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Economic Outlook Stresses Manufacturing

Hazelett Strip Casting is a Colchester company  that makes massive machines which help turn molten metal into rolls and sheets. Hazelett is clearly in the manufacturing business.   So is Sean Lawson who makes his award winning beer, Lawson’s Finest Liquids, in a brewery located next to his home.  The food production part of Vermont’s manufacturing sector, which includes Lawson's Finest, is having great success competing globally and contributing to Vermont’s economic growth.  

“I think a lot of that is attributable to some of the things are going on in Vermont branding, particularly in food manufacturing,”  says Jeffrey Carr, a Vermont economist who advises the Governor.  “We have examples of Green Mountain Coffee Roasts and Cabot Co-op and things like that but we’re not only known now for the quality of the cheese we make, we’re increasingly becoming known for the quality of the beer we brew.”

Carr is on the board of the New England Economic Partnership, which has just released a periodic forecast for the region’s economy.  The new outlook stresses the role manufacturing will play in Vermont’s economic growth.  It says a lot of that will come from competing in the global market.

The outlook, which calls Vermont’s projected growth ‘moderately positive’ is tempered with a few warnings and Carr cites the impact of the sequester, a troubled European economy, and possible layoffs at a large employer like IBM as caveats to the forecast. 

Although the recovery has had many ups and downs and will continue to be slow in Vermont and elsewhere, the report says that through March Vermont had recovered 80 percent of the payroll jobs lost during the recession.

Carr says he is skeptical of claims that Vermont’s workforce is shrinking.  He says he’s more concerned about the readiness of the workforce to fill manufacturing jobs that will help spur future economic growth in the state.

Steve has been with VPR since 1994, first serving as host of VPR’s public affairs program and then as a reporter, based in Central Vermont. Many VPR listeners recognize Steve for his special reports from Iran, providing a glimpse of this country that is usually hidden from the rest of the world. Prior to working with VPR, Steve served as program director for WNCS for 17 years, and also worked as news director for WCVR in Randolph. A graduate of Northern Arizona University, Steve also worked for stations in Phoenix and Tucson before moving to Vermont in 1972. Steve has been honored multiple times with national and regional Edward R. Murrow Awards for his VPR reporting, including a 2011 win for best documentary for his report, Afghanistan's Other War.
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