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Panels Around Vermont Will Brainstorm Climate Change's Economic Opportunities

Vermont Council on Rural Development

The public is invited to a panel discussion on Wednesday evening at Rutland’s Paramount Theatre to brainstorm ways to turn the challenges of climate change into economic opportunities.

The talk, which will be held from 7 to 9 p.m., will be the first of three such events across the state hosted by the Vermont Council on Rural Development.

Paul Costello, the council’s executive director, says it’s easy to get overwhelmed by the science and bleak implications of climate change. But he says as an economic issue, there’s enormous potential.

“Places that model solutions and use energy efficiently and develop new sources of energy and so forth are going to be competitive and are going to do well,” says Costello, adding, “they’ll also attract young people who are looking at the climate arena as an area of business development into the future.”

Joe Fusco, a vice president at Casella Waste Systems, a panelist at Wednesday's event, agrees.

Global warming is a problem facing all of humanity, says Fusco. “There’s an emerging marketplace, I think, where the world will reward people who solve and break new ground in the conservation and renewal of resources.”

“The question is,” says Fusco, “how can Vermont leverage its strengths to attract those kind of businesses here? How can we attract those kinds of entrepreneurs here?”

“Tonight in Rutland, we’re there to listen,” says Fusco. “Who knows. Somebody may come up with a really good idea and we’ll be there to hear it.”

While Fusco sees potential for new businesses. He says existing businesses can also benefit from more creative thinking around efficiency. “We have a goal at Casella to use 10 percent less diesel fuel than we have been and that just makes great business sense. It makes us more competitive; it lowers our costs; but it also has an impact on the resources that we’re consuming and the greenhouse gasses that we’re producing.”

Fusco will be joined at the event by panelists Betsy Ide of Green Mountain Power and Mark Foley, president of Foley Services. Rutland Mayor Christopher Louras will be the moderator.

The Vermont Council on Rural Development will host similar forums in Brattleboro on Oct. 6 and Burlington on Oct. 29.

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