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.
On Monday, the public got a chance to weigh in on a plan to build a four-story glass and metal tower in Newport that would house bio-medical research and development.
The developers, Bill Stenger and his business partner Ariel Quiros, say the project will create as many as 500 jobs and will not harm the environment. But some Newport residents have some concerns about its impact on public health.
There have been further delays in the final tally of voting by FairPoint Communications employees on whether to give their unions the authority to call a strike, but union officials say its clear the majority of workers have voted for the authorization.
The voting is taking place in the three New England states served by FairPoint.
Mike Spillane with the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers in Vermont says voting has been completed in Vermont and Maine, but delays persist in New Hampshire.
Since April, rumors have circulated that IBM and the microchip maker GlobalFoundries are in talks over the sale of Big Blue manufacturing plants, including the one Essex Junction.
Neither company has commented, and the most recent rumor has it that the negotiations have broken down.
IBM’s quarterly earnings report Thursday did little to clarify the company’s plans for its chip manufacturing division. In a conference call an IBM senior vice-president skirted a question about the rumors.
Vermont's unemployment rate was up in June for the first time in ten months, according to a new report from the state Department of Labor. The state’s 3.5 percent unemployment rate is still well below the national average of 6.1 percent.
Labor Commissioner Annie Noonan said in a release that the uptick is consistent with data from previous years.
“If historical patterns hold,” she said, “this temporary period of adjustment should be present for the next month or two before returning to the recent downward trend.”
The state’s ratepayer advocates are in strong support of Burlington Telecom’s settlement with Citibank over past financial problems, and they are very optimistic about the potential sale of the public telecom to a private entity.
“The settlement that’s been reached with the city and Citibank, and the bridge financing agreement really offers the first realistic opportunity to move beyond the problems that have been plaguing Burlington Telecom and the city,” said Jim Porter, the senior policy and telecommunications director at the Department of Public Service.
The owners of Vermont Castings say they’ve added 50 jobs in Vermont since purchasing the stove manufacturer last year.
The bulk of the jobs are the result of cutbacks in operations in other countries.
The company started making woodstoves in the 1970s at its foundry in Randolph. It also manufactures barbeque grills and kitchen products.
The company has been bought and sold several times over the years, most recently last August when the The Vermont Castings Group’s Kentucky-based management team purchased it from a private equity firm.