Ep. 5: “State to Main” – Manufacturing Tax Exemption

Ep. 5: "State to Main" - Manufacturing Tax Exemption

“State to Main” is a policy-focused podcast series complementing the widely read weekly legislative newsletter of the same name.

In this episode we welcome Chris Carrigan, Vice President of Business Development for the Vermont Chamber of Commerce, and Julia Birnn Fields, owner of Birnn Chocolates of Vermont, to discuss recent advocacy efforts on the manufacturing tax exemption.

Episodes are available to stream online via Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Soundcloud and on the Vermont Chamber of Commerce website.

“State to Main” is made possible by our sponsor, AT&T.

Ep. 4: “State to Main” – Refugee Workforce

Ep. 4: "State to Main" - Refugee Workforce

“State to Main” is a policy-focused podcast series complementing the widely read weekly legislative newsletter of the same name.

To combat Vermont’s demographic crises, it’s vital that we work to retain our resettled refugee community. The third episode of the series, “Refugee Workforce,” features Amelia Semen, Government Affairs Specialist for the Vermont Chamber of Commerce, Hillary Burrows, President of Autumn Harp, and Tracy Dolan, Director of the State Refugee Office, to discuss the refugee workforce in Vermont.

Episodes are available to stream online via Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Soundcloud and on the Vermont Chamber of Commerce website.

“State to Main” is made possible by our sponsor, AT&T.

Ep. 3: “State to Main” – Military Retirement

Ep. 3: "State to Main" - Military Retirement

“State to Main” is a policy-focused podcast series complementing the widely read weekly legislative newsletter of the same name.

The third episode of the series, “Military Retirement,” features Chris Carrigan, Vice President of Business Development for the Vermont Chamber of Commerce, and Steve Gagner, Founder of 14th Star Brewing Company in St. Albans, to discusses the tax on military retirement pay, and veterans in the Vermont workforce.

Episodes are available to stream online via Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Soundcloud and on the Vermont Chamber of Commerce website.

“State to Main” is made possible by our sponsor, AT&T.

Ep. 2: “State to Main” – Restaurant Recovery

Ep. 2: "State to Main" - Restaurant Recovery

“State to Main” is a policy-focused podcast series complementing the widely read weekly legislative newsletter of the same name.

The second episode of the series, “Restaurant Recovery,” features Amy Spear, VP of Tourism for the Vermont Chamber, and Chiuho Sampson, Chef/Owner of A Single Pebble, in Burlington. Spear and Sampson discuss the state of the restaurant industry, Restaurant Revitalization Fund replenishment, and the creation of the Vermont Independent Restaurants coalition.

Episodes are available to stream online via Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Soundcloud and on the Vermont Chamber of Commerce website.

“State to Main” is made possible by our sponsor, AT&T.

Fix for Business Grants Hits a Road Bump

Fix for Business Grants Hits a Road Bump

After months of negotiations on the Economic Recovery Grants, the compromise forgivable loan program, administered through VEDA, is nearing completion. The Vermont Chamber advocated for all the remaining $26 million to be allocated to this program, which would grant recovery relief to small businesses impacted by the pandemic. The Senate Economic Development, Housing, and General Affairs Committee added another layer of review by the Joint Fiscal Committee prior to allowing VEDA to start accepting applications. This could further delay recovery funding from reaching small businesses that continue to struggle with the impact of the pandemic. The Vermont Chamber will continue advocating for a straightforward, expedited process that does not require struggling small businesses to take on additional debt.

 

Economic Development Bill Nearing Completion

Economic Development Bill Nearing Completion

The Senate Economic Development, Housing, and General Affairs Committee continued ironing out details of the omnibus economic development bill, with several Vermont Chamber priorities to grow the workforce, such as relocating employee incentives and targeted marketing aimed at recruitment and relocation, included in the bill. The bill is also the vehicle for the VEDA forgivable loan program. The most recent version contains several provisions on raising the minimum wage, establishing a voluntary paid family and medical leave program, and increasing unemployment insurance benefits, which received minimal review from the committee, calling into question whether these major initiatives will be passed in the final version. A brief overview of the various sections, prepared by Legislative Counsel, can be found here. The bill is expected to be voted out of committee next week.

Omnibus Appropriations Package Leaves Out RRF Replenishment

Omnibus Appropriations Package Leaves Out RRF Replenishment

Over the past several weeks, members of the Vermont Chamber and Vermont Independent Restaurants (VTIR) met with the offices of Senator Leahy and Senator Sanders and have been in communication with Congressman Welch’s office, advocating for replenishment of the Restaurant Revitalization Fund as part of the omnibus appropriations bill. Unfortunately, funding for RRF replenishment was not included in the bill, which is expected to be signed by President Biden on Friday. Advocacy efforts will shift toward getting replenishment included in later COVID relief or a small business package originating in the House.

Businesses Still Need Grant Funds to Help with Long-Term Recovery

Businesses Still Need Grant Funds to Help With Long-Term Recovery

With nearly $26 million in Economic Recovery Bridge Grants sitting idle, Economic Development Commissioner Joan Goldstein suggested to House and Senate committees this funding be moved into the Capital Investment Program (CIP). The committees are interested in distributing this money quickly and businesses in their communities have expressed there is still great need across many sectors. The Vermont Chamber urged the committees to keep the money in the Bridge Grant program and fix the formula and application process to allow businesses to easily access this funding. While the Vermont Chamber is supportive of the CIP, it focuses on an entirely different set of businesses that have largely recovered and are looking to the future. Allocating money separately for that program is preferential to taking money away from the Business Grant program. For many businesses in the lodging, restaurant, and wedding industries, the pandemic is not over, and they still have unmet need.

 

An Update on OSHA’s Vaccination and Testing ETS

An Update on OSHA's Vaccination and Testing ETS

The OSHA emergency temporary standard was challenged in court, given a brief stay, and then allowed by the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals, taking full effect in February 2022. Because Vermont is a State Plan state, Vermont has 30 days to adopt a standard that is at least as effective as what is outlined federally. 

Below are additional resources:

The Supreme Court is hearing oral arguments on this tomorrow. We will provide updates as this continues to develop.

Vermont Department of Health COVID-19 Guidance Updates

Vermont Department of Health COVID-19 Guidance Updates
The Vermont Department of Health (VDH) recently adopted updated COVID-19 guidance from the CDC including shorter isolation and quarantine periods. The VDH guidance also recommends an additional layer of protection beyond the CDC guidance, calling for individuals with COVID-19 to stay home for at least five days. Isolation can end on day five if symptoms and fever have not been present for 24 hours and with two negative antigen tests performed at least 24 hours apart, beginning no sooner than day four of the isolation period. Businesses are strongly encouraged to read the full guidance on the VDH website and review the below additional resources: