Winooski’s Champlain Mill is a powerful symbol of local industry. Back in the early 1900s, hundreds of Vermonters toiled away at rows of water-powered looms — that were very high-tech in their day — weaving worsted woolen cloth. After an incarnation as a shopping mall, the Mill today is a high-tech hub of a different kind: home to some of the state’s fastest growing information technology companies. Gone are the child workers of yesteryear, replaced by well-paid, tech-savvy graduates of Vermont colleges and universities.
Appropriately, the transformed Champlain Mill — which has evolved from textile to tech-style — is hosting the Vermont Tech Jam this weekend. More than 75 innovative Vermont companies and organizations will pack the place, showcasing their wondrous wares and scoping out potential employees.
You might wonder why Seven Days, a local media company, organizes the Vermont Tech Jam — our fifth in six years. It’s because we are uniquely positioned — in the heart of Burlington’s creative economy — to serve as a matchmaker between cool companies looking for trainable workers and young people who want to stay and earn a good living in Vermont.
The Jam also gives us a reason to seek out stories from the tech sector; there are lots of them. Many of the inventors and entrepreneurs we write about aren’t looking for publicity — like the Tarrant brothers, whom Ken Picard profiles in “Market Share.” Their company, MyWebGrocer, is one of many that sell products and services primarily outside the state.
Meanwhile, a growing number of Vermont companies are focused on the local landscape — mapping it, that is. Kathryn Flagg explores that growing tech trend in her story, “There’s a Map for That.”
Seven Days’ digital media manager Tyler Machado created a mapping tool of his own last weekend during Hack VT, a 24-hour hackathon MyWebGrocer hosted at the Mill. He wrote about his coding marathon, and his new farmers market finder, in “How to Hack It in a Hackathon.”
The competitive spirit that inspired the hackathon also drives the video game design students at Champlain College, most of whom are of the XY variety. Associate publisher Cathy Resmer talked with three of the school’s female programmers and designers about gaming with the guys. “She Got Game.”
Didn’t know there was such a lively gaming community in Vermont? Then you probably don’t know about Blu-Bin, Poultney’s new 3-D print shop, either. In this week’s Whiskey Tango Foxtrot column, Megan James explains WTF a 3-D printer is and how it works.
Tech’s in the news, too. When the Burlington Police Department got tired of shelling out money for software updates, Chief Mike Schirling created a cheaper, more efficient DIY solution that is saving the city — and now, the state — tons of money.
What happens to local jobs when Vermont tech companies sell to out-of-state ones? Kevin J. Kelley does the due diligence.
We hope reading this issue inspires you to check out the Vermont Tech Jam on Friday and Saturday, October 26 and 27, at the Champlain Mill. The big brick building has seen a lot of history over the years. Now, for a glimpse of the future…