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Vt. ranks 20th for entrepreneurship

BURLINGTON, Vt. --A national foundation has ranked Vermont 20th in switching from an older industrial economy to one that is based on knowledge and entrepreneurship.

The Information Technology and Innovation Foundation moved the state up from a ranking of 26th five years ago, said the foundation's president, Robert Atkinson.

Atkinson called Vermont an "interesting puzzle," saying it is the most entrepreneurial state in the country, but is last in creating high-wage jobs.

"Why do we have so much entrepreneurialism, but it's not being transferred into fast-growing firms?" Atkinson asked Tuesday. "Rural necessity" may be the mother of invention of new businesses, the report said.

"With fewer traditional employment opportunities, people in rural areas are more likely to engage in entrepreneurial activity," the report said. High levels of education help, it added.

Vermont is 41st in having fast growing firms and 48th in having "gazelle jobs," -- jobs in firms with annual revenues that have grown at least 20 percent for four straight years.

Mike Quinn, state economic development commissioner, said the move from 26th to 20th place was good news.

"The economic development strategies that have been implemented seem to be bearing fruit," Quinn said.

Use of technology was a mixed bag as well. Vermont ranked first for "online agriculture" -- farmers with Internet access. But it ranked 49th in deployment of broadband communications.

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Information from: The Burlington Free Press, http://www.burlingtonfreepress.com

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