Dear Network Friends,

Only a few more days and we can kick 2020 to the curb!

Since we all continue to ride the bad news/good news roller coaster, let’s re-cap where we’ve landed this month, shall we? As I write this, we're all are being asked to hunker down this holiday season and skip the large family gatherings as numbers of COVID cases continue to rise in Vermont; but the good news is that at least one COVID-19 vaccine is officially on its way.

In other bad news/good news, Dave Redmond with the Northern Forest Center is retiring this month from his work helping wood product manufacturers to grow and prosper, and we’ll miss him. However, he tells me he’ll still be doing a bit of contract work, and the Center is hiring to replace his position. Check out the listing here. We all wish Dave a happy retirement!

This month we are winding down a variety of marketing and business coaching projects for several woodworking businesses through a COVID Recovery grant we received through the Agency of Commerce and Community Development. We and our partners at the Vermont Wood Works Council, Northern Forest Center, UVM Extension and VHCB are grateful we could help some of Vermont’s talented woodworkers take better advantage of the necessary shift to online shopping.

We have two profile stories to share this month, and together they should solve your holiday shopping and shipping dilemmas. The first features 2017 SBA Vermont Small Business Person of the Year Mike Rainville and his family at Maple Landmark. These hard-working folks may as well be elves, with all the incredible toys and gifts they are crafting at their Middlebury shop. And the other story takes a look at Sylvacurl, an East Hardwick company that makes eco-friendly packing material out of wood shavings. In fact, owner Jim Lovinsky tells me they’re growing and in search of a new supplier of popple blocks. Contact Jim here if you can help him out!

Let’s face it, folks. It’s been a challenging year, to say the least. But as these two stories remind us, there's still a lot to be optimistic about. If nothing else, we’ve all been forced to stop, take a step back and re-evaluate what’s most important: our families, our health, and our happiness. The work will be there, and so will new challenges – and opportunities. Let’s use this Network we're building to help each other find a better normal in the coming year.

Stay safe out there,