We have over 2,000 woodworking shops in Vermont.
Most are small businesses, but together we make up an important part of Vermont’s economy. Calling all furniture makers: please know that you are critical to environmentally responsible economic growth in our state. If you’ve ever thought of growing your business, it’s time to take a serious look at Vermont’s Working Lands Grant Initiative. It was created to help you grow and this year (thanks to federal COVID relief) the funding available is nearly as much as the previous 10 years of funding combined.
You might well be eligible for one of these three grants: Standard Business, Supply Chain Impact and Market Level Infrastructure Impact grants. After all, Vermont is 75 percent forested and furniture is the most value-added product coming out of our forests. What better way for Vermont to deploy funding designated to working our landscape sustainably?
Vermont made furniture is special. It’s part of a 300-year-old tradition of culture and art. Unlike what’s available in big box stores, Vermont made furniture is made by hand in small independent workshops. It enjoys timeless style and exemplifies American made quality. It’s made from sustainably harvested wood, rather than illegal timber from the planet’s rapidly disappearing rainforests. Furthermore, Vermont furniture is in high demand, thanks to three global trends.
First, there’s an increasing demand for quality craftsmanship. Gone are the days of planned-obsolescence. Nobody wants something that’s going to break any time soon, or ever for that matter. Second, e-commerce is accelerating. The simultaneous arrival of COVID and the perfection of the technical side of e-commerce have come together to make a world where you can truly buy anything online. Formerly difficult categories, such as high-end furniture, are now completely normalized. And third, consumers are looking for products that heal the planet. The accelerating effects of global climate change have strengthened consumer commitment to brands that respect the planet and sequester carbon. The transparency of the internet is making it easier to find companies that consumers align with.
If you’re a woodworker and you’d like to learn more, you can find help on my blog and in our industry group, the Vermont Wood Works Council VWWC. Grant applications are due between Nov. 1 and Dec. 6, so there’s no time to lose. Why not give it a shot? Together, we woodworkers can help each other grow while providing leadership to our industry in the areas of quality and sustainability.