Message from the vtTA

Recent layoffs this month at a few area tech companies resulted in some inquiries from the media to the Vermont Technology Alliance. The essential question was "Do these layoffs represent problems or weakness in Vermont's tech sector." Our view is that these cuts had more to do with specific changes in these particular businesses, or the industries they are in, than with the tech sector as a whole. We continue to see hiring needs across Vermont's tech businesses. In fact, our Career Center had listings of more than 180 openings with Vermont Technology Alliance member businesses as of this newsletter. While it is unfortunate to hear about cuts in the tech sector, we are hopeful that the job openings at other businesses will provide new opportunities for the affected employees and believe the outlook for the tech sector is positive.
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We thank those who participated in our Public Policy Overview and Discussion this month. You may have seen the VTDigger article about the meeting, included in the news section below, with a headline that said that the Vermont Technology Alliance "would register as a lobbying group." In fact, the VtTA, as a 501(c)(6) organization, has always been allowed to lobby. However, in the past we have elected not to lobby and instead focused on general advocacy efforts for the technology sector.

The 2019 legislative session included some bills that were unfriendly to Vermont's technology companies at best, and could be damaging at worst (Cloud Tax, ban on non-compete agreements; etc.). As a result, many of our members have asked that we increase our presence in Montpelier to ensure that Vermont's tech sector is recognized and respected as the benefit to Vermont's economy that it is. We received similar requests from individual legislators who see us as a valuable resource to the legislative process.

As a small (but mighty!) organization with a volunteer board, stepping up our presence in the statehouse requires additional resources. Consequently, we have been in the process of raising additional funds (separate from membership dues) and looking at adding lobbying resources through an external firm or individual to increase our presence at the statehouse, monitor on-going legislation of interest to our membership, and support our policy efforts. Our increased presence will improve our ability to share our perspectives on key legislation with our members, the larger tech community, and Vermont as a whole. We welcome your input as we look to the start of the legislative session in the New Year.
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As always, we welcome new individual and business members who are part of Vermont's tech economy. Register to be a member here .
 
 
Jeff Couture
Executive Director, Vermont Technology Alliance
vtTA Links




  
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Upcoming Events
 
New England Venture Summit  
(December 3 and 4, 2019 - Hilton Boston Dedham)
 
The New England Venture Summit brings together hundreds of venture capitalists and investors with founders of emerging and early state companies. Use vtTA discount code for 10% off conference fee.
 
Read more here .
 
 
 
Holiday 2019 Bio and Tech Beer Event  
(December 5, 2019 - Queen City Brewery)
 
Join the Vermont Technology Alliance and the Vermont Biosciences Alliance for a holiday Bio & Tech Beer social event at Queen City Brewery.
 
Read more here .
   
 
 
 

Defining Your Brand
(December 12, 2019 - CTCI, Rutland)
 
Circle Technology Collective International (CTCI) in Rutland is hosting a free community luncheon workshop on Defining Your Brand.
 
Read more here .
 
 
Tech Communities Holiday Party and Lightning Talks  
(December 16, 2019 - Main Street Landing, Burlington)
 
Burlington Code and the Vermont Technology Alliance are co-hosting this year-end event and holiday gathering for the tech community to come together and celebrate. The event will feature 5-minute lightning talks, pizza and drinks and potluck desserts.
 
Read more here .
 
 

Vermont Technology in the News
 
Broadband Grant Program Releases First Round of Funding
(November 22, 2019 - VTDigger)
 
Three organizations have won more than $150,000 to help increase broadband services in several rural areas, a historically difficult challenge in Vermont. Central Vermont Fiber, Newbury REDInet and the Windham Regional Commission received money through the first round of the Vermont Broadband Innovation Grant program. Central Vermont Fiber and WRC received $60,000 each to study the feasibility and construction of broadband infrastructure in those areas. REDInet will receive $34,000 to also study and create a broadband infrastructure plan, on top of $25,000 worth of grants it previously received from the ThinkVermont Innovation and USDA Rural Business Development. 

Read more
here .
 
 
Remote Worker Incentive Author Defends Program's Benefits  
(November 21, 2019 - VTDigger)
 
Unfazed by a critical report by Vermont Auditor Doug Hoffer about the state's remote worker program, Sen. Michael Sirotkin hopes to increase the incentives for new Vermonters when the Legislature reconvenes next year. Sirotkin, chair of the Senate Economic Development, Housing and General Affairs Committee, hopes that lawmakers look again at the notion of helping people pay off their student loans as an added incentive to move to Vermont.

Read more
here .
 

Vermont Technology Alliance to Register as Lobbying Group  
(November 20, 2019 - VTDigger)
 
During a technology public policy discussion held Nov. 20, the VtTA outlined issues it's watching in the upcoming legislative session. The nonprofit's members have frequently provided testimony for legislative committees in the past during discussions related to Vermont's technology industry. But now, the organization is looking to make more of an impact on legislation through lobbying efforts.

Read more
here .
 

Vermont Ranked 11th 'Smartest' State
(November 20, 2019 - Vermont Business Magazine)
 
A new study finds Vermont is the Number 11 smartest state in the US. The analysis relied largely on educational attainment and college entrance test scores. Currently, 65 percent of Americans think they have above-average intelligence and 2 in 3 people say they are smarter than other people. Everyone can't be right.
 
To help determine who is really the smartest, SafeHome.org released a study ranking the Smartest States in America using the latest data from the US Census Bureau, the US Department of Education and the College Board. Vermont was particularly strong in bachelor degrees, high school graduation rate and ACT scoring.
 
Read more here .
 
 
Days Before Announcing Essex Junction Layoffs, Company Secured $5.3 Million State Incentive  
(November 15, 2019 - Vermont Public Radio)
 
Marvell Logo
On Nov. 6, California company Marvell announced it was laying off 78 employees at an Essex Junction business it had recently acquired.

But less than a week before announcing those layoffs, Marvell quietly secured approval for $5.3 million in job creation incentives from a Vermont state program. And, while the program is shrouded in secrecy, Marvell may be able to receive the money even after the layoffs.

Marvell bought Avera Semiconductor, a subsidiary of GlobalFoundries, for $600 million earlier this month and promptly announced it was laying off 78 of its roughly 300 Vermont workers. The company cited redundancies between Avera and its existing business.
 
Read more here .
 
 
GlobalFoundries Division Sale Leads to Layoffs of 78 
(November 7, 2019 - VTDigger)
 
Dozens of former GlobalFoundries workers lost their jobs after a division of the company was sold. The California company Marvell Technology Group Ltd. laid off 78 employees after taking full ownership of a GlobalFoundries division on Nov. 6.

Marvell said Nov. 7 in an unsigned email that the joining of the two companies had made some positions redundant "and have resulted in the elimination of a small percentage of positions worldwide."  
 
Read more here .
 
 
Human Services IT Project Has no Price Tag or Deadline  
(November 17, 2019 - VTDigger)
 
Vermont Map overlaid with zeros and ones At a hearing this month, lawmakers expressed concern that the state's Integrated Eligibility and Enrollment project has no price tag or formal end date.

The project would streamline information about Vermonters using the state's public benefits programs and create a website to replace Vermont Health Connect, the state's health insurance exchange. A 2018 report found the human services IT system to be "obsolete."   
 
Read more here .
 
 
Coworking Spaces Grow in Number, Start to Get Organized  
(November 14, 2019 - VTDigger)
 
VCET Coworking Space Coworking and maker spaces are emerging in small towns all over Vermont. There are now at least 30 of them, enough that their backers are starting to get organized. A few are seeking to leverage state support to attract more members.

Evan Carlson, who operates the new Do North coworking space in Lyndonville, wants lawmakers to take another look at legislation that would provide incentives for Vermont employers who allow people to work remotely. Helping state workers who live in the Lyndon area, he said, would inject some life into the local economy.

Read more
here .
 
 
Dealer.com Continues to Grow as Storm Clouds of Change Gather Over the Auto Industry  
(November 11, 2019 - Burlington Free Press)
 
Dealer.com Exterior Dealer.com has long been Vermont's poster child for tech success, despite a series of job reductions that began in August 2017 after the company was bought by Atlanta-based Cox Automotive two years earlier. The most recent job losses came about two weeks ago when 14 people were let go.

With car buying moving increasingly online, Dealer.com overall has continued to grow, despite the job losses, General Manager Wayne Pastore said in a recent interview. Dealer.com currently has about 30 open positions, according to Pastore. The company's Burlington office is the second largest in the Cox Automotive empire. Only the Atlanta headquarters is bigger, with 3,300 employees.
 
Read more here .
 
 
As Artificial Intelligence Grows in Vermont, Task Force Mulls State Policies  
(November 10, 2019 - VTDigger)
 
Artificial Intelligence Graphic For some, artificial intelligence may conjure sci-fi movie plots and fears of sentient robots challenging humanity. Not Bruce Duncan. The greatest threat to the future of AI, he believes, is ignorance. Rep. Brian Cina, P-Burlington, shares those concerns. He led the creation of a task force that has been studying the growth of AI in Vermont since September 2018. The task force will release a final report in January.  
 
Read more here .
 
 
Hire Anxiety: Layoffs Jolt Burlington-Area Tech Sector  
(November 6, 2019 - Seven Days) 
 
Work table wih Computer monitors October has been a cruel month for some of the Burlington area's most prominent tech firms, raising questions about the vibrancy of the much-vaunted tech hub that Burlington has worked so hard to foster.

According to two employees who spoke to Seven Days, recent layoffs have left about 43 people at the Winooski office, down from 150 when the firm was sold. Dealer.com, which creates and manages websites for car dealerships nationwide, said on October 23 it had cut fewer than 15 positions from its 1,100-strong workforce during two rounds of layoffs.
The following week, Social Sentinel, which alerts school districts to potentially threatening public social media posts, laid off 19 people, shrinking from 45 employees to 26. Officials characterized the 42 percent workforce reduction as a way to reposition the privately held firm to focus on unspecified markets beyond schools.
 
Read more here .
 

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Vermont Technology Alliance Membership Update
 
The Vermont Technology Alliance works on behalf of its members and
is able to carry out its mission through the support of its membership.  
 
 
New individual members include: Benjamin Brown, Gary Coyer, Sarah Donegan, Jen Williams, Ron Lawrence, Jeff Manley, and Dave Richey.
 
Renewing business members include: Advanced Illumination, Bear Code, Greensea Systems, Inntopia.
 
Renewing Individual Members include: Michael Desmond.

Join the Vermont Technology Alliance
 
Join the Vermont Technology Alliance and be part of our growing tech community. The Vermont Technology Alliance welcomes all businesses, organizations and individuals who make up and support Vermont's diverse, tech-based economy to join our business association. Members benefit from vtTA's advocacy, programs, events, communications, networking, and business opportunities, and services - including job postings in our Career Center. 
   
You can find more information here , or sign up today to be a new member here . Or contact us at info@vtta.org.
Useful Information & Links

Submit Nominations for 2020 Small Business Awards
 
The Small Business Administration Vermont District Office is accepting nominations for its 2020 small business awards. Previous Vermont winners include Ben and Jerry's, Mamava and 14th Star Brewing Co., the 2019 Small Business Person of the Year winner.
The award categories are:
-Small Business Person of the Year
-Exporter of the Year
-Family-Owned Business of the Year
-Woman-Owned Small Business of the Year
-Veteran-Owned Small Business of the Year
-Minority-Owned Small Business of the Year
-Young Entrepreneur of the Year
-Microenterprise of the Year
 
To nominate a company for an award, please email the following information about the nominee to vermont_do@sba.gov:
-Owner's First and Last Name
-Name of Business
-Award Category
-Phone Number
-Email Address
 
All nominations must be submitted by 3 p.m. EST, Jan. 7. Businesses may self-nominate.

Patent Office Seeks Comments on Intellectual Property Protection for Artificial Intelligence Innovation
 
The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) is gathering information about the impact of artificial intelligence technologies on intellectual property law and policy. The USPTO published questions on August 27, 2019 on the impact of artificial intelligence inventions on patent law and policy and asked the public for written comments. Those questions cover a variety of topics, including whether revisions to intellectual property protection are needed. The latest notice extends this inquiry to copyright, trademark, and other intellectual property rights impacted by AI. Written comments must be received on or before December 16, 2019.
 
Find more here.
 

vtTA Career Center
 
Vermont Technology Alliance member companies are hiring, and when you visit the Career Center on the Vermont Technology Alliance website you can browse and search for these job openings . The Career Center regularly  lists between 100 - 200 tech and non-tech jobs. Jobs available from vtTA members are listed at no charge in the Career Center as a member benefit.
 
For more, click see the vtTA Career Center . 
 
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