Kelly and Kathleen Norris launched Homestead Hops two years ago at their farm in Starksboro. Courtesy photo

‘Hopping’ on board: Vermont begins to rebuild its hops industry

Dormant for a century, Vermont’s hops industry is growing again. Encouraged by Vermont’s strong and expanding craft beer industry, as well a heightened emphasis on locally sourced products, growers see a potentially strong market for hops. While the state’s hops renaissance is in its fledgling stages and growers face obstacles, interest is on the rise. The University of Vermont Extension supports that interest and offers resources to farmers considering a commercial hops yard. UVM presented the eighth annual Vermont Hop Conference at the Sheraton Burlington in late February, drawing nearly 200 participants.

Vicky Tebbetts

Tebbetts steps into Travel and Recreation leadership role

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“We all have a bit of tourist in us, and enjoy being hosts and sharing that passion for where we live.”
Vicky Tebbetts, Travel and Recreation chairwoman
The Vermont Travel and Recreation Council recently turned to longtime member Vicky Tebbetts as its new chairwoman. A resident of Cabot, Tebbetts brings about eight years of experience with the council, as well as professional experience as an attorney, writer, marketing and communications specialist and entrepreneur. Tebbetts said she is looking forward to supporting economic development through promotion of the Vermont brand. “The Vermont brand is the backbone of our economy,” Tebbetts said. “It’s existed and been very robust for decades now.

Code for BTV brigade captain James Lockridge, of Big Heavy World, with other participants at the Code for America Summit in Oakland California, in November. He is fifth  from left in the third row. Courtesy photo

Big Heavy World takes lead in civic tech movement

 

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BURLINGTON — Big Heavy World recently took over coordination of Code for BTV, hoping to inject new energy in to a “brigade” of volunteer technologists trying to create and maintain civic software and open data projects in greater Burlington. Big Heavy World is tech-savvy nonprofit music development organization. James Lockridge, its executive director, called Code for BTV, “A platform for bringing together people who have technology-related skills, to apply those skills to creating community benefits.” He referred to participants as “civic technologists,” which has largely come to replace the phrase “civic hacker,” as it is more inclusive of the spectrum of skills beyond coding — such as design, project management and archiving — participants are bringing to the movement. Code for BTV is an officially recognized brigade of Code for America, a national nonprofit founded in 2009 to promote the use of technology and access to data to help make government services simple, effective and easy to use. The three pillars of its work relate to health, justice and economic development.

Dining room manager Olivia Bourdeau (left) and bartender Roger Conant at Tavern II in South Burlington. Photo by Mike Reilly

Spur-of-the-moment idea brings Tavern II to Shelburne Road

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SOUTH BURLINGTON — The popular Church Street Tavern recently launched a sister restaurant, Tavern II, on Shelburne Road. The new business opened on Feb. 6 in space most recently occupied by Junior’s Rustico. “We opened a sister restaurant to serve some of our customers who wanted a bit of a different venue,” said Scott Michaud, who along with partners Stephen Parent and Mark Anair operates both restaurants. “We’re offering the exact same menu here as Church Street Tavern, but we are able to accommodate larger parties here.”
Michaud described that menu as American pub fare, with an emphasis on quality with affordable pricing.

Kyle Goldberg recently launched Gold Ladder Coffee in Essex Junction. Photo by Mike Reilly

Gold Ladder all about love of coffee

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Lovers of fresh roasted coffee gained a new option for their passion when Gold Ladder Coffee opened in late December in Essex Junction. Located next to the Bagel Bakery on Susie Wilson Road, Gold Ladder is a small-batch roastery that brews up a wide range of coffees and specialty coffee drinks. But even diehards will have a hard time matching owner Kyle Goldberg’s love of the brew. “My whole business approach is the love of coffee,” Goldberg said. “I find I go toward things I love to do.

Five Lolë ambassadors at a meet-up at Pure Barre in South Burlington. (From left): Anna-Bridgette Shorten, Jennifer Sienkiewicz, Emma Simon, Justine Zolotas and Caitlin Moroney. Provided photo.

Ambassador program pushes Lolë beyond shop’s walls

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BURLINGTON — Lolë Burlington, which has been on Church Street for about a year and half, blurs the lines between a fitness club and fashionable active wear for women. The business has built a strong customer base by using classes, events, community outreach and social media to introduce more people to its location and product line, said manager Laura Washburn. Central to that, she said, are fitness instructors who serve as ambassadors that help potential customers realize that Lolë is, “not just another yoga shop,” and pushes marketing beyond the store walls. “It’s a great community connection,” Washburn added “Ambassadors introduce people to the brand, and we introduce our customers to them and their work.”
Washburn described the Lolë clothing as, “Ath-leisure, which is a huge growth industry right now.” It’s clothing that enables women to easily transition from exercise to streetwear, she said. Lolë is an acronym for Live Out Loud Every day.

Owner Megan O’Brien at her store Tangerine on College Street in Burlington. Provided photo.

For 1st boutique, owner remembered to keep it affordable

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Fifth-generation Vermonter Megan O’Brien said she thought Burlington needed more shopping, particularly affordable, high-quality women’s clothing. She did her part to remedy that in July when she launched Tangerine on College Street. Tangerine offers new, vintage-inspired Bohemian clothing, focusing on American-made garments from contemporary designers. “It’s an eclectic little bundle of styles I’m hoping you can’t find anywhere else,” O’Brien said. “I try to focus on brands no one else has in Burlington, and do my own thing to offer something different.” Inventory includes dresses, tops, pants, skirts and T-shirts, as well as jackets and coats.

Tom Murphy of the Urban Land Institute and a former three-term mayor of Pittsburgh was keynote speaker at the Burlington Business Association summit on Jan. 26. Photo by Mike Reilly.

Burlington business summit envisions future vitality

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BURLINGTON — The former mayor of Pittsburgh told attendees of a business summit last week that Burlington has many of the building blocks in place to pursue economic development. Importantly, said Tom Murphy, “You have what every city wants: a really strong sense of place.”
The Burlington Business Association held its 2017 summit on Jan. 26 at the Hilton Burlington. About 110 members of the Greater Burlington business community participated in the event, which featured national and local presenters. Murphy, a former three-term mayor of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, now with the Urban Land Institute, cited the city’s location on Lake Champlain, great architecture and history, and the presence of a university and medical center.

Mike Reilly PhotoEmployees cut the ribbon for the reimagined Sonesta ES Suites Burlington.

Sonesta ES Suites ‘re-imagined’ in Williston

WILLISTON — Sonesta ES Suites Burlington recently completed a project that brand representatives call as much a “re-imagination and re-invigoration” as a renovation to the property. The multimillion-dollar upgrade includes 96 newly designed studio and two-bedroom suites that emphasize comfort and space for both work and relaxation. The ES Suites brand is Sonesta’s extended-stay hotel offering.

From left, Debbie Lang of the Barns at Lang Farm shows off healing jewelry from Marsya Ancker of Marsya Mind Body Spirit.

Businesses flock to chamber’s annual holiday party

BURLINGTON — As it has for decades, KeyBank played host to the annual Holiday Party in downtown Burlington in December. The event served as a networking event of Lake Champlain Regional Chamber of Commerce (LCRCC), with Farrell Distributing, Lake Champlain Chocolates, and Cheese & Wine Traders joining as sponsors. Several local businesses celebrated both the season and strong economic years, and that included the hosts. Don Baker, Vermont market president at KeyBank, said, “We’re coming off maybe our strongest year ever. The economy is gradually getting better, and there’s lots of optimism, post-election, for growth.