Message from the vtTA
The VTTA Discusses Cloud Tax with the Senate Finance Committee

The VTTA provided testimony on the proposed “Cloud Computing Tax” to the Senate Finance Committee Nov. 17. The committee sought to better understand the issue ahead of the 2022 legislative session. We expressed our concern with the latest version of the proposal to add the sales tax to all online services: Software-as-a-service (SaaS), Platform as a Service (PaaS), and Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS).

The VTTA and its members are not anti-tax. We support business and individual taxes to fund education and other services that make Vermont a good place to live. However, we don’t think this is the right tax, or the right sector to single out for expanding the sales tax to services.
We shared with the committee that if enacted into law, it would significantly change how Vermont consumers and businesses are taxed for services on the internet. The tax will impact nearly every Vermont business – since nearly all Vermont businesses depend on Internet services. 

This could range from individuals buying additional iCloud storage or Gmail storage, to small businesses using online accounting, payroll or ecommerce services, to large businesses whose computer infrastructure and data processing is managed by Amazon Web Services, or comparable services.

Tech businesses – and many other Vermont businesses that substantially depend on cloud-based tech infrastructure and applications – would be impacted, since these services are either the backbone of business operations or are essential inputs to their products and product development.

This affects what we see as the growth sector and future for Vermont – it’s tech and digital economy.

According to the legislature’s Joint Fiscal Office, only eight states tax all of these online services in the way that this bill proposes to do.

While there are states that have some form of cloud computing tax, they may have lower overall tax rates or offer other benefits or economic incentives to businesses that outweigh the costs. Many of the states that do have a Cloud Tax also tend to have larger, more established tech sectors and other advantages over Vermont, such as greater access to capital and workforce. The absence of a cloud tax could be a small advantage for doing business in Vermont.

We also shared with the committee If the intention is to expand taxes to services, then the Legislature should look at all services, as the Vermont Tax Structure Commission recommended, and consider an exemption for business-to-business transactions.

Discussion and debate on the proposed Cloud Tax is expected to be part of the 2022 legislative session.

When Employees Become Owners
Business owners often turn to employee ownership when they plan their exit from the business, want to attract and keep employees, and preserve local ownership of the businesses they built. The VTTA is presenting a free “Let’s Tech Together” webinar to explore broad-based employee ownership for tech and other businesses. Matthew Cropp, Executive Director of the Vermont Employee Ownership Center, will cover the basics of employee ownership and Nick Floersch of VTTA member Stone Environmental will share his company’s experience with employee ownership. Find more information and register here.

Vermont Tech Jam
It was great to see everyone at Vermont Tech Jam last month at Hula, providing the perfect venue for showcasing Vermont’s tech ecosystem. The event featured 20 VTTA member businesses discussing what they do and their career opportunities. If you were unable to make it and are looking for job openings with VTTA members who were at the Tech Jam and other members, be sure to check out our Career Center, where we have more than 200 openings posted.


Jeff Couture
Executive Director
Vermont Technology Alliance

Featured Member – Echo Consulting
Echo Consulting is a project management services firm focused on maximizing the return on investment (ROI) for businesses undertaking technical and business transformation projects. Whether your team is contemplating a new process, platform or tool; implementing new or upgrading existing software; or experiencing challenges with projects that are over budget, behind schedule, and lack visibility; Echo Consulting helps teams improve delivery with measurable results so that you can fully focus on your company's growth and success.

At Echo Consulting, we are different! We are much more than Project Managers. We are trusted advisors, mentors, team builders, change managers, adoption cheerleaders, problem solvers, and ultimately, we are the glue that keeps your project together and ensures success.

Echo Consulting offers:
  • Part-time Project Management
  • Strategic Planning & Prioritization of Projects / Initiatives
  • PMO & Program Management & Resource Allocation Solutions
  • Process Improvement & Workflow Automation
  • Smartsheet Implementation & Optimization
  • Microsoft Teams Implementations
  • Project Management Training & Mentorship
  • Software Selection & Implementations

Women owned and led, Echo Consulting was founded in 2019 with the belief that all size teams deserve access to high quality, experienced project management to help break down barriers to growth.

For a FREE ½ consultation email: ContactUs@echoconsultingpm.com
Interested in joining our team: https://www.echoprojectmanagement.com/careers
Upcoming Events
Let’s Tech Together: An Introduction to Broad-Based Employee Business Ownership
(December 2, 2021)
 
In this brief VTTA “Let’s Tech Together” talk, Matthew Cropp, Executive Director of the Vermont Employee Ownership Center, will cover the basics of broad-based employee ownership from Employee Stock Ownership Plans (ESOPs) to worker cooperatives and more. It will also include Nick Floersch of VTTA member Stone Environmental sharing the company’s experience with employee ownership. If you or someone you know is curious about the world of employee ownership, this is the perfect opportunity to learn more.
 
Register here.
Actuator by BRIC Pitch Event
(December 3, 2021)
 
The Black River Innovation Campus in Springfield hosts a pitch night for members of its Accuator by BRIC program, an interactive tech entrepreneur program. Hear from the founders of the businesses participating in its Fall 2021 Cohort.
 
Find more here.
Vermont Technology News
CORI Innovation Fund Leads Investment in Calypso Continuing Education
(November 19, 2021 – Center on Rural Innovation)

The CORI Innovation Fund (CIF) announced an investment in Calypso Continuing Education (Calypso) of Randolph, Vermont, an education technology business that has created a platform for continuing education, as well as a library of educational content.

CIF is a Qualified Opportunity Fund of VTTA member Center on Rural Innovation (CORI) that invests in high-growth technology companies supporting job creation and revenue generation in small towns across America. CIF is leading this funding round in order to provide Calypso with capital to expand its online educational offerings into new verticals. Calypso is headquartered in an Opportunity Zone located in Randolph, Vermont, one of the communities in CORI’s Rural Innovation Network.

Read more here.
Ford Partners with GlobalFoundries to Increase Chip Supplies
(November 18, 2021 – CNBC)

Ford Motor plans to increase its short- and long-term supply of semiconductor chips through a new partnership with GlobalFoundries.
The Detroit automaker and New York-based chip supplier announced the signing of a nonbinding agreement for a strategic partnership that aims to increase the supply of chips to Ford from GlobalFoundries.

GlobalFoundries has a chip manufacturing facility in Essex Junction, Vermont, employing approximately 2,000 employees.

Officials said the tie-up could eventually result in new chip designs specifically for Ford and an increase in the domestic production and supply of chips for the overall automotive industry.

Read more here.
Attorney General Donovan Leads Nationwide Investigation into Instagram’s Impact on Young People
(November 18, 2021 – Vermont Attorney General Office)

Vermont Attorney General T.J. Donovan announced he is leading a nationwide investigation along with seven attorneys general into Meta Platforms, Inc., formerly known as Facebook, for providing and promoting its social media platform – Instagram – to children and young adults despite knowing that such use is associated with physical and mental health harms.

The bipartisan coalition of attorneys general from across the country is examining whether the company violated state consumer protection laws and put the public at risk.
The investigation targets, among other things, the techniques utilized by Meta to increase the frequency and duration of engagement by young users and the resulting harms caused by such extended engagement. 

Read more here.
New Data-Driven Company Troove Uses Predictive Power of Alumni Insights to Improve the College Search Process
(November 17, 2021 – Troove)

A new Vermont-based company called Troove has entered the higher education arena with the goal of making college search and admissions more efficient and accessible. Troove helps applicants find their ideal fit, in and out of the classroom, by engaging alumni and current college students in the search process for the first time.

“Today, we all rely on the digital experience of others in how we date, dine and decide what to binge watch next. Troove will use this same technology to match applicants with the schools where people who share their same priorities, values, and interests have already found the success they want,” said Troove founder David Hurwitt.

Troove is powered by AI technology that gathers, mines and decodes experience data for any school to align with the values, abilities, priorities and ambitions of the students entering the admissions process.

Read more here.
Upright Education partners with Norwich University to Accelerate Technology Careers
(November 16, 2021 – Norwich University)

Upright Education, a digital workforce accelerator, has partnered with Norwich University’s College of Graduate and Continuing Studies to offer technology bootcamps that fast-track adults into high-growth technology careers.

Through this partnership, Norwich University Online will offer accelerated learning programs in software development (coding) as well as user experience (UX) and user interface (UI) design (UX/UI) to adults seeking new careers in these fields.

These career accelerator bootcamps are designed to develop job-ready graduates by combining project-based learning with industry-specific career mentorship.

Read more here.
Vermont CPA Firm, Davis & Hodgdon Associates, Unveils New Names and Logos
(November 16, 2021 – Davis & Hodgdon Associates)

VTTA member Davis & Hodgdon Associates, CPAs, with offices in Williston and Rutland, unveiled new names for itself and its entities. Recognizing that its client roster and service offerings have experienced substantial growth since its inception in 1990, the firm recently embarked on a rebranding initiative that encompassed name changes.

The CPA firm will now be known strictly as Davis & Hodgdon CPAs. It is one member of the newly formed, Davis & Hodgdon Advisory Group which is the umbrella name for the group of entities that includes Davis & Hodgdon CPAs, Copper Leaf Financial and Convergent Accounting.

Read more here.
New Consumer Broadband Service from Consolidated Communications Debuts in Vermont
(November 15, 2021 – Vermont Business Magazine)

Consolidated Communications has launched Fidium Fiber in Vermont, a new gigabit broadband internet service offering speeds 20 times faster than the national average.

Fidium’s symmetrical, gigabit fiber internet service comes without data caps, contracts or required bundles, and is now available in Brattleboro, Montpelier, Rutland and numerous other towns, with new locations rolling out weekly across Vermont. Fidium is also available in select towns in Maine and New Hampshire.  

Read more here.
DVFiber Awarded $4.1 Million Broadband Grant
(October 27, 2021)

The Vermont Community Broadband Board (VCBB), the new state board charged with overseeing broadband development in Vermont, recently approved DVFiber’s $4.1 million grant request. DVFiber can now move ahead with its partner Great Works Internet, Inc. (GWI) of Biddeford, Maine to secure high-speed broadband access for its 24 member towns.

The funding enables DVFiber to proceed with the design and engineering of a high-speed fiber optic network that will reach all unserved and underserved homes and businesses within its 24 member towns. This funding includes preparation of a high-level detailed design, engineering, and preparation of utility poles in the Phase I towns of Halifax, Marlboro, Readsboro, Stamford, Wardsboro, and Whitingham, which are those within the communications union district (CUD) with the most unserved and underserved addresses. It expects to provide services to its first customers by the second half of 2022.

Read more here.
Battery Innovators Make Vermont a Hub in a Surging Industry
(October 20, 2021 – Seven Days)

Tucked away in a modest office building in Shelburne, a group of young engineers is trying to change the world. Their company, Resonant Link, (a VTTA member) is developing wireless charging technologies that may someday revolutionize how people power up cars, medical devices and even robots.

In a nondescript conference room, chief technology officer Aaron Stein removed a thin, white doughnut-shaped coil from the center of one of the company’s charging units last week and proudly held it aloft.

The potent technology at the heart of Resonant Link’s charging devices was developed at Dartmouth College, the alma mater of Stein and the company’s three other founders. When they decided to hone the technology for commercial applications, the group could have set up shop in Boston or Silicon Valley. They instead chose to grow their startup in the fertile Champlain Valley, seeking to tap into the deep pool of talent in the state’s fast-growing battery technology industry.

Read more here.
NuHarbor's Soup-to-Nuts Approach to Cybersecurity Spurs Rapid Growth 
(October 20, 2021 – Seven Days)

Many people were surprised by the wide-ranging consequences of the ransomware attack that hit the University of Vermont Medical Center last year. But not Justin Fimlaid, founder and CEO of the Colchester cybersecurity company NuHarbor Security. "What we saw at UVM, we've seen elsewhere," Fimlaid said.

Fimlaid launched NuHarbor in 2014 and quickly found his new company's services to be in high demand. Its success is due in part to an uncommon approach. While many companies offer to help businesses prevent cyberattacks, NuHarbor provides constant monitoring.

NuHarbor assesses a client's vulnerability by launching its own benign cyberattack against the company's software. It can then install protective measures and train workers to recognize phishing attacks such as the one that led to widespread problems at UVM Medical Center. NuHarbor also helps clients choose cybersecurity insurance policies.

Read more here.

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 and Renewing members: New members include Rural Techs.
Renewing members include Marvell Technology, Open Approach, Paul Frank + Collins, and individuals Gary Coyer and Ann Marie Curley.

Not a vtTA member yet? Then why not join now? Find more information and register here. You can also contact us at admin@vtta.org.
Useful Information & Links
Vermont Women’s Fund Launches Project to Count Women-Owned Businesses in Vermont

The Vermont Women’s Fund has launched a new initiative called “This Way Up” to identify and track women-owned businesses and women leaders throughout the state. While women business owners are a strong part of Vermont’s economy, there is no conclusive data to determine how many there are, in what sectors, and what gender-specific challenges they might face, such as lack of access to funding.

At the This Way Up website, women business owners sign in, take a 10-minute survey, and see the impact of their business on Vermont’s economy in real time.The data gleaned from the survey creates an interactive map and infographics, and provides users instant information on how their business contributes to Vermont’s overall economy.
To learn more about This Way UP and to register a business, visit ThisWayUpVT.com.
Vermont Futures Project Features Vermont Economy Talks

The Vermont Futures Project is presenting a series called Vermont Economy Talks, part of a public campaign to humanize and simplify complex economic topics. The effort includes a Facebook live interview series with student interns with the Center for Research on Vermont interviewing Vermont leaders who share their work, economic impact and stories around workforce, housing, business, industry, equity and diversity, and more.

Find more information and view the interview series 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 and subscribe to updates. The Career Center on average features 100+ tech and non-tech jobs with Vermont Technology Alliance member businesses. Jobs available from vtTA members are listed at no charge in the Career Center as a member benefit.
 
For more, click here.  
The VTTA Thanks Its Member/Sponsors
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