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.

A committee of the Vermont Senate is expected to complete work this week on a revenue bill that would limit how much a homeowner could deduct for mortgage interest when filing state income taxes.

Finance Committee Chairman Tim Ashe says the committee is looking at a range of possible caps, from $10,000 to $15,000 in how much could be deducted from taxable income.

AP/Toby Talbot

It’s kale versus chicken, David versus Goliath.

For months, a Vermont folk artist who prints ‘Eat More Kale’ t-shirts above his garage in Montpelier has been trapped in a legal battle with a fast food chain whose slogan is “Eat Mor' Chikin'.”

Officials from Vermont’s largest banks are speaking out against a Shumlin Administration tax proposal.

The bankers warn that a proposed hike in the bank franchise tax could slow down lending or lead to possible lay-offs.

The tax plan was put on the table by Gov. Peter Shumlin as he tries to strike a compromise with the Legislature to fund state government without raising broad-based taxes. Administration officials last week proposed a hike in the franchise tax paid by the state’s five largest banks.

Vermont officials say some hard-to-reach parts of the state will soon have cell phone coverage thanks to the successful test of a new system.

For Vermont cell phone users reception difficulties stem from two problems:

First, the terrain which often blocks the signals from cell phone towers. 

The second reason is economic. 

Herb Swanson

In about a year, two new foreign companies expect to be operating in Newport at the site of a former skiwear manufacturer. AnC Bio, a Korean bio-tech firm, and Menck Windows, a German company, are the centerpiece of a $600 million economic development initiative promising to bring 10,000 jobs to the Northeast Kingdom. Chief executives from those two companies gave progress reports in Newport Thursday. 

The CEOs of the two foreign companies that promise to bring more than 600 new jobs to Newport visited the future site of their operations Thursday in the lakefront building formerly occupied by Bogner ski wear. 

Dr. Ike Lee, president of the Korean bio-tech firm AnC Bio, announced a partnership with UVM to help recruit scientifically trained researchers.

Steve Zind / VPR

Dollar General and Family Dollar both have plans to expand the number of stores in Vermont. Opponents say the stores are a bigger threat to small towns than big box stores.

Residents in South Hero are organizing to fight a proposed dollar store in their community.  They join a number of towns where there is opposition to proposals to build the small box stores.

Two national chains, Dollar General and Family Dollar, have established a number of new stores in Vermont in recent years.

The Vermont Telecommunications Authority has been awarded a $1.6 million federal grant to expand cellular phone service and provide wireless internet in areas hit by flooding in 2011. 

The disaster relief grant from the U.S. Department of Economic Development will help pay for expansion of cell service along 120 miles of roadway in five Vermont counties including Addison, Essex, Washington, Windham and Windsor counties.

VPR/Melody Bodette / David Marvin holds a fresh bottle of maple syrup at Butternut Mountain Farm in Morrisville. The company handles 50 percent of

Sap is flowing, the buckets are hanging from trees and the steam is billowing from country sugarhouses all over the state.

It's an image that helps sugarmakers market their syrup. But it's no longer a very accurate picture.

Maple has become big business. In the past ten years, the number of trees that aretapped has tripled and technological advancements have doubled the amount of syrup produced for each tap.

http://www.vpr.net/audio/news/regional_news/2013/04/spot-0330-0401-Maple Boom_040113_Melody Bodette.mp3

Dozens of Vermont musicians and artists have used crowdfunding to raise money for their projects by appealing for donations through the New York City based Website Kickstarter.

The site enables people to post information about a project, such as recording a CD or publishing a book. And then they can raise money to pay for the production through small donations.

http://www.vpr.net/audio/news/regional_news/2013/04/SPot-0401apz-Crowd Funding_040113_Steve Zind.mp3

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