Vt. Aims to Convert Tourists Into Full-Time Residents

A new initiative is part of an economic development push in the state

Vermont’s governor issued a request to tourists Thursday, asking them to consider moving to the state full-time if they already enjoy visiting for skiing or fall foliage trips.

A new initiative, called Stay-to-Stay Weekends, is part of a push designed to reverse a declining workforce and boosting Vermont state revenues.

“I believe we need to think outside the box,” said Gov. Phil Scott, R-Vermont.

The roughly 13-million travelers who come to Vermont each year to explore the outdoors, check out its history, and sample its tastes are now being eyed as just one potential solution to what’s been described as an economic crisis here.

Gov. Scott and his tourism commissioner, Wendy Knight, announced the new initiative, which they said aims to convert some of those visitors into full-time residents.

Vermont has long had a graying population. But now, many employers say they simply don’t have the skilled applicants they need to fill good jobs—forcing stagnation, and translating to lower tax revenues.

“And the only solution is to bring more people here, because through natural childbirth—we won’t get there,” warned Adam Grinold, the executive director of the Brattleboro Development Credit Corporation. “The one thing we need more of in Vermont is people. We need more visitors, we need more employees, we need more business owners. We need more people.”

Toward that goal, the state is now promoting a series of four weekends in Rutland, Bennington, and Brattleboro aimed at attracting potential transplants. The “Stay-to-Stay Weekends” will be held in April, June, August, and October.

Folks coming for a relaxing getaway will also get to network with business leaders, real estate experts, and young professional groups to learn more about moving here. They will also be able to tour incubator spaces, and take driving tours of the communities, Knight said.

“We already know that people express an interest in living here, and so this is designed to get them to come up—kind of a toe in the water,” Knight explained.

For more information on those weekends, click here.

Knight said in this initial round, the state hopes to attract 1,000 people who are open to relocating. She said while the hope is to gain new Vermont residents, even if the Stay-to-Stay Weekend participants don’t end up as permanent residents, they may form bonds that’ll at least have them returning for future Vermont vacations.

Gov. Scott and Knight said while this is just a pilot project for now, already, the state is thinking of expanding the concept to other communities next year.

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