The President’s Column: 4th Quarter 2011

I admit it; I’m an optimist. How can I not be when all around me is evidence that, despite hardship and uncertainty, Vermonters ~ both individual and corporate ~ possess the kind of resilience that one typically attributes to young children? You’ve heard it and even said it yourself, “Oh, he was so sick, but look at him now! Children are so resilient.”   The same is being said about the state of our communities and economy, we are indeed “Vermont Strong.”

The state of this Roundtable is strong, too. Despite suffering tremendous hardships during the Great Recession and the long recovery, key indicators show a healthy membership is at work again. Over the past two years the Roundtable has added 28 percent new members; the strongest recruitment and renewal period in our 25 year history. Attendance at our twice annual membership meetings has increased during that same period; a witness to the renewed interest of CEOs to again reach out and engage with their peers around the state as business resumes a sense of “new normalcy.” And the sales, CapEx, and employment forecasts among our members have, for the second quarter in a row, continued their upward trajectory. Sure, the recovery will be a long and slow one, but employers are hiring again, companies are investing in their physical plant and consumers are buying more of our members’ services and products. Now if it would just snow!

Another sign of optimism is the way in which Governor Shumlin has incorporated his “lessons learned” from Tropical Storm Irene (TSI) into more than just his policy agenda for 2012; it’s reflected in his longer-term view of the functioning of state government. The sense of urgent purpose, focus on efficiency and intent to break down barriers in the TSI rebuild by members of his Administration and partners has presented Vermonters with a new way of looking at problem-solving. If we can all agree that this is the new way that we’ll tackle our future challenges, then we’ll be well-prepared indeed.

In regions all around Vermont, CEOs have exciting stories to tell about developing new markets, growing their workforce, and deploying new technology.  So let us bring that energy and excitement to our annual meeting and to all such member gatherings in 2012. As the preeminent CEO-led business organization in Vermont, the Roundtable is uniquely poised to leverage our experiential capital for the benefit of all Vermonters. Let your rising tide float the boat of others.