posted at 1:33 pm Thu Mar 25th, 2010 by (WherezIt_Staff)
Secretary of State Deb Markowitz toured the Green Mountain Co-Pack facility just days after state officials eliminated the "Vermont Seal of Quality" program.
The"Vermont Seal of Quality" was used to brand thousands of goods produced by Vermont small businesses. Markowitz said the program may have needed adjusting, but shutting the door on an important economic component is more 'business as usual' from Montpelier. She called on Lt. Governor Brian Dubie to oppose the governor's decision.
"Vermont's brand is a major asset. Eliminating Vermont's Seal of Quality is a short-sighted move by the current administration and is anti-business. If the program needed to be fixed come up with a plan to fix it, but don't put small businesses at risk. Our own government has put the seal of disapproval front and center for an entire sector of our economy. Our value-added products must be part of our economic plan and I will make sure the governor's office is a soap box for marketing Vermont products." Markowitz said. "Brian Dubie should put aside politics and tell the governor this is a bad move."
On Monday, the Department of Agriculture announced the nearly 30-year old program for branding, marketing and regulating Vermont products would end and that the state had already denied new applications starting Jan.1. The Secretary of Agriculture cited inadequate monitoring and dwindling resources in the program and an inadequate monitoring program for a loss in "integrity behind (the program)."
Markowitz said her experience assisting small businesses for over 12 years puts her in a unique position to continue that work in the governor's office. She said her administration would revive the program and ensure marketing throughout state government is unified and professional. "This is just another example of broken-government in Vermont. I turned around the Secretary of State's office and instituted a culture of service for our businesses. Vermont products and the Vermont brand are a top success story for our state. Our 28-year effort to boost Vermont-made products was a national model. But the funding for this program was cut for more than a decade. Squandering a real business opportunity for our maple industry, our dairy farms and other value-added products that support thousands of families and small business owners."
The Department of Agriculture has removed any mention of the program from its website and calls to try and retrieve a list of products already receiving the seal were unsuccessful. Staff at the department said no list existed.
"The Secretary of State's office is national model for effective and efficient programs that impact the lives of Vermonters. I am proud of the work I have done to foster this success. This program got to a crisis point years before the decision to eliminate it was made. There are other avenues and standards to market Vermont products, but elimination of the original branding effort sends exactly the wrong message at the wrong time. I'll be the chief marketing officer for our state. We've had eight years of a governor talking about how bad Vermont is for business. This kind of talk creates a self-fulfilling prophecy."
Green Mountain Co-Pack was founded by Jeff and Julie Mitchell whom also produce a line of salsa in Vermont. The co-pack offers services to smaller operations and has the capacity for mid-sized to large companies with high volume production runs. Jeff Mitchell estimated that the co-pack services between 30 and 40 percent of the specialty food products in Vermont.
Montpelier, VT 05602 (Set as Local)