Hundreds of attendees enjoyed our annual Legislative Networking Event in October at the DoubleTree by Hilton. Whether it was the Doubletree’s chili bar, the great conversation or that fresh bottle of Long Trail, everyone had a great time. We want to thank our sponsors AT&T, FairPoint Communications, Green Mountain Power, Northern Benefits and Pomerleau Real Estate for making this event possible. In addition, we helped raise over $600 for the Community Health Centers of Burlington! We also want to thank Farrell Distributing and DoubleTree by Hilton Burlington for their support.
Just as each of our members evolves in order to keep pace with the changing business landscape, our Chamber continues to advance to serve your needs. We focused on how we connect and engage with our members over the past year.
With this new logo and website, comes a slightly different approach to presenting ourselves. This is quite clear in our “Not your Grandfather’s Chamber” video which we released in this past spring. We poked fun at ourselves while piquing potential members’ interest in learning more about the Chamber. Check it out at vimeo.com/lcrcc.
Over the past year and half, the Chamber has embraced video as a different way to communicate with members and the community at large. We have documented our events, interviewed Chamber members and provided important information all using video. Our new series “Your Chamber Membership” allows our members to tell the story of LCRCC – relying solely on testimonials from members of the Chamber (Check them out at Vermont.org/Chamber under “About the Chamber”).
Another notable change to how we are connecting with our members, is through our emails. Listening to feedback from our members, we now send one weekly email, titled The Chamber Weekly. It is a “must-read” email that includes digested, need to know information about discounts, events, news, and more. Additionally, we created tailored emails for those interested in receiving more from the Chamber – our Legislative Update, TourMark (Tourism Marketing information), Event Invitations, BYP news and more allow you to customize the information you are receiving!
We continue to utilize social media for communicating with our members and the community – through Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Vimeo, and YouTube – but we have furthered this relationship to be able to provide direct exposure for our member businesses. Members can send us relevant information to post on our social platforms. We have also added platforms for Vermont.org – as this site is designed for locals and tourists alike.
Our organization would not exist without our members – so we have increased access to a couple of our communications vehicles. For instance, members wrote articles and submitted photography for our annual tourism publication, Experience Burlington. In addition, being interviewed for one of our radio shows is a great exposure opportunity! Members also have the ongoing opportunity to contribute content and photos for our social media platforms, blog, and website.
Of course, engaging with our members isn’t only done through email or Facebook. Over the past year, we visited well over 250 member businesses. These visits give us the opportunity to solicit feedback, but also gauge how our Chamber helps each business, do business. We pin-point how we believe members can get more out of their membership specific to their industry, size, and needs. If you are interested in a visit, just let us know! Contact Lauren@vermont.org for more information. Our Chamber events have also seen a big change in how we engage our members.
Feedback remains an important part of the evolution of our Chamber. Your feedback is incredibly important to us. The more we learn about how our Chamber can better fit our members’ needs – the stronger our Chamber becomes. We have also simplified how a member can get more involved. Check out all of the ways online at Vermont.org/chamber. For more information about any of the changes mentioned here, please, email email@example.com or call 802.863.3489.
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Tom Torti, President of the Lake Champlain Regional Chamber of Commerce announced staff changes that further the Chamber’s mission to advocate for a thriving private sector economy and to serve its member businesses across Vermont.
Lisa Quinlan was promoted to Vice President of Operations for the Chamber. Lisa will manage internal office operations and programs including technology, sales and marketing, production and staff coordination. Torti said of the change, “The Chamber continues to invest in new ways to support our members whether it is through the redesign and continued build out of our website, www.vermont.org, or new networking opportunities. Lisa’s experience will ensure these projects create the biggest benefit possible for our member businesses.” Lisa is a long time employee of the Chamber who has served in a variety of capacities including finance and workforce investment. Lisa has a Bachelor of Science in Education and Social Services from the University of Vermont, is a graduate of Leadership Champlain, a board member of Navicate and a volunteer for the Vermont City Marathon. She resides in South Burlington with her husband, son and two dogs.
Catherine Davis was promoted to Vice President for Strategy and Public Affairs. Catherine will head the Chamber and GBIC’s legislative advocacy at the federal, state and local levels. She will also lead the Chamber’s member services and communications divisions as the Chamber continues to build on its value for member businesses. In announcing the promotion, Torti explained that “providing innovative benefits and discounts that help our members operate and expand their businesses is key to our mission. Cathy will lead our efforts to ensure that we continue to provide members with the services they need to grow their businesses here in Vermont.” Catherine has a Bachelor of Arts in English and Political Science from the University of Vermont. Prior to joining the Chamber’s staff, Catherine was a longtime aide to US Senator James M. Jeffords (I-VT). She lives in Jericho with her husband and their two young children.
For more information, contact Catherine Davis at (802) 863-3489, Ext. 206.
Earlier this summer, Governor Peter Shumlin signed into law H.395, a bill enabling the Vermont Economic Development Authority (VEDA) to increase and consolidate financing available for commercial and agricultural sustainable energy generation and efficiency projects. The creation of the Vermont Sustainable Energy Loan Fund would not have been possible without the strong support of the Administration, Legislative Leaders, State Treasurer Beth Pearce, the Department of Public Service, the Vermont Energy Investment Corporation (VEIC), the Vermont Bankers Association, and the Lake Champlain Regional Chamber of Commerce. Our shared belief in promoting creation of the new fund was that continued growth in Vermont’s sustainable energy development depended on having greater access to low-cost capital for commercial, small business and agricultural energy efficiency and renewable energy projects. The passage of H.395 will go a long way to meeting this strategic objective.
The purpose of the new Vermont Sustainable Energy Loan Fund is to enable VEDA “to make loans and provide other forms of financing for projects that stimulate and encourage development and deployment of sustainable energy projects in the State of Vermont.” As defined in Statute, “sustainable energy” means energy efficiency, renewable energy, and technologies that enhance or support the development and implementation of renewable energy or energy efficiency, or both.
VEDA has already approved millions of dollars in financing for commercial and agricultural energy generation and efficiency projects in recent years, supporting investments in hydropower, solar photovoltaic, wind, digester and biomass projects. The new Fund will help the Authority to improve operational efficiencies by consolidating all its energy lending under a single umbrella. The Vermont Sustainable Energy Loan Fund has four main programs:
- The Small Business Energy Loan Program (SBELP) provides loans up to $350,000 for smaller qualifying commercial sustainable energy projects;
- The Commercial Energy Loan Program (CELP) provides loans up to $2.0 million for relatively larger qualifying sustainable energy projects;
- The Agricultural Energy Loan Program (AELP) provides loans for qualifying agriculture and forest product-based sustainable energy projects; and
- The Energy Loan Guarantee Program (ELGP) provides loan guarantees to participating financial institutions that enroll loans made to businesses to improve the businesses’ overall energy efficiency.
For more information about any of these new financing options, please visit www.veda.org, or call 802-828-JOBS. We encourage you to speak about your project with your banker or with one of our experienced loan officers.
The Chamber’s business pitch competition, LaunchVT, had an incredible first year. We were astounded by the support from the community, from our business sponsors and from the excited young entrepreneurs who took part in the competition. Many participants remarked that they felt they had “won” just by virtue of being a part of the seminars and mentorships created as part of the program.
When the Chamber’s Burlington Young Professionals group first popped on the scene over three years ago, career and professional development seminars for young professionals quickly became one of its strongest programs. My LaunchVT co-founder, Nick Grimley, saw more opportunity beyond BYP’s professional development program. Nick and I were meeting talented young professionals and college students who were interested in starting businesses and staying in Vermont. Supporting these entrepreneurs and creating excitement around the opportunities to grow a business here led to the creation of LaunchVT. We knew that Vermont was the ideal place to funnel support to young entrepreneurs trying to build a successful business and that through the Chamber we could provide participants with access to successful businesspeople willing to share their expertise and their experience.
LaunchVT’s inaugural year was a whirlwind that wrapped up in May after awarding one young company a $20,000 cash prize plus $47,000 of in-kind services to help them grow their business to the next level. LaunchVT also connected five other contestants with resources and education to help them continue their success after the competition concluded.
As we begin planning for the second year of the LaunchVT competition, it is great to see the excitement we generated among our target young professionals but also in our larger business community. The outpouring of ideas and encouragement is enormous and we are eager to see the competition continue to grow and continue to attract and retain fresh, new businesses here in Vermont.
“The success of LaunchVT has helped raise the profile of our state as a destination for young entrepreneurs looking to build businesses and enjoy a quality of life that is rarely found elsewhere. The future of Vermont’s economy hinges on our ability to develop new industries and attract a younger more vibrant workforce. We want LaunchVT to be the catalyst of a new entrepreneurial renaissance that will drive economic success in our state for generations to come. We couldn’t begin to accomplish this if it weren’t for the support of the Chamber.”
- Nick Grimley, LaunchVT Co-Founde
“Winning LaunchVT has enabled Gredio to take our software to the next level. We’ve met so many amazing members of the Vermont business community. Everyone has helped us build a growing application and we’re thrilled to make a difference in not only Vermont’s food economy, but the nation’s food economy. The mentorship we received from Cairn Cross at Fresh Tracks Capital was a win in our book already. The press, company recognition, and willingness of local business to pitch in and help us succeed have been simply incredible.”
- Michael Adams, CEO and Founder of Gredio
Leadership Champlain kicked off the program’s 25th year at the Stoweflake Resort on Thursday, September 12. Leadership Champlain, a community leadership development program hosted by the Lake Champlain Regional Chamber, welcomed the following people to the Class of 2014:
Kathryn Baccaglini – Davis & Hodgdon Associates, CPAs, PLC
Greg Baker – Vermont Energy Investment Corporation
David Barrowclough – Saint Michael’s College
Madeline Bell – Flynn Center for the Performing Arts
David Boyd – Gravel & Shea PC
Jim Bowie – PC Construction Company
Jodie Branon – Symquest Group, Inc.
Rachel Brydolf-Horwitz – Governor’s Institutes of Vermont
Megan Brunovsky – Fletcher Allen Health Care
Evan Champagne – Freeman French Freeman
Lauren Curry – Rich & Deb Tarrant Foundation
Reed Curry – United Way of Chittenden County
Elizabeth Dorhman – Green Mountain Coffee Roasters, Inc.
Carolynne Erwin – Burlington Police Department
Jenny Evans – Sara Holbrook Community Center
Brian Gagne – Husky Injection Molding Systems
Nick Goodreau – Husky Injection Molding
Juli Heisler - University of Vermont
Jenn Jarecki – Lake Champlain Regional Chamber of Commerce
Ron LaFountain – Chase Moving and Storage
Amber Lavallee – Dealer.com
Jay Lyon – Husky Injection Molding Systems
Lauren Madden – Lake Champlain Regional Chamber of Commerce
Jeremiah McHugh – Symquest Group, Inc.
Susan Moakley – Vermont Student Assistance Corporation
Jeff Morton – Vermont Family Network
Melanie Needle – Chittenden County Regional Planning Commission
Rebecca Nichol – Instrumart
Ricky Padgett – Fletcher Allen Health Care
Susan Pankey – Champlain College
Daniel Roberts – Dinse, Knapp & McAndrew, P.C.
Lynn Schimoler – City Market
Kane Smart – Downs Rachlin Martin PLLC
Denise Smith – Friends of Northern Lake Champlain
Carolann Spafford – People’s United Bank
Thomas Sutherland – Hickok & Boardman
Karen Weed – Green Mountain Power Corp.
Tess Weinisch – Dealer.com
Jon Young – Burlington Police Department
Members of the class will spend the year learning about their communities and engaging in service projects. Former graduates of Leadership Champlain include Speaker Shap Smith, Jesse Beck with Freeman, French, Freeman and Dotty Schnure with Green Mountain Power.
For more information, contact Catherine Davis at (802) 863-3489, Ext. 206.