Vermont Chamber Launches Building Bridges Fund to Support Small Businesses

Vermont Chamber Launches Building Bridges Fund to Support Small Businesses
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The Vermont Chamber of Commerce has launched a Building Bridges Fund to help impacted businesses continue to participate in important advocacy, education, and promotion programs. Contributions benefit small businesses and the Vermont Chamber, allowing businesses to continue participating in Chamber programming and helping the Chamber maintain their powerful advocacy voice, which helps move all businesses toward economic recovery. Many restaurants, inns, and retail stores are struggling to pay ongoing expenses. Actions taken today will ensure businesses and communities across the state thrive in a post-pandemic Vermont. Throughout the crisis, the Vermont Chamber has provided critical guidance to businesses and helped advocate on federal and state levels for financial and legislative relief to keep Vermont businesses on solid ground. Vermont Chamber State House coverage makes certain that legislators and government officials understand the issues affecting small businesses from Newport to Brattleboro. “While nearly every Vermont business has been impacted by COVID-19, some have certainly been hit harder than others,” Drew Richards, Vice President of The Richards Group, a 2020 Building Bridges Fund contributor, said. “We are looking to help those businesses that have been disproportionately impacted. Thanks to the Vermont Chamber for corralling this much-needed economic support.” At a time when businesses are hurting, the need for support is greater than ever. Make a contribution to the Building Bridges Fund now at vtchamber.com.

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Joint Fiscal Committee Approves $75 Million for Additional Business Relief

Joint Fiscal Committee Approves $75 Million for Additional Business Relief

The Joint Fiscal Committee met this morning and unanimously approved the Scott Administration’s proposal to dedicate $75 million of unallocated remaining Coronavirus Relief Fund dollars to relief grants for the lodging and restaurant industry.
 
The Vermont Chamber advocated for the release of these funds to help address the overwhelming unmet financial need businesses continue to face because of COVID-19 operating restrictions and the resultant economic downturn. The Vermont Chamber’s efforts were bolstered by the restaurant and lodging sectors that mobilized to express widespread support for the proposal to authorize the funds. 
 
Vermont Chamber Vice President of Tourism Amy Spear said, “Authorizing these funds was essential to the survival of lodging and restaurant entities that continue to grapple with the staggering economic impact of COVID-19. We are very appreciative of the Scott Administration and Joint Fiscal Committee’s work to advance this much needed additional relief for Vermont businesses.”

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Satisfying Socially Distant Ways to Enjoy Vermont This Fall

Satisfying Socially Distant Ways to Enjoy Vermont This Fall

By Amy Spear, Vermont Chamber of Commerce Vice President of Tourism

Vermont’s mountains and countrysides will soon be ablaze with vibrant reds, oranges, and yellows. Our hospitality businesses and attractions have implemented thorough safety measures so Vermonters and visitors can enjoy the state in both new and familiar ways. 

While Vermont is known as a visitor paradise, many Vermonters also look forward to this time of year when our state shows off its colorful splendor. While we are facing unique challenges this year because of the pandemic, it is more important than ever to support our local inns and lodges, restaurants, and small Vermont businesses.

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Photo by Sally Cooper

​With public health top of mind, Vermont is the perfect place to enjoy fall safely. From breathtaking vistas and fall activities to world-class inns and restaurants, there is plenty to explore and rediscover.

Here are a few of our team’s favorite ways to enjoy foliage season.

See the Best Autumn Foliage
You can see the best fall foliage in the country in Vermont. Stowe was just named a USA Today Top 10 fall foliage destination. Spots heralded for their unparalleled views include Smuggler’s Notch in Lamoille County, the Mount Equinox Skyline Drive in Sunderland, Lake Willoughby in the Northeast Kingdom, and Sleepy Hollow Farm in Woodstock. The Vermont Department of Tourism and Marketing put together a fall foliage roadmap, which helps with travel planning. Also check out fall foliage photography tips from New England photographer David Long, collected by Go Stowe.


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Photo from Cold Hollow Cider Mill

Go Apple Picking 
Vermont’s apples and (apple goods) are exceptional – from fresh cider donuts to sweet Honeycrisp apples right from the tree. Vermonters and visitors alike enjoy picking their own fruit in our state’s serene orchards and treating themselves to fresh apple cider. Here are a handful of special New England apple recipes. Notable destinations for apple picking and fall treats are Champlain Orchards in Shoreham, Paul Mazza’s Fruit and Vegetable Stand in Essex Junction and Colchester, and Cold Hollow Cider Mill in Waterbury.

Explore Corn Mazes 
Corn mazes are perfect for getting outside, feeling the crisp fall weather, and staying safe while experiencing the season. Two of the best corn mazes in Vermont (and possibly New England) are at Hathaway Farm in Rutland and the Great Vermont Corn Maze in Danville. My husband and I brought our 1-year-old daughter to Hathaway Farm’s corn maze last weekend and had a wonderful time! Kids of all ages appreciate playfully hiking through towering corn and the challenge of solving a maze.

Take a New England Staycation
Vermont’s inns and lodges are now able to book at 100 percent capacity. As you plan a New England staycation, a few inns to consider that have stunning views and offer memorable experiences are The Essex Resort & Spa in Essex Junction, Stratton Mountain Resort near Manchester, Tyler Place Family Resort in Swanton, and The Lodge at Spruce PeakYou can use our trip planning tool at VermontVacation.com to narrow your search and discover unique accommodations, restaurants, attractions, and recreation.

And if you cannot take a trip to Vermont because of health or travel limits, you can always bring Vermont into your home. Indulge in distinctive Vermont fall foods by ordering autumn chocolates from Lake Champlain Chocolates, buttermilk pancakes and pure Vermont maple syrup from Dakin Farm, candy, savory food, and maple candles from the Vermont Country Store, or a delicious Vermont gift box from Bragg Farm Sugarhouse.

This pandemic has impacted us in so many ways, but with these recommendations you can still experience the best time of the year in Vermont. Remember to wear a mask, keep six feet apart, wash your hands, and take lots of pictures.

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Vermont Chamber Expands Educational Offerings for Hospitality Professionals During COVID-19

Vermont Chamber Expands Educational Offerings for Hospitality Professionals During COVID-19

As the state partner for the National Restaurant Association and the American Hotel & Lodging Association, the Vermont Chamber of Commerce has expanded its educational resources for the restaurant and lodging industry. Tourism professionals now have access to more than seven complimentary professional development offerings.

Educational opportunities include:

  • Two free ServSafe training videos are available, designed to reinforce practices to keep food and employees safe during the COVID-19 pandemic. These free courses are available through the end of April.
  • The ServSafe Food Handler online training program is available for free through April for those who wish to attain the certificate or refresh their knowledge. This course must be uploaded to a student’s profile no later than April 30th. The student will have one year to launch the course and 60 days after launch to complete it.
  • The ServSuccess online learning suite, which offers courses, interactive study guides, and professional certification exams, is free through April. This program is designed to enhance the knowledge and abilities of working industry professionals. This course must be uploaded to a student’s profile no later than April 30th. The student will have one year to launch the course and 90 days after launch to complete it.
  • The American Hotel & Lodging Educational Institute’s professional development courses are available free of charge through April. These offerings are suitable for all hotel level employees and can help them take their hospitality career to the next level. Students must enroll no later than April 30th. Once enrolled, the student has 90 days to access the material for the AHLEI training.

ServSafe has been the industry standard for food and alcohol safety training and certification for 30 years. Hospitality organizations and schools rely on AHLEI for quality resources to train, educate, and certify hospitality professionals.

Describing the expanded offerings, Vermont Chamber of Commerce Vice President of Tourism Amy Spear said, “Vermont and the nation are in the midst of an unprecedented public health emergency, with significant stress being placed on the tourism industry. The Vermont Chamber is committed to helping the state’s restaurants and lodging properties recover and strengthening the tourism industry.”

The Vermont Chamber will continue to work with hospitality sector associations to provide resources for tourism industry employees and will advocate for measures that help Vermont businesses recover from the COVID-19 pandemic.

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Vermont Chamber Statement on Revised Guidance Allowing Future Online Lodging Reservations

Vermont Chamber Statement on Revised Guidance Allowing Future Online Lodging Reservations

Today, Governor Scott amended his Stay Home, Stay Safe Order to allow Vermont lodging businesses to re-engage their online reservation systems immediately to book reservations beginning on June 15 or later.
 
Responding to the amendment, Vermont Chamber President Betsy Bishop said, “After listening to impacted businesses throughout the state, the Vermont Chamber urged the Governor to change his guidance and allow lodging properties to make future reservations while still adhering to his Stay Home, Stay Safe order. No other state has imposed this level of restriction on the lodging industry, so we are pleased that the Governor revised his order. This action will help lodging businesses, many located in rural communities throughout the state, recover once the order is lifted.”
 
The Vermont Chamber will continue to work with state leaders to elevate business community concerns and swiftly address issues during the COVID-19 pandemic.

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Congressman Peter Welch Heard From Over 150 Businesses at Vermont Chamber Tourism Town Hall

Congressman Peter Welch Heard From Over 150 Businesses at Vermont Chamber Tourism Town Hall

Congressman Peter Welch heard from over 150 businesses in the state’s tourism industry during a remote Vermont Chamber Tourism Town Hall on April 2 about how COVID-19 is affecting Vermont. The Town Hall, recorded here, was an opportunity for tourism businesses to further Congressman Welch’s understanding of COVID-19’s impact, share ideas, and help shape what future assistance will look like.

Congressman Welch thoughtfully responded to questions submitted by registrants and committed to taking the issues and ideas back to Congress with him.

Congressman Welch said, “It’s a hard time in Vermont and around the world as we face the COVID-19 pandemic together. Public health rightly remains the urgent priority of legislators, but it is also our responsibility to help Vermont’s businesses survive. Vermont’s tourism businesses are owned by our neighbors, our friends, and our families. We need to listen carefully to their concerns and be strong advocates during these challenging times.”

The industry asked Congressman Welch to help them with grant funding rather than loans to help them re-open and re-hire once the Stay Home, Stay Safe order is lifted. Other issues were funding tourism promotion during the recovery, addressing the disincentive to return to work in the new unemployment insurance law, and speeding up the access to SBA loans.

Amy Spear said, “Tourism represents one of the largest contributions of out-of-state money into the state’s economy, bringing significant revenue to communities statewide. When our tourism industry is impacted, as it is now by COVID-19, the impact is felt throughout Vermont. The Vermont Chamber is hard at work keeping tourism businesses informed of changes to the way they do business and pushing for financial and regulatory relief to keep the industry on solid ground.”

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