The Vermont Economic Development Authority (VEDA) Board of Directors approved $8.5 million in financing assistance to support manufacturing, business incubator and small business projects around the state. Total costs of the projects approved for VEDA financing are $15.6 million.These loans will help expand production capacity at several existing manufacturing facilities, said Jo Bradley. In addition, new incubator space will be created for entrepreneurs who have moved beyond the early stages of commercialization, and have begun manufacturing and producing new products and services.Approved for financing by the VEDA Board are: – Autumn Harp, Inc., Essex Junction Industrial revenue bond inducements totaling $4 million were approved by the Board, enabling Autumn Harp to pursue expansion plans for the company. Autumn Harp, founded in 1978, is a private label custom manufacturer of personal care and cosmetic products for major national and international brands. The company plans to maintain operations in Bristol and will expand to a second location in Essex Junction to ensure adequate capacity for continued product diversification, and a growing customer base. Autumn Harp estimates the planned $4.6 million project would increase employment at both facilities by 50 employees over a three year period. – Vermont Center for Emerging Technologies, Inc., Colchester Financing of $1.1 million was approved, allowing the non-profit Vermont Center for Emerging Technologies (VCET) to develop a second business incubator facility in Colchester. Since 2005, VCET has operated a high-technology business incubator on a portion of the former Trinity College campus in Burlington, property now owned by the University of Vermont. The $3.1 million expansion project planned by VCET involves the purchase of 2.2 acres and a 21,000 square foot building in Colchester. The new space will provide incubator facilities to serve companies that have moved beyond initial commercialization and have begun manufacturing and producing products and services. It is expected that jobs will increase over three years from 13 at the current facility to 35 positions housed in both facilities. – Vermont Precision Woodworks, Morrisville The Board renewed a loan guarantee for up to 32% of a $1.25 million Union Bank working capital line of credit for Vermont Precision Woodworks. The VEDA-insured Union Bank line of credit will help the wood furniture manufacturer maintain its recent growth in employment at its Morrisville plant. – Vermont Quality Wood Products, Brandon The Board approved a 6-month renewal of $300,000 in mortgage insurance to guarantee a KeyBank working capital line of credit to owners of the former Vermont Tubbs furniture manufacturing firm. Vermont Quality Wood Products purchased the assets of Vermont Tubbs in 2003 as Tubbs was poised to liquidate the company and close the business. Vermont Quality Wood Products has continued operations since that date, and currently employs 105 individuals. – SecurShred, South Burlington An approved $306,000 loan will allow SecurShred, a growing document destruction company, to purchase a 10,000 square foot warehouse in South Burlington. The $850,000 project will enable SecurShred to increase its capacity and efficiency in the shredding of paper and electronic media for companies in Vermont, New Hampshire, Massachusetts and New York. SecurShred employs 10, and expects to increase that number to 14 within three years of the expansion.In addition, $1.9 million in Vermont SBA 504 Program loans were approved to support $5 million in business real estate and construction project costs. And, small business loans totaling $472,550 were approved by the Board.VEDAs mission is to promote economic prosperity in Vermont by providing financial assistance to eligible businesses, including manufacturing, agricultural, and travel and tourism enterprises. Since its inception in 1974, VEDA has made financing commitments totaling over $1.2 billion. For more information about VEDA, visit www.veda.org(link is external) or call 802-828-5627.
Equinor Wind US, the Wildlife Conservation Society’s New York Aquarium, and the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution have launched a joint project to expand the detection and monitoring of whale species found in the waters of New York Bight.The partners will deploy two acoustic buoys designed to provide near real-time monitoring of species such as the sei whale, fin whale, humpback whale, and the highly endangered North Atlantic right whale.The new buoys will help marine conservation scientists increase their understanding of whale species that spend time in and migrate through the waters off the coasts of New York and New Jersey. The data will help inform ecologically sound decisions for potential development within Equinor’s offshore wind lease site.“The offshore wind industry has a logical role to play as a partner to marine biologists and others interested in better understanding and preserving the health of our oceans. This project will also help make Equinor better stewards of this lease site by providing data that informs our operational decision-making well into the future,” said Christer af Geijerstam, President, Equinor Wind US.Equinor has submitted a bid to develop an offshore wind farm at its Empire Wind lease site located between 14 and 35 miles south of Long Island in the New York Bight. The site has a potential capacity of up to 2GW of renewable power.The company is also developing a separate project in the lease area called Boardwalk Wind geared to New Jersey, and submitted a bid in response to that state’s offshore wind solicitation in December 2018.
U.S. District Court Judge Robert Hinkle ruled against a Florida law requiring felons to pay legal fees as part of their sentences before regaining the right to vote.The judge called the Florida rules a “pay to vote” system that are unconstitutional when applied to felons “who are otherwise eligible to vote but are genuinely unable to pay the required amount.”The 125-page ruling involves a state law to implement a 2016 ballot measure approved by voters to automatically restore the right to vote for many felons who have completed their sentence. The Republican-led Legislature stipulated that fines and legal fees must be paid as part of the sentence, in addition to serving any prison time.However, Hinkle said that he is unlikely to have the last word in the case, expecting the administration of Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis to launch an appeal.The 2018 ballot measure, known as Amendment 4, does not apply to convicted murderers and rapists, who are permanently barred from voting regardless of financial obligations.