The Vermont Economy

VPR's Steve Zind

VPR senior reporter Steve Zind focuses on the Vermont economy and its impact on our lives. Follow Steve Zind on Twitter, post comments on the stories, and let Steve know what local economy stories you think VPR should cover.

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VPR News
6:15 pm
Thu August 28, 2014

FairPoint Declares Impasse, Implements Reduced Union Benefits

FairPoint says it will unilaterally implement pay and benefit provisions for union workers
VPR/Steve Zind

FairPoint Communications says it will unilaterally implement the terms of its union contract offer. The company has declared an impasse in talks with the unions representing as many as two thousand workers in Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine. 

Under federal labor law an impasse declaration enables FairPoint to make changes to wages, benefits and employment conditions without union consent.  

A company can declare an impasse if there is no prospect for a negotiated settlement.

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VPR News
10:01 am
Thu August 28, 2014

Three Years After Irene, Brandon Residents Want Town Office And Park Fixed

The spot where the Brandon House of Pizza used to be is now barricaded and many say the concrete-enclosed gap is an eyesore that's taking too long to fix.
Nina Keck VPR

In downtown Brandon, the Neshobe River flows over a waterfall and under several historic buildings, including the town office. During Tropical Storm Irene the river raged up and through those buildings.

Three years later, several flooded businesses have come back stronger than ever. Yet the town office and nearby park remain closed, frustrating many in the community.

Inside the Brandon House of Pizza, the exhaust fans hum as owner Sheila Gearwar slides a just-assembled pie into the oven. 

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VPR News
5:50 pm
Wed August 27, 2014

Report Compares Vermonters' Health Expenses With National Numbers

A study conducted by the Health Care Cost Institute marks the first time the experience of private health care consumers in an individual state has been compared to national data.
Roman Milert

A new report has been released that compares how much Vermonters with employer sponsored health care spend on their medical care compared to the national average. The study contains some encouraging news for state health care officials and it highlights some challenges for the future.  

It was conducted by the Health Care Cost Institute at the request of Vermont’s Green Mountain Care Board.

It marks the first time the experience of private health care consumers in an individual state has been compared to national data.

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VPR News
5:00 pm
Tue August 26, 2014

New NEK Meat Processor Speeds Local Farmers' Goods To Market

Production Manager Edmund Lessard shows off a cutting tool at Northeast Kingdom Processing in St. Johnsbury.
Charlotte Albright VPR

There’s a new meat processing plant in St. Johnsbury, and that’s making it easier for livestock farmers in the Northeast Kingdom to get their goods to market. Northeast Kingdom Processing is owned by a beef rancher from Derby, and managed by an experienced meat cutter named Edmund Lessard.

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VPR News
7:30 am
Mon August 25, 2014

Telecom Plan Raises Questions About Future Internet Service

The state's draft telecom plan envisions universal fiber service by 2024.
Ingram Publishing Thinkstock

Telecommunications is an essential part of the lives of most people.

If you own a telephone,  use the Internet, or subscribe to cable television, how can the state make sure those services are up-to-date, reliable and affordable in the future?

That’s a question the Department of Public Service is posing in a series of public hearings this week.

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VPR News
5:30 am
Mon August 25, 2014

Brandon Hopes Fifth Times A Charm With Budget Vote

Brandon's town office sits closed and empty. Flooded during Irene, the building has been closed ever since. Costs from the storm have helped create Brandon's current budget impasse. Residents will vote on their budget for the 5th time Tuesday.
Nina Keck VPR

For Brandon residents Tuesday’s budget vote may feel like déjà vu all over again. While the town’s school budget passed after only two votes, tomorrow will be the fifth time townspeople weigh in on Brandon's municipal budget. 

Sheila Gearwar owns a local restaurant and says being the only town in Vermont without a budget is not a title she likes. “I am frustrated. I believe we’re making the cuts in the wrong places.”

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VPR News
4:54 pm
Thu August 21, 2014

Newport Conference Center Deal Falls Through

Bill Stenger and Tony Pomlerleau have had an on-again, off-again agreement to transfer ownership of a waterfront plaza strategically located on a causeway overlooking Lake Memphremagog.
Michel Gagnon Flickr

A keystone in the redevelopment plan for the city of Newport has toppled. Jay Peak Resort owner Bill Stenger was counting on buying a shopping center from real estate developer Tony Pomerleau, and converting it into a convention center and marina.

But after some starts and stops, the deal has finally fallen through.

Bill Stenger and Tony Pomerleau have had an on-again, off-again agreement to transfer ownership of this waterfront plaza. Strategically located on a causeway overlooking  Lake Memphremagog, Stenger says it would make a great convention center and marina.

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Vermont Edition
4:30 pm
Thu August 21, 2014

Studying The Rural Brain Drain: Where Aspirations Outpace Opportunity

A Penn State study concluded that the brain drain pulling young people away from rural communities like Montpelier was a result of rural under-investment.
ErikaMitchell Thinkstock

Sociologists have been worried for a while about a phenomenon called "rural brain drain." The best and the brightest young students are leaving rural areas in search of jobs and opportunities elsewhere.

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VPR News
4:49 pm
Tue August 19, 2014

Monthly Jobless Numbers Only Tell Part Of The Story

aarrows Thinkstock

This week, the Vermont Labor Department reported the state unemployment rate had gone up for a second straight month. It rose to 3.7 percent in July. 

But monthly jobless numbers tell only part of the story. There is good news in the latest report.

The monthly unemployment figure is a measure of people in the labor force who don’t have jobs but are actively looking for work.

When it goes down, that’s usually seen as a positive sign, but there’s more than one way for that to happen.

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The Frequency
1:05 pm
Mon August 18, 2014

Vermont Unemployment Rate Up Again

Vermont's unemployment rate rose by .3 percent to 3.7 percent in July. It's the second straight monthly increase, following a .1 percent jump in June.

In a news release, Vermont Department of Labor Commissioner Annie Noonan said the increase, “mirrors the same trend we saw last summer in Vermont and we hope this will resolve as we move forward into early fall.”

Last year, the unemployment rate rose .2 percent from May to July, remaining at a high of 4.5 percent before dropping in October.

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