To be fair, one can’t really write a letter about the upcoming election without referencing the current Covid crisis. That said, this global pandemic has done more than jeopardize our personal health and well-being. Covid has also done an efficient job of shining the spotlight on some long-standing economic problems in our region. With small business suffering and institutions like Thomas Dairy shutting its doors, the financial implications of this public health crisis are speeding the demise of economic systems that have been creeping downward for a generation.
Population decline and limited work-skills training opportunities are two huge contributing factors to the economic crisis in Rutland.
So how do we keep younger people in the area and attract more people to our towns? We start with the foundation of any community: the people, us, our neighbors; we start with the foundation of any economy: the workers.
Various workforce training and business initiatives already exist, both regionally and at the state level. But leadership is needed. We have to imagine: could Rutland become a networked community of highly skilled workers engaged and motivated in their craft?
If we are able to hold that vision for a moment, we would see people thriving, earning dignified wages while working at dynamic and innovative businesses rooted in the needs and priorities of our local neighborhoods.
We would see business ventures eyeing the Rutland County workforce as an ideal community in which to invest their efforts and capital. But again, it takes leadership to collaborate and coordinate these endeavors.
Lucky for us, we have a candidate that has the experience and track record of doing just that. Michael Shank has spent his life in the work of community sustainability and resilience. Through his town and regional planning involvement, his advocacy for mentorship and the arts, and his local, state, and national leadership and teaching in the areas of climate and conflict resolution, Shank is uniquely qualified to help transition Rutland County into the vision we all share: a vibrant hub of sustainable economic creativity and cultural depth.
Join me in voting for Michael Shank for Vermont Senate.