Back to Commentary
Starts Stay Strong in 2004 - January
Mirrors into Windows - September 2005
It is Time
to Honor our Non-profits -
Public Service Awards Honors Long Serving Local Officials -
Opinion Editorial: January
New Business Starts Stay Strong in 2004
Deb Markowitz, Secretary of State
Last year, 9328 new business
entities were formed in Vermont -- another record number of business
starts for Vermont. These numbers include newly formed Vermont domestic
and foreign corporations, tradenames and LLCs. In 2003, the 9163 new
business starts represented the highest number of new filings Vermont
had seen in over a decade.
It is hard to know with certainty what
this means for Vermont’s business community, but by all accounts it is good
news. Vermont’s business-starts statistics tends to be a good barometer of
confidence within the business community and shows that Vermont's economy
continues to rebound. The continued rise in new businesses registered in Vermont
shows that the interest in starting businesses in Vermont has not yet reached
capacity. In addition to seeing growth in new businesses, the number of
corporate dissolutions has continued to stabilize. The 888 dissolutions in 2004
represent a small increase from the 846 dissolutions in 2003.
Before most new businesses open their
doors they obtain a tradename or register as a corporation or as a limited
liability company. Although this was a record-breaking year, not every form of
business entity saw growth. Much of this year’s increase comes from a jump in
new businesses forming as limited liability corporations (LLC).
The 2,801 new LLCs registered in 2004
reflect an increase of over 500 from the 2262 that registered in 2003. It is
notable that Vermont businesses are continuing to form new limited liability
corporations. LLCs are a relatively new type of business entity authorized by
the legislature in 1995. Over the past five years the number of new LLCs has
increased by about 300 a year. It is not surprising that there continues to be a
lot of activity among limited liability corporations. Many observers believe
that LLCs are the wave of the future in the business community because they
offer both flexibility in organizational structure and tax status. It will be
interesting to see how much more growth in new filings we experience with this
business entity before filings begin to level off in Vermont.
Last year the big growth in filings
came from out of state corporations who wished to do business in Vermont. This
year, the 1,096 new foreign corporations that filed represent an increase of
only 3 from the new filings registered in 2003. This will be an important
number to keep an eye on in the future.
most interesting change in registration from past years is the number of new
tradename registrations. Vermont has seen a reduction in the number of
tradename registrations, with 4,296 new tradenames filed this year as compared
to 4,591 filed in 2003. Tradenames account for most of Vermont’s small
We can only speculate about what this
year’s numbers mean. Job start statistics from previous years demonstrate that
as the economy slows more Vermonters start their own businesses. This makes
some sense as one of the reasons people give for starting a new business is to
enhance their financial security. Naturally, Vermonters who question whether
their income will remain stable will look for new ways to make money – including
starting a new business. Over the past year, as our economy continues to rebound
and unemployment numbers stabilize, Vermont’s workers may be feeling more
secure, and are therefore not starting as many new businesses.
In addition to seeing a reduction in
growth for certain for-profit enterprises, the Secretary of State's office also
experienced a small reduction in filings of new non-profit corporations. For
the past five years there has been nearly 400 new non-profit corporations
registered each year. This year only 365 new non-profit corporations registered
Office of the Vermont Secretary of State licenses and registers foreign and
domestic corporations, non-profits, LLCs, and tradenames and is the repository
for Uniform Commercial Code filings. Information about the services offered by
the Corporations Division, including registration forms and searchable
databases, is available at
Back to Top
Opinion Editorial: September
Turning Mirrors into Windows
Deborah Markowitz, Secretary of State
In Vermont we recognize the importance of public
education. Indeed, in every community in the state we are in engaged in
constant conversation about how to ensure that our schools adequately
prepare our children for successful lives.
It is my belief that a good education is not just important
for our children, but it is also essential for the health of our communities and
for the future of the state. After all, we are relying on our children to be the
governors, legislators, selectboard members, and the voters of tomorrow.
There is an old
saying that “the purpose of education is to turn mirrors into windows.” (Sydney
Harris) That is, through learning about ourselves we can begin to
understand the world around us.
In my mind, learning about Vermont – our history,
government and people - is the starting point for ensuring that our children
grow to be active participants in our democracy. That is why, with the help of
educators, historians, geographers, and students we have published an elementary
level curriculum, Vermont History, Facts and Fun. In the coming months
these curriculum booklets will be distributed to schools across the state.
Vermont History, Facts and Fun is designed to make
it easy for Vermont educators to teach our children about Vermont. Interspersed
with fun activities is text describing such subjects as how the ancient Abenaki
used Vermont to hunt and fish, how the Green Mountain Boys fought to make
Vermont an independent republic and then a state, and the history of our state
flag and symbols. The booklet also covers Vermont’s geography and facts about
our important industries (dairy, maple and skiing) and our people.
While we are excited to be offering these new materials to
Vermont schools, we recognize that this curriculum is only the first step in
ensuring our children grow into active citizens. To truly turn “mirrors into
windows” we need to see history and geography as just the starting point. We
need to be committed to integrating civics education into the curriculum at
The goal of civics education is to provide students with a
body of knowledge and practical skills that demonstrate how individuals can
effectively participate in and have an impact on their community, the state, the
nation and the world. Not only must our students understand how our
constitutional democracy works in the context of our federalist system, but they
need to understand such practical information as how government policies are
made and implemented, and how citizens can learn about and have an impact on
those decisions. They must learn how our leaders are chosen, and how they are
held accountable. Finally, research shows that book learning is not enough. A
good civics education must include practical skills to enhance our young
people’s ability to effectively participate in their communities and in the
One of the most often quoted description of how American
democracy works is the statement by President Lincoln that we have "government
of the people, by the people, and for the people.” Unless our children
understand how government works, and why it matters that they participate in our
democracy, we will not be able to sustain Lincoln’s vision. The fact that so
few of our young adults choose to vote (only 13% in the 2002 election) and why
so many of our graduating seniors do not have even a basic understanding of how
they have power to effect the policies of government that effect them is a
problem we should not take lightly. We need to join together to ensure that
every Vermont student graduates high school with a solid grounding in civics and
As President John F. Kennedy said “the course of
civilization is a race between catastrophe and education. In a democracy such as
ours, we must make sure that education wins the race.” Vermont History,
Facts and Fun is meant to be a first step in that race.
Back to Top
Opinion Editorial: October
It is Time to Honor our Non-Profits
Deborah Markowitz, Secretary of State
As Vermonters, we all feel that special pride when
we come together to serve the needs of people in our local communities.
All around us, nonprofits are making a daily difference in the quality
of our lives. Whether it is a charity to help feed the hungry, a school
to educate children, or a new religious congregation, we depend upon the
generosity of Vermonters and Vermont businesses to ensure that our
neighbors are well cared for.
While national trends suggest fewer Americans participate
in civic life, Vermonters volunteer at higher-than average rates, according to a
2001 study conducted by the UVM Center for Rural Studies. Vermont is also home
to the largest number of charitable nonprofits per capita of any state.
Vermonters clearly value the opportunity to contribute to their communities
through nonprofit organizations, and the nonprofit sector, in turn, contributes
to the quality of life in our state.
Vermont has nearly 8,000 nonprofits. Of these nonprofits,
there are 13 celebrating their 100th birthdays, and nearly fifty
others who are well over 100 years old. With so many new challenges in our
communities, it is interesting to see which nonprofits have withstood the tests
of time. Not surprisingly, many of the oldest nonprofits still in existence are
churches and cemeteries – institutions that the British established when they
settled Vermont in the late 1700’s and early 1800s. However, as early as 1797
we see the Bondville Fair and the Winhall Industrial society form as a nonprofit
association, quickly followed across Vermont by the establishment of libraries,
hospitals and homes for the aged, agricultural and civic societies and museums.
It takes a tremendous amount of dedication and support to
keep a nonprofit active for 100 years. The longevity of a particular nonprofit
is a good indicator that the organization holds an important place in the
community it serves. Vermont’s oldest nonprofit organizations range from large
health and educational institutions to small, all-volunteer cemetery
associations and civic clubs. They represent the dedication of tens of
thousands of individual Vermonters who have joined together to pursue some
It is important to appreciate how Vermont’s nonprofits
have enhanced our community life during the last hundred years.
This is why on October 28, the Office of the Secretary of State and the
Vermont Alliance of Nonprofit Organizations (VANPO), with the support of Vermont
Business Magazine, will be honoring twenty-five of Vermont’s oldest nonprofit
organizations as part of the Centennial Nonprofit awards program.
One of the great things about Vermont is that a small
group of active people can create an organization to serve the public good. By
committing time and resources for causes they believe are important, these
Vermonters make an enduring difference in their communities. Let us salute our
Centennial Nonprofits whose commitment to their missions has withstood the
challenges of time.
Back to Top
Editorial: November 2005
The Vermont Public Service Awards Honors Long Serving Local Officials
Deborah Markowitz, Secretary of State
President Teddy Roosevelt said, almost a century ago that
“Far and away the best prize that life offers is the chance to work hard at
work worth doing.” When he included these words in his speech at the State
Fair in Syracuse, New York in 1903 he could have been speaking of Vermont’s many
hardworking local officials. Our municipal officials devote their free time to
everything from hearing zoning disputes and writing land use plans to assessing
the value of property in the town and collecting delinquent taxes. They serve
for the chance to “work hard at work worth doing.” Without them, our communities
would not function and our system of self government would come to a standstill.
Local officials serve mostly as volunteers. Their
commitment to public service - without pay (or adequate pay), without applause,
without personal advancement, is a precious gift, a gift we should celebrate.
We couldn’t buy it, at any price. Local government works because good people
are willing to give up the most precious commodity they have—their time—to the
cause of fairness, justice, and to the still vital principle of democracy that
everybody gets treated alike, no matter who they are. It is important every now
and then to take the time to thank our officials for their contribution to our
communities and to the State of Vermont.
On November 2nd, the Secretary of State’s
Office will be honoring over 200 of Rutland County’s longest serving appointed
and elected local officials at the Vermont Public Service Awards. The purpose
of the Vermont Public Service Award program is twofold – it gives our
dedicated local officials the recognition they deserve - and, by highlighting
the vital role our public servants play in our towns, it will, hopefully,
encourage others to serve.
The Vermont Public Service Award program began in 2000
with the recognition of hundreds of local officials across Vermont. Now, five
years later, we are again going to each county in Vermont to hold a ceremony to
present certificates of recognition to the qualifying local officials.
I want to give a special thanks to the town clerks of
Rutland County who have helped make this program a success by identifying the
local officials in their communities who qualify for the award. To qualify for
the Vermont Public Service Award an individual must have served as an elected or
appointed local official for 20 or more years.
Honoring the efforts of Vermont’s local officials is an
important step toward building stronger communities. Let’s all extend our
gratitude for the hard work our local officials do to make our communities and
the state of Vermont a better place!
Back to Top