BURLINGTON — The Vermont Family Business Initiative (VFBI), a program that has been assisting family and privately owned businesses in Vermont since 1998, announces its 2004-2005 forum series schedule as well as an addition to the Board of Advisors. The Vermont Family Business Initiative presents its own version of “Breakfast Theater.” This one-act play and ensuing discussion about a father and a son and the company they keep offers a fly-on-the-wall perspective about a business family facing many challenging issues. This event will take place on November 9 at the Inn at Essex in Essex, Vermont. A recent survey of family owned businesses by the Mass Mutual Financial Group discovered an unprecedented 39% of family owned businesses will experience leadership shifts in the next five years as CEOs retire. Of those businesses, only 37% of family businesses report having a strategic plan, while slightly more than half report knowing of the senior generations share-transfer intentions.The Vermont Family Business Initiative and Gravel and Shea are pleased to announce the addition of Margi Montgomery to the VFBI Board of Advisors, a seat previously occupied by Steve Magowan. Ms. Montgomerys areas of expertise include corporate and business law and planning, business entity formation, financing, leveraged buy-outs and mergers and acquisitions. Gravel and Shea is very excited about the forum series for the coming year. While all businesses are important to the local and national economy, family owned businesses represent a critical link to local control and economic development. The legal and financial challenges are daunting. The more we can foster healthy communication amongst the businesses and between generations, the greater our chances are of helping these businesses to succeed and remain locally owned, comments Ms. Montgomery. Family businesses account for 50% of gross domestic output and employ half of the U.S. workforce. As well, over one-third of Fortune 500 firms are controlled by families. However, many businesses do not endure as family businesses: 70% fail to make the transition to the second generation; 90% do not make it to the third. The goal of the Vermont Family Business Initiative is to give Vermont businesses the tools and support they need to compete in both the local and global arenas through a series of statewide forums and the free exchange of ideas.For more information, or to arrange for commentary on the challenges facing family businesses, please contact Daniel Van Der Vliet at 656-5897.