Nonprofits Dominate Vermont’s Top 100 Businesses

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January 11, 2011; Source: WCAX-TV | Is the Fact that half of the top 100 businesses in Vermont are nonprofits a problem? Fletcher Allen Health Care, the University of Vermont, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Vermont, Central Vermont Public Service and Rutland Regional Medical Center are among many nonprofits dominating Vermont Business Magazine’s list of the Top 100+ companies in the state.

Some question whether so many nonprofits on the top 100 list is a good thing. One skeptic is Tim McQuiston, the creator of the magazine’s list of the state's largest locally owned companies.

He says there are too many nonprofits dominating the list because of how they are funded and where their revenues go. "A lot of these institutions are getting some government money, and is that a good idea? And frankly, you don't want to put so many eggs in one basket," McQuiston said.

Vermont Gov. Peter Shumlin disagrees. He argues that nonprofits in the state keep a large portion of Vermonters employed and keep the economy stable. "I see our nonprofits as a critical part of Vermont's economy. They employ thousands and thousands of people," said Shumlin.

Others wonder whether a strong economy can be dominated by businesses that aren’t obligated to contribute to the state’s tax base, according to WCAX-TV. But as UVM economist Art Woolf explains, nonprofit employees easily make up the burden. "All their employees are still paying their income taxes no matter who you work for, you pay income taxes, and that's a much larger issue." Income taxes amount to more than half of the state's general fund revenue, according to Woolf.—Aaron Lester

  • Steve Ames

    The non profits also are paying massive amounts of payroll taxes. And unemployment taxes. I run a small one, and taxes are not inconsequential.

  • Keith Oberg

    Steve Ames is absolutely correct. And in addition, many Vermont non-profits, including the education sector )such as UVM, Middlebury College, Bennington College, etc.), bring in millions of out-of-state dollars and human capital, further enriching the state economy and public sector revenue stream.

    And these entities provide services and products that neither the public sector nor the private sector provide.

  • Mark Guay

    Remember April, 2010 headline ” General Electric filed more than 7,000 income tax returns in hundreds of global jurisdictions last year, but when push came to shove, the company owed the U.S. government a whopping bill of $0.” How? It declared all its millions of dollars of profits overseas. Now its playing hardball in Massachusetts to get massive tax incentives to stay. So when mega for-profits pay as much as non-profits in corporate taxes, how do you justify saying for profits are preferred? And not even to mention how much of their money leaves the state as well versus non-profits. Vermonters should be very proud of their non-profit heritage.