A new advocacy group for "socially responsible" small businesses in Vermont was announced Monday morning. Vermont's Main Street Alliance, headed by Lindsay DesLauriers, will be part of a national network of state and local small business coalitions.
The group will endorse initiatives for statewide single-payer health care and mandatory paid sick leave for Vermont employees. The group's strategy is to recruit small business owners into advocacy coalitions organized around each topic.
DesLauriers worked for Voices for Vermont's Children in 2014, leading an unsuccessful legislative push for paid sick leave. She said the experience convinced her that a small business niche was not being met by other business organizations or issues groups.
"The business associations and chambers who opposed (paid sick leave) claimed the voice of small business," DesLauriers said. She felt the small business mantle was "co-opted" by groups that actually served different masters.
Founding members are Liza Cain and Randy George, co-owners of Red Hen Bakery; Melinda Moulton, CEO of Main Street Landing; Trudy Trombley, owner of the Boutique at Stowe Mercantile; Stephanie Hainley, COO at White and Burke Real Estate Investment Advisors and former president of the Burlington Chapter of Business and Professional Women (BPW); and Wayne Nelson, partner at L.N. Consulting.
George, of Red Hen Bakery, said he thinks the issues of health care and paid sick leave are priorities for a majority of small business owners in Vermont.
"I think that small businesses end up having a bigger voice in Vermont than they may in most other states," George said.