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Success Stories

The 2019 Vermont Small Business Person of the Year is awarded to Steven Gagner, 14th Star Brewing Company, co-founder and owner. Gagner is recognized for growing his company, increasing sales, employee growth and contributing to the local community.

It is a Veteran-owned Vermont company with a mission to brew world-class beer while enriching the community. The business plan for 14th Star Brewing Company was originally drafted on the back of a notebook by Gagner while he was serving in Afghanistan. Upon returning home to Vermont from deployment, Gagner and his best friend and fellow soldier Matt Kehaya, worked to refine the plan to make their dream of 14th Star Brewing Company a reality in 2012.

Gagner, who serves in the Vermont Army National Guard, said when he was thinking about starting a brewery some fellow soldiers were skeptical about his idea, but one officer was particularly instrumental in his decision to open 14th Star Brewing Company.

“I have always... Read More

To her it’s a treasure hunt. Roaming the countryside and walking through the woods turning over rocks and pulling back tree limbs, all to find the perfect gem.  Many times, she doesn’t know what she's after. She will know it when she sees it. 

Erin Ostreicher, a 33-year-old florist, is looking for wild plants, flowers and whatever else is blossoming to decorate an upcoming wedding. She has about six nurseries and a few flower shops she frequents, she grows her own as well, but foraging is her favorite method for arranging flowers.

“We spend a great deal of time foraging through Vermont’s fields, farmers markets, plant nurseries, and flower farms for the best, most genuine products for our clients, oftentimes incorporating rare materials that can’t be sourced anywhere else,” said Ostreicher.

Ostreicher is the owner and founder of Nectar and Root, a wedding floral design business in Winooski. She never thought she be an entrepreneur, but always loved floral... Read More

In February 2018, six companies in the Rutland area received nearly $700,000 in grants for workforce development from the Vermont Training Program.

Almost 18 months later the owner of Awesome Graphics said the grant exceeded expectations.

“Through the grant we were able to hire and train employees, who now work here full time. Now that we have a more robust staff we have been able to service and gain more clients,” said Tami Napolitano, Awesome Graphics owner. 

Awesome Graphics, which began in 1994, offers a variety of printing and marketing materials including banners, signs, vehicle wraps and trade show booth displays.

In 2017, Napolitano completed the Small Business Administration’s Emerging Leaders class, a seven-month program for small business owners to create a three-year strategic plan to grow their business. However, she met many of the benchmarks she set for herself and her company in less than six months.

“A month after Emerging Leaders... Read More

Two amazingly talented artists (Jessie makes exquisite jewelry and Michael makes eclectic furniture). A passion for their fellow Vermont artists’ works. Plus an incredible shared eye for all things beautiful.

For Jessie and Michael Alon that means not just one gallery but two. One simply can’t contain their creativity and dedication. The downtown art boutique –DaVallia–features Jessie’s work combined with arts and crafts from fifty artists and on the way out of town –39 North Gallery– focuses on fine art, furniture and accessories for your home.

“Our business is special because we truly love what we do.  We elevate all aspects of our business to the level of art. We display differently, we think differently and we care. By being both artists and business owners we have the ability to apply our creative skills into our business plan. If you leave our gallery with nothing but inspiration, we did our jobs.”

Jessie and Michael say working with VtSBDC has allowed... Read More