Businesses key to Middlebury food hub’s success

MIDDLEBURY — A food hub run by a group of local students has received steady support from Vermont businesses since its founding in 2013.
Middlebury Foods, a nonprofit organization run by Middlebury College students, delivers produce, meat, eggs, cheese and other staples once a month to six sites across Addison County.

VCRD unveils ‘Model Communities’ program

MONTPELIER — The Vermont Council on Rural Development is set to begin a program seeking to harness climate change as an economic opportunity for local communities. The group’s Climate Economy Model Communities Program kicks off in early 2017, with an RFP process scheduled to start in February. VCRD Executive Director Paul Costello said the organization, with support from Vermont partners, will select “two towns to provide concentrated services to in the next year.”

Through these services, the goal is to work with the local community to advance economic opportunities while reducing the community’s carbon footprint. For some, Costello said, this offers a different way to think about climate impact. “You can think of the climate change issue as apocalyptic, or you can think of it as a problem that we need to rally to for solutions, essentially an economic problem, which will challenge the creativity of leaders in the business community to come up with answers,” Costello said.

Hair stylist brings career home

RUTLAND – Hilary McCoy brings lots of skill to her job as a hair stylist, but for her it’s more about the people. “It’s all about consultation,” she said, and that’s been key for the Rutland native who just moved back home. Over the years, McCoy said, “I listened, I knew my clients and I knew what they were looking for.”

After 16 years of building her career as a hair stylist in the Boston area, McCoy recently brought her talents back to her hometown of Rutland and is part of the team at Blush Salon & Beauty Lounge on Center Street. It’s a people business, and that’s what she loves most about her work. “I love interacting with different people every day,” McCoy said.

Heartworks to open Montpelier preschool

MONTPELIER — A Vermont-based group of schools plans to start a new preschool in Montpelier in January, giving local families another option for child-care services. The new Loveworks Child Care Center, part of Heartworks Preschools, will be at 24 Mountain View St., in a building owned by National Life. This was the result of a request for proposals from National Life, which was looking to have child-care services in its building, and Heartworks was selected. The Loveworks center will be open to the wider community as well as employees of National Life and the state. The new facility will offer full-time, year-round child care for children 6 weeks old through pre-kindergarten.

Small business moves to Vt. via Inspire Space

COLCHESTER — Through a recent contest, the energy-assessment company Greenbanc became one of five entrepreneurs to share space and work alongside the Green Mountain Power team in GMP’s Inspire Space. The Inspire Space is an area located inside GMP’s Colchester headquarters meant to attract and support energy entrepreneurs and open the door to ways they can collaborate with the utility. Like GMP, Greenbanc is a certified B Corp, meaning it values making a positive social and environmental impact and meets certain standards in those areas. The nonprofit B Lab gives the B Corp certification, based on criteria that need to be met. Greenbanc was the fifth business to get involved with the Inspire Space, after founder North Lennox heard about the recent contest when he was living in New York.

Expansion is underway for Shacksbury Cider

VERGENNES — A new and expanded space is taking shape for Shacksbury Cider in the Kennedy Brothers facility in downtown Vergennes. The $300,000 project to create the new Shacksbury space started in August, according to Colin Davis, co-owner of Shacksbury Cider. The cider business is leasing the space in the Kennedy Brothers facility, a commercial building which houses several businesses and also a co-working and conference space. Davis and David Dolginow founded Shacksbury Cider in Shoreham in 2013, with plans to focus on their wholesale business the first couple of years, Davis explained. With the opportunity at the Kennedy Brothers building, he said, they decided to take the next step, which includes a retail space and a tasting room, along with much more space for production.

HUBZone workshops scheduled

MONTPELIER — The U.S. Small Business Administration recently announced that the federal government has expanded its Historically Underutilized Business Zones program in Vermont. Addison, Bennington, Orange, Rutland, Windsor and Windham counties are now designated as HUBZone counties, giving small businesses more access to federal contracts through the program. In these areas, the SBA and the Vermont Procurement Technical Assistance Center will hold a series of free workshops. These will allow procurement counselors to communicate the necessary information required to qualify for the HUBZone Program, as well as information for the certification process. The workshop schedule is as follows: 10 to 11:30 a.m. on Dec.

Vt. companies get more access to US contracts

The U.S. government recently expanded a program that gives rural small businesses more access to federal contracts. The Historically Underutilized Business Zones program, or HUBZone program, is a national program that helps small businesses gain preferential access to federal contracts due to limited economic development in rural communities. It is administered by the U.S. Small Business Administration, or SBA. The program’s recent expansion in Vermont is due to a change in federal regulation. The SBA changed its regulations to implement certain sections of the National Defense Authorization Act for fiscal year 2016.

Clustas product is becoming reality

A new fitness product that won the Rutland-area part of the Fresh Tracks Road Pitch earlier this year is entering the manufacturing process, following a successful crowdfunding campaign. Clustas, created by Rollin Rachele, is a portable weight-training system meant to provide a fitness option for everyone, including disabled people or those rehabilitating from injury. Rachele and his wife, Jude Smith Rachele, who is the chief operating officer for Clustas, are originally from the United States but spent many years in Europe before moving to Vermont. They now live in Sunderland. The seed for the Clustas idea was planted after Rollin Rachele’s mother was in a serious accident, and he wanted to create something that would allow her to safely exercise while she was undergoing rehab.

Rutland native starts Burlington law firm

BURLINGTON — Rich Cassidy’s passion for the law was first sparked in 1970, when he was volunteering for former Vermont Governor Phil Hoff’s run for the U.S. Senate as an anti-war candidate. Amid all the controversy surrounding the Vietnam War, Cassidy said he learned about the wide impact the law could have, and that it could be “a tool for making the world a better place.”