The Vermont Economy

VPR Steve Zind
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
6:09 pm
Thu April 24, 2014

Tax Filing Scam Targets Medical Profession

More than 100 area health professionals have reported falling prey to an income tax scam.
Oleksiy Mark/Thinkstock

Many people wait until the April deadline to file their tax returns electronically. In an increasing number of instances they’re discovering they are unable to submit their return because a scammer has already filed in their name in hopes of collecting their refund.

The Vermont Tax Department says there’s been a significant increase in the number of Vermonters targeted by the tax fraud scheme.

Tax Commissioner Mary Peterson says for the most recent tax year the state has identified 300 such tax returns.  

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VPR News
5:00 am
Thu April 24, 2014

State Cracks Down On Payday Loan Companies

Rhonda Wood and her husband Greg discovered the interest payments on their 'payday loan' far exceeded the amount they had borrowed.
VPR/Steve Zind

Several national companies that offer small loans at high interest rates have agreed to refund money to more than one thousand Vermont borrowers.

The agreement is the result of a lawsuit brought by the Vermont Attorney General against companies illegally offering what are called payday loans.

The loans are often used by individuals who are unable to secure a bank loan.  That was the case with Greg and Rhonda Wood of Thetford.  Four years ago a health problem forced Greg to stop working and his income dropped dramatically.

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VPR News
5:30 am
Mon April 21, 2014

Workers Prepare For Plasan Closing

Adam Crawford worries that his age will work against him in his search for a new job.
Susan Keese VPR

Workers facing unemployment in May when Bennington’s Plasan Carbon Composites closes got a crash course Friday in the art of job hunting. More than 50 people showed up at the Bennington Career Center for a day of workshops sponsored by the Vermont Department of Labor.

About 160 workers, two thirds of them Vermonters, will lose their jobs when Plasan Carbon Composites leaves the state. The company makes carbon composite components for high-priced sports cars. It announced in February it was moving to Michigan to be closer to the automotive industry.

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The Frequency
12:02 pm
Fri April 18, 2014

Vermont Labor Market Continued Growth In March

Vermont’s unemployment rate decreased for the sixth straight month in March, down to 3.4 percent, according to statistics from the Department of Labor.

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VPR News
5:30 am
Fri April 18, 2014

Barnard General Store Enjoying New Life

Store operator Jillian Bradley with customer Bob Forman at the Barnard General Store which reopened a year ago.
VPR/Steve Zind

In 2012, after a 180 year run the Barnard General store closed.

In response, a local group raised $500,000 to purchase the building and find someone to run the store.

In May of last year, the store reopened and it appears to be doing well.

The store’s closing hit the community hard and it didn’t take much time for the local residents to get to work on a plan to reopen it.    

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The Frequency
6:40 pm
Wed April 16, 2014

Vermont Companies Generally Upbeat About The Economy

Chief Executive Officers of many of Vermont's largest employers are generally optimistic about the economy, according to a recent survey.

The 1st quarter VBR-EPR Business Conditions Survey was conducted by the Vermont Business Roundtable and Economic Policy Resources, a Williston research and analysis firm. 

The survey of Vermont Business Roundtable's membership, which includes CEOs of approximately 120 businesses in the state, is conducted quarterly. 

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The Frequency
4:50 pm
Tue April 15, 2014

Credit Union Manager Sentenced To Three Years In Prison

Three months after pleading guilty to embezzlement charges, the former manager of the Border Lodge Credit Union in Derby has been sentenced to three years in prison.

Debra Kinney, who ran the small Northeast Kingdom credit union from her home, was sentenced in U.S. District Court in Burlington.

Kinney pled guilty to federal fraud charges in January after an FBI investigation concluded that she had been embezzling money from the credit union over a period of years. 

VPR News
5:38 pm
Mon April 14, 2014

New Program Adds To Incentives Offered To Companies

“This is the biggest initiative that a governor has ever had at their disposal to be able to attract high paying research and development high-tech jobs," Gov. Peter Shumlin says of the proposed $4.5 million program.
FUSE Thinkstock

Gov. Peter Shumlin and legislative leaders want to devote up to $5 million to help the state attract and keep high tech jobs.

Shumlin says the money will add flexibility and speed to the state’s economic development effort.

Vermont already has programs to help businesses, but they are loan programs, like those administered by the Vermont Economic Development Authority, or the tax incentives offered through Vermont Economic Progress Council.

This is something new.

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VPR News
6:00 pm
Fri April 11, 2014

National Life Adds More Jobs After A Record Year

Mary Putnam (l) of National Life Group talks with Brandy Rexford at the company's job fair.
VPR/Melody Bodette

National Life Group is adding more than 30 new jobs at its Montpelier headquarters.

In the late 1990s the company made significant job cuts, but it says the new positions reflect a steady growth in recent years.

National Life is filling 100 jobs in all; about one third are new positions, ranging from housekeeping to company vice-presidents.

To attract candidates Angela Kiniry organized the company’s first job fair in six years.

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The Frequency
10:22 am
Fri April 11, 2014

Dollar General Chain Sees Room To Grow In Vermont

Dollar General now has 20 Vermont stores.
Steve Zind VPR

The nation’s largest discount retailer continued to expand in Vermont in 2013.

According to the company's latest annual report, Dollar General opened three new stores in Vermont last year.  The Tennessee-based chain says it now has 20 Vermont stores.  In 2007, the company had just one outlet in the state.

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