Jobs and People: A Strategic Analysis of the Greater Burlington Economy
Industrial Cooperative Association
After his upset election in 1981, Burlington Vermont's new mayor Bernie Sanders, having created a new Community and Economic Development Office, confronted a regional economy dominated by a branch plant, absentee owned manufacturing economy that showed signs of leaving the area. CEDO staff hired two consultants, Chris Mackin and Beth Siegel, to help them with an analysis and ultimately, a plan. They spent months: they met with the city staff, they interviewed dozens of business leaders and workers,, and did a survey of manufacturers. CEDO staff were intrigued with the idea of employee ownership to take up the slack as absentee owned plants departed, but foresaw significant business opposition. Mackin and Siegel recommended instead a local small business focus for city policy. This proved a central theme of city policy in the years ahead, so the plan had consequences. Siegel led the analysis through two additional planning efforts in 1989 and 1994, followed by a fourth iteration authored by Nancy Brooks and Richard Schramm in 2010 as the strategy bore fruit with numerous new start-ups including a few worker buyouts so the employee ownership strategy was beginning to get a foothold as well.
City of Burlington, Vermont