The Burlington Business Association (BBA) has appointed Richard Deane of TruexCullins Architecture as the new Chair of the Board of Directors. Richard Deane officially took over the seat of Chair last month at the BBA’s 37th annual dinner celebration with the ceremonial handing over of the gavel by retiring Chair, Tom Brassard.
With the close of the Legistlative Session, VT Lawmakers "raised some money designed to clean up Lake Champlain... while polls show most Vermonters – even those outside the Lake Champlain watershed – are willing to spend the money, there is far less agreement on who should be taxed, and how. " - VT Digger
"The Senate voted 27-2 to pass a $7.5 million water quality bill, H.35, that is funded in part by a 0.2 percent surcharge on the state’s property transfer tax. The bill also includes fees on pollution permits, medium and large farm registrations, and the sale of non-agricultural fertilizer and pesticides. The House voted Wednesday to concur with the bill, sending it to the governor’s desk. Gov. Peter Shumlin has said he supports it." Read the full VT Digger article.
This weekend's ending of the Legislative Session saw significant changes to some of the proposed bills, including some important items for the Vermont business community:
Payroll Tax Rejected
"Lawmakers and the governor reached a deal to pass a health care package that, as one senator put it, will “keep the lights on” for health care reform... Six months ago Vermont was poised to move forward with an ambitious single payer health care plan. In December, Gov. Peter Shumlin pulled the plug on the initiative, which would have been largely funded through a payroll tax, because he said Vermont couldn’t afford to pay for a publicly financed health care program. Lawmakers rejected the payroll tax, and struggled to find funding for a greatly diminished health care bill." Read the full article from Vermont Digger here.
Paid Sick Leave Passes
On April 24th, Vermont House of Representatives passed a bill that would mandate that employers provide at least three days of paid time off by 2016. The minimum requirement increases to five days of paid leave on Jan. 1, 2018. Part-time workers are covered. Read the full article from Vermont Digger here.
The Burlington City Council will seek more public input before approving the Mayor’s Housing Action Plan. At Monday’s City Council Meeting, the plan received praise and criticism from about a dozen speakers. The proposed plan addresses challenges in accessibility, affordability, parking, financing, and the impact of college and university students. Kelly Devine, Executive Director of the Burlington Business Association, called for approval of the plan. According to the Burlington Free Press, Devine said: “there isn't enough housing stock for pretty much every segment of our community. It's hurting our ability to thrive and grow.”
Mr. Seaver, a 1981 graduate of Saint Michael’s College, has been president of People’s United in Burlington since 2008. Before that he worked at Chittenden Bank in Burlington, starting as a teller in 1981, and then working from 1981 to 2008 as credit analyst, loan expeditor, commercial lender, commercial real estate lender, workout specialist, group manager Commercial Banking and then Senior Vice President and Senior Lending Officer
The BBA is proud to announce American Flatbread Burlington Hearth, the world’s leading snowboarding company, as the winner of the 2015 Business of the Year Award.
Over 20 years ago American Flatbread founder George Schenk ignited a single fire in the hills of Vermont creating a food revolution. There was a dramatic change in the way ingredients were sourced, prepared, and honored which broke the mainstream processed restaurant food that was prevalent at the time. Today, American Flatbread continues the revolution with 14 restaurant outposts, each lit by fire. American Flatbread is a return to bread’s roots. They looked back to the history of bread baking and used the same artisan methods: simple, wholesome ingredients, baked in a wood-fired earthen oven.
Burlingtonians have built many great buildings in recent years, including many “green” ones. Oftentimes the most environmentally sound choice, however, is to continue to care for our city’s many historic structures. It is Burlington’s solid foundation of beautiful, historic structures that gives our city much of its charm and appeal for both residents and visitors alike. The crown jewel of our historic buildings is the Flynn Theatre, which recently completed a major interior renovation.
The Burlington Retirement Committee proposed critical reforms to Burlington’s Pension plan in late October. With pension liabilities growing faster than the tax base can cover them, the debt “threatens the heart of the city’s success,” according to Mayor Miro Weinberger. The committee’s recommendations include freezing taxpayer contributions for three years, restoring the system’s funding level to 85 percent within seven years, and sharing costs between employees and the city should the BERS (Burlington Employees Retirement System) fail to hit funding targets in a given year. Mayor Weinberger supports the proposed framework because it could end the steep rise in pension-related tax hikes that would impact business owners in Burlington, who would otherwise bear the brunt of the funding gap. The committee’s recommendations have been brought to the four municipal employee unions for collective bargaining talks to begin.
In a public forum on the Downtown Burlington Parking changes late November, in which 50-60 area residents attended, feedback was given to the Public Works department. Desire for an interactive map outlining changes and discussion of a study on usage of residential parking areas were the main topics of the forum. Consultants in attendance presented findings from the study that office use drives parking demand during the week and retail drives demand on the weekends. The study also revealed pockets around Church street with over and under-utilized parking areas for residents. BBA member and local architect Richard Deane hoped that the findings will “help solve current issues about parking.” The revised parking fee structure is built to increase parking turnover. Burlington Public Works is inviting members of the public, as well as business owners, to share their feedback on the updated parking plan until December 14th.
Conceptual plans for a considerable overhaul of the Burlington Town Center mall werereleased recently at a news conference with Mayor Miro Weinberger, Governor Peter Shumlin, BBA Executive Director Kelly Devine, and other officials. At the news conference Devine stated “The Burlington Town Center development will have a lasting, positive effect on the heart of Burlington and the entire community. The project would create expanded parking, new jobs, and additional retail opportunities that would bring significant direct and indirect economic benefits to Burlington.” Several other community organizations voiced their support of the redevelopment, including the Burlington Farmers’ Market, Lake Champlain Chamber of Commerce, the Vermont Agency of Transportation and several City Councilors from surrounding Wards, among others.
Our presenters gave BBA members insight into what they should look for, tips to prevent retail theif, and resources/tools to take advantage of.
Retail theft is especially prevalent during the holiday season. Even if you did not attend this meeting, we encourage retailers to reach out for more information. Keep yourself, your employees and your business safe this holiday season.
An ordinance that would ban smoking on the Church Street Marketplace has received a vote of support from the Ordinance Committee. The committee voting 2-1 in favor of the ban, which means and can now be presented to the City Council for a final vote this month.
This year Tech Jam joined forces with Burlington’s new Generator to show case our local high tech economy.
The 8th annual Vermont Tech Jam was held at Generator, the new “maker space” in the annex of the Memorial Auditorium. Generator opened recently as a “combination artist studio, classroom, and business incubator” where everyone from hobby robotics enthusiasts to curious business investors can go and learn, collaborate, teach, and/or network with like-minded Vermonters.
There is a new kind of company in town – the B-Corp. Seventh Generation recently brought the leaders of the B-Corp (Benefit Corporation) movement to Burlington to discuss this new model.
Burlington’s Flynn Theater was the host location for the Benefit Corporation Champions’ retreat. The Champions’ Retreat invited over 400 businesses from across the globe to a summit on how to improve corporate responsibility. Burlington-based Seventh Generation’s Ashley Orgain recently spoke to Vermont Public Radioon the process of becoming a Benefit Corporation. Other Burlington Benefit Corporations include Ello, Rhino Foods, and The Lodge (at Champlain College).
The Burlington Business Association (BBA) and along with 30 community and business leaders will visit Portland, ME later this week. The focus will be sharing lessons, ideas and opportunities for running a thriving downtown.
Direct Design is celebrating 25 yeas of providing marketing services in Burlington! They have been members of the BBA since 2004 and Chris Reck served on the BBA Board for six years, helping improve BBA's brand and communications. Most recently Direct Design is working with the BBA on parkburlington.com as well as our parking flyer.
You've heard the construction noise and you've seen the wall mural. After several months of construction, LL Bean is ready to open their two level 18,000 square ft store in the Town Center Mall on November 7th.
Changes to Burlington’s public parking system will take affect November 1st. The Downtown Parking Team made a decision last week to delay changes to meters, garages, and rates while they await the delivery of Smart Meters.
Earlier this month, Vermont’s Health Exchange website, Vermont Health Connect, was taken offline - much to the surprise of many Vermonters.
The website, launched last October, has had numerous issues. Governor Peter Shumlin made the decision to temporarily shut down the site while the new provider, Optum, works with the state to reorganize and rebuild Vermont Health Connect by the next open enrollment period, which begins on November 15th.
Earlier this year, businesses that were required to sign-up for the stat’es health care exchanged were given the option to delay one-year and stay with their current provider. Many took that option. Now 2015 service is in question.
In the meantime, Chittenden County organizations with navigators continue to offer services though they report they are mainly helping individuals. For businesses, most are taking a wait and see approach.
The BBA is hard at work and excited for the changes coming to the Burlington parking system on October 1st. These new improvements are aimed to improve traffic flow, downtown parking convenience, and rebuilding a positive correlation between parking and doing business in Burlington, with ease.
On Friday of last week at Art Hop the PlanBTV South End committee launched its public engagement campaign. As with PlanBTV, city planners want thousands to participate in the process helping to craft a vision for the future of the city’s South End.
On Tuesday of last week, the Green Mountain Care Board authorized Blue Cross/Blue Shield of Vermont and MVP to increase their rates an average of 7.7 percent and 10.9 percent, respectively. What does this mean for the Burlington business community? Those who buy their health insurance through the Vermont Health Connect website are going to be paying more for health insurance for themselves and covered employees.
A plan is underway to bring passenger rail service to the Burlington waterfront. Not only will Burlington residents have a new transportation, the railway connection could carry visitors, as well as skilled professionals between Burlington and the New York area. The first segment of the project is underway and State officials set a goal of having first passenger trains arriving at Union Station in about three years.
Cars and trucks may actually movie along the Champlain Parkway. The roadway project got green-lighted by state environmental regulators just last week — half a century after it was first proposed. Construction isn't likely to start for at least another year — or three, but there is progress.
Did you know SKIRACK is Burlington's largest outdoor sports equipment store? While they have been a BBA member since 2002, they've been rooted in BTV since 1969! As Burlington has been termed "one of the most livable cities in America," it only makes sense that SKIRACK has become an ever-present establishment in BTV's retail scene. Stop by August 20-25 for SKIRACK's annual "Winter Summer Sale!"
It has been an exciting month for Burlington. Plenty of forward movement on key projects for the BBA and its members. In addition to our work on parking, waterfront development and unfunded pension liability, the BBA has worked to move the following forward this month.
The State of Vermont has over $1billion in current liability for both pensions and healthcare coverage for pensions. The City of Burlington’s liability is more than $60 million. Both liability burdens are roughly equal to annual budgets for both the state and city.
At its July 30th Breakfast with the Board event, members of the Burlington Business Association met to discuss unfunded pension liabilities.
How will this affect the City of Burlington and it’s business owners?
Mayor Miro Weinberger said last fall at the “summit” the problem threatens the heart of the city’s success.
“In 2000 city tax payers contributed about $43,000 toward the retirement of city employees. In a little more than a decade public contributions exceeded $7.5 million – almost 175 times the cost in 2000. And still the pension is underfunded by $58 million, and the amount is growing, even though the city has met its contribution goals almost every year,” writes Hilary Niles in a VT Digger article, Burlington Struggles with Underfunded Pension.
What does this mean for the Burlington Business Association?
As advocates for business owners in the City of Burlington (and beyond), the BBA recognizes that failure to address the pension crisis will impact the city’s fiscal health. Here is the feedback we gathered from Wednesday’s Breakfast with the Board:
We cannot keep promising to pay, without having the funds to do so. Jane Knodell said, “we cannot keep doing this – there needs to be public outcry.”
“Someone needs to take the lead.” Said Pat Burns of City Market.
Leslie McKenzie suggested the need for transparency. “We don’t have the knowledge as voters. We need to encourage more people to be part of the conversation.”
The BBA is evaluating whether and how to take a lead on moving this conversation forward and reaching solutions. Let us know your thoughts. The BBA wants to hear how we can help you to better understand and learn of the City’s pension crisis. E-mail Kelly Devine at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Burlington Business Association is moving parking forward. This fall our parking reform plan will take a big step forward. Our partners at the Burlington Department of Public Works have placed an order for 310 smart parking meters for our downtown. Those meters will also see a rate increase from $1 to $1.5 per hour. And you can park at them for as long as you’d like.
The fun continues after the Burlington Business Association’s annual dinner. Mary Kehoe was able to take advantage of one of the many incredible auction items this year; the Chef-to-Table Dinner! Master Chef Herve Mahe of the Hilton Burlington created a four-course, fine dining experience for the auction winner and her guests and was kind enough to share the experience with us.
Burlington, VT – Mayor Miro Weinberger today announced that the City of Burlington will implement several changes to the downtown parking system to both improve the customer experience and to ensure the City has a sustainable plan for maintaining the parking system and infrastructure in the downtown.
In the next twelve months you’ll see new parking, improvements to the Bike Path, and fewer power lines on the Burlington Waterfront. The Burlington Business Association checked in with Assistant Director of the Community and Economic Development Office (CEDO), Nate Wildfire, to learn the latest.
Taxes –we call them a certainty. In Burlington the city’s nearly $63million municipal budget is funded 24% by the nearly 650 commercial/industrial properties for a total of over $19 million. In effect, 6% of the properties cover nearly a quarter of the budget.
Missing the old fountain on Church Street? Check out the new water feature at the top block. On Monday June 30th the Church Street Marketplace in collaboration with KeyBank unveiled the Fish Fountain, a new attraction for downtown Burlington.
From bribing with brownies to Beijing, the Carpenters spoke to the Burlington Free Press about Burton's history and it's future. With 20% of Burton's sales coming from bags, backpacks, luggage and apparel, the Burlington-based business is transitioning from a strictly snowboard maker to a lifestyle brand.
The Burlington Business Association awarded Burton with our Business of the Year award at our Annual Dinner in April. Read more about what makes Burton one of Burlington's best in this BFP Innovative article.
Did you know that the Spirit of Ethan Allen is the largest cruise ship on Lake Champlain? It's also one of the largest banquet facilities in Vermont! Last week the BBA and 75+ members kicked off the summer season with a morning cruise aboard the SOEA. But their cruises encompass so much more - lunch, brunch, dinner, murder mysteries, dancing...if you're looking for something to do this summer, don't say we didn't inform you!
At the awards ceremony last night at the Shelburne Museum Pizzagalli Center, Gov. Peter Shulim presented the The Vermont Small Business of the Year award is going to Switchback Brewing Co. of Burlington.
Parking has been the primary concern of many downtown business owners, and considered "frustrating" in the eye of the public, but there is a new emotion around parking in Burlington, and that is one of excitement.
Burlington Free Press - Burlington's quest for economic vitality must include a "foundational" commitment to more (and more affordable) housing for its middle classes, Mayor Miro Weinberger announced today.
Speaking at a media conference at Fletcher Free Library with other advocates of urban life, Weinberger's comments followed the release of a yearlong study that outlines strategies for residential development.
Seven Days - Up until a few days ago, a weather-stained lighthouse sat offshore from Burlington's Oakledge Park. It never had any luminary ability; it was, in other words, a fake. And now it's gone.
If you've traveled a few miles farther north up the Burlington Bike Path, you've likely noticed that the Urban Reserve — the 40-acre stretch of land between the Moran Plant and North Beach also known as the North 40 — resembles a construction site right now, with the requisite Porta-Potties, gravel piles and large equipment.
WPTZ - Burlington announced several new initiatives for the city last Friday.
PlanBTV South End aims to spur along development gain in Burlington's South End. That area of the city has been growing and transforming so fast over the past few years that the city has been racing to keep up.
Pine Street Pedestrian Safety Improvements, Partnership to Achieve National Recognition for Walking and Biking, and planBTV Process for South End
BBA Executive Director Kelly Devine found herself enjoying a morning with Mayor Miro Weinberger while he promoted active transportation options during his 3rd annual Mayor’s Multi-Modal Tour around the City. Folks joined the Mayor to travel around town by foot, bike, bus, electric vehicle, and vanpool.
City of Burlington - Construction begins Monday, May 12 on flood migitation efforts at the intersection of Main St. and S. Winooski Ave. This work is In response to the frequent flooding at that site. The City of Burlington Department of Public Works initiated a flooding mitigation evaluation in late 2013 to determine what work was needed.
“These are healthcare experts who could work anywhere they want, but choose to come here because of the quality of life….Burlington and the state of Vermont have become synonymous with quality of life and healthcare," Brumsted said.