I grew up in the small town of Mount Holly, VT and I feel lucky to have had a childhood before smart phones or Facebook existed. Back when we read the local newspaper in the morning and the watched the national news in the evening. This was a time when Vermont seemed to rest on equal footing with other parts of the country. There were family farms in operation, manufacturing jobs available in many areas of the state and classrooms in our local public schools were full.
At the time, I didn’t think much about the strength of my home state’s economy. My mom was the first female to be made partner in a law firm in Rutland County and my Dad ran his own landscaping company before earning his real estate license. If you wanted to work, there were jobs to be found and families could support themselves in the rural communities sprinkled among the Green Mountains.
I now live across the Connecticut River, in the great state of New Hampshire. This is where my husband (who grew up in Brattleboro, VT) and I have chosen to raise our three kids and grow our own business. From over here, and a few decades later, my vantage point has changed. I have watched Vermont struggle to maintain a basic economic foundation while other states in the region have embraced growth and developed their own competitive edge.
While public school classrooms in other states are full, Vermont schools suffer from a steady and consistent enrollment decline. State spending has exploded while state economic growth has remained flat. And business leaders express concerns including “the chronic challenges with finding an adequate workforce.”
I am excited (and relieved) that Phil Scott was recently elected to lead the Green Mountain State into a new economic era- one that is within reach. I am specifically interested in his commitment to cleaner and more affordable energy. Governor Scott understands that in Vermont, protecting natural resources while growing the economy is a balance worth striking and striving for energy independence with a focus on clean technology is a winning strategy for all. In his economic plan, Governor Scott says “I will continue to support Vermont’s vigorous renewable goals, but will ensure that we do so in ways that prioritize affordability and that safety and reliability are not compromised.” http://www.philscott.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/09/87282-Econic-Plan.pdf
He continues with “I want to ensure that we are exploring all of our options in Vermont. In addition to solar, hydro, biomass, and small-scale wind, we should find new opportunities to produce renewable bio-gas from wastewater and food waste, as well as use energy storage and promote electric vehicles to leverage low-cost, off-peak power and reduce emissions from transportation.”
Sarah Stewart is President of b-fresh consulting based in Concord, NH. She has lead a team of CRES advocates in NH over the past several years and is expanding her outreach to support a growing network of Republican leaders on energy issues throughout the New England Region.