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.

Equifax hack creates unease about security

The Associated Press
NEW YORK — The Equifax breach is reminding small business owners that they may be vulnerable to cybercriminals. Companies that provide security and other technology services to small businesses say they’ve had an increase in calls from customers since Equifax revealed that the personal information of 143 million Americans had been exposed. The hack galvanized some owners into dealing with long-delayed issues. “A customer called me today wanting to replace their one remaining XP computer,” says Bob Herman, owner of IT Tropolis, a tech service company in Fountain Valley, California. Microsoft stopped providing security updates for XP models three and a half years ago.

Current offerings at Mad River Distillers in Warren include a maple cask rum, vanilla rum and three whiskeys, including the experimental Burnt Rock Bourbon.

STORY AND VIDEO: Mad River Distillers finds freedom in ‘craft’ scale

WARREN — Mad River Distillers is calling the release of its latest whiskey, Burnt Rock Bourbon, “super limited.” That means if you don’t live in Vermont or parts of Massachusetts, you probably won’t have much of an opportunity to try it. At least not yet. If this whiskey, which producers describe as having a smokey flavor due to its mash profile of corn, rye wheat and maplewood-smoked barley, proves popular, they’ll make more. Then they can distribute it throughout New England and parts of New York and California with their other spirits — bourbon and rye whiskeys, brandy and several aged rums. For now, they’ve produced 400 cases, and brought it to market in the past week. That flexibility comes from being a small producer in a hot market.


Book review: Learn the art of the pitch

“You Get What You Pitch For” by Anthony Sullivan with Tim Vandehey, 2017, Da Capo Press, $26, 232 pages

Throw it out. That’s what always seems to happen to your best ideas, your finest interviews, the proud moments that fall flat as pavement. Ugh. When it comes to The Big Ask, “what are you doing wrong?” Read “You Get What You Pitch For” by Anthony Sullivan with Tim Vandehey; the answer is no throwaway. Back when he was 24 years old and selling mops, Sullivan lived in a van and slept atop the product, but he was on a learning curve.

South Burlington entrepreneur and engineer James Clark, here with son Nicholas, has created a monitoring system that gives users extensive data on their aquariums. It will be on the market soon.

Invention to put aquarists’ minds at ease

BURLINGTON — Wireless products inventor and engineer James Clark was looking to start a new hobby, so he designed and built a Koi pond to beautify his backyard. Things went wrong almost from the start. “As soon as I put in the Koi pond I had a lot of my fish die, and a lot of frustration. I couldn’t figure out what was going on,” Clark said. The problem was in the water chemistry of the pond.

Chad Fry, left, and Mark Frier sit inside the entryway to their new Mexican restaurant and performance venue, Tres Amigos restaurant and the Rusty Nail Stage, on the Mountain Road in Stowe. Although the restaurant opened September 8, the live performance space, being built to hold up to 300, is still under construction.

Iconic Stowe venue reborn with Mexican restaurant in tow

STOWE — Mark Frier has a full plate these days. He and business partner Chad Fry own the Reservoir Restaurant & Taproom in Waterbury, and Stowe restaurant The Bench. And they recently added a third spot to their repertoire, revamping the iconic Stowe music venue Rusty Nail into a Mexican restaurant and live music space called Tres Amigos & Rusty Nail Stage. The restaurant opened to the public on Sept. 8, serving authentic Mexican fare along with a sizable list of tequilas, mezcals and margaritas in addition to 24 draft-beer selections with an emphasis on Vermont brews.