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Newsbriefs in October 2020

Sat, 11/21/2020 - 5:40am -- tim

Vermont beats revenue targets in all three funds

Revenue collections through September 2020 continue to exceed expectations, with the vital personal income tax showing particular strength. General Fund revenues for the month of September were $165.97 million versus the monthly target of $134.49 million, +$31.49 million or +23.41% above the consensus target.

Ben & Jerry's: More dough for cocoa farmers

Sat, 11/21/2020 - 4:42am -- tim

Vermont Business Magazine Cocoa farmers in Cote D'Ivoire are set to earn higher prices for their beans, as Ben & Jerry's ramps up its living income approach for farmers, in partnership with Fairtrade. From October 2020 onwards, around 5,000 Fairtrade cocoa farmers in Ben & Jerry's supply chain will receive approximately an additional $600,000 over the next year. 

Sticky Brand now holds the record title for the largest ball of stickers – 308.25 pounds

Sat, 11/21/2020 - 2:50am -- tim

Vermont Business Magazine Sticky Brand – the Vermont based company specializing in custom-made stickers, decals, and design services – is thrilled to announce that it has been awarded the official GUINNESS WORLD RECORDS title for the largest ball of stickers. The ball, which was made entirely from excess stickers, weighs an impressive 308.25 pounds.

VDH COVID-19 Update: 146 cases, one death, avoid social gatherings

Fri, 11/20/2020 - 5:31pm -- tim

Vermont Business Magazine The Vermont Department of Health today reported one more death for 62 total and 146 new cases of COVID-19, which is just two short of yesterday's record high. As daily cases of COVID-19 continue to reach new heights, Health Commissioner Mark Levine, MD, said we can still contain the virus, but we need Vermonters’ help. “Avoiding social gatherings, limiting non-essential travel, quarantining when necessary, and taking prevention steps will help stem this rising tide — but only if Vermonters follow the guidance,” Dr Levine said. “It’s too soon to see the impact… But with a little patience, and a lot of compliance, I am hopeful we can make a difference.”

PAI: Joblessness drags on as assistance dries up

Fri, 11/20/2020 - 4:41pm -- tim

Public Assets Institute Initial claims for unemployment compensation have been rising since mid-October, when they hit the lowest mark since the pandemic began. Vermont’s 860 new claims in the second week of November were filed before renewed restrictions closed bars and limited restaurant hours. According to the Vermont Chamber of Commerce, these orders affect approximately 12,000 Vermont workers.

Scott eases some restrictions while reporting another COVID-19 death

Fri, 11/20/2020 - 4:26pm -- tim

Vermont Business Magazine Governor Phil Scott at his regular press briefing today, updated guidance issued a week ago on social engagement. He said these were "commonsense" changes predicated on feedback the administration had received. In particular, the governor had previously announced that individuals could no longer take a walk outside with a non-household member. He rescinded that today and is allowing people to be outside with one non-household member, while still maintaining the usual COVID-19 health protocols like social distancing and mask wearing.

UVM Medical Center takes cautious steps to restore services after cyberattack

Fri, 11/20/2020 - 3:11pm -- tim

Vermont Business Magazine The University of Vermont Health Network said in a statement today that it plans to begin restoring access this weekend to the Epic electronic health records system beyond the current “read only” status to all inpatient and ambulatory sites at UVM Medical Center. We are also working to restore Epic access to ambulatory sites at Central Vermont Medical Center (Berlin), Champlain Valley Physicians Hospital (Plattsburgh, NY), and Porter Medical Center (Middlebury) as quickly as possible.

State tax revenues stay above targets

Fri, 11/20/2020 - 1:40pm -- tim

Vermont Business Magazine General Fund, Transportation Fund, and Education Fund tax receipts were $18.27 million, or 10.1%, above expectations in October. Personal income, the most important General Fund revenue source, was $17.7 million above target (26.3 percent). Corporate income, which tends to fluctuate because of when it is reported, was $13.1 million below or over 400 percent. As for the vital consumer taxes, the sales tax was up a robust 23.3 percent, while the rooms & meals tax, which has been especially hard hit during the pandemic, was up nearly 10 percent. Because of the pandemic, all revenue expectations were revised down by economists in August, but have generally been above those expectations since.

Weekly unemployment claims continue to rise

Fri, 11/20/2020 - 12:01pm -- tim

by Timothy McQuiston, Vermont Business Magazine Weekly unemployment claims increased again last week. After being near their lowest levels since the beginning of the pandemic, claims have increased for five straight weeks. Claims increased by 55 to 860 (up 167 from the same time last year). The last week claims were under 500 was on March 7 when there were 446. As for the week's ongoing jobless claims, for the week ending November 11, 2020, the Labor Department processed 11,685 claims, down 329 from the previous week and 8,285 more than the same time last year.

IRS issues tax guidance on PPP loan forgiveness expenses and income

Fri, 11/20/2020 - 11:51am -- tim

Vermont Business Magazine On November 18, 2020 the US Treasury Department and the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) issued tax guidance further clarifying that expenses paid with forgiven Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans do not qualify for a business expense tax deduction. The guidance also reconfirmed that Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans that have been forgiven or are expected to be forgiven shall be excluded from gross income tax.

Vermont’s unemployment rate falls to 3.2 percent in October

Fri, 11/20/2020 - 10:41am -- tim

by Timothy McQuiston, Vermont Business Magazine The Vermont unemployment rate fell steeply in October as both the number of employed went up as the number of unemployed went down. That is tempered again, however, by another decline in the labor force. The seasonally-adjusted statewide unemployment rate for October was 3.2 percent. This reflects a decrease of one and one tenth percentage points from the prior month’s revised estimate of 4.3 percent. The comparable United States rate in October was 6.9 percent, a decrease of one percentage point from the revised September estimate. Vermont has the second lowest rate in the nation behind Nebraska.

VT Breakfast on the Farm Awards $31,000 in dairy promotion grants

Fri, 11/20/2020 - 10:21am -- tim

Vermont Business Magazine This year Vermont Breakfast on the Farm shifted its approach to agritourism due to COVID-19.  Instead of hosting in-person breakfast on the farm events, a virtual tour was held at Newmont Farm for 1,800 people in May.  In addition, a new grant program was created to give Vermont farmers and industry organizations the opportunity to engage the public in learning about modern dairy farming in the Green Mountain State in creative ways.

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