Month: January 2021

Blue Cross and blue Shield of Vermont announces distinguished employee for July

first_imgpMs. Blow is a compliance specialist in the customer service department and has been with Blue Cross and Blue Shield since 2003. She is cited for her professional attitude, her willingness to help her co-workers, and for her dedication. A co-worker stated, “Katy is consistently an innovative, positive, thoughtful hard worker.”Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Vermont employs about 350 Vermonters at its headquarters in Berlin and its branch office in Williston. A committee of employees recognizes an employee each month in honor of Carol L. Goodrich, the winner of the first-ever Employee of the Year award in 1992. This program awards individuals who demonstrate extraordinary effort above and beyond the scope of their current responsibilities. More information about Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Vermont is available on the Internet at www.bcbsvt.com(link is external). Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Vermont is an independent corporation operating under a license with the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association, an association of independent Blue Cross and Blue Shield Plans.last_img read more

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Sales Tax Holiday Is This Weekend

first_imgSales Tax Holiday Is This WeekendAll items eligible this weekend;ENERGY STAR appliances tax free until July 18MONTPELIER, Vt. – With the Independence Day weekend behind us, state officials today took time to remind Vermonters that Sales Tax Independence Days are coming this weekend.”I hope the people of Vermont and visitors to our state will take advantage of this opportunity to purchase products without paying state sales tax,” said Governor Jim Douglas. “This weekend is a chance to save some much needed cash, and to help Vermont businesses.”Included in the Governor’s Economic Growth Initiative, the sales tax holiday on July 12 and 13 means all non-business purchases of property costing $2,000 or less will be exempt from state sales tax except automobiles and vehicles.Customers can purchase multiple items on one invoice totaling more than $2,000 and still receive the exemption if the selling price of each item is $2,000 or less.For example, a customer can purchase two bicycles for $1,500 each; a roof rack for $300; and two helmets for $150 each. The invoice total is $3,600, however because each item is priced below $2,000 the entire invoice is exempt from sale tax.And from July 14th through 18th, the sale tax holiday is extended on Energy Star-rated appliances costing $2,000 or less.”This a great opportunity to replace that old, inefficient clothes washer or other appliances with a new ENERGY STAR ™-model that can help lower your electricity costs and save more money over the long run,” Douglas said. “In addition to the sales tax savings, Efficiency Vermont is continuing its offer of cash rebates from $25 to $50 on selected ENERGY STAR ™-appliances.”Efficiency Vermont is the state’s provider of efficiency services and is currently operated by Vermont Energy Investment Corporation (VEIC), an independent non-profit organization under contract to the Vermont Public Service Board.”Purchasing an ENERGY STAR ™ appliance helps Vermonters lowers their energy costs,” said Scott Johnstone, executive director of VEIC. “Everybody benefits from that.””Not only do consumers get their electric bills lowered, but reducing demand means utilities don’t need to purchase as much power,” Johnstone said. “That helps reduce not only everyone’s future electricity bills but emissions as well.”The state has been promoting the sales tax holiday event in concert with retailers and Efficiency Vermont.”We are promoting this event not only to Vermonters, but to neighboring states and Quebec,” said Kevin Dorn, Secretary of the Agency of Commerce and Community Development. “Vermont is always a popular vacation destination in the summer, and this sales tax holiday can make the state even more attractive to visitors.”Learn more at: www.taxfreevt.com(link is external)-30-last_img read more

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Vermont Celebrates Champlain’ named Top 100 Event in US

first_imgThe American Bus Association (ABA) announced that the ‘Vermont Celebrates Champlain,’ and ‘Hudson 400th Celebration of Discovery’ are the winning US events, respectively, as ABA released its 2009 list of the’Top 100 Events in North America.’The year 2009 will mark the 400th anniversary of when French explorer Samuel de Champlain traveled by canoe up the Richelieu River and came upon a lake spanning 120 miles in length and 12 miles in width.Vermont will commemorate this event in 2009 with festivals, pageants, exhibits and much more. All are invited to share in the fun and help commemorate this historic moment.The annual guide for professional travel planners and the general public highlights the top fairs, festivals, parades and regional events across North America. While the Top 100 are not ranked, ABA highlights the top US and Canadian events for 2009.First Night Burlington on Dec. 31, kicks off the statewide ‘Vermont Celebrates Champlain’ commemoration events.last_img read more

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Bellows Falls Union High School teacher named 2010 Teacher of the Year

first_imgSource: Vermont DOE. Sept 15, 2009 Craig Divis, a high school social studies teacher at Bellows Falls Union High School in Bellows Falls, was named by the State Board of Education as the 2010 Vermont Teacher of the Year at a ceremony held today at the school.Also honored were:Alternate Stacey Endres, a middle school social studies and English teacher at Milton Middle School in Milton.Finalist Terry Frey, a K-12 music teacher at Windsor Junior Senior High School and State Street School in Windsor.As the 2010 Teacher of the Year, Divis will travel statewide visiting schools and working with teachers. In addition, he is Vermont’s candidate for the National Teacher of the Year award, sponsored by the Council of Chief State School Officers. He will also travel to Washington, D.C. this spring for a reception at the White House. The Vermont Teacher of the Year Program is sponsored by Hannaford Bros. Co.State Board members visited Divis’ classroom this morning prior to a school-wide assembly. The lunchtime ceremony included remarks by Divis, 2009 Vermont Teacher of the Year Diane Leddy, Education Commissioner Armando Vilaseca and State Board Chair Tom James. The student body was present as well. Divis was presented with SMART Board ™ equipment and software for his classroom by Brian Scofield of SMART Technologies, with software and materials going to each of the other two finalists. In addition, the Department of Education donated $2,500 towards classroom-related supplies and activities.Divis, a resident of Grafton, has been an educator at Bellows Falls for five years, the past two as Social Studies Department Coordinator. He has been a classroom teacher for six years. He received a B.S. in Education from Miami University in 2003, and spent one year as an alternative program teacher in Akron, Ohio prior to coming to Vermont. Divis has worked with the University of Vermont’s Asian Studies Outreach Program since 2005 and traveled extensively during the summer.“The rewards that I find in teaching are when students become passionate about learning and understanding the world, and want to experience it firsthand,” he wrote in his nomination packet. “My rewards don’t come from grades students get on a test, but from students coming back years after graduation to visit me and tell me about their experiences traveling the world and becoming passionate about learning.”In addition to serving as an advisor to student teachers, he has served as a member of the Windham Northeast Supervisory Union Social Studies Curriculum Committee, is the chair of the Bellows Falls Union High School Social Studies Department, serves as assistant chair to the school’s Literacy Action Plan Committee, and is a member of the faculty council.Principal Chris Hodsden wrote, “Mr. Divis will not only represent our state well as Teacher of the Year, he will represent the field of education well to the general public and the nation.”In his presentation, Commissioner Vilaseca said, “We are fortunate to have someone of Mr. Divis’ caliber working here in this state.”During his remarks, Mr. Divis made a point of acknowledging his colleagues and parents. However, he saved his greatest praise for his students, telling them, “I am inspired by you every single day. I am in awe of the accomplishments of those of you in the audience and those who came before. It is to you who I say thank you for without you this would not be possible.”The Vermont Teacher of the Year program is sponsored by Hannaford Bros.last_img read more

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Democratic candidates for governor offer economic plans

first_imgA single payer system will get private insurers out of the way, reward doctors for how many people they make better not how many tests they order and eliminate the millions of dollars spent on chasing money around. As Governor, I will implement a single payer health care system that does the following:1. Allows health care benefits to follow individuals, not depend on employers. Health care costs are crushing businesses and getting this burden off their backs will allow them to expand, create more jobs and be more profitable. Freeing our employers from these skyrocketing costs will make Vermont an incredibly attractive place to do business.2. Reimburses hospitals based on outcomes based medicine, not on the number of tests they order. Our entire health care system is geared towards making a profit when it should be focused on making people healthy. Reimbursing hospitals and providers based on outcomes will refocus our delivery system on making people healthy.3. Use technology to provide an electronic swipe card to every Vermonter that will contain medical records and provide an immediate electronic payment system. Right now, 30% of all medical tests are duplicative. By getting technology to every provider’s office, Vermont will be the first state in the country to centralize record keeping and replace manila folders in providers offices with a centralized database. This will reduce waste, improve the quality of care and is critical to outcomes based medicine. Additionally, we have been working with IBM Armonk and Bank of New York to make Vermont the first integrated health care system where payment can be adjudicated when you leave your providers office, getting rid of the 10 to 15% of each health care dollar that we spend chasing money around.4. Contains costs by getting private insurers out of the way and saving roughly 5% in administrative costs (after comprehensive care is covered). Studies show that this could save us between $250 and $500 million.[1] Furthermore, by getting insurance companies out of the business of second guessing our doctor’s decisions and requiring them to undertake endless paperwork, to allow our providers to get back to the business of making Vermonters healthier.Medicare is a single payer system. Medicare withholdings are collected to pay for private medical care. The result is a government insurance program that successfully covers all Americans over age 65 and does so with far less administrative bureaucracy than private insurance. Most Americans are very satisfied with Medicare. It is a practical solution that could be extended to people of all ages in Vermont.There are skeptics who say we can’t afford a Medicare-for-all type of program. But Vermonters already pour more money than we can afford into our health care system.How We Get ThereDuring the most recent legislative session, we laid the groundwork for the implementation of a single payer system in Vermont. S.88 calls on experts to fully develop a plan that outlines the statutory changes that are needed, defines the financing mechanism and the payment system, projects the revenue flows and expenditures, and documents the savings. We need a design that maximizes the federal funds already available to us for health care. Dr. Hsiao of Harvard has recently been hired to carry out this study.Once we have the architecture, to be designed by Dr. Hsiao’s team, in place, my administration will work with the health care industry, Vermont businesses and the legislature to implement the program. We will seek waivers from the federal government and will work with our federal delegation to help us get them. 21st Century learning for a 21st Century economyThe Challenge: Thousands of Vermonters are struggling to find good paying jobs while at the same time Vermont businesses are struggling to find qualified employees. In addition, Vermont is prioritizing the incarceration of non-violent offenders over the education of our children, with corrections being the second largest area of growth in the state’s budget.The Solution: An integrated and modernized education and economic development strategy that builds our workforce, creates jobs and grows our economy. We must better prepare younger generations of Vermonters so they can be productive members of society and provide a strong workforce for our employers.Integrating non-violent offenders back into society and reinvesting the savings into universal early education and community services. Educating our children is the single most important responsibility in a Democratic society and it where we must prioritize our resources. The Details:Health care costs are consuming a bigger chunk of our economy every day. The rate of increase in costs is alarming. In Vermont, the cost of health care is estimated to increase by $1 billion from 2010 to 2012. For the average Vermont family of four that’s a $7,000 increase on top of the $32,000 that we now spend for health care coverage each year. Our rate of increase exceeds the national average. It is not sustainable. Health care costs are crippling our economy, hampering business growth, driving up property taxes, and bankrupting too many individuals. These costs must be brought under control. The only way to do this is for the state of Vermont to lead the nation in comprehensive health care reform.47,000 Vermonters have no insurance. When these Vermonters become sick, they are faced with a choice’seek the care they need and risk bankruptcy, or avoid care and face debilitating health or even death. When they do choose to seek care, it is the insured that pay for it. This is an unacceptable choice in a civilized society. It also imposes ethical dilemmas on health care professionals trying to treat the uninsured. Unfortunately, this problem isn’t confined to the uninsured. Tens of thousands of Vermonters are underinsured. All too often Vermonters don’t get the care they need because of unaffordable deductibles, co-pays, and coinsurance.I agree with Professor William Hsiao, of the Harvard School of Public Health, who said, ‘It is possible to provide quality health care to all citizens at a reasonable cost’but you must have a single payer to do it.’ If I am elected governor, creating a single payer plan will be my top priority. It will be a very difficult task. There are many forces arrayed against a single payer plan. On the other hand, many people favor single payer but see no realistic way for Vermont to do it. That’s why it will take very strong, committed leadership to get this job done.The Practical Solution I have watched many well-meaning politicians back away from the tough task of achieving real health care reform when the chips are down. We can no longer afford that kind of leadership. Our economy and the health of our citizens depend on whether we can work together to solve the health care crisis, keeping before us a solid vision for the future and maintaining our unwavering dedication to the task.As Governor, I will build consensus on a Vermont health care plan and lead the way to a single payer system for the State of Vermont.A Strong Record of Supporting Universal and Affordable Health CareWe have seen too many incremental missteps on health care reform that have only made marginal process and are financially unsustainable. As we reform health care we desperately need competence, frugality, dedication, courage, and compassion. My record in the Senate shows I offer exactly these qualities. In fact I am the only gubernatorial candidate who has sponsored a single payer health care bill and last session I worked hard to strengthen S.88.Working with other legislators, we took key steps towards the creation of an electronic medical smart card. During the 2008 legislative session, we created a commission to design the implementation of this system. The state is now negotiating with IBM Armonk, Bank of New York and others to begin the design of this system.I worked closely with Governor Dean to make Vermont the first state in the country to offer universal health care to children and pregnant women. 96% of Vermont’s children have health care coverage thanks to Dr. Dynasaur.Since entering into public service I have helped lead the effort to lower the cost of prescription drugs. I co-founded NLARX, a non-profit, to make prescription drugs more affordable and accessible. My work continued in 2009 when, under my leadership, the Vermont Senate passed a groundbreaking bill requiring reporting of gifts from drug companies to doctors. I have a long history of supporting tax initiatives that encourage growth. Since elected to serve in Montpelier I have cut income taxes three times, bringing the marginal rate down from 13.5% to 8.9%. Growing up next to the Connecticut River, I have gained a deep understanding of the negative impact that the regressive sales tax has on Vermont businesses and families. In 1999 I sponsored and successfully passed a bill to eliminate the sales tax on clothing and shoes and helped lead the effort to reduce the sales tax from 6% to 5%. We have world-leading programs here in Vermont that could be delivering even more savings to Vermonters.  As President of the Senate I have passed bills to make substantial investments in this area and as Governor I would continue to fully support investments in energy efficiency. As Governor, I will set and achieve a goal of reducing our projected electricity demand by 3% per year for the next four years. This reduction in demand will help moderate prices and leave more power available as we transition to more electric vehicles. This goal will be met by investing in and expanding the award-winning Efficiency Vermont.Heating energy efficiency and conservationWhile we have made a significant investment in electrical energy efficiency over the past decade we have failed to reduce the amount that Vermonters have to spend on heating their homes and businesses. Heating oil prices today are nearly 100% more expensive than they were just ten years ago. We can not afford to wait another ten years to see how much more prices can increase.Basic energy renovations to our aging buildings could in many cases cut heating fuel use in half. A Vermont household could save thousands of dollars every year. However, a comprehensive energy renovation costs money upfront, which many Vermonters just don’t have. As President of the Senate I passed legislation that will help Vermonters borrow money at low rates, invest in their homes and pay back the loan with the money they save. Towns across Vermont are looking to implement these Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) programs but administering the program can be expensive when it is done town by town.As Governor, I will establish a statewide program to support towns that would like to implement PACE energy efficiency programs (there are currently over 50 interested communities) and establish a loan loss reserve fund to guarantee that our towns and property owners can borrow at the lowest rates. This fund would have approximately $1 million allocated to it from the Clean Energy Development Fund. A $1 million investment will result in $50 million worth of energy efficiency projects to get off the ground. I will ensure that our low-income weatherization programs continue to have the resources they need to deliver their critical services to Vermonter who are working hard just to put food on the table and would benefit tremendously from reduced heating bills.Being on the Forefront of the Green RevolutionI returned to the Senate in 2007 with climate change as one of my top priorities. That same year, I led the Senate to pass what Al Gore called, ‘the toughest climate change bill in the nation.’ Vetoed by the Douglas/Dubie Administration, if enacted into law, the bill would have created jobs, lowered Vermonter’s energy and heating bills, and reduced our dependence on oil.In 2008, I promoted and worked with my fellow legislators to pass a 2008 economic development bill with key green provisions. At my urging, the legislation included the Entrepreneurs’ Seed Capital Fund, which invests stimulus funds into start up green energy companies and developed more predictable requirements for wind and hydro development.In 2009, under my leadership, Vermont became the first state in the country to pass ‘standard offer’ legislation that sets standard offer rates for renewable energy projects in Vermont. This groundbreaking legislation has given renewable energy developers stability and greatly encouraged them to develop projects in Vermont.I’ve also led the effort to pass two decommissioning bills and this past year, led the Senate to a bipartisan 26-4 vote to close down Vermont Yankee on schedule. While I believe strongly in local control, there are measures we can take to help reduce costs, retain the high quality of our education and strengthen our communities.Reducing Costs:Private businesses, universities and institutions across the nation are beginning to take advantage of emerging technology that allows students to learn while not physically in the same room a the instructor. As Governor, I will expand distance learning technologies to every school across Vermont. By more effectively utilizing distance learning, students from small schools can access challenging coursework no matter where they live in the state. Furthermore, as school boards struggle with dwindling class size, this will allow them to offer a quality education without necessarily hiring new teachers as their school grows smaller.One of the things that makes Vermont so special is its high level of local control. Montpelier should not mandate school consolidation or make any other major decision effecting local school institutions. Yet, there are cases where consolidating our small schools make sense. Whitingham and Wilmington are two towns in my County that wanted to consolidate but without the resources to do so it took them years just to draw up the plan. As Governor, I would continue to provide property tax incentives make to communities to help them consolidate should they choose, at their own pace and their own rhythm. Wiring Vermont for the 21st Century The Challenge: Vermont’s small businesses are the backbone of our economy, employing 90% of our workforce. These small businesses are struggling to make ends meet and those that are successful are struggling to navigate the regulatory process and find the capital to expand.The Solution: Help our small businesses expand by getting them access to capital and providing assistance in navigating Vermont’s regulatory process.The Details:Access to CapitalSmall businesses seeking to grow often find a lack of capital to be their biggest obstacle. Between the ‘love’ capital that entrepreneurs secure from their family and friends and the large amounts of capital necessary to borrow from banks, entrepreneurs struggle to get the resources to hire staff and expand. As Governor, I would continue to make investments into the Entrepreneur’s Seed Capital Fund that I helped create in 2008. The Fund helps agricultural, technology and green start up companies get the capital they need to expand.Navigating our Permitting ProcessAs a small business owner and landlord I have been through Vermont’s permit process on multiple occasions. Like other business owners that I have talked to, the frustration does not lie with the permits being rejected but with the length of time it takes for them to be issued. In fact, less than one percent of Vermont’s permit applications are rejected.As Governor, I would reinvigorate the permit assistance program at ANR, especially for small businesses. This program will assign a permit expert at the Agency to help business owners who are struggling get through the permit process efficiently and effectively. Solar Hot WaterSolar hot water systems pay for themselves through avoided fuel or electricity savings, often in just five years time. Our clean energy development fund has limited incentives to help Vermonters make this switch and those incentives have come in fits and starts. To build an industry state government needs to provide certainty and limited support and then get out of the way. In order to encourage local manufacturing of solar thermal technology here in Vermont we need to create a stable market demand.As Governor, I will develop a sustainable ten year plan to grow the solar hot water installation and manufacturing sector. This will include tax breaks for Vermonters who choose locally sourced systems and production incentives for manufacturing.Building CodesBuilding codes and standards also play an important roll in reducing the energy use associated with new buildings built in Vermont. We already have sound standards on the books, however, they have not been adequately enforced over the past eight years. Constructing a building right the first time is a lot less expensive than renovating it later and when I am Governor my Department of Public Service will prioritize enforcing our safety, health and energy codes to avoid the construction of inefficient buildings that will cost us for generations to come.Electric energy efficiency and conservation Strengthening Our Communities:We all cherish our small local schools that are often at the heart of our small Vermont communities. Many of these small schools have the potential to be vibrant community centers. Partnerships can be created and encouraged with local libraries, social services, senior meal sites and after school childcare centers. As Governor I will make grants available to communities who want to utilize the space made from declining enrollment for consolidated community services.Promoting Quality Vermont’s Bright Agricultural Future I have a strong record of putting principles above politics to strengthen our schools and get tough things done. As a small business owner and educator, one of my top priorities in public service has always been to strengthen our public schools. I worked tirelessly with the teachers, community members and key legislators to pass Act 60 and bring about a fair funding system. I have defended Act 60 ever since. The Act 60 debate was fraught with peril. I knew at the time there would be winners and losers. I knew the choices we made would be heralded by some and vilified by others. Vermonters want leaders who will make fair, informed, difficult decisions. I have no regrets. Good, tough decisions are worth making every time.While I have protected the quality of our schools I have also worked to reduce costs in a system that is becoming increasingly unaffordable. In the most recent session, I worked with legislators to provide incentives for school districts that want to consolidate.Developing a Workforce:Recently, in a coffee shop in Waterbury, an older man approached me and told me that he had lost his job of twenty-five years due to the recession and after months of trying was still unable to find decent work. He explained that he just doesn’t have the skills that employers are looking for, such as using a computer. Frustratingly enough, I often hear from employers that they just can’t find employees. During a Jobs Forum, hosted by Speaker Smith and myself Jerry Tarrant, of MyWebGrocer spoke of his desire to hire ten well-paid employees for software positions. Unfortunately, these employees just didn’t seem to exist in Vermont and Jerry was forced to consider whether a move to California where a reliable and well-trained workforce exists might make more sense for his expanding business.The skills needed for the new economy don’t match up with the skills needed for the manufacturing jobs of the past. In order to succeed in our every changing world and fast paced economy we must solve this disconnect. The answer lies in making critical investments in workforce training for our students from elementary through college as well as for our adult workforce. As Governor, I will strengthen career awareness education in our public school systems beginning in elementary school and increase career exposure for our middle and high school students through a renewed focus on technical education, school-to-work initiatives and internships.As Governor, I will direct the Department of Education to better integrate these efforts with the many successful private initiatives that are already underway. Mobius and Linking Learning to Life are two examples of great non-profit organizations that are providing mentoring opportunities in Chittenden County that should be coordinated with public education initiatives.Higher Education As a Senator, I sponsored the existing public school choice policy for high school students. As Governor, I would expand public school choice to elementary school students. Some competition can improve the quality of education and school choice offers students more variety. Many Brattleboro students go to Leland and Gray in Townsend for their excellent semester/year abroad program while many Townsend students interested in dance go to Brattleboro for their excellent arts program. Expanding public school choice will allow students with specialized interests to fulfill their passions and achieve excellence.As Governor, I would work with our congressional delegation to get a waiver that would exempt Vermont from the Bush Administration’s No Child Left Behind mandate. As someone who learns differently, I can attest to the fact that standardized tests don’t accurately measure intelligence. NCLB leads to low self-esteem, higher costs as the federal government has failed to fund the mandate and forces our teachers to spend their time with paper work instead of students.A Record of Promoting Quality, Local Control and Cost Containment 5. As Governor, I would expand programs that help traditional farmers transition to diversified farming, including increasing farmer technical training for processing and building upon the Intervale’s model of farm incubator programs so that retiring farmers across Vermont can see their land being utilized and young aspiring farmers can learn the trade without taking on hundreds of thousands of dollars of debt.Looking forward, as a result of increasing public awareness and desire for fresh, reliable, clean food and the challenges and changes that are resulting from climate change, with a Governor who has the ability to look into the future and make investments, Vermont will return to a vibrant agricultural futureA Record of Supporting Sustainable Agriculture There is no question that our tax structure is stifling economic growth. Only 1% of Vermont’s taxpayers pay over a quarter of Vermont’s income taxes. While I strongly support a progressive tax system, there is a tipping point that Vermont has now reached. With income and capital being so mobile we are now running the risk of pushing that 1% out of Vermont. A key piece of my plan to get Vermonters back to work will be reforming our tax structure to better encourage economic growth while at the same time preserving Vermonter’s values. As Governor, I will reform our tax structure so we encourage entrepreneurs to come to Vermont, build their businesses and employ Vermonters.As Governor, I will support tax reforms that revise the revenue-generating structure in such a way as to stimulate new economic growth. Tweaking the state’s reliance on its primary revenue generators, such as the sales and incomes taxes, could raise the same amount of money while also better encouraging economic growth. The tax system that I implement as Governor will be based on five key principles: fairness, progressiveness, simplicity, transparency and stability.A Record of Fiscal ResponsibilityRecognizing the need for reform, Speaker Smith and I established the Vermont Tax Study Commission. The Commission is made up of three engaged, experienced Vermonters ‘ Kathy Hoyt, Bill Schubart and Bill Sayre ‘ who will review our taxation system and make recommendations to make it more fair and sustainable. I am greatly looking forward to the studies recommendations and will use them as a basis for improving and modernizing our tax system. The five Democratic candidates for governor of Vermont have released their economic development plans. Vermont Business Magazine requested that each of the candidates send their plan, or a synopsis, to be published on line. The following is the candidates’ economic plans, along with their campaign Web sites. In some cases a link to the full report is provided. The primary is Tuesday, August 24.BartlettState Senator Susan Bartlettwww.bartlettforgovernor.com(link is external)Innovation and Intellectual PropertyA Plan for Good Paying Jobs in VermontWhen you run for higher office, or any office for that matter, part of the campaign promise is, “I’ll work for better, more, green, whatever … jobs.” Well, who could be opposed to that idea?The real question is, what will the next governor do to actually help make that promise a reality? What’s the vision or the plan to make this happen? Fair question, here’s my vision and my answer.First, I don’t believe that government creates jobs. I believe that government can help create an environment that is supportive; making sure we have good telecommunications infrastructure, supporting job training programs and certainly helping with access to capital.I have always believed that jobs are created locally and that for Vermont to flourish we should support our regional economic development groups and our regional planning commissions. These are the folks who know what is working in their areas, they know who needs help, and how to match the needs of local business with the available resources in the state for their part of Vermont.That’s part one of the Bartlett administration economic development plan.I have a new idea for how we can really grow jobs and business in Vermont. I believe that the next great opportunity for economic development for Vermont and our country is growing businesses by being good at the “processes” of innovation and intellectual property. We need to grow our strength and for years our strength has been innovation.The first patent in the US was held by a Vermonter, Samuel Hopkins. It was in 1790 on a method of making potash as an industrial chemical for making soap, glass, fertilizers and gunpowder. Today, believe it or not, Vermont has the highest per capita number of patents in America!Innovation and entrepreneurs have always been a part of Vermont, but so far we have failed to acknowledge them as the true job creators they could become, mainly because we have failed to see these as processes we can get good at. Just like quality processes have helped improve quality, we can grow our strengths in Innovation and Intellectual Property. Now is the time to create a culture of innovation and intellectual property that will capitalize on our strength.Now is the time to encourage innovation in Vermont and to help our companies develop and maintain a global advantage by using intellectual property to protect those innovative ideas.When many of us think of innovation and intellectual property, we think of high tech, very complicated ideas. The world of innovation is much more. It’s the design patents on the maple leaf shaped bottle we see so much maple syrup sold in, it’s the K-Cup plastic single-serve coffee container, and it’s the way you make that fantastic downhill sled, the Mad River Rocket.Innovation is all around us and it should be our next great business success story. Everyone is talking about green jobs, but to create new companies or grow existing ones, it’s about getting good at innovation processes. These processes help us map out strategies, understand where the new opportunities are, figure out how to extract and capture new ideas, and it’s about the process for developing and strengthening resultant patents and trade secrets.This will allow small Vermont companies to grow into large Vermont companies.Patents allow tremendous leverage to a business if they are created and leveraged correctly. This leverage consists of enforcement or the fear of enforcement, giving the Vermont patent holding companies the ability to stop imitators. A small company would have a government right to stop even the largest companies from copying the creative work of Vermonters.Patents will allow Vermont businesses to obtain licensing revenues, since most companies can’t capture the entire market itself. Small companies become much more valuable because they own their technology. This makes small companies much more attractive to investors.Bottom line: innovation backed by intellectual property raises the value of small companies tremendously, which will create good paying Vermont jobs.As governor I will establish a statewide office of Innovation and Intellectual Property. This would be very unique as states go and. Vermont can be a leader in this approach.We already have many companies and experts in Vermont to help us. This office would coordinate the various pieces of our business support organizations that currently exist and identify what is working, what is needed and where it is needed. This office would educate regional economic development groups about the potential of intellectual property and would help find the correct funding instruments for Vermont companies.The Office of Innovation and Intellectual Property would hold daylong conferences around the state to bring together companies and individuals interested in leveraging their companies further through becoming expert in innovation and intellectual property. Even basic education would be a tremendous jumpstart to Vermont companies. This would be a chance for networking, meeting sources of funding, providing consulting on obtaining patents and why it’s important. We would begin to grow the culture of innovation and intellectual property.We need to lead our state into the new economy, where 70% of the value of most companies are in it’s intangible assets and intellectual capital and intellectual property.The office would identify funding sources to help companies get strategic intellectual properties and use these to grow their revenues and jobs they offer. The office would coordinate connections between companies to help with cross-company innovation in fields like green energy. The office would reach outside of Vermont to bring in partners, more capital and resources.Back in the 1950s innovation backed by technology was key to the amazing growth of Silicon Valley. I believe that the next great success will be innovation backed by intellectual property. I believe that Vermont can lead the way.We are already funding VCET (Vermont Center of Emerging Technologies) with money for Seed Capital to help small, innovative ideas turn into success stories. We will need to develop more of these dollars through public and private cooperation to truly grow the culture of innovation.We need to establish business incubators around the state that focus on specific areas of innovation such as medical devices, renewable energy, energy efficiency, value added foods and cleaning up the environment. The Office of Innovation and Intellectual Property would make certain that there is close collaboration between these incubators.We have to work with our colleges to use their resources to change the business culture. Our young people need to see that Vermont can and will become the leader of new ideas and the exciting new business opportunities of tomorrow. They will help create the new jobs of the future. Our goal should be to import young people, not export our young people.We have a wonderful opportunity to change the business culture in Vermont. We can grow our existing businesses and help Vermonters start new businesses. We can create jobs and generate prosperity. We can show our creativity through new ideas that can start new businesses, grow or reshape existing ones and engage all Vermonters to participate.This isn’t just about high tech, it’s everything from making new soap products, marketing online, marketing infomercials, recycling trash, producing baby formulas, wind turbines, exercise equipment, ice cream and teddy bears!We must become better at supporting innovation and intellectual property. That is the job that state government can and will help with in the Bartlett administration.Matt Dunnewww.mattdunne.com(link is external)The Innovation Statehttp://www.mattdunne.com/pdf/Matt-Dunne-Economic-Development-Plan-Presen…(link is external)On August 2, Matt Dunne, Democratic candidate for Governor, unveiled his economic development plan for bringing new jobs and growing businesses in Vermont.In a presentation entitled ‘The Innovation State,’ Dunne outlined a vision for Vermont’s future that would capitalize on the state’s authentic communities, strategic location and unique brand to make Vermont a leader in the innovation economy.Specifically, Dunne provided four concrete approaches for moving Vermont forward:    â ¢    Building the infrastructure for 21st century jobs and innovation through investments in broadband Internet, cell service, and transportation networks.    â ¢    Providing the capital to allow businesses to grow through tax incentives, micro-finance programs and expanding the seed capital fund.    â ¢    Investing in education, universities and tech transfer programs to bring ideas from the classroom to the global marketplace.    â ¢    Changing the culture in Montpelier to stimulate entrepreneurship by making state government more efficient, responsive and transparent.Dunne’s plan includes innovative approaches for improving access to capital such as providing tax incentives for Vermonters who invest in Vermont companies.He also detailed a plan to redevelop the more than 4 million square feet of abandoned industrial space in Vermont and provided a real method for funding and deploying broadband Internet and cell phone service to every corner of the state.The presentation included lessons Dunne had learned as an executive at a Vermont-based software company and as director for Community Relations for Google. Dunne’s management background from overseeing and transforming the 6,000 person AmeriCorps*VISTA program also provided insights listed in the plan, that he would adapt and apply to state government as Governor. Dunne’s experience in both the public and private sectors helps shape this vision for Vermont, and provided the specific methods to actually deliver on the promise of revitalizing Vermont’s economy.‘In order to move our state into a new era, we need a new generation of leadership with the experience needed to build a future in which Vermont is a global leader in the innovation economy, based on a foundation of authentic communities, strategic location, and our premium Vermont brand,’ Dunne said.Dunne presented the plan in front of Chittenden County business leaders at the Champlain Mill in Winooski. The event was open to the public to help encourage undecided voters to hear Dunne’s vision for Vermont and what separates Dunne from the other candidates in the race.”This is the first time I’ve seen an economic development plan for Vermont that presents both a general framework as well as specific, bold proposals that can be accomplished with the right leadership. Matt has a clear vision of what it takes to move Vermont forward,” said Charlie Kireker, owner of Twin Birches Ltd. in Middlebury.After the presentation, Dunne opened the floor up for questions and discussion, as he exchanged ideas with the businesspeople in attendance and asked for their feedback on his plan.‘Putting together a vision and a plan for economic development and job creation is not something done by one person.  It is a collaborative effort that requires business, state government and Vermonters to work together to move the state forward. Part of this vision includes making state government transparent to provide more public input, predictability and openness. That is what will move our state forward into a new era,’ Dunne said.The August 2 event marked the first in a series of such meetings with Vermont business leaders. Over the coming days, Dunne will meet with other private and public sector leaders around the state to share this vision and engage in real, honest conversation about his innovative economic development ideas.To read Dunne’s presentation, download the file here.MarkowitzSecretary of State Deb Markowitzwww.debforvermont.com(link is external)JumpStartVThttp://debforvermont.com/files/DebMarkowitz_JumpStartVT_Web.pdf(link is external)Secretary of State Deb Markowitz has released JumpStartVT, an action plan for Vermont’s economic future that focuses on Vermont existing businesses first, encourages Vermont’s entrepreneurs and increases Vermont’s highly-trained workforce for the jobs of the future.‘I’m running for governor to keep Vermont the best place to live, work, raise a family and grow a business,’ Markowitz said. ‘My plan will jumpstart job growth in an effective and strategic way’ ensuring Vermont’s existing businesses have the capital they need to grow. I will also encourage new business start ups with innovative incentives and make sure our children are prepared for the 21st Century jobs we will create right here in Vermont. To accomplish our economic goals we have to make government work better for Vermonters and instill a culture of customer service across state government.’Markowitz’s plan was developed with the input of Vermonters from across the state over the course of her jobs tour and covers the issues important to Vermonters. It is available on her website at www.debforvermont.com/jumpstartvt(link is external). Markowitz will focus on three initiatives in the first 100 days of her administration to move Vermont’s economy forward:Crack Down on Wall Street to Boost Capital for Main StreetVermont’s community banks are working hard to make sure their local customers have what they need, but the big banks received billions in the Wall Street bailout, while Main Street Vermont is still frozen by the credit market. More than $4 billion in both net receipts and disbursements are managed annually by our state treasurer in partnership with banks and investment firms. Markowitz will end relationships with banks that profit from these taxpayer investments but fail to meet a minimum level of lending to Vermont businesses.Establish BusinessBound Vermont Savings AccountsThe average start-up firm spends about $80,000 to get up and running. Vermonters are encouraged to save for college, a home and retirement, but Markowitz will also encourage savings for job creation.BusinessBound Vermont would work just like the 529 College Savings Plan. It would allow people to save money for future business investment and defer taxes until the money is withdrawn from the account. If the funds are used within the first five years of starting a new business to help with the start-up costs, the money may be used tax-free. Because the funds are added to the account after initial income taxes are paid, the program can have a meaningful impact on start-ups with little cost to the taxpayer.Make 18 years old the law for high school dropoutsMarkowitz will change the law and make it mandatory that students stay in school until age 18. Allowing students to drop out of high school at age 16 facilitates failure for these students. Earning a high school diploma or equivalent certification is a workforce development issue. The 21st century jobs Vermont will grow depend on highly-skilled employees.Vermont Business Leaders Are Talking:Scott Fewell of Essex Junction is a partner in the law firm of Burak, Anderson and Melloni, PLC, which represents clients in environmental law and land use planning. Scott graduated from Vermont Law School in 1996. In 1994, he was appointed to the Vermont Law Review and later elected to the Editorial Board. His practice focuses primarily on complex commercial litigation in federal and state courts in multiple jurisdictions.‘Deb’s plan recognizes the experience I have been through with clients. Deb will not step away from an environmental ethic we all cherish in Vermont, but she will make sure the process to start a business and get permits is less arbitrary and is more transparent. My clients do not gripe about the regulations, but they get frustrated when they can’t get straight answers or don’t get the customer service experience tax payers deserve. Deb’s plan will transform bureaucratic delays into a customer-friendly process across state government. This will make a major impact on job creation. I have seen the transformation Deb has pulled off in the Secretary of State’s office. It has made a real difference for businesses. Deb is the only candidate with the practical experience to transform government and make it customer-friendly.’Mike Kanarick of Shelburne is the President of Jvillage Network, a Burlington-based start up that engages and grows the membership communities of synagogues and other Jewish non-profits by providing low-cost, easy-to-update custom websites and membership engagement solutions. Prior to Jvillage, Mike was the executive director at Ohavi Zedek Synagogue in Burlington. Mike was also the executive director for the Alabama Democratic Party and an assistant United States attorney for the middle district of Alabama.‘Start up companies like Jvillage need early investments to grow jobs and add to Vermont’s economy. Deb’s plan for start up capital and tax cuts for entrepreneurs directly spending on job creation will go far to encourage Vermont innovators to set up shop. BusinessBound VT is a practical solution that will help businesses open their doors. It is this kind of strategic thinking that will make Deb the effective governor I am confident she will be. My kids and all of Vermont’s kids depend on the forward thinking contained in this plan.’Don Mayer of Waitsfield is the CEO and founder of Small Dog Electronics–one of the larger Apple resellers in the country. Small Dog has over 40 employees and two retail locations in Vermont. Don is the past chair of Vermont Businesses for Social Responsibility (VBSR) and is currently the director and chair of the Public Policy Committee for VBSR. He is a director for Common Cause Vermont and a member of the Apple, Inc. Reseller Advisory Board.‘Deb’s energy, dedication and competence is always on full display. Like our company, she thinks government service is about customer service. If you call the Secretary of State’s office, you get a real person on the phone. Many times, you even get her on the phone! She is the one candidate in this race that can turn this economy around. Deb knows companies like mine create jobs. That is why I am impress by her plan’s focus on expanding Vermont businesses first.’Tim Volk of Charlotte is president and a partner at Kelliher Samets Volk, a marketing group that provides marketing and communications services to clients from offices in New York City, Boston and Burlington. Tim is the immediate past chair of the board of directors of the Vermont Business Roundtable. He has also led the Roundtable’s Education Working Group, which has studied and put forth recommendations on such important issues as early care and education, school choice, and education standards and assessment.‘Our economic development efforts must be focused on the long list of positives that exist for businesses in Vermont, while we adjust the incentives we need to make it even better. As a business owner, I know Deb is dedicated to furthering Vermont’s business climate. The first step to make Vermont a great place to do business is by electing a Governor with the energy and vision to leverage Vermont’s strengths and communicate a positive message about doing business in Vermont. We also need a comprehensive marketing strategy to leverage Vermont’s powerful brand. Deb’s plan focuses on marketing Vermont’s products and places and will begin to measure our marketing efforts so we can see the results of our investments.’RacineState Senator Doug Racinewww.dougracine.com(link is external)”Revitalizing Our Economy: Getting Back to Basics to Rebuild Our Foundation”http://dougracine.com/revitalizing-our-economy(link is external)Economic Opportunity for All VermontersCreating Jobs is the Number One PriorityVermont families are struggling, and I want every Vermonter to have the opportunity for a good-paying job with decent benefits. Job growth and retention will be the top priority of my administration. I look forward to sharing comprehensive strategies to ensure that Vermonters have the quality of jobs that they seek and deserve.In this time of severe economic turmoil, it is essential for Vermont and Vermont leaders to focus on strengthening our business base to ensure job growth and creation. This can be accomplished, even in these difficult times, through strong leadership, wide participation and a focus on what is important for Vermonters and Vermont businesses.Throughout this process I will focus on what both small and large business have told me is critical to their success:· Quality of Life in Vermont· Quality of our State Infrastructure· Quality of our WorkforceMy administration will provide leadership and will actively engage all stakeholders to ensure this focus.LeadershipAs governor, I will be directly involved in every phase of this economic development strategy. Selecting the Secretary of Commerce and Community Development will be a top priority. I will be very hands-on with both current and prospective employers ensuring that we do everything possible to retain the jobs we have and create new jobs. This direct, continual, hands-on involvement will reinforce that every job is important.Active Stakeholder EngagementI will redesign the Governor’s Council of Economic Advisors to ensure the active involvement of Vermont’s business leaders in setting the direction for the future economic growth of the state. This group will be charged with assisting in the development of a comprehensive strategy to grow Vermont’s economy and to recommend specific actions that Vermont can undertake to grow and retain jobs.In addition, I will reinstitute both the Agency of Commerce and Community Development Advisory Committee and the Jobs Cabinet. These two long dormant groups can play a vital role in identifying and implementing programs and services to attract and retain businesses.EducationHigher Education is now a virtual requirement for quality jobs in this country. As governor, my administration will focus on:· Continually improving our K-12 system· Reducing the high school dropout rate· Continuing to expand dual enrollment programs· Providing greater postsecondary opportunities in southern Vermont· Substantially increasing the college graduation rateWorkforce Education And TrainingVermont needs a unified, coordinated and comprehensive workforce education and training system that includes development and delivery of a plan for both Vermonters and Vermont employers. This can be accomplished within the overall current funding levels if we structure the system properly and assign responsibility appropriately. Our current efforts are fragmented and do not focus on identifying direct need and then delivering solutions. Our efforts will be focused on asking key employers what they need and focusing efforts there, in order to make sure Vermonters are ready to work in the Green Economy, Agriculture, Manufacturing, Health Care, Travel and Tourism and Construction.InfrastructureWe have many groups serving the various needs of economic development. Each time a new idea is developed, a new group is formed. I will lead the effort to consolidate this ‘alphabet soup’ of programs into a strong infrastructure that enhances job creation and job retention, and runs efficiently and effectively.A statewide, universal and easily accessible Broadband System is essential for Vermont. This will be an immediate and top priority of my administration. Vermont must invest in this infrastructure. As a rural state, we cannot rely on the private sector to provide this service ‘ it is just not profitable given our small population. Instead, we must undertake an effort akin to the rural electrification project and ensure that all Vermonters have access to broadband that is reliable and affordable.ShumlinSenate President Pro Tem Peter Shumlinwww.shumlinforgovernor.com(link is external)A Vision For VermontTable of ContentsSingle Payer Health Care to Contain Costs for Families and Businesses21st Century Learning for a 21st Century EconomyEarly Childhood EducationBending the Cost CurveHigh EducationWiring Vermont for the 21st CenturyPowering the FutureResponsibly developing in-state renewable energyHeating our homes and businessesA Tax Policy to Grow Jobs and WealthSupporting the Backbone of our EconomyA Bright Agricultural FutureSingle Payer Health Care to Contain Costs for Families and BusinessesThe Challenge: Health care costs are rising $1 million a day in Vermont. These skyrocketing costs threaten both Vermont families and Vermont businesses.The Solution: A single payer health system that takes insurance company profits out of the picture, rewards providers for making patients better and allows benefits to follow the individual, not rely on employerscenter_img The Details: Early Education:As governor, I will work with educators, community and private caregivers, and business leaders to provide universal access to early education and make Vermont a leader in early childhood education. Universal pre-kindergarten education will help our children succeed, build a stronger workforce and reduce our skyrocketing corrections budget. As Governor, I will make early education a cornerstone of my economic development and education policies. We must reassess our priorities in state government and prioritize children instead of spending our resources on locking up non-violent offenders.Our ChildrenUnder my leadership in the Governor’s office, Vermont will become the first state to treat early education as an equal partner. Providing universal early education to all of Vermont’s children will provide our children with the tools they need to succeed in school and as adults. Children enrolled in early education programs score higher in math and reading and are more likely to get jobs and become successful, productive members of society. Universal access to pre-k education will go a long way towards erasing the achievement gap for low socioeconomic students and students who learn differently and put all of our children on a more level playing field. In fact, for every dollar spent on early childhood education, there is a $7 to $16 return. Education beyond high school is increasingly becoming a necessity for success. It isprojected that by 2018, 56% of Vermont jobs will require at least a two-year college degree.[2] A degree should no longer be considered a luxury, achieved only by upper income students, but an educational goal for all Vermonters. Higher education results in higher earnings, greater tax revenues for the state and more productive members of society. In fact, each degree earned, cuts annual spending on Medicare, unemployment, welfare and incarceration by $905.[3] Increasing the number of higher educated Vermonters will be key to fostering and maintaining a strong workforce and tax base. Frugality is a value with deep Vermont roots. When it comes to energy it means smart energy use; finding ways to do more with less and saving money in the process. A Tax Policy Geared at Growth The Challenge: Broadband internet is the electricity of our time, essential for economic development. Unfortunately, Vermont is trailing behind many third world countries in this area with almost 20% of Vermonters still reliant on dial up.The Solution: A public-private partnership that will expand broadband to every last mile of Vermont by 2013.The Details:There is no question that broadband access is essential for economic development. I will ensure that every Vermonter has broadband access by 2013. My favorite Vermont Governor and our last Governor from Putney, George D. Aiken, did for electricity what I will do for broadband access; deliver it to the end of every dirt road. Growing businesses and creating jobs depend on this.As Governor, I will establish a public-private partnership to service Vermont’s underserved areas by 2013. A task force with public and private stakeholders will be created to evaluate the current state of broadband deployment and identify where the service gaps are and the public-private partnership will then deliver broadband to these areas.Expanding broadband to remote, rural areas does not make economic sense for private entities. Under my leadership, the state would use its bonding authority to provide loan guarantees for this to make economic sense for the public-private partnership to deliver broadband to every last mile by 2013.Prioritizing TelecommunicationsUpon my return to the Senate in 2007 I helped lead the effort to deliver internet and mobile access throughout Vermont with the creation of the Vermont Telecommunications Authority (VTA). The VTA was established to facilitate the establishment and delivery of mobile phone and broadband infrastructure for businesses and residents throughout Vermont. The VTA has focused on unserved and underserved areas and established a long-term plan to expand broadband and mobile access throughout the state.During the most recent session, I helped invest almost $3 million to expand broadband to the rural, underserved areas of Vermont.b The Challenge: The way we raise revenue in Vermont is based upon an archaic, patchwork system that needs reform. Vermonters have hit their tax capacity yet our spending continues to outstrip the amount of money we are raising. Government can not continue to take in a $1 and spend a $1.50. Supporting the Backbone of Our Economy The Challenge: Vermont is facing the highest unemployment rate in 30 years and those with jobs are struggling to pay mounting bills on stagnant incomes. We are also facing some major choices in terms of our energy future. Contracts for two-thirds of our electricity are on the verge of expiring and our aging, leaking nuclear power plant is scheduled to close in just two years.The Solution: Ensuring that Vermont gets a piece of the green revolution and the huge money that is going to be made by aggressively and responsibly developing in-state renewable energy generation and making key investments into efficiency. In-state renewable energy generation will be developed through the sale of Vermont renewable energy bonds, the expansion of the state’s groundbreaking standard offer program and by instituting predictable, sustainable incentives that will help thousands of Vermonters install small renewable energy projects. Vermonters will reduce the amount of money spent on heating their homes and businesses as investments are made into efficiency, a statewide PACE program is established and incentives are put in place to encourage the sale and local manufacturing of biomass heating systems.The Details:Responsibly developing In-State Renewable EnergyTo meet our electricity needs we’ll need power delivered from small community-based solar projects to utility scale wind farms and everything in between. Responsibly developing our own renewable energy generation is a critical component to Vermont’s successful economic development as it will grow businesses, create well paying jobs, save Vermonters money and get us off our addiction to oil.Supporting utility scale energyWe are fortunate in Vermont to have utilities that understand that a mix of renewable energy can provide affordable, reliable electricity for our economy today and for our children’s future. The lowest cost power our utilities source isn’t from Vermont Yankee, it isn’t from natural gas and it isn’t even from Hydro Quebec. The lowest price electricity is from the countless hydroelectric dams that first powered many Vermont communities. The power is cheap because the fuel is free and upfront money was invested long ago.It is time again to make an investment, to build the electricity infrastructure of the 21st century, to grow our economy today and leave our children with a clean, affordable electricity supply they can be proud of. To achieve this will require private investment coupled with public support for all types of renewable power. Every Vermonter will be asked to be part of investing in our energy future but no one will be mandated to participate. I will work with the Treasurer’s office to leverage the state’s ability to borrow money at affordable rates and explore the possibility of issuing a series of Vermont renewable energy bonds so that every Vermonter who wants to can literally invest in our energy future. These bonds would raise the money necessary to put solar on Vermont rooftops, turbines in the air, and transform ancient, defunct small hydro-dams into energy producers. The revenue generated through these projects, guaranteed through electricity sales to the utilities, will help pay the bonds off.Supporting community scale energyIn 2009 Vermont launched our state’s first standard offer program to support the development of community scale renewable energy. In a time when our economy needed a boost the program immediately put tens of millions of dollars to work in our communities developing renewable energy projects. More than 50 projects will be built through the pilot program including farm methane projects, small hydro projects, wind turbines, bio-mass combined heat and power systems and solar farms. These projects will put electricians, plumbers, engineers, farmers and foresters to work creating our energy future.We’ve seen that the program works and it is time to take off the training wheels. Instituting a 25 MW per year standard offer program would, over the next ten years, install enough capacity to match 1/4 of our state’s peak energy demand. To ensure that Vermonter’s are not paying too much for this power I’ll instruct my Department of Public Service to ensure that the investment will pay dividends over the longterm and will in no single year increase rates by more than 1%.Supporting home and business installationsVermont’s utilities, with the help of a federal American Recovery Act grant, are initiating a historic modernization of our electrical grid. This investment should allow our utilities to more cost effectively integrate smaller renewable energy projects into our electricity supply system and plan for a day when many of our vehicles will be plugged into the electric grid.For the home owners and business owners who want to install smaller renewable energy systems to be part of this new distributed energy grid our state’s clean energy development fund has played a critical role with limited rebates and tax incentives. However, these incentives have come in fits and starts leading to boom and bust cycles in the growing industry. It is irresponsible for any economic development program to not provide basic stability so that a business can develop a business plan, hire and train new employees and know that they won’t have to lay them off in six months.My administration will work to institute predictable, sustainable incentives that will help thousands of Vermonters install small renewable energy projects. The incentives will last for five years and will decrease overtime as the industry grows and costs of the newer technologies continue to drop.Manufacturing clean energyJobs linked to our new energy future will not only come from the installation and maintenance of renewable energy projects. There are countless jobs involved in every step of the supply chain with hundreds if not thousands of new Vermont based manufacturing jobs possible. I will publicize Vermont’s assets, not disparage them for short term political gain, get health care off the backs of our employers and get broadband to every last mile by 2013 to ensure those jobs are created in Vermont and that Vermont based companies have the infrastructure needed to be world class companies.Heating our Homes and BusinessesOur dependence on oil is contributing to problems like climate change and the unmitigated environmental disaster unfolding in the Gulf of Mexico. It is also costing us millions.Vermonters spend nearly $500 million dollars every year on oil, propane and kerosene. A significant drain on every household budget in Vermont is the money it takes to keep us warm through our long winters. Most of that money flows right from our bank accounts to large oil companies and countries that don’t like us.Farms, Forests and FieldsWe can and must do better in Vermont. Our economy and environment depend on it. Our local farms and forests have the potential to be the biggest contributors in allowing Vermont to end our dependence on foreign oil used to heat our homes.Many Vermonters are hard at work already trying to tackle this problem. From the great work at the Sustainable Jobs Fund on biofuel crops, to all of the foresters and loggers maintaining our working forest, Vermonters are developing solutions to our heating needs. Every dollar that we spend on local fuel puts Vermonters to work in our woods and our farm fields, instead of the oil fields in Iraq or Saudi Arabia.As President of the Senate I helped pass legislation to allow ultra-clean biomass furnaces and boilers to be sold in Vermont. As Governor, I will work to put the incentives in place to encourage the sale and local manufacturing of biomass heating systems. Beyond High SchoolWe need an integrated education system that focuses on success from the time of early childhood until the time a Vermonter graduates from college or enters the workforce. The PreK-16 Education Council, instituted just last year under my leadership is a first step in formulating the public policy to ensure this ‘ across the full range of education and into the workforce.As Governor, I will increase access to the opportunity to start college while still in high school. These ‘dual enrollment’ and early college programs will be expanded to ensure that they are available regardless of geography and income.Our integrated system will also embed career readiness throughout our education programs. Our sixteen excellent career and technical centers have a lot to contribute and will be more fully utilized as an education and training resource.AffordabilityVermont has the highest public college tuitions in the country and ranks last in the nation for publicly funding higher education. Over the past twenty-five years, Vermont has shifted more and more of the cost of higher education to the student and their family, subsidizing the cost of a college education at a lower level than any other state in the country.Unfortunately, during these hard times, Vermont can simply not afford to put more public resources into higher education. However, as Vermont emerges from this economic downturn ‘ and we will ‘ it is important that we prioritize where we choose to invest rather than just return to old spending habits. As Governor, reversing our 25 year trend of reduced funding for high education will be one of those priorities.Vermont’s OpportunityA better-educated workforce is key to our economic recovery and long-term ability to compete. Too many of our talented young people are leaving Vermont because of a lack of good opportunities paired with the need of paying off their college debts. As Governor, I will create incentives for Vermonters to complete their education in Vermont and then remain here to launch their careers. Vermont high school students who finish their college degree at a Vermont college or university and secure a job in state will receive an income tax credit to help pay their college debt.This program will improve college graduation rates, keep more of our educated young people in Vermont to the benefit of our economy and strengthen the economic impact of our 23 public and private colleges and universities. In the short term, our college graduates will see reduced income taxes while in the long term, the state will benefit from increased income and revenues. Vermont must have one of the highest quality education systems in the nation. It needs to be a draw for people across the country to relocate their families to Vermont and ensure the success of our future generations and our businesses. As a person who learns differently, I understand the importance of teachers and a high quality education system. I also recognize that our education system is posing several daunting challenges. While our school age population continues to decrease, costs continue to rise. These rising costs add extra stress to already struggling families and under the Douglas/Dubie Administration allowed taxpayers to be pitted against our school children. The Solution: The implementation of a tax system that encourages, not stifles, economic growth, This modernized tax code will be sustainable and fair. These timeless values will make Vermont more competitive in the 21st Century.The Details: The Challenge: Our traditional dairy farms are failing at an alarming rate and with less then a 1,000 farms left, Vermont is at risk of losing our agricultural economy and our working landscape.The Solution: A fundamental transformation of our agricultural economy that allows our farmers to receive a portion of the value-added price for their products.The Details:I cite my own experience in Vermont agriculture as an example of the challenge and opportunities that Vermont agriculture faces. The dairy farm that I am a partner in is a seventh generation small dairy that has been milking jerseys and selling their product through Agrimark for decades. The seventh generation took over from his father almost two years ago and soon found that he could not survive at $12 to $14 a hundredweight. Together, we decided to reduce the herd from roughly 75 to 25 head and keep the heifers to rebuild when better milk prices were being paid. Several weeks after downsizing, two cheesemakers, David Major and Peter Dixon, approached our farm because they were selling their cheese to markers all over New England and desperately needed high fat milk. They offered to pay $30 a hundredweight for every gallon of milk that the farm could produce. They were able to do this because they were sharing some of the value-added price for their cheese with the hard working farmers.This needs to be the model for the future of dairy farming in Vermont. As long as we are beholden to the current corporate structure, our farmers will never be able to make a fair living for their efforts.As oil prices rise and the effects of climate change become more apparent, eating local foods will become an economic necessity, not just an upper income trend. Like other challenges, we need to see this as an opportunity to grow our economy, create jobs and nurture our core values. Succeeding at this will make local foods more affordable and practical for all. Vermont is perfectly situated to capitalize on the large markets that are within our reach – New York, Boston and Montreal. As Governor, I will focus on the following initiatives to make this vision a reality and return Vermont to a vibrant and profitable agricultural state:1. Continue our commitment (which has been opposed by the Douglas/Dubie Administration) to the Vermont Housing and Conservation Board so that Vermont’s most fertile farmland will be conserved for agriculture. We should be proud that in communities like Orwell and Shoreham, we have now conserved up to 30% of the prime agriculture soils. As governor, I will use that as a model for the rest of the state.2. Invest in public-private partnerships to ensure that companies like Commonwealth Yogurt (currently building a plant in Brattleboro), Cabot, Grafton cheese and Jasper Hill have the infrastructure they need to buy wholesale milk from area dairy farmers.3. Work together with our vegetable and meat producers to expand slaughterhouse resources, processing facilities and distribution centers to make companies like Misty Knoll Farm and Highland Beef the rule, rather than the exception in Vermont’s agricultural economy.4. Explore relationships with Vermont banks that would allow non-resident, documented farm workers to send earnings to their families back home without the 15 to 20% exorbitant fees charged by current providers. A Quiet CrisisAffordable, quality childcare is essential for Vermont parents, particularly women, to be able to hold down their jobs and climb the economic ladder. Without childcare and reliable transportation, staying in the workforce becomes impossible and sends families into a downward economic spiral.Approximately 70 percent of children in Vermont are in out-of-home care during the work week (U.S. Census Bureau), allowing some 40,000 people go to work each day because they have childcare for their children. Yet the cost of this care is a quiet crisis that is busting the budgets of working families. Depending on where a family lives in Vermont and the age of their children, care can cost $150 to $200 a week per child. A family with two kids could be paying $18,000 a year.A Frightening and Expensive TrendThe second largest area of growth in our state budget behind health care is corrections. Vermont has the distinction of locking up more non-violent offenders per capita than any other state in the country. 69% of our women prisoners and 45% of our male prisoners are non-violent offenders. They are often locked up for nothing more than writing bad checks or having nowhere else to go (on any given day, out of our entire corrections population, 150 individuals are incarcerated simply for a lack of appropriate housing. Many more are there for mental health challenges.)What’s the connection between early education and our non-violent offenders? Roughly 90% percent had difficultly learning to read (most still do) and have drug and alcohol related addictions. If we are to meaningfully address the skyrocketing costs of corrections and social services programs and improve educational outcomes we need to make meaningful investments in early childhood programs.Instead of putting non-violent offenders in jail we need to stop the problems before they begin. It is not only the right thing to do, it makes economic sense. Early education is a key component in this kind of prevention. Early education helps reduce the achievement gap and equals the playing field so that all children can start school ready to learn rather than behind before they even begin.As Governor, I will integrate these non-violent offenders back into society and ensure that the community mental health, substance abuse, life skill training, affordable housing through VHCB and adult education services are in place to allow these Vermonters to become successful and productive members of society. The cost savings achieved would help fund Vermont’s universal pre-k education system. With each non-violent inmate costing the state’s taxpayers $51,000 annually, we will begin to bend the cost curve and provide resources where they belong ‘ in early education.Transitioning Vermont’s 780 non-violent offenders to become productive members of society, will save $40 million annually. Educating Vermont’s 8,138 three and four year olds who are currently not receiving early education would cost $33 million. We need to begin to aggressively address this problem.A Record to back up the RhetoricAs Senate President, I launched the Justice Reinvestment program. This program will begin to integrate non-violent offenders back into society and reinvest the services this year.Even in these difficult budget times, in consultation with State’s Attorney, TJ Donovan and the Burlington Boys and Girls Club’s, Mary-Alice McKenzie a new justice coordinator position as a pilot in Chittenden County. This appropriation will provide direct services to troubled Vermonters as they enter the judicial maze to provide preventative advice, direction and guidance to keep them out of our prisons. This bold initiative could be a preventative tool for the rest of the state.Partnering with our schools and communities to reduce costs: As President of the Senate, I have established a strong record of protecting our farms and working landscape. I helped update Current Use to protect working farms and forests and to include wildlife habitat and other ecological values. Working with many other legislators, we have supported the development of a sustainable agricultural system with the establishment of the Farm to Plate and Farm to School programs and by increasing the number and availability of slaughterhouses in Vermont.- 30 -[1] 2001 Lewin Study Analysis of the Costs and Impact of Universal Health Care Coverage Under a Single Payer Model for the State of Vermont.[2] HELP WANTED: PROJECTIONS of JOBS and EDUCATION REQUIREMENTS Through 2018 ‘ June 2010[3] Opportunity Maine, Executive Summary, Page 2last_img read more

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Berkshire Bank to buy Rome, NY, bank for $74 million

first_imgBerkshire Bank,Berkshire Hills Bancorp, Inc (Nasdaq: BHLB), and Rome Bancorp, Inc (Nasdaq: ROME) announced today that they have signed a definitive merger agreement under which Berkshire will acquire Rome and its subsidiary, The Rome Savings Bank, in a transaction valued at approximately $74 million.Rome’s assets totaled $330 million at June 30, 2010, and it operates five banking offices serving Rome, Lee, and New Hartford, New York. The Rome Savings Bank will be merged into Berkshire Bank, the principal operating subsidiary of Berkshire. After the merger is completed, Berkshire Bank will serve customers in Massachusetts, New York, and Vermont through a network of 46 full-service bank branches. Berkshire is expected to have total assets exceeding $3.0 billion and a total market capitalization for its common stock in excess of $300 million upon consummation of the transaction. Pro forma tangible equity to tangible assets is expected to improve to 8.4%.Under the terms of the merger agreement, 70% of the outstanding Rome shares will be exchanged for Berkshire shares at a fixed exchange ratio of 0.5658 Berkshire shares for each share of Rome. The remaining 30% of Rome shares will be exchanged for cash in the amount of $11.25 per share. Based on Berkshire’s closing stock price of $18.78 on October 11, 2010, the combined consideration for Rome’s shares is calculated at $10.81 per share. This represents 120% of Rome’s tangible book value per share, 19.3x Rome’s trailing twelve month earnings, and a 6.0% premium to core deposits based on financial information for the period ended June 30, 2010.Michael P. Daly, Berkshire’s President and Chief Executive Officer, stated, “This is an attractive combination for both of our companies, and we expect it to produce solid investment returns to stockholders. We expect $0.09 core earnings per share accretion in 2011 before transactions costs and up to $0.10 earnings per share accretion in 2012 after cost saves and deal costs are fully absorbed in 2011. The merger is a desirable extension of our New York franchise and is expected to accelerate our long term earnings growth. Rome is a successful and well respected company with solid asset quality and strong market share in an attractive market. It provides access to the Utica market and proximity to the Syracuse market, which was recently listed by the Brookings Institution along with Albany as among the strongest of the top hundred metro areas in the country. The Syracuse and Utica-Rome markets have a combined population of nearly one million persons. We have been successful in growing low cost deposits in markets similar to Rome and in developing strong new commercial business in adjacent markets like Syracuse and Utica. We believe that the scope of our regional bank product selection and our energetic brand initiatives will be well received in these markets. Berkshire is well positioned to be a partner to Rome and other institutions in and around our markets who recognize the benefits that can be delivered to all of our constituencies through a well-structured business combination such as this.”Charles M. Sprock, Rome’s Chairman of The Board, President, and Chief Executive Officer stated, “We are very pleased to join Berkshire Hills Bancorp and Berkshire Bank. Berkshire has successfully partnered and expanded into new markets, and its experienced New York leadership is knowledgeable of our markets in and around Rome. Berkshire Bank will continue to uphold our tradition of service excellence while introducing new products, including insurance and wealth management. With a 14% premium to the recent price of our stock, the transaction pricing is attractive to our shareholders, especially when taking into account the significant upside potential for core earnings growth and stock appreciation of Berkshire stock.”Each Rome shareholder will have the right to elect the form of consideration, subject to proration procedures to maintain the overall 70%/30% mix of stock and cash consideration. The transaction is intended to qualify as a reorganization for federal income tax purposes, and as a result, the shares of Rome common stock exchanged for shares of Berkshire common stock are expected to be transferred on a tax-free basis. The definitive agreement has been unanimously approved by the Boards of Directors of both Berkshire and Rome. Consummation of the agreement is subject to the approval of Rome’s shareholders, as well as state and federal regulatory agencies. Berkshire does not anticipate that the transaction will require approval of its shareholders. The merger is expected to be completed in the first quarter of 2011. Berkshire and Rome have created foundations for community charitable support which will continue to provide charitable contributions to the local communities.Stifel Nicolaus & Company, Incorporated served as the financial advisor to Berkshire, and Sandler O’Neill & Partners, L.P. served as the financial advisor for Rome. Luse Gorman Pomerenk & Schick, P.C. served as outside legal counsel to Berkshire, while SNR Denton US LLP served as outside legal counsel to Rome.BERKSHIRE UPDATEAn information presentation with additional information about the merger will be posted promptly in the Investor Relations section of Berkshire’s website at www.berkshirebank.com(link is external). Berkshire has a previously announced conference call to discuss third quarter earnings and earnings guidance on Thursday, October 21, 2010, and management will also plan to discuss this merger announcement on that call.Berkshire CEO Mike Daly added, “We are pleased that our third quarter earnings per share are anticipated to meet or exceed current consensus expectations of $0.24 per share. We also anticipate that our net interest margin will meet or exceed our expectations, with continuing solid loan growth and favorable asset quality metrics. We look forward to providing more information about our improving results and expectations in our forthcoming earnings release after the close of business on October 20, and in the conference call on October 21.”BACKGROUNDBerkshire Hills Bancorp is the parent of Berkshire Bank ‘ America’s Most Exciting Bank(SM). The Company has $2.7 billion in assets and 46 financial centers in Massachusetts, New York, and Vermont. Berkshire Bank provides 100% deposit insurance protection for all deposit accounts, regardless of amount, based on a combination of FDIC insurance and the Depositors Insurance Fund (DIF). For more information, visit www.berkshirebank.com(link is external) or call 800-773-5601.Rome Bancorp, Inc. is a publicly held, one-bank holding company whose wholly-owned subsidiary, The Rome Savings Bank, maintains its corporate offices in Rome, New York. Rome Bancorp, Inc. is incorporated in the state of Delaware. The Rome Savings Bank, regulated by the Office of Thrift Supervision, operates five full-service community banking offices in Rome, Lee, and New Hartford, New York. Rome’s primary lines of business include residential real estate lending, small business loan and deposit services, as well as a variety of consumer loan and deposit services.FORWARD LOOKING STATEMENTSThis news release contains certain forward-looking statements within the meaning of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995 about the proposed merger of Berkshire and Rome. These statements include statements regarding the anticipated closing date of the transaction and anticipated future results. Forward-looking statements can be identified by the fact that they do not relate strictly to historical or current facts. They often include words like “believe,” “expect,” “anticipate,” “estimate,” and “intend” or future or conditional verbs such as “will,” “would,” “should,” “could” or “may.” Certain factors that could cause actual results to differ materially from expected results include delays in completing the merger, difficulties in achieving cost savings from the merger or in achieving such cost savings within the expected time frame, difficulties in integrating Berkshire and Rome, increased competitive pressures, changes in the interest rate environment, changes in general economic conditions, legislative and regulatory changes that adversely affect the business in which Berkshire and Rome are engaged, changes in the securities markets and other risks and uncertainties disclosed from time to time in documents that Berkshire files with the Securities and Exchange Commission.ADDITIONAL INFORMATION FOR STOCKHOLDERSThe proposed transaction will be submitted to Rome stockholders for their consideration. Berkshire will file with the SEC a Registration Statement on Form S-4 that will include a Proxy Statement of Rome and a Prospectus of Berkshire, as well as other relevant documents concerning the proposed transaction with the SEC. Stockholders of Rome are urged to read the Registration Statement and the Proxy Statement/Prospectus when it becomes available and any other relevant documents filed with the SEC, as well as any amendments or supplements to those documents, because they will contain important information. You will be able to obtain a free copy of the Registration Statement, Proxy Statement/Prospectus, as well as other filings containing information about Berkshire and Rome at the SEC’s Internet site (http://www.sec.gov(link is external)).Berkshire and Rome and certain of their directors and executive officers may be deemed to be participants in the solicitation of proxies from the stockholders of Rome in connection with the proposed merger. Information about the directors and executive officers of Berkshire is set forth in the proxy statement, dated March 26, 2010, for Berkshire’s 2010 annual meeting of stockholders, as filed with the SEC on Schedule 14A. Information about the directors and executive officers of Rome is set forth in the proxy statement, dated April 1, 2010, for Rome’s 2010 annual meeting of stockholders, as filed with the SEC on Schedule 14A. Additional information regarding the interests of such participants and other persons who may be deemed participants in the transaction may be obtained by reading the Proxy Statement/Prospectus when it becomes available. Free copies of this document may be obtained as described in the above paragraph.NON-GAAP FINANCIAL MEASURESThis news release references non-GAAP financial measures incorporating tangible equity and related measures, as well as core deposits. These measures are commonly used by investors in evaluating business combinations and financial condition. Tangible equity/tangible assets excludes intangible assets from the numerator and denominator. Tangible book value per share excludes intangible assets. Core deposits are total deposits less time deposits over $100 thousand.SOURCE Berkshire Hills Bancorp, Inc. 10.12.2010. PITTSFIELD, Mass. and ROME, N.Y.,/PRNewswire-FirstCall/ —last_img read more

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Governor seeks major disaster declaration from president in wake of Irene

first_imgGovernor Peter Shumlin today requested a major disaster declaration from President Barack Obama for public assistance to help with infrastructure repairs in all Vermont counties except Grand Isle, and individual assistance for homeowners and businesses in counties where early assessments have been completed. Because assessments continue in some counties ‘ particularly in hard-hit southern Vermont ‘ a supplemental request will follow to add those areas. The public assistance request encompasses road, bridge and rail damage in Addison, Bennington, Caledonia, Chittenden, Essex, Franklin, Lamoille, Orange, Orleans, Rutland, Washington, Windham and Windsor counties. The initial individual declaration includes Chittenden, Washington, Rutland, and Windsor counties. It is expected that a supplemental request will add other counties, such as Windham and Orange, as assessors continue to tally the damage across Vermont from Tropical Storm Irene. Those additional requests will be added as quickly as possible. ‘We need to get the federal assistance approved and into the state as quickly as possible,’ Gov. Shumlin said. He noted that the state has already received an Emergency Declaration for Federal Assistance, which provided immediate assistance to begin getting emergency disaster relief efforts in place. Today’s response begins a more formal process of seeking full assistance for roads, bridges, homeowners and businesses, and other relief work. ‘The President and FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate have pledged the full support of the federal government to help Vermont recover from the devastation left in the storm’s wake,’ Gov. Shumlin said. ‘We will begin moving forward with this declaration request and add the additional counties as the assessments are completed.’ Governor Shumlin said he is optimistic that the White House would approve the declaration quickly. If approved, the public assistance would provide a federal match for work on roads, bridges and other public infrastructure damaged in the flooding and winds of Irene. The individual assistance would help homeowners and businesses cover the costs of repairs, temporary housing  rental, replacement of essential household items, medical and other disaster-related needs, and other needs that resulted from the storm.  Source: Governor’s office. 9.1.2011last_img read more

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VTrans warns of safety concerns: Post-Irene ‘Tremors’

first_imgVermont Agency of Transportation Secretary Brian Searles today reminded the public that “tremors” from Tropical Storm Irene in the form of sink holes and slope failures continue to occur across the state, especially in the southern tier. Recent rains continue to soften the state’s soil, intensifying the probability of such tremors. These dangers can occur on roads that previously experienced no damage. Travelers need to be on the lookout and drive with care. “We appreciate there are some long detours to take in light of roadway closures,” Searles said. “Trying to make the longer commute shorter by driving aggressively may cost you your life. Everyone’s focus needs to be on safety.” As for road recovery efforts, a temporary bridge along Route 125 in Hancock will be open for public travel by the end of the day. This temporary bridge restores critical two-way traffic along Route 125 between Hancock and Middlebury, which was severed over the weekend when a bridge was closed. Additional forces arrived as 149 crews from the Maine Department of Transportation landed in Vermont at about 4 p.m. with 145 pieces of heavy equipment including 10 road graders, seven large excavators, and dozens of back loaders and dump trucks. The Maine crews will be deployed on Wednesday to several locations including Route 131 in Cavendish where they will replace culverts, clear debris and repair shoulder washouts. Maine crews also will be dispatched to Route 100 in Jamaica and Wardsboro where two teams will reestablish ditching and repair shoulder damage. Other crews will conduct a variety of tasks along routes 100, 30, 11, and 10. Also, 10 New Hampshire crews with trucks arrived delivering 150 Jersey barriers to help cordon off dangerous roadway sections. The New Hampshire crews on Wednesday will also help repair segments of Route 131 and Route 106.last_img read more

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Specialty Food Association to offer food safety workshops

first_imgThe Vermont Specialty Food Association is sponsoring two workshops on meeting the requirements of the Food Safety Modernization Act of 2011 in Colchester (Hampton Inn) on October 4, 2011 and Rutland (Franklin Conference Center) on November 3, 2011. Known as FSMA 2011, the law will result in some of the most sweeping changes in decades to our food safety and regulatory system. Brian Norder of Vermont Food Consulting Services and Bob Weybright of Weybright and Associates, Inc. will guide participants through key provisions of the law, and, through hands-on exercises, how to write a food safety plan to comply with the law and private food safety audits. Special emphasis will be placed on differences in requirements for small and large producers. This project is funded in part by a USDA Rural Development Grant (USDA-RBEG.). More information of the sessions can be found at www.vtspecialtyfoods.org(link is external). The Vermont Specialty Food Association is a statewide organization representing over 100 food producers and 20 suppliers to the industry. It is one of the nation’s premier statewide associations for the specialty food trade, celebrating 26 years of service to the industry. A complete list of members is available at www.vtspecialtyfoods.org(link is external).last_img read more

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