Year in Review: Business - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

Year in Review: Business

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2012 started with Vermont staring at enormous costs for rebuilding from Tropical Storm Irene.

Gov. Peter Shumlin applauded the recovery efforts in his state of the state address and rejected any notion of higher taxes to fund the repairs.

"I remain determined not to increase broad-based taxes on Vermonters as we begin to see signs of modest economic growth," Shumlin said.

Economists said the recovery from the recession would continue at a glacially slow pace in 2012. But a survey of top CEOs showed that most expected this would be a year of growth.

"Last year, we were looking what are we going to do next week? This year, we're saying what are we going to do next July," said Mark Neagley of Neagley & Chase Construction.

That optimism was reflected in the unemployment line. Jobless numbers declined steadily for eight straight months, but that trend reversed in July and jobless numbers climbed steadily for the next five months fueled by layoffs at nearly two dozen employers in our region, many of them in the health care industry, hospitals like Dartmouth-Hitchcock and software-maker GE Healthcare. Manufacturers like General Dynamics and UTC Aerospace also got smaller. And in November, Energizer announced it would be closing its plant in St. Albans altogether.

"It's just another blow to little old St. Albans and I don't know what these people are going to do," said Debbie Wright of Georgia.

Amid all of that bad news, there were bright spots. The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration centers in St. Albans and Essex announced the creation of 150 new jobs, as did Mylan Technologies. And Vermont's biggest homegrown company, Green Mountain Coffee Roasters, also continues to grow. The company started construction on a new processing plant in Essex with nearly 500 new jobs expected. But the company also saw its K-Cup patents expire in 2012, leading to more competition. And it ran into more trouble with federal regulators, which caused another big drop in its once sky high stock price. Green Mountain did finish 2012 strong, with better than expected earnings. And the company's new CEO sees continued growth.

"The fundamentals haven't changed. Ultimately stock reflects long term values and it will and it does," said Brian Kelley of GMCR.

Perhaps Vermont's biggest business news in 2012 came from its poorest region. Jay Peak president Bill Stenger announced plans in September for massive new economic development in the Northeast Kingdom.

"This is a wonderful day for our community and for our state," Stenger said.

Using the same foreign investment program that transformed Jay Peak into a four season resort, Stenger now plans another half billion dollar investment. That includes more growth at Jay and Burke Mountain, a revitalization of downtown Newport and a biotech company. The overall project promises to create 10,000 new jobs for the region.

"Jobs know no political party. What they know is we need them and there's no better example I believe in the history of the state," Gov. Shumlin said.

New hope that 2013 will bring more economic prosperity to the Green Mountains.

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