by Lisa Ventriss, President
I’m writing this piece during the last week of August; a time when, in the cooling of the evening, we hold fast to the memories of our busy, hot, fun, lazy, star-lit summer. For me, it is one of the most memorable periods I can recall – Son #1 got married (and I finally have a daughter!); Son #2 earned his graduate degree and landed a full time job (with benefits!), and Son #Last started his college career at my alma mater, The University of Vermont. I laughed and cried all summer long!
Since our summer membership meeting, there have been other noteworthy activities that your Roundtable was involved with; important conversations with public, private, and non-profit partners on economic development, education, and health care initiatives that were intended to lay the groundwork for forward progress beginning in the fall and into the new legislative session. Though your Working Groups were officially on summer break, there was still important work being done. Here are some highlights:
- The Biennial Health Care Survey, conducted by Hickok & Boardman HR Intelligence and with guidance by the Health Care Working Group, ran during the month of July and was a follow-up to two previous surveys conducted in 2012 and 2014. The survey findings will be presented to the Board when it meets in September, and the full report will be presented to the membership at the 30th Annual Meeting on January 12th.
- In response to the growing momentum in Vermont focused on how the state can increase the quality, affordability, and access to high quality child care, the VBR Research & Education Foundation (VBR REF) partnered this summer to conduct an economic analysis and develop a better understanding of costs/benefits of investing in early childhood care and learning programs for Vermont’s children birth to five years of age. The study will conclude in late 2016/early 2017 and results will inform the business community, community leaders, and elected officials.
- The Contributions of New Americans in Vermont was the focus of an important new report issued this summer by the Partnership for New American Economy and, under the auspices of the Economic Development Working Group was promoted by the Roundtable, calling attention to the need for immigration reform in this country. The report and additional information regarding the reform campaign can be found at http://www.renewoureconomy.org/ .
- Under the aegis of the Education Working Group, preliminary discussions were held with our strategic partners in the Agency of Education and Vermont Superintendents Association to develop a New Medallion Schools Award Program that will recognize academic progress by schools and school systems in the new era of Act 46 educational reform.
Thank you to all the members who contributed to these important conversations and initiatives.