Average gasoline prices continue to fall in Vermont and across the nation. According to vermontgasprices.com, average prices in Vermont this week are $3.549 per gallon, down from $3.569 a week ago, $3.699 a month ago and $3.910 a year ago. The national average this week is $3.374 and was $3.739 a year ago. In Vermont, the lowest gasoline prices are in Rutland ($3.35) and the highest are in Montpelier ($3.73).GasBuddy, a national rating service, has assembled several gasoline price facts:1. As of October 15, the US average has had a streak of 70 consecutive days where the price was lower than the same day last year. On August 6, 2013, the US average of $3.628 gal was the last time the country saw a price higher than last year on the same date. (On August 6, 2012, the average was $3.619 gal.)2. Less than 1% of the country is over $4.00 gal; last year at this time, 15% of the United States saw prices over $4.00 gal.3. Across the country, the average difference between the highest 1% of stations ($4.140 gal) and the lowest 1% of stations ($2.944 gal) is only $1.196 gal, a smaller differential than last week ($1.256 gal,) last month ($1.241 gal,) and last year ($1.508 gal.)4. There are six states with over 1% of stations reporting gas stations with prices over $4.00 gal: Connecticut (1.2%,) New York (1.3%,) Nevada (1.4%,) California (4.32%,) Alaska (24.1%,) and Hawaii (95.1%.) Alaska and Hawaii both have nearly 2% of stations over $4.50 gal. Last year, there were only four states that reported no stations over $4.00 gal: Delaware, Mississippi, Tennessee, and Indiana.5. There are three states where the most common price is under $3.00 gal: Missouri, Nebraska, and Oklahoma, all at $2.999 gal. (Hawaii is the only state with a most common price over $4.00 gal at $4.059 gal.) Last year, there weren’t any states with a most common price under $3.00 gal.6. Not surprisingly, Hawaii’s highest 1% of stations is averaging the highest price at $5.112 gal. This is also the only state where the highest 1% is over $5.00 gal. Meanwhile, Oklahoma has the lowest 1% of stations averaging the least expensive price, at $2.871 gal.7. At 42%, Missouri has the most stations under $3.00 gal; last week, only 26% of the stations in the state could say the same. Oklahoma has the second most stations reporting prices that low, with 24% of them under $3.00 gal.Source: GasBuddy.com
by Laura Krantz vtdigger.orgBrattleboro’s opiate treatment center is the latest acquisition in a nationwide methadone clinic empire being assembled by a holding of private equity giant Bain Capital.CRC Health Group, owned by the Boston-based firm founded by 2012 GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney, has purchased Habit OPCO, the East Coast company that runs the Brattleboro methadone clinic and another in West Lebanon, N.H.CRC on February 28 purchased all 22 Habit OPCO facilities, in Vermont, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania and New Jersey for $58 million, said Jonathan Ciampi, CRC vice president of marketing and business development.Bain Capital, which Romney co-founded in 1984 and where he subsequently made his fortune, acquired CRC in 2006, according to Bain’s website.CRC is a for-profit company and calls itself the nation’s largest provider of addiction treatment services. The Cupertino, Calif., based company owns 154 treatment facilities across the country and sees 30,000 patients a day, its website says.CRC also operates eating disorder programs, boarding schools and wilderness camps.CRC founder Barry Karlin is also the chairman and CEO of Prospira PainCare, a chain of pain management clinics across the country.A Habit OPCO official Monday said the acquisition will not affect treatment at the hub, one of five methadone clinics in Vermont.“Everything operates as-is,” said Tracey Nicolosi, director of clinical services for Habit OPCO.Nicolosi said the purchase was simply an acquisition of Habit OPCO stock.Ciampi, in a statement emailed through a CRC spokeswoman, said, “we are very pleased with their operations and focus on clients.”The Brattleboro treatment center will be obligated to fulfill any contracts or grants of Habit OPCO, said Barbara Cimaglio, deputy commissioner for alcohol and drug abuse programs at the Vermont Department of Health.“We do not expect any change in services,” Cimaglio said Monday in an email.The expectations of for-profit companies are the same as for nonprofits, Cimaglio said, and the rates for all the hubs are the same.The Brattleboro center as of March is the only hub without a wait list, according to the Vermont Department of Health. It serves 505 clients– 106 on buprenorphine and 399 who receive methadone.The Habit OPCO hub in Brattleboro collaborates with the Brattleboro Retreat, a nonprofit treatment center not owned by CRC.Since founding CRC in 1995, CRC has bought 82 chemical dependency treatment facilities in 22 states that employ more than 2,000 staff, according to CRC’s website.Karlin also founded eGetgoing, an online alcohol and drug treatment program. The website for eGetgoing Monday appeared defunct.A Bloomberg news report from 2013 said a CRC clinic was chronically understaffed and dispensed take-home methadone in doses as large as a 30-day supply.A 2012 report by Salon found allegations of abuse and neglect in at least 10 CRC residential drug and teen care facilities across the country. Ex-staffers told Salon the company valued money-making over client safety.Two months after the Salon report, R. Andrew Eckert, CEO of CRC, released a statement in response to what he called “one-sided” and “misinformed” media reports about CRC.“Having for-profit, investor-owned treatment centers is a positive thing for our country. Unlike many non-profits or single-owned facilities, we have the geographic breadth and financial stability that enables us to continue to provide these necessary services, even in challenging economic times,” Eckert’s statement said.Bain Capital holds about $70 billion in assets under management, according to its website. Among its other health care investments are Hospital Corporation of America and Lake Region Medical.There are five addiction treatment hubs in Vermont, at seven locations. Hubs are regional centers that provide specialty treatment to addicts, including medication and access to counseling and other basic and medical services.The other hubs are Rutland, Berlin, Burlington, Newport and St. Johnsbury.The Newport, St. Johnsbury and Berlin hubs are run by another national for-profit company, BAART, a San Francisco-based company that also runs clinics in California, North Carolina, Arizona and Nebraska.At the Berlin hub, BAART collaborates with non-profit Central Vermont Substance Abuse Services.Between 70 percent and 85 percent of clients who use treatment hubs receive Medicaid, government-subsidized insurance for low-income people. Medicaid is billed a bundled rate of approximately $500 per month per patient.One issue hub treatment centers face is clients who are uninsured or lose their insurance. There is money in the Habit OPCO’s grant to pay for uninsured clients, Cimaglio said. However, she said, “no organization is mandated to serve everyone who comes to the clinic.”Green Mountain Care Board member Cornelius Hogan at a meeting last week questioned Cimaglio about the practice of contracting with for-profit treatment centers headquartered on the opposite coast.“It has less to do with the distance,” Cimaglio said. “I mean, quite frankly we were looking to bring in the provider who delivered what we needed to be delivered.”The state does not operate any of its own services, she said. It solicits bids and contracts with providers.Running a methadone clinic is complicated and expensive. It comes with strict federal requirements to keep the medicine secure and documented.It was difficult to get bids for the methadone clinics in Vermont, Cimaglio said.“I think it also indicates that there’s a real need for this type of specialty care and there aren’t a lot of providers that are saying we want to do this,” Cimaglio said.Beth Tanzman, assistant director of Vermont Blueprint for Health Monday said there were three bidders for four hubs when the state issued a request for proposals in 2012, partly because the state asked a lot of bidders.“It was a high bar,” she said.
by Morgan True vtdigger.org(link is external) The state has spent two and a half years and $66 million on Vermont Health Connect, the mandatory state health care exchange system.But despite huge state and federal investments in the exchange website and a call center to handle interactions with the public, the system still has significant problems.Lawmakers on the House Health Care Committee heard testimony Friday from Shumlin administration officials who attempted to answer two questions: What problems remained, and what lessons the state can take forward before the Shumlin administration launches two, even larger IT projects and moves toward a universal health care system over the next several years.The lesson period on Friday, however, was brief, and the extent to which the Shumlin administration is addressing ongoing problems with the exchange was only partially explored.Rep. Mike Fisher, D-Lincoln, chair of House Health Care, put three Shumlin administration officials just 15 to 20 minutes each in the hot seat, and the question-and-answer period with lawmakers was abbreviated. In all, Fisher gave the hearing, which was supposed to be a recapitulation of a report from the consultant BerryDunn that was critical of the Shumlin administration’s handling of the exchange, less than an hour.The state’s website, which was developed by the international conglomerate CGI, has had repeated failures since it was launched in October 2013. It is still not known when CGI will make it possible for businesses to sign up employees through the online exchange.Related storySpecial report: What went wrong with Vermont’s health care exchange and why(link is external)As of last week, people are still unable to alter their coverage online to reflect changes such as a boost in income or a new dependent. There are 8,000 people waiting to make such changes. That group includes some who qualified for Medicaid.“There is some level at which it continues to be a tripartisan embarrassment,” said Rep. Chris Pearson, P-Burlington, after listening to Friday’s testimony. “Here we are in mid-April and core functionality is not working.”For those Vermonters, the experience with the exchange has likely been unpleasant. To fix any errors in their application or coverage, they must go through Vermont Health Connect’s call center, where wait times reached as high as 50 minutes in December.Though the wait times have dropped precipitously, the call center is still receiving more than 2,000 calls per day post-open enrollment.Mark Larson, commissioner of the Department of Vermont Health Access, told lawmakers he did not have specific information on how quickly the manual changes were being made by department employees.Mark Larson, commissioner of the Department of Vermont Health Access. VTDigger photo“I would love to come back with more specific information, because there’s multiple steps to the process,” Larson said, “But at this point we are not seeing the pace we’d like to see.”Larson told lawmakers CGI won’t have the “change of circumstance” functionality in place for another two months.The problems that have plagued Vermont Health Connect throughout the year were initially expected to be fleeting.In the late summer last year, as the Oct. 1, 2013, federal launch date loomed, the Vermont Health Connect project management team knew they were well behind schedule. With an immovable deadline, they decided to cut back on the functionality of the website.Though many design elements and technical glitches were ironed out in the first weeks and months after the launch, the state chose to delay larger components of the project, such as the acceptance of online payments, change of circumstance requests and the ability for small businesses to accept coverage requests from employees.Meanwhile, thousands of Vermonters attempted to use the system, and many, in frustration, went to navigators for help.Online payments are now an option, but the system for processing payments is still slow. Vermont Health Connect is currently processing 10 percent, or roughly 3,000, of the first month premium payments received in January.Vermont’s contract with CGI, the tech-firm building the website, didn’t spell out how to manage the completion of those elements, and months passed as Miller and others worked behind the scenes to negotiate an amended contract that formalizes when the remaining work must be completed.The state has paid CGI $51 million of the $84 million in its contract. The amendment didn’t change the total dollar amount the firm will receive.The Health Care committee spent little time Friday discussing the contents of an outside consultant’s report on the pitfalls of the Vermont Health Connect in the hour of testimony they heard.No one brought up BerryDunn’s indictment of the political culture within the Vermont Health Connect project team that the report said “does not encourage questioning, conflict, or engaged problem solving, and inexperienced leadership does not know when to raise issues above them.”Secretary of Commerce & Community Development Lawrence Miller. File photo by Hilary Niles/VTDiggerMiller said the report’s findings were consistent with his experience since arriving in January to help complete the project.He has focused on the need for better project governance and oversight. IT implementation practices must be improved as the state begins to build the IT infrastructure that will underpin a universal health care system, Miller said.Vermont is also about to start building a new Medicaid reimbursement system and a streamlined eligibility program for the Agency of Human Services. Together, the two systems are expected to cost more than $200 million.“Those are significant projects that will extend core functionality over the next couple years,” Miller said.The Agency of Human Services project management office is gearing up to oversee those projects, and a working group is examining BerryDunn’s report on Vermont Health Connect, Miller said.The state is looking to fill 17 limited service positions for work on the projects. Miller said the state had hoped to “lift and drop” experienced personnel from Vermont Health Connect into the new positions, but ongoing work on the exchange hasn’t allowed that to happen.Vermont Health Connect itself has 10 unfilled positions in an office of 50 current employees.“We are carrying those projects as high risk projects simply because of timing and resources,” Miller said.The key to avoiding the missteps of Vermont Health Connect will be making sure the state has the right personnel in place and managing the project’s scope, he said.Managing the project’s scope will mean separating needs from wants, Miller said, and making sure the people who help to formulate health care policy understand the limitations of the technology systems being built.VERMONT HEALTH CONNECT BY THE NUMBERSMore than 6,000 of the 28,000 Vermonters who are paying commercial premiums through Vermont Health Connect are having some sort of issue with their coverage related to the website’s inadequacies.More than half of the Vermonters who purchased commercial insurance through the exchange have qualified for a subsidy – though some may struggle to afford their coverage.(link is external)About 87,000 people have enrolled in coverage offered through Vermont Health Connect – including the new Medicaid enrollees. Nearly 40 percent are employees of small businesses who were enrolled in insurance plans directly by insurers. The Shumlin administration announced direct enrollment last fall as part of an ongoing contingency plan when it became clear small businesses would not be able to use the website to enroll workers in Vermont Health Connect.Vermont has transitioned all but 2,000 of the 51,000 people formerly on VHAP and Catamount onto Medicaid or subsidized commercial insurance, according to figures presented to lawmakers by the Department of Vermont Health Access.The remaining 2,000 found coverage elsewhere, are still working to sign up or will be joining the ranks of the uninsured.In addition, there are roughly 23,000 Vermonters who qualified for Medicaid as a result of the federal expansion of that program.There is no way to tell how many of Vermont’s roughly 40,000 uninsured are now covered, or if their ranks have grown. The Shumlin administration didn’t require enrollees in Vermont Health Connect to check off a box declaring whether they were insured or uninsured.Editor’s note: Anne Galloway contributed to this report.
Several Vermont companies were recently recognized for their strong commitment to effective workplace safety at the annual Vermont Workplace Safety Conference. The Governor’s Award for Outstanding Workplace Safety, presented by Steve Monahan, Vermont Department of Labor’s Director of Workers’ Compensation and Safety, was awarded to Ben and Jerry’s of St Albans for Large Business category, Commonwealth Dairy of Brattleboro for Medium Business category, Washington Electric Cooperative of East Montpelier for Small Business category, to Town of Bennington for the Municipality category, and to Engelberth Construction of Colchester for the Construction category.The Governor’s Award for Outstanding Workplace Safety is the highest honor given by the State of Vermont to recognize an employer’s commitment to excellence in workplace safety and health policy and practice.The Governor’s Award highlights the benefits of providing a safe workplace for both the employer and its workforce. “Job safety is one of the most important workplace issues today, and can significant positive impact on worker comp and operational costs and employee morale. These awards recognize specific companies that are committed to effective workplace safety,” said Director Steve Monahan.Established twelve years ago, the awards are sponsored by Governor Peter Shumlin, the Vermont Department of Labor, the Vermont Safety & Health Council, and the Vermont Small Business Development Center.Vermont Small Business Development Center. 5.29.2014
The annual open enrollment period for State employees to choose among medical plans begins November 1. Human Resources Commissioner Maribeth Spellman announced today that the plans will see a 17.9 percent premium increase in 2015 for active State employees and non-Medicare retirees, while Medicare retirees will see a decrease or very small increase (-2.3 percent or +1.0 percent) depending on their plan.The increase for active employees is driven primarily by significantly greater than expected high cost claims experience beginning in the 3rd quarter of 2013, which correlates with increased inpatient utilization, including hospital admissions and days spent in the hospital.Spellman noted that the spike in high cost claims began prior to Blue Cross Blue Shield of Vermont (BCBSVT) taking over as administrator of the state’s medical plans. In 2014, the State selected BCBSVT to administer the medical plans, and Express Scripts and Northeast Delta Dental for its pharmacy and dental coverage. Although still higher than projections, the claims experience in recent quarters is not as high as the 3rd quarter spike of 2013.The Commissioner said that over the past two years, state employees have seen no rate increases and have had seven premium holidays worth $1,183 for a family in the most popular health plan. With the anticipated increase in premium rates for 2015, active state employee medical plans will be in line with the increases seen over the same 3 year period of time in comparable public employee plans, such as the Vermont teacher medical plans.Retiree rates are benefitting from pharmacy discounts offered through the Employer Group Waiver Plan (EGWP), the Commissioner said, which allows the State to utilize federal subsidies in providing pharmacy services. This new feature for 2015 was the result of collaboration between the State and employee groups.The State employee plan is self-insured and this rate increase is necessary to offset plan’s deficit and maintain solid financial footing.While Commissioner Spellman acknowledged that the premium increase for active employees is not welcome news, she appreciated the willingness of VSEA and VTA leadership to meet with her team recently to discuss the reasons for the increase and the wisdom of addressing the plan deficit in the near term. She also noted that other aspects of the state employee plan have performed as expected, including new wellness programs. BCBSVT has been a strong partner in employee wellness initiatives, providing the State with $250,000 for expenditure on wellness initiatives. With these resources the State has developed a comprehensive Wellness Program – some highlights:So far this year, 2,958 employees have completed the personal health assessment, providing valuable insight into the actual health and mental health issues impacting employees and the guidance to tailor Wellness Program initiatives to tackle those issues;1,254 employees and retirees have received in person biometric screenings (blood pressure, blood sugar and cholesterol) to date.Source: State of Vermont 10.20.2014
39NORTH CAROLINA5.7 16VIRGINIA4.2 43ARIZONA6.0 29CONNECTICUT5.1 26ARKANSAS5.0 47ALASKA6.4 4HAWAII3.2 4NEW HAMPSHIRE3.2 6IOWA3.4 7UTAH3.5 16OKLAHOMA4.2 43ALABAMA6.0 10VERMONT3.7 21TEXAS4.6 12KANSAS4.0 34NEW JERSEY5.3 7MINNESOTA3.5 3SOUTH DAKOTA3.0 14WYOMING4.1 39CALIFORNIA5.7 16WISCONSIN4.2 39OREGON5.7 39ILLINOIS5.7 48WEST VIRGINIA6.5 22MASSACHUSETTS4.7 32RHODE ISLAND5.2 by Timothy McQuiston Vermont Business Magazine The Vermont Department of Labor announced today that for the third consecutive month the seasonally-adjusted statewide unemployment rate for November was 3.7 percent. This represents no change from the revised October rate (3.7 percent). The national average in November was unchanged at 5.0 percent. Vermont’s unemployment rate is 10th lowest in the country and second lowest in the East behind New Hampshire (tied for 4th at 3.2 percent). Vermont’s ranking, which was second lowest in the US in April 2014, has slipped over the last several months relative to other low-rate states. North Dakota once again was lowest at 2.7 percent and New Mexico was highest at 6.8 percent (see full list below).The seasonally-adjusted Vermont data for November show the Vermont civilian labor force decreased by 1,100 from the prior month estimate. The number of employed decreased by 1,000 and the number of unemployed decreased by 100. None of these over-the-month changes were statistically significant in the seasonally-adjusted series.November represents the third consecutive month with a seasonally-adjusted statewide unemployment rate at 3.7 percent. The unemployment rate this time last year was 4.2 percent, as the labor force fell by 4,700, the number of employed fell by 2,850 and the unemployed fell by 1,850.“Overall, we continue to see a significant number of job opportunities across nearly all employment sectors in Vermont, and a continued decline in the number of unemployed Vermonters over the last year (-12.7%). The Labor Department is working with training and education providers to help develop more short-term training programs designed to match the job-skills needed for current and predicted vacancies. Visit a local Vermont Department of Labor Career Resource Center to learn about Vermont employers with openings and about the significant number of education and training opportunities available,” said Labor Commissioner Annie Noonan.The November unemployment rates for Vermont’s 17 labor market areas ranged from 2.7 percent in Burlington-South Burlington to 5.3 percent in Derby (note: local labor market area unemployment rates are not seasonally-adjusted). For comparison, the November unadjusted unemployment rate for Vermont was 3.5 percent which reflects an increase of three-tenths of a percentage point from the revised unadjusted October level and a decrease of four-tenths of a percentage point from a year ago.Not-Seasonally-Adjusted The preliminary ‘not-seasonally-adjusted’ jobs estimates for November show an increase of 1,000 jobs when compared to the revised October numbers. There was an increase of 200 jobs between the preliminary and the revised October estimates due to the inclusion of more data. The monthly increase seen in the November numbers was attributable to seasonal increases related to Accommodations. The broader economic trends can be detected by focusing on the over-the-year changes in this data series. As detailed in the preliminary ‘not-seasonally-adjusted’ November data, Total Private industries have increased by 2,700 jobs (1.1 percent) and Government employment has increased by 1,300 jobs (2.2 percent) in the past year.Seasonally-Adjusted The seasonally-adjusted data for November reports an increase of 2,900 jobs from the revised October data. As with the ‘not-seasonally-adjusted’ data, this over-the-month change is from the revised October numbers which experienced a 200 job increase from the preliminary estimates. The seasonally-adjusted over-the-month changes in November were varied at the sectorial level. Those with a notable percent increase include: Leisure & Hospitality (+2,400 jobs or +6.7%), Construction (+500 jobs or +3.5%), and Other Services (+200 jobs or +1.9%). Industries with a notable percent decrease include: State Government (-200 jobs or -1.0%), Financial Activities (-100 jobs or -0.8%) and Professional & Business Services (-200 jobs or -0.7%).NOTE: Employment (nonfarm payroll) – A count of all persons who worked full- or part-time or received pay from a nonagricultural employer for any part of the pay period which included the 12th of the month. Because this count comes from a survey of employers, persons who work for two different companies would be counted twice. Therefore, nonfarm payroll employment is really a count of the number of jobs, rather than the number of persons employed. Therefore differing from the Table 1 Labor Force employment numbers. 34WASHINGTON5.3 43MISSISSIPPI6.0 9COLORADO3.6 11IDAHO3.9 22MISSOURI4.7 19INDIANA4.4 2NEBRASKA2.9 14MAINE4.1 46LOUISIANA6.3 50DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA6.6 32MARYLAND5.2 48NEVADA6.5 Unemployment Rates for StatesMonthly RankingsSeasonally AdjustedNov. 2015p 20OHIO4.5 29MICHIGAN5.1 36SOUTH CAROLINA5.5 12MONTANA4.0 24NEW YORK4.8 26PENNSYLVANIA5.0 37TENNESSEE5.6 29DELAWARE5.1 26FLORIDA5.0 1NORTH DAKOTA2.7 RankStateRate 25KENTUCKY4.9 37GEORGIA5.6 51NEW MEXICO6.8 p = preliminary.NOTE: Rates shown are a percentage of the labor force. Data refer to place of residence. Estimates for the current month are subject to revision the following month.Last Modified Date: December 18, 2015
Vermont Business Magazine During the most recent quarter, the Vermont Economic Development Authority (VEDA) approved over $17.4 million in financing for economic and agricultural development projects throughout Vermont totaling $30.2 million. Projects include: $1.5 million to Community Health Services of Lamoille Valley (CHSLV) in Morrisville; $240,000 as partial financing to Flex-A-Seal, Inc in Essex Junction; $371,000 to Cynosure, Inc, a non-profit affiliate of Greater Burlington Industrial Corporation (GBIC); $78,253 to Springfield Regional Development Corporation (SRDC); $808,042 to VRS Solar, LLC; $150,000 to Hunter and Hand Solar, LLC; $1.6 million to purchase The Stone Hill Inn in Stowe; $1 million to support the 40-year old Village Cannery of Vermont; $50,000 in working capital to Mamava, Inc in Burlington; $1.25 million to purchase and renovation of Highland Lodge in Greensboro; $250,000 for J Lev, Inc, Shelburne; and $350,000 to New England Center for Circus Arts (NECCA), Inc in Brattleboro.”VEDA is pleased to provide financing that will help manufacturing, agricultural and small business projects move forward with their growth plans,” said Jo Bradley, the Authority’s CEO. “In addition, a community health center will expand, and several renewable energy and start-up initiatives will also receive VEDA financing.”Projects approved by VEDA for financing assistance include:$1.5 million to Community Health Services of Lamoille Valley (CHSLV) in Morrisville as partial financing for a $6.5 million project to construct a new state-of-the-art medical facility adjacent to the community health organization’s existing building. The new structure will house Appleseed Pediatrics, and other support services including Behavioral Health, case management and telehealth. Union Bank is also providing financing for the project, which will help CHSLV greatly expand and better meet the needs of the community. CHSLV expects to increase employment within three years from 132 to 138 positions; and$240,000 as partial financing to Flex-A-Seal, Inc. in Essex Junction to purchase new production equipment and fit up a new leased facility which will provide greater growth capacity for the company. People’s United Bank is also providing financing for the $600,000 expansion project. Established in 1983, Flex-A-Seal produces many types of sealing products used in industries including hydrocarbon processing, chemical and food processing, potable water, and drug manufacturing. Flex-A-Seal employs 101 persons, a number expected to grow within three years to 116.Through VEDA’s Local Development Corporation Loan 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:$371,000 to Cynosure, Inc., a non-profit affiliate of Greater Burlington Industrial Corporation (GBIC), for the purchase and installation of new HVAC systems in its building in the Catamount Industrial Park in Milton. The building is leased to Champlain Valley Dispensary, Inc., a State-licensed non-profit distributor of medical cannabis since June of 2013. The renovation will allow the company to build out and increase its production space. Within three years, Champlain Valley Dispensary expects to increase employment from 30 to 49 positions; and$78,253 to Springfield Regional Development Corporation (SRDC) for capital improvements to the Robert S. Jones Center in Springfield that will make the property safer and more attractive to existing and potential future tenants. The project will include construction of ADA accessibility features, sidewalk and paving improvements, exterior lighting upgrades, and a new entry roof.Agricultural loans totaling over $8.2 million also were approved through the Authority’s agricultural loan program, the Vermont Agricultural Credit Corporation (VACC), which provides financing for Vermont farmers, agricultural facilities and forest product businesses.Close to $1.6 million in Energy Financing was approved for several commercial and agricultural solar energy installation projects which together will produce enough renewable electricity to power the equivalent of 237 average households, and reduce CO2 emissions by 948 tons each year. Approved financings include:$808,042 to VRS Solar, LLC to partially fund construction of a 420 kW net metered solar array in Shoreham; and$150,000 to Hunter and Hand Solar, LLC to partially refund costs associated with development of a net metered 106.7 kW solar array on the roof of the Fisher School in Arlington. Loans totaling over $1.3 million were approved through the Authority’s Small Business Loan Program, which assists growing Vermont small businesses that are unable to access adequate sources of conventional financing. Approved loans include:$500,000 as partial financing for the $1.6 million purchase The Stone Hill Inn in Stowe. Stone Hill Inn is a 10-room Bed & Breakfast located on 9 acres on the Mountain Road. Union Bank is also providing financing for the project;$300,000 in working capital as part of a $1 million project to support the 40-year old Village Cannery of Vermont’s fast-growing organic apple cider vinegar business in Barre. Ledyard Bank is also providing financing for the growth project. Within three years, Village Cannery hopes to increase employment from 20 to 25 jobs; and$50,000 in working capital to Mamava, Inc. in Burlington, designer and developer of the first and only free-standing kiosk-type lactation suites for nursing mothers on the go. Mamava has installed approximately 100 of these units in public spaces throughout the U.S. such as airports, arenas/stadiums, colleges, convention centers, government buildings, hospitals and malls. The working capital project will help the business grow employment within three years from five to ten jobs.Approved financings through VEDA’s Vermont 504 Loan Program which, with SBA’s approval, makes SBA 504 loans to eligible and qualified borrowers, include:$380,000 as partial financing for the $1.25 million purchase and renovation of Highland Lodge in Greensboro. Operating since 1926, the Highland Lodge is a 10-room Bed & Breakfast with a 60-seat restaurant and commercial kitchen, owner’s quarters and ten cabins located on136 acres of land on Caspian Lake. Community National Bank is also providing financing for the project. Through VEDA’s Entrepreneurial Loan Program, which provides financing to meet the working capital and capital-asset financing needs of Vermont-based businesses that may not have access to conventional means of financing, the Authority approved financing for:J Lev, Inc., Shelburne – Doing business as J Skis, this alpine ski designer and online retailer is an early-stage company. With the help of $250,000 in VEDA financing, J Skis was able to produce inventory for the 2016-2017 ski season featuring new twin tip skis that the business sells exclusively online direct to consumers at Jskis.com.VEDA also approved $700,000 in financing through the Windham County Economic Development Program, for which VEDA acts as the administrative partner to provide loans for eligible projects that stimulate job creation and strengthen the economic development infrastructure of Windham County. Loans approved are:$350,000 to New England Center for Circus Arts (NECCA), Inc. in Brattleboro as part of a $2.5 million project to construct a new 8,600 square foot facility with a 38 foot ceiling. Founded in 2007 as a non-profit, NECCA has become a center for circus arts, annually serving over 2,000 individuals of all ages and skills in classes and Outreach programs, and has built an international reputation as a leader for professional level performance training. NECCA currently rents several facilities for its program work, and the new facility will help the Center attract the highest level of professional and aspiring circus arts students and performers. VEDA approved an additional Direct Loan of $391,866 for the project and Brattleboro Savings is also providing financing. The Center estimates employment there will increase from fifteen to eighteen jobs within three years of the expansion project; and$350,000 in working capital to SchoolHack Solutions, Inc, designers of an educational software platform to help schools monitor students’ personalized learning plans. The working capital will enable the business to hire in-house software developers and customer service representatives to expand product offerings and professional services to schools. The start-up business now employs nine persons, a number principals expect to increase to thirteen within three years of the project.About VEDA The Vermont Economic Development Authority (VEDA) is Vermont’s nonprofit economic development finance lender. Created by the Vermont General Assembly in 1974, VEDA’s mission is “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.”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 inception, VEDA has provided over $2.288 billion in financing assistance to thousands of eligible Vermont entrepreneurs, manufacturers, small businesses, family farms, and agricultural enterprises. VEDA has five offices throughout Vermont – in Montpelier, Burlington, Middlebury, St. Johnsbury and Brattleboro. For more information about VEDA, visit www.veda.org(link is external) or call 802-828-JOBS.Source: VEDA 12.6.2016
Vermont Business Magazine On March 1, 2017, the Board of Directors of Northwestern Counseling & Support Services, Inc (NCSS) selected Todd Bauman as the agency’s next executive director. Starting in July, Bauman will follow in the footsteps of Ted Mable, who has served as the agency’s leader since 1998. Bauman was recommended to the Board of Directors by the hiring committee after a nationwide search and vigorous review of 68 applications. Bauman’s 28-year career in mental health and government—12 of which have been at NCSS as the director of Children, Youth & Family Services—has more than prepared Bauman to lead the organization.As director of Children, Youth & Family Services, Bauman oversees 280 employees providing developmental, mental health, and substance abuse supports to the people of Franklin and Grand Isle Counties. When Bauman began as director in 2005, the division employed 60 people. Bauman’s collaboration with community and state partners has allowed for the development of programs that serve children diagnosed with Autism; provide mobile outreach to children in crisis; meet the treatment needs of adolescents struggling with substance abuse; and provide home-based supports to new mothers. In addition, Bauman has collaborated closely with area schools to develop positive behavioral supports that promote a culture of wellness. Bauman’s ability to collaborate with community partners has allowed for innovative approaches to the way families access and receive services. Before coming to NCSS, Bauman worked as Operations Chief for five years at the Vermont Department of Mental Health. He was responsible for bringing local teams together to promote community partnerships with the goal of providing an effective children’s behavioral health service delivery system. While in this role, Bauman developed structures to assess outcomes and aggregate data across the Vermont system of care. Prior to working for the Vermont Department of Mental Health, Bauman was a crisis clinician through the Howard Center and managed a residential emergency and assessment program.Bauman’s vast clinical experience and education—he has a master’s in clinical psychology from Saint Michael’s College—is only part of what made him an ideal candidate for the role of executive director. Bauman is an experienced public speaker in a variety of settings, including academia and government; he will be a powerful and much needed voice for NCSS.Bauman is also dedicated to his family including his wife Nicole, and two teenage children, Abigail and Owen. Both children belong to regional youth dance groups; he and Nicole spend much of their free time attending their performances. Bauman also enjoys camping, skiing, baseball and spending time with parents, who recently moved to the area.Since 1958, Northwestern Counseling & Support Services, Inc, a private, non-profit, human services agency has been serving Franklin and Grand Isle Counties. NCSS provides intervention and support to children, adolescents, and adults with emotional and behavioral problems; a mental illness diagnosis; an intellectual disability or developmental delay.Bauman is poised to lead NCSS forward in the future so that it can continue to provide high quality services that produce excellent outcomes.Source: St. Albans – NCSS March 16, 2017
Vermont Business Magazine SO Vermont Arts & Living magazine announced today that it will celebrate its 10th anniversary with a special 10th Anniversary issue due out in January, 2018, featuring a gatefold of past covers that showcases the works of prominent artists in the region, which has become the magazine’s trademark.“We’ll take a look back at how the magazine started, and why, and where we are today,” said owner and publisher Lynn Barrett. We’re also announcing the SO Vermont Arts & Living Cultural Hero Award that will be give annually to the person or organization that has done the most to advance the arts and culture of Southern Vermont. Of course we’ll recognize our community partners, writers, designers, and everyone involved with the magazine. It’s hard to believe that 10 years have gone by. We’ve grown in terms of enhanced events, exhibitions, readership, content and social media. But, the start-up was a leap of faith.”Before moving to Vermont, Barrett specialized in marketing and public relations for CBS, other Fortune 500 companies and her own firm, Primetime Concepts in Manhattan. “Starting a publishing company was not on my list when I came here,” she says.Barrett’s first foray into the magazine business came in 2005 with the Andy Warhol exhibition at the Brattleboro Museum when the Brattleboro Reformer invited her to sell ads and help produce Andy Warhol, The Jon Gould Collection. “I’d never sold an ad in my life, but I was game.”She subsequently worked with the daily newspaper to produce and market other publications centered around the arts and the local economy, including “Southern Vermont Arts,” a glossy magazine that became the inspiration for her own publishing undertaking.“The idea to publish a magazine to promote the arts and lifestyle of not just Brattleboro, but all of Southern Vermont, seemed like the next logical move,” Barrett says. “Who else was going to promote Southern Vermont? The state’s tourism marketing was focused north of Rte 4.”She began publishing SO Vermont Arts & Living independently in 2008, bringing the same premise and mission to the new magazine, which she describes as “a postcard to the world about Southern Vermont.”The magazine focuses on the arts, culture, and lifestyle that chronicles the rural yet sophisticated world of Southern Vermont. It’s distributed in two Welcome Centers and throughout Southern Vermont and the neighboring towns along the borders of New York, New Hampshire and Massachusetts. Target readers are residents and tourists who are drawn to cultural and lifestyle coverage and are looking for things to do in the region. “We reach them where they live and where they visit,” she says.The magazine’s departments focus on a specific niche of Vermont’s lifestyle including Personalities; Entrepreneurs; Spotlights on productions and openings (Museums, Art Galleries, Antiques, Theater, Dance, Music); Design Observed; Food & Wine; New and Notable and Calendar of Events. The magazine also offers editorial space in “Talk of the Arts” pages for cultural commentary.SO Vermont Arts & Living’s team is comprised of Jeff Potter, design; Martin Langeveld, website; Eric Pero, calendar listings; along with a host of seasoned professional writers, including Joyce Marcel, Jon Potter, Arlene Distler, Susan Smallheer, Meg Brazill, Kathleen Cox, Nicole Colson, Kevin O’Connor, and Marty Ramsburg—all experts on various aspects of the arts and its impact on the local economy and local culture.“While the magazine has evolved over the last 10 years, the editorial focus of the magazine remains true,” she says.Barrett says that the magazine wants to know: Who are we? Why do we come here? Why do we stay? How do we live? How do we work? How are we inspired? How do we inspire others? What do we care about? How do we play? Whom do we turn to for advice, information, and expertise? How are we fulfilling our dreams? What do we want for the future?“These are the questions we try to answer,” she says. ‘We love hearing from our readers and their stories. In fact, we want to hear from folks specifically about why they love Southern Vermont. And we want to know about their biggest challenges.”The magazine is “conducting a little kitchen research,” says Barrett, who can be reached at [email protected](link sends e-mail).“With the world changing so fast, it’s not easy to predict what will happen next,” Barrett says, but she believes in the power of the magazine to help celebrate a region—and to get readers locally to perceive their own area as a special place with the capacity to capture visitors’ hearts, minds, and spirits.While many communities have turned to the arts to revitalize themselves and strengthen their economies, without a vehicle to promote the critical mass of activities, events, people, cultural experiences, and sense of place, many well intentioned efforts fall short of their full potential. Further, the lack of such a promotional tool diminishes all efforts to market the region as a vital, attractive destination. SO Vermont Arts & Living is that promotional tool that positively impacts the region,” she believes.And one editorial style decision reflects those values.“We believe in Southern Vermont with a capital S,” Barrett says. “Southern Vermont is not just an adjective. Southern Vermont is a destination.”Source: DUMMERSTON CENTER, VT—SO Vermont Arts & Living 11.16.2017,Yes
Vermont Creamery, Inc,Vermont Business Magazine The Land O’Lakes, Inc Board of Directors announced today its selection of Beth Ford as President and CEO of one of the nation’s largest food and agricultural cooperatives and #216 on the Fortune 500. Ford assumes leadership of the company following the retirement of Chris Policinski. Ford will assume the role of President and CEO effective August 1. Land O’Lakes owns Vermont Creamery in Websterville, which it bought in March 2017 for an undisclosed sum. Vermont Creamery produces goat cheese and butter.Ford comes to the CEO role after a series of successful executive postings within the company. In December 2017, Ford was named Chief Operating Officer of Land O’Lakes Businesses, in which role she oversaw Land O’Lakes’ WinField United, Purina Animal Nutrition and Dairy Foods business units. Prior to that, Ford was head of Land O’Lakes’ Dairy Foods and Purina Animal Nutrition businesses, where she led record performance and growth, leveraging innovation through R&D to strengthen both brands. She also was instrumental in the acquisition of Vermont Creamery in early 2017.Prior to joining Land O’Lakes in 2011, Ford had excelled in executive operations management and supply chain roles at International Flavors and Fragrances, Mobil Corporation, PepsiCo and Pepsi Bottling Company and Scholastic. Ford has more than 20 years’ experience specifically in the areas of technology and R&D, as well, across these four companies.Born in Sioux City, Iowa, Beth earned an MBA at Columbia University Business School and a BBA at Iowa State University. She remains involved in both universities, sitting on the Deming Center Board of Advisors for Columbia Business School and the Dean’s Advisory Committee for the College of Business at Iowa State.Ford also sits on the Board of Directors for the National Milk Producers Federation and non-profit boards, including Greater Twin Cities United Way in Minneapolis. She sits on the Boards of Directors of two publicly traded companies, including PACCAR, Inc.Announcing her appointment, Board Chairman Pete Kappelman said, “At a time of unprecedented change in the agriculture and food industries, no person is better suited to lead us into the future than Beth Ford. Since joining our company in 2011, Beth has proven she’s not afraid of hard work, and she sees every challenge as an opportunity to deliver more value for our cooperative. She’s built a track record of success in a wide array of leadership roles across a decades-long career, and in her seven years at Land O’Lakes, she has earned the trust and respect of our members, employees and customers. We are thrilled to have someone of such strong qualifications and character to build on the legacy of growth that Land O’Lakes has established.”Commenting on her appointment, Ford said, “I’m humbled and honored to have the chance to serve this great organization. I am grateful to the Board of Directors for their trust in me and for the management team that built the strong foundation we currently enjoy. I look forward to continuing to work with the talented and dedicated leadership team, as well as our outstanding employees to deliver for our member-owners, customers and communities. There has never been a more exciting time to be in the agriculture and food industry. Together, our team will work to continue our growth trajectory, as we lead the way forward into the company’s next 100 years.”Ford becomes the ninth CEO of Land O’Lakes, one of the nation’s largest agricultural cooperatives, which was founded in 1921. Ford and her spouse, Jill Schurtz, have three teenage children and live in Minneapolis. About Land O’Lakes, Inc(link is external). Land O’Lakes, Inc., one of America’s premier agribusiness and food companies, is a member-owned cooperative with industry-leading operations that span the spectrum from agricultural production to consumer foods. With 2017 annual sales of $14 billion, Land O’Lakes is one of the nation’s largest cooperatives, ranking 216 on the Fortune 500. Building on a legacy of more than 97 years of operation, Land O’Lakes today operates some of the most respected brands in agribusiness and food production including LAND O LAKES® Dairy Foods, Purina Animal Nutrition, WinField United and Land O’Lakes SUSTAINTM. The company does business in all 50 states and more than 60 countries. Land O’Lakes, Inc. corporate headquarters are located in Arden Hills, Minn.SOURCE ARDEN HILLS, Minn., July 26, 2018 /PRNewswire/ — Land O’Lakes, Inc. www.landolakesinc.com(link is external)