Biotech Association warns legislation would make VT least friendly state for biotech and life sciences

first_imgIn testimony to the Legislature, New England Biotech Association (NEBA) has warned that a bill under consideration by the Vermont Legislature will create the most restrictive and onerous regulatory environment for biotechnology growth and development in both New England and the nation. The bill, 48/H. 270, would established stricter controls on interactions between the biopharmeceutical industry and health care professionals.      The legislation would eliminate existing protections of trade secrets, create an unneeded new state bureaucracy, and drive away research funding by mandating additional disclosure of expenditures, said NEBA spokeswoman Paula Newton, adding that four other states have rejected similar legislation.”Plain and simple, this legislation will harm Vermont’s biotechnology and life sciences sector and drive jobs away,” Newton said.NEBA serves as the regional policy and public affairs voice for the biotechnology and biopharmaceutical community, representing state biotech associations, companies, academic institutions, and other organizations consisting of more than 800 entities.”Vermont already has one of the strictest pharmaceutical marketing disclosure laws in the country, so the onerous regulatory regime contemplated by the Legislation is wholly unnecessary and should bedefeated,” continued Newton. “Physicians are trusted professionals, and introducing unreasonably broad controls and prohibitions on the interactions between the biopharmaceutical industry and doctors is unwarranted and contrary to health interests of Vermonters who stand to benefit from miracle drugs.”Four other states, including New England states Maine and Rhode Island, have recently rejected marketing restriction legislation far less extreme than the Vermont bill, declaring the measures as bad policy with negative consequences for the life sciences industry and the jobs it produces. An overly restrictive disclosure law recently passed in Massachusetts — less strict than the Vermont proposal — has resulted in a drop in clinical trials and the cancellation of a major medical convention and the associated tourism and tax revenue.NEBA is a non-profit, member-driven organization comprised of state biotech associations, companies, academic institutions, and other organizations with a collective mission to support and grow the biotechnology industry in New England.MONTPELIER, Vt., April 24 /PRNewswire/ –olast_img read more

Business icon Bruce Lisman to talk about Vermont’s economic vision May 13

first_imgIn the world of finance, “having skin in the game” means that a player has put his own assets at risk to make a deal produce a profit. What assets does Vermont bring to the economic table? After a distinguished career on Wall Street, Bruce Lisman has some powerful ideas to share about how his native state can become an economic powerhouse.Lisman will speak on “How Vermont can Become its Own Version of an Economic Powerhouse Without Abandoning its Values,” on Thursday, May 13, 2010, from 5-6:30pm at the Sheraton Burlington Conference Center – Diamond Ballroom. There is no charge and reservations are not required. His talk is part of the Sheraton Economic Series 2010 presented by the Ethan Allen Institute.After a long and sparkling career in international finance, native Vermonter Bruce Lisman retired in 2009 as Chairman of the JP Morgan Chase Global Equity Division.He has served as a Director on the boards of Vermont’s National Life Group, Merchant Bancshares, the Shelburne Museum, American Forests, CVPS, and Pace University. He is a graduate of the University of Vermont and has served as Chair of the University’s Board of Trustees.last_img read more

Business leaders begin Bristol redevelopment project

first_imgA small group of local, veteran business leaders has launched Bristol Works! LLC and recently closed on the purchase of approximately 6 acres and 55,000 square feet of commercial buildings in the heart of the Bristol village. The partners have begun the transformation of the former Autumn Harp manufacturing site into a new, mixed-use redevelopment project that will focus on health and wellness, educational services, light-manufacturing and housing.‘We care deeply about this community, and want to keep working families in Bristol,’ says Kevin Harper, founder of Autumn Harp. Harper was the Managing Partner of the Mountain Greens Market redevelopment project, is currently the lead partner of the Bristol Bakery and Café, and now manages Bristol Works! LLC. ‘We want to use our resources and skills to re-purpose this site to be a focal point for the creation of livable wage jobs, and to enhance the health, well-being, and economic security of the region.’The Bristol Works! PartnersThe project hopes to infuse the neighborhood, the town, and the region with the innovation and energy that accompanies projects undertaken by Harper and some of his Bristol Works! partners.Robert Fuller is a well-known, regional restaurateur. Fuller is the owner of Leunig’s Bistro, the founder of Bristol’s popular Bobcat Café, and was the lead partner in the redevelopment of Cubbers and Snaps restaurants, two of Bristol’s well-known eateries.David Blittersdorf is the founder of Hinesburg-based NRG Systems, a global leader in the development and manufacture of wind measurement devices. He is also the founder and President/CEO of AllEarth Renewables, a company in Williston that designs and manufactures grid-connected solar tracking devices and residential-scale wind power systems.Bristol Works! has engaged the services of Bristol architect Tommie Thompson, of Twenty4D Architects, to transform the series of steel and pre-cast concrete buildings into a mixed use campus that will be home to some of the areas most promising job-creating sectors: health care/wellness, recreation, value-add food products manufacturing and green products manufacturing.Thompson says: ‘The Bristol Works! project reflects a true commitment to the scale, character and uses that define Bristol’s historic village environment. We will utilize the imagery of a renovated mill complex to unite the town’s rich manufacturing past with the present. By employing design elements that pay homage to the town’s working past, we embrace a new vision of living and working within the village.’ What’s ComingThe first phase of the project will include a complete renovation of one 10,000 square foot building on the south end of the campus. This will serve as the office complex for two non-profit service providers.The second phase of the project is planned to include the start-up of multiple value-add agriculture manufacturing enterprises and a mix of alternative energy businesses that will utilize the 25,000 square feet of manufacturing space.In the third phase, construction is planned to begin on a limited number of mixed income, multi-generational housing units. Harper is confident that there will be a demand for cottage style, super-efficient homes of compact size and scale. Back in the early 1900’s, many of the homes surrounding the industrial site were constructed as affordable homes for workers at the Vermont Box Company and the Drake Smith Company. ‘We would like to reclaim that legacy for those citizens who value living near the place where they work,’ says Harper. He thinks that this type of housing will appeal to working people and to empty-nest baby boomers alike.Phase One to focus on Health and Education servicesNancy Marnellos, Chair of the Board of the Five-Town Health Alliance, Inc. (5THA), has been working closely with Harper’s team to locate a new Federally Qualified Health Center (FQHC) in the Bristol Works! complex. The FQHC model offers primary care, dental, behavioral health, and preventive healthcare services to everyone, regardless of insurance status or ability to pay.‘We are very excited about locating our health center in the Bristol Works! complex,’ says Marnellos. ‘The objectives of the project and our health center are to support and encourage the health and well-being of our community’our goals are totally complementary.’Harper and Architect Thompson have also been working with Evelyn Howard, Superintendent of the North East Supervisory Union, to relocate the NESU to a smaller, more efficient space on the Bristol Works! campus. The NESU Board recently approved the move from the current Lover’s Lane location as soon as the new facility is ready, presumably early summer, 2011.The Bristol Works! team has met with adjoining neighbors, the Planning Commission and the Select Board. Renovations are expected to begin later this winter.last_img read more

Vermont NECAP school scores indicate slow progress

first_imgBased on testing last fall, educational achievement in Vermont continues to show small but continued growth in reading, but little progress in math for grades 3-8 over time and a drop of one percent since 2009. Meanhwile, grade 11 progress indicates that writing and math have improved, while reading has remained flat over the last three years. Seventy percent of 11th graders achieved proficiency in reading and less than 40 percent of 11th graders achieved proficiency in math; writing scores were at 50 percent proficiency. Female students did much better in reading for all grades, while male and female students were on par in math. Economically disadvantaged students continued to make progress in both reading (up to 58 percent proficient) and math (up to 49 percent proficient) for grades 3-8. Statewide assessment results for Fall 2010 were released by the Vermont Department of Education today at a special press conference held at the Pavilion Auditorium in Montpelier. The results are from the New England Common Assessment Program (NECAP) exams, given to Vermont public school students in grades three through eight and grade 11. Students were tested in Reading and Mathematics. Writing was assessed at grades 5, 8, and 11. The following table illustrates the percent of Vermont students proficient in the content area by grade span: (SEE GRAPHS BELOW)Grade LevelReadingMathWritingElementary/Middle School (3-8)73%65%57%High School (11)72%38%50%‘I am proud to live and work in a state where local communities have worked so hard to build a reputation of high-quality education,’ said Deputy Education Commissioner Rae Ann Knopf. ‘This year’s NECAP results are both an indicator of this success and a barometer that shows us where we still have room for improvement.’ The department invited all students who took the exam at Montgomery Elementary School and their teachers and principal to the press conference to recognize their achievement. Using groups of students enrolled at their school for three years or more, the department identified 14 schools across the state with high scores for all students, as well as students in poverty, and with at least 25% of their student population qualifying for Free and Reduced Lunch. Of the schools identified, Montgomery had the highest percentage of students in poverty (63%), but also had the highest overall percent of students proficient and above (92.9%), and the highest percentage of students in poverty proficient and above (88.8%). ‘These scores are the result of many years of hard work by every person in the building,’ said Montgomery Center School Principal Beth O’Brien. ‘We are committed to continuous improvement, and using data and curriculum alignment to drive instruction. Our motivation and sense of accountability are deeply rooted in our recognition of the impact that excellent instruction has on student learning. Working collaboratively with a clear focus on improving student learning has helped us to create a culture of high expectations and achievement, which we hope keeps things moving in the right direction for many years to come. We realize that effective schools are the result of highly functioning systems, and know that we could not be successful without the support of an informed school board, involved parents, a dedicated and hard working supervisory union staff, and a vibrant community.’ Principal O’Brien cited a recent Vermont Department of Education study entitled Roots of Success: Effective Practices in Vermont Schools as outlining eight key characteristics of effective schools that she and her staff used as a blueprint for building a successful school. These characteristics include the belief that all students can succeed; effective school leadership; a professional teaching culture that supports high-quality instruction; supportive school climate; and building constructive relationships with families. The NECAP exams are given in collaboration with Maine, New Hampshire and Rhode Island. These exams are designed to specifically assess how well Vermont students have learned the skills and content contained in Vermont’s Grade Expectations. This is the sixth year of results on the NECAP exams for grades three through eight and the fourth year for grade 11. As required under the No Child Left Behind Act, a Science assessment is given each May in grades four, eight and 11. For the complete packet of state results, including the Power Point from today’s press conference, visit is external). For school-by-school results, visit: is external).  Explanation of Identification of 14 Vermont Schoolswith High Achievement for All Students Vermont students generally do well on standardized achievement tests such as those that comprise the New England Common Assessment Program (NECAP).  Unfortunately, students from lower income families often do not share these academic successes with their classmates from higher income families. Test scores for economically disadvantaged students, defined by their eligibility for Free and Reduced Lunch (FRL), tend to be significantly lower in all achievement areas, producing what has come to be known as the ‘Achievement Gap.’ This year, for example, barely half of Vermont’s economically disadvantaged students in grades 3-8 scored proficient or higher on NECAP, twenty-five percentage points lower than their economically advantaged peers. The achievement discrepancy between these two student groups is not unique to Vermont, nor is it new. For more than a decade the Achievement Gap has been the major focus of research, legislation and school reform efforts across the country.With the release of the fall 2010 NECAP results, the Vermont Department of Education has made an effort to identify schools with relatively high concentrations of poverty that demonstrate high achievement for ALL students, including students who are economically disadvantaged. The following criteria were used to select schools: The analysis was based on a cohort of students tested in 2010 who attended their school for at least three consecutive years (students whose achievement is truly representative of their school’s systems and strategies);At least 25% of students in the cohort enrolled in the FRL program;The average of proficient NECAP reading and math scores for all students in the cohort is at least 80%, nearly 10 percentage points higher than the state average;The average of proficient NECAP reading and math scores for FRL students in the cohort is at least 70%, more than 10 percentage points higher than the state average. The Vermont Department of Education is pleased to recognize the high achievement of the students in these schools, and plans to learn about and share the systems, programs and strategies that have contributed to their success.Source: Vermont DOE. 2.9.2011 ###last_img read more

Weekly unemployment claims plunge after three weeks of increases

first_imgThere were 889 new regular benefit claims for Unemployment Insurance last week, a decrease of 764 from the week before. Altogether 11,520 new and continuing claims were filed, a decrease of 733 from a week ago and 1,931 fewer than a year earlier. The Department also processed 1,990 First Tier claims for benefits under Emergency Unemployment Compensation, 2008 (EUC08), 18 fewer than a week ago. In addition, there were 834 Second Tier claims for benefits processed under the EUC08 program, which is a decrease of 27 from the week before. The Unemployment Weekly Report can be found at: is external). Previously released Unemployment Weekly Reports and other UI reports can be found at: is external)  Vermont’s unemployment rate continued to fall. The March 2011 rate was 5.4 percent. See story HERE.last_img read more

Weekly unemployment claims increase slightly

first_imgThere were 970 new regular benefit claims for Unemployment Insurance last week, an increase of 81 from the week before. Altogether 10,364 new and continuing claims were filed, a decrease of 1,156 from a week ago and 2,137 fewer than a year earlier. The Department also processed 1,999 First Tier claims for benefits under Emergency Unemployment Compensation, 2008 (EUC08), 9 more than a week ago. In addition, there were 846 Second Tier claims for benefits processed under the EUC08 program, which is an increase of 12 from the week before. The Unemployment Weekly Report can be found at: is external). Previously released Unemployment Weekly Reports and other UI reports can be found at: is external)  Vermont’s unemployment rate continued to fall. The March 2011 rate was 5.4 percent. See story HERE.last_img read more

Vermont senior housing gets $4.9 million from HUD

first_imgMore very low-income senior citizens in Vermont will have access to affordable supportive housing thanks to $4,885,200 in housing assistance announced today by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). This grant will help Cathedral Square Corp., a non-profit organization produce accessible housing, offer rental assistance, and facilitate supportive services for the elderly.   VERMONT GRANTSection 202 – Supportive Housing for the Elderly Project Location                      :  Burlington, VTNon-Profit Sponsor                 :  Cathedral Square Corp.Capital Advance                     :  $4,543,800Three-year rental subsidy        :  $341,400Number of units                      :  28Project Description                 : Cathedral Square Corporation has had great success combining HUD Section 202 funding with other federal, state, and local funding sources to create affordable housing for the elderly.  This 28-unit project, which will be located in Burlington, Vermont, will be no exception.  CSC’s relationship with service providers throughout the state will enrich the tenants’ lives and help encourage aging in place.  Units over and above the 28 HUD funded units may be added to the project with outside funding sources.      The grant funding awarded under HUD’s Sections 202 and 811 Supportive Housing programs will kick start construction or major rehabilitation for more than 170 housing developments in 42 different states and Puerto Rico.  In Vermont, more than 28 elderly households will be affordably housed with access to needed services.  A detailed summary of the Vermont grant can be found below.‘The Obama Administration is committed to helping our senior citizens find a decent, affordable place to live that is close to needed healthcare services and transportation,’ said Michael McNamara, HUD Vermont Field Office Director.  ‘Recent bipartisan changes to these two supportive housing programs will allow us to better serve some of our more vulnerable populations who would otherwise be struggling to find a safe and decent home of their own.’Enacted early this year with strong bipartisan support, the Frank Melville Supportive Housing Investment Act and the Section 202 Supportive Housing for the Elderly Act provided needed enhancements and reforms to both programs.  Nonprofit grant recipients will now receive federal assistance that is better leveraged and better connected to state and local health care investments, allowing greater numbers of vulnerable elderly and disabled individuals to access the housing they need even more quickly.  Section 202 Capital Advances will provide $545 million nationwide to 97 projects in 42 States and Puerto.  In addition to funding the construction, acquisition, and rehabilitation of multifamily developments, HUD’s Section 202 program will also provide $54 million in rental assistance so that residents only pay 30 percent of their adjusted incomes.  Section 202 provides very low-income elderly persons 62 years of age or older with the opportunity to live independently in an environment that provides support services to frail elderly resident. HUD provides these funds to non-profit organizations in two forms:           ·         Capital Advances.  This is funding that covers the cost of developing, acquiring, or rehabilitating the development.  Repayment is not required as long as the housing remains available for occupancy by very low-income elderly persons for at least 40 years for (under Section 202) or very low-income persons with disabilities (under Section 811). ·         Project Rental Assistance Contracts.  This is funding that goes to each development to cover the difference between the residents’ contributions toward rent and the cost of operating the project. Residents must be ‘very low income’ with household incomes less than 50 percent of their median for that area.  However, most households that receive Section 811 or Section 202 assistance earn less than 30 percent of the median for their area.  Generally, this means that a one-person household will have an annual income of about $13,500. HUD 11.15.2011last_img read more