Both Democrat Sue Minter and Republican Phil Scott have put economic development at the forefront of their campaign platforms. But they’re offering starkly different paths to prosperity. On Monday afternoon, Minter elaborated on her plan to stimulate the state’s manufacturing sector.
Vermont’s manufacturing industry may not be at its zenith. But the sector still employs more than 30,000 residents and accounts for 10 percent of the state’s gross domestic product.
“So clearly it’s an important sector that we have to continue to grow,” Minter says.
Minter spoke Monday afternoon in a 75,000 square-foot Essex Junction facility that manufactures skincare products. Minter visited the facility to unveil the latest piece of her economic development plan.
“We’re going to work with the regional planning and development corporation folks on developing a next generation micro-grid manufacturing hub,” Minter says.
Minter says she doesn’t know where the hub would be located, or who would fund its construction. But she says creating a dedicated grid, fed either by new renewable energy projects or existing utility power, could help manufacturers secure lower-cost electricity.
The hub, Minter says, is one small component of a larger economic development proposal. Minter says the backbone of that proposal is a special task force that would include leaders in the technology, agriculture and manufacturing and energy sectors. The task force, an idea Minter first announced back in June, would issue proposals for economic development initiatives in the first 90 days of her administration.
“A governor can set a vision,” Minter says. “A governor can bring leaders together, can actually set new goals and plans, and accomplish them. That’s what I have experience doing, setting goals, accomplishing those goals.”
The campaign of Minter's Republican rival says he has a different vision for how to grow the state's economy.
“Phil believes in growing our economy, and that means getting our fiscal house in order first,” says Brittney Wilson, campaign manager for Scott.
Scott has proposed steep reductions in the rate of growth in state spending. Wilson says the lieutenant governor has also proposed a slate of tax incentives he says are needed to stimulate business growth.
“Whereas Sue feels that business mandates and increasing taxes are what is going to get us there,” Wilson says.
Wilson is referencing a plan by Minter to offer Vermonters two-years of tuition-free community or technical college, which Minter says she would pay for with tax increases on banks.