Opportunities & Challenges:
Faced with an aging population, declining income levels, critical skills shortages in new industries and the lasting impact of Tropical Storm Irene, the State of Vermont hired a team of consultants including Maverick & Boutique team to develop the 2020 Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy (CEDS) in 2013-14. Although Vermont has developed an enviable reputation for its skiing, cycling, culinary tourism, green energy, craft beer, cheeses, ice cream and chocolates; the state faces a plethora of systemic problems that can only be fixed if everyone works well together.
For example, sprawl eats up farmlands while brownfield sites from closed industries from a bygone era and dying downtowns remained undeveloped. the permitting process designed to protect the beautiful environment is difficult for small to medium size entrepreneurs find to navigate. Unaffordable housing contributes to the difficulty of attracting talent for emerging industries. Residents desire their energy to be “clean and green” but don’t want windmills on hill tops.
What we did:
M&B facilitated stakeholder engagement meetings in nine regions, conducted workshops with cabinet level officials, developed some 70 initiatives in six key areas – with a strong emphasis on developing the capacity of the tourism and working landscape sector to capitalize on the trend towards consumer interest in high-value added experiences, the revitalization of villages as destinations, and developing skills in village scale government administration, green energy, agriculture, forestry, advanced manufacturing, health and IT.