Friday November 9, 2012

WEST DOVER -- Getting re-inspired and re-engaged with their communities will be the theme of this year's Vermont Businesses for Social Responsibility conference.

"We want people to bring some perspective back to their businesses that may impact the choices they make in the future," said VBSR's communications and development manager, Scott Buckingham.

The VBSR will be gathering at the Grand Summit Hotel at Mount Snow on Wednesday, Nov. 14, for its 20th Annual Fall Conference, its largest southern Vermont event.

This year's theme will be "Engagement: Moving Social Responsibility Forward."

"Our workshops and panels put a high value on discussion and conversation," said Buckingham. "It's an interactive experience."

The conference has been known for its networking. Tables for lunch time will be organized by groups that want to discuss particular topics of interest.

The conference will begin with a workshop discussing the coming changes to the health care system, a topic the VBSR has felt strongly about, said Buckingham. In the past, the VBSR has worked to change and influence policies regarding health care.

Art organizations that work with businesses will be a topic. The discussion will touch on how arts organizations may create value for business and how businesses bring meaningful value to arts organizations.

Another theme that will be discussed is alternative and renewable energy. In the Ideas Worth Exploring workshop, green energy and agriculture will be discussed by representatives from Green Mountain Power, Energy Action Network, and Post Oil Solutions.

The keynote speaker will be Don Mayer, CEO of Small Dog Electronics. He is known for building a sustainable business upon socially responsible business practices. His company has a commitment to the triple bottom line, which is people, planet and profit, according to the agenda for the day's events.

Other workshops include workplace design, which talks about aligning a company's mission with its brand and values, and Measuring What Matters, which will discuss how businesses measure initiatives on sustainable well-being for Vermont.

The Legislator-of-the-Year Award will go to two recipients this year. The first is state Sen. Anthony Pollina, P-Washington County, who worked on health care reform in Washington and established a genuine progress indicator. The second is state Rep. Bill Botzow, D-Bennington, who passed legislation to support Vermont's local food movement and also updated the state's Benefit Corporation law.

Gov. Peter Shumlin is invited to speak for closing remarks, when the Legislator-of-the-Year is awarded. VBSR also plans to invite the winners of statewide elections.

VBSR encourages its members to talk to their legislators and ask them for information regarding their votes on particular issues.

"Mount Snow has been a great partner," Buckingham said.

The conference will be held at the Grand Summit Hotel because it has the capacity to fit the large group the conference draws.

There are 1,100 to 1,200 members of the VBSR.

The event starts at 7:30 a.m. and will end at 5 p.m..

Registration on or before Nov. 13 is $90 for VBSR members and $100 for non-members. Rates for day-of-registration are $115 and $130. Students can attend at a discounted rate of $25. Online registration, conference agenda, and workshop details are available at vbsr.org.

Chris Mays can be reached at 802-254-2311, ext. 273, or cmays@reformer.com.