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Business Notes: Sept. 29, 2013

White River Junction — A study that could help Upper Valley businesses address the challenge of finding skilled workers is moving toward completion.

The information gained from The Upper Valley Skills Demand Analysis could result in new opportunities for businesses and workers and could influence how students, parents and educators approach curriculum and training, said Joan Goldstein, the executive director of the Green Mountain Economic Development Corp., the regional organization that is conducting the study on both sides of the Connecticut River.

“We hear from employers over and over that they can’t find skilled labor. It’s become a general comment,” Goldstein said.

“The idea of the study is to help us determine if we are using our limited resources to provide the right programs to meet the workforce needs in our area,” she said.

The four-phase study is gathering data on the wage levels, expected job growth and educational gaps in three areas: manufacturing, health care and social assistance, and professional, scientific and technical services.

Minimum wage jobs or service positions in retail, food service and accommodations are not the focus of the study, Goldstein said, noting that those jobs don’t require a highly skilled workforce.

“We’re focusing on higher-wage jobs — $35,000 plus — not on the jobs that always can be filled.”

During the completed first phase, Green Mountain Development representatives compiled a database of the top jobs in each area of study. Now, meetings are being set up with employers in Grafton and Sullivan counties in New Hampshire and in the Upper Valley towns in Vermont to verify and refine the collected data and to get ideas about educational and training needs.

A report will be developed from the information to pinpoint the gap between the worker skills available and the skills required in the key industries, Goldstein said.

The report will be the foundation that is intended to launch a collaborative effort between Upper Valley businesses, education institutions and government to develop training programs and curriculum that will prepare people for well-paid, local jobs.

“We feel like this study could create opportunities and could influence what is taught in the area’s schools. We may find out there are major gaps in what we’re teaching and that students need more math, English or science to prepare them,” she said.

Company News

Attorney Carolyn Cole has opened an office on Main Street in Hanover. Cole recently was involved in private corporate law, practicing a general variety of associated issues for a client that was involved in telecommunications. Cole has been a long time Upper Valley resident and is admitted to the bar in multiple states. Her background includes real estate, noncriminal litigation and estate planning. Her new office is located in the Citizens Bank building, and the space was once a part of the corporate suite of Dartmouth Savings Bank. Lang McLaughry Commercial Senior Broker Bruce Waters represented the landlord, Jaymark Properties, and assisted Cole with the lease.

Upcoming Events

Tech @ White River Junction, an entrepreneurial networking event is being held in at the TipTop Cafe in White River Junction on Oct. 7 for investors, tech experts and entrepreneurs. The event, which is scheduled to run from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m., is part of an event series intended to foster the entrepreneurial spirit in Vermont. Attendees can get information on how to start or grow their business, make connections with investors and even find summer interns. Representatives from Upper Valley private and nonprofit investment and economic development organizations will be available to talk with entrepreneurs, business owners and investors.

Organizers for the Tech @ series include the Green Mountain Economic Development Corp., the Dartmouth Entrepreneurial Network, Fresh Tracks Capital LP, the Vermont Agency of Commerce and Community Development, Vermont Center for Emerging Technologies, North Country Angels and the Vermont Technology Council. For more information, call Andrew Stickney at 802-522-0858 or Joan Goldstein at 802-295-3710.

The Lebanon Area Chamber of Commerce will hold its 97th annual meeting on Oct. 16, at 8 a.m., at the Fireside Inn & Suites in West Lebanon.

The main speaker will be Greta Johansson, the New Hampshire director of the Small Business Administration, who will talk about the Affordable Care Act and how it affects small businesses. The fee is $20 for Chamber Members and $25 for non-members. Call the Chamber office at 603-448-1203 for reservations.

Items of interest to the local business community are published every Sunday. Submissions may be mailed to: Business Notes, c/o Sunday Valley News, P.O. Box 877, White River Junction, Vt. 05001. You may also send your items by fax to 603-298-0212, or by e-mail to biznotes@vnews.com. All items are subject to editing for clarity or space.