By Tom Salmon, CPA, CFE, Vermont State Auditor of Accounts The three members of the Vermont Public Service Board are about to get more free advice than all the Boston Red Sox managers combined. That’s because the best case the opponents of the Vermont Yankee Nuclear Power Plant have to shut the plant down is to convince the PSB that it is no longer worthy of a Certificate of Public Good.As state auditor, it is my duty to evaluate the performance of state government. I would be remiss if I didn’t point out that state government has wasted a lot of taxpayer money trying to destroy a flawed but valuable asset. Vermont’s legislation to close the plant in 2010 was carefully worded to forbid the PSB from considering the plant’s application for a Certificate of Public Good. Why? The PSB’s mission is, in part, ‘to ensure the provision of high quality public utility services in Vermont at minimum reasonable costs, consistent with the long-term public good of the state.’ Then Senator Peter Shumlin and his allies were afraid the Public Service Board would make a decision based on its mission.Vermont Yankee produces baseload electricity at about 4 cents per kilowatt hour and has offered to renew contracts at about 6 cents. Wind turbines produce it intermittently at closer to 20 cents/kwh as mandated by the Legislature. Despite some serious transgressions over the years by Entergy, the plant’s owner, the PSB could not ignore the cost factor, the near zero greenhouse gas emissions, taxes paid to the state and the impact of more than 1,000 jobs. When the cost of electricity is factored into the current economic climate for other Vermont businesses, it is easy to see why VY’s opponents would be worried. Now that Vermont’s defense of that law has been rejected in federal court at great expense to taxpayers, we’re back to square one at the Public Service Board. The other portion of the PSB’s mission statement says: ‘The Board strives to achieve this mission by providing an independent, fair and efficient means of resolving public utility disputes; and by guiding the development of state utility policies and rules for public services to best serve the long-term interest of Vermont and its residents.’When it comes to independence and fairness, the PSB is under the microscope in a big way. The Green Mountain Care Board was supposed to be independent, too. But, this facade of independence was torched by Gov. Peter Shumlin when he demanded that members of the GMCB cancel plans to hire some communication help and they actually did.PSB Chairman Jim Volz and members David Coen and John Burke have the duty to remain objective in the face of shrill, arrogant anti-nuclear zealots who could care less about the practical issues involving energy policy. Just as importantly, there is a great opportunity.This is the opening for our state’s majority of pragmatic, reasonable Vermonters to insist on a practical, affordable plan for our energy future. Realistic Vermonters understand that the threat of global warming far outweighs any perceived threat to safety from nuclear power. Vermonters can demand that this source of inexpensive, virtually carbon-free baseload electricity be kept on-line to serve us rather than out-of-state utilities. They can also demand that Entergy clean up its act and run the plant properly or sell it to a firm that can. Governor Shumlin’s plan to power the state with 90 percent renewable electricity by 2050 ignores the mission of ‘minimum reasonable cost’ and the fact that renewables only produce power intermittently. Vermonters who understand this should say so before they are priced out of existence. Vermont State Auditor Tom Salmon is a Certified Public Accountant and a Certified Fraud Examiner. He lives in St. Johnsbury. Tom Salmon, CPA, CFE Vermont State Auditor January 27, 2012
by Anne Galloway vtdigger.org With hours left before the end of the legislative session, lawmakers’nerves are frayed from lack of sleep, and the formal cadences of the House and Senate sometimes give way to intemperate speech.As any Statehouse maven knows, however, one angry outburst can generate a frenzy in the fishbowl that is the Golden Bubble, and sometimes itâ s hard to separate the emotions that surface in the heat of the moment from substance.Don Turner. VTD/Josh LarkinSuch was the scene Thursday night when House Democratic majority leader Lucy Leriche in a fit of pique called her GOP counterpart House minority leader Don Turner a â terrorist.âLeriche told members of the Democratic caucus that Turner had refused to suspend the rules in order to allow about a dozen bills lawmakers had been working on for the last four months to reach final passage. She accused Turner of holding the bills hostage in exchange for meeting a list of demands regarding GOP legislative priorities.Vermont Press Bureau reporter Peter Hirschfeld was on the scene and quoted Leriche saying, â As far as Iâ m concerned we donâ t negotiate with terrorists.’Later, in a formal statement on the floor of the House, Leriche apologized to lawmakers for getting â carried away.âOn Friday, Leriche said her comments were â unfortunate.’She compared the disagreement with a family fight. â Weâ re talking now and we might be at a place where weâ re moving forward in a productive way,’Leriche said.The catalyst for Lericheâ s moment of chagrin was Turnerâ s insistence that the House Speaker Shap Smith accede to a list of about 10 demands in exchange for the GOP leaderâ s permission to suspend the rules.Under normal House rules, all bills, regardless of where they are in the process of passage, take 24 hours to be sent to the other body. If the usual waiting periods arenâ t suspended in the waning hours of the session, it can cause adjournment to be delayed. The Speaker must defer to the minority party for rule suspension permission.At the beginning of the biennium, in January 2011, Turner sent a letter to the Speaker advising him that the Republican caucus â will not vote to suspend rules on any bill with which we have concerns unless all members have had a full 24 hours to read the bill before itâ s brought up for a vote.âIn practice, Turner has suspended rules on a frequent basis, though he has made it clear that his caucus would need more time on all money bills and any bill that is particularly complicated.Turner reissued the letter to the Speaker two days ago, after warning the Democrats for several weeks that he might not be willing to suspend rules as the session came to an end.â I never guaranteed Iâ d do it,’Turner said.The GOP leader said he was particularly perturbed by Smithâ s decision to pass over Republicans on the gas fracking conference committee. His caucus believes the state should have gone with the House proposal for a three-year moratorium on fracking instead of the ban the Senate wanted and that point of view was not represented by any of the conferees on the committee.Turnerâ s list of demands include: a permanent ban on sales taxes for software accessed from the computing â cloud,’the elimination of a proposal to charge union fees for non-union teachers, workers compensation for volunteer emergency workers in the line of duty (Turner is a volunteer firefighter), special allowances for Beaverwood energy, and an electric ratepayer protection clause.Democrats complain that Turner is suspending rules arbitrarily.Turner said in an interview that he is using rule suspension to push the Democratic majority to give in on policy points he feels the Vermont GOP hasnâ t had a say in.â Itâ s the only leverage I have,’Turner said. â At this point, itâ s a negotiating thing.âSpeaker Smith said he and Turner have had a good relationship. â Iâ ve considered him to be a man of his word,’the Speaker said.Smith said he was disappointed about the recent turn of events: â I believe the rules of the game changed yesterday.âThe tiff between the two parties could have real consequences: About a dozen bills including could languish, many of which simply need to be â messaged’or carried from the House Clerkâ s office to the Secretary of the Senate.Some of the legislation that could be affected includes S. 200, a bill that would require insurance companies to disclose information about claim denials and political contributions, and a bill that would allow family members of service men and women killed in action to obtain gold star plates.There is also an outside chance the disagreement could lead to a delay in adjournment.Smith and Turner are meeting at 3 p.m. on Friday to see if they can settle the dispute. May 4, 2012 vtdigger.org
Governor Peter Shumlin was joined by Senators Patrick Leahy (D-VT) and Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and Representative Peter Welch (D-VT) in announcing that Vermont could receive more than $30 million in additional federal funding for Tropical Storm Irene recovery projects. Shumlin on May 3 asked President Obama to increase the reimbursement rate for the Federal Emergency Management Agencyâ s public assistance program. Leahy, Sanders and Welch wrote to Obama urging the president to grant the stateâ s request.Federal law allows for increased federal participation in disaster funding for â extraordinary’events like Irene.Typically, FEMA covers 75 percent of the cost of repairing or replacing public infrastructure and facilities, such as state buildings and municipal roads, bridges and buildings. The president has authority to increase the federal share to 90 percent in extraordinary circumstances.The higher reimbursement rate likely will yield more than $30 million in additional federal disaster aid for Vermont. The amount includes almost $26 million in additional FEMA public assistance funds, and approximately $4 million in additional hazard mitigation funds for property buyouts and to reduce damages from future flooding. â Given the widespread devastation caused by Tropical Storm Irene, we are very pleased that the president acted quickly and approved a higher reimbursement rate,’the delegation said in a joint statement.â This will significantly reduce the financial burden of recovery efforts that would otherwise fall on Vermonters. We have been working closely with Governor Shumlin and his excellent recovery team to do everything we can to make sure Vermont receives the federal resources we need to rebuild our communities as quickly and successfully as possible,’Leahy, Sanders and Welch added. â Vermonters have done an incredible job rebuilding in the eight months since this devastating storm,’Shumlin said. â This decision by President Obama is another important piece of the funding puzzle.âThe governor thanked the congressional delegation for its support. â I appreciate the delegationâ s commitment to ensuring Vermontâ s emergency assistance needs are heard loud and clear ‘and met ‘in Washington.âVermont Secretary of Administration Jeb Spaulding noted that the additional aid would help ease the burden on state resources that have been budgeted to cover uninsured damages to state-owned facilities, like the Waterbury State Office Complex and the temporary relocation of the Vermont State Hospital.Vermont League of Cities and Towns Executive Director Steven Jeffrey noted the importance of the presidentâ s decision for Vermont towns. â Some towns have spent several times their annual operating budgets repairing damages to local roads and bridges, town halls, libraries, schools, fire departments and water plants,’Jeffrey said. â I cannot overstate how important it is to these towns to have the local share reduced so significantly.âTo read the letter from Shumlin to President Obama, click here.To read the letter from Leahy, Sanders and Welch to President Obama, click here. WASHINGTON, May 16, 2012
Green Mountain Coffee Roasters, Inc, (GMCR) (NASDAQ: GMCR) today announced the relocation of its Massachusetts-based Keurig business unit to an office complex in Burlington, Massachusetts. The newly leased location will provide the increased square footage required to support the company’s expanding innovation efforts and new product development capabilities.”Based on the continued growth of our business and the strategic opportunities we see to pursue innovations in categories adjacent to our current single-serve products, it was essential to find a location that could support our current and anticipated growth,” saidMichelle Stacy, president of GMCR’s Keurig business unit. “This new campus will enable us to consolidate our resources in a single location, allowing for even greater collaboration among our functional teams while, at the same time, giving us the ability to greatly enlarge and improve space dedicated to research and development.”The new campus will be located in the area of 63 South Avenue in Burlington. The relocation from the Company’s three existing Massachusetts facilities in Reading, Wakefield and Woburn is anticipated to take place in phases over the next several years. GMCR currently has 519 employees in Massachusetts.”In addition to enabling the expansion of our research and development capabilities, the design and layout of the new Burlington-based campus will provide an atmosphere that strengthens the underpinnings of the GMCR culture, as well as the Keurig® brand, by fostering closer teamwork and providing for space dedicated to the ongoing training and education of our employees, a critical facet of GMCR’s culture and philosophy,” said Stacy.In addition to its current Massachusetts locations, GMCR has research and development facilities in Waterbury, Vermont and Montreal, Quebec. GMCR also operates production and distribution facilities in Castroville, Calif.; Knoxville, Tenn.; Essex, Waterbury and Williston, Vt.; Sumner, Wash.; Toronto, Ontario; and, Montreal, Quebec and is in the process of beginning production at a new facility in Windsor, Va.For two consecutive years, Keurig has been named one of the Top Places to Work in Massachusetts in the annual employee-based survey from The Boston Globe.About Green Mountain Coffee Roasters, Inc (NASDAQ:GMCR)As a leader in specialty coffee and coffee makers, Green Mountain Coffee Roasters, Inc. (NASDAQ: GMCR), is recognized for its award-winning coffees, innovative Keurig® Single Cup brewing technology, and socially responsible business practices. GMCR supports local and global communities by offsetting 100 percent of its direct greenhouse gas emissions, investing in sustainably-grown coffee, and donating at least five percent of its pre-tax profits to social and environmental projects.GMCR routinely posts information that may be of importance to investors in the Investor Relations section of its website, including news releases and its complete financial statements, as filed with the SEC. The Company encourages investors to consult this section of its website regularly for important information and news. Additionally, by subscribing to the Company’s automatic email news release delivery, individuals can receive news directly from GMCR as it is released. READING, Mass.–(BUSINESS WIRE) 6.19.2012
â ¢ Sam Burr, Eugenie Doyle, and Silas Doyle-Burr$15,000 to Install a thermostatically controlled water flow system to optimize trout and strawberry aquaponic productionThe Last Resort Farm, Bristol 2 from Bennington County:â ¢ Jay Wilson and Cody Hall,$8,000 to Equipment for logging woodlotsRupert â ¢ Ross Conrad$6,000 to Build an un-insulated barn for honey production, beekeeping courses and small scale mushroom growingDancing Bee Gardens, Middlebury â ¢ Adam Hausmann$10,000 for a Walk-in refrigerator and freezerAdam’s Berry Farm, Charlotte â ¢ Robert and Elizabeth Lesnikoski$15,000 for Capital for press building, freezer space and a solar drying facility to increase production of cranberry juice and dried cranberriesVermont Cranberry Company, Fletcher â ¢ Nick Rosato$5,629 for Equipment for wood turning and classesThe Sculpted Tree, Winooski â ¢ Shirley Richardson$10,000 for Market research and tactical marketing plan developmentVermont Chevon, LLC, Danville 1 from Windham County: â ¢ Kelt and Kristina Naylor$15,000 for New equipment and frozen storage capacity to expand product line and increase cost-competivenessSidehill Farm, Brattleboro 2 from Washington County:â ¢ Susan Alexander$15,000 for Bottling and capping equipmentThe Vermont Switchel Company, LLC, Cabot 1 from Orange County:â ¢ Sean Dalton$12,000 to Develop natural Structurally Insulated Panels (SIPs) made with Vermont timber & agricultural resourcesTimberhomes, LLC, Vershire â ¢ George van Vlaanderen$6,103 for Increased pork production and sausage processing infrastructure to both raise more pigs on pasture and increase sausage productionDoes’ Leap, LLC, Bakersfield 3 from Franklin County:â ¢ Alexander Hudak$11,406 for a CSA model where milled wood consumers (woodworkers, carpenters, etc.) could become member investors in the millA.S. Hudak Lumber and Logging, Swanton Governor Peter Shumlin, Agriculture Secretary Chuck Ross, Forest, Parks and Recreation Commissioner Michael Snyder and the Working Lands Enterprise Board today announced the first round of grant recipients from the Enterprise Investment Area of the Working Lands Enterprise Fund, with almost $220,000 awarded to 20 grantees representing sectors across agriculture, forestry and forest products. The awards include funding for a barn for honey production, beekeeping courses and small scale mushroom growing; a kiln to support Northeast Kingdom wood based businesses; freezer space and a solar drying facility to increase production of cranberry juice and dried cranberries; and more. In Vermont, we are committed to supporting and expanding our value-added farm and forest industries, and while these individual grants are relatively small, they can make the difference in helping farmers and those who work our woodlands thrive and expand, Gov. Shumlin said. The Working Lands Enterprise Fund provides for a deeper investment in agriculture and food systems in Vermont, and represents a historic initiative by the State to advance Vermonts forestry and forest Products sector in a way that has never been done before, said Ross. Vermont’s forests contribute to our economy and well-being in so many important ways, said Snyder. When we invest in our working forests and forest products businesses, we strengthen this pillar of our economy and we bolster the character of Vermont. Enterprise Investments are one of three areas of the Working Lands Initiative, with grants ranging from $3,000-$15,000 for new and growing agriculture and/or forestry based enterprises. The Enterprise Investment Area received 191 applications for a total of $2.1 million in requests from forestry, forest products, dairy, meat, berries, tree fruit, tree farms, maple, produce, honey, fish, horses, renewable energy, compost, specialty foods, fiber, hops, land and soil testing, and drainage. The Board will be making decisions on the remaining two investment areas (Grants for Service Providers and Capital & Infrastructure Investment Funds) during their May 21 Board meeting. Strategic planning and fund development are also on the horizon. Recipients in this round, by County: 3 from Addison County:â ¢ Andrew Bojanowski$3,000 for Infrastructure improvements to the current log laying yard to facilitate increased production and efficiencyEddy Farm Shiitake, Middlebury â ¢ Joe Buley$15,000 to Purchase equipment that will boost production capability and efficiency of Joes SoupsScreamin’ Ridge Farm: Joe’s Soups and Joe’s CSA, Montpelier 1 from Orleans County:â ¢ Paul Lisai$15,000 for 200 gallon pasteurizer to quadruple production capacity of milkSweet Rowen Farmstead, LLC, West Glover The Working Lands Enterprise Initiative is administered by the Agency of Agriculture, Food and Markets, in partnership with the Vermont Department of Forests, Parks & Recreation and Vermont Agency of Commerce and Community Development. The initiative is composed of the Working Lands Enterprise Board (WLEB) and is responsible for allocating almost $1 million in grant funds. The Board is made up of public and private sector members involved in agriculture, food systems, forestry, and/or forest products. Information regarding the Working Lands Initiative, including investment areas two and three (Working Lands Service Provider Grants and Capital and Infrastructure Investments), can be found at VermontWorkingLands.com. 1 from Rutland County:â ¢ Patricia Norton$9,900 to Convert the sugarbush to use a high vacuum gravity tubing systemKrueger-Norton Sugarhouse (KNSH), Shrewsbury 2 from Caledonia County:â ¢ Joel Currier$12,000 to Purchase a small kiln to support NEK wood based businessesCurrier Forest Products, Danville â ¢ Steve Holman$10,000 for a Comprehensive marketing plan to increase sales for member businessesGuild of Vermont Furniture Makers, Dorset 4 from Chittenden County:â ¢ Karen Freudenberger$10,868 for a New American custom exempt goat slaughter facilityVermont Goat Collaborative, Colchester â ¢ Bruce Hennessey$15,000 for an Inspected poultry processing facilityMaple Wind Farm, Richmond
Topnotch Resort & Spa,Topnotch Resort and Spa in Stowe will open its doors on June 28 following a multi-million dollar renovation. Anchored in the desire to bring the original structure into the 21st century, the updated Topnotch includes a reimagined arrival experience, modernized design elements and a fresh, new take on the Stowe restaurant scene. Highlights include:· Renovated guestrooms complete with the most up-to-date technology to accommodate each guests every need.· Two highly anticipated restaurants including the casual yet contemporary bar and eatery, The Roost, and Flannel, a modern take on the Topnotch staple, Norma’s. Both venues are perfect for locals and Topnotch guests alike.· A dramatically redesigned lobby complete with 18-foot panel windows and sweeping views of Mt. Mansfield, Topnotch’s luxurious pool and expanses of artfully designed green space.· An unsurpassed indoor/outdoor experience that includes a 70-seat patio, a pergola, outdoor couches, a fire pit, Bocce, and some of the most breathtaking views in Stowe.Topnotch is thrilled to welcome back the Resort’s loyal employees, unveil the breathtaking redesign to the public and showcase all of the things that make northern Vermont so special. Please see a few attached images. I’m happy to schedule a time for you to talk to the Chef or visit the new Topnotch as well. Please also save the date for the Frost & Fire Opening BBQ Event on July 18.
The Vermont Economic Development Authority (VEDA) has approved over $5.2 million in financing for energy, agricultural and commercial development projects throughout Vermont. “The Authority is pleased to be part of the financing packages for these exciting projects, helping to bring them to fruition,” said Jo Bradley, Chief Executive Officer of VEDA. Financing approvals by the Authority include: Commercial Energy Loan Program financing of $1 Million to Barton Solar, LLC (Barton Solar), Barton – The Authority approved a $1 million Commercial Energy Loan to help Barton Solar, LLC finance a new 1.89 MW AC solar power array on Rt. 16 in Barton. The $7.8 million project will be constructed on approximately 24 acres of land that will initially be leased from the current owner. The solar project is expected to produce enough annual renewable energy to supply 432 average Vermont households. Under a 25-year SPEED contract, all power produced by Barton Solar will be sold to the Vermont Electric Power Producers, Inc. (VEPPI), which under State law, allocates the power to all Vermont’s electric utilities. The project system will be connected to the New England Power grid through Vermont Electric Power at an existing three-phase line running along Rt. 16 adjacent to the project property. VEDA is participating with Mascoma Savings Bank to finance the Project. VEDA also approved $1.6 million in financing to Vermont farmers through the Authority’s agricultural loan program, the Vermont Agricultural Credit Corporation (VACC), including $600,000 to Mack’s Meats, Inc. in Grand Isle to partially fund the purchase of the real estate and business assets of the former Champlain Valley Meats, Inc. slaughterhouse. The facility has been inactive since 2009. Mack’s Meats, Inc. will operate.as a full-service slaughterhouse and meat processing facility. The new owners intend to process.beef, swine and a small number of sheep and goats. Initially, the facility will operate as a State-inspected slaughterhouse and processing facility, eventually progressing to a Federally-inspected facility. The new owners intend to serve small and large scale farmers in Vermont, as well as local hobby farmers. Owners also plan to eventually develop a private label line of meats for retail, such as bacon, ham, fresh cuts, aged meats and sausages. VEDA approved $1.92 million in financing for small business projects through its Small Business Loan Program, which assists growing Vermont small businesses that are unable to access adequate sources of conventional financing. Projects approved for financing assistance include: · The Inn at Manchester, Manchester – A $350,000 VEDA loan will help the Inn at Manchester to expand into the wedding and events business. The Freedom Realty, LLC and Freedom Hospitality Corporation own the Inn at Manchester —an 18-room bed and breakfast located in the heart of Manchester Village. Expansion plans call for the construction of a 7,500 square foot event barn on the site. The barn will include three suites located above the kitchen, leaving the event space open to the rafters for a barn feel. The company employs five persons and will add another position within three years. Bank of America is also providing financing for the project. · IBEX Outdoor Clothing, LLC, White River Junction – Financing of $350,000 was approved to augment IBEX’s working capital line of credit with Wells Fargo, enabling the company to better time the purchase of raw materials to coincide with seasonal production cycles. Founded in 1999, IBEX designs, markets, sells and distributes high-quality outdoor clothing, primarily made from New Zealand merino wool. IBEX employs 56 persons, a number expected to grow to 63 within three years of the project. · E and J Realty, LLC (E&J) and Upper Valley Produce, LLC (UVP) have received a $78,000 VEDA loan which will partially fund the purchase of the former Legare’s Farm Market on the Barre-Montpelier Road in Berlin. E&J retails local products eight months out of the year. UVP sources local products and the farm stand allows an outlet for extra product during the farm stand’s summer operational period. Northfield Savings Bank is also providing financing for the project. · A Waterbury consulting firm, Utility Services, Inc., will expand its service offerings with the help of a $50,000 VEDA loan. The company will be hiring an employee who specializes in vegetation management around power lines, using both mapping and analytical processes. The project includes needed computer equipment and working capital. Through the Authority’s Local Development Corporation Program, which provides financing to nonprofit local and regional development corporations to build facilities for lease to identified eligible tenants, or to plan and/or develop industrial parks, VEDA approved $461,400 in financing for projects, among them: · Brattleboro Development Credit Corporation (BDCC), Brattleboro received financing approval for two projects: o $40,000 to help BDCC fund costs related to the fit-up of leased space at the Brattleboro Business Park for Sidehill Farm. In existence since 2001, Sidehill Farm is a producer of high quality hand-prepared jams and fruit toppings distributed throughout the Northeast. The company has most recently been located at BDCC’s Cotton Mill. The larger space at the Business Park will enable Sidehill to purchase and install new processing equipment, expand the company’s line and production to meet demand, increase use of local products, decrease production costs, and increase profitability. Sidehill currently has 4.25 employees, a number expected to grow to 7.75 employees within three years of project; and o $36,400 to help BDCC purchase 3.3 acres of land located adjacent to their Exit One Industrial Park in Brattleboro to help facilitate future expansion of the Park. The land purchase will provide easier access to the top of the property, and a future road will provide a more attractive option for potential buyers of land there. Additionally, VEDA approved: · $196,000 in financing through the Vermont 504 Loan Program; and· $43,872 through the Drinking Water State Revolving Loan Fund.About VEDAThe Vermont Economic Development Authority (VEDA) is Vermont’s statewide economic development finance lender. VEDA was created by the General Assembly in 1974 with a mission “to contribute to the creation and retention of quality jobs in Vermont by providing loans and other financial support to eligible and qualified Vermont industrial, commercial and agricultural enterprises.”Over the years, VEDA has grown and adapted its financing programs to keep pace with an ever-changing economy. VEDA offers a wide range of low-cost lending options for Vermont businesses and farms of all sizes, and the Authority’s lending solutions are customized to each borrower’s individual needs. Whether in the form of direct loans, tax-exempt bond issuance or loan guarantee support, VEDA’s innovative financing programs help ensure that Vermont businesses and farms have the capital they need to grow and succeed. VEDA most often lends in conjunction with banks and other financing partners, helping to stimulate economic development activity in Vermont.Since 1974, VEDA has provided over $2.0 billion in financing assistance to thousands of eligible Vermont entrepreneurs, manufacturers, small businesses, family farms, and agricultural enterprises, helping them to realize their business growth goals, create jobs, and enhance the vitality of Vermont’s economy. For more information about VEDA, visit www.veda.org(link is external) or call 802-828-JOBS. VEDA 4.8.2014
Vermont can do better. Vermonters deserve better. Vermont will do better if we coalesce around the need for economic renewal and share prosperity.Bruce Lisman is a resident of Shelburne and is the founder of Campaign for Vermont. Broadening the definition of manufacturing, provide a broader array of support for those that make things here, and become the state of “efficient manufacturing.” by Bruce Lisman I believe that economic growth and shared prosperity is the best way forward for Vermonters. A dynamic and broad-based economy offers a cure for issues of poverty, hunger, and upward mobility. It can provide the resources to protect and enhance our environment and improve our infrastructure. Vermont can be an economic powerhouse of its own definition.Vermont’s economy is stagnant. The demographics of our state are broadly known and are negative. Those demographics have already impacted our public education system, our state college system, our work force, and the half of our counties experiencing population declines. It isn’t pretty and can get worse unless we do things differently.History doesn’t have to be a guide to the future and in America, solutions often come on the heels of creativity and innovation. That isn’t usually a government’s domain, but it sure can work hard to create conditions that encourage innovation and growth.Campaign for Vermont issued a strategic plan that offers essential building blocks for a renewed economy. It’s comprehensive and takes the long view and requires hard work and human-sized solutions for human-sized problems. This would include: A competent, transparent, and accountable government—one that is in a continual state of improvement. Re-defining the value of our extensive higher education industry and focus on retaining the 43,000 students who annually attend our colleges. Training, improving, and enlarging our workforce – it’s the true lynchpin of shared prosperity. Reimagining the importance of our considerable number of small businesses, and create a better understanding of who they are and how we can truly help them. Bringing coherence, efficiency, simplicity, and funding for economic development agencies. The inclusion of affordability as an essential theme in State governance. With a “platform for growth” in place, there is significantly greater leverage for economic renewal strategies, which would include:. Building a broad-based and lasting coalition in support of a more dynamic economy and shared prosperity Building a calling effort on our largest employers that will illuminate their needs and wants while building strong relationships. Better connecting the links between ideas to patents and patents to revenue and revenue to jobs. Expanding the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) and eliminating the benefit cliffs, and thereby providing true economic resources for working class Vermonters – President’s Obama and Reagan have endorsed this program’s value. Reform of our education system—of quality, governance, and funding. A strategic plan that highlights goals and steps to reach those goals with an accompanying strategic budget that would define the cost of achieving those goals. Budget growth that more closely relates to available resources, making policy decisions more predictable.
$ 8,395,000 $ 450,000 Total: Proposed Allocation Total Administered By Agency 11/9/15 Proposal $ 740,000 $10,400,000 $2,650,000 $1,975,000 LiDAR mapping $8,395,000 $ 200,000 $ 500,000 $ 200,000 $ 225,000 $ 570,000 $ 400,000 Agency of Natural Resources 9/8/15 Proposal $8,325,000 $ 400,000 $ 200,000 Agency of Agriculture, Food and Markets $10,400,000 $ 925,000 Agency of Commerce and Community Development $1,150,000 FY16 ERP: Municipal SW project identification & prioritization FY16 $430,000 $1,465,000 $ 0 Algae bloom in Lake Champlain in August. Photo courtesy Lake Champlain Committee (LCC)Vermont Business Magazine Today the Clean Water Fund Board recommended spending a projected $10.4 million to reduce nutrient pollution in Vermont’s waterways. The funds will be administered by state agencies in 2016 and 2017, once the legislature approves the plan next session. Nutrient pollution carried in runoff can fuel excessive plant and algae growth in Vermont’s waters, such as blue green algae blooms in Lake Champlain.“Clean water has been a top priority of the Shumlin administration for the last five years,” said Agency of Administration Secretary Justin Johnson. “I am pleased that the resources are now allocated to expand important clean water work.”Recommendation by Administering Agency $ 410,000 $900,000 FED: WWTF revolving loan funds $ 470,000 Summary of Adjustment to the Proposed Allocations — ERP: partner support in technical, outreach assistance $ 395,000 $4,955,000 $ 450,000 ERP: NR — Flood resilience, stream channel stability, forestry water quality projects $5,855,000 $ 840,000 $ 400,000 $ 885,000 $ 100,000 $1,010,000 $ 500,000 $ 200,000 $ 600,000 Municipal gravel roads: inventory, planning, implementation $ 485,000 $ 485,000 FY17 Vermont Transportation Agency Total Need $ 500,000 $ 500,000 $ 925,000 $ 500,000 $ 0 $ 450,000 FY16 Farm incentives/USDA match possible FY17 ERP: Advanced monitoring, partner organizations, LaRosa Lab $ 450,000 $2,005,000 $675,000 AAFM oversight & compliance $2,005,000 — Farm capital improvements/USDA match ERP: Municipal Capital Equipment Assistance ERP: Municipal stormwater control implementation $ 885,000 $ 600,000 Municipal paved roads: inventory, planning, implementation FY17 $430,000 ERP: Technical Assistance in field based practices (Agronomy) $ 895,000 Total by Year $ 100,000 $1,465,000 $ 225,000 $2,075,000 $1,150,000 $ 430,000 10,400,000Vermont Clean Water Fund Board includes the Agency of Administration, Agency of Agriculture, Food and Markets, Agency of Commerce and Community Development, Agency of Natural Resources, and Agency of Transportation. The Clean Water Fund Board was created by Act 64, also known as the Vermont Clean Water Act, which was passed by the legislature during the 2015 session and signed by Governor Shumlin on June 16, 2015. As stipulated in the new law, the Clean Water Fund Board develops on an annual basis a proposal for investing revenues from the Clean Water Fund in programs that will make a significant contribution towards improving Vermont’s water quality.Over the past few decades, water pollution from runoff and erosion has increased in significance in Vermont and nationwide, and is now a critical concern. The signing of clean water legislation, Act 64 – the Vermont Clean Water Act, in June 2015 by Governor Shumlin signified a growing public recognition of the state’s water quality problems.“We know that cleaning up the lake will take time and will require the participation of all Vermonters. The clean water fund money is being deployed carefully to help jumpstart that work,” said Agency of Natural Resources Secretary Deb Markowitz.The Vermont Clean Water Act (Act 64) created the Clean Water Fund, a dedicated source of clean water funding, from an increase in the property transfer tax. These funds will be used to target priority activities that restore or protect clean water. The Clean Water Fund Board directs the fund’s use and is comprised of the secretaries of Administration; Agriculture, Food and Markets; Commerce and Community Development; Natural Resources; and Transportation.Spending recommendations for the Fund’s first two years include (partial list):· $2,140,000 for municipal stormwater support;· $1,465,000 for municipal road inventories and improvements;· $985,000 for grassroots partner support to aid municipalities and farmers;· $1,750,000 for direct grants to farmers;· $900,000 for compliance and enforcement of water quality standards on farms by the Agency of Agriculture; and· $1,150,000 for river channel and floodplain restoration activities to reduce soil erosion and enhance flood resiliency.Chris Cole, Secretary of the Agency of Transportation noted that, “Support from the Clean Water Fund will help cities and towns conduct inventories of their roads to identify water quality problem areas. Corrective actions they then implement will make great strides to keep our streams, rivers, and lakes clean.”Vermont’s farmers will also be working to put management practices in place to reduce runoff. These investments are the most cost-effective investments that can be made to reduce nutrient pollution, like excessive phosphorus. “These funds will provide farms, of all sizes, with the resources needed to implement best management practices, many of which provide benefits to the farms, such as planting cover crops and implementing conservation tillage practices,” noted Chuck Ross, Secretary of the Agency of Agriculture, Food, and Markets. “Investing in these practices will benefit the environment for years to come.”Agency of Commerce and Community Development Secretary Pat Moulton was also pleased with the Clean Water Fund Board’s vote. “Vermont’s economy is directly linked to clean water and a clean environment,” she noted. “These additional resources provide much-needed support to our municipalities, farmers and partners to get the job done.”For a copy of the recommended Clean Water Fund spending proposal visit: http://cleanwater.vermont.gov/(link is external).
Vermont Business Magazine The Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food & Markets (VAAFM) will hold three workshops on Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) final rules on March 31 in Montpelier, April 4 in Burlington, and April 5 in Rutland. These workshops will provide an overview of the FSMA Produce Safety Rule, which affects farms that grow, harvest, pack or hold fresh produce. The April 4 workshop, co-hosted by the Vermont Department of Health, will also cover the FSMA Preventive Controls for Human Food rule, which affects food processors.VAAFM has also launched a new online decision tree tool to help farmers determine whether a farm is subject to the Produce Safety Rule. The tool may be accessed at https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/vtfsma(link is external) or taken over the phone by calling (802) 522-7811.The FSMA Produce Safety Rule will impact farms that grow, harvest, pack or hold fresh produce for human consumption and that have annual produce sales of greater than $25,000. The rule was finalized in November 2015 and became effective on January 26, 2016. VAAFM estimates that at least 150 Vermont farms will be fully covered under the rule and will need to meet all of the rule’s requirements. An additional 400 farms are likely to be eligible for a “qualified exemption” under the Produce Safety Rule, which subjects them to modified requirements including recordkeeping and labeling.VAAFM has worked closely with the FDA, the National Association of State Departments of Agriculture, UVM Extension, and the Vermont Vegetable & Berry Growers Association, among other key partners, to conduct FSMA outreach, education, provide technical assistance, and develop an implementation plan that is feasible for local farms.Workshop dates and times are listed below:FSMA Produce Safety Rule & Program Development WorkshopMarch 31, 2016 | 2:00–4:00 PMPavilion Auditorium | 109 State Street, MontpelierFSMA Preventive Controls & Produce Safety Rule Workshop*Co-hosted by the Vermont Department of Health*April 4, 2016 | 2:00–4:00 PMVermont Department of Health | 108 Cherry Street, BurlingtonFSMA Produce Safety Rule & Program Development WorkshopApril 5, 2016 | 5:30–7:30 pmRutland Free Library | 10 Court Street, RutlandFor more information about FSMA and produce safety at the Vermont Agency of Agriculture, visit http://agriculture.vermont.gov/food_safety_consumer_protection/fsma(link is external) and http://agriculture.vermont.gov/food_safety_consumer_protection/produce_safety(link is external)