Ventriss Op-ED on Act 46

by Lisa Ventriss

After a tremendous amount of hard and important work by the Legislature and Administration in the last biennium around education reform, for which they deserve our recognition and appreciation, Act 46: Unification to Achieve Sustainable Governance, was signed into law in June 2015. It created immediate opportunities for school districts and supervisory unions to unify, an action which will result in better educational opportunities for students and cost effectiveness for taxpayers. Continue reading “Ventriss Op-ED on Act 46”

Ventriss Commentary: Vermont Should Worry About Out-Migration

Mr. Margolis’s commentary in VTDigger, entitled “Why Vermont Has Little to Fear From Florida” (July 10th) identified some interesting information regarding income tax filers, issues that can impact their mobility, and the demographics of those entering and leaving Vermont. At the conclusion of his piece, he casually states that “Vermont, like every other state, has its economic problems and some things to worry about. Rich folks moving to Florida is not one of them.” I’d like to offer another perspective; rich folks moving to Florida is a big problem that we should worry about. Continue reading “Ventriss Commentary: Vermont Should Worry About Out-Migration”

Ventriss VPR Commentary on Business Outlook

by Lisa Ventriss, President

Everybody has a vice and handbags are mine. In fact, I can easily justify a new purchase at the expense of other priorities, including my retirement fund. And recently, as I was admiring the latest addition to my collection, I thought about the parallels with state spending priorities and their impacts on business outlook.

Last month, 74 percent of Roundtable members participated in our quarterly Business Conditions Survey. Results showed that a majority of CEOs have a neutral outlook toward the current business climate and, since the prior survey, have shifted from ‘neutral’ to ‘mildly pessimistic’ regarding the business climate in the coming three months. Continue reading “Ventriss VPR Commentary on Business Outlook”

VBR Foundation Announces 2016 Class of Nordic Education Scholars

Today, Lisa Ventriss, President of Vermont Business Roundtable (VBR) announced that, through its Foundation, four new Nordic Education Scholarships have been awarded to Vermont students for the 2016 Academic Year.  The Nordic Scholars, half of whom are first-generation college-bound students, are from Windsor and Rutland counties who have been accepted into programs in computer science, civil engineering and healthcare-related fields. A committee of Roundtable members made funding determinations after review of written application materials and personal interviews with finalists. Continue reading “VBR Foundation Announces 2016 Class of Nordic Education Scholars”

VBR-EPR 2Qtr2016 Business Conditions Survey Results

2nd Quarter 2016 Business Conditions Survey Results Show Neutral Outlook

(South Burlington, Vt.)  Today, Lisa Ventriss, President of Vermont Business Roundtable (VBR) and Jeffrey Carr, President, Economic & Policy Resources (EPR), announced the Q2 2016 results of their joint initiative, the VBR-EPR Business Conditions Survey.

The survey, which is conducted quarterly, provides both a look back at the previous quarter and a predictive index going forward. The data for both the backward and forward-looking questions are weighted to the Vermont economy by sector employment and turned into “diffusion indices”.[1] These diffusion indices provide a tool for analyzing and presenting insight into the Vermont economy over time through the sentiments of the Roundtable members.

The raw survey data can be easily compared to the national Business Roundtable CEO Survey, a quarterly survey of national and multi-national companies, which contains similar questions to the VBR/EPR Survey in terms of employment and capital spending.  Comparing these two surveys revealed that Vermont companies are more positive-to-neutral about employment stability than national companies, while capital spending outlooks were slightly less optimistic than in the past for VBR respondents and more closely align with BRT results.


1 Each question on the survey is weighted by sector employment and the diffusion number is formulated by giving each “strong positive” answer a numerical value of 1.0, “mild positive” answers a numerical value of 0.5, neutral answers a value of 0, “mild negative” answers a value of -0.5, and strong negative values of -1.0.  The diffusion index numbers are then formulated based on these numerical values.  A value of 100 would mean that every respondent answered “strong positive”, a value of 0 would mean that every respondent answered neutrally, and a value of -100 would mean that every respondent answered “strong negatively.”


2Qtr2016_Table1_Web

Overall Findings

The latest survey, which was conducted during the first two weeks of April 2016, achieved a response rate of 74 percent overall and included a 50 percent or greater response rate from all but three sectors within the membership.  The survey asked eight retrospective and prospective questions about the CEOs’ economic outlook, demand, capital spending, and employment. Survey results show that:

  • Most responses to the question about the state’s overall business climate outlook were neutral (51%). The remaining responses were split between optimistic (28%) and pessimistic (20%). 
  • More than 60 percent of respondents (62%) shared negative outlooks specifically with ease of hiring for available positions; and,
  • The education sector had the most optimistic outlook on the general business climate, while the health care sector had the least optimistic outlook.

Graph #1 below shows the diffusion index of overall economic outlook, which measures the level of confidence (optimism or pessimism) respondents have about different aspects of the economy based on the first question on the survey, and can range from 100 (where 100% of respondents answered “strong positive”) to -100 (where 100% of respondents answered “strong negative”).

For this reporting period, the diffusion index shows a decline in optimism from Q1 2016 to Q2 2016, indicating that Vermont CEOs continue to feel neutral to mildly pessimistic about the business climate for the coming three months.

BCS-2Qtr2016_Graph1_Web

 

BCS-2Qtr2016_Graph2_Web

Graph #2 above shows the composite index of the diffusion index points for the questions relating to demand, capital spending, and employment in the next three months. The majority of responses were neutral and the index point slid from a mildly optimistic index point of 19 last survey to an index point of 9 this survey, indicating a shift toward true neutral.   The outlook remains in the neutral range.

Also included in the survey was the opportunity for Roundtable members to express their opinions on other topics adversely affecting their businesses. The greatest frequency of responses from members concerned high taxes and tax policies, health care costs, economic growth/development in Vermont, and the difficulty of finding workers.

The next survey will be conducted in early July 2016.


 

The Vermont Business Roundtable (VBR) is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization of chief executive officers of Vermont’s leading private and nonprofit employers, representing geographic diversity and all major sectors of the Vermont economy. The Roundtable is committed to sustaining a sound economy and preserving Vermont’s unique quality of life by studying and making recommendations on statewide public policy issues.  www.vtroundtable.org.

Economic & Policy Resources, Inc. (EPR) has been providing private and public sector clients throughout the U.S. and Canada with problem-solving economic research and analysis services for more than 25 years. Our professionals bring a broad spectrum and a deep reservoir of problem-solving knowledge and experience in applied economics to each assignment. We put our capabilities and experience to work for our clients so that they have the insight and understanding necessary to move forward with confidence. EPR has successfully completed assignments throughout the United States and in eastern Canada. www.epreconomics.com.

Ventriss Opinion Editorial on Act 46

By Lisa Ventriss, President, Vermont Business Roundtable

Art Woolf’s latest critique of K-12 education spending and outcomes, and Act 46 implementation in particular (“Is VT getting what it pays for in education?” Burlington Free Press 3/10/16) made me remember some important milestones along Vermont’s path to education reform.

In 2006, the Vermont Business Roundtable and partners commissioned a study entitled, “Vermont State Public Education Expenditure Overview and Analysis”, which was intended to provide a broad overview of the primary “cost drivers” affecting public education expenditures in the state, and examine factors that may affect future expenditure growth. Included in the study’s fact set were charts that showed two important trends: Continue reading “Ventriss Opinion Editorial on Act 46”

VBR-EPR 4Qtr2015 /1Qtr2016 Business Conditions Survey Results

4th Quarter 2015/1st Quarter 2016 Business Conditions Survey Results Show Neutral Outlook

(South Burlington, Vt.) Today, Lisa Ventriss, President of Vermont Business Roundtable (VBR) and Jeffrey Carr, President, Economic & Policy Resources (EPR), announced the Q4 2015/Q1 2016 results of their joint initiative, the VBR-EPR Business Conditions Survey.

The survey, which is conducted quarterly, provides both a look back at the previous quarter and a predictive index going forward. The data for both the backward and forward-looking questions are weighted to the Vermont economy by sector employment and turned into “diffusion indices”.[1] These diffusion indices provide a tool for analyzing and presenting insight into the Vermont economy over time through the sentiments of the Roundtable members. Continue reading “VBR-EPR 4Qtr2015 /1Qtr2016 Business Conditions Survey Results”

Roundtable Elects New Directors for 2016 [1.15.16]

(South Burlington, Vt.)  At its 29th Annual Membership Meeting held at The Essex Resort and Spa, the Vermont Business Roundtable elected eight new directors to their first three-year term, including: John Brumsted, The University of Vermont Health Network; Dimitri Garder, Global-Z International; Scott Giles, Vermont Student Assistance Corporation; John Killacky, Flynn Center for the Performing Arts; Stephanie Mapes, Paul Frank + Collins; Paul Ode, Downs Rachlin and Martin; Tom Sullivan, The University of Vermont; and Larry Williams, Redstone. Continue reading “Roundtable Elects New Directors for 2016 [1.15.16]”

VBR-EPR 3rd Qtr 2015 Business Conditions Survey Results [10.28.15]

3rd Quarter 2015 Business Conditions Survey Results Show Neutral Outlook

(South Burlington, Vt.) Today, Lisa Ventriss, President of Vermont Business Roundtable (VBR) and Jeffrey Carr, President, Economic & Policy Resources (EPR), announced the 3rd Quarter results of their joint initiative, the VBR-EPR Business Conditions Survey.

The survey of Roundtable CEO members, who represent all economic sectors and geographic regions of Vermont, is conducted quarterly and provides both a look back at the previous quarter and a predictive index going forward. The data for both the backward and forward-looking questions are weighted to the Vermont economy by sector employment and turned into “diffusion indices”,[1] which provide a tool for analyzing and presenting insight into the Vermont economy. Continue reading “VBR-EPR 3rd Qtr 2015 Business Conditions Survey Results [10.28.15]”

Business Leader and Humanitarian Marilyn H. Tam Urges Vermont Employers to Embrace Workplace Diversity

Win-Smith-MarilynTam-Wanda-Heading-Grant-TiffanyBlumele-TedCastle-LisaVentriss
L to R: Roundtable Chair, Win Smith, Jr., Marilyn H. Tam, Wanda Heading-Grant, Tiffany Bluemle, Ted Castle, Lisa Ventriss

September 25, 2015 – Burlington, Vt.–Nearly 400 Vermont employers came together today at the Sheraton Burlington to hear an inspiring message from global business leader and humanitarian Marilyn H. Tam about the importance and value of workplace diversity. Ms. Tam addressed the rapidly changing faces of the nation and the world—including Vermont—as well as the shifting age of workers and the dramatic rise of women-owned companies. Continue reading “Business Leader and Humanitarian Marilyn H. Tam Urges Vermont Employers to Embrace Workplace Diversity”