Jennifer Guidry, who drives for ride-sharing companies like Uber, Lyft and Sidecar, takes a break from her day to enjoy a coffee and a banana in Boston, in 2014.

Tax law has carrot for gig workers

The New York Times
The new tax law is likely to accelerate a hotly disputed trend in the U.S. economy by rewarding workers who sever formal relationships with their employers and become contractors. Management consultants may soon strike out on their own, and stockbrokers may hang out their own shingle. More cable repairmen and delivery drivers, some of whom find work through gig economy apps like Uber, may also be lured into contracting arrangements. That’s because a provision in the tax law allows sole proprietors — along with owners of partnerships or other pass-through entities — to deduct 20 percent of their revenue from their taxable income. The tax savings, which could be around $15,000 per year for many affluent couples, may prove enticing to workers.

Daniel O'Donnell, left, looks on as William Hayden sends large blocks flying at the Creative Kids Learning Center, a school that focuses on pre-kindergarten for 4- and 5-year-olds, in Seattle. In perhaps an unexpected twist, historically conservative strongholds like Oklahoma and West Virginia are leading efforts to bring preschool to all and Alabama and Georgia are also red states that have notable programs. But some liberal leaning-cities like Seattle and New York also are running public pre-K programs.

States struggle to make pre-K available to all

The Associated Press
SEATTLE — In perhaps an unexpected twist, historically conservative strongholds like Oklahoma and West Virginia are leading efforts to bring preschool to all. “They have in common a low-wage workforce, relatively low education levels and the desire to change that,” said Steven Barnett of the National Institute for Early Education Research. “Whatever they say, politicians in West Virginia know the future of their state is not coal miners.”
Other red states that have notable programs include Alabama and Georgia. But some liberal-leaning cities like Seattle and New York also are running public pre-K programs. Vermont school districts are required to provide a minimum of 10 hours of pre-K programming per week for 3- and 4-year-olds. Advocates say more universal programs are needed to address what they call an alarming increase in child care costs.

Meal Train helps people organize gifts of food during times of change.

Meal Train: UVM grads’ service helps neighbors help neighbors

BURLINGTON — When Joyce Kahn broke her leg, she relied on friends and even some people she didn’t know very well to lend a hand. And lend a hand they did, bringing her dinner every night until she could get back on her feet. The nightly meal was set in motion by a friend who used Meal Train, a kind of neighbor-helping-neighbor website. Living alone, Kahn said while she was on crutches she couldn’t get around “to do anything.”
“I’m the grateful recipient of the Meal Train,” said Kahn, a Montpelier resident. Meal Train was launched several years ago by two University of Vermont graduates, Michael Laramee and Stephen DePasquale.

A Spinning group fitness class at Granite City Group Fitness in Barre. The couple that owns the studio has taken over a cycling location in Montpelier, and will open Monday.

Granite City brings Spinning to Zenith cycling studio

MONTPELIER — Spinning is coming to the Capital City on Monday, when Brittany and Brett Tremblay, owners of Granite City Group Fitness in Barre, open a second location at 54 Main St., previously Studio Zenith’s cycling center. Zenith will continue to operate group fitness classes next door at 50 Main St. Spinning, a trademarked fitness activity, is indoor cycling with classes focused on endurance, strength, high intensity and recovery, and involves using special stationary exercise bicycles with weighted flywheels. The Tremblays opened their Barre studio, located at 54 Depot Square, in June 2016. The Barre studio offers Spinning and a variety of group activities including yoga, Zumba (an aerobic fitness program featuring movements inspired by Latin American dance), high-intensity interval training, Bootcamp (a program designed to build strength and fitness through a variety of intense group intervals) and candlelight yoga.

Jon Lillis, the men’s aerial skiing world champion from the United States, posing during an Associated Press interview on the glacier above Saas-Fee, Switzerland. 
John Leicester / AP FILE PHOTO

Insecure snowfall causing stress for businesses, athletes

The Associated Press
PARK CITY, Utah — It’s no stretch to say that snow is the key to success for Jon Lillis. The reigning world champion in aerials skiing is also a restaurant owner in Park City, and business at his hot pot eatery increases by more than 100 percent when nearby ski resorts are open. So, when winters grow warmer and ski season starts later — Park City, and Vail in Colorado are among the Western resorts to push back openings by about a week in each of the last two years — not only does it affect Lillis’ ability to train and, as is the case this year, prepare for the Winter Olympics, it also affects the bottom line at his business. “We expect to do 70 percent of our annual revenue while the ski resorts are open,” Lillis said. “So, the longer they’re not open, and it seems to be getting later and later every year, the window where we’re making all that money gets smaller.

A Danforth Pewter craftsman hand spins an oil lamp on a lathe. The Middlebury company is branching out to new markets with help from the Vermont Community Loan Fund.

Danforth Pewter reaches to new markets

MIDDLEBURY — Danforth Pewter, maker of fine pewter products in Vermont since 1975, hopes to increase its market reach and visibility with the recent opening of new stores in Portland, Maine, and National Harbor, Maryland. Company CEO Bram Kleppner said that without a cash infusion from the Vermont Community Loan Fund, a two-store opening this year would not have been possible. “We probably would have had to choose between (Maryland) and Portland. I am really glad we didn’t have to make that choice,” Kleppner said. Danforth Pewter, based in Middlebury, was among 15 recipients of $5.56 million in loans in 2017 made available through VCLF, a community-focused alternative lender to qualified businesses, nonprofits, child-care providers and developers of housing.

Improve your financial fitness in 2018

If one of your New Year’s resolutions is to get healthier, you may already be taking the necessary steps, such as improving your diet and increasing your exercise. Physical fitness is, of course, important to your well-being, but don’t forget about your financial fitness. Specifically, what can you do to ensure your investment situation is in good shape? Here are a few “healthy living” suggestions that may also apply to your investment portfolio:
— Build endurance: Just as exercise can help build your endurance for the demands of a long life, a vigorous investment strategy can help you work toward long-term goals, such as a comfortable retirement. In practical terms, this means you will need to own some investments with the potential to provide long-term growth.

Tyler McNaney, founder of Filabot, poses in his Barre plant that makes 3-D printing filament from recycled materials. Forbes Magazine chose McNaney as a young entrepreneur to keep an eye on.

Barre’s Filabot founder nets ‘Under 30’ award

BARRE — Tyler McNaney, the 25-year-old founder of Barre-based Filabot, a company dedicated to advancing the science of plastic extrusion for the 3-D printing market, can scratch one item off his bucket list. He has been included on Forbes magazine’s 30 Under 30 list in the manufacturing and industry category. “It was amazing to receive the nomination a few months ago — it was on my bucket list. … I only hope it advances our mission.

Facebook Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg is photographed at the company’s headquarters in Menlo Park.

Will misconduct reports hold back women’s careers?

NEW YORK — Some women, and men, worry the same climate that’s emboldening women to speak up about sexual misconduct could backfire by making some men wary of female colleagues. Forget private meetings and get-to-know-you dinners. Beware of banter. Think twice before a high-ranking man mentors a young female staffer. “I have already heard the rumblings of a backlash: ‘This is why you shouldn’t hire women,’” Facebook chief operating officer Sheryl Sandberg wrote in a recent post .

Community College of Vermont graduates march into the Shapiro Field House at Norwich University in Northfield. Vermont housing advocates worry the rising cost of higher education is making home ownership seem unobtainable.

Is student debt placing home ownership out of reach?

It’s almost carved in stone: Get a good education and a good-paying career will follow. While there are no guarantees in life, few would dispute that more education and training increases the likelihood of a better job with better pay. But that higher education isn’t getting any less expensive. For many, it means taking out loans to cover at least a portion of the cost of a four-year education and beyond. According to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, all those student loans now add up to $1.4 trillion in debt.