth greater than private sector growth is a death sentence for:
    – Private sector growth
    – The creation of steady, good paying jobs with good benefits
    – Attracting new businesses to Vermont
    – Existing businesses to make investments.

    A unilateral carbon tax, opposed by Scott and the people who elected him, would further bloat and aggrandize state government and increase wastefulness and inefficiency due to a myriad of new redistributionist, socialist-style government programs.

    This article examines the economics of a large-scale solar system. It shows the economic cost of such solar systems is about 27.1 c/kWh during the first 6 years of operation in New England.

    Because of rapid solar build-outs, a substantial part of the installed solar capacity is less than 6 years old, and therefore in 27.1 c/kWh mode.

    The same is true for wind projects. Wind and solar projects in this mode act as a major drag on economic growth.

    The economics of small-scale solar, such as residential rooftop, is much worse, because of higher costs per kW and less subsidies.

  3. Since I have been reading True North Reports, I have come to the conclusion that Vermont is one of the most anti-business states in the Union. If I were going to start a business, why would I want to move there? I wouldn’t.

    • David, two years ago I packed my bags and left Vermont with my family of 5, 3 young children all 8 and under. It was simply the best thing I could of done from a financial standpoint. The tax savings has been redirected into a 529 account for my kids higher education.

      The rest of our extended family is trying to evacuate VT ASAP.

      • R,

        Friend of mine, a building contractor, packed up 3 years ago for Ohio.
        “Best move I ever made”.
        Plenty of work, low taxes, low cost of living.
        Loves it.
        Finally able to save for retirement.

        Vermont is mired in expensive, no results, wasteful, government programs fostered by Dems and Progs for vote getting purposes.

        A unilateral carbon tax would put all of those government programs on steroids.

        • Willem,

          I wish I could say I was shocked by the experience from your buddy.

          I can tell you first hand the grass is greener on the other side. If I could take back the last 10 years I had in Vermont and replace it with were I’m at now I could probably could of retired at 50. Student loans would already be paid off, etc.

          The list goes on.

          You can either go down with the ship or jump, it’s up to you. I’m sure recent tax laws passed in VT are costing you dearly. That’s money you could have in your pocket. Imagine the saving just living in NH? It’s no wonder NH has one of the highest median incomes in the country, then VT just over the river. Not so much?

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