Vermonters have a well-founded reputation for their innovative, can-do attitude. This is especially evident in the state's economic base: dairy farmers are adding value-added products to their output to boost margins, vegetable and livestock farmers are using various models to control cash flow and risk, and Vermont's myriad number of entrepreneurial companies, from electronics retailers to wind energy innovators, are charting new ground to compete against their larger, more traditional national competitors.
In the face of the added challenges brought on by the 2009 recession, Vermont business now have another innovative resource available to them, the Vermont Sustainable Exchange (VSE). VSE is a bartering network that launched in February after a year of intensive development.
Founder Amy Kirschner said that, "My objective was to create a bartering network that would be pragmatically, hard-headedly business oriented. Vermont Sustainable Exchange is here to solve practical problems that any businesses can relate to: increasing sales, decreasing costs of doing business, having access to loan capital, and keeping commerce dollars in our state."
Businesses join the exchange by completing a simple application available at www.changethemarket.com.
Members pay a one-time joining fee, based on their annual gross revenue, and transaction fees are similarly scaled by the size of the member company. Members earn trade credits when they complete a sale, which can then be 'spent' within the network for any product or service offered by other members. Trade credits are tied to the dollar, and are reportable and taxable.
While Vermont Sustainable Exchange was created before the current economic crisis, the timing of its launch is serendipitous, according to Kirschner. "VSE offers positive solutions to so many of the challenges regional businesses are facing today," she said.