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Hoffer releases audit of VTrans cost and schedule performance on paving projects

Thu, 03/16/2023 - 5:03pm -- tim

Vermont Business Magazine State Auditor Doug Hoffer released a new audit Wednesday examining whether VTrans completes its paving projects on time and within budget, and whether they utilize performance measurement tools to accomplish those objectives. The Governor’s State Strategic Plan includes the goal of improving “transportation project planning” by continuously improving “project development efficiency by reducing the time and cost for planning, engineering, permitting, right-of-way acquisition and construction management.” The importance of that goal is evidenced by the Legislature’s approval of $590 million for paving projects from fiscal years 2019 through 2023. The audit assessed the cost and schedule performance for 14 paving projects against VTrans’ initial estimates to the Legislature and found significant deviations, primarily in the preliminary engineering phase. For instance, VTrans experienced preliminary engineering completion delays for some projects by as much as 3 to 6 years yet could not fully explain what caused the delays.

Balint supports protections for those seeking services from faith-based and neighborhood organizations

Thu, 03/16/2023 - 4:03pm -- tim

Vermont Business Magazine Representative Becca Balint (D-Vermont) and nine other members submitted a comment letter to Federal Agencies heads regarding a proposed rule by the Education Department, the Homeland Security Department, the Agriculture Department, the Agency for International Development, the Housing and Urban Development Department, the Justice Department, the Labor Department, the Veterans Affairs Department, and the Health and Human Services Department. The letter was submitted in support of the proposed regulations entitled “Partnerships with Faith Based and Neighborhood Organizations” and to urge additional improvements to ensure robust religious liberty and nondiscrimination protections for people who use federally funded social services.

Welch introduces bill to repeal 2018 rollback of Dodd-Frank protections

Thu, 03/16/2023 - 3:58pm -- tim

Vermont Business Magazine US Senator Peter Welch (D-Vermont) joined Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), U.S. Representative Katie Porter (D-Calif.) and dozens of other Democratic lawmakers to introduce the Secure Viable Banking Act, legislation that would repeal Title IV of the Economic Growth, Regulatory Relief, and Consumer Protection Act of 2018 following the collapse of Silicon Valley Bank (SVB) and Signature Bank. Senator Welch vehemently opposed the 2018 deregulation bill and voted to uphold the consumer protections granted under Dodd-Frank. 

Vermont APEX Accelerator unveils new name and renewed focus on small business support

Thu, 03/16/2023 - 3:31pm -- tim

Vermont Business Magazine Last fall, Procurement Technical Assistance Centers (PTACs) across the nation became a program managed under the Department of Defense, Office of Small Business Programs. With the structural change, came an opportunity to rebrand and PTACs are now nationally recognized as APEX Accelerators. In Vermont, the center will be known as Vermont APEX Accelerator. This transition will bring increased national visibility, increased resources, and new opportunities to assist clients. Locally, Vermont APEX Accelerator serves close to 500 clients, and has assisted them with winning over $195 million in government awards in 2022.

EPA analysis shows 2021 toxic chemical releases in Vermont have decreased

Thu, 03/16/2023 - 3:25pm -- tim

Vermont Business Magazine Today, the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released its 2021 Toxics Release Inventory (TRI) National Analysis, which shows that environmental releases of TRI chemicals from facilities covered by the program remained below pre-pandemic levels and releases in 2021 are 10% lower than 2012 releases, even with an 8% increase from 2020 to 2021.

VCBB congratulates NEKCA on ACP grant award

Thu, 03/16/2023 - 3:04pm -- tim

Vermont Business Magazine Northeast Kingdom Community Action (NEKCA) has been awarded a $500,000 Affordable Connectivity Outreach Grant to help promote and raise awareness of and participation in the Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP). NEKCA will be the main grantee and will subgrant out funding across the five different Community Action Agencies of the Vermont Community Action Partnership (VCAP). Funded entities include NEKCA, BROC, CVOEO, SEVCA, and Capstone. The ACP is a Federal Communications Commission (FCC) benefit program that provides a discount of up to $30 per month toward internet service for eligible households. To be eligible, a household income must be at or below 200% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines, or a member of the household must meet other requirements

What not to flush: Prevent issues and save time and money

Thu, 03/16/2023 - 3:01pm -- tim

Vermont Business Magazine The Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) is offering a few tips on what not to flush and how to better dispose of that waste. Most things – including tissues, cotton swabs, floss, diapers, feminine hygiene products, coffee grounds, cat litter, wipes, excess household cleaners, cigarette butts, and drugs – should not be flushed. Even products advertised as ‘flushable’ can clog drains, accumulate in pumps in the sewer system, or interfere with treatment at wastewater facilities, all of which cost the homeowner or the public extra money. For health and sanitation reasons, Vermonters should only flush bodily fluids, soap, and toilet paper. 

Limited-time discounts on efficient lighting

Thu, 03/16/2023 - 11:43am -- tim

Vermont Business Magazine Changes to the national and local lighting market means these point-of-sale discounts are expiring starting in July of 2023. Now is the time to upgrade your business or home's lighting for the best price. LEDs have come a long way in the past couple decades. What used to be a high-cost alternative for most businesses and homes has now become the standard when replacing old lighting. Because of this, new Federal and State laws call for only high-efficiency LED lighting to be sold starting in 2023. By January 1, 2024, there will only be efficient lighting available for sale in the State of Vermont.

GMEDC acquires Randolph building for future childcare center

Thu, 03/16/2023 - 11:21am -- tim

Vermont Business Magazine Green Mountain Economic Development Corporation (GMEDC) has closed on the lower building at the former Enterprise Center property on Route 66 in Randolph, the future site of a new, state-of-the-art childcare center. An innovative partnership between GMEDC and Orange County Parent Child Center (OCPCC), OCPCC - Randolph will serve 88 children and is scheduled to open in the Fall of 2024. A culmination of several years of work at the Town, regional, state, and Federal levels, this transaction secures site control and allows GMEDC to move forward with final design development and construction.

Vermont gasoline prices below US average as prices are expected to rise

Thu, 03/16/2023 - 10:22am -- tim

Vermont Business Magazine Average gasoline prices in Vermont are unchanged in the last week at $3.42 per gallon today. They're 5 cents/g lower than a month ago and 82 cents/g lower than a year ago. The national average is $4.43/g and falling after a recent rise. Prices are expected to edge up as summer formulations come on the market. The national average price of diesel has fallen 4.1 cents in the last week and stands at $4.30 per gallon, as diesel prices have been falling steadily.

National Life Group sponsors Spectrum Sleep Out to combat youth homelessness

Thu, 03/16/2023 - 10:05am -- tim

Vermont Business Magazine National Life Group is sponsoring Spectrum Youth & Family Services Sleep Out 2023, in which participants sleep outside to raise awareness and support in combatting youth homelessness. An annual fundraiser, the Sleep Out brings in about $300,000 to help combat homelessness for Vermont teens. Since 2015, The National Life Group Foundation has supported Spectrum through grants and National Life has supported its work through sponsorships. Spectrum has also been a recipient of National Life’s Share the Good, an employee donation match program, as well as being a popular place for employee volunteer hours to be used.

Norwich to host second annual Amazon Web Services (AWS) Business Case Competition

Thu, 03/16/2023 - 10:03am -- tim

Vermont Business Magazine Norwich University announced today that it will host its second annual Amazon Web Services (AWS) Business Case Competition. The event, which is presented by the Norwich University School of Business, will take place on March 30, 2023, where teams of Norwich students will compete and present their work to a panel of judges featuring representatives from AWS. This year’s AWS Business Case will focus on Autonomous Vehicles, Electric Vehicles and Sustainability within Automotive Manufacturing. Winners will be announced at a formal awards ceremony that will take place on the Norwich campus at the Plumley Armory from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m., featuring a keynote presentation by Lieutenant Governor of the State of Vermont, David Zuckerman, as well as remarks from AWS Director of Professional Services for Industrials and Norwich class of ‘94 graduate, Jon Allen.