White River Junction, Vt. - On June 8, Governor Phil Scott signed a bill to encourage economic development in downtowns and village centers.
"This bill builds on our success revitalizing Vermont's downtowns and villages by addressing both funding and permitting challenges that can limit redevelopment opportunities," Governor Scott said.
According to the Governor's Office, the new law:
- Makes development in state-designated centers faster and more affordable by increasing the downtown tax credits by $200,000 to $2.4 million annually, exempting housing projects in state-designated centers from a redundant Act 250 review; and enabling six new Tax Increment Financing (TIF) districts;
- Expands the existing affordable housing tax credit to captive insurance companies, thereby incentivizing our captives to invest in growing Vermont's affordable housing stock;
- Supports rural economic development with Rural Economic Development Infrastructure Districts;
- Directs the state to study and implement the Green Mountain Secure Retirement Plan, a voluntary retirement program for businesses with 50 or fewer employees;
- Creates a Career Pathways Coordinator position at the Agency of Education to develop stronger career pathways in our schools and technical centers;
- Establishes a Heating Fuel and Service Workforce Training Pilot Project to work towards filling the workforce supply gap in this industry;
- Repeals the sunset on the sales tax exemption for aircraft parts to support the emerging Vermont-Quebec aerospace corridor; and Makes Vermont more affordable by reducing employers’ contributions to the worker’s compensation fund.
The Green Mountain Secure Retirement Plan will give more Vermonters access to secure retirement savings by setting up a multiple employer program for businesses employing 50 or fewer employees and employees who cannot access retirement savings plans through their employers.
"Vermont is home to hundreds of small businesses, many of which strive to pay good wages and support their employees, but one area where many business owners struggle to complete is in benefits offerings," said Jen Kimmich, Co-owner of the Alchemist and Chair of the Board of Main Street Alliance of Vermont.
"Green Mountain Secure retirement will help level the playing field for Vermont's small employers and set our state economy on a path to economic wellbeing," Kimmich continued.
According to the Governor's office, Vermont currently has 23 downtowns and 123 villages participating in the state's designation program.
In the past year, $90 million in public and private investment has been documented by state-designated downtown communities. Additionally, more than 290 jobs have been created, and 134 new and expanded business have opened.
"Simplifying and reducing the cost to develop in areas the state has designated for growth is the best way to build vibrant communities, create jobs and increase the tax base," Scott said.
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