by Bruce Edwards, Vermont Business MagazineQ: How’s the local economy doing? A: Pretty well, actually. We have a new company relocating to Montpelier, Caledonia Spirits (makers of the Bar Hill brand). That will improve net job creation by 30 or so persons. Enrollment in schools is up this year, we have several housing projects underway and a major hotel coming to downtown. Our pipeline of projects looks positive for the next 24 months or so. We are also hoping to add a new Tax Increment Finance (TIF) district in Montpelier that would be a huge boost to many projects and lift both our local and regional economy in the coming years. That process is already underway.Q: What feedback are you getting from some of the larger manufacturers, employers as to how their companies are doing?A: The larger entities are holding their own for the most part. It is the smaller shops that feel the most pressure when weather or construction projects interfere with their normal business cycle.In general and across the board, the issues I see businesses facing seem to fall into at least one of three categories: 1) a lack of workers 2) a lack of customers or 3) a lack of room to expand. Businesses need investment to grow and that ability to make such investments only comes from sustained periods of high productivity. Economic development must help remove obstacles inhibiting sustained periods of high productivity (e.g. labor shortages, housing supply, etc).I read a study the other day that showed Vermont is 33rd in the nation at $48,123 and second to last in New England (if) you look at Gross State Product per capita as an indicator of productivity. We have to improve that. Businesses can, and must, become more competitive — which requires investment, innovation and talent. Improving economic conditions requires more than research and policy. We need to shift in attitudes. Economic development can no longer be taken for granted.Q: How is Montpelier’s downtown? Many vacancies?A: We actually don’t have that many vacancies downtown. Part of the reason for the few vacancies we do have has more to do with landlords that are unwilling to compromise… i.e. to subdivide larger spaces for tenants or lower the ask price. We have some new apartments going into the French Block — and that alone will have a nice ripple effect downtown (a challenge to that project was dropped in October and work is expected to begin by the end of this year, resulting in 18 apartments). The 1 Taylor Street Bus Terminal and housing project will be another economic trigger to help lease up the remaining vacancies. The downtown market will adjust to those changes pretty quickly.The 1 Taylor Street project will be breaking ground soon. That project alone will yield more than 30 new housing units, not to mention the multi-modal terminal downtown.Q: What are your challenges/opportunities?A: I’m very focused on housing right now. The housing supply issue is critical to attracting and retaining the talented people Montpelier needs for economic growth. A good housing supply is an essential part of my economic growth plan, and we are working to come from behind and correct for several variables… including: an aging housing stock, tight supply and rising prices near some employment centers. Housing shortages force people to make difficult choices about how and where to live if not in Montpelier. We don’t want that.In terms of our opportunities, we have many, but we have to filter those opportunities as we go to determine: What actions will pay the highest dividends in terms of available housing inventory? What is the right mix of commercial and residential development to seek?Where will development projects help Montpelier the most?How can we get tax relief for residents and businesses while accomplishing growth?I have great hope for Montpelier. The people of the city care about each other, their quality of life and the prosperity of the city for future generations. The city seems to be embracing the Montpelier Development Corporation’s economic development mission and what we are working to accomplish for Montpelier.Bruce Edwards is a freelance writer from Southern Vermont. This article first appeared in the November issue of Vermont Business Magazine.
Daily Postcard: The worm moon viewed Saturday from White Rock. According to the Farmer’s Almanac, March’s full moon, called the full Worm Moon, reached peak fullness at 1:48 p.m. EDT Monday, March 9. It is called the Worm Moon because earthworms and grubs tend to emerge from their winter dormancy at this time of year, marking a sure sign of spring. This full moon also is the first of three supermoons in 2020—the other two occurring April 7 and May 7. Thanks to its supermoon status, this year’s Worm Moon has been named the Super Worm Moon. Photo by Nancy Ann Hibbs
Posted on July 16, 2013March 6, 2017By: Kate Mitchell, Manager of the MHTF Knowledge Management System, Women and Health InitiativeClick to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Reddit (Opens in new window)Click to email this to a friend (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window)As our Young Champions of Maternal Health pass the nine-month fellowship program’s midpoint, we asked them to reflect on their wishes for maternal health. Solomon Abebe Addis (Ethiopia), Chinomnso Traffina Ibe (Nigeria), and Oluwadamilola Olufunbi Olaogun (Nigeria) accepted our challenge and shared their wishes on the Young Champions Blog.“If I could have one Maternal Health wish, it would be: to see a world where maternity is a time of celebration for all mothers.” -Solomon Abebe AddisIn his blog post, Solomon details an exchange with one of the women who he interviewed for his research project. This woman lost her mother to maternal mortality. While the villagers forgot about the deceased mother shortly after her death–maternal mortality was a common occurrence in the village–the mother’s death changed her family’s life. Her daughter, Solomon’s interviewee, turned to commercial sex work and contracted HIV. Now that she is pregnant, she dreams of having a safe birth and seeing that the day is full of celebration rather than grief.“My maternal health wish is that all pregnant women would have universal access to free quality maternal health services regardless of social class, level of education, cultural background, religion or belief, deliver safely remain alive and healthy for the upbringing of their children.” -Chinomnso Traffina IbeNomnso’s blog post speaks to the need for Nigeria to reduce its maternal mortality ratio. Though federal and state governments have tried subsidizing maternal health payments, the cost of specialized care during pregnancy leads some women to turn away from hospitals for maternal health care. Like Solomon, Nomso wishes for a day when preventable maternal deaths are eliminated so that every mother and family can experience the joy of childbirth and motherhood.“If I could have one maternal health wish, it will be that primary health care facilities are well equipped to give adequate basic obstetric care in Nigeria.” -Oluwadamilola Olufunbi OlaogunIn her blog post, Funbi refers back to her experience collecting data. Facilities were poorly equipped, and many community health extension workers had not received refresher training for years. Women experiencing pregnancy complications lacked easy access to secondary-level facilities and relied upon primary health care facilities for maternal health care. While Nigeria’s shortage of skilled birth attendants presents a challenge, Funbi sees a potential solution in training and equipping a lower cadre of health workers to deliver essential obstetric care at the primary facility level.To learn more about the Young Champions’ experiences, please visit the Young Champions Blog. Additional information about our current cohort of Young Champions and their mentors is available on our website. The Institute of International Education administers this program, in collaboration with the MHTF.Share this: ShareEmailPrint To learn more, read: