Vermont Business Magazine The owner of the Brattleboro Reformer, Bennington Banner, Manchester Journal and UpCountry Magazine is selling the properties to a new group formed by Paul Belogour of Guilford, Vermont. The Reformer and Banner are daily newspapers, the Journal is a weekly and UpCountry is a lifestyle magazine that covers the Berkshires and Bennington and Windham counties in Vermont. They were all part of New England Newspapers Inc, which includes the daily Pittsfield (MA) Eagle.
NENI president and publisher Fredric D Rutberg made the announcement today. He said they are holding onto the Eagle as they expand the digital products. All employees will be retained. Financial terms were not disclosed.
The Eagle will continue to print the publications for a contracted period of time (the Eagle also prints Vermont Business Magazine). The Vermont papers no longer have their own printing presses. VBM was the last publication printed on the Reformer presses.
Rutberg wrote on the group's newsletter: "New Ownership for our Vermont Publications: I am delighted to announce that New England Newspapers, Inc. has agreed to sell our Vermont publications to Vermont News and Media, LLC, a company formed by Paul Belogour of Guilford, Vermont. The sale will include: the Brattleboro Reformer, the Bennington Banner, the Manchester Journal as well as UpCountry, and it will close on Friday, May 14. Paul Belogour is the founder of Boston Unisoft Technologies, and he has a reputation for innovation in IT and financial software technology. Locally, he founded the Vermont Innovation Box in Brattleboro. More important, Paul has a home in Guilford, Vermont, and he has made several substantial investments in Southern Vermont. He will bring the type of local ownership, control and investment to the Vermont publications as Bob Wilmers, Hans Morris and I have done to The Berkshire Eagle. Vermont News and Media has agreed to hire all of NENI’s Vermont employees.
"The sale will allow ownership and management to concentrate our efforts on building The Eagle into the finest community news organization in America. In the last several months I announced our intentions of Being Digital, which means new ventures and investments will be focused on our digital products, while we continue to maintain and grow the print side of our business. The focus on Being Digital reflects the notable growth in digital circulation that we have realized over the past few years. Although we had not planned it, most of the initiatives and efforts we have made toward Being Digital were designed around The Eagle. Frankly, when Bob, Hans and I started down the road together our destination was to purchase The Eagle. Because we were Eagle readers and lived in the Berkshires, we knew how important The Eagle is to this community and we were driven to preserve and enhance a vital local institution. Now we are able to devote our time and effort where we first planned.
"While NENI is selling the Vermont publications, we will be closely connected to them for the foreseeable future. Indeed, to some it may appear that we have entered a partnership. Part of the transaction includes a contract for The Eagle to continue to print the Vermont papers, including the Shoppers, for the next 5 years. For more than the next year, The Eagle will provide pagination for all of the Vermont publications, and it will build and place the advertisements sold for these publications. The Eagle will continue to provide customer service, both for classified advertising and circulation, to Vermont, and The Eagle will manage its circulation, accounts receivable and accounts payable. Because of this close connection, there will be no reduction in employment in Pittsfield either.
"We have strong ties to each other, and I hope that the affection and commitment which are at the heart of these ties continues unabated through and after the closing of this sale. Both NENI and Vermont News and Media will do better and be stronger if their counterpart enjoys similar success, so for this reason, among myriad others, I join my colleagues in ownership, the Board and management in pledging to do all we can to make this transition as smooth as possible and to assist Vermont News and Media succeed in every way.
"Finally, the sale was not designed or predicated for financial reasons. It came about for the operational ones described above. However, NENI will come out of this transaction in an even stronger financial position than it had been before we were approached by Vermont News and Media."