MONTPELIER, Vt. — A partnership of state and federal entities is teaming up to provide small businesses a unique opportunity to discover their true love: More customers.The Vermont Agency of Transportation and Department of Economic Development, the U.S. Small Business Administration; and the Vermont Small Business Development Center are presenting their fourth annual Strategies for Winning Government Contracts event on Feb. 1.The highlight of the day is the matchmaker sessions that allow Vermont businesses to introduce their firms and products in one-on-one, ten-minute appointments with various state and federal agencies as well as large companies who already contract with the government.We like to call it, speed dating for businesses, said Greg Maguire, who runs the Vermont Procurement Technical Assistance Center, formerly the Government Marketing Assistance Center, at the Vermont Department of Economic Development.Being a small or mid-sized business looking for new customers is a lot like trying to find romance: Its all a matter of opportunity and time, Maguire said. This event gives businesses the opportunity to make lots of contacts with potential customers in a very short period of time.Businesses can meet with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security; General Services Administration and Postal Service; the University of Vermont; Vermont National Guard; Agency of Transportation and Departments of Information and Innovation, Buildings and General Services, and Environmental Conservation.Its not only a chance to get contracts with government agencies, but with private enterprises, said Lenae Quillen-Blume, State Director of the Vermont Small Business Development Center, a program of U.S. Small Business Administration. Companies like Fletcher Allen Health Care, Husky Injection Molding, General Dynamics, Goodrich Aerospace, and Dubois & King engineering.Participants can also get hands-on help and practical advice on getting government contracts from experts like Maguire; the Small Business Administration; and the Vermont Global Trade Partnership.This event is really an example of one of Gov. Douglas core economic development strategies: Working with partners like the Vermont Manufacturing Extension Center and the SBA to strengthen and grow Vermonts existing businesses, said Mike Quinn, Vermont Commissioner of Economic Development.Vermont is a small state, but many businesses still have trouble navigating how to do business with their state and federal government agencies, said Senator Patrick Leahy, whose office helped coordinate the event. Small businesses and government procurement officials have a great opportunity in this event to meet one another face to face and make connections that could help their businesses grow while helping these agencies line up good, reliable suppliers.The $35 fee also includes breakfast and lunch, with a keynote lunch address from Melissa Dever, Vice President of engineering for Competitive Computing and an enterprise systems architect with over 25 years of applications engineering experience. Governor Jim Douglas will be on hand to deliver opening remarks.The Fourth Annual Strategies for Winning Government Contracts event takes place on Thursday, February 1st, from 7:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. at the Sheraton Conference Center in Burlington.For more information, visit: www.vtsbdc.org(link is external) or call Colleen Montague at the Vermont Agency of Transportation, (802) 828-2715.-30-
The Vermont Working Landscape Partnership announces the release of Investing in our Farm and Forest Future. This nonpartisan Action Plan offers five recommendations to help reinvigorate the state’s rural economy.· Build a major campaign to celebrate the distinctiveness of the working landscape that is Vermont.· Target strategic investment through a Vermont Agriculture and Forest Products Development Fund.· Designate and support ‘Working Lands.’· Develop tax revenue to support working landscape enterprise development and conservation.· Create a State Planning Office and activate the Development Cabinet. The Vermont Working Landscape Council developed this plan. Its sixteen members have deep expertise in issues pertaining to farm and forest enterprises and rural development in Vermont. Its report also identifies challenges and opportunities for the working landscape, trends for the future, and goals for the proposed policy changes.‘We have an historic opportunity for a Natural Resource Renaissance that will keep Vermont’s land working for all of us for many generations,’ explains VWL Council Chair and Former Vermont Secretary of Agriculture Roger Allbee. ‘But we must all support the significant investment it will take to rejuvenate our land-based businesses.’The Vermont Council on Rural Development (VCRD) launched this broad-based partnership as a way to focus efforts to keep our farm and forest economy healthy and prosperous. The report is available online at www.vtrural.org(link is external) or by contacting VCRD at 802-223-6091 or by email at email@example.com(link sends e-mail).‘We know how much Vermonters value and benefit from the Working Landscape,’ says VCRD Executive Director Paul Costello. ‘Implementing these recommendations is our best strategy for ensuring the future of our greatest asset.’This focus on the Working Landscape stems from the extensive work by the Council on the Future of Vermont. In interviews and surveys with thousands of Vermonters, the state’s working landscape emerged as a top priority.The Partnership formed following a packed State House summit in December of 2010. There are currently almost 500 individual and 170 organizational members from all parts of the state and the numbers continue to increase. To learn more visit www.vtrural.org(link is external) .Use this link if you prefer to go directly to the .pdf of the report.http://vtrural.org/sites/default/files/library/files/working%20landscape…(link is external)
Boris Johnson faces the same Brexit challenges as his predecessor Theresa May when he takes over as prime minister this week, according to asset managers.Johnson was elected leader of the ruling Conservative Party by its members today, replacing May, who quit two months ago after failing to get the UK’s EU withdrawal agreement passed by parliament. He will officially become UK prime minister tomorrow following a meeting with the Queen.While Johnson led his campaign for the leadership promising to leave the EU on 31 October with or without a withdrawal agreement, asset managers today warned that the opposition to both the agreement and a ‘no-deal’ Brexit within parliament meant the new prime minister faced an uphill task in the next three months. Azad Zangana, senior European economist and strategist, Schroders“It is clear that there is no majority for the current withdrawal agreement, and a significant majority against no-deal. Indeed, we expect those opposed to Brexit to successfully raise motions that would compel the government to seek an extension in the absence of a deal being approved by parliament.“Given the low likelihood of a successful re-negotiation, the most likely outcome ahead of the Brexit deadline is therefore another delay.”Leigh Himsworth, portfolio manager at Fidelity International, said: “With Boris Johnson as prime minister, the options facing the UK remain broadly the same: a withdrawal agreement similar to that presented by Theresa May, a general election to win a greater majority for the Conservative Party, or a new [EU membership] referendum.”Philip Smeaton, chief investment officer at UK-based wealth manager Sanlam, added: “While the chances of leaving with a no deal have significantly increased, we still question whether this is a viable route considering the parliamentary arithmetic.“Equally, we don’t believe the EU will cave to the UK’s demands around the Irish backstop… Despite having a new prime minster, it’s still a case of catch 22 for the UK.”Buying opportunity?Although uncertainty would prevail in the short term, some investors speculated that it could signal a buying opportunity for UK assets given the recent fall in the value of sterling and declining appetite for UK equities.Jason Borbora-Sheen, a multi-asset portfolio manager at Investec Asset Management, said uncertainty for investors would “likely continue long into the future as the trading relationship is negotiated” between the UK and the European Union.However, he added that there would “likely be a buying opportunity once there is more clarity over the Brexit outcome”. “[Johnson’s] appointment arguably increases the odds of a hard or no-deal Brexit,” Borbora-Sheen said, “which will likely cause sterling to weaken and would hurt the UK’s near-term growth opportunities, favouring the UK-listed multinationals over domestic plays. After a short while, however, we would expect investors to take advantage of the situation and start to look for oversold opportunities in the UK and add exposure.” Azad Zangana, senior European economist and strategist at Schroders, said Johnson’s Brexit rhetoric – he promised to take the UK out of the EU on 31 October “come what may” – “simply lacks credibility”.“While at some level it makes sense for Johnson to use the threat of no-deal as a negotiation strategy, the fatal flaw is that the parliamentary maths has not changed, and does not support the strategy,” Zangana said. “Boris Johnson was a great supporter of the City of London when he was mayor, and we look forward to working with him to ensure that the investment management industry continues to thrive and grow under his leadership in government”Chris Cummings, chief executive, the Investment AssociationFidelity’s Himsworth said: “While it is easy to argue that the UK equity markets offer great value versus their peer group, this is especially true of a deal or new referendum scenario. The jury remains firmly out regarding a ‘no-deal’ as this would be too much of a step into the unknown.“We may well look back in a few years’ time and regard this period as quite simply one of the best opportunities that we have seen to invest in UK equity markets.”Over the past three years the FTSE All Share has gained 26.4% in sterling terms, according to FE Analytics. However, the S&P 500 is up 49.9% in that period, while the Euro Stoxx 50 index has gained 36.1%.Policy demandsAway from the investment outlook, some industry commentators called for the new prime minister and his cabinet – expected to be appointed within the next few days – to push forward with expected policy decisions and legislation.Helen Morrissey, pension specialist at Royal London, said: “While Boris’s in-tray is likely to be straining under the weight of Brexit related issues there’s a domestic agenda that has been in limbo for far too long. We call upon the prime minister to devote some time to pressing issues such social care funding and the Pensions Bill, which will allow the industry to make much needed progress with initiatives such as the pensions dashboard.”Barnett Waddingham senior consultant Malcolm McLean called for an “urgent review” of the UK’s pension tax relief regime after reports emerged of some doctors having to reduce their working hours in order to avoid huge tax bills for breaching UK pension rules regarding how much individuals can accrue.Several government consultation papers covering various areas of pensions policy have emerged in the past two years, but most have only promised legislation “when parliamentary time allows”.