Local Ownership Will Deliver Best Long-Term Equity and Taxpayer Value to Burlington
June 30, 2017
Dear BTAB Members,
We are writing in support of the bid of the Keep BT Local Cooperative to purchase Burlington Telecom.
According to the survey of City residents by The Burlington Telecom Advisory Board (BTAB), Local Ownership is of primary importance to the next owner of Burlington Telecom. The community views itself as the original investors in this project with a very real claim on the returns in terms of “community equity.”
Local ownership not only guarantees that repayment of their initial investment, but a cooperative approach could yield additional dividends to members (businesses, non-profits, and individuals) who have all contributed to making Burlington Telecom possible, and indeed could receive deserved patronage refunds such as the ones offered by City Market, fewer increases in base pricing over time, and a more responsive, local ownership that answers to the needs of the community.
Burlington has a long history of launching and supporting businesses who take into account community, as well as commerce, and express a set of distinct values embedded in how they view the world, as well as their customers. This unique business environment has created a vibrant business community that continues to grow, remains more stable than other regions, and keeps its environmental footprint lower, while raising standards for local residents. This accomplishment can be taken to the next level via ensuring the local ownership and equity stake of the community in our telecom, arguably the most important investment our community has in remaining competitive in the next 30-50 years.
We urge you to look deeply at the long-term value that Keep BT Local Coop will provide to the community. There is great potential here to harness the creativity of residents and businesses to create a forward-thinking utility, similar to Burlington Electric Department, which will provide a key cornerstone to the economy of the 21st century and ensure that everyone has access to this powerful tool.
In closing, Keep BT Local will keep alive the original mission of Burlington Telecom to provide long term returns for the community–including access, affordability, and equity.
Jerry Greenfield, co-founder, Ben & Jerry’s
Will Raap, founder, Gardeners Supply
Beth Sachs, founder, Vermont Energy Investment Corporation
Doug Hoffer, Vermont State Auditor
Phil Fiermonte, state director, Office of US Sen. Bernie Sanders
Michael Wood-Lewis, Co-Founder and CEO, Front Porch Forum
Jan Schultz, CTO, Front Porch Forum
Melinda Moulton, CEO, Main Street Landing
Christine Hallquist, CEO, Vermont Electric Cooperative
Avram Patt, former General Manager, Washington Electric Cooperative
Don Jamison, Executive Director, Vermont Employee Ownership Center
Peter Clavelle, former Mayor, City of Burlington
Bruce Seifer, former Assistant Director, Community & Economic Development Office
Dean Corren, former Vermont State Representative, Renewable Energy CTO
James Lockridge, founder, Big Heavy World
David Driscoll, co-founder, The Sanders Institute
Patrick Brown, Community Organizer
Amir, Jusufagic, Owner, Junior’s Downtown
Syd Eren, Vermont Sky Network
Chris Pearson, Vermont State Senator
Additions Since June 28, 2017
David White, President of White + Burke Real Estate Investment Advisors
Muffie Milens, Executive Director, First Night Burlington
Scott Johnstone, Executive Director, Vermont Energy Investment Corporation
Pete Jewett, founder, Burlington Bytes
Casey Lyon, Partner, Boswellness Essential Oil Distillery
Jason Di Vece, Burlington Bytes
Orly Yadin, Executive Director, Vermont International Film festival
Roberta MacDonald, SVP Marketing, Cabot Creamery Cooperative
Carina Driscoll, former State Representative, co-founder Vermont Woodworking School
Jason Lorber, former Vermont State Legislator, President of Aplomb Consulting