03.30.09

Remarks At The Economic Recovery Conference

...Latchis Theater, Brattleboro, Vermont

Thank you all for coming to this timely conference at the beautiful and historic Latchis Theatre.  We welcome this opportunity to offer Vermonters, Vermont businesses, and Vermont communities a chance to learn more about how they can take advantage of the recently passed federal economic recovery act.  And the more rapidly and effectively that Vermont puts these resources to work, the better we will be able to keep Vermonters working today, and the better we will be able to lay the groundwork for growing our economy for the jobs of tomorrow.   

I’d like to thank the Vermont Procurement and Technical Assistance Center, the Vermont Small Business Development Center, Marlboro College, the Latchis Theatre, the Brattleboro Development Credit Union, and WTSA Radio for sponsoring and helping to organize this event.  For those of you who don’t know about the great work these organizations do – and the many other organizations represented at this conference today – I really encourage you to take advantage of their superb knowledge and expertise about doing business in Vermont.  

I also want to thank Senator Shumlin, Governor Douglas, and so many Federal and State officials for being here today.  The Congressional Delegation worked closely with the Governor and the Legislature – under the leadership of Senator Shumlin and Speaker Shap Smith – and with State agencies to make sure that the economic recovery plan is a good match for Vermont’s job needs today and in the future. 

I am proud to say that Vermont has been one of the most proactive states in the Union in organizing to take advantage of these stimulus funds.  And Vermont’s good work is getting attention.  After we held the nation’s first stimulus conference up in Burlington earlier this month, many Senators came up to me and asked how they could hold similar conferences in their states. 

And President Obama asked me to share with you a welcome letter for today’s conference…

Dear Senator Leahy and Governor Douglas:

Thank you for your leadership in hosting the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act Workshop in Brattleboro.  The immediate coordination of this event demonstrates your responsiveness and diligence in helping families and businesses realize the benefits of this legislation.

Your bipartisan effort is emblematic of Vermont’s unity in guiding its citizens through these difficult economic times, serves as a model to others, and will positively impact the success of this effort.  It will take time to revive our economy, but workshops like this are an important start.

Again, I commend you for your leadership and I encourage a continued dialogue on the Recovery Act’s implementation.  I look forward to continuing our work together on behalf of Vermont’s families to help restore the American dream.

Sincerely,

Barack Obama

…The President is right.  We are all in this together – Democrats, Republicans, and Independents alike.  The economic recovery package is bold action taken at the federal level to help put Americans back to work and to jump-start the economy – and we must be prepared to take advantage of it smartly and promptly and effectively – regardless of where we fall on the political spectrum.  For this Vermonter – and I think as for many, many Vermonters – I want this President, this country and this State to succeed.  

Vermonters are hurting today because of the economic and financial crises gripping the world.  We have a rising unemployment rate.  The State’s budget, local municipal budgets and local school budgets are all stretched to the breaking point.  Our roads and bridges are strained and worn.  And hard-working families are struggling to put food on the table.  This really is one of the worst economic messes our country has seen since the Great Depression. 

As President Obama has so clearly stated throughout his first two months in office, rebuilding the foundation of a strong economy won’t be easy.  It will take wise, concerted and sometimes courageous action.  And this economic recovery package is just one part of the solution.  We still have to stabilize our financial markets, our housing market, and consumer confidence in our overall economy.

Some of the tools we need for economic recovery are in this legislative package, and the workshops where these tools will be put to work are right here in Vermont and in other states.  If Vermont gets a little head start on other states -- that’s OK by me.  This conference can help us jump off the starting block.  And I must say that the interest you have shown in being here is a sign that Vermonters are ready to lead the way back to economic vitality.  

The package includes tax relief for working families and for businesses.  There are investments for broadband deployment, for job training, for electrical smart grids, for water and transportation infrastructure, for better schools, for housing, for first responders, for new energy sources, and for a whole host of other items that will help cushion pressures on the State budget, and for helping to lay the groundwork for a renewed and vibrant Vermont economy.

In all, we expect Vermont will receive more than $700 million in direct federal investments under this economic recovery package, with hundreds of millions more coming to the State through competitive grant programs and tax reductions for individuals and businesses.

President Obama has ordered Federal agencies to detail all of their economic recovery plans on the Recovery-dot-gov Web site – a site that I suggest you all bookmark on your computers.  Formula funds are already flowing to the State – and competitive grant announcements will be announced soon – so keep checking that Web site.   

We hope that today’s sessions will give you a sense of the breadth of opportunities available in the economic recovery package, will help you get a sense of how these resources will be directed, and will get you started thinking about ways your business, your organization, your municipality, or you yourself can take advantage of these opportunities.

I’ll caution you now -- we probably won’t have answers to all of your questions today.  As this bill goes into implementation it’s impossible to know the details of everything.  My staff, the governor’s staff, and our workshop panelists will do their best with the information they have available.  Most Federal and State agencies are still working on their rules and distribution plans right now, so please feel free to follow up with any of us in the weeks and months ahead. 

Again, thank you all for coming.  We appreciate you taking time out of your busy schedules to be here today.  I hope you’ll find this a worthwhile conference because the economic recovery package really is a unique opportunity to save and create jobs and to make life better here in Vermont. 

Thank you.  

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Press Contact

David Carle: 202-224-3693

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