Scene Report: Vermont Young Professionals Summit

Sarah O Donnell, BBA’s Director of Programming and Member Engagement, attended the Vermont Young Professionals Summit this past Saturday in Rutland, VT. Sarah wrote up a summary of her day at the event:

The Summit  at the Paramount Theater

I had the opportunity to meet and connect with young professionals from all over Vermont this past weekend at the VT Young Professionals Summit event, which took place in downtown Rutland at the Paramount Theater and surrounding locations. I was particularly interested in this event, both being a “young professional” myself but also as a resource for BBA’s Pub Talks group, which is our young professional group, which I meet with monthly in Burlington.

The summit kicked off with a presentation by Secretary of the Agency of Commerce and Community Development, Mike Schirling. Mike is a member of BBA’s Board of Directors, so it was exciting to see him talk about his current role and what the outlook is for the state, highlighting both the challenges we face as well as the opportunities and strengths of our brave little state. Hitting on topics that impact Vermont’s Young professionals, including things like housing, demographic trends and what our aging population means for our work force. Mike encouraged the audience to send ideas, questions and concerns to representatives, as well as to his office and reminded the audience of how important it is that young people have a voice in government. I laughed when Mike modestly noted that, when it comes to getting government’s attention surrounding any particular issue, “they’re more likely to listen to you guys than they are to me”.

For the morning break out sessions, I decided to attend the “Building your professional career in VT” session, and found Krysta Sadowski of Gallagher Flynn’s presentation very informative. Krysta looked at the Vermont demographic and jobs data to show how different trends will affect the jobs market. Some key take aways included the fact that there is a disconnect, or what Krysta referred to as a “visibility issue” that leads to two sides of an issue with very different perspectives- there is a high demand for workers in Vermont, but for many job seekers it seems that the jobs available are limited. This particular issue stems from a lack of communications in getting jobs posted and visible, and is likely worth a deeper dive.  I’ve invited Kristen to speak at one of our upcoming Pub Talks meetings to learn more. Another piece that stood out was the reminder that there are opportunities tied to the demographic shifts that Vermont’s trends are pointing to- i.e. the majority of baby boomers will be retiring in the next 20 years; this will open up opportunities and a strong need for young professionals to step into leadership roles in a way that no generation has before. Krysta underlined the importance of preparing for this shift by gaining as much experience and education as possible so that our generation can meet the demands of this accelerated path to leadership.

Mary Powell gave an insightful and inspiring keynote, in which she talked about her ‘untraditional’ path to leadership. It was refreshing to hear from the CEO of a nationally recognized company like Green Mountain Power about her background in the arts (my two degrees in Sculpture immediately sprung to mind) and what she humbly referred to as having “no fancy degrees”.  Mary emphasized following your contribution over following your passion, and letting this guide you through your career. She also emphasized the need for self care- and ensuring that you take care of your emotional, mental and physical health so that you are in a good place to be able to meet the demands of your professional career.

I had the opportunity to have lunch with others who have started and lead YP groups from all over the state, and look forward to pursuing those connections to help create a wider reach for this community. Afternoon sessions followed on topics such as creating an entrepreneurial ecosystem, and a panel discussion on non-profits, both of which were insightful and educational. Overall I enjoyed my first time in downtown Rutland, and came away from the YP Summit feeling re-energized. Vermont certainly has it’s challenges, but with an engaged community of young people who are seeking to successfully live and work in a state they love, there’s a feeling of intentionality and a desire to play an active role in their communities that I deeply appreciate.


BBA’s Young Professional group, Pub Talks meets the second Thursday of each month at Citizen Cider. If you’re interested in getting involved, please email [email protected]



BBA Summer Social Raises $700 for Street Outreach Team

The Burlington Business Association (BBA) is pleased to announce a successful fundraiser raised $700 for the Howard Center’s Street Outreach Team at its recent “Hang Ten” Summer Social.

The Summer Social is an annual BBA event, where guests can network with members of the Burlington business community in a fun and relaxed setting. This year’s event was surf themed, and included a unique “Hang Ten” fundraiser to benefit the Howard Center Street Outreach team. Guests who participated in the fundraiser hung their donations on a line at the event. Everyone who participated was entered in a raffle, with prizes handed out at the end of the night. This year’s raffle raised $610, with an additional $90 donation made by the BBA to bring the total raised to $700.

Established in 2000 The Howard Center Street Outreach Team assists those with mental health, substance abuse, homelessness, and unmet social service needs and coordinates services for those individuals. The team works closely with service providers in the downtown to address negative behavior and help provide better access to support for community members who need it.

This year’s event took place at The Spot on The Dock, who generously hosted the event and provided complimentary hors d’oeuvres for guests. The event’s title sponsor was Otter Creek Awnings, who was behind the design and manufacturing of The Spot on the Dock’s incredible hurricane proof awning. Party attendees were captured by photographer Alison Redlich.

The Burlington Business Association, founded in 1978, is a non-profit, non-political membership organization with over 240 business and nonprofit members. Our mission is to enhance and promote the economic vitality of Burlington, Vermont, and to assure that the City of Burlington continues as the cultural, social, political, educational and economic center of northwestern Vermont.

For the full photo album of party pics, check out our the BBA Facebook page!

Thanks to our Host & Catering Sponsor:

Thanks to our Event Title Sponsor:

VT Web Marketing Summit 2017

Started in 2010 with only 80 attendees and a goal to instill a digital mindset to marketing professionals in Vermont & New Hampshire, the VT Web Marketing Summit has grown to be recognized as one of the leading annual conference that delivers some of the boldest, brightest and immersive digital marketing trends, strategies, challenges and success stories.
This year it’s on TUESDAY, NOV 7, at HILTON, BURLINGTON.
Speakers from leading local and national marketing environments will share insights and practical tips on the ever-evolving world of digital marketing.
Register Now! Early Bird Rates Expire October 17th!

College Street Collide Celebrates Locally Owned Businesses

College Street Collide debuted on Saturday as a celebration of a vibrant, locally owned collections of shops in the heart of downtown Burlington.

WCAX Coverage of College Street Collide

Sponsors Common Dear, Leibling Boutique and Northfield Savings Bank sponsored the event, which included free music, food and activities as a way to bring the local community together while drawing attention to wide variety of businesses featured off of the more well known Church Street.

“We want to let not only local folks but visitors know there’s some amazing stuff happening along the side streets that are actually off Church Street,” said BBA Executive Director Kelly Devine.






BBA Announces Promotion to Director of Programming & Member Engagement

Burlington, VT – The Burlington Business Association (BBA) is pleased to announce the promotion of Sarah O Donnell to Director of Programming and Member Engagement. As a member of the BBA team since 2015, Sarah has spearheaded several key projects while in the position of Member Services & Events Manager. Sarah has taken a lead project management role in many of the BBA’s committee activities, including developing new initiatives such as the Adopt Your Sidewalk campaign and related seasonal downtown cleanup events, re-designing the BBA waterfront map, spearheading 2016’s holiday lighting pilot project, and launching and leading the BBA’s “Pub Talks” young professionals group. Sarah will continue to expand BBA’s social and educational events as well as work with BBA’s committees to launch new initiatives and manage existing projects that further the BBA’s mission of stewarding and promoting Burlington’s economic vitality.

“I am motivated and inspired by the work of our board, our members, and the organizations we partner with. I see it as a privilege that I get the opportunity to collaborate with a wide range of business owners, community leaders and the engaged employees of local businesses on projects that help make Burlington a great city for our residents and visitors” says Sarah. “I am passionate about working with community stakeholders to identify local needs, and collaborating with diverse partners to enact creative solutions that engage with and benefit the local community.”

With a background in the arts, Sarah brings to BBA a combination of project management experience and creative problem solving gained while working in a wide range of roles in the film industry and arts institutions.

Sarah earned her Master of Fine Arts degree as a University Fellow at the Ohio State University and a Bachelor of Fine Arts from Temple University’s Tyler School of Art.  Sarah has been awarded several prestigious accolades for her artwork, and continues to maintain an active role in Burlington’s art community both as an artist, and through her work with Overnight Projects, an exhibition initiative she co-founded in 2015 that works to curate short term art exhibitions in vacant spaces throughout the area.

The Burlington Business Association, founded in 1978, is a non-profit, non-political membership organization with over 240 business and non-profit members. Our mission is to enhance and promote the economic vitality of Burlington, Vermont, and to assure that the City of Burlington continues as the cultural, social, political, educational and economic center of northwestern Vermont.

City Council Passes Two Resolutions on Safety & Security

Last night the City Council approved two resolutions aimed at addressing downtown safety and security. These measures were the first part of a multi-step public process which will see future discussions and votes before the City Council. BBA’s Executive Director, Kelly Devine, was in attendance and spoke at public forum in support of passing these resolutions so that we can open up a dialogue about these issues. “I think this conversation as a community is really timely at this point, to have one murder and one knifing this summer really brings this issue to a head” said Devine.

The first resolution was passed by a 10-2 vote with Councilors Dieng and Tracy voting against. Sponsored by Councilors Wright, Knodell, Shannon, Hartnett & Paul, it tasks the Ordinance Committee with drafting new criminal penalties for repeated ‘quality of life’ violations including public urination, public intoxication and fighting. The Ordinance Committee will present this new ordinance to the full council for debate by November.

A second resolution was passed unanimously. Introduced by Councilor Roof, it would ask the Public Safety Committee to convene a group of local stakeholders to come up with an “evidence-based strategy outlining options to better support Burlington’s homeless community and address the public safety and health concerns”. The group, consisting of care providers, law enforcement, city officials and members of the business community would then present their plan to the full council by November.

The BBA will continue keep our member businesses informed on developments in this process. If you have any questions or comments please let Kelly know.

Related Media:

NBC5: Passed- Two City Council Resolutions to Help Homeless

Free Press: Burlington council passes two resolutions aimed at downtown issues

Mayor’s Conference Brings Innovation to BTV

Last week Burlington hosted mayors from cities across the country during the 2017 Mayors Innovation Project Annual Meeting.

The group of civic leaders came from communities that differed greatly in terms of size and demographics but were all focused on fixing issues that impact communities nationwide, such as: opioid abuse, modern policing and climate change.

City officials were given the chance to showcase the Burlington’s efforts including, Police Chief Brandon del Pozo discussing 21st Century policy and Burlington Electric Director Neale Lunderville giving a presentation on Net Zero cities.

The event was also an opportunity to display the local business community with a walking tour of Church Street. Local businesses, Citizen Cider and ArtsRiot served as the welcome reception and dinner hosts. The group even attended a Vermont Lake Monsters game on Friday evening at Centennial Field.

“It’s great for these civic leaders to visit Burlington and see the modern vibrant business community we have here.” said BBA Executive Director Kelly Devine.

The Mayors Innovation Project is a coalition that is designed for Mayors from across the country to work together on designing modern policy on pressing social issues. The idea is to connect mayors and city staff with experts who can provide technical assistance as they seek to implement policy in their communities. Founded in 2005 the project now includes membership from more than 100 cities representing roughly 33 million people.



Registration Now Open for BBA’s Summer Social Networking Event

Register today for BBA’s Summer Social event, Sept. 6th 5-7:30pm at The Spot on the Dock.

More info and registration available here.


Enjoy an evening on the waterfront with the BBA. Network with members of the Burlington business community.

Thanks to our host and catering sponsor:  Thanks to our Title Sponsor: 

Updated City Hall Park Plans Unveiled

At a presentation Monday night, city officials unveiled their updated vision for City Hall Park.

The new plans for the downtown park includes a spray fountain, additional seating, a bathroom and bike parking. It eliminates a section of diagonal pathway following input from the public and historic preservationists.

Plans to update City Hall Park have been in the works since 2011, as City officials sought to make the park more welcoming to residents. Downtown Burlington’s only park is also in need of landscaping work. Currently several trees need to be replaced and much of the park features stretch of dirt where grass is unable grow due to shade.

Several criminal incidences have occurred as well, something that the new design aims to correct.

“We do think this renovation will increase the usage of the park by the entire public and we think that will have some positive impact in terms of behavior in the park.” said Mayor Miro Weinberger.

Monday’s meeting included a lengthy public comment period for community members to give their thoughts about project. City officials will bring the new plans for permit review, with an eye toward construction beginning in early 2019.


2017 Seven Daysies Recognize BBA Members

35 BBA member businesses have been recognized as part of the 2017 Seven Daysies. The annual awards celebrate great shops, restaurants, bars, businesses and more, all voted on by the readers of Seven Days.

This is the 15th year the Seven Daysies have been handed out and BBA members have consistently been a presence throughout the history of the awards. In total 9,385 people cast 572,306 individual votes in 172 different categories.

We congratulate all of our member businesses who were recognized this year and encourage people to patronize these fantastic local businesses. Check out the full list of winners.