Nonprofits Dominate Vermont’s Top 100 Businesses

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