Gov. Peter Shumlin announced plans Monday to create a fund he said would allow the administration to respond quickly to keep businesses in Vermont and better compete for new ones.
Flanked by legislative leaders, business representatives and administration officials, Shumlin proposed the creation of a Vermont Enterprise Incentive Fund that would allow him to offer cash to companies to keep jobs in the state or to match offers from other states to attract new businesses.
If approved by the Legislature, the program will be funded by the first $4.5 million in surplus from the state's fiscal year 2014 revenues. Another $500,000 in state surplus revenue would go to the Vermont Economic Development Authority's Vermont Entrepreneurial Lending Program, where it would be matched by $1 million in federal money.
The money will support companies in the research and development and technology sectors, Shumlin said.
"This will add a tool in our existing toolbox to retain jobs and create economic opportunities in Vermont," Shumlin said at a news conference Monday.
Any incentive offered to a company would have to be approved by the state's Emergency Board, which is made up of members of the Legislature's money committees. There would be no other oversight for the program.
Shumlin said the fund would mark the first time a Vermont governor has had the authority to offer incentives directly to companies considering a move into or out of the state.
The second part of Monday's proposal would add $500,000 in General Fund surplus to H.736, an economic development bill proposed by Reps. Heidi Scheuermann, R-Stowe, and Paul Ralston, D-Middlebury. That would be combined with $1 million in federal money in VEDA's entrepreneurial lending program to create a reserve fund to lower the risk of lending to start-up tech companies.