VERMONT INNOVATOR NEWS • WEEK OF AUGUST 26, 2019

GW Plastics Grows in Vermont
Bethel, VT – Global healthcare and automotive contract manufacturer GW Plastics, Inc. is proud to announce that it is rapidly growing in its home state of Vermont due to its dedication to workforce development and has been inducted into the Vermont Business Hall of Fame. The Vermont Business Hall of Fame recognizes previous recipients of the Deane C. Davis Outstanding Business of the Year Award who continue to demonstrate exceptional growth. Founded in 1990, the Deane C. Davis Outstanding Business of the Year Award was created by the Vermont Chamber of Commerce and Vermont Business Magazine to honor Vermont’s best companies. Named for the former Governor, this annual award honors a Vermont business that shows an outstanding history of sustained growth while displaying an acute awareness of what makes Vermont unique. GW Plastics was honored with the Outstanding Business of the Year Award in 2012.

This year, GW Plastics was one of five previous Outstanding Business Award winners to be inducted into the Vermont Business Hall of Fame located at the University of Vermont Grossman School of Business in Burlington. At the ceremony honoring each company, GW Plastics’ name was engraved on the Vermont Business Hall of Fame plaque in Kalkin Hall on the UVM campus.

For over 60 years, GW Plastics has been a staple in Vermont’s technical landscape, manufacturing
lifesaving, safety-critical products for the healthcare and automotive industries right here in the Green Mountains. While expanding internationally over the decades, GW Plastics has also remained dedicated to growing in Vermont, with multiple expansions of its Bethel headquarters and Royalton Manufacturing and Technology Center, and the creation of an innovative, local workforce development programs to address the national technical labor shortage.

In addition to being inducted into the Business Hall of Fame, this year marked an exciting milestone in GW’s workforce development efforts: the graduation of their second Manufacturing Technology Leadership Program class. The MTLP was founded in 2012 to address the skilled labor shortage, and together in partnership with Vermont Technical College, GW Plastics offers its employees a four-year hands-on educational program focusing on the skills necessary to be successful in advanced manufacturing.

While working full time at GW Plastics, MTLP participants enroll in two manufacturing, engineering, or technology classes per year at Vermont Tech, culminating in a final project that is selected based on improvements needed in their areas of responsibility at GW. Graduates of the MTLP earn college credits that can be applied toward an Associate Degree in Engineering Technology. In addition to receiving college courses funded by GW Plastics, every graduate is awarded a bonus after each class and a 10% pay increase upon program graduation.

After completing the MTLP, participants can utilize GW Plastics’ tuition reimbursement program to finish their degree at no cost. Through the MTLP program, GW Plastics has now funded nine engineering degrees over the past eight years. “The partnership with Vermont Tech helps our company become more competitive. Investing in our associates increases their skills, brings new ideas, and increases their productivity,” said Brenan Riehl, GW Plastics President and CEO. “A vital part of the program for GW Plastics is the confidence and leadership skills each of our associates gains in the process.” GW Plastics has partnered with Vermont Technical College on many workforce development initiatives, including a GW-funded scholarship and paid summer internship program for engineering students, allowing them the possibility to graduate debt-free. In addition to funding education and providing real work experience, the company also helped to fund the GW Plastics Advanced Manufacturing Lab on campus for continued hands-on manufacturing experience in the classroom.

VERMONT INNOVATOR NEWS • WEEK OF AUGUST 12, 2019

Vermont Department of Environmental Conservation
Aims to Accelerate Food Sustainability
Montpelier, VT – If you want to see the future of Vermont’s economy, look no further than the state’s local food industry. With 50% growth from 2006-2016, Vermont entrepreneurs are starting new specialty food businesses and creating a name for Vermont products across the US and beyond. Specialty food manufacturers transform high-quality ingredients into products like chocolates, freshly prepared foods, and specialty meats.

Increasingly, customers are demanding sustainability as well as fine craftsmanship and quality. Several Vermont businesses are stepping up to the challenge to increase the sustainability of their operations by participating in the new Green Specialty Foods Cohort. The cohort is an initiative of the Vermont Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC), in partnership with Efficiency Vermont, to support environmental excellence in Green Mountain State businesses.

“When a business cuts down on the amount of waste it produces and uses natural resources like water more efficiently, we all benefit. Business sustainability is good for a company’s bottom line and it’s good for Vermont’s land and water. As part of the Cohort, participants will develop and implement solutions that improve their performance and inspire others to follow,” said DEC Commissioner Emily Boedecker.

For one year, Cohort participants will attend workshops where they can share information, learn about funding opportunities, access assistance to analyze and reduce energy use, and receive training on topics like wastewater pollution prevention. These resources will help members accelerate sustainability goals to reduce energy, trash, and water use. By making sustainability improvements, businesses can reap financial benefits through increased efficiency.
“Lake Champlain Chocolates has focused on improving the sustainability of our raw material supply chain for a number of years. Now it’s time to shift our focus to other inputs that make our chocolates so extraordinary. I’m excited to collaborate with other Vermont companies and discover new ways to make our business and the state in which we all live, more sustainable,” said Ellen Reed, Vice President of Lake Champlain Chocolates.

The Green Specialty Foods Cohort participants are:

  • Birnn Chocolates of Vermont
  • Lake Champlain Chocolates
  • Mad River Food Hub
  • Joe’s Kitchen at Screamin’ Ridge Farm
  • goodMix Foods

Participation is free and open to any business in the specialty foods sector. DEC also supports brewery and dairy product manufacturer cohorts. The Cohorts are profiled in a new video by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, which funds them through a Pollution Prevention grant. Burlington Electric Department is providing energy assistance for businesses located in Burlington.

For more information, contact celia.riechel@vermont.gov or 802-477-2669, or visit dec.vermont.gov/environmental-assistance/sustainability/cohorts.