Vermont, like much of the country, is at a crossroads. While the economic conflict that has engulfed many of the world’s economies seems to be ending and the painful process of rebuilding has begun, the need for actively preparing and delivering on actions to further our state has never been more fundamental to success. At a time when planning appears to be the most difficult and divisive due to conflicts of theory and philosophy, it also holds the potential to unify and galvanize Vermonters’ needs and interests. Recognizing this potential, GBIC has drafted “Common Ground,” a paper that examines areas of agreement between two of the most valuable and current reports in support of a unified economic plan. Our hope is that Common Ground can be a part of the conversation that moves comprehensive economic planning in our state forward in a meaningful way.
The first report driving the content of Common Ground began its life at the state level; in 2006 the Vermont legislature set about defining a process for the development of an economic plan, and the Commission on the Future of Economic Development was formed. With a public outreach process as the backbone of their research, the CFED condensed input from employers, stakeholders and public participants into a series of benchmarks and goals for analysis and action from state economists and legislators.
Nearly concurrently, in late 2007 the Vermont Council on Rural Development came to the realization that Vermonters were expressing concern about a lack of vision on a statewide level and proceeded to construct the Council on the Future of Vermont. Charged with synthesizing the vision of what Vermont is and should be from the eyes of Vermonters, the CFV ultimately created both a vision for Vermont and a comprehensive analysis of who we are right now (“Vermont in Transition”).
GBIC has long been a proponent for the development of an economic plan that is definitive in its direction without being overbearing in its recommendations; independent in formation yet based on broad public input; measureable in success, but avoids setting goals without a means to reach them. To this end, we have set about examining these two papers to find the clearest areas of overlap between leadership and public demand. Rather than assessing the validity of individual recommendations, Common Ground identifies those areas of agreement between these reports; finding the areas where economic reality most clearly aligns with the vision Vermonters see as necessary to maintain the core values of our state.
For too long, we have lacked a successful unified and forward thinking economic vision and, as such, have come up short in developing a comprehensive economic plan. Part of the reason for this stems from disagreement between leaders and stakeholders. Common Ground seeks to avoid those areas of conflict by presenting the unified interests of these two reports. By focusing not on solving disagreement, but by moving forward through areas of agreement, this document can act as a vital step in moving towards a valid, comprehensive and unified economic plan.