MONTPELIER, Vt. (WCAX) – Vermont officials Tuesday said $76 million more in small business grants are coming to the hardest hit by the pandemic.
The leaves are falling — a sign that foliage season is waning, and along with it, the state’s tourism revenue. Because there’s been an uptick in COVID cases in our region and across the country, the state reduced the number of people allowed to visit without a quarantine down to 1.6 million from 1.8 million last week. In fact, officials say only about 3-percent of the country would qualify under Vermont’s criteria.
That’s putting further strain on tourism and hospitality, where there are 28,000 in the unemployment line. Vermont’s newest labor report shows the unemployment rate dropping to 4.2 percent, but state officials say those numbers are misleading because 3,000 people left the workforce altogether.
“If we opened up everything up to 100 percent, I don’t believe all of those people would go back to work, because there’s so much hesitation toward travel,” said Gov. Phil Scott.
The state’s unemployment trust fund is at about $230 million, about half what it was when the pandemic began. State officials estimate they can go another six months without taking out a loan.
Expecting jobs and businesses to suffer heading into the winter, the state rolled out another small business cash infusion of $76 million in grants for small businesses and nonprofits.