Tim McQuiston

Commentator

Tim McQuiston is editor of Vermont Business Magazine.

McQuiston: Sales Tax

Mar 20, 2017

The Sears catalogue, back in the day, was the size of the New York City phone book. When there was a New York City phone book. It had everything from clothing to sporting goods to farm implements. It was awesome. As recently as the 1970s Sears was still so colossal that it was able to build America’s tallest building in Chicago. Now, the company no longer has the catalogue or the skyscraper.

The general reaction to Treasurer Beth Pearce’s suggestion that the state cover about a quarter of the massive costs of cleaning up Vermont’s waterways with a de facto increase in the property tax was a collective WHAT???

If you live in Vermont, it might feel like New Hampshire senatorial candidates Kelly Ayotte and Maggie Hassan have spent more time in your family room lately than your own family, given the relentless TV ads they’ve run. More than $30 million will have been spent to employ one, single person.

In a deli at the top of Church Street in Burlington there’s a vintage photo from the post-Civil War era of the street itself - still just a dirt road lined with modest buildings that look like bungalow-style homes.

The American Promise isn’t dead. But it’s not what it used to be.

It's hard to know where to begin talking about the collapse of the EB five program in the Northeast Kingdom. We’re not at the beginning and we’re certainly not near the end. And just as certainly, all is not lost from an economic development point of view.

In looking for a used car recently, I test drove a ’98 Mercedes that had two very anachronistic features.

McQuiston: College

Jan 29, 2016

When your college kid’s on break, occupying your sofa, your TV, your car and your fridge, you might be ready to pay any price to send him back to school.

Or maybe not.

Yes. I had a ticket to the Trump event at the Flynn. I wanted a close look at the candidate who’s led the Republican presidential hopefuls in polling pretty much since he entered the race.

Apparently the Mythbuster boys are putting away their cheese cannon for good. That’s the cable TV show that debunks urban legends and other rumors that maybe we hoped were true. So in the spirit of solidarity, let me de-bunk a couple of local myths regarding electricity.

GlobalFoundries has invested $55 million into its Essex Junction plant to make another 5 million chips a day. Those semiconductors mostly will go into cell phones and tablets used worldwide. In fact, they'll be put into nearly every smart phone. Depending on the make and model, 5-12 Vermont chips are used in every device.

With the investment in hardware, the Vermont fab will increase total output by 15 percent to 10 billion chips a year. Yes, that's billion with a B.

Secretary of State Jim Condos and others are right to call for transparency and open government. But they’re wrong about calling for an Ethics Commission.

In a conference room at the Greater Burlington Industrial Corporation last October, a grim-faced group of Vermont’s political and business leaders were trying to put the best possible spin on the sale of IBM’s semiconductor division.

Recently, Bill Stenger and his development group broke ground for AnC Bio Vermont. The Newport plant, set to open in the fall of 2016, will introduce something different to Vermont’s economic landscape: Industrial health care.

Because of our geography, modest level of public transportation and our independent nature, Vermonters love to drive – need to drive.

IBM has been one of the most important companies to ever establish an operation in Vermont. And barring regulatory problems, it will leave Vermont by the middle of next year.

Is this the worst-case scenario, the best-case scenario, or something else? The recent acquisition by GlobalFoundries of IBM’s semiconductor business, including the Essex Junction chip plant, begs this question.

If Governor Shumlin has his way, on January 1, 2017, Vermont will become the first state in the nation to have universal health coverage. But that’s not what he really wants.

Vermont doesn’t have to wait until 2017 to get universal health care; we already have it.

Governor Shumlin has abandoned, usually, the term single-payer, not because there’s some sort of stigma in his mind, but for practical reasons. There will be multiple payers no matter how the system is ultimately set up.

McQuiston: IBM in VT

Mar 14, 2014

The other day, I was talking with a recently retired engineer from IBM. He had worked at the Essex Junction plant for the better part of his career and was happy he didn’t have to worry about the seemingly constant chatter about the future of the Vermont plant and, indeed, the future of IBM itself. In contrast to current IBM employees, he didn’t seem very concerned. Granted he’s retired, but still…

Last week, the Air Force announced that Burlington would be the host Air National Guard base for the controversial F-35 jet aircraft .What struck me was the pep rally atmosphere and the overwhelming support of Vermont’s top elected officials.

The economic benefits of getting the F-35s are pretty clear. Basing the new jets here essentially ensures 1,100 Air Guard jobs for another 50 years. There is also the ancillary support for Burlington International Airport. And the military presence helps keep Vermont's economy diversified, which is its ace in the hole.

Anyone doing a victory lap over the decision by Entergy to close Vermont Yankee by the end of 2014, might want to bring an extra water bottle and slow down to a jog because the actual dismantling of the plant might be another 60 years, or more, away - because the fight between Entergy and the state of Vermont is not even close to over.

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