Dear Network Friends,

The dog days of summer are officially here and, depending on where you are in Vermont, those dogs are either wet and rainy or hot and dry. Either way, they probably have a zucchini in their mouth.

CNN recently did a story about what it’s like to live in ‘the most vaccinated state,’ and the big takeaway was that Vermont is a place where people work together as a community. Sure, it helps to be a small state; but anyone who’s lived here for any length of time understands what they meant – we look out for each other whether it’s a rainstorm or a pandemic, and we really do value community. Despite this most recent spike in COVID cases, our sense of community is serving us well.

It reminds me that the Vermont Forest Industry Network was created for the same reason: to intentionally connect everyone involved in Vermont’s forest and wood products industry – from landowners all the way to the makers of finished wood products – so we can more easily work together to tackle challenges facing the industry.

Those of you who are business owners know that the relationships you develop through your personal network are the secret sauce to growing your business; in the same way, the Vermont Forest Industry Network can be a key ingredient to growing Vermont’s forest economy by helping businesses and industry partners build stronger relationships throughout the value chain.

To that point, the Network Steering Committee met in July and one of the major topics of discussion was workforce. It’s not news that everyone is looking for workers these days; in fact, it’s something this industry has struggled with for some time.

I’ve been involved in several conversations with different people about ideas and projects to address the issue, and I think it’s time to bring all these discussions together so we can all learn about what is happening in Vermont to address workforce issues, and to discuss any gaps specific to this industry that still need to be filled. Stay tuned for more details about a late September Meet Up, and shoot me an email if you have a workforce related project or idea to share.

Meanwhile, we thought we'd take a look at the new Tree Warden Statute and talk to a tree warden about what this update means for Vermont's towns, and their shade trees. Check out the story here.

The silver lining of a global pandemic is that federal and state resources are flowing to local communities, businesses and individuals to help them weather this rather long storm. Below are some of the financial resources still available, so if you are still struggling with pandemic-related challenges, help is available.

The good news is that most businesses in this sector are as busy as they’ve ever been, and if anything, it’s hard to keep up with demand. But it is still summer, so before the leaves begin to fall, be sure to take some time to re-charge.

Stay safe out there,