Vermont was among the best of show at the 2002 WorldTravel Market in London, U.K., last week. The six New England states,working together to attract international visitors to the region, receivedthe “Best Booth for Doing Business” award at the 2002 global travelindustry event.This is the first year all six states represented New England under thebanner of Discover New England as one brand, at one booth. The DiscoverNew England booth was recognized as best for its layout and for theknowledge and enthusiasm of those who staffed it. Discover New England isa non-profit consortium of the six states, based in Stowe. Its focus isinternational tourism.World Travel Market exhibit organizer, Fiona Jeffrey, noted that excellentquality of layout, welcoming atmosphere, product knowledge and participantenthusiasm in promoting New England as a region were factors in thedecision.”Vermont is proud that New England’s cooperative efforts, through DiscoverNew England, have received such prestigious recognition from theinternational tourism industry. This award proves the international valueof regional cross-marketing. We are all delighted and shall continue tomaximize the benefit of the show for years to come,” said Fredrik de Jong,of the Vermont Department of Tourism and Marketing, who led thedelegation.The Vermont delegation consisted of Sue Kruthers, Vermont AttractionsAssociation; Julie Howell, Vermont Ski Areas Association; Tony Clark,Blueberry Hill Inn; Linda Seville, Inn at Essex; Valerie Rochon, StoweArea Association; and the Vermont Department of Tourism and Marketing.More than 5000 leading travel and tourism companies and marketingorganizations from 183 countries attended World Travel Market.
BURLINGTON, Vt.–Area experts in Internet marketing and business practices are teaching five new ‘mini-courses’ at Champlain College this summer and fall. The online courses are well-suited to business professionals who want to use Internet technologies to advance their organizations. Each of the one-credit courses runs for five weeks.”These are tactics that don’t require traditional textbook teaching,” said Elaine Young, director of Champlain’s e-Business Management program. “These are practical, ready-to-use-right-away courses.”Dave Winslow and Alex Broussard of EpikOne will teach the first three courses, where students will getting the most current information possible in the areas of: ‘Search Engine Optimization,’ ‘Google AdWords’ and ‘Web Analytics.’ These three courses begin July 5. Winslow, a Champlain alumnus, and Broussard are Google Enterprise Professional and Google Analytics Authorized Consultants.”One of the biggest challenges in e-business is staying current,” Young said. “If tomorrow Google announces a major change in its search algorithm, we are ready to include that information because current professionals and experts are teaching the course.”Starting August 28, Justin Siegel of JNJ Mobile will teach a course called ‘Social Networking’- allowing participants to explore the effectiveness of social networking as a communications vehicle. Siegel’s company develops and publishes innovative mobile entertainment and social networking applications.In October, Elaine Young of the Champlain faculty presents an ‘Online Visibility’ course while in November, Champlain faculty member Robin Lane teaches an ‘Ethical Policy Development’ course, covering privacy policies and Internet policies for staff and customers. Young has previously worked with a Web development firm and Lane was previously CEO of an Internet service provider.These one-credit ‘mini-courses’ are $420 in the summer and $440 in the fall. Group tuition discounts are available through the Champlain College Workforce Development Center at (802) 865-5402 or firstname.lastname@example.org(link sends e-mail). Individuals may register through Champlain College’s Center for Online and Continuing Education at (888) 545-3459 or www.champlain.edu/coce(link is external).# # #
A wildly fluid package of tax increases that crossed party allegiances was passed by the Senate Wednesday by a thin 18-12 vote. The slew of tax changes would result in a increase of $26.1 million in new revenues. A $4.55 billion budget then breezed through the Senate on a 27-3 vote. Senate President Pro Tem Peter Shumlin pushed the tax package through the upper house despite objections from deep within his own party. Among the tax changes are across-the-board decreases in the income tax; limiting the capital gains exemption to $5,000 from 40 percent of value (to offset the income tax cuts); new taxes on satellite television services and digital downloads; re-imposing of a sales tax on clothing over $110; and increases in liquor and tobacco taxes. The budget includes increase in spending in part because of federal stimulus money being pushed into some programs, but in some cases, like unemployment insurance, are increasing just as major broad-based taxes (income, sales, transportation, education property) have suffered since last summer.Amendments to the Senate bill, before it is finalized, will be offered today. Even if passed as is, the Senate tax package will meet a much simpler House version in conference committee where many of the more controversial aspects of the Senate bill will likely be stripped out, namely the cutting of the income tax at the highest marginal rate and the clothing tax. The budget also could be cut to reduce the need to increase taxes.The tax package as is would lower incomes taxes for 84 percent of Vermonters and would drop Vermont’s top marginal rate from first to fifth nationally.The legislature has cut $70 million from the state budget since January 2008 and the FY10 budget includes an additional $28 million of cuts.
Sovernet’s recent 3rd Annual Harvest Walk raised $16,440 for the Vermont and New Hampshire Foodbanks. Surpassing their goal by more than 50 percent, Sovernet attributes this year’s success to tremendous support for the event, as well as to an increased awareness of the foodbanks’ mission in challenging times.Three years ago Sovernet and its employees made a commitment to make a difference in the fight against hunger in their communities. With support from many areas, this year’s event continued what has quickly become a growing yearly tradition. Individuals and local businesses gave generously, with the Bellows Falls Rotary taking the prize for top business contributor. Sovernet’s customers were extremely supportive through donations sent in with their invoices. The Sovernet staff bolstered the event through donations of both their time and money and Sovernet itself continued its tradition of matching the first $5,000 of funds raised. Several business sponsors helped maximize the final donation made to the Foodbanks, with top sponsorship honors going to Boccelli’s on the Canal who generously donated over $1,000 to this year’s Sovernet harvest walk.Other sponsorship support was received from the Vermont Country Store, Vermont T’s, Chittenden Bank, The Village of Bellows Falls, MetaSwitch, Paetec and Infodirections. Allen Brothers provided the fruits and vegetables for the event, the Main Street Arts band provided the entertainment, Waste Management handled all the trash and recycling, and the top fundraiser prizes were donated by the Harpoon Brewery and the Green Mountain Flyer.Rich Kendall, Sovernet’s CEO said ” We are proud to support the important work that the VT and NH Foodbanks do to fight hunger in our communities and are pleased that this annual event continues to grow each year. Thank you to everyone who helped make this fundraiser a success and we look forward to seeing you again next year.”About Sovernet Communications: Founded in 1995, Sovernet Communications provides reliable Internet and telecommunication services to residential and business customers throughout Northern New England. The Vermont Company is headquartered in Bellows Falls, with facilities in Burlington and Winooski. Sovernet is committed to delivering superior customer care and total customer satisfaction, while actively supporting its local communities. For more information, please visit www.sover.net(link is external).Vermont Foodbank’s CEO John Sayles receives a check for proceeds from the 2009 Harvest Walk from Sovernet’s CEO Rich Kendall and staff
Vermont Attorney General William H Sorrell announced today that Vermont and sixteen other states have filed a joint motion to intervene in two whistleblower lawsuits against the drug manufacturer Wyeth. In the motion and accompanying complaint, filed last Friday, the States allege that Wyeth knowingly failed to report certain discounted prices of its drugs as required by laws governing the Medicaid program. As a result, Wyeth allegedly avoided paying hundreds of millions of dollars in rebates owed to state Medicaid programs for its drugs, Protonix Oral and Protonix IV.”Vermont should not be forced to pay a premium price for these important drugs when it is entitled to a discount. By intervening in this case, we are attempting to protect the fiscal integrity of Vermont’s Medicaid program, and the health of the many Vermonters who depend upon it,” said Attorney General Sorrell.Under the Medicaid Drug Rebate Program, drug manufacturers are required to report to the government certain prices they charge their customers, including the “best price” offered for their drugs. They also are required to pay rebates to the state Medicaid programs which are calculated based on the reported discounted prices offered to other customers. Congress created the Medicaid Drug Rebate Program in order to ensure that Medicaid, the nation’s provider of health insurance to the poor and the disabled and one of the largest purchasers of drugs, receives the benefit of the same discounts offered to other large commercial customers in the marketplace.Between 2001 and 2006, Wyeth offered steep discounts to thousands of hospitals nationwide for Protonix Oral and Protonix IV, which are used to suppress stomach acid, under pricing arrangements known as “Protonix Performance Agreements.” These arrangements offered discounted prices based on certain conditions, such as market share or placement on formularies. The States allege that Wyeth was required under the Medicaid Drug Rebate Program to report prices paid by hospitals under this arrangement, and to pass along the benefit of the lower prices to the state Medicaid programs. Wyeth allegedly failed to do so and therefore avoided paying hundreds of millions of dollars to Medicaid in rebates.Vermont’s role in the case, now pending in the United States District Court for Massachusetts, is being handled by the Office of Attorney General’s Medicaid Fraud and Residential Abuse Unit. By intervening in the suits, Vermont seeks damages from Wyeth on behalf of its Medicaid program.Source: Vermont Attorney General. 5.10.2010
Governor Jim Douglas today announced that Deputy Chief of Staff Heidi Tringe will be stepping down at the end of the month to pursue a new opportunity in the private sector. On August 1, she will join the government relations firm of MacLean, Meehan and Rice LLC.“Heidi has been a critical member of my team and a key advisor during these challenging economic times,” said Governor Douglas. “Her expertise, enthusiasm and commitment to Vermont will be greatly missed, and I wish her all the best in her next endeavor.”Tringe joined the Governor’s senior staff in January 2008 as Special Assistant, following 2 years as Legislative Affairs and Communications Director at the Agency of Human Services. She was appointed Secretary of Civil and Military Affairs in 2009 and assumed her current position in January, 2010. “As chair of the National Governors Association (NGA), Heidi has been invaluable to me in helping navigate the many complex issues facing states in Washington and in state capitals,” the Governor remarked. “Federal health care reform is having a major impact on states and Heidi’s ability to quickly understand and relate decisions made in Washington to the realities here in Vermont has been critical.” In addition to her work with the NGA, Heidi served as co-chair of the Governor’s Health Care Cabinet and has been liaison with numerous state agencies and other organizations. Source: Governor’s office. 7.2.2010###