Hub Happenings

H&M clothing store coming to UMall

The Massachusetts-based broker working to re-tenant the University Mall in South Burlington, KeyPoint Partners, announced a lease agreement with clothing store H&M in February.

The agreement follows recent deals for a new Target store and an expansion of Victoria’s Secret.

Target and H&M are expected to open this fall.

“We still have several additional leasing initiatives in the works which, once completed, will transform University Mall into a powerful shopping destination over the next 12 to 24 months,” said KeyPoint Partners Vice President of Leasing Don Mace.

Located on Dorset Street, the mall is Vermont’s largest enclosed shopping center at roughly 610,000 square feet.

Fourth quarter business climate survey results released

The Vermont Business Roundtable and Economic & Policy Resources recently announced the results of their fourth quarter 2017 Business Conditions Survey, conducted in January. Nearly 70 percent of business owners surveyed responded.

Findings include:

About 70 percent of respondents have negative outlooks with ease of hiring for available positions.

Slightly more than 40 percent of responses were neutral about the state’s overall business climate. The remaining responses saw a doubling of positive responses this quarter compared to last (38 percent vs. 19 percent) and a slight uptick in negative responses (20 percent vs. 18 percent).

The information sector had the most optimistic outlook on the general business climate (100 percent optimistic), while the education sector again had the least optimistic, but improving outlook (50 percent pessimistic, 25 percent neutral, 25 percent optimistic). This is the third quarter in a row that the information sector led in optimism about the general business climate.

“We seem to be seeing the first signs that the higher levels of business confidence on the national level are working their way back to business leaders in Vermont,” Jeff Carr of Economic & Policy Resources said.

Elise Polli

Elise Polli

KW names top buyer’s agent

Realtor Elise Polli of Polli Properties has been awarded the 2017 Top Buyer’s Agent at Keller Williams Vermont for the third consecutive year, with a gross commissionable income of $12 million in 2017.

Polli, who represents both buyers and sellers, continues to rank in the top 20 percent at Keller Williams Vermont. Polli also currently serves on the board of the Agent Council on Leadership, which acts as the KW Vermont board of directors.

GBIC studies economic impact of F-35s

The Greater Burlington Industrial Corporation (GBIC) released earlier this month an economic impact study of the Vermont National Guard and its controversial plan to host the Air Force’s latest fighter jet, the F-35.

The study showed the Air Guard has a payroll of $57 million per year with roughly 1,000 jobs and that the arrival of the F-35 program will account for $100 million in capital investments over the next five years. That will mean roughly $1.51 million annually in secondary spending, GBIC President Frank Cioffi said.

“The mission and future of the Vermont Air National Guard is with the basing of the F-35 in Burlington,” he said. “The decision has been made and significant investment and training is well under way. We believe it is critically important to highlight the data in this report so that residents in Burlington and all Vermonters can appreciate the tremendous financial benefits of having the nation’s premiere Air National Guard unit in our region.”

NEFCU offers STEM scholarships

New England Federal Credit Union (NEFCU) is accepting applications for its 2018 Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) scholarships. Three scholarships of $3,000 each will be awarded

Applicants must be New England Federal Credit Union members and pursuing studies in STEM subjects.

Application forms are available at, at any branch or by calling (802) 879-8790. The deadline is April 30. Mail application to Scholarship Committee, NEFCU, P.O. Box 527, Williston, VT 05495.

Unemployment insurance rates to drop

The Vermont Department of Taxes announced a change earlier this month that will lower the Unemployment Insurance tax rate for employers beginning July 1.

Individual employers’ reduced taxable wage rates will vary according to their experience rating, the department said in a press release. The rate reduction anticipated in July will reduce the highest unemployment insurance tax rate from 7.7. percent to 6.5 percent. The lowest rate will see a reduction from 1.1 percent to 0.8 percent.

The department also anticipates that the maximum weekly unemployment benefit will rise to 57 percent of the average weekly wage. The current maximum weekly benefit amount is $466, which is expected to increase to $513.

“Our unemployment trust fund has been steadily recovering from the impacts of the recession and is currently funded at an amount that is considered healthy,” said Labor Commissioner Lindsay Kurrle.

Vermont unemployment rate holds at 2.9 percent

The Vermont Department of Labor announced that the seasonally-adjusted statewide unemployment rate for January was 2.9 percent. This reflects no change from the revised December rate.

The national rate in January was 4.1 percent. As of the prior month’s preliminary data, the Burlington-South Burlington metropolitan area was tied for the fifth lowest unemployment rate in the country for all metropolitan areas.

Overall, Vermont’s unemployment rate was tied for the fourth lowest in the country for the same time period.

Tailored Living wins Best Of Houzz award

Tailored Living featuring Premier Garage of Vermont recently won “Best Of Service” on Houzz, an online home remodeling and design platform. The Williston-based organizational solutions provider was chosen by the roughly 40 million monthly unique users of Houzz from a field of about one million home building, remodeling and design professionals.

“Tailored Living featuring Premier Garage of Vermont is pleased to receive this prestigious industry award” said Bryan Randall, president of Tailored Living featuring Premier Garage of Vermont. “We enjoy helping clients all over Vermont to improve utilization of their space and look forward to providing exceptional customer service in 2018.”

Tailored Living provides organizational solutions for garages, closets, pantries, family rooms and home offices, as well as epoxy garage flooring through complimentary in-home consultations. Call (802) 465-4655 or visit for more information.

Vermont excels at World Cheese Championships in Wisconsin

Vermont cheesemakers took home multiple top awards in the 2018 World Championship Cheese Contest held in Madison, Wis., last week. Vermont received 15 top-three finishes against cheesemakers from around the globe.

The Cabot Creamery Cooperative of Middlebury won first-place awards in the Cheddar-Mild, Cheddar-Medium and Monterey Jack categories.

Grafton Village Cheese of Brattleboro took home the second- and third-place awards in the Natural Rinded Cheddar category.

Jasper Hill Farm of Greensboro won first-place in the Soft Ripened Cheeses category and swept, along with Von Trapp Farmstead, also of Greensboro, the top three spots in the Smear Ripened Soft Cheeses category.

Vermont Creamery of Websterville was awarded first place in the Ripened Goats Milk Cheeses category.

Visit for more information.

Forbes honors local financial advisor

CJ Charlebois Melendy, a private wealth advisor with Ameriprise Financial in Williston, was named to Forbes Magazine’s “Best-in-State Wealth Advisors” list in February.

The list recognizes financial advisors who have demonstrated high levels of ethical standards, professionalism and success.

Charlebois Melendy was chosen based on assets under management, industry experience, regulatory compliance record and revenue produced over a three-year period. She is part of Guided Wealth Advisors, a private wealth advisory practice of Ameriprise Financial Services, where she has worked for 21 years. Charlebois Melendy graduated from The University of Vermont.

She works out of the Ameriprise office at 5399 Williston Road, Suite 204 and can be reached at 802-657-3800.

DealerPolicy graduates seven new associates

DealerPolicy, an auto insurance search engine company in Colchester, and Vermont HITEC, a nonprofit education center, last week announced the graduation of seven new DealerPolicy insurance associates.

The graduates are Gregory Corrigan (Williston), Michael Desrochers (Swanton), John Keen (Essex Junction), Eamon Lyons (Waterbury), Allison Mason (Milton), Ian O’Connor (Milton) and Andrea Valdez Zereceda (Colchester). They will now begin an apprenticeship period, helping connect customers who are purchasing vehicles with insurance policies.

The DealerPolicy apprenticeship program is funded in part by the U.S. Department of Labor, the Vermont Department of Labor and the Vermont Department of Economic Development. It offers no-cost training and a competitive wage and benefits upon completion.

To apply for a future program, complete the online application at For more information or assistance, email or call (802) 872-0660.

Tax strategy session set for March 27

The Center for Women & Enterprise Vermont will present two Q&A sessions with Patti Bisson, tax advisor, business strategist and instructor, to help small businesses with questions about the new federal tax law. “Tax Reform and Your Business: A Q&A” will be presented March 27 at 9:30 a.m. and at 5:30 p.m. at CWE headquarters, 431 Pine Street, Suite 101, Burlington.

Register by emailing

Bisson is a member of the Vermont Tax Commissioner’s Tax Technical Working Group and is president of the Vermont Chapter of the National Association of Tax Professionals. She’s also an instructor for the UVM Tax School.