Small Business Administration Administrator-designate, former wrestling entertainment executive, Linda McMahon testifies on Capitol Hill in Washington, at her confirmation hearing before the Senate Small Business and Entrepreneurship Committee.

SBA head sees business being held back

The Associated Press
NEW YORK — Six months into her tenure as head of the Small Business Administration, Linda McMahon sees a split among small business owners — they are increasingly optimistic, she says, but many are held back by their inability to get loans or find the right workers for jobs that are staying open. “Entrepreneurs are willing again to be bigger risk-takers than they have been over the past eight years,” McMahon said in a phone interview this week with The Associated Press. But, she said, there are also lingering effects of the Great Recession, and “I think there is still a caution.”
McMahon’s observations matched owners’ self-assessments in surveys including ones released by Pepperdine University’s Graziadio School of Business and Management and Dun & Bradstreet Corp. and by the National Federation of Independent Business. She also named some of the stumbling blocks that many owners have cited in addition to a scarcity of loans and workers: regulations, taxes and the cost of health care, all issues President Donald Trump has pledged to address.

Jen Cohen, left, shows participants from the Twin Rivers Supervisory Union where and how to hit a steel drum during a team building exercise Aug. 3.

Steel drums bring power of music to corporate culture

RUTLAND — The steel drum music of Trinidad is making its way to Rutland via Calypso Consulting, a new business set up by Jennifer Cohen. Cohen, a classically trained pianist and violist with 30 years experience as a performer and educator, wanted to bring what she describes as a transformational experience to the workplace. “Music has a way of connecting us like no other experience. I have seen how the transformative power of collaborative music-making can be used to achieve outstanding results,” she said. Cohen taught herself how to play steel drums, and first introduced it into Clarendon Elementary School, where she taught.


With stories of the road, ‘Long Haul’ moves well

“The Long Haul” by Finn Murphy, 2017, W.W. Norton, $26.95, 229 pages
From here to there. That’s where you need to move your stuff: from Point A to Point B. Take it out of one place and put it in another, possibly many miles away. And it’s not like you can wiggle your nose or wave a magic wand to do it, either. You need someone who knows what he or she is doing. In “The Long Haul” by Finn Murphy, there’s somebody like that out there.

Organization works to put farmer, farmland together

Farmers across New England are faced with new challenges every day, including the issue of finding the right piece of land to farm. As a part of its undertaking to help farmers overcome these challenges, the Department of Sustainable Agriculture at the University of Vermont continues its efforts with the Land Access Project to help transition farmers, landowners, conservation organizations, service providers, communities and policymakers throughout New England. The Land Access Project is entering its final year of a three-year timeline. This project builds from the first phase of Land Access, which took place from 2010 to 2013, and focused on improving and coordinating access to resources and services available for farmland. This current phase is structured around land access and transfer networking.

Jacob Edgar, a global talent scout and music producer who grew up in Plainfield, in Iquitos, Peru on a shoot for the television show, “Music Voyager,” which he hosts. Edgar founded the Charlotte-based music company Cumbancha in 2006.
Photo by Luke Askelson

Cumbancha in Charlotte: Music from a big world

CHARLOTTE — Defining in simple terms what Jacob Edgar does for a living is no easy task. Sure, you could call him an ethnomusicologist, which he is, by training, earning a master’s degree in the unique field from the University of California, Los Angeles, in 1994. “But most people don’t know what that is,” he said with a laugh. “So I have a hard time explaining it to them.” Or they assume he’s in academia, which couldn’t be further from the truth. “I guess you could say I’m a global talent scout and a music producer,” said Edgar, who founded music production and promotion company Cumbancha.


‘Popular’ will set you right back in the playground

“Popular: The Power of Likability in a Status-Obsessed World” by Mitch Prinstein, 2017, Viking, $27, 273 pages.  None of the other kids like you. They don’t include you in anything. In fact, they often just plain ignore you, and some even pick on you. You don’t understand why this is, but there isn’t much you can do: Quitting your job is not an option.

AP PHOTO This screen grab provided by the U.S. Department of Justice shows a hidden website that has been seized as part of a law enforcement operation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation

What ‘darknet’ sites have in common with eBay

NEW YORK — AlphaBay, the now-shuttered online marketplace that authorities say traded in illegal drugs, firearms and counterfeit goods, wasn’t all that different from any other e-commerce site, court documents show. Not only did it work hard to match buyers and sellers and to stamp out fraud, it offered dispute-resolution services when things went awry and kept a public-relations manager to promote the site to new users. Of course, AlphaBay was no eBay. It went to great lengths to hide the identities of its vendors and customers, and it promoted money-laundering services to mask the flow of bitcoin and other digital currencies from prying eyes. Such “darknet” sites operate in an anonymity-friendly internet netherworld that’s inaccessible to ordinary browsers.

On June 15, Gov. Phil Scott signs Governor Phil Scott signs an executive order establishing the Vermont Outdoor Recreation Economic Collaborative at the Waterbury Reservoir.

Vermont gets organized on its recreation economy

MONTPELIER — On June 15 of this year, Gov. Phil Scott issued Executive Order 11-17, creating the Vermont Outdoor Recreation Economic Collaborative. While the collaborative is an unfunded mandate, there is enthusiasm among the members that it will have a positive impact on Vermont’s outdoor economy. While individual sectors of the outdoor economic community have pursued the goal of bringing new and expanded business opportunities to the state through promotion of the landscape and gear to accommodate its use, little has been done to bring all those interests and energies together. One stated goal of the collaborative is to provide a platform for collective focus for accomplishing major goals of growing the state’s economy by leveraging, sustaining and enhancing the outdoor recreation culture, which is such a significant part of the Vermont brand. The collaborative consists of fifteen members, drawn from state government as well as the outdoor recreation industry, nonprofits, the Vermont Trails and Greenways Council, and two “at large” members with experience in other Vermont economic development initiatives.

Trevor Mance, founder of TAM's Waste Management, stand between piles of composted wood chips, hay and a mushroom-based material at the company's compost division in Bennington. Seen here he's holding pieces  once used for packing materials made by NY-based company Ecovative products, which uses mushroom roots and organic matter that grows into a durable plastic alternative.

Jobs may be slow to follow waste diversion efforts

Trevor Mance launched the composting division of TAM Waste Removal four years ago, hoping to make better commercial use of food scraps and other biodegradable materials from the trash his company hauls. While composting has been good for TAM’s “green image,” and for employment — the company added 3 1/2 new jobs devoted to composting — Mance said it’s been unprofitable so far. “I don’t think it’s ever going to pay,” Mance said. “But we are pushing really hard because we believe in it. We’re doing it more for the environment.”
Mance started TAM as an after-school venture in Shaftsbury in 1996.

Localfolks Smokehouse owner and now beer brewer John Morris cleans beer vats in the basement of his new brewing area in Waitsfield. Under the name Cousins Brewing, he is serving four house-brewed beers, with plans to start selling by the keg.

Localfolk is the latest to tap into Vermont’s craft beer culture

WAITSFIELD — There are five new beers in central Vermont and, for now, they are available only at Localfolk Smokehouse in Waitsfield. This spring, Localfolk owner and “pit boss” John Morris added four house-brewed beers to the 20 he had on hand — Tolerable Pale Ale, a four malt, seven hops beer; Big Brown & Down, a four malt, four hops, full-bodied malty brown ale; Giggles IPA, a light IPA brewed with four classic American hops; and Adequate Maple Amber, a beer made with Dark B maple syrup added to the boil kettle, which creates a full-bodied, mildly sweet, amber ale. Killer RyeLife, a session rye pale ale, brewed light and crisp, was added in July. Why add your own brews when, for the past 12 years, your bar and restaurant has been a hot spot for skiers, hikers, tourists and locals? The motive for Localfolk, Morris said, was “to brew really good beer” and see what happens next.