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.

This is a rendering of the new sailing center being built at Burlington’s waterfront.

Construction underway on sailing center

BURLINGTON — Lake Champlain Community Sailing Center (CSC) hosted a ceremonial groundbreaking event on Nov. 15, just north of Waterfront Park in Burlington. The site will be home to CSC’s new world-class waterfront campus and sailing education center, which are already under construction. The ceremony included the announcement of two major “anchor” gifts — of $1 million each — which went a long way toward fulfilling CSC’s $5.75 million Love Your Lake Capital Campaign. These gifts, from the Pomerleau Family Foundation and from family and friends in honor of Raymond P. Sullivan, will help create The Pomerleau Community Waterfront Campus and Raymond P. Sullivan Sailing Education Center.

Kimberly Abruntilla poses for a photo at her store in Burlington.

Hendrix Boutique focuses on fashion, community

BURLINGTON — Kimberly Abruntilla launched Hendrix Boutique on Church Street this summer, offering women’s luxury clothing and making a conscious commitment to her community. This is the first business venture for Abruntilla, who graduated with a business degree from St. Michael’s College earlier this year, but the entrepreneurial drive is not new. “I’ve wanted to do this since I was a little girl, so I did it right out of college,” Abruntilla said. “Life is short — why not start my dream now?”
Located in a second-floor shop above Ken’s Pizza, Hendrix offers women’s fashions from designers based in New York, Miami, California and Australia.

From left, the Green State Gardener crew includes Christopher Walsh, Kelsy Raap, Dylan Rapp and Acoy Cofiño.

Green State Gardener offers DIY store

BURLINGTON — Green State Gardener, launched as a Web-based business more than a year ago, added a retail store in Burlington’s South End this summer. Business partners Christopher Walsh and Dylan Raap opened the store on Pine Street, in a portion of the space previously occupied by Burlington Furniture. Under a tagline encouraging customers to “grow your own health revolution,” the business offers a full line of products to grow medicinal plants, as well as other indoor- and small-space gardening solutions. These include indoor and outdoor medicinal plants kits, organic soils and fertilizers, grow lights and tents, greenhouses, fans, filters and ventilation equipment, planters and pots, and accessories for grow-room or outdoor gardening. “The online business, which pre-dates the store by about a year, started with medicinal plants in general, of which cannabis is one,” Raap said.

From left, Dave Saraceno of Union Street Media, Cari Kelley of United Way of Northwest Vermont and Suzanne Johnson of HealingWindsVermont and RE/MAX North Professionals pose for a photo at the chamber’s recent Annual Dinner.

Networking is appetizer for Chamber’s Annual Dinner

BURLINGTON — The Lake Champlain Regional Chamber of Commerce (LCRCC) held its 106th Annual Dinner on Nov. 10 at the Hilton Hotel in Burlington. The dinner was preceded by a Networking After Hours cocktail reception. Event sponsors included Dinse, Knapp & McAndrew, FairPoint Communications, KeyBank, New England Federal Credit Union, People’s United Bank, REM Development, and David Seaver Photography. During its Annual Dinner, LCRCC welcomed Tom Clavelle as the incoming chair of its board of directors.

Dan Cypress and Jessica Bridge are the owners of Element Real Estate, which recently opened in downtown Burlington.

Boutique real estate office debuts in Burlington

BURLINGTON — Element Real Estate opened an office in downtown Burlington earlier this year, when owners Jessica Bridge and Dan Cypress thought the time was right to launch their own boutique real estate firm. The residential Realtors got a refreshed company logo and acquired space at 139 Bank Street, a location that has previously housed a dry cleaner, art store and gallery, among others. “We’ve been business partners for 10 years,” Cypress said. “We started at RE/MAX together, and worked together the entire time.” The two were initially on a team at RE/MAX North Professionals and, after about two years, formed and began building their own team. This past spring, Bridge and Cypress decided to leave RE/MAX to open their own office with their team.

This the interior of the King Street Center, a Burlington-based community center serving over 500 low-income children and families with a variety of programs.

Financing a vision: Building in sustainability

Planning for a new facility is doubly daunting for a nonprofit community organization. In addition to the fundraising and financing necessary for the construction, the nonprofit must create a plan to sustain operating costs for the new facility, knowing it cannot rely on increasing revenue or fees from low-income clients.

Gwen Pokalo, the program manager of the Vermont Center for Women & Enterprise, is shown at CWE’s new office in Burlington.

Center for Women & Enterprise opens new resource center

BURLINGTON — The Center for Women & Enterprise, a regional nonprofit economic development organization, has opened its office in the Maltex Building in Burlington’s South End. Gwen Pokalo, program manager of Vermont CWE, said the office will house the Vermont Women’s Business Center, which is federally funded through a Small Business Administration (SBA) grant. The grant funds a center to provide technical assistance to businesses throughout every stage of development. Vermont is the newest office for CWE, which also operates centers in Boston, Central Massachusetts, Rhode Island and New Hampshire. CWE was founded in 1995 in Boston.

Cassidy

Rutland native starts Burlington law firm

BURLINGTON — Rich Cassidy’s passion for the law was first sparked in 1970, when he was volunteering for former Vermont Governor Phil Hoff’s run for the U.S. Senate as an anti-war candidate. Amid all the controversy surrounding the Vietnam War, Cassidy said he learned about the wide impact the law could have, and that it could be “a tool for making the world a better place.”

At left, V. Chase, recent candidate for state representative from Chittenden District 8-1 (Essex), discusses higher education with Juli Heisler from the University of Vermont.

VEIC hosts legislative networking event

BURLINGTON — Vermont Energy Investment Corp. welcomed the Lake Champlain Regional Chamber of Commerce Legislative Networking event to its headquarters in Burlington’s South End in late October. Chamber members and guests got the opportunity to talk with candidates for Vermont’s legislature and other statewide offices (about 30 candidates attended), and the chance for some business-to-business networking. In addition to Vermont Energy Investment Corp., or VEIC, sponsors included AT&T, FairPoint Communications, Farrell Distributing, Green Mountain Power, Pomerleau Real Estate and Top Hat Entertainment. Sugarsnap of South Burlington catered the event.