SWANTON VILLAGE — Franklin County’s delegation held its first legislative breakfast of the session here Monday morning, but the issues attendees raised were familiar: Act 46, child care and Vermont’s declining demographics.
Betsy Bishop raised the latter issue. Bishop is president of the Vermont Chamber of Commerce. She and Charles Martin, the chamber’s government affairs specialist, began the breakfast with a lengthy discussion of the chamber’s work, priorities and concerns.
The Vermont Chamber is a statewide organization coordinating with the state’s 30-plus individual chambers.
And like those chambers, Bishop said the statewide chamber’s primary focus is on workforce development, in the face of a state population growing smaller and older.
Bishop said attracting out-of-staters is one way the chamber hopes to bolster that population, and workforce. The legislature appropriated $250,000 for the Vermont Agency of Commerce and Community Development two years ago, which has gone to initiatives like ThinkVermont.com, a website selling Vermont as a place to “live, work and grow your business.”
Approximately 13 million people visit Vermont each year, Bishop said, for the state’s “great beer,” skiing, foliage and cheese. That tourist economy has been strong for years, but inviting those tourists to stay, Bishop said, is relatively new.
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