As the dramatic revelations in the Northeast Kingdom continue to come to light, Vermonters are left with anger and lost trust.
The most tragic result of losing trust would be to conclude that we must stop all coordinated efforts between business and government. To heal and move forward, we must bring much needed transparency to state government and our campaign finance rules, and invest in proper oversight of projects that involve state advocacy or state property.
I have great hope that the Northeast Kingdom will rise again, stronger than before, because the region’s remarkable qualities endure: a magnificent lake and mountains, incredible architecture, a tradition of entrepreneurship, great schools like Lyndon Institute, proximity to Quebec -- Vermont’s largest trading partner -- and the best beer and cheese in the world. But we need to rethink how we enable economic growth. Sustainable economic development takes hard work, a holistic approach, and long-term vision.
Sustainable economic growth has been the focus of my career. I have helped grow a Vermont-based business to over a hundred employees. In the Clinton administration, I directed Americorps*VISTA, a 6,000 person federal organization devoted to empowering people out of poverty long-term. In the State House, my signature economic legislation was the Land Recycling Act, which eliminated barriers to the cleanup and reuse of abandoned industrial sites. Lasting benefits from that legislation didn’t happen overnight. But today, 20 years later, many formerly toxic and derelict buildings around the state have been transformed into centers of economic activity.
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