Weidemann Breaks New Ground On $40 Million Expansion

Community leaders, state political leaders and past and present employees at Weidmann Electrical Technology in St. Johnsbury on May 10 to celebrate the groundbreaking for a 40 million dollar construction project at the St. Johnsbury plant that will include the installation of a new 800 ton press. The new press is so large the building housing it will be built around it. The comany's 270 employees were joined by representatives from state and local development agencies who worked with Weidmann in the planning process. It was good news for the Kingdom who recognized the investment as a committment by the Swiss owned company to stay the Kingdom.

Stenger Taps EB5 Again To Fund Bio Plant

NEWPORT CITY -- In 2011, Bill Stenger of Newport City continued to tap into the federal EB-5 foreign investment program.

In August, Stenger announced that he and partners AnC Bio in South Korea had bought the Bogner plant in Newport City for more than $3 million. They intend to build a $50 million bio-tech plant and create 200 jobs.

The plant is funded, like Stenger's other developments in Orleans County, under the EB-5 where foreign investors put $500,000 into U.S. projects and receive green cards in exchange for job creation.

Millions have already flowed here because of the program spearheaded by Vermont governors and U.S. Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt.

Burke Mountain On The Move

BURKE -- Burke Mountain this fall has taken steps toward the first phase of a development plan to add housing and amenities to the ski resort, a plan talked about off and on for much of the past decade and slowed by the sharp downward turn in the housing industry.

A scaled-back plan to offer second homes at the resort is now on the drawing board and before boththe Vermont Agency of Natural Resources's District No. 7 Environmental Commission and the Town of Burke Development Review Board.

The plans now under consideration for phase one call for 32 single family homes, expected to be second homes, at Mid-Burke. Smaller lots, common driveways and clustering are called for in the development of cottage-style homes with barns which will be extremely energy efficient.

IROC Survives Debt Crisis

DERBY -- 2011 proved to be the toughest year for Indoor Recreation of Orleans County, known only as IROC to area residents.

Long-term debt, compounded by the sour economy, nearly overwhelmed IROC this year.

The market price of the complex building turned out to be much less than the $2.4 million owed, the board of directors could not refinance debt and IROC faced closure.

In August, the board closed the pool, slashed spending and launched a campaign.

Since then, a donor wrote off a large loan and donors large and small stepped in.

By mid-October, the pool reopened. The goal of raising $200,000 by the end of 2011 was on target.

And plans were underway for the annual family New Year's Eve party.

New Start For Pete's Greens

On Dec. 3, Pete Johnson of Pete's Greens in Craftsbury, welcomed a crowd of over 150 friends and family, contractors and employees to a thank you party. Eleven months earlier,, on Jan. 12, a fire destroyed a barn at Pete's Greens. The barn was the main storage facility for the farm that raises over 300 different varieties of vegetables and greenson 50 acres nestled in the center of town. Vermont's congressional delegation, Governor joined locals to help celebrate the new start for a bigger and better business that is a tribute to the determination, hard work and optimism of everyone who helped Pete Johnson pick up the pieces and build a bigger and better business.

Job Losses Plague Local Manufacturing

Employees at two leading area manufacturing companies were hit this fall with job losses: Vermont Aerospace, an employee-owned manufacturer in the St. Johnsbury-Lyndon Industrial Park, 32 employees; and also at the Kennametal plant on Main Street in Lyndonville, where 12 layoffs at the plant were confirmed.

One Vermont Aerospace employee with more than 20 years working there at the time said the layoff came as a "complete surprise."

At Kennametal, the local president of the United Steelworkers labor union, which represents workers at the plant, said at the time, "We were told the layoffs are in response to a decrease in incoming orders."

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