Free leadership training offered to entrepreneurs; Environmental Excellence Awards offered; state gets $46M for energy efficiency aid for Vermonters


Vermont is seeking 15 small business owners to participate in the Emerging Leaders Initiative beginning in April at Vermont Technical College in Williston, Vt.

SBA LogoEmerging Leaders is a free, executive-level training program for entrepreneurs to learn how to establish a three-year strategic growth plan for their businesses. Strategic plans emphasize organizational structure, resource network and assistance needed to build a sustainable business of size and scale.

It is a seven-month program consisting of 13 three-hour in-class sessions, seven out-of-class CEO mentoring sessions, assigned reading and other assignments.

Emerging Leaders is for established business owners and is not for start-ups or people who are thinking about starting a business. To be considered, firms must be for-profit enterprises, been in business for at least three years, have one employee other than self, and have annual revenues between $400,000 and $10 million.

There are no restrictions on the types of businesses that can participate. Some examples of participating businesses include manufacturers, retail stores, wholesalers, contractors, professional services and food service.

The Small Business Administration established Emerging Leaders in 2008 to assist entrepreneurs in urban communities.  This is the initiative’s inaugural year in the Vermont and is available to small businesses statewide. In 2012 the SBA selected Interise, a non-profit organization specializing in entrepreneurial education, to oversee the initiative. The Boston-based organization selects the instructor and establishes the Emerging Leaders curriculum.  The past 10 years, Interise has assisted more than 3,000 small businesses across the U.S.

Business owners interested in the program need to complete the online application at by March 1. For more information, visit, email or call 802-828-4422 ext. 203.

Enivronmental Excellence Award applicants accepted


Applications are now being accepted for the 2016 Governor’s Awards for Environmental Excellence. The annual awards honor the actions taken by Vermonters to conserve and protect natural resources, prevent pollution and promote sustainability. The deadline for applications has been extended to Tuesday, March 15, 2016.

Applications are encouraged from:

  • Business, Industry and Trade or Professional Organizations
  • Environmental, Community and Non-Profit Organizations
  • Individual Citizens
  • Institutions (such as Schools, Hospitals and Municipalities)
  • Teachers and Students
  • Public Agencies

Categories of relevant projects include:

  • Innovative energy conservation projects that measurably reduce energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions.
  • Pollution prevention projects that reduce or eliminate the generation of pollutants and waste at the source, including toxics use reduction efforts.
  • Projects that conserve resources and protect the environment by minimizing resource consumption through reduced use, reuse, and recycling.
  • Projects that improve stewardship of Vermont’s natural resources (e.g., forest land, watershed management, wildlife habitat, air resources, and high quality recreational lands).
  • Innovative projects that inform and educate Vermonters about environmentally responsible practices leading to behavior change that enhances environmental quality.
  • Ecosystem and/or habitat restoration projects.
  • Innovative land use management/planning projects that create ecological and environmental benefits.
  • Projects that increase flood resiliency.

For more information about the Awards or the nomination process, or to view a list of previous winners and project examples, visit the Awards web page at or contact Maura Mancini by phone at 802-522-0218 or via email at .

$46 million award will help Vermonters with energy efficiency

U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack  has awarded $46 million in assistance to the Vermont Energy Investment Corp. to support energy efficiency and renewable energy improvements in rural areas across the state.

The award will help VEIC  customers save money, and live more comfortably by installing renewable energy systems and making energy efficiency upgrades, such as switching to cleaner, more efficient fuel sources and installing energy efficient building upgrades. This is the largest Energy Efficiency and Conservation Loan Program project in terms of both financing and scale that the USDA’s Rural Utilities Service has made since the program’s launch in December 2013.

“This loan will reduce barriers to energy investments by lowering the upfront costs, spreading these costs over 20 years, and by making financing more available,” Vilsack said. “It also will help residential, commercial, agricultural and industrial consumers in rural Vermont reduce energy use and meet state and national energy goals.”

VEIC will operate and administer the program through Efficiency Vermont, an energy efficiency utility with a statewide and predominantly rural service territory. The utility has a 15-year history of providing efficient lighting, appliances, equipment, and HVAC systems to residential and business customers. Efficiency Vermont dedicates a portion of its annual budget to services for low-income residents.

This USDA loan is expected to provide major benefits to rural Vermont residents, businesses and communities beyond reducing the burden of energy costs. For example, reducing energy costs for farmers and food manufacturers — including family run dairies and maple syrup producers — can help them remain competitive. Cost-effective and high-quality energy efficiency upgrades will enable families and business to feel more comfortable during Vermont’s long heating season and spend less on heating costs.

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