Conference sows entrepreneurial seeds for growthBy Bruce Edwards
STAFF WRITER | March 25,2013CASTLETON - Lawrence Miller knows something about entrepreneurship. Before his current job as secretary of the Agency of Commerce and Community Development, Miller started Otter Creek Brewing.
But getting to the point where the Middlebury brewery could be considered a success had its challenges, Miller told the 200 attendees at an all-day business conference at Castleton State College on Monday.
Miller was one of a number of speakers and workshops that focused on practices to help new businesses and budding entrepreneurs.
Rutland business leaders started off the Grow Your Business Over-Easy seminar with a pitch on why the city and the area is an ideal place to do business, including the city’s pro-business attitude, workforce and transportation infrastructure.
They pointed to a series of recent positive developments anchored by Green Mountain Power’s new Energy Innovation Center in the heart of the downtown.
Brennan Duffy, executive director of the Rutland Redevelopment Authority, gave a short Power Point presentation ticking off a list of what the city has to offer.
“Strategic location, lower cost real estate, a strong workforce, robust infrastructure, business friendly environment and a great quality of life,” Duffy said
He said there are financial incentives available including commercial and industrial tax stabilization.
In terms of job growth, Duffy said while the county has lost jobs in the last decade the city has experienced 4 percent job growth.
“That’s a positive sign for the city,” he said.
In discussing the Vermont economy, Miller said “income improvement” has not kept pace with the cost of living. “That needs to change,” he said. “We need better wages, we need better income, we need it across the spectrum.”
Miller said the problem is that while companies are more productive, those companies are doing it with fewer workers.
“So what do we need, we need more firms,” he said. “How do we get more firms, we need more entrepreneurs and that’s what a day like this is all about.”
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