On November 6, 1986, Richard M. Chapman, an IBM executive (who later became Executive Vice President and COO of Chittenden Bank) assembled 35 representatives of the Vermont business community to form the Vermont Business Roundtable. The group’s strong community spirit and wide-ranging business expertise made it ideally suited to guiding public policy through helping to set the State’s agenda.
Former Governor Thomas P. Salmon, Chairman of the Board of Directors, Green Mountain Power Corporation, was selected to chair a steering subcommittee covering the new organization’s mission, purpose, membership, governance, and budget. In addition to Governor Salmon and Mr. Chapman, committee membership included Lattie Coor, President of The University of Vermont, Bill Bruett of the Chittenden Bank, Jim Picciano of IBM, Chris Barbieri of the Vermont Chamber, Bill Gilbert of Downs Rachlin Martin, Fred Hackett of Hackett, Valine and MacDonald, Pat Robins of McAuliffe’s Office Products, Preston Smith of S.K.I. Ltd., and Steve Terry of Green Mountain Power Corporation.
‘Promoting the Economic Vitality of the State’
On December 28, 1987, at a press conference in Montpelier, the organization was formally launched. Governor Thos. Salmon, the first Chairman of the Vermont Business Roundtable, described the Roundtable as committed to “promoting the economic vitality of the state without sacrificing its unique environmental qualities.”
Governor Salmon outlined the Roundtable’s five founding principles:
- The belief that quality of life is intertwined with preservation of the environment and financial prosperity;
- There are strong economic, social, and political forces operating in the world and nation which must be understood and directed for the benefit of Vermont;
- It is time for the corporate citizenship to play a more significant role in helping with the formulation of these plans and the development of policy;
- The focus should be on selective long-range issues studied through analytical research, providing a factual base upon which a course of action can be pursued; and
- That the ultimate objective would be a consensus among the citizens of Vermont, which would require significant education and communication.
The Roundtable: Credible and Independent
The Vermont Business Roundtable was not designed to replace or duplicate existing trade organizations. Its mission is to articulate responsible positions shared by significant segments of the business community on relevant issues. The Roundtable will not serve as a lobbyist in the traditional sense of the word, but will advocate policies developed in the course of its existence.
The value of the Roundtable lies in its ability to harness the intellectual power of Vermont’s business leaders, apply thoughtful research and analysis to challenges facing our State, and present workable solutions to State government. The Roundtable effectively remains credible and independent by representing Vermont business as a whole rather than specific industries or organizations.
The initial Roundtable Board of Directors consisted of 25 persons representing Vermont’s geographic and business diversity. Membership did, and still does, include CEOs in manufacturing, commerce, recreation and tourism, higher education, and agriculture.
Terms of Roundtable Chairmen:
12/87 – 12/89 Gov. Thomas P. Salmon
12/89 – 06/91 Richard M. Chapman
06/91 – 12/92 Gov. F. Ray Keyser, Jr.
12/92 – 12/94 Richard W. Mallary
12/94 – 12/96 Frederic H. Bertrand
12/96 – 12/98 John S. Kimbell
12/98 – 12/00 William H. Schubart
12/00 – 12/02 Maynard ‘Mac’ McLaughlin
12/02 – 12/04 Timothy T. Mueller
12/04 – 12/06 Staige Davis
12/06 – 12/08 Timothy R. Volk
12/08 – 12/10 William P. Stritzler
12/10 – 12/12 Steven P. Voigt
12/12 – 12/14 Mary G. Powell
12/14 – Present Winthrop H. Smith, Jr.