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Maggie and Ilana take advantage of classes at SoBo Studio.
AARP offers grants for revitalization projects

BURLINGTON >> AARP Vermont is collaborating with Team Better Block to implement a Community Demonstration Project in one Vermont community in 2016.

The $15,000 initiative is an approach to revitalization that begins with temporarily transforming a single block into a vibrant destination that illustrates the potential for new business, safer streets and improved livability. Typically, cities have used their Better Blocks to set up farmers' markets, beer gardens, bookstores and fruit stands. They've built swings and climbing areas, set up trampolines and presented school plays, local dance troupes and open-mike musicians. They often lead to more permanent neighborhood improvements.

"We are hoping to illustrate how simple modifications can powerfully alter the economic, social, and ecological value of a community or neighborhood by gathering designers and community volunteers together to create a weekend intervention," said Kelly Stoddard-Poor or AARP Vermont. Built with community talent and resources over a weekend, the result is a vision for an authentic place and the momentum needed to make it happen permanently.


Applications are now being accepted from municipalities, town and city planners, chambers of commerce, Rotary Clubs, or any non-profit or grass-roots community group with ideas for a project in their town or neighborhood. The application deadline is Friday, April 22. Community matching funds are not required but a strong commitment from local officials, partners and stakeholders to participate in the demonstration project. The description and application are available at or by contacting Kelly Stoddard-Poor at An informational webinar will be hosted by AARP and Better Block on April 6 from 1 to 2 p.m. To join the webinar, contact Kelly directly.

GMP opens work space

COLCHESTER >> Green Mountain Power recently announced the opening up its state-of-the-art, open-concept workspace to the world's most inspiring energy innovators. The fun competition will allow entrepreneurs and energy pioneers the opportunity to share their cutting-edge ideas for a chance to locate their companies at GMP's Inspire Space.

"This exciting initiative is our way of encouraging businesses to locate here in Vermont by supporting energy entrepreneurs who will deliver the latest in new technology and clean energy for customers," said Green Mountain Power President and CEO Mary Powell. "Innovation is the key to cost-effective, clean energy and making the world a more sustainable place. Working together is the best way to achieve this energy vision."

The GMP Inspire Space is part of GMP's Colchester headquarters, and selected visionaries will have the opportunity to work alongside the GMP team and other energy leaders, collaborating on new energy technology and clean energy solutions. GMP will provide free space, coaching and collaboration with the GMP team, professional support, and more to help the companies succeed.

"Vermont is recognized the world over as a leader in energy innovation, and this contest is a creative way to support new energy leaders and start-ups while also encouraging businesses to locate or stay in Vermont," said Governor Peter Shumlin. "I can think of no better place on the planet for an energy entrepreneur to locate than Green Mountain Power in Vermont."

John Abele, a successful entrepreneur, is co-founder and a director of Boston Scientific, a medical device company, and lives in Vermont.

"This contest provides energy entrepreneurs a unique chance to engage with the Vermont community and solve real world problems that could benefit everyone," said Abele. "This is about passion and grit, and creating a change in culture where like-minded innovators and companies like GMP lead by example. "

"Starting and growing a new business is one of the most exciting and frankly terrifying things a person can do, so having spaces like this where businesses can collaborate with each other, share ideas, and enjoy camaraderie is so important," said Marguerite Dibble, founder of GameTheory, a gaming company located at the VCET co-working space in downtown Burlington.

Applications will be accepted until May 15 and up to five businesses will be selected into the GMP Inspire Space. Winners will be announced May 30. Qualifying companies must be in the electrical energy sector and focused specifically on new energy technology or clean energy solutions. All winning applicants must relocate their business to the GMP Inspire Space for a minimum of one year. Winners will be awarded a relocation stipend and provided free working space, parking, Internet and other support functions.

For more information on GMP's Inspire Space competition or to apply, visit

Hackett assumes role of senior relationship manager

BELLOWS FALLS >> TD Bank recently promoted Christopher J. Hackett to Senior Relationship Manager in Commercial Banking, based in Bellows Falls. He is responsible for developing new client relationships and managing existing commercial relationships, serving businesses in Rutland and across southeastern Vermont.

Hackett has 29 years of banking experience. He joined TD Bank in 1987 as an Internal Auditor and later served as a Commercial Credit Analyst before moving to Commercial Banking in 1992, where he most recently served as a Relationship Manager.

A Westminster resident, Hackett serves as Trustee with Kurn Hattin Homes, chairs the Westminster Fire District and is Acting President of the Bellows Falls Area Development Corporation. He is a graduate of Saint Michaels College (1984) and Champlain College (1982) as well as Mount Saint Joseph Academy in Rutland.

Gordon-Macey achieves membership in round table

BRATTLEBORO >> Scott Gordon-Macey, of Baystate Financial, an office of MetLife and a part of the MetLife Premier Client Group, recently achieved membership in the financial services industry's Million Dollar Round Table. Membership must be applied for annually and is open only to those who qualify. MDRT membership is recognized internationally as the standard of sales excellence in the life insurance and financial services sector.

Gordon-Macey, CFP, CHFC, CASL, MBA is a financial planner with Baystate Financial. He has 10-plus years of experience in the financial services sector and resides in Brattleboro,. He is a graduate of Babson College, and the University of Massachusetts, and a member MDRT, NAIFAVT, and on the board of the Brattleboro Bous and Girls Club.

For more information, contact Gordon-Macey at 802-254-7756 or

Free trial week at SoBo

BRATTLEBORO >> SoBo Studio is offering a free trial week from April 17 to 23 in advance of its spring session, which runs from April 24 to June 20.

Sign up for as many free, full length dance, fitness, and fencing classes as you like. Expand your horizons and try out a new dance style or movement discipline. Challenge yourself to a spring break movement marathon. Treat yourself to the joy of dance. Check out the full lineup of classes at Email or call 802-258-7378 to sign up for free trial classes and to register for the spring session.

SoBo Studio is located at 74 Cotton Mill No. 346 (3rd floor) Brattleboro.