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Middlebury celebrates rail tunnel opening

Fri, 09/18/2020 - 5:58pm -- tim

by C.B. Hall, Vermont Business Magazine After four construction seasons and the investment of tens of millions of dollars, the Middlebury rail tunnel project is all but complete. At 10 am on September 18, a Vermont Rail System (VRS) locomotive pulled a VIP train of eight vintage commuter cars through a grand-opening banner at the entrance of the new tunnel, which replaces two aging bridges built in the early 1920s in the heart of the town's business district.

Amtrak, where are you?

Fri, 09/18/2020 - 5:45pm -- tim

by C.B. Hall, Vermont Business Magazine While the prospect of Amtrak's Ethan Allen Express reaching Burlington late next year has many people excited, the train from New York's Penn Station isn't even getting to Rutland right now: In late March Amtrak cut its itinerary back to a New York-Albany run in view of the precipitous drop in ridership occasioned by the COVID-19 pandemic. The other Vermont train, the Vermonter, got similar treatment, and currently is coming no closer to the Green Mountain State than New Haven, CT.

State distributes more than $21 million through Lost Wage Assistance program

Fri, 09/18/2020 - 5:38pm -- tim

Vermont Business Magazine On Friday, the Vermont Department of Labor distributed $21.6 million to 25,675 claimants through the Lost Wage Assistance (LWA) program. Paper checks were mailed directly to claimants who certified their employment had been impacted by COVID-19 for the weeks ending August 1, August 8, and August 15, 2020.

PAI: Widespread joblessness persists

Fri, 09/18/2020 - 5:31pm -- tim

Public Assets Institute The number of Vermonters who are working dropped by more than 2,000 in August, after recovering some over the summer. At 308,000, that’s more than 20,000 below pre-pandemic levels. And while 30,000 Vermonters are still applying for unemployment benefits, many of them are not included in the official federal unemployment rate. That rate is based on a narrow definition of unemployment that does not accurately reflect people who are still unable to work or look for work because of the pandemic.

VDH COVID-19 Update: Spigot turned to help hospitality industry

Fri, 09/18/2020 - 5:20pm -- tim

Vermont Business Magazine Lodging facilities may now rent all their rooms, as long as guests comply with all other requirements. That includes mask-wearing, physical distancing, and travel and quarantine requirements, in addition to limits on dining and gathering size, he said. Governor Scott also announced today that bar seating in restaurants will also be allowed, with physical distancing requirements in place. This means food and drink service can be served at the counter.

Welch offers bill to extend deadline for Vermont to use Coronavirus Relief Funds

Fri, 09/18/2020 - 3:19pm -- tim

Vermont Business Magazine Representative Peter Welch on Friday introduced legislation to extend the deadline for state and local governments to use funds appropriated by the CARES Act. Currently, the state and local relief funds from the CARES Act must be used by December 31st, making it impossible to complete long-term recovery projects. Welch’s bill would fix that by authorizing the use of these funds through September 30, 2021.

Leahy presses DHS for swift investigation into alleged forced hysterectomies

Fri, 09/18/2020 - 3:16pm -- tim

Vermont Business Magazine On Friday, Senators Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), Patty Murray (D-Wash.), Bob Casey (D-Pa.) and Cory Booker (D-N.J.), joined by 37 senators, called on the Department of Homeland Security’s inspector general to expeditiously investigate a whistleblower complaint alleging forced hysterectomies at an ICE facility and conduct a nationwide review of reproductive health policies and practices at ICE facilities.

Leahy urges Trump to work with Congress provide emergency rental assistance

Fri, 09/18/2020 - 3:13pm -- tim

Vermont Business Magazine US Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Ranking Member of the US Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs, on Thursday led 30 of his Senate colleagues including Vermont Senator Patrick Leahy in sending a letter to President Trump urging him to work with Congress on a bipartisan basis to enact legislation that provides the emergency assistance and protections renters need to stay in their homes. Millions of children and youth are at risk of being evicted from their homes due to the Trump administration’s refusal to support critical rental assistance and relief measures to protect their health and well-being during this pandemic.

Weekly unemployment claims fall to lowest level since early March

Fri, 09/18/2020 - 1:50pm -- tim

by Timothy McQuiston, Vermont Business Magazine Weekly unemployment claims fell by over 100 last week and are at their lowest level since the first week of March. However, there are still about 35,000 Vermonters receiving either regular or pandemic unemployment benefits. For the week ending September 12, 2020, the Labor Department processed 612 Initial Claims, down 119 from the previous week and 372 more than the same time last year. Summer typically produces the lowest UI numbers.

Leahy calls for review of political interference in the Durham investigation

Fri, 09/18/2020 - 1:11pm -- tim

Vermont Business Magazine Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vermont) Thursday joined Senate Judiciary Committee Ranking Member Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) and all 10 committee Democrats in calling on the Justice Department inspector general to review whether U.S. Attorney John Durham’s probe into FBI activities is violating longstanding rules that protect criminal investigations from political influence. Their letter follows reports that Durham’s top deputy resigned due to concerns that Durham is being pressured to issue a report before the upcoming election.

RDCs of Vermont to deliver $1.17 million in small business technical assistance

Fri, 09/18/2020 - 11:41am -- tim

​Vermont Business Magazine Today, Governor Phil Scott and Lindsay Kurrle, Secretary of the Agency of Commerce and Community Development announced the distribution of S2.S million in federal CARES Act funding for Restart Vermont Technical Assistance. The program is free to COVID-19-impacted businesses and funded through $2.5 million in federal CARES Act funding. The program is now live and businesses can begin accessing resources immediately.

August unemployment rate drops steeply to 4.8 as Labor Force falls

Fri, 09/18/2020 - 10:33am -- tim

by Timothy McQuiston, Vermont Business Magazine Today, the Vermont Department of Labor announced that the state's unemployment rate fell dramatically in August to a seasonally-adjusted rate of 4.8 percent. This reflects a decrease of three and five-tenths percentage points from the prior month’s revised estimate of 8.3 percent. Vermont's jobless rate is tied for fourth lowest in the nation. The decline was fueled largely by a Labor Force decline of nearly 15,000 workers from the July report and a steep decline in the number of unemployed of almost 13,000. The number of employed also fell by about 2,000.

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