Does market volatility scare you?

Halloween is almost upon us. Of course, on Halloween night, you may see a parade of monsters, demons, Transformers and other frightening individuals stopping by your house, exercising their right to demand candy. Fortunately, their appearance will be unlikely to cause you unpleasant dreams. But some people seem to have real fears about other things, such as what may happen in the financial markets. One way to keep those fears at bay is to avoid certain impulsive moves, such as the following:
— Avoid ducking out of the market. Consider this: In March 2007, the Dow Jones Industrial Average stood at about 12,275 points.

Contest promotes clean energy innovation in Vermont

To encourage climate-conscious entrepreneurs through a nationwide competition, the Vermont Sustainable Jobs Fund and associates are offering an opportunity starting in December for 12 entrepreneurs or startup companies from all over the country to participate in an intensive three-month program called Accel-VT. According to the Accel-VT website, winning applicants will “help solve the challenges related to the monitoring and control of distributed energy (e.g., storage, electric vehicles, solar, community-scale wind, combined heat and power) to improve their value while providing safe, reliable and affordable electric service to all customers.”
“All the electric utilities, including Washington Electric Co-op, are helping to fund and sponsor this — I would call it — this innovation center, this entrepreneurial effort,” said Patricia Richards, general manager of the co-op, which serves 11,000 customers with 100 percent renewable energy. Richards said the goal is to encourage some fresh thinking “about how we might do things differently to save money, save electricity and just improve overall service, cut carbon emissions.”
“If someone can think up some new way to do stuff, we’re open to hearing about it,” she said. Geoff Robertson, director of business assistance at the Vermont Sustainable Jobs Fund, said utility representatives and other corporate partners will serve as mentors to the companies selected to participate. Accel, which is a business accelerator course, is based on the Village Capital curriculum model that helps participants analyze their ideas among themselves with the additional goal of attracting investors.

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Cautionary but entertaining tales from ‘Rossen to the Rescue’

“Rossen to the Rescue” by Jeff Rossen, 2017, Flatiron Books, $24.99, 256 pages

You know your rights. You’re well aware of what you can and can’t do legally because you’ve armed yourself with knowledge. You have rights, and the new book “Rossen to the Rescue,” by Jeff Rossen, makes clear one of them is the right not to be scammed, schemed, or unsafe. So, let’s say you’re on a cross-country flight. The attendant just handed you something with ice.

Ventilation and refrigeration technician Gary Roberts runs the wood boiler system at National Life in Montpelier.
PHOTO BY PETER COBB

More wood heat in Vermont’s future

Vermont wants to double the use of wood-generated energy to better manage the forests and to move Vermont toward greater energy self sufficiency, according to Emma Hanson, the new wood-energy coordinator for the Department of Forests, Parks & Recreation. Hanson, who started the new job in August, was hired to boost the use of wood, especially the use of low-grade wood (trees that cannot be converted into high-grade lumber or veneer) for industrial heating systems.
“We are currently harvesting less than half of the annual net growth of live trees,” she said. According to Hanson, current wood usage for residential and institutional heat and process steam (industrial use) is about one million green tons (2.5 tons per cord) a year plus 130,000 tons of pellets, mostly for household use. Emma Hanson was recently put in charge of the state’s efforts to double its use of wood in residential and industrial heating. “The number-one goal for my job is to foster healthy forests.

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Behind-the-scenes comic book battles and heroics

“Slugfest: Inside the Epic 50-Year Battle Between Marvel and DC” by Reed Tucker, 2017, Da Capo Press, $27, 286 pages

You know what your workplace needs? A superhero. Sure, a superhero! Someone who can leap tall problems in a single bound. An invincible mutant who can handle customers, recall conversations in great detail, dispense product in minutes and stop time in the break room.

Children in the North Branch Nature Center's after school Explorers program play outside the center's  new community center addition this week. The Vermont Community Loan Fund, which celebrates its 30th anniversary this year, provided a $175,000 bridging loan towards the nature center's $1.6 million capital campaign project.JEB WALLACE-BRODEUR / STAFF PHOTO

At 30, Vermont Community Loan Fund’s mission remains strong

SHELBURNE — The Vermont Community Loan Fund hits two milestones at an anniversary celebration at Shelburne Farms on Thursday. The fund will reach 30 years of lending, and pass the $100 million mark in Vermont investment. The celebration is not just about time spent or money raised by the organization. It is also about supporting the lives, hopes and dreams of large segments of society in the state. Loans for businesses, affordable housing, agriculture, forestry, land conservation, child care, early education, health centers, solar energy and senior centers are among VCLF’s interests.

Johnson, Lyndon State faculties prepare for a merged curriculum

LYNDON — The planned merger of Lyndon and Johnson state colleges into a new Vermont university will usher in an improved general education curriculum to help students prepare for the practical demands of a global economy. To reach that goal, both colleges received a grant from the Davis Educational Foundation in Yarmouth, Maine, for $224,646 over three years to support major curriculum changes for both campuses. The private foundation was established by Stanton and Elisabeth Davis after his retirement as chairman of Shaw’s Supermarkets Inc.
On July 1, 2018, the two colleges will unify as Northern Vermont University. The merger will include separate college curriculums fused into a single program of active learning. Although both colleges will maintain separate campuses after they merge, the new general education program will be launched during the fall 2018 semester, according to college officials.

Program directs Vermont businesses to foreign markets

From Joan Goldstein’s view as commissioner of the state Department of Economic Development, companies looking to expand small-business opportunities should consider taking advantage of the state’s STEP program. The State Trade Expansion Program is funded by the U.S. Small Business Administration to help companies expand business opportunities abroad. Grants are earmarked to help pay entry fees to attend trade shows, for export training and compliance, and upgrades to a firm’s website to reach international markets. “I think the help we’re able to give from getting this STEP award from the feds is that we have a number of different levels of assistance,” said Goldstein, whose department recently received a $335,600 STEP grant. To drum up business, she said it’s critical for a small business to attend trade shows, which “cost a pretty penny.” And by that, Goldstein means the admission price is in the thousands of dollars.

Courtesy photo:
Vermont Tech gave the public a first look of its Advanced Mobile Manufacturing Lab at the Manufactured in Vermont Trade Show in Essex on Wednesday. The trailer gives the college the ability to train students for high-tech manufacturing positions all over the state.

Vermont Tech takes training program on the road

RANDOLPH CENTER — Vermont Technical College unveiled its new Advanced Mobile Manufacturing Lab at the Manufactured in Vermont trade show, Sept. 27, at the Champlain Valley Expo Center in Essex Junction. The lab will bring a mobile laboratory and teachers to all corners of the state that will focus on developing skills needed in today’s high-tech manufacturing industry. “The current skills gap we have in manufacturing is only (exaggerated) in Vermont by our rural nature,” said Chris Gray, who is assistant project manager for the lab, and also building the mobile lab at his home in Springfield. The lab will be housed in a renovated, 24-foot, towed trailer and will serve up to eight students.