John Moran, state representative, Windham-Bennington 1

LONDONDERRY — For years, the towns in the Deerfield Valley area have attempted to create a sustainable, year-round economy in the shadow of a major employer focused on a winter economy and on-mountain activities.

Countless attempts at economic development over time led to the repetitive pattern of creating study committees that followed a similar process and arrived at the same outcome: Some facilitator gathers us in a big room to list the valley's challenges and opportunities, and, after crunching some numbers, proposes future actions. Then, after the facilitator is paid, a final report goes on a shelf to gather dust.

A similar process now goes on at the southern Vermont level, with grants awarded to nonprofits which crunch numbers to tell us how bad things are, suggest we build relationships and plan strategically, give referral information under the guise of technical support, favor already established businesses at the expense of new endeavors, and most importantly, fund themselves to do additional studies and reports.

Any positive that might come from the nonprofit efforts are of little value to Dover, which is not a major focus of support.

In discussions with local business leaders and concerned residents, and relying on my years of business experience and graduate courses in business administration, I propose two major approaches for economic development in our district.

First: We create a working group, composed of business leaders, such as innkeepers, retailers, restaurant owners, and entrepreneurs, to build on successful year-round models that already have brought motorcyclists, film producers, and outdoor adventurists to the district.

Instead of relying on study group approaches, we will build on what is happening in the real world. Since we already send millions of dollars to the state each year in sales and room-and-meals taxes, as our legislator I will propose a reinvestment of some of those revenues in the working group, which will expand the district's economy and increase state revenues.

Secondly, for success, we need to commit to a socially responsible environment. Fairness to both employees and employers is crucial.

To be co-creators of our economy, employees rightly expect living wages, basic benefits, and on-job-protections. Employers expect reasonable returns on their investments.

For large employers to step up and pay their workers a living wage will be no hardship; accepting this responsibility will put more spending into the economy and enhance growth. For small businesses with a slender profit margin, financial assistance during transition will come through the working group.

To create a expanding business-worker supportive economy in our district, the time for talk is over. It is time to act.

Going door-to-door in Dover, Readsboro, Searsburg, Somerset, Stamford, Wardsboro and Whitingham, I hear your concerns:

“Property taxes are too high. ... Schools that are the heart of our towns need to be protected. ... I work two jobs and still can't support my family. ... Retired on a fixed income, I have to choose between groceries and medications. ... Where are the jobs? ... I'm disabled and not sure I can afford to get by. ... To pay hospital bills I have to sell the home I built. ... I am frightened by the drug problem.”

If I am elected anew as our state representative, I will respond to your concerns:

• An end to the homestead property tax with residential education funding based solely on income;

• Protection of community schools, local control and choice with a rewrite of Act 46, eliminating all mandates;

• A living wage for those who create our economy: the ski lift operator, waitstaff, housekeeper, home-care provider, and others;

• Financial security for seniors, so they can live comfortably in the retirement they have earned;

• Locally determined responsible economic development;

• Taking care of our own, so that people who are disabled, like all Vermonters, have the resources needed for a good life;

• Extending the publicly financed, single payer healthcare that already covers a majority of Vermonters to all of us,

• Effective public health and safety responses to the current drug crisis.

As you speak, I listen, and if you decide to reelect me I will continue to work with you at home and for you in Montpelier.

I ask for your vote. Thank you.

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