Montpelier, VT. – The administration of Governor Jim Douglas has called the first meeting of a group of officials from state government, business, and non-government organizations that will provide a rapid response to Vermont companies facing difficulties.The Economic Response Team, a collaborative effort of the state’s economic development partners proposed by the Governor as part of his Inaugural Address, will meet Wednesday, January 28, 2009 at the Pavilion Building in Montpelier from 2:30 to 4:30 p.m.”As we did with the Fuel and Food Partnership, the Economic Response Team will bring together the private and public sector to help Vermont companies at risk due to the current economic downturn,” Governor Douglas said. “By cutting through red tape and bringing all of our combined resources to bear, we can help preserve and even grow jobs.”A small team of representatives from government agencies such as Departments of Economic Development and Labor and the General Assembly, private businesses; and groups like the Regional Development Corporations; the Vermont Economic Development Authority; the Vermont Economic Progress Council; the USDA Rural Development Office and the Vermont Small Business Development Center will comprise the ERT.That kind of quick action could be critical in influencing a company’s decision to close, downsize, or move jobs elsewhere, one economic development official said.”More and more of our employers are part of national or international firms,” said Tim Smith, Executive Director of the Franklin County Industrial Development Corporation. “They make decisions in response to global forces that require fast action. Being able to step up and give them information or help on short notice is critical.”Responses from the Economic Response Team could include state, federal, local, or private assistance with training, financing, lowering utility costs, improving workplace safety, finding opportunities for international trade, government contracting opportunities, and permitting issues.”Our goal is to improve the communications and information sharing among businesses, state government, and economic development partners so that we can identify sooner companies that may be in distress,” said Commissioner of Economic Development Betsy Bishop, who will lead the team. “That will allow us to respond more quickly.”The Emergency Response Team will devise a plan to address an employer’s need, and then appoint a case manager who will direct a group of partners to execute whatever steps need to be taken.”By involving regional development corporations, trade associations, chambers of commerce, bankers and others in the process, we can get more timely information and provide a more timely response,” said Secretary of Commerce and Community Development Kevin Dorn. “This could even allow us to seize opportunities for expansion that present themselves.”
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