Minter unveils economic development plan

BARRE — Democratic gubernatorial candidate Sue Minter has unveiled her plan to stimulate economic growth in Vermont.

Minter stood before the City Place building on Monday to share her plan to invest in downtowns such as Barre, while calling for investment in agriculture, manufacturing, energy efficiency and the tech sector.

“Too many people are struggling in an economy that is stacked against them,” said Minter, who highlighted the public-private partnerships in Barre that have led to a revitalization of the downtown.

The state has invested $19 million dollars in downtown Barre, resulting in $45 million in private investment, a move that led to the construction of the City Place building, which houses both state offices and private businesses.

Minter said that, in her first year as governor, the state would award money to three communities, who will be chosen through a competitive process.

Minter said the program would leverage federal, state and local resources, as well as lending from financial institutions and private support to make the investments. She also said there would be no need to raise taxes for the program, with the money being redirected from existing grant programs.

Minter did not specify which grants currently being offered would be redirected to the community investment program.

Minter also called for what she called “social impact bonds,” in which members of the public could invest in programs to improve community life, with a special emphasis on substance abuse and opiate addiction.

It is not clear how participants in the bond program would see a financial return on their investments.

Minter also unveiled the second portion of her plan, which she called “InnovateVT,” targeting the following industries: clean energy and efficiency, farm and forest production, the tech industry and next-generation manufacturing.

Minter pledged that, during her first 90 days in office, she would establish a task force with leaders in those four industries to establish benchmarks and goals to promote growth in those sectors.

“InnovateVT will harness our strengths by bringing together private industry, government, and our colleges and university to grow these sectors and make Vermont a hub for innovation,” Minter said. “By working together and promoting what we have to offer, we will create an economy where all Vermonters thrive.”

Minter will face fellow democratic gubernatorial candidates Matt Dunne and Peter Galbraith in the August primary.

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