WILLISTON -- Republican gubernatorial candidate Randy Brock said Monday he wants to help the state’s unemployed by creating what he called a "business in a box" program that would link out-of-work Vermont residents with business ideas that would be funded by private money.
In his proposal, part of a series of ideas that he called real solutions to help create jobs for Vermont families, Brock likened the business-in-a-box proposal to franchises that come with business plans and financing.
"We package them with links and relationships to the colleges and universities that we have in Vermont that have business programs that can help them succeed," Brock said at a news conference at a Williston business. "That’s one way to get people who want to work and don’t have a job working, doing something that needs to be done that can add to our economy."
Brock didn’t have specific ideas about what type of businesses could be created beyond saying it would be unlikely they’d be manufacturing jobs.
Brock, a state senator from Franklin County and a former state auditor, is challenging incumbent Democratic Gov. Peter Shumlin in the November election. Brock said Shumlin hasn’t done enough to promote business and job creation in the state.
He said statistics showing that Vermont has one of the lowest unemployment rates in the country are deceiving. Vermont has lost jobs since Shumlin took office,
And he said he wanted to know more about the methodology used to determine that Vermont was the only state in the country to see an increase in median family income last year. He said many low-earning young residents having left, which could have skewed the data by relying on the older people who remain in the state who earn more.
"I would look at that statistic with a little more probity before accepting it on face value," Brock said.
Shumlin campaign spokeswoman Alexandra McLean rejected Brock’s idea of a business in a box.
"You cannot create successful businesses by providing a ‘box,"’ she said. "Gov. Shumlin and his administration have supported entrepreneurs through business planning, financing and marketing. While there is always more work to be done, entrepreneurship is alive and well in Vermont."
As part of the job creation ideas he outlined Monday, Brock listed 25 ways to spur economic development in Vermont.
They include decreasing the size of state government by taking advantage of retirements, streamlining the permitting process for people trying to open businesses, reducing the costs of health care and improving science and math education in Vermont.
Brock said the creators of the business-in-a-box idea would not be limited to state employees. He would work to ensure the businesses didn’t compete with existing ventures
"It could be anything that could be done by an individual who’s unemployed," he said.
"I want to put the best minds to work putting Vermonters to work. I want to open the door up for people to come up with ideas," he said. "It depends on our imagination, our ability to draw and draft a business plan that makes sense for those businesses and then put together the supporting materials to make the plans real."