What can Vermont learn from Energizer’s decision to leave Vermont, and how can we move forward? These are questions addressed in a recently released editorial by Bruce Lisman, founder of the independent, nonpartisan public policy organization Campaign for Vermont.
“We want to have as many homegrown businesses as possible. But the reality of the global market place is that companies like Energizer, or many bioscience companies, which provide good jobs, are headquartered elsewhere,” Lisman notes.
“This is an important wake-up call and an important opportunity to strengthen the job creation, and job retention, strategy of our state,” Lisman writes. “We are not disconnected from the economy outside of Vermont and, while we continue to cultivate local business, the influence of the global economy will remain significant. Public policy here matters.”
Lisman goes on to praise what he calls an exceptional economic development network that “knows the local markets and employers.” However, as Lisman points out, there is no one who systematically calls on employers based out of state. “No one regularly visits their headquarters; no one builds relationships with key decision makers about expansion and relocation,” Lisman writes. “We should have a team of people focused on this relationship building; individuals who come to understand the company’s needs, what drives their decision making and how to help when they share their challenges. It’s too late to offer ideas—and to prevent job losses—when a company is thinking of leaving or has decided to leave.”
To read Lisman’s complete editorial and learn more about his ideas, visit www.campaignforvermont.org.