Vermont's Office of the Creative Economy Surveys Businesses | Business | Seven Days | Vermont's Independent Voice

Seven Days needs your financial support!

Vermont's Office of the Creative Economy Surveys Businesses 

State of the Arts

Lars Hasselblad Torres
  • Lars Hasselblad Torres

“Creative economy” is more than a catchphrase in Vermont; the growth of arts- and tech-related enterprises is practically the Great (Multicolored) Hope in a state that’s low on jobs but teeming with artists and entrepreneurs. With the goal of helping nascent CE-type businesses, the Office of the Creative Economy — itself a fledgling branch of Vermont’s Agency of Commerce & Community Development — has issued a survey to home in on their needs. It was sent to “approximately 1000” such businesses, according to Joe Bookchin, director of the OCE — and recipients were invited to pass it along to others.

The 15-question survey was “basically an outgrowth of a lot of meetings with people in the creative-economy sector; it’s a way to codify things like ‘what were the reasons for putting your business in Vermont?’ and ‘how did you find qualified employees?’” Bookchin explains. Some of the other questions asked for the “top five concerns facing your business,” which resources the business has utilized, which OCE activities would be helpful, and how the Vermont educational system “could be more responsive to your employee recruitment and retention needs.”

“Ultimately,” Bookchin says, “I think it’s about how we can help our constituents and shape our agenda.”

Another reason for the survey, he adds, is to obtain more demographic data, “so we can really chart which areas are growing and not growing, and then establish best practices to help,” Bookchin says. “Is social media working for them? Do they have access to capital?”

The OCE is focusing on four types of businesses in Vermont: computer software and game development; graphic arts, marketing and advertising; film and new media; and independent artists who have manufacturing shops. Bookchin says those “macro sectors” were derived from research at the Department of Labor, but “there are lots of gray areas.”

One of those might contain Local 64 in Montpelier, a membership-driven coworking and networking space founded in 2011 by Lars Hasselblad Torres. “Lars in particular goes beyond just supplying the space,” says Bookchin. “He reaches out and tries to help people make connections.”

Torres agrees that his place falls outside the OCE’s four macro sectors, which is why, he says, “I found it difficult to offer the insights I’d have liked [on the survey] — what I think is exciting in Vermont right now, who I see as valuable players in the creative ecology of the state, what I think could be priority investments, etc.” But Torres says he wants to see the OCE succeed, and hopes to help shape its “core programs and activities.”

Local 64 offers its own supportive opportunities to members and the public. One of them is the Pitch Kitchen, where individuals with an idea can run it by a small group of interested but impartial judges. Bookchin, who has been a judge at Pitch Kitchen, applauds “this new way of looking at how people organize themselves. It’s getting people out of their houses to be part of a collective synergy.”

A similar dynamic is at play in Vermont’s small but growing makers’ movement, Bookchin notes. “They’re a wonderful synthesis of all those ideas — software developers, putting things together. Hopefully from that, new businesses will arrive.”

Preliminary survey findings will be posted on the OCE website by February 15, Bookchin says.

For more info or to get a link to the creative economy survey, contact Joe Bookchin at 828-3618 or joe.bookchin@state.vt.us.

Got something to say? Send a letter to the editor and we'll publish your feedback in print!

About The Author

Pamela Polston

Pamela Polston

Bio:
Pamela Polston is the cofounder, coeditor and associate publisher of Seven Days. In 2015, she was inducted into the New England Newspaper Hall of Fame.

Comments


Comments are closed.

Since 2014, Seven Days has allowed readers to comment on all stories posted on our website. While we’ve appreciated the suggestions and insights, the time has come to shut them down — at least temporarily.

While we champion free speech, facts are a matter of life and death during the coronavirus pandemic, and right now Seven Days is prioritizing the production of responsible journalism over moderating online debates between readers.

To criticize, correct or praise our reporting, please send us a letter to the editor. Or send us a tip. We’ll check it out and report the results.

Online comments may return when we have better tech tools for managing them. Thanks for reading.

Latest in Business

  • Mascoma Bank Is Helping Hula Transform Into a Lakeside Tech Hub
  • Mascoma Bank Is Helping Hula Transform Into a Lakeside Tech Hub

    The 15 acres of Burlington beachfront property once owned by Blodgett Oven is a “Qualified Opportunity Zone.” To redevelop it, “we were going to need some advice,” said owner Russ Scully, “somebody who would help us with the ins and outs of all the financing involved.” Enter Mascoma Bank, which has been there for Hula from day one. (Paid Post)
    • Oct 23, 2020
  • When August First Needed a PPP Loan, Mascoma Bank Made It Easy
  • When August First Needed a PPP Loan, Mascoma Bank Made It Easy

    When the pandemic closed August First, co-owner Phil Merrick hoped a federal loan could float the Burlington bakery-café. At the time only Mascoma Bank made the Paycheck Protection Program info easy to find. “They actually knew what was going on,” said Merrick. He moved the restaurant’s accounts to Mascoma, and secured the loan August First needed to survive (Paid Post).
    • Oct 16, 2020
  • Mascoma’s Innovative Loans Brought a Grocery Store — and Banking — to Burlington’s Old North End
  • Mascoma’s Innovative Loans Brought a Grocery Store — and Banking — to Burlington’s Old North End

    Redstone managing partner Erik Hoekstra, who lived in Burlington’s Old North End for 17 years, knew firsthand just how badly the neighborhood was in need of both a grocery store and a place to bank. To solve both problems, he turned to Mascoma, where an innovative loan product helped bring Jake’s ONE Market — and a new bank branch — to life. (Paid Post)
    • Oct 9, 2020
  • More »

Keep up with us Seven Days a week!

Sign up for our fun and informative
newsletters:

All content © 2020 Da Capo Publishing, Inc. 255 So. Champlain St. Ste. 5, Burlington, VT 05401  |  Contact Us
Website powered by Foundation