Montpelier: Economy

Major Industries and Commercial Activity

Montpelier's economy is dominated by state governmental activities. Approximately 2,300 state employees work in Montpelier—truly remarkable in a city of its size. The presence of state government has led to a large service and retail industry. Higher education and insurance, including the headquarters of National Life Insurance Company, which is among the nation's largest insurance providers, also are significant economic presences. Due to its position at the center of a popular East Coast resort area, as well as being the state capital, Montpelier supports a thriving tourism industry; the Sugarbush and Mad River Glen ski areas are known throughout the northeast. In the Central Vermont region, which includes Montpelier, are manufacturers known worldwide for the production of granite memorials, manufacturers of machinery and instruments for the semiconductor industry, an expanding food-processing industry including the headquarters of Ben & Jerry's Ice Cream, and many other small manufacturers.

Incentive Programs—New and Existing Companies

Local programs

The Central Vermont Economic Development Corporation (CVEDC), one of 12 regional development agencies in Vermont, assists new and existing businesses through programs such as mortgage loans, industrial revenue bonds, and low-interest loan guarantees. The CVEDC is one of just three U.S. Small Business Administration certified development companies in Vermont, and has helped bring more than $46 million in capital investment and 1,200 permanent jobs to the region since its inception in 1976. The City of Montpelier Planning and Development office guides entrepreneurs through the approval process. Through its Community Development Agency, the city administers a business development revolving loan fund, a handicap accessibility loan fund, and other economic development programs, including support of the Montpelier Downtown Community Association. The city also administers several successful housing renovation and home ownership programs to benefit persons of low and moderate income.

State programs

Vermont's tax incentive program offers incentives based on quality jobs. These tax incentives are available based on whether or not the proposed economic development meets certain guidelines, and whether a cost/benefit model analysis points to a positive net fiscal effect on Vermont's tax revenue. The cost benefit model and other functions of the program are mainly coordinated by the Vermont Economic Progress Council. Vermont's Downtown Development Act is an incentive to help benefit Vermont's downtowns with programs for rehabilitation of certified historic or older buildings, sprinkler system rebates, reallocation of sales tax on construction materials, downtown transportation, related capitol improvement fund, planning grant for qualifying for designation, and other state and federal incentives.

Vermont's Act Relating to Education, Taxation and Education Financing provides financial incentives to grow businesses that are the most comprehensive in the state's history. The statute awards tax incentives to both businesses and municipalities for economic development activity, with a special focus on small businesses. The state also offers sales tax exemptions on certain resources vital to industry, including electricity, building materials in excess of $1 million, industrial fuels, and heavy machinery and equipment.

Development Projects

The City of Monptelier and the State of Vermont, working jointly through the City-State Commission, developed the Capital District Master Plan in an effort to identify, encourage, and coordinate mutually beneficial development plans for the Capitol Complex, downtown Montpelier, and the Winooski River corridor. The plan presents recommendations and concepts for meeting the state's projected office space needs, establishing a greenway along the Winooski River, and considering numerous physical improvements to improve pedestrian and vehicular circulation and stimulate downtown redevelopment.

In 2005 the city released information on its Transportation Planning Project, with an eye toward reducing urban sprawl, encouraging alternative modes of transportation to the automobile, and making the city even more bicycle-friendly for both commuters and recreational bicyclists. Plans called for a new Winooski West Bike Path to meet with the existing Winooski East Bike Path at Stone Cutters Way, and in turn to connect with the Central Vermont Regional System that would eventually run all the way to East Barre. In 2002 voters approved $800,000 to be spent on turning the old Carr Lot train depot into a state-of-the-art transit center and public park.

Economic Development Information: Central Vermont Chamber of Commerce, PO Box 336, Barre, Vermont 05641; telephone (802)229-5711

Commercial Shipping

Montpelier is linked to major East Coast and Canadian cities by interstate highways and rail via the New England Railroad. The Burlington International Airport is located less than 40 miles away in Burlington, and corporate planes can fly to Montpelier via the Knapp State Airport in neighboring Berlin.

Labor Force and Employment Outlook

Vermont's labor force is described as productive and loyal with a low rate of absenteeism. Due to its position as the state capital and as a center for various service-oriented businesses, employment in Montpelier is dominated by professional and service-oriented jobs.

Montpelier's workforce is well educated, with nearly 17 percent of its adult residents holding an advanced degree, 50 percent holding a college degree, and 88.4 percent as high school graduates. Workers are well paid compared to regional and state averages. Average household incomes are the highest in Washington County and among the highest in Vermont.

With a preponderance of its jobs in state government, utilities, and education, the economic base for the greater Montpelier region is very stable. But the true advantage is the region's relatively high number of small businesses; there are nearly 2,300 employers in the central Vermont region, plus an estimated 2,500 self-employed workers. The average business in the region employers fewer than a dozen people, which is an advantage because small businesses tend to react to change much more rapidly than larger corporations. Analysts predict that most new jobs in the near future will be in non-manufacturing areas, especially services and trade. Finance, insurance, and real estate should remain stable.

The following is a summary of data regarding the Burlington and South Burlington, Vermont metropolitan area labor force, 2004 annual averages.

Size of nonagricultural labor force: 113,300

Number of workers employed in . . .

construction and mining: 6,100

manufacturing: 15,300

trade, transportation and utilities: 22,000

information: 3,200

financial activities: 5,400

professional and business services: 10,000

educational and health services: 18,100

leisure and hospitality: 10,700

other services: 3,700

government: 19,100

Average hourly earnings of production workers employed in manufacturing: $13.65 (statewide average)

Unemployment rate: 3.1% (Statewide average, 2005)

Montpelier: Economy

Largest employers (Central Vermont region, 2003) Number of employees
State of Vermont 9,250
Central Vermont Medical Center 1,178
National Life Insurance Co. 1,000
Sugarbush Ski Resort (in season) 980
Rock of Ages Quarries 854
Cabot Cooperative Creamery 575
Washington County Mental Health 560
Green Mountain Coffee Roasters 540
New England Culinary Institute 506

Cost of Living

The following is a summary of data regarding several key cost of living factors in the Montpelier area.

2004 ACCRA Average House Price: Not reported

2004 ACCRA Cost of Living Index: Not reported

State income tax rate: 24% of federal tax liability (2005)

State sales tax rate: 6.0%

Local income tax rate: None

Local sales tax rate: None

Property tax rate: $2.65 per $100 of assessed value (2005)

Economic Information: Vermont Department of Employment & Training, PO Box 488, Montpelier, VT 05601-0488; telephone (802)828-4000; fax (802)828-4022. Department of Planning & Development, City Hall, 39 Main Street, Montpelier, VT 05602-2950; telephone (802)223-9506; fax (802)223-9524; email