Vermont gets D- for online financial transparency

first_imgOnline access to the state of Vermont finances got a near failing grade from the US Public Interest Research Group, in a report made public Wednesday. The D- indicates that there is some availability of the state’s finances on line, but it is hard to find for the average user. Vermont was joined in the next-to-worst category by states ranging from Maine to New Hampshire to California.In Following the Money 2012: How the States Rank on Providing Online Access to Government Spending Data, researchers at the US PIRG graded all 50 states on how well they provide online access to information about government spending. States were given ‘A’ to ‘F’ grades based on the characteristics of the online transparency systems they have created to provide information on contracts, subsidies and spending at quasi-public agencies.‘State governments across the country continue to be more transparent about where the money goes, extending checkbook-level disclosure of data on spending to contracting, tax subsidies, development incentives and other expenditures,’ explained Phineas Baxandall, Senior Analyst for Tax and Budget Policy at US PIRG and co-author of the report. ‘But most states still have a lot of room for improvement.’Among the findings in the report:In 2011, eight states created new transparency websites: Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Massachusetts, Mississippi, New Mexico, North Dakota, and West Virginia.Seven states garnered ‘A’ grades. These ‘leading’ states ‘ Texas, Kentucky, Indiana, Louisiana, Massachusetts, West Virginia, and Arizona ‘ provide information that is highly searchable, and include detailed data about government contracts, tax subsidies and grants to businesses.Five ‘failing’ states received an ‘F’ grade, because they lack important information that allows residents to monitor state spending. Four of these states don’t provide checkbook-level information about government spending.Democratic and Republican-leaning states perform equally well when it comes to transparency this year. The average score for a Democratic-leaning state (determined by political party of the current governor) was 70.2, while that of a Republican-leaning state was 68.9, a difference of less than two points.Leading states (’A’ range): Seven states have established user-friendly transparency portals that contain comprehensive information on government expenditures. Citizens and watchdog groups can use the sites to monitor government spending quickly and easily. Among the most distinctive features of Leading states’ transparency websites is the ability to compare state expenditures over time.Advancing states (’B’ range): Fourteen states have established websites that are user-friendly and searchable, but lack the breadth of information characteristic of the Leading states. Eleven Advancing states provide only limited information on the goods or services purchased because they do not provide copies of all contracts, while eight do not provide descriptions on grants and economic development incentives administered by the state.Emerging states (’C’ range): Fourteen states’ websites have checkbook-level detail and are easily searchable, but are far less comprehensive ‘ in terms of checkbook detail, information on city and county spending, and tax expenditure data ‘ than Leading or Advancing states.Lagging states (’D’ range): Ten states’ online checkbooks are difficult to use. Their sites rarely provide spending details for off-budget agencies, post information on state revenue forgone through tax expenditures, or link to city and county expenditure sites.Failing states (’F’): Five states are failing in online transparency. Most Failing states have not posted their checkbooks online or provided other important information that allows residents to monitor state spending.The report, Following The Money 2012: How The 50 States Rate In Providing Online Access To Government Spending Data, is the second annual study from U.S. Public Interest Research Groupon state spending transparency. The group reached out to public officials responsible for providing transparency information and received substantive feedback from officials in 47 states.This year’s report found that 46 states now provide an online database of government expenditures with ‘checkbook-level’ detail, a major increase from 32 states two years ago. Twenty nine state transparency websites now provide information on government expenditures through tax code deductions, exemptions and credits ‘ up from eight states two years ago.Said Baxandall, ‘Citizens expect information to be at their fingertips the way they can view their cell phone minutes or the location of a package. Putting spending information online helps hold government accountable and allows taxpayers to see where the money goes.’States that have created or improved their online transparency have typically done so with little upfront cost. In fact, states with top-flight transparency websites actually save money for taxpayers, while also restoring public confidence in government, and preventing misspending and pay-to-play contracts.‘It is important to continually strive to improve the state’s transparency website because it shines a light on government spending,’ said Baxandall. ‘Given our budget problems, American taxpayers need to be able to follow the money.’  To read the report, click here. Source: US PIRG 3.14.2012last_img read more

Southern Vermont College and Bennington Museum honored at VCC Higher Education Conference

first_imgOn Thursday, April 12, an SVC student, faculty member, and staff member were honored for their accomplishments at a statewide Recognition Reception and Ceremony at the Capitol Plaza Hotel and Conference Center in Montpelier. Karen Rouse of Bennington received the Commitment to Service and Engagement Award for her community involvement. Currently a nontraditional sophomore majoring in Healthcare Management and Advocacy at SVC, Rouse has dedicated much of her time with the United Way of Bennington County. At United Way, she worked in the dental program and helped to launch a program initiative to combat hunger and to aid the homeless in Bennington County. She has built a relationship with several community partners outside of SVC, including volunteering her time during many summers as a cook at a camp for children with special needs. Rouse is a Licensed Nurse Assistant at the Visiting Nurses Association in Bennington. As a community partner of SVC, the Bennington Museum received the Engaged Community Partner Award. The award is given to a community partner by a VCC member, like SVC, in recognition of the support for the campus’civic mission. In partnership with SVCâ s Quest for Success service-learning course for the past six years, the Bennington Museumâ s key staff members have served as model service-learning and civic-engagement educators to SVC students in various teaching and support capacities. Learning Differences Coordinator David Lindenberg was a finalist for the Campus Leadership for Civic Engagement Award, honoring his role in the Quest for Success program and his role as Coordinator of the Office of Learning Differences. The Quest for Success course is required by first-year students and establishes a link between the community and campus. Through the service-learning requirement in his Quest for Success course, Lindenberg has involved students in planning, implementing, and assessing projects in the Bennington community. As a result, his students learn teamwork, organization, problem-solving, decision-making, and budgeting. After taking Lindenberg’s courses, students are prepared to become effective leaders in the communities they enter upon graduating from the College.Professor Lynda Sinkiewich of SVCâ s Hunter Division of Humanities was a finalist for the Award for Excellence in Community-Based Teaching. The award recognizes innovative teaching within a curriculum employing service-learning or community-based research that develops student voice, civic agency, and critical thinking, using real-life application and relevance. Professor Sinkiewich is an engaged educator who fosters student involvement and leadership in the community. With the students in her Creative Writing class, she organized a contest for local elementary school students. With the students in her Effective Speaking class, she organized the first Dorothy Sarnoff Speech Contest at SVC, which involved students from local middle schools. Sinkiewich has also been active in promoting literacy by encouraging advanced-level literature students to be a part of literacy events at the elementary school in Arlington. Founded in 1926, Southern Vermont College offers a career-enhancing, liberal arts education with 18 academic degree programs for more than 550 students. SVC recognizes the importance of educating students for the workplace of the twenty-first century and for lives as successful leaders in their communities. Sacâ s athletic teams are part of the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Division III and the New England intercollegiate Collegiate Conference (NECC). The College is accredited by New England Association of Schools and Colleges and has been designated by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching as a Community-Engagement Classification institution.center_img Also, in attendance at the VCC Higher Education Conference was SVC student Tyler Morton of New Bedford, Mass., who was one of 162 students from across the country to receive a Newman Civic Fellows Award this year by Campus Compact, the national coalition of college and university presidents. The Newman Civic Fellows Award recognizes inspiring college student leaders who have demonstrated an investment in finding solutions for challenges facing communities throughout the country. Morton was one of two students from Vermont who was recognized. Several members of the Southern Vermont College (SVC) community were named finalists or award recipients for the 2012 Vermont Campus Compact (VCC) Higher Education Conference, as a result of their commitment to service-learning. VCC is a consortium of Vermontâ s colleges and universities committed to civic engagement. The Bennington Museum was also recognized as an Engaged Community Partner for its ongoing service-learning work with students, faculty, and staff at Southern Vermont College.   Southern Vermont College. 4.24.2012.last_img read more

Vermont receives waiver allowing use of disaster recovery funds in Windham County

first_imgVermont has been granted a long-awaited federal waiver allowing the use of US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) disaster relief funds in Windham County. The waiver, which applies to $21.6 million in Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funds provided to the state by HUD in January 2012 for Irene recovery efforts, eases the original conditions requiring the state to use 80 percent of the funds in the ‘most impacted and distressed’counties. Initial assessments done by HUD of the damage left behind by Tropical Storm Irene indicated that Washington and Windsor Counties were most in need of the federal funds. The state requested a dispensation of the HUD regulations in order to accommodate unmet housing and economic recovery needs in Windham County. With the announcement of the waiver, the state now will be permitted to use up to $4.5 million to assist in disaster recovery efforts in Windham County.  CDBG funds are allocated to support long-term recovery efforts, restoration of infrastructure and economic revitalization efforts following major disasters. In a joint statement, Senator Patrick Leahy (D), Senator Bernie Sanders (I), and Congressman Peter Welch (D) said: ‘This waiver provides crucial flexibility to the state and will help the cities and towns of Windham County continue on the road to recovery.  So many resilient Vermonters are still working to rebuild their lives in the wake of Irene.  These investments will support the residents of Windham County as they recover and move forward.’ Source: Congressional delegation 7.20.2012last_img read more

UVM president tells lawmakers affordability and value are core principles for the school

first_imgUniversity of Vermont,by Alicia Freese February 15, 2013 vtdigger.org  University of Vermont President Tom Sullivan lifted a theme from President Obama’ s State of the Union speech, telling lawmakers Thursday that his top priority is improving the affordability and value of a college degree.‘ A smile came to me as I heard him [Obama] say that because those are exactly the same themes and very much a core part of our strategic action plan that I have begun to talk about here in Vermont during my first six months,’ said Sullivan, who took office as UVM’ s 26th president in July.University of Vermont President Tom Sullivan addresses the House Education Committee on Thursday. Photo by Alicia FreeseObama called on colleges to ‘ change the Higher Education Act so that affordability and value are included in determining which colleges receive certain types of federal aid.’ The president also unveiled a ‘ Race to the Top’ proposal that would distribute $1 billion to colleges that successfully contain their tuition costs.Sullivan reassured the House Education Committee that UVM is ahead of the curve in containing costs, and Vermont students, in particular, are shielded from the brunt of tuition hikes.The committee congratulated Sullivan for overseeing what will be the smallest uptick in UVM’ s tuition in 36 years ‘ an increase of 2.9 percent.Some 87 percent of Vermont students receive some financial assistance and 45 percent get a full ride, according to Sullivan. Half of the state’ s appropriation to UVM goes to financial aid for Vermont students.Sullivan also borrowed a mantra from Gov. Peter Shumlin ‘ high schools need to upgrade their math requirements to increase the number of Vermonters going on to higher education.But he strayed from Shumlin’ s educational emphasis in a key regard. Whereas the governor spent a good portion of his State of the State address talking about tailoring postsecondary education to meet the immediate workforce demands of Vermont employers, Sullivan delivered an impassioned plug for the liberal arts learning model.‘ One can hardly pick up a newspaper where there isn’ t someone being quoted, about our higher education system needs to do a better job of finding jobs for our kids. ‘¦ I think the focus shouldn’ t be on the first job.’‘ I think we need to focus on the balance of counseling students to take a major or minor ‘¦ in an area that excites them, that creates a yearning, a passion for learning. I think the better approach is to think about how can we create a curriculum that will increase the total student maturity, academically, socially, culturally,’ Sullivan said.‘ Yes we want our students to do well in the job market and to succeed ‘¦ but I think there is more balance in life than that. I think we also ought to be thinking about creating individuals who have great problem-solving skills, analytical skills, communication skills.’Sullivan also outlined several schemes for bringing new revenue to the university. He wants to expand master’ s programs for working professionals ‘ ‘ I see a big growth area in that and our deans are right now thinking of how to marshal new programs’ ‘ and he wants to continue to develop UVM’ s ‘ distance learning’ curriculum, bringing in more money through online courses.Sullivan, a veteran in higher education leadership, previously was senior vice president for academic affairs and provost at the University of Minnesota and is a nationally recognized authority on antitrust law and complex litigation, having authored 10 books and more than 50 articles.last_img read more

Legislative committeess to hold joint hearing on Vermont Yankee closing in Vernon Oct 28

first_imgNorthstar Vermont Yankee,The Commerce and Economic Development and Natural Resources and Energy Committees of the Vermont House of Representatives will host a joint hearing on the closing of Vermont Yankee and its immediate impact on local communities.The meeting will give local organizations, as well as community members the opportunity to voice any concerns and will help the committees outline the role of the legislature in mitigating impacts.‘Open communication with community members and local organizations will help in the coming transition,’ said Speaker of the House Shap Smith. ‘It is my hope that what our committees learn in this hearing will help minimize the economic impact of the closing of VY and ease the burden of change on the local community.’The meeting will take place at the Vernon Elementary school at 1:30 on October 28.  Local organizations will have the opportunity to speak with lawmakers from 1:30-4:30, at which point there will be a 30-minute break, followed by a public hearing from 5:00 to 7:00.last_img read more

Senate Finance settles on statewide property tax hike, 6 cents for residential, 7 cents for non-res

first_imgAnne Galloway vtdigger.org(link is external) The Senate Finance Committee has approved a 6 cent increase in the statewide property tax for residential homeowners and a 7 cent increase in the tax for nonresidential property owners. The tax rate for residential property owners would be $1 per $100 per assessed property value under the proposal. The rate for non-residential (commercial property and second homes) would rise to $1.51.The committee, after weeks of negotiations, combined the miscellaneous tax and property tax bills, which also includes a tiered increase in the employer assessment on large companies that do not offer health insurance for workers. It also places an assessment on employers who pay workers so little that they can’t afford to buy into company insurance plans and wind up on state and federally supported Medicaid programs that cost taxpayers as much as $7,000 per year for each beneficiary.The bill raises approximately $4.5 million in General Fund taxes through a tiered increase in the employer assessment ($3.6 million) and a tax on snuff that raises $900,000.The bill, H.884, (link is external)was approved in a 6-0-1 vote. Sen. Bob Hartwell, D-Bennington, was not present for the late-evening committee decision.The Senate proposal does not use one-time Education Fund reserves to buy down the statewide property tax rate for residential property owners. (The House version used money from the reserve and supplemental property tax relief funds to bring the homestead rate to 4 cents and raised the nonresidential rate to 7.5 cents; the Shumlin administration recommended an increase of 7 cents across the board to make the Education Fund whole.)Senator Tim Ashe, D/P-Chittenden, is chair of the Senate Committee on Finance. Vermont Business Magazine file photoSen. Tim Ashe, D/P-Chittenden, said his committee was loath to rely on one-time money to pay for increases in education spending because projections show there will be an additional 6 cent to 8 cent increase in the statewide rate next year.“With one-time money you have two choices,” Ashe said. “You can buy down the property tax rates for one year, which leads to sticker shock in year two when you have to make up the difference in the fund, or you can invest in system changes that result in less costs year after year.”A number of Vermont communities are having trouble passing school budgets this year (rates are up by 5 cents in the current year), and there is widespread dismay over increasing education costs after a long period of declining enrollment. Vermont’s student population has dropped 20 percent in the past 15 years.Ashe said his committee was trying to strike a balance between keeping rates down now and making long-term system changes that will have the net effect of cutting the cost curve in education spending over time.“Vermonters are stressed now,” Ashe said. “We don’t want to miss the chance to make cost-smart system changes through incentives to get districts and supervisory unions to more coherently manage expenses.”Ashe is referring to a proposal he has helped to draft that would require supervisory union districts to save money through unified contracts for busing, teachers and other services and the more efficient use of business administration. The provisions are under consideration in the Senate Education Committee as part of the miscellaneous education bill.Ashe said the state is spending $20 million a year (not to mention tens of millions of dollars more from the federal government) on cost-containment efforts for publicly funded health care that costs the state $2 billion a year.By comparison, the state spends $1.7 billion total on K-12 public education (including federal funding) and only $1.5 million has been set aside for education cost-containment and reform efforts, according to Joint Fiscal Office figures.Ashe believes there is a tremendous amount of inefficiency in the education system. Better business practices, he says, could save the state as much as 3 percent to 5 percent of the total amount spent on public education.Sen. Kevin Mullin, R-Rutland, agrees with Ashe’s approach. The committee, he says, is looking for more long-term systematic changes that will “deal with skyrocketing property taxes.”Differences with the HouseH.886 includes a number of changes to the House proposal. The House Ways and Means Committee bill kept the property tax rate separate from the miscellaneous education bill.The House rates were set at 4 cents for residential property taxpayers and 7.5 cents for non-residential taxpayers.Senate Finance did not want to create a gap between the two rates and also did not want to deplete reserve funds.The House bill included a phase-out of the $7.7 million small school grants program over a six-year period.Senate Finance stripped the small school phase-out from H.886. The committee also removed language that would create a unified chart of accounts for districts and allow for the hiring of a tax analyst.Ashe said the committee will offer an amendment with all three of the aforementioned provisions.Employer assessment increaseHouse Ways and Means placed a tax on e-cigarettes that would have generated $500,000 in revenue.Related storyFor details about the employer assessment, see VTDigger’s April 25 story.(link is external)Governor Peter Shumlin has opposed the e-cigarette tax. In his budget introduced in January, Shumlin pushed for a tax on health care insurance claims that would raise $14 million for the health care resources fund.The Senate Finance Committee substituted the e-cigarette tax with an increase the employer assessment in order to balance the budget that emerged from Senate Appropriations.Under the Senate proposal, businesses must make quarterly payments for each full-time equivalent worker. The indexed rate for 2014, which includes increases in the costs for the subsidy program, is $133.30, four times a year. Under the Senate Finance proposal, the assessment would stay level for businesses with fewer than 50 workers, while employers with 50 to 249 and 250-plus workers would pay slightly higher rates, the equivalent of $137 to $182 per employee per quarter. About 2,366 employers pay the assessment on roughly 31,000 employees, according to estimates from the Joint Fiscal Office. Among those totals are 1,853 small employers with 11,743 workers.The proposal would also require payment from companies that offer insurance but whose workers can’t afford the benefit and qualify for Medicaid. At least 3,800 full-time equivalent workers would be affected by that provision. The assessment on those employers, which would bring in $1.8 million in revenues, is baked in to the $3.5 million total raised.last_img read more

State: No ‘misconduct,’ no ‘retaliation’ in DAIL case

first_imgIn a report released Thursday, Human Resources Commissioner Kate Duffy announced that the investigation into alleged misconduct by Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor John Howe has been closed, as has the Department’s related review of retaliation against Howe. Howe had publicly disclosed the investigation into his practice of permitting non-authorized personnel to sign his name to dispense state funds through the Department of Disabilities, Aging and Independent Living (DAIL), which had referred the matter to the Department of Human Resources. Howe had claimed that the investigation constituted retaliation for Howe testifying at the Vermont Legislature and engaging in union activity. In response to this case, DAIL will clarify its policy on how funds are authorized.The Department of Human Resources investigation recommended that Howe’s conduct did not justify disciplinary action. The Department found that although DAIL has a policy that requires authorized employees, such as Howe, to personally review and sign approval for expenditures of state funds, that policy has been neither clearly conveyed to DAIL employees nor routinely enforced. The Department therefore found no basis to discipline Howe for this conduct, even though it did not meet DAIL’s policy. DAIL Commissioner Susan Wehry issued that decision. In a letter from Duffy to DAIL Commissioner Susan Wehry detailing the findings, Duffy confirmed Howe’s assertion that his practice was longstanding, and that other employees similarly delegated their authority to non-authorized personnel. Duffy said DAIL had not communicated its expectations clearly enough to staff, and therefore no disciplinary action should be taken against the small number of employees who did not personally approve state funds that were released under their authority. Wehry confirmed that DAIL would immediately redraft a clearer policy to ensure all expenditures are appropriately reviewed, authorized and signed going forward. That policy will be clearly communicated to all affected employees, she said. In addition to investigating the misconduct allegations, the Department of Human Resources reviewed Mr. Howe’s related retaliation claims. On the Department’s recommendation, Commissioner Wehry determined that the initial investigation into John Howe’s expenditure approvals was warranted in light of DAIL’s policy requiring personal approval by authorized employees, and did not uncover evidence that DAIL’s referral for investigation had been motivated by retaliation against protected activity or illegal animus. “As I said when this investigation was made public by Mr. Howe, I believe that investigating complaints that are brought to the Department of Human Resources is important for both our employees and for our managers,” said Commissioner Duffy. “We investigate claims in order to learn the facts through a diligent process. The process here worked well. We identified an important issue that will be remedied by providing guidance to our managers and training to those they supervise so that they can exercise better control over the distribution of state funds, which the public rightly expects.”last_img read more

Weekly unemployment claims spike again, over 1,400

first_imgVermont Business Magazine New weekly unemployment claims in Vermont edged above 1,400 last week. Claims had been very low during the summer, trending under 500, but have been high since early October. After five weeks of increases, claims were down for two weeks before again increasing the last two. Levels this year had been running consistently lower than those of last year, but are now nearly the same. For the week of November 29, 2014, there were 1,428 new, regular benefit claims for Unemployment Insurance in Vermont. This is an increase of 422 from the previous week’s total, and 37 fewer than they were a year ago. According to Mathew Barewicz, Economic & Labor Market Information Chief at the Vermont Department of Labor, the cause of the increase was predominately the result of “a seasonal transition. This past week was much higher than the previous week but slightly lower than this time last year.”Altogether 6,292 new and continuing claims were filed, an increase of 310 from a week ago and 5 fewer than a year ago. The Department processed 1 First Tier claims for benefits under Emergency Unemployment Compensation, 2008 (EUC08), the same as the previous week.There were no Second Tier claims for benefits processed under the EUC08 program. There were zero Tier III claims. The Tier I, II and III programs expired on December 28, 2013. Congress would need to act to renew these extended benefit programs. SEE STORYThe total for all programs was 6,293 claims, 310 more than last week, and 683 fewer than the same time last year.The Unemployment Weekly Report can be found at: http://www.vtlmi.info/(link is external). Previously released Unemployment Weekly Reports and other UI reports can be found at: http://www.vtlmi.info/lmipub.htm#uc(link is external)Vermont’s unemployment rate held at 4.4 percent in October as jobs were added. It was as low as 3.3 percent in May. SEE STORY.last_img read more

Fourteen Vermont businesses receive $14,000 to attend national trade shows

first_imgVermont Business Magazine Today the Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food & Markets (VAAFM) announced the recipients of second round funding from the Trade Show Assistance Grant Program, an initiative of the agency’s Domestic Export Program designed to assist Vermont food and forest businesses in making and maintaining connections with buyers, brokers and distributors via out-of-state trade shows.  A total of $14,000 was awarded to fourteen Vermont businesses to attend trade shows in New York, Las Vegas and San Francisco and to exhibit their Vermont-made products in front of thousands of regional and national buyers.The 2016 (Round 2) Trade Show Assistance Grant Awardees Include:                                        Company                                                             Trade Show & Location                                                 Grant AmountBee’s Wrap,                                                        NY NOW Show in New York, NY                                                  $2,000Cloudfarm,                                                          National Hardware Show in Las Vegas, NV                            $2,000Gringo Jack’s,                                                     Winter Fancy Food Show in San Francisco, CA                      $1,000Kimball Brook Farm,                                        Summer Fancy Food Show in New York, NY                           $1,000Kingdom Creamery,                                        Summer Fancy Food Show in New York, NY                           $1,000Sugar Bob’s Finest Kind,                                Summer Fancy Food Show in New York, NY                           $1,000Shacksbury Cider,                                             Summer Fancy Food Show in New York, NY                           $1,000Sidehill Farm,                                                     Summer Fancy Food Show in New York, NY                           $1,000Small Batch Organics,                                     Summer Fancy Food Show in New York, NY                           $1,000Stonecutter Spirits,                                          WhiskyFest New York in New York, NY                                    $600Tavernier Chocolates,                                     Summer Fancy Food Show in New York, NY                           $400The Vermont Switchel Co.,                           New England Made in Portland, ME                                         $1,000Vermont Sweetwater Bottling Co.,            Summer Fancy Food Show in New York, NY                           $1,000The Agency of Ag also announced a third solicitation period for trade show assistance grant applications beginning March 1st 2016, in which an additional $14,000 will be available to Vermont food and forest product businesses to exhibit at out-of-state trade shows for the first time. Applications are available online and are due by 4 pm on Tuesday March 29.  Before applying, applicants must read the request for applications: http://agriculture.vermont.gov/domestic_export/trade_show_grant_application(link is external).The Domestic Export Program represents a collaborative effort between the Vermont Agencies of Agriculture, Food, and Markets (VAAFM) and the Agency of Commerce and Community Development (ACCD) to connect Vermont producers with out-of-state buyers and provide technical assistance to convert these connections into sustainable business relationships. Funding for the first Trade Show Assistance Grant Program was appropriated by the Vermont Legislature in 2014 to provided matching grants and technical assistance to 25 Vermont producers to attend 15 different trade shows in 10 different states. The second and third rounds of the Trade Show Assistance Grant Program have been made possible by funding from the Working Lands Enterprise Board (WLEB). Inspired by the impact of the first round of grants allocated to Vermont businesses in 2014, which resulted in over 1,000 sales leads and $1 million increase in projected annual sales among the 25 grantees, the WLEB board approved a $25,000 investment in the Trade Show Assistance Grant Program over the course of 2015-2016.“The Domestic Export Program provides critical support to Vermont businesses working to expand product sales out of state,” said Secretary of Agriculture Chuck Ross.  “And the Trade Show Assistance Grant is one of the highest impact tools in the Domestic Export toolbox.  We are thrilled to be partnering with the Working Lands Enterprise Board to help more Vermont companies learn about trade show opportunities, and exhibit their Vermont-made products in front of thousands of regional and national buyers.”About the Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food, and Markets: VAAFM facilitates, supports and encourages the growth and viability of agriculture in Vermont while protecting the working landscape, human health, animal health, plant health, consumers and the environment.  www.Agriculture.Vermont.Gov(link is external)last_img read more

Seven Days announces 7th Annual Vermont Restaurant Week April 22

first_imgSeven Days,Vermont Business Magazine Seven Days, Vermont’s free, independent weekly newspaper, has announced the dates of the 7th Annual Vermont Restaurant Week, a celebration of the state’s vibrant local-food culture. For 10 days, from April 22 to May 1, 2016, restaurants throughout Vermont will offer special prix-fixe dinners at three price points — $20, $30 or $40 per person. Lunch and breakfast specials at select locations will also be available. Participating restaurants range from renowned eateries such as Burlington’s Hen of the Wood and Michael’s on the Hill in Waterbury Center to local faves the Farmhouse Tap & Grill in Burlington and Three Penny Taproom in Montpelier. Several southern Vermont restaurants have signed on this year, too, including duo Restaurant in Brattleboro and Popolo in Bellows Falls.Down Home Kitchen, Montpelier. Credit: Seven Days/Jeb Wallace-Brodeur.To date, 114 restaurants are participating in Restaurant Week.Several foodie events will also take place, including:  Culinary Pub Quiz on Tuesday, April 26, at Nectar’s in Burlington Look for more information about events and participating restaurants at vermontrestaurantweek.com(link is external). Contact [email protected](link sends e-mail) for questions about events and [email protected]vt.com(link sends e-mail) about restaurant participation.Vermont Restaurant Week is a benefit for the Vermont Foodbank. Last year, the event raised more than $20,000, which provided 60,000 meals for food-insecure Vermonters. This year, the Vermont Community Foundation will once again match the Vermont Foodbank donation up to $5,000. City Market has also agreed to make the Vermont Foodbank its 40 percent partner in the co-op’s Rally for Change program, which encourages customers to round up their totals at the register. Visit vermontrestaurantweek.com(link is external) to learn how you can contribute to the cause.This year’s sponsors include Vermont Federal Credit Union, Vermont Creamery, Switchback Brewing Co., WhistlePig, Citizen Cider, City Market and the Vermont Department of Tourism & Marketing, with media support from Jumponit and WNCS the Point.Da Capo Publishing Inc., dba Seven Days, was founded by Pamela Polston and Paula Routly in 1995. In addition to its five free publications, the company also produces two annual events: Vermont Restaurant Week and the Vermont Tech Jam, a job fair and tech expo.In 2000, the Lake Champlain Regional Chamber of Commerce selected then-5-year-old Seven Days as Business of the Year. Eight years later, the Burlington Business Association did the same, citing the company’s exemplary business practices, contributions to the community, and promotion of a positive image for Burlington, as well as business success. In 2013, Editor & Publisher selected Seven Days for inclusion in its annual feature, “10 Newspapers That Do It Right.” In 2015, Polston and Routly were inducted into the New England Newspaper Hall of Fame.March 16, 2016 – Burlington, Vt. – Seven Days The Dish, a discussion between local experts on the challenges and rewards of growing food in a changing climate — now and into the future. Wednesday, April 27, at ArtsRiot in Burlington  Best Bite Bash, an exclusive tasting event and competition at which 10 chefs preview select items from their Vermont Restaurant Week menu. Thursday, April 21, at Higher Ground in South Burlington  Belly Laughs, a food-themed improv show. Thursday, April 28, at Vermont Comedy Club in Burlington Feeding Frenzy, a statewide Instagram scavenger hunt, April 22 to May 1last_img read more