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.

The groundwater sitting below IBM’s massive campus in Essex Junction still bears the chemical stains of the plant’s past. The company announced this week its selling the plant , but it still bears responsibility for the clean-up.

The offending compound is called TCE – short for tetrachloroethylene – and back in the 50s, 60s and 70s, IBM used it by the truckload. David Mears, commissioner of the Vermont Department of Environmental Conservation, says TCE turned out to be toxic stuff.

Vermont’s unemployment rate went up last month, from 4.1 percent in August to 4.4 percent in September, according to the latest report from the Department of Labor. Over the same period, the national unemployment rate fell from 6.1 percent to 5.9 percent.

Labor Commissioner Annie Noonan attributes the increase to seasonal trends, noting that last year’s unemployment rate followed a similar pattern in late summer and early fall.

The sale of IBM’s chip-making business looks to be good news for the approximately 4,000 Vermont workers employed at the company’s plant in Essex Junction. But the change in ownership will reignite a longstanding debate over whether Vermont is doing enough to retain and grow jobs in the state.

IBM has always been a flashpoint in Vermont politics. It’s a massive employer here, by the standards of this tiny state. And policy makers frequently stop to ask: is Vermont doing enough to keep employers like Big Blue happy?

The deal between IBM and GlobalFoundries for IBM’s chip manufacturing and sales divisions doesn’t fit the traditional definition of the word “sale.” In a sale, the money goes to one party and some asset or commodity goes to the other.

With the announcement Monday morning that IBM is offloading its chip division, including its plant in Essex Junction, to the California-based semiconductor manufacturer GlobalFoundries, we sifted through the archives to find photographs of the plant's early days, IBM products at use in Vermont and beyond, and the shifting fortunes of the company and its local employees through the years.

Here's what the approach to the Essex plant looked like in 1958:

IBM’s chip division, including the plant in Essex Junction will be sold to GlobalFoundries, in a deal announced Monday morning.

A deal between the two companies has been rumored for months, but Monday's announcement was the first official confirmation from either company that a deal had been in the works. GlobalFoundries is a semiconductor manufacturer based in Santa Clara, California.

More and more ambulance services are needing cash transfusions to stay in business.

Volunteers are scarce, operational costs are rising, and revenues are not keeping pace. So some of the most rural services are starting to consolidate.

That includes Calex—originally named for Caledonia and Essex Counties—which now serves St. Johnsbury, Danville, and Littleton, New Hampshire.

VPR rode along on a call that may have saved a life.

When Google announced its 2014 eCity list of the country's most tech-friendly metropolises, some Vermonters reacted, "Stowe? Really?"

The obituaries have long been a popular section of the local newspaper. For readers deaths mark milestones in a community, and for many newspapers obituaries are a source of revenue in an era when ad sales are in decline.  

A new website in Vermont hopes to offer an online alternative, but the newspaper obituary is not likely to disappear anytime soon, despite the fact that newspapers are slowly embracing the Internet.

A California company that supplies natural gas for commercial transportation has purchased controlling interest in NG Advantage of Colchester and Milton.

Clean Energy Fuels serves customers whose fleets are powered by natural gas.

NG Advantage LLC delivers natural gas to large users in New England and New York State. The company serves customers who are beyond the reach of natural gas pipelines.

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