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Social Equity

This page will serve as a repository for the various programs and resources available under the CCB's social equity and economic empowerment programs.

“Social equity applicant” means a cannabis license applicant that meets at least one of these criteria:

  • They are Black or Hispanic, or
  • They are from a community that has historically been disproportionately impacted by cannabis prohibition and are able to demonstrate to the Board that they were personally harmed by that impact.
  • They have been incarcerated for a cannabis related offense or have a family member that has been incarcerated for a cannabis related offense
  • No previous Vermont residency is required, but applicant must currently reside in Vermont.

Applicants who do not meet the criteria for the Board’s social equity program, but still come from historically disadvantaged communities may be considered economic empowerment candidates. The Board will prioritize reviewing license applications from these applicants over non-social equity and economic empowerment applicants.  

Economic empowerment applicant businesses must be at least 51% owned by a member of a historically disadvantaged community. Those communities include:

  • Women
  • Veterans
  • People with disabilities
  • Members of the LGBTQIA+ community
  • First Nation/Indigenous/Native Americans
  • Asian American / Pacific Islander
  • Other communities of color not explicitly named in the social equity program.

By statute, only Social Equity applicants have access to technical assistance and grant funding through the Cannabis Business Development Fund.

License fees for the first five years of a social equity applicant's licensure follow the below schedule:

  • Year 1: Full waiving of application and license fee
  • Year 2: Licensee pays 25% of fee
  • Year 3: Licensee pays 50% of fee
  • Year 4: Licensee pays 75% of fee
  • Year 5: Licensee pays full fee

ONLY social equity applicants are subject to the above fee reduction schedule.

More information on the CCB's social equity program available on our guidance page.

Final recommendations of the Cannabis Control Board's Advisory Sub-Committee on Social Equity

October 15th Report to the Legislature

  • In its enabling statute, the Cannabis Control Board was directed to develop criteria for social equity applicants for cannabis establishment licensure, and to propose a plan for reducing or eliminating licensing fees for such applicants. The Board made its recommendation in its October 15th report to the Vermont legislature, linked above. Those recommendations may also be found above.

January 15th Report to the Legislature

  • The legislature also directed the Board to work in collaboration with the Vermont Department of Labor, Agency of Commerce and Community Development, the Department of Corrections, and the Director of Racial Equity to develop outreach, training, and employment programs focused on providing economic opportunities to individuals who historically have been disproportionately impacted by cannabis prohibition. The full report may be found below, and a summary of existing technical assistance programming may be found on this page.

Resources for Social Equity and Economic Empowerment Applicants

Cannabis Control Board Peer Networking Events

The Board is hosting bi-weekly peer networking events starting on Thursday, January 27th, 2022. The goal of these sessions is to bring together Social Equity and Economic Empowerment Applicants to network, connect, share resources and information, and to hear from a panel of experienced professionals on high-level topics of interest to those entering Vermont's emerging cannabis industry. 

  • Session One: Building Relationships with your Local Government and Navigating the Permitting Process. Sign up through the link to join via Microsoft Teams.

Our Academy

A workshop, mentorship, and resource group of individuals and companies in the cannabis industry open to knowledge sharing and supporting social equity applicants, partners, and other disproportionately impacted communities.

Business Growth and Technical Assistance Programs

The following programs exist within the state of Vermont to assist both developing and established businesses.

Vermont Employment Growth Incentive

  • A performance-based cash incentive (not a tax credit) paid to approved companies for prospective job and payroll creation in any region of the state and in almost any sector. The program requires board approval. ​
  • Companies looking to earn the incentive must apply to the Vermont Economic Progress Council (VEPC), who will determine if the company and project meet statutory requirements. There are no restrictions on the type or size of company that can apply or the number of jobs that must be created.

Vermont Training Program

  • A grant program for workforce development designed to enhance the skills of the Vermont workforce. It awards grants across a broad range of industries, focusing on new and innovative training projects or initiatives. Training projects should focus on new and/or innovative products and/or equipment, technology processes, market opportunities, or significant productivity gain. ​

Vermont Talent Pipeline Management

  • A two-phased approach to rethinking the development and sourcing of Vermont’s future workforce. Phase one focuses on the demand side of the talent pipeline – what employers need of their prospective talent pool. The second phase focuses on the supply side – finding and leveraging a qualified applicant pool so employers can hire the best talent they can. ​

Vermont Procurement Technical Assistance Center

  • This Vermont program is part of a nationwide network that shares one common goal — to provide businesses with an understanding of the requirements of government contracting and the know-how to obtain and successfully perform federal, state, and local contracts. Among the assistance VPTAC can provide, the program can:  ​
    • Offer free of charge one-on-one business counseling ​
    • Identify government buyers and subcontracting opportunities ​
    • Initiate market research ​
    • Review bid proposals and assist with preparation ​
    • Help to clarify contract terms and regulations ​
    • Provide training and networking opportunities ​

State Trade Expansion Program Grant

  • This grant has been awarded to Vermont by the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) to support Vermont businesses to engage internationally through trade missions, trade shows, and export education. The SBA and STEP’s objective is to increase the overall number of U.S. small business exporters and to increase their export sales.  ​
  • The STEP program’s focus in Vermont is on relationship development and export planning—helping businesses diversify to include global markets that benefit companies and their employees alike.​

Brownfields Initiative

  • Offers remediation grants and loans to promote the productive reuse and redevelopment of sites that are currently abandoned or not fully utilized due to contamination or the perception of contamination on the site. Common brownfield sites include former gas stations, automotive repair shops, schools, dry cleaners, print shops, and other service-oriented businesses.  ​
  • The Fund is administered by the Agency of Commerce and Community Development with funds made available to Vermont from the Environmental Protection Agency. Eligible applicants can be private developers, non-profits, or municipalities. ​

Vermont Small Business Development Center​

  • VtSBDC combines one-on-one confidential advising with training programs to give clients the tools and insight they need to reach their business goals. They can assist with startup planning, financing, sales/marketing, growth strategies, financial management, and operations.​

Vermont Manufacturing Extension Center​

  • The Vermont Manufacturing Extension Center (VMEC) has operated statewide as a not-for-profit Center since 1995, collaborating with public and private partners in business, government and education to bring world-class assistance and resources to Vermont manufacturers and other enterprises of all sizes, helping them overcome ever-changing challenges, become more competitive and grow their profitability.​

Vermont Employee Ownership Center​

  • The VEOC supports business owners considering an exit to broad-based employee ownership via an Employee Stock Ownership Plan (ESOP), worker co-op, or similar model. The non-profit offers free pre-feasibility consulting, presents seminars, organizes an annual conference, and maintains a revolving loan fund to support the financing of such deals.​

Vermont Farm & Forest Viability Program / Vermont Housing & Conservation Board​

  • The Vermont Farm & Forest Viability Program offers business planning and technical assistance to Vermont's commercial-scale farm, food, and forestry enterprises to help them achieve long-term success. Businesses seeking support with meeting their goals for expansion, diversification, and transition can apply for up to two years of one-on-one planning and technical assistance. In-depth services are carried out by a statewide network of advisors and can include: business planning, enterprise analysis, financial record management, marketing and sales, human resources management, and planning for transition.​

​Regional Development Corporations​

  • The Department of Economic Development provides administrative funding to our twelve Regional Development Corporations (RDCs) serving every geographic region of the state. These organizations serve as “satellites” of the DED, and they provide local knowledge and facilitate assistance in their communities. View RDC map coverage.​

​Intervale Center Farm Business Planning Programs​

  • Provides Vermont’s farmers – from aspiring farmers to established business owners – with business development opportunities.

Vermont Student Assistance Corporation Advancement Grant

  • These are awards to individuals and may be a potential source of training funds (they are state funds; not federal) for those who enroll in relevant, industry recognized certificate/credential programs.​
  • Advancement Grant (previously the Vermont Non-Degree Grant)—for Vermont residents enrolled or planning to enroll in a non-degree course or training program that will enhance job skills to improve a person's ability to get a job or that gives an introduction to college courses.​