Council Finalizes Burlington Telecom Sale

Last night, the City Council voted 11-2 to approve the agreement between the City of Burlington and Schurz Communications for the sale of Burlington Telecom.

“Tonight’s tri-partisan City Council vote represents a major step toward final resolution of one of the worst financial crises in our City’s history in a positive and forward-looking manner.  The agreement approved tonight will, when fully implemented, return millions of lost dollars to taxpayers, give the City the opportunity for continued meaningful BT ownership and protections against future resale, protect important community values like net neutrality and privacy, commit substantial future BT revenues toward youth technical education, the local tech economy, and efforts to bridge the digital divide, and much more” said Mayor Miro Weinberger in a statement.

The Schurz bid was initially selected during a late night vote in late November. Councilors had until the end of the year to give their final approval to the deal to maximize the City’s share of the proceeds.

The BBA has been tracking this process from the beginning. It has been our opinion throughout, that Burlington Telecom must be acquired by a group that can ensure its future financial stability and maximize its future benefit to this community. The deal finalizes the Schurz’s LOI which was valued at $30.8M, including $250,000/year for 10 years as community investment, a rate freeze for the next 5 years and a written committment to net neutrality. The City of Burlington will also have the opportunity to carry an equity stake up to 33% in BT.

RELATED

BT Asset Purchase Agreement

Burlington Reopens Northern Bike Path

BBA’s Executive Director, Kelly Devine joined Mayor Miro Weinberger, and City officials and community leaders, to officially reopen the entire northern section of the Burlington Bike Path at Leddy Park the morning of Dec. 20th. Over three miles of the beloved Bike Path, from North Beach to the Winooski River Bridge, underwent major rehabilitation during the 2017 construction season. The entire Bike Path is now open for winter use. Because of the new pavement in the northern section of the Burlington Bike Path, this winter, for the first time, the Department of Parks, Recreation & Waterfront has updated its plowing policy and will be plowing the northern sections.

“Today, as the result of the hard work of the City, the support of our local business community and the generosity of many, our community gets to celebrate yet another upgrade to our beloved Bike Path,” said Burlington Business Association Executive Director Kelly Devine. “It is both an internationally known recreational amenity and a key to what makes Burlington an amazing city. I want to thank Mayor Weinberger, Councilor Wright, DPW Director Spencer, John Bossange, former Parks, Recreation & Waterfront Director Jesse Bridges, and the people of Burlington for their unwavering commitment to improving our bike path over the past six years.”

The Burlington bike path is an important city asset, attracting visitors and providing a recreational outlet for the city’s residents. The bike path is not only a driver of our local economy, but has grown to be a significant part of Burlington’s community and culture. These updates are a significant improvement to one of Burlington’s key amenities.

 

BBA Announces Keynote Speaker for Annual Business Summit

The BBA’s Annual Business Summit will take place on January 11th, 2018. Members of the Burlington business community are invited to join us to learn about the developments in transportation that are shaping the way cities are thinking about the future.

We will be joined by Keynote speaker, Jeff Olson, Principal at Alta Planning & Design. Transportation will impact the quality of life for future generations in Burlington. Tech is changing our options rapidly, are you prepared to take advantage of a new transportation future? Come with your questions and vision for the future of Burlington.

We’ll look at the ways alternative transportation is being implemented in other cities, what the benefits and challenges are, how these changes influence things like company recruitment, appealing to the millennial workforce, and more. Breakout groups will offer the opportunity to get involved in discussions and envision how alternative transportation could work for Burlington.

There is a a revolution in transportation underway; join us to learn how you can prepare your business to benefit.

Additional event information and registration

 

 

City Market Opens South End Location

Last Tuesday City Market executives, staff, local elected officials and others gathered to celebrate City Market reaching a major milestone with the long awaited grand opening of their new South End location.

RELATED: Seven Days-City Market Flynn Avenue Slideshow

The new store will features 27,000 square feet of space as well as ample parking for both cars and bikes.

City Market South End, will provide a new option for neighborhood residents looking for a local grocery option. The store also hopes to meet the needs of commuters heading home from the office, and ease the afternoon rush at City Market’s downtown location on South Winooski Avenue.

Amenities at the new store will include teaching and community spaces, increased prepared food facilites as well as a cafe space. City Market initially announced plans to expand in 2012. Before construction could begin, City Market spent significant time and resources on environmental cleanup and approval for the project.

“The Co-op’s intent is to create a successful and vibrant market in the South End and create more opportunities for community support and engagement as well as employment with above market wages and benefits. We think the South End project has been successful in these areas and we’re excited to share it with our greater community!” said General Manager John Tashiro.

City Market has operated its location downtown since 2002, where last year it saw sales of over $40 Million. Currently the co-op consists of over 12,ooo members.

 

City Council Selects Bid from Schurz

After deliberations that lasted into the early morning hours Tuesday, the City Council selected a newly created bid from Schurz Communications/ ZRF as their preferred choice for Burlington Telecom.

Schurz’s bid included elements of the previously eliminated Schurz bid while also incorporating parts of the ZRF partnership. The new bid is a cash offer for $30.8M with an as yet undetermined City equity stake.

The meeting, which began at 5:30pm and did not adjourn until 1:45am, initially featured bids from Keep BT Local, Ting/Tucows and a joint bid from ZRF/Schurz Communications. After public hearing and a recess, it was announced that ZRF and Schurz would change their bid to make Schurz the primary bidder with a minority interest for ZRF.

In the second round of voting, the ZRF/Schurz bid garnered 8 votes, KBTL 2, with Councilors Deane and Shannon abstaining.

ZRF/Schurz’s final LOI, which will include the full details of the bid is expected to be unveiled some time on Tuesday. The Mayor’s office will now work out the details of the bid before signing any agreement.

Based in Indiana, Schurz Communications has over 100 years of experience as a company in charge of newspapers, TV stations, as well as cable and fiber providers. The BBA will continue to keep our members informed about the sale of Burlington Telecom and its potential impacts on Burlington’s economic vitality.

Downtown Holiday Lights Expand to Center St. and Bank St.

Burlington, VT – The Burlington Business Association (BBA) is excited to announce an expansion of the downtown holiday lighting project, which had a successful first year in 2016. In its first year, lights were installed on street lamps that line College Street, from South Winooski to St. Paul Street. 2017 will see the addition of lights on Center Street and the section of Bank Street between South Winooski and Church Street on the South side of the street. The white holiday lights will be installed by the Burlington Electric Department, who helped to facilitate the initiative. Installation is due to begin the week of November 19th.

This project was made possible by generous donations from Northfield Savings Bank, Burton and Burlington Telecom Business Services. Each of these companies came on board with enthusiastic support when the project was proposed in 2016 and again to help grow the scope for 2017.

The idea to add holiday lights to the side streets came from the BBA’s Downtown Action Group committee, whose members proposed it as a way to extend the festive feeling of Church Street along Burlington’s side streets. A grass roots effort was quickly underway, championed by Kara Alnasrawi, DAG Committee Chair and owner of Liebling women’s boutique on College street.

Winter lights create a warm, welcoming environment on the street to coincide with the festive winter season, provide additional safety through well lit streets, and are an effective way to help drive holiday traffic to side street businesses and further extend the holiday vibrancy through the downtown. Since the pilot project was installed in 2016, the holiday lighting project has garnered interest from other side street businesses, and the BBA will aim to work with businesses throughout the downtown to expand the scope of the lighting to include additional street lamps for upcoming holiday seasons.

Thanks to our sponsors for supporting this project!

   

BBA Preps for Small Business Saturday

The BBA is working again this year with local retailers to spread the word about Small Business Saturday, which will take place on Nov. 25.

BBA Members are invited to stop by our office and pick up some Small Business Saturday “Swag”, including tote bags, welcome mats, posters, balloons and more! Decorate your store and spread the word to shop small this Holiday season.

The BBA office is open M-F, 9-5. BBA Members are encouraged to stop by and pick up a kit!

Holiday Parking Promotion Continues through Saturday

 

All this week, downtown visitors can get $3 parking meters by using the “Parkmobile” app and promo code ‘BTV’.

Visit your app store or parkmobile.com to download the “Parkmobile” app. If you don’t have a smartphone, simply call (877) 727-5010 to register for an account and call the same number anytime to initiate a parking session. Once your account is setup, follow the steps below to get your $3 off!

  1. Look for the Parkmobile sign or sticker.
  2. Once registered, use the Parkmobile app to enter in the zone number listed on the sign and enter in the promotional code to start a parking session.
  3. That’s it! And just to make life easier, you can opt-in to receive a notification 15 minutes before your parking session is set to expire and add more time if you need it.

Download and print the Parking Promo Flyer to help spread the word to your customers! This promotion is for all on-street meters in Burlington, each code is good for a single-use on any of the Saturdays listed above. Don’t forget that there are over 300 “smart meters” located in the downtown core. These smart meters have no time limit, pay for as much time as you need! Credit cards, coins and Parkmobile are accepted. Use Park Burlington’s interactive parking map to explore all on-street and off-street parking options in Burlington.

This promotion is the result of a partnership between Burlington DPW, the Church Street Marketplace and the Burlington Business Association

City Council Deadlocked on BT Sale

 

Although a final resolution has not yet been reached on the Burlington Telecom sale, a new approach is being explored by council in partnership with the two finalist bidders, Ting and Keep BT Local.

After two 6-6 votes late last night at City Council, a resolution was passed to explore the possibility of a joint venture between Ting and KBTL. The two sides will hold discussions over the next week and present to council on next Monday(11/13). Representatives of Ting and KBTL were unclear on what an end result of the discussion would look like, but were open to meeting to figure out a way forward.

VIDEO: November 6th City Council Meeting

Without some kind of compromise between the two separate bids, the Council will reopen the bidding process to previous bidders, including Schurz Communications and ZRF Partners. If that is the case the Council will vote again to select from the four bidders at their November 20th meeting.

The City must select a buy by January to maximize its proceeds on the sale.

Last night’s meeting was the conclusion of the Council’s October 30th meeting, which was adjourned to give Councilors more time to study the proposals and meet with community members. Councilors Richard Deane, Adam Roof, Joan Shannon, Chip Mason, Kurt Wright and Karen Paul supported the bid from Ting. On the other side were Councilors, Max Tracy, Sara Moore, Ali Dieng, Dave Hartnett, Sharon Bushor and Council President Jane Knodell.

The BBA has been tracking this process from the beginning. Last week we released our own policy statement, outlining our support for the bid from Ting/Tucows. We will track the process of the discussions around the possible joint venture between Ting and KBTL, and evaluate information as it is made public.

BBA to Honor John Killacky at Annual Winter Social Event

This year’s BBA Winter Social will celebrate John Killacky, Executive Director of the Flynn Center for the Performing Arts, who announced in September that he would be stepping down from his position. The BBA is excited to honor John’s contributions to the Arts & Culture of Burlington.

Under John’s leadership, the Flynn has grown to a $7.7 million operating budget, while maintaining a commitment to presenting exceptional artistic, educational and community engagement programs. Join us to celebrate John’s success and wish him well in his future endeavors.

The BBA Winter Social will take place on Nov. 30th, 5-7:30 pm at the Flynn.
Register Here