Business Watch Column - Feb. 27, 2021

Ann Nygard, owner of Hauskaa little wooden houses handcrafted in Vermont for fun, form and function. (Courtesy photo)

I read in this month’s Shape Magazine that this weekend’s full moon in Virgo, also known as the Snow Moon, will “feel like fertile ground for creating a sunny new landscape.” Let’s go with that.

The Vermont Small Business Development Center (VtSBDC) shared an announcement from The White House and the Small Business Administration (SBA) regarding the establishment of a 14-day exclusive application period for First and Second Draw PPP’s that began Wednesday, February 24, for businesses and nonprofits that have fewer than 20 employees. If you are interested in applying for a First Draw PPP, contact the following organizations for assistance in the application process: Vermont Community Loan Fund, Vermont Economic Development Authority (VEDA), Opportunities Credit Union.

If you are applying for a Second Draw PPP, you should call the bank that processed your First Draw PPP in 2020 and that bank will assist you. For all the information on the PPP’s, First and Second Draw, read the appropriate part of the 21-201 Disaster Lending and Grants Sheet found here:

There are four changes that will go into effect soon and the VtSBDC will have the details when they are made available. For additional small business development and small business recovery information reach out to Area Business Advisor Ross Hart at the VtSBDC office located at 36 Eastern Ave in St Johnsbury, (802) 535-4240, and

Empowered Birthing VT launched in November 2020 by two local women, Katie Baker and Diantha Jones, to provide professional labor support, and emotional and physical support to birthing clients during their experiences. Katie shared, “We are doulas holding space for laboring parents, allowing them to transition into their new role in a calm, supported, and peaceful environment.” The word doula is Greek for woman who serves. Located in the NEK and serving the market areas of NVRH and LRH, Empowered Birthing VT was conceptualized during their own childbirth experiences. Doulas provide a constant source of support for the patient and work alongside the midwife who performs the clinical tasks. A doula helps women labor at home prior to a hospital birth and can also provide lactation support supports clients during the prenatal period, through childbirth, and also postpartum. Diantha and Katie are certified doulas from DONA, Doulas of North America, and are very passionate about pregnancy, labor and birth, each holding the belief and understanding that every person should have the right to an informed and empowered birthing experience, however that looks for the individual. Empowered Birthing VT has a desire to serve as many people as they are able and work on a sliding fee scale. In addition to her role as a doula, Katie Baker is a Behavioral Health Specialist at Kingdom Autism and Behavioral Health, Diantha Jones, operates with her husband Mitch, a small family hill farm raising grass fed Icelandic sheep for meat and fiber, The Jones Farm. To learn more about the role of a doula and Empowered Birthing VT’s services visit the website or email Katie Baker and Diantha Jones at

While we’re all staying close to home hopefully having fun, we can appreciate Hauskaa, little wooden houses for fun, form and function. Handcrafted in Vermont, the Hauskaa houses are designed by Ann Nygard and developed while she was recovering from a traumatic car accident in 2019. “The concept was in my head and I worked with The Foundry in Lyndonville where they helped me materialize the concept and learn woodworking skills,” shared Ann. The name Hauskaa is derived from the Finnish word for fun, and the design inspiration comes from classic Vermont architecture: farmhouse, cottage, colonial, church, and sugarhouse. Ann had studied textile and apparel management at Cornell University and has always been an advocate for responsible sourcing. As such, she works with three makers for the products, sourcing walnut from local furniture manufacturers, local maple, and domestic copper tubing. For the painted versions she has a milk paint recipe and also uses local felt material. In addition, Hauskaa sources material from the scraps of the manufacturing of baseball bats. Hauskaa, functional houses for candleholders, keepsakes, conversation pieces and collectibles, accepts special orders for laser cut imagery and has received close to 100 orders from all over the country, including 23 states. Recently, a Hauskaa house was spotted at the Inn at Burklyn on the reception desk. Hauskaa houses are fun and can be repurposed for year round use. For additional information visit the website or email Ann Nygard at

The Littleton Area Chamber of Commerce announced they are partnering with the Grafton Regional Development Corporation (GRDC), a nonprofit organization providing business advising, small business loans, skill training and networking events, and assistance to entrepreneurs and small businesses. By partnering with the Littleton Area Chamber, the GRDC will bring their assistance to the chamber members. Contact the Littleton Area Chamber of Commerce,, for additional information.

If you have business news and/or a new business discovery you’d like to share please send an email to I am always happy to shine a light on your business and our shared region.


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