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.

Solar trackers installed in South Burlington in a field on a cloudy day are pictured in this July 27, 2011
Toby Talbot / Associated Press

A new economic analysis shows that Vermont lost 232 full-time jobs in the solar industry last year.

House Speaker Mitzi Johnson says passage of a property tax reform package is a top priority for this session
Angela Evancie / VPR file

A proposal is being developed representing the first major change to education financing in Vermont in over a decade, and House Speaker Mitzi Johnson says she's committed to making it a reality.

Pittsford residents voted Thursday night on how they want to use a historic house and farm that's been donated to the community.
Nina Keck / VPR

About 70 people gathered at the Lothrop School in Pittsford Thursday night to winnow down a wish list: What to do with the old Forrest Farm, a historic house, barn and about twenty acres smack in the middle of town.

Alleged EB-5  fraudsters Ariel Quiros (left) and Bill Stenger (at podium) have settled a federal lawsuit.
Vermont Business Magazine

In the ongoing fallout from what prosecutors have called a "Ponzi-like scheme" in the Northeast Kingdom, alleged perpetrator Ariel Quiros has agreed to a settlement with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Anne Galloway, founder and editor at the news website VTDigger, has been following this story from the very beginning. She joined Vermont Edition for an update on the most recent developments.

Green Mountain Union High School in Chester is one of the institutions just approved for a loan from the Vermont Municipal Bond Bank.
Howard Weiss-Tisman / VPR

Vermont was one of the first states in the country to start a municipal bond bank, back in 1970. Now, the state’s bond bank helps cities and towns get low-interest loans for everything from fire trucks to high school renovations. We’re talking about what the Vermont Municipal Bond Bank does, and the ways that it's changing.

silvrshootr / iStock

With more than 50 breweries in the state, Vermont beer makers have made the Green Mountain State a good home for beer lovers. But all those breweries use a lot of water, grain and energy. To help the state's brewers make beer more sustainably, state environmental officials are hosting their second-annual Brewery Day.

The Tram Haus Lodge at Jay Peak was one project invested in by foreign investors through the EB-5 program.
Angela Evancie / VPR File

The alleged perpetrator of a major financial fraud in Vermont's Northeast Kingdom will pay tens of millions of dollars to settle a federal lawsuit.

Emma Griffith, a concierge with Stock the House, shops at the Rutland Area Food Co-op for a client on a ski vacation in Killington. Stock the House got its start last year in New Jersey, and expanded to Vermont in November.
Nina Keck / VPR

Travelers are increasingly booking accommodations in private residences through sites like Airbnb, VRBO or HomeAway — but staying in someone else's house or condo means there’s no front desk to call when you need something.

Online concierge services have been springing up to fill that role, including one that recently expanded into Vermont.

Workers pick through salad greens at Pete's Greens in Craftsbury. Pete's Greens is one of the large farms in the state that will have to comply with new food safety rules this year.
Howard Weiss-TIsman / VPR

Congress passed the Food Safety Modernization Act back in 2011 to cut down on foodborne illnesses in the produce industry, and the law just went into effect on Vermont's larger farms on Jan. 26.

As Vermont's workforce ages, the state's labor force is losing workers. Changing that trend, economists and elected officials say, is key to Vermont's future.
Peter Hirschfeld (far left), Ric Cengeri (left center), VPR File / Pexels

Facing an aging population and a shrinking labor pool, the need for Vermont's workforce to change trajectory has been a problem for years.

Vermont Edition looks at what's being proposed by Gov. Phil Scott's administration to realize that change, and the larger trends shaping that struggle.

Trade negotiators have finished a round of talks in Montreal. Last September, representatives from the United States, Mexico and Canada met in Mexico City, seen here.
Marco Ugarte / Associated Press

Trade negotiators from the United States, Mexico and Canada have wrapped up their sixth round of talks on the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). The representatives spent the last week in Montréal, renegotiating the free trade deal.

A nearly finished 660 square foot cabin that Yestermorrow Design/Build School was hired to design and build.
Nina Keck / VPR

Imagine if you could hike, mountain bike or backcountry ski from one end of Vermont to the other — and stay in heated cabins along the trail.

That’s the vision of the Vermont Huts Association, a new nonprofit that wants to make the outdoors more easily accessible.

On Monday, Keurig Green Mountain annouced plans to merge with Dr Pepper Snapple to form a new company: Keurig Dr Pepper.
Toby Talbot / Associated Press

Waterbury-based Keurig Green Mountain announced Monday that it plans to merge with Dr Pepper Snapple to form a new beverage company — Keurig Dr Pepper. The deal is expected to close in the second quarter of 2018.

Bees Wrap is used as an alternative to plastic wrap and sandwich bags and is made by a team in Bristol.
You're So Golden

A Bristol entrepreneur's homemade food packaging product was growing nicely and sustainably until a Buzzfeed video featuring the company went viral last year. Sarah Kaeck, founder of Bee's Wrap, quickly ramped up production as the interest threatened to overwhelm capacity.

GPS systems and navigation apps sometimes face challenges navigating Vermont's roads.
Shannon McGee / flickr

A car that ended up in Lake Champlain made headlines after the out-of-town sightseers behind the wheel said they were steered out onto the ice by the Waze driving app.

We're talking about the challenges for navigation apps in a state like Vermont, with plenty of dirt roads and snowmobile trails, and a lower population of users. 

Mike Myers runs a U.S.-owned mass assembly factory, or maquila, in Reynosa, Mexico. Myers is seated at a desk with a Mexican and American flag in foreground.
Lorne Matalon / For VPR

There are fears in Mexico that NAFTA's collapse would seriously damage the country’s economy, not to mention exports from the U.S. and Canada to Mexico. That includes exports of clothing and microelectronics from Vermont.

Jean-Marc Landry, owner of Pratiko, holds up a wheelchair.
Lorne Matalon / For VPR

The sixth round of negotiations on NAFTA, the North American Free Trade Agreement, is underway in Montréal. The outcome of the talks could have a significant impact on Vermont businesses that export goods to Canada and Mexico.

From left, Carl Powden of the Vermont Land Trust, Kate Sudhoff of the Vermont Department of Forests, Parks and Recreation, and Bonnie and Don Bullard stand before a backdrop of Bean Mountain - part of the Bullard Lumber property in Eden.
Amy Kolb Noyes / VPR

A lumber company’s property next to Green River Reservoir State Park is one of the latest parcels conserved through the Forest Legacy Program. This means the Lamoille County property will be protected for perpetuity and public access is guaranteed.

Gov. Phil Scott has suggested capturing and selling phosphorus before it gets to the state's waterways and lakes.
VPR File

In his budget address on Tuesday, Gov. Phil Scott suggested Vermont should turn lemons into lemonade by capturing the phosphorous flowing into our waterways - and selling it.

Would that work? We’re talking about whether the suggestion is feasible, how phosphorus could be separated out and what the economics of the idea might look like.

Gov. Scott delivered his 2018 budget address before a joint session of the Vermont Legislature.
Emily Alfin Johnson / VPR

Calling for consensus to avoid a property tax increase, Gov. Phil Scott's budget address outlined his spending priorities and principles for the coming year.

Vermont Edition digs into the details of just what the governor is proposing with his new budget, and how the math works out to pay for it without raising taxes or fees.