News in Brief January 2022

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Scott budget address: ‘Stand together’ as ‘economic future is in our hands’

Governor Phil Scott offered workforce, housing, environmental initiatives, tax breaks and state debt reduction in his annual budget address January 18, which lays out how he would spend $7.7 billion.

“In my 21 years in public life, there has never been a more transformative moment,” Scott said. “We have, within our grasp, the chance to combine good ideas, thoughtful legislation, and unprecedented financial resources into a better, brighter future — where there are good jobs, affordable homes, and every community is thriving; where every kid is getting the best education, whether they go to the largest school or the smallest; where families keep more of what they earn; and where a healthy and vibrant economy in all 14 counties allows us to protect the vulnerable and invest in the things we care about most. My friends, the budget I present to you today was built with these outcomes in mind, to make the most of this historic moment.”

The governor is emphasizing affordability and workforce development. The proposals include tax credits for nurses and trades workers, and tax reductions for pensions, including zeroing out those for veterans to help build back the workforce.

While the Legislature has not been supportive in the past about tax cuts, both the governor and the Legislature appear to be on board with child care tax credits and renewable energy incentives.

About $3 billion will come from federal funding. There is also about $400 million in state General Fund surpluses.

These are proposals. The Legislature ultimately passes the budget, and the governor, at the end of the process, can sign it into law or veto the bill.

 

Economists say flood of revenue is unsustainable

The state’s economists, Jeff Carr for the Scott Administration and Tom Kavet for the Legislature, presented a stunning but expected consensus revenue report to lawmakers and the governor in mid-January. Along with upgrading the annual tax revenue estimate by over $40 million, they forecasted growth in this and next fiscal years to be greater than they’ve been in more than 30 years. Of course, this is largely due to $10.1 billion in federal pandemic recovery and stimulus funds. They also suggest that except for the extremely tight labor market and supply chain problems (profoundly with automobiles), the economy would be cooking along at an even greater rate.

Other good news includes positive net migration and significant broadband expansion enhancements: “This could be one of the most transformational changes affecting the long-term Vermont economy in decades,” Kavet said.

On the other hand, workforce problems could get even worse, which even before the pandemic was a binder on the state economy: “Some negative pandemic effects are also likely to persist, including earlier retirement ages for older workers, and the resultant reduction in the available labor force.”

And of course there is inflation: “Inflationary pressures will remain well into 2022 and 2023, as the pandemic affects global manufacturing, transportation, and consumer preferences. While markets will eventually adjust — they cannot turn on a dime — and prices will reflect supply/demand imbalances.”

And then there is the double-edged sword of home values during the pandemic: “Growth in Vermont was 17.7%, the highest in more than 30 years. This will affect Grand List valuations and Education Fund tax rates in the coming years.”

Housing affordability was already a problem for many Vermonters. But the surge in prices will lead to greater equity and, presumably, increase demand for new home construction.

But in near-future years, the economy and therefore tax revenues are expected to slow considerably as the well of federal grants dries up.

 

December unemployment rate falls to 2.5%

The Vermont Department of Labor has reported that the state’s unemployment rate fell another tenth to 2.5% for December 2021. However, there was very little change in the major metrics (statistically insignificant) from November: The labor force was down 248, as was the number of unemployed (down 307), and the number of employed was up 59. The numbers are much stronger when compared to a year ago, when the jobless rate was a full-point higher. The comparable United States rate in December was 3.9%, which was a decrease of three-tenths of one percentage point from the revised November estimate. Vermont is tied for fifth lowest. Nebraska is lowest at 1.7% and California is highest at 6.5%.

 

UVM Health Network President Brumsted to retire in September

After more than four decades as a physician, innovator and national leader in health care, John R. Brumsted, MD, President and CEO of The University of Vermont Health Network, will retire in September from the position he has held since the Network was founded.

Over the course of his career, Dr Brumsted served as a physician specializing in Obstetrics and Gynecology in rural Northern New York and at the University of Vermont Medical Center. He brought individual health care organizations together as a health system, including Porter Medical Center and Central Vermont Medical Center, as well as the now UVMHN Home Health & Hospice, UVMHN Medical Group, and three hospitals in Update New York.

 

COVID cases begin to fall in Vermont, Northeast

COVID-19 cases remain elevated in Vermont, with the daily number of new infections averaging over 1,000, as of January 25. However, the state reported nearly 2,900 fewer cases during the last full week of the month than the previous week, a decrease of 27%, which suggests cases are slowing earlier than expected. Vermont has reported over 100,000 confirmed infections overall.

The CDC model predicts Vermont can expect lower COVID counts in the coming weeks; decreases in hospitalizations and deaths will lag falling cases. Hospitals continue to report high numbers of COVID patients and reduced staffing.

Unvaccinated Vermonters occupy a majority of hospital beds. Hospitalizations are expected to start declining in early February as cases fall. Recent Vermont data points to Omicron’s lower severity, with those hospitalized for the virus now requiring fewer days in the hospital than with previous variants.

Cases across the Northeast are in decline, with all states reporting overall decreases in case counts as the Omicron surge appears to wane (Maine excluded due to reporting anomalies).

Vermont per capita COVID hospitalizations also track substantially below other states in the region, with the third-lowest rate in the US.

Nationally cases have begun to decline, with the Northeast recording the sharpest case decreases. However, the rate of decrease has slowed in countries first hit by Omicron.

Fatalities in Vermont (43 to date in January) are running below those of December (62) and are more similar to November (42). The highest month on record for COVID deaths was December 2020 with 71.

 

GMP requests 2022 base rate increase of 2.34%

Green Mountain Power (GMP) has filed a base-rate request seeking a 2.34% increase starting October 1, 2022. If approved by the Vermont Public Utility Commission (PUC), the new rates would be in effect until September 30, 2023. GMP said in a statement that the filing continues its long commitment to keep rates low and stable even when significant cost pressures exist. At the same time, the filing supports GMP’s nationally recognized work to innovate and eliminate carbon from its portfolio.

 

General and Education funds exceed tax revenue expectations

The personal income tax, the most important General Fund revenue source, continues to perform well. And has been the case for several years, it was supported by the tourism-related rooms and meals tax.

The state’s General Fund, Transportation Fund, and Education Fund receipts in December were a combined $241.4 million, or 0.8% above monthly consensus expectations. Cumulative revenues remain 2.6% above consensus expectations for the first half of the state’s fiscal year.

General Fund revenues collected for the month totaled $165.9 million, or $1.8 million above the monthly consensus revenue target.

For the six-month period, General Fund revenues were $855.8 million, exceeding their target by $29.0 million or 3.5%.

The Transportation Fund was slightly below consensus expectations for December, bringing in $22.6 million compared to the consensus estimate of $23.8 million. Fiscal year-to-date, the T-Fund brought in $145.0 million, which is $1.5 million or -1.0% below the consensus cash flow target. Revenue into the T-Fund continued the pattern of below target fuel taxes (gas and diesel).

The Education Fund was $1.3 million or 2.5% above the monthly consensus target, having collected $52.9 million for the month. Overall, revenues into the Ed Fund have been healthy.

 

Broadband Board commits $116 million to construction grant program

The Vermont Community Broadband Board (VCBB) has launched a $116 million Broadband Construction Grant Program. Beginning this spring, the program will allow Communications Union Districts (CUDs) and other eligible providers to accelerate construction efforts to reach all Vermonters without adequate broadband service.

This year, the Broadband Construction Grant Program will provide $100 million in funding from the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) to CUDs; small communications carriers; and/or internet service providers working in conjunction with a CUD to cover construction costs (materials, equipment, labor) related to broadband projects. Although municipalities are not considered eligible applicants under Act 71, they are encouraged to work with a provider to apply for funding.

 

Scott announces $50 million Homeowner Assistance Program

Governor Phil Scott and the Department of Housing and Community Development have announced that the Homeowner Assistance Program (HAP), which will help Vermont homeowners facing pandemic hardships, is now accepting applications. The program, funded by $50 million from the federal American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA), will provide grants of up to $30,000 per household towards overdue mortgage payments, utility bills, property taxes, and property association charges.

 

Vermont updates ‘Test at Home’ program for K-12 Schools

The Agency of Education and the Department of Health has announced a new “Test at Home” guidance about testing and quarantine protocols at Vermont’s K-12 schools. These changes, which go into effect as soon as schools have the tests necessary to implement them, are designed to allow students and staff to remain safely in the classroom as much as possible. This program replaces the in-school Test to Stay program for presumptive close contacts of positive COVID-19 cases with an “at-home” based rapid testing process. State officials said the speed at which the Omicron variant spreads means that the current strategy — which relies on contact tracing, in-school PCR surveillance testing, and in-school antigen testing — is too slow and logistically burdensome to be workable for many schools.

 

Vermont gets more than $1.6M from FEMA for ‘Everyone Eats’

FEMA will be sending more than $1.6 million to the State of Vermont to reimburse the costs of providing emergency meals for residents in need during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The $1,613,025 Public Assistance grant will go to the Agency of Commerce and Community Development for providing meal preparation and delivery service to high-risk populations under the state’s emergency feeding program “Vermont Everyone Eats” between October and November 2021.

During that time the agency entered into an agreement with Southeastern Vermont Community Action, Inc, which established and coordinated with state-wide Hubs that worked with restaurants to produce and distribute 129,042 meals and feed 81,195 people.

 

Poll: Scott is still popular as are more COVID mitigation measures

A new poll from Vermont Public Radio and Vermont PBS, conducted between January 3 and January 9, shows Governor Phil Scott remains quite popular, and receives high marks for his handling of the pandemic.

Those polled support a statewide mask mandate and getting kids vaccinated, but oppose triaging in hospitals those who are not vaccinated, who now account for most of the serious COVID cases despite being a small percentage of the population.

 

Trade Show Assistance Grants now available

The Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food & Markets (VAAFM) is now accepting applications for the Trade Show Assistance Grant program. This funding helps Vermont agriculture and forestry businesses with funds to identify, plan, exhibit, and sell their Vermont products at out-of-state trade shows or virtual shows targeting out-of-state buyers. Funding for these matching grants comes from the Working Lands Enterprise and provide 50% reimbursements for eligible trade show-related expenses to help businesses connect with wholesale buyers.

 

Burlington gets federal environmental approval for the Champlain Parkway

Mayor Miro Weinberger and the City of Burlington Department of Public Works has announced that a Record of Decision (ROD) for the Champlain Parkway Project has been issued by the Federal Highway Administration on January 20, 2022. The issuance of the ROD signals the completion of the National Environmental Policy Act process for environmental clearance. The Record of Decision allows work to move forward on the project to improve traffic circulation in the overburdened Southwest section of the city. Construction is estimated to cost $37 million and could begin this year.

 

All 350,000 phase one rapid COVID tests have been ordered

All 350,000 tests available through the first phase of a “Say Yes” rapid test pilot program for COVID-19 have been ordered. The partnership with National Institutes of Health (NIH) and Amazon allowed Vermonters to order 350,000 free rapid tests, which were to be delivered to homes over one to two weeks. Another 150,000 rapid tests are expected to become available from the state soon.

 

Health declining in Vermont, Northeast during pandemic

As the COVID pandemic continues, new research reveals how people in Vermont and Maine are struggling with their mental and physical health.

The findings detail numerous troubling health trends—including significant increases in anxiety, depression, weight gain, substance use, chronic disease, missed medications and food insecurity—since the pandemic’s onset.

The new report, released by University of Vermont and University of Maine researchers, finds that many of these health problems are highest among individuals suffering from food insecurity.

Key findings:

  • Nearly 50% reported anxiety or depression during the pandemic.
  • Roughly 40% reported weight gain.
  • Roughly 29% reported food insecurity.

Individuals with food insecurity were up to 7 times more likely to skip or stop their medication for anxiety, depression, or hypertension, compared to food secure respondents.

Those with persistent food insecurity (before and during the pandemic) were 8.8 times more likely to experience higher levels of stress, 2.6 times more likely to experi­ence anxiety, and be diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes and hypertension.

Users of alcohol, tobacco, or drugs were more likely to increase substance use. Substance use was also associated with a higher prevalence of stress.

Food insecure individuals were significantly less likely to consume fruits and vegetables and engage in physical activity than those who are food secure.

LGBTQ+ individuals were more likely to be food insecure, 4 times more likely to report anxiety or depression, and experienced greater stress than non-LGBTQ+ individuals.

 

Kesha Ram Hinsdale announces campaign for Congress

State Senator Kesha Ram Hinsdale (D-Chittenden) has announced her candidacy for Vermont’s open At-Large Congressional Seat. The seat is currently held by Democrat Peter Welch, who previously announced he would run for retiring Patrick Leahy’s US Senate seat. Ram Hinsdale will face at least Lieutenant Governor Molly Gray and Senate President Becca Balint from Windham County. They also are Democrats who announced they would run for Congress.

 

UVM Medical Center enacts emergency COVID staffing plan

Beginning January 13, the UVM Medical Center operated under an emergency staffing plan that will deploy staff to areas of highest need. The plan is expected to be in place for several weeks, and will be reviewed weekly. If any services at outpatient clinics need to be adjusted going forward, we will inform patients and the community.

As hospitals across the United States face increasing COVID-19 cases among patients and staff due to the omicron variant, the number of UVM Medical Center employees restricted from work due to COVID-19 – after testing positive, experiencing symptoms, or having an exposure at home, at work or in the community – is currently at 422 and is expected to continue climbing. At the same time, other employees have needed to stay home to care for children or loved ones, and patient volumes continue to be high.

 

Merrill Lynch settles with state, receiver for $4.5 million over Jay Peak EB-5 projects

On January 6, 2022, the Vermont Department of Financial Regulation (DFR) and the federally appointed receiver for Jay Peak, Michael Goldberg, announced a settlement with the broker-dealer firm Merrill Lynch, Pierce, Fenner & Smith Incorporated (Merrill Lynch). The settlement totals $4.5 million and relates to Merrill Lynch’s handling of accounts used in connection with the Jay Peak EB-5 fraud.

 

DFR orders Vail Resorts not to refund money to Mt Snow EB-5 investors

The Vermont Department of Financial Regulation has ordered Vail Resorts last week not to issue refunds to about 30 EB-5 investors in Mt Snow as it intended, according to the Burlington Free Press, because the refunds would violate Vermont securities law, potentially resulting in tens of thousands of dollars in fines.

If Mt Snow-owner Vail Resorts does issue refunds to the Mt Snow investors who have not yet completed the process to receive their green cards, those investors will lose the opportunity to get their green cards as a result of their investment in the resort, violating a promise made when they signed up for the projects, Pieciak said. The investments have to be “at risk” until a green card is issued, according to EB-5 regulations.

 

Hazelett Strip-Casting acquired by Austrian firm

The legendary Hazelett Strip-Casting Corporation of Colchester has been acquired by EBNER Group, headquartered in Leonding, Austria, through the acquisition by EBNER of a majority interest in Hazelett. Mino S.p.A, based in Alessandria, Italy, will remain a shareholder along with David Hazelett, who will also remain as both a shareholder and president. Financial terms were not disclosed.

 

Vermont to get $1 million from FEMA to cover COVID admin costs

The Federal Emergency Management Agency will be sending more than $1 million to the State of Vermont to reimburse the state for administrative costs incurred during the COVID-19 pandemic. The Vermont Agency of Commerce and Community Development will receive a total of $1,049,791 in federal funding through FEMA’s Public Assistance grant program to cover the costs of administering grants FEMA provided to the state to reimburse the costs of implementing food distribution programs providing meals to those in need and who were affected by the pandemic.

 

UVM, VGS, GF advance use of ‘green hydrogen’ as fuel of the future

The promise of a hydrogen economy and a clean energy future is taking a step forward with an innovative project that will take shape at GlobalFoundries (GF), thanks to a partnership with Vermont Gas Systems, Inc. (VGS) and the University of Vermont.

The pilot project will allow GF to reduce its carbon emissions even further by introducing the use of green hydrogen, which will be produced on-site at its Fab 9 campus in Essex Junction.

The plant would employ renewable energy “spillage” from otherwise unused solar or wind generation because of oversupply on a particular day to extract hydrogen via an electronic process from distilled water and simply feed it into the regular natural gas supply as needed at the plant.

 

Vermont minimum wage increases to $12.55

The Vermont state’s minimum wage increased January 1, 2022, to $12.55 per hour. This is an increase of $0.80 from the previous minimum wage of $11.75.

This annual adjustment also impacts the minimum wage for tipped employees. The Basic Tipped Wage Rate for service, or “tipped employees,” equals 50% of the full minimum wage. On January 1, 2022, the tipped minimum wage increases from $5.88 to $6.28 per hour.

 

Vermont businesses to see decrease in workers’ comp insurance for sixth year

Governor Phil Scott and Department of Financial Regulation (DFR) Commissioner Michael Pieciak have announced that Vermont businesses will see another rate decrease in workers’ compensation insurance in 2022. This is the sixth straight year workers’ compensation rates have decreased, and when combined with decreases from 2017-2021, Vermont employers will pay an average of 41% less in premiums than they did in 2016. The rate reduction will be effective on April 1, 2022, which is estimated to save Vermont employers over $8 million in premiums during the upcoming year.

 

Prison research survey finds disturbing results, mental health issues

UVM, the Vermont Department of Corrections, and the Urban Institute has released initial findings from the first phase of the Prison Research and Innovation Network (PRIN) in Vermont, one of five states participating in the five-year effort to build evidence and spur innovation to make prisons more humane, safe, and rehabilitative. Survey results from staff, incarcerated people at Southern State Correctional Facility in Springfield highlighted issues around correctional staffing, programming for incarcerated people, and high rates of mental health concerns. Serious suicidal thoughts were high for both inmates (36%) and staff (10%).

 

Stoweflake sold to NYC hotel firm

MCR Development from New York City — the country’s 4th-largest hotel owner-operator — has announced that it has acquired the 117-room Stoweflake Mountain Resort & Spa in Stowe, Vermont. Financial terms were not disclosed. The resort was founded, owned and operated by the Baraw family since 1948.

 

Specialty Crop Grant Opportunities

The Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food, & Markets (VAAFM) has announced $500,000 in grant funds to strengthen Vermont’s specialty crop industries and producer associations. Two funding opportunities are available: 2022 Vermont Specialty Crop Block Grant Program: Grant funds will enhance the competitiveness of specialty crops by leveraging efforts to market and promote specialty crops, assisting producers with research and development, expanding availability and access to specialty crops, or addressing local, regional, and national challenges for producers. Specialty Crop Producer Association Grant: This grant opportunity will support producer associations that serve specialty crop businesses.

 

NEK Broadband lights up first customers in Concord

While many took a break for the holiday season, NEK Broadband and its partners were hard at work completing the first section of its fiber-optic network and customer installations. Construction crews battled inclement weather to finish hanging fiber-optic cable on utility poles, installing “drops” to customers’ homes, and turning on the very first service on its new network. When this initial project is complete, almost 350 addresses in parts of Concord and Lunenburg, plus a few addresses in Waterford, can subscribe for access to 100 Mbps symmetrical service or higher.

 

Governor launches program to subsidize EV charging stations for apartments

Governor Phil Scott and the Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD) have launched the Multi-unit Dwelling Electric Vehicle Charging Grant Program to bring more home-charging opportunities to Vermonters. $1,000,000 in funding is available to subsidize the cost of purchasing and installing Electric Vehicle (EV) charging stations at rental properties to provide residents with at-home charging access. Grants will be awarded up to $80,000 per site and $300,000 per applicant, with priority grant awards given to affordable housing projects.

 

EPA proposes update to cleanup plan for Superfund site in Williston

The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has proposed an update to the agency’s plan to clean up the Commerce Street Plume Superfund Site in Williston, Vermont. The proposed update, formally called an “Explanation of Significant Differences,” (ESD) will not fundamentally change the terms, scope, performance or cost of EPA’s plan to clean up the Commerce Street Plume site that was established in 2015.

 

DFR reports banner year for Vermont’s captive insurance industry

Forty-five new captive insurance companies were licensed this past year in Vermont, making 2021 Vermont’s 4th highest year of growth in its 40-year history. Vermont is now home to 620 licensed captives, consisting of 589 active and 31 dormant captives. Vermont’s 52 sponsored cell captives currently host nearly 500 cells and separate accounts, in addition to the licensed captive companies. The new captives were licensed in 17 different industries, the main industries being healthcare, real estate, manufacturing, insurance, and transportation. At least 5 of Vermont’s new captives in 2021 were formed by companies with international roots — including Japan, Germany, Russia, the United Kingdom, and Australia.

 

Vermont is considered the fifth ‘Greenest State’ in the US

Oregon is considered the ‘greenest state’ in America, new research has revealed. Vermont is in fifth and has scored a total Green Score of 30.08. Despite its prominent position in the ranking, the state scores particularly poorly in the ‘Water Quality’ factor, ranking 45th out of 50 for its water. The study by sleep experts Each night examined five factors in each of the 50 states, air quality, water quality, soil quality, motor gasoline consumption in barrel, and renewable energy consumption to establish which one has the best environmental credentials, giving each one a Green Score out of 60.   

 

Vermont tops list of United Van Lines moving destinations in 2021

United Van Lines has released the company’s 45th Annual National Movers Study, which indicates Americans were on the move to lower-density areas and to be closer to their families throughout last year. The annual study, which tracks the company’s exclusive data for customers’ state-to-state migration patterns, determined Vermont as the state with the highest percentage of inbound migration (74%) with United Van Lines. Topping the list of outbound locations was New Jersey (71%), which has held the spot for the past four years. Additionally, Burlington earned a spot in the top 25 inbound metropolitan statistical areas with 66% inbound.

 

U-Haul Growth Index: Vermont climbs to 12, Texas is first

Migration to southern states continues to be magnified by the lingering pandemic, and no state netted more U-Haul customers during the last year than Texas. However, Vermont rose from 26 to 12 and Maine jumped from 29 to 8. The Lone Star State earned bragging rights as the leading growth state of 2021, narrowly besting Florida for tops honors, according to transactional data compiled for the annual U-Haul Growth Index.

 

‘Pay-For-Performance’ phosphorus reduction program now taking applications

The Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food and Markets (VAAFM) recently opened applications for the new Vermont Pay for Phosphorus (VPFP) program, one of the first of its kind in the United States. VAAFM received a $7 million grant award from the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) in September of 2020, enabling the Agency to launch a statewide Vermont Pay for Phosphorus (VPFP) Program to further expand and support agriculture’s role in delivering clean water results for Vermont. The program will provide $4.9 million in direct payments to farms over 4 years for successful phosphorus management. Vermont farmers wishing to apply for the program have until January 31, 2022 to do so.

 

Council rejects Weinberger appointment of Jon Murad as Burlington Police Chief

Burlington Mayor Miro Weinberger announced January 27 the appointment of Jon Murad as Police Chief. The City Council subsequently rejected the appointment on a 6-6 vote on January 31. Chief Murad has served as Deputy Chief at the Burlington Police Department since October 2018, and will continue to do so, and has served as Acting Chief since the summer of 2020. Previous to joining the Burlington Police Department, Chief Murad served in the New York Police Department as an officer, Detective, Sergeant, and Assistant Commissioner.

 

ECHO Executive Director Phelan Fretz to retire after 20 years

Dr Phelan Fretz, PhD the founding executive director of the ECHO, Leahy Center for Lake Champlain (ECHO), is retiring in June after 20 years leading the science museum on the Burlington Waterfront. Fretz is the museum’s first executive director and joined the organization in 2002. He previously served in leadership positions at the Academy of Natural Sciences of Philadelphia, the New England Aquarium in Boston, and Chicago’s Museum of Science and Industry. Fretz is widely credited for his fundraising and community-building skills that have led to the organization’s success.

 

Owiso Makuku named CEO of Main Street Landing

Burlington’s Main Street Landing, home to Union Station, has hired a new CEO: Owiso Makuku. CEO Melinda Moulton announced the hiring on Facebook. On February 21st, 2022, Owiso Makuku will assume the leadership of Main Street Landing as their new Chief Executive Officer. Owiso graduated from Middlebury College and holds both a Master of Architecture and a Master in City Planning from MIT.

 

Citizens Business Conditions Index shows Vermont, NH signs of optimism

Citizens Bank has announced that the quarterly national Citizens Business Conditions Index (CBCI) was 54.4 for the fourth quarter, down from 57.8 at the end of September, but still in expansionary territory. Following particularly high readings in the second and third quarters, the latest index value still reflects the demand momentum that is driving business conditions. Meanwhile, Vermont increased 1.1% since last quarter, and 7% year-to-year in 2021. The bank’s footprint – which includes New England – also saw increases: 1.1% since last quarter and 3% since last year. New Hampshire’s business conditions index increased 7.6% since last quarter, yielding a 4% increase from this point last year. 

 

Vermont and NH getting $4.2 million from USDA Rural Development

United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) has announced that USDA is investing $1 billion to build and improve critical community facilities in 48 states, Puerto Rico and Guam. This infrastructure funding will increase access to health care, education and public safety while spurring community development and building sound infrastructure for people living in rural communities. Included in the funding is $1,575,270 for Vermont infrastructure projects and $2,676,410 for those in New Hampshire.

 

Whetstone owners named BACC Entrepreneurs of the Year

David Hiler, and Tim and Amy Brady, owners of Whetstone Brands, including Whetstone Craft Beers, Whetstone Station Brewery and Taproom, and River Garden Marketplace in Brattleboro, and Kampfires Campground, Inn & Entertainment in Dummerston were named Brattleboro Area Chamber of Commerce “2021 Entrepreneurs of the Year” at the organization’s annual meeting, January 25.

 

National Life’s employee matching campaign makes record donations

National Life Group employees, retirees and board members donated a record $320,000 to nonprofits of their choice through the company’s Share the Good campaign. The National Life Group Foundation then matched those donations, for a total of $640,164. Employees are encouraged to donate to up to four nonprofits through the campaign. The company’s Foundation matches up to $2,000 of their donations. The nonprofits that will receive the most in donations are: Vermont Foodbank: $30,136; Central Vermont Humane Society: $15,274; St Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital: $8,066.

 

Dartmouth President Hanlon plans to step down in 2023

President Philip J Hanlon ’77 has announced that he will step down at the end of the next academic year in June 2023. President Hanlon, who assumed the presidency in 2013, announced his decision in a message to the Dartmouth community after informing the Board of Trustees at their meeting on Jan. 21. Elizabeth Cahill Lempres ’83, Thayer ’84, chair of the Board of Trustees, thanked President Hanlon for his tireless work in steering Dartmouth to ever greater academic excellence, inclusion, and impact in a separate message to the community. 

For more NewsBriefs go to vermontbiz.com/news.

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