MIDDLEBURY, Vt.-Lawrence Miller, chief operating officer of the Burlington-based Zota Soda Company and founder, former chief executive officer, and brewmaster of Otter Creek Brewing, will be one of four Vermont business leaders to participate in a panel discussion titled “Vermont’s Business Landscape: Entrepreneurs Tell Their Tales” on Wednesday, April 20, at Middlebury College. The town-meeting style open event, which is the 2005 D.K. Smith Forum, will take place from 4:30-6 p.m. in Room 216 of McCardell Bicentennial Hall on Bicentennial Way off College Street (Route 125). Following the panel, there will be a reception in the same building in the Tormondsen Great Hall. Both events are free and open to the public.

Joining Miller on the panel will be Carolyn Cooke, co-founder of Burlington-based Isis for Women, an outdoor clothing company; Tim Davis, former chief executive officer of Mass.-based Surmet Corporation, a manufacturer of components for the semi-conductor, aerospace, medical and military industries; and Larry Williams, co-owner of the Burlington-based real estate firm Redstone Commercial Group. Cairn Cross, managing partner of Middlebury-based venture capital firm FreshTracks Capital, will serve as moderator.

Each panelist will offer five minutes of introductory comments, and then the moderator will open up the question-and-answer session to the audience. The panel will explore such topics as how Vermont can find ways to improve the environment for creating new businesses and to ensure the success and viability of existing businesses. Panelists will also review what methods are already working and what should change. How Vermont can create and maintain a high quality of life, livable wages, and a stable economy will also be a topic for discussion.

Michael Claudon, David K. Smith Professor of Economics at Middlebury, said, “The goal for the forum is serious, in-depth and purposeful debate and discussion. As much as possible, we’d like the forum to be open, a town-meeting type of event that involves everyone in the room.”

Middlebury College graduates Edward Schaefer of the class of 1956, Laura Schaefer Buckley of the class of 1979, and Edward Schaefer III of the class of 1984 established the Professor David K. Smith Visiting Economic Lecture Series. The series was established in honor of Professor Emeritus of Economics David K. Smith, a member of the Middlebury College economics department from 1950-1988, and maintains a focus on applied economics. An undergraduate economics major and a member of the Middlebury College class of 1942, Smith received four graduate degrees from Harvard, including a master’s in economics, a master’s in business administration, and a doctorate in economics. While a professor of economics at Middlebury, he served as department chair for 15 years.

The event is co-sponsored by the DigitalBridges2.0 Club of Middlebury College. Both the panel discussion and the reception are free and open to the public, but reservations are appreciated. For more information, contact forum coordinator Tracy Himmel Isham at thimmeli@middlebury.edu or 802-443-5435.

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