Current News

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Vermont Business Magazine Today the Vermont Senate gave preliminary approval to S.209, a bill to support public safety through the prohibition of unserialized firearms, on a tripartian vote of 26-3-1. The bill would address the increase in sales of “ghost guns,” which are unserialized, untraceable homemade firearms often made from kits or through 3D printing. According to the U.S. Department of Justice, the number of ghost guns recovered by law enforcement agencies “increased by more than 1,300 percent from 2016 to 2022. Because “ghost guns” do not have serial numbers, they are also untraceable and inhibit law enforcement’s ability to solve gun-related crimes.  

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Vermont Business Magazine After a yearlong creative development process, the University of Vermont today announced refreshed and refined branding, including new positioning and the first major revision to its primary logo in more than 30 years. “For people and planet” is the core of UVM’s new positioning, reinforcing the distinctive excellence of the institution’s academic and research activities centered on human health, thriving communities, and the environment. The university offers some 50 majors and dozens of graduate degrees that span these areas. The university partnered with Generation Communication and Branding of Hudson, New York, to develop the positioning and new logo system. The collaboration included a steering committee and a working group comprised of faculty and staff. Additionally, dozens of group and individual interviews included students, alumni, deans, trustees, and university leadership. The cost of the engagement with Generation was $145,650, co-funded by UVM and the UVM Foundation.

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Vermont Business Magazine Change Healthcare, which operates Vermont's Medicaid pharmacy claims system, experienced a significant cyber security issue last week. In an earlier press release, the Department of Vermont Health Access (DVHA) had confirmed that this issue has impacted pharmacies and providers across Vermont and New England. The Department has since learned that this cyber security issue has caused service interruptions in all 50 states, and that more provider types than just pharmacies have been impacted. In a filing today, Change Healthcare said it is still "experiencing a cyber security issue, and our experts are working to address the matter." 

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by C.B. Hall, Vermont Business Magazine One of the Green Mountain State's best-known cheesemakers is moving many of its functions from Brattleboro to a new home. The Grafton Village Cheese Company, established in the eponymous town in 1892, expects to launch operations at the location, alongside Vermont 103 in Proctorsville, on March 9. The new facility will cut, pack, and warehouse cheese made at the company's production plant in Grafton and will also include a retail outlet. The company's post-production functions have been located in leased space alongside Route 30 in Brattleboro for 11 years. Brattleboro's Retreat Farm acquired that property in 2022, terminating the lease. The Retreat, a private mental-health institution, will expand its functions into the space being vacated by the cheese company.

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Vermont Business Magazine Ann Clark Ltd, a Vermont-based gourmet baking supply company, was awarded a STEP grant by the Vermont Department of Economic Development for the second consecutive year. The Rutland company plans to use the grant funds to continue its expansion into international markets in Canada, Germany, France, Italy, and the United Kingdom after seeing profitable growth since 2023 due to the grant’s support. Ann Clark will increase its digital advertising on Amazon’s international websites, targeting each of its export market countries. The company pays close attention to international holidays and markets its cookie cutters and baking products with local customs in mind. For instance, goose-shaped cookies are part of St. Martin’s Day celebrations in Germany, fish shapes (“Poisson d’Avril”) are a popular item for April Fool’s Day in France, and Sky Blue food coloring excels in the UK whenever Manchester City FC wins the Premier League. 

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Vermont Business Magazine The Vermont Department of Corrections (DOC) this week launched the Corrections Investigative Unit (CIU), a new team charged with conducting internal investigations and improving transparency. This unit, consisting of a director and two-full time investigators, will investigate critical incidents (e.g., deaths in custody, escape attempts), Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA) compliance, threats and safety, intelligence operations, and culture and workplace experiences. CIU was statutorily established in 2021 by the Vermont General Assembly to bolster transparency with the public and fill operational gaps within Vermont’s correctional system. Per statute, CIU will coordinate with investigative and law enforcement agencies and the Department of Human Resources (DHR). DHR will maintain authority over employee misconduct allegations.

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Vermont Business Magazine Livian, a real estate team acceleration platform, has added four more real estate teams, totaling more than 126 million in annual sales volume. “We’re bringing together the best minds in the industry to elevate our services and redefine the future of real estate,” said Adam Hergenrother, CEO, Livian. “Together, we are poised to create unparalleled opportunities and set new standards of success in the world of real estate brokerage.” As of Dec. 31, Livian has 61 real estate teams in 27 states, comprising more than 475 agents nationwide. 

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Vermont Business Magazine This year’s Leap Day marks a huge leap forward for early childhood education in Rutland County. Thanks to the tireless work of local community leaders and legislators, Rutland County Head Start has expanded to offer the nationally recognized program for infants and toddlers to Rutland County families. The new program was also made possible through grant support provided by The Bowse Trust and Let’s Grow Kids. Rutland City Mayor Mike Doenges, representatives from the offices of Vermont’s legislative delegation, and other community leaders will be on hand to celebrate Rutland County’s first ever Early Head Start (EHS) program with a ribbon cutting ceremony on Thursday, February 29th, at 78 Meadow Street in Rutland. 

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by Emily Bradbury Pablo first met Mary Sell, an English Language Specialist, when his family moved to Randolph, Vermont from Mexico. For the next eight years, Sell worked closely with Pablo to ensure language was not a barrier to his education and coached him on advocating for himself at school. Interested in medicine, Pablo enrolled in Early College at Vermont Technical College while in high school but sometimes found it difficult to know how to access the same kind of support on a larger, less familiar campus. Recognizing that students like Pablo could use a little extra support, Kara Merrill created an innovative new program that pairs college-bound seniors with an adult mentor of their choosing through their first year of college. Unsurprisingly, Pablo chose Sell, with whom he had a high degree of trust and familiarity. Now a first-year student at the University of Vermont, where he is thriving, Pablo credits Sell with helping to navigate the transition to university.

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Vermont Business Magazine Ahead of this morning’s hearing in the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee on the retirement crisis in America, Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vermont), chairman of the committee, released a new report exposing the depth of the crisis, while also exploring solutions that will allow all Americans to retire with dignity and security – not just the very wealthy. Key findings from the report include: Nearly half of Americans 55 and older have no retirement savings; 52 percent of Americans 65 and older are living on less than $30,000 annually and one in four survive on less than $15,000 per year. 

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Vermont Business Magazine Public Assets Institute in Montpelier this week released its State of Working Vermont 2023. PAI said in the report that Vermont is facing challenges old and new—from housing shortages and a child mental health crisis to more frequent floods and pandemics. The new problems are far more costly to fix than anything we’ve seen before. The good news, PAI said, is that the state has the resources to address its problems and invest in its future. Policymakers need to tap that capacity by changing the way Vermont raises and spends money. While still not totally progressive, Vermont’s tax system is less regressive than it was five years ago and less regressive than most other states’ systems. Any tax increase should take fairness among taxpayers into consideration.

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Vermont Business Magazine US Senator Peter Welch (D-Vermont) today introduced the COLAs Don’t Count Act, and the Student Loan Deduction Act of 2024, bills that would exempt annual cost-of-living adjustments (COLA) and student loan payments from impacting the benefits of the families and individuals who utilize the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) for food assistance. This would help ensure participants of SNAP are not losing benefits to the added costs of inflation and can more accurately report their available income after the expense of student loans is paid.