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Weekly unemployment claims keep edging down

Fri, 02/05/2016 - 10:14am -- tim

Vermont Business Magazine Weekly unemployment claims continued to fall last week as they have since spiking after Christmas. Claims in 2015 generally were lower than in 2014, but since the holiday season they have been generally running ahead of the prior year until last week. For the week of January 30, 2016, there were 635 claims, down 118 from the previous week's total and 43 fewer than they were a year ago. By industry, claims were down for most categories but increased slightly for Services. 

Guy Page: New VY storage pad needed until feds take away spent fuel

Fri, 02/05/2016 - 9:03am -- tim

by Guy Page This month the Vermont Public Service Board (PSB) will consider the proposed second dry cask storage pad at Vermont Yankee. This concrete pad would support the remaining reinforced concrete and steel casks containing spent reactor fuel. Vermont Yankee plans to self-finance the $145 million project, and is willing to begin the fuel transfer two years earlier than planned. The pad’s approval was a condition of the 2013 Entergy/State of Vermont Settlement Agreement providing $50 million of redevelopment funds to Vermont.

Sales tax woes drag down Vermont revenues

Thu, 02/04/2016 - 3:58pm -- tim

Vermont Business Magazine What economists have called a "terrible" start to the ski season has had a predictable effect on the state's consumption tax revenues in January. Sales and Rooms & Meals were both off significantly, offsetting what was otherwise a decent month for revenues. General Fund (GF) revenues for the January were off slightly by -$1.30 million or -0.82 percent, totaling $156.85 million versus the monthly target of $158.15 million.

Senate to reconsider paid sick leave bill

Thu, 02/04/2016 - 3:29pm -- tim

Vermont Business Magazine In an unusual move Thursday, the Vermont Senate has decided to revisit H187, the paid sick leave bill, despite overwhelming passage of the legislation Wednesday. The sticking point is a floor amendment before Wednesday's final vote that exempted businesses with five or fewer employees until 2018 (the "Campion amendment"). That provision would thus exclude initially many of the workers the bill is intended to help, but it would help soften the financial blow to these very small businesses.

Entergy details spending of decommissioning trust fund

Thu, 02/04/2016 - 12:38pm -- tim

by Mike Faher/The Commons, Brattleboro Entergy spent $58 million from the Vermont Yankee decommissioning trust fund in the first year after the Vernon nuclear plant’s shutdown, the company disclosed. Overall, with investment income and trust administrative expenses figured in, the fund decreased by about $69 million in 2015 — from $664.56 million to $595.4 million at year’s end.

VY, state spar over testing of groundwater

Thu, 02/04/2016 - 12:35pm -- tim

by Mike Faher/The Commons, Brattleboro When groundwater is collected at Vermont Yankee, there are two sets of eyes — Entergy’s and the state’s — scrutinizing the samples for pollutants. The question, though, is whether that arrangement should continue now that the plant no longer produces power. And some say it’s a high-stakes debate, given the past discovery of contaminants, like tritium and strontium-90 at the Vernon site.

PAI: Job creation financial incentives are an outdated strategy

Thu, 02/04/2016 - 10:25am -- tim

by Public Assets Institute New evidence finds that public investments that help build a skilled workforce and improve the quality of life for local residents are more likely to create jobs and build a strong economy than tax cuts and attempts to lure businesses with financial incentives. In State Job Creation Strategies Often Off Base, a new report from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, Senior Fellow Michael Mazerov and Michael Leachman, Director of State Fiscal Research, show that the vast majority of jobs are created by businesses that start up or are already present in a state.

Vermont Youth Conservation Corps expands program at eight regional centers

Thu, 02/04/2016 - 6:29am -- tim

Vermont Business Magazine Vermont Youth Conservation Corps (VYCC) has taken the first steps in its five-year plan to expand conservation work within local communities, by announcing it will employ ninety-two young Vermonters, ages 16-18, in eight Vermont regions: Barre, Bennington, Dorset, Richmond, Rutland, Saint Albans, South Burlington, and Woodstock. These young adults will be employed in small teams, doing meaningful work that directly benefits these cities and towns. Youth in each region can apply for one or both 4-week sessions this summer.

Burlington Parks, Recreation & Waterfront releases system-wide master plan

Thu, 02/04/2016 - 5:07am -- tim

Vermont Business Magazine Mayor Miro Weinberger and Burlington Parks, Recreation & Waterfront (BPRW) Director Jesse Bridges released on Wednesday the City’s first system-wide Parks Master Plan. The plan seeks to honor and enhance the role of Burlington’s park spaces and recreation opportunities within the City and the region, and brings together community and staff visions for the continued revitalization of our parks, recreation, and waterfront assets.

Encore rebrands, to focus on solar energy

Thu, 02/04/2016 - 5:03am -- tim

Vermont Business Magazine Encore Redevelopment, based in Burlington, is changing its name and its focus. President Chad Farrell announced on Wednesday the new direction and its new name: Encore Renewable Energy. The comprehensive rebrand reflects the completion of Encore’s transition from a traditional property redevelopment company to a singular focus on the development of new sources of clean energy – specifically, the development of commercial, industrial, and community-scale solar PV systems.

HomeShare Vermont drops application fee

Thu, 02/04/2016 - 4:46am -- tim

Vermont Business Magazine In an effort to encourage more people to share their homes, HomeShare Vermont has eliminated their $30 application fee. The application fee was originally put in place to offset the costs of criminal background checks. “Background checks are a critical part of our screening process,” said Executive Director Kirby Dunn. “However, now we will be covering these costs from grants and fundraising so that we don’t discourage great candidates from applying.”

Lake Champlain Basin Program issues RFP to study Lake Champlain toxins

Thu, 02/04/2016 - 4:43am -- tim

Vermont Business Magazine The Lake Champlain Basin Program (LCBP) has announced a Request for Proposals (RFP) for services to collect and analyze tissue from targeted sport fishes of legal consumption size for cyanotoxins and mercury within Lake Champlain. The successful applicant will collect and analyze tissue samples from yellow perch, white perch, walleye, smallmouth bass, and lake trout for mercury analysis and from appropriate selected species for cyanotoxin analysis. Up to $56,700 is available for this project.