Category: Business Written by Damon Carr
Even if you’ve managed to remain gainfully employed, we’ve all been affected by this recessionary economy to some degree. For many of us, our cash-flow has been negatively affected due to reduction in income because of low sales, salaries and hours being cut, bonuses and overtime being eliminated and/or merit raises and promotions being deferred to a later date. If you’ve been fortunate enough to keep your cash-flow moving in the right direction, take a close look at your saving and investment portfolio. You’ll agree that because of the huge losses in the stock market most of us are poorer today than we were a couple of years ago.
Whenever we go through trying times of any kind, it’s important that we grow through the experience and learn valuable lessons to avoid similar unwelcoming circumstances in the future. Below, I’d like to share ideas I’ve shared in the past that were confirmed to be true during this recessionary economy.
Job security—There’s no such thing as job security! We live in an era where you’re lucky to have worked for the same company for three or more years. Both employer and employee regard for loyalty have waivered in recent years. The thing to seek today is “income security.” Income security lies in talent, skills, and know-how that are both marketable and transferrable—meaning you can adapt and apply your skill in a variety of ways to earn money. One lesson that should have been learned particularly in regions that was heavily dependent on the steel industry is that blue collar type jobs lack both marketability and transferability. Blue collar type jobs are generally good paying labor intensive jobs. If you’re fortunate enough to work until retirement as a laborer—great! The problem arrives if your job opportunity is cut short because of industry trends or the economy negatively affecting the industry’s viability. We’ve witness entire cities take a turn for the worst when the Steel Mills collapsed 30-plus years ago. We’ve seeing evidence of this trend again as the Automotive Industry shut down many of its manufacturing plants. Workers from these industries who’ve work primarily as a laborer have had a hard time replacing the income they’ve earned in their former career because the skill set they acquired was not “marketable and transferrable.” In contrast employees who’ve worked on Wall Street in a white collar environment have an easier time landing jobs with similar pay because their skill set is both transferrable and marketable.
Housing—Get your financial house in order first, and then seek homeownership. Mortgage Payment default and foreclosure is at an all time high. People are learning first hand that the word homeownership is a misnomer. If you become victim of a financial hardship making it hard for you to pay the mortgage, you’re brought face to face with the reality of who truly hold the keys to the house you live in. I’ve said it time and time again: Before you seek homeownership, you should be debt free, have money in the bank for emergencies and have a respectable down payment. Lastly, the mortgage payment should not exceed 30 percent of your take home pay. I’m reminded of an email I recently got from a client. She earns about $70,000 per year. She said the bank said she was preapproved for a $300,000 mortgage. She thought the bank was crazy. I advised her that based on her income and other financial goals to stay in the $150,000 range. She may not get the biggest house on the block, but she’ll get a nice house that she can afford comfortably while pursuing other financial goals.
Credit—The byproduct of credit is debt. Debt is hazardous to your wealth. Debt impedes your cash-flow and reduces your net worth. Credit has inflated the cost of consumer goods, housing, education, medical expenses and everything imaginable. People, government, and corporations were using credit as a supplement to their income. As a result, when the credit market froze, the economy collapsed, people’s homes went into foreclosure, companies shut down and local, state and federal government financial woes were exposed. There’s a saying that “you use credit wisely”. My position has always been “use credit only when absolutely necessary”.
Saving—Financial stability and financial prosperity is built on the foundation of saving. Prior to the recession the typical person saved less than 2-cents out of every dollar earned. If you fail to develop good saving habits you’re doomed to financial frustration. One day we’ll all experience a financial hardship of some kind. One day our children will go to college. One day we’ll retire. If we fail to have adequate savings to provide for us during these times, we’re forced to use credit cards for emergencies, student loans for education, and reverse mortgages during retirement. We go through our entire life wondering why the little man can’t get ahead. The little man neglected to save.
Government bailout—If you want to get ahead financially, you don’t want to depend on the government. Financial help from the government isn’t a something for nothing proposition unless you’re classified as needy—poor. Even then, government aide amounts to “small change.” We watched the entire economy collapse in New Orleans during Hurricane Katrina. How did the government help? They provided small federal grants and low interest rate loans—DEBT. The biggest help came in the form of tax relief. They relaxed the tax guidelines by reducing the tax rate and waiving certain tax related penalties for people affected by Hurricane Katrina. For example, people were able to access money from their retirement accounts early without penalty. Allowing one to take money set aside to avoid a future crisis to solve a current crisis isn’t exactly what you’ll call a bail out.
In the end, your financial security will come from YOU working hard, living below your means, saving for future goals and making good financial decisions.
(Mortgage and Money Coach Damon Carr is the owner of ACE Financial. Damon can be reached at 412-216-1013)
Last Updated on Thursday, 18 April 2013 11:01
Category: Business Written by Harry C. Alford
HARRY C. ALFORD
(NNPA)—Yes indeed and it is documented that the growth of natural gas production is creating jobs, expanding manufacturing at a rate that was inconceivable a few years ago. The reason for all of this is fracking. The formal name is hydraulic fracturing. It is a process for extracting natural gas from underground rock formations (shales). It’s clean and safe despite the contrary claims of environmental extremists.
Fracking was invented by Floyd Farris in 1947. His tools were drilling instruments, water and sand. The popularity and production of the use was rather slow until 1997 when energy engineers devised certain chemicals to mix with the water. It was then that the process became more cost effective. Now it is estimated that more than 60 percent of all oil and gas wells in the world are being fracked. Of late, engineers in Canada are introducing a waterless form of fracking. U.S. companies have not yet utilized the process. They are so happy with the current utilization.
Happy they should be. Through fracking our nation has become the number one producer of natural gas in the world. The estimates of our reserves keep being increased as new shales are being discovered all the time. We have the cheapest priced natural gas as a result of our great supplies. In fact, we are now exporting natural gas to other nations. Japan, for instance, has a natural gas price that is four times that of the U. S. Consequently, Japan is our number one market for exporting. In addition, many nations of Europe and elsewhere are good customers of our energy companies. These are new found dollars and job creations. Our liquefied natural gas import facilities have now been refitted for exporting. This is great.
Right now, our natural gas energy industry is responsible for more than 3 million jobs. The National Association of Manufacturers estimates that one million more jobs will be created by the middle of the next decade. They also report: Dow Chemical plans to build a new ethylene unit on the Gulf Coast by 2017. Formosa Plastics plans to spend 1.5 billion dollars on an ethylene plant and downstream assets in Texas by 2015. Chevron Phillips Chemical Co. announced a feasibility study to be completed this year on the merits of constructing an ethane cracker and ethylene derivatives facilities at a current site on the Gulf Coast. Bayer Corporation is reported to be discussing opportunities with chemical companies to build an ethane cracker at current sites in the middle of the Marcellus shale basin (Ohio, Pennsylvania, New York, New Jersey, Delaware and Maryland). Westlake Chemical will expand ethylene capacity in Louisiana by the end of 2012 and again in 2014. Shell Oil is building a petrochemical refinery in the Appalachians. Nucor is building a $750 million direct-reduced iron facility in Louisiana near the Haynesville Shale. This is all a result of the low cost of natural gas.
Some states may miss out on all this growth. New York and Maryland officials are trying to limit fracking in their states. That is fine with Pennsylvania and other neighboring states who are witnessing an economic boom within their borders. Pennsylvania has received more than $400 million in impact fees alone during the first two years of exploration of its portion of the Marcellus shale. There is no justification to limit or stop fracking. The Environmental Protection Agency has been trying to find a reason but so far there is nothing to point a finger at.
In fact, Ernest Moniz, President Obama’s nominee for the Secretary of Energy, has just told Congress, “A stunning increase in production of domestic natural gas in recent years was nothing less than a revolution that has led to reduced emissions of carbon dioxide. The natural gas boom also has led to a dramatic expansion of manufacturing and job creation …brought about by widespread use of fracking and it must continue.”
Shale gas now accounts for 30 percent of total gas consumption compared with just 1 percent in 2000. Again, we have gone from being the world’s largest gas importer to being self-sufficient and a major exporter. Natural gas vehicles use a technique known as Compressed Natural Gas that has an affordable price of $1.95 per gallon. It is just amazing.
All of this growth will give local, state and the federal governments billions of new dollars via payroll, corporate and property taxes. New restaurants, hotels, homes, schools etc. will be built to accommodate the new workers and their families. God has truly blessed us.
So now, let’s build the Keystone Pipeline and start doing more oil exploration on federal lands and off shore.
Last Updated on Friday, 19 April 2013 05:59
Category: Business Written by CNN
VALUABLE PHONE--iPhone shows off rare black diamond (CNN Photo/From Stuart Hughes)
by Kirsten Swanson
NEW YORK (CNN) -- Family heirlooms are often packed away for safe keeping. For one man from China, hiding a 26-carat black diamond worth $14.5 million was not in his plans.
A businessman from Hong Kong commissioned craftsman Stuart Hughes of Liverpool to help him show off his family treasure.
The result? An iPhone 5 boasted by Hughes to be "the world's most expensive phone," valued at $15 million.
According to Hughes' website, this iPhone includes 600 flawless white diamonds, a full solid gold dressing and 53 diamonds on the rear that make up the iconic Apple logo.
However, the reason this particular iPhone is so valuable is on the face of the phone.
The Chinese businessman, identified only as "Joe," contacted Hughes and asked to have a rare, black diamond incorporated into the iPhone.
"It's not often that people get to deal with a very, very rare diamond," Hughes said.
Hughes said he was contacted 18 months ago by Joe, who expressed interest in his gold chassis iPhone handsets.
Joe then told Hughes about the black diamond that had been in his family for generations. Hughes spent nine weeks creating the solid gold chassis of an iPhone 5 and then placed the black diamond as the home button.
The appraisal Joe had done on the black diamond put its value at approximately $14.5 million, according to Hughes, who said he saw the certificate of authenticity.
Hughes told CNN that one of the solid gold handsets with the diamonds that he crafts is worth approximately $153,000.
"We had a tech guy in Macau who was able to set the stone, which to this day has never left China," Hughes said.
Hughes set a record in 2011 for crafting an iPhone 4S with 500 individual diamonds, totaling more than 100 carats. That phone was estimated to be valued at $9 million.
The 42-year-old craftsman is known for making lavish and expensive items, including an iPad made of solid gold he debuted two years ago.
"I am a craftsman," Hughes said. "I basically fulfill and make up these ideas."
Throughout the years and his many projects, Hughes said this particular handset is right up near the top of the most lavish projects he's completed.
Last Updated on Wednesday, 17 April 2013 09:30
Category: Business Written by Diane I. Daniels
SPEAKING OUT—An advocate for the Immigration Bill, Rufus Idris executive director of the Christian Evangelistic Economic Development organization has high hopes for the bill.
The topic of immigration reform has been in the forefront of President Barack Obama’s agenda for several years. His goal is to fix what he calls the broken immigration system so that it can be “fairer for and help grow the middle class by ensuring everyone plays by the same rules." The President is requesting approval by the Senate and House of a comprehensive immigration overhaul measure for him to sign into law by years end. To Rufus Idris, a native of Kogi State, Nigeria and executive director of the Christian Evangelistic Economic Development organization, the Immigration Bill is a wise move.
For the past nine years CEED has built a reputation for assisting and developing small businesses in the region. A large portion of those businesses have been established by the immigrant and refugee population. “Creating more businesses that strengthens our economy and create jobs for Americans is inevitable. I think the Immigration Bill is a wise move towards achieving this,” he said.
Idris indicated that businesses under five years old are responsible for all net job creation over the past three decades in America, and a critical driver of new business creation in America has been entrepreneurial immigrants. “Immigrants start small businesses in their quest to become economically self-sufficient and serve the consumer needs of the local and global community,” he said.
In his strong support of the Immigrant Bill he cited that the Partnership for a New American Economy found that immigrants are now more than twice as likely as the native-born to start a business and were responsible for more than one in every four (28 percent) U.S. businesses founded in 2011, significantly outpacing their share of the population (12.9 percent).
Steadfast in its mission to revitalize, strengthen and produce healthy, self-sustaining communities through innovative programs and projects that put community members and stakeholders in the forefront of economic growth and self-sufficiency, one of CEEDs’ recent initiatives is the Immigrant Family Childcare Project. Established by the Allegheny County Department of Human Services Immigrant and International Initiative, the project is designed to enhance community growth and economic self-sufficiency by developing business opportunities for immigrant and refugee women through the development of family based childcare programs. The project is in response to the need raised by its Advisory Council for culturally sensitive childcare.
“Immigrants and refugees come to America with hopes and dreams of a better life for themselves and their families,” said Krissy Kimura, the Immigrant Family Childcare Project program coordinator. “Adjusting to a new community and culture can be challenging. Finding that their family’s needs cannot be met with the income from one wage earner, it becomes necessary for many women to contribute financially to meet their family’s needs. In many cases, for women with children, the concept of using formal childcare through a center is difficult culturally and unrealistic financially. Preferring family and neighborhood support, they often find the concept of planning and organizing childcare arrangements new and difficult.”
“Our goals with this project,” she continued, “is to develop a source of employment and income by training immigrant and refugee women to become relative, neighbor and family childcare providers, building on their experience. At the same time, this provided other women the opportunity to seek employment knowing their children will be in culturally familiar care. Along with increasing opportunities for women, the training they received enhanced the level of childcare throughout the community.”
The training, according to Kimura consisted of six 12 hour hands-on interactive sessions with ten women completing it. For some of the women this program provided the first experience for them to interact with other cultures. She said nationalities included Somalia, Liberian, Togo, South Sudan, Burmese and Bhutanese.
Considered a pilot program, training was inclusive of pediatrics first aide, mandated reporting, emergency pediatrics, nutrition and three segments of business training: marketing, contracts and policies and taxes.
Partners, supporters and funders of the Immigrant Family Childcare Project included Allegheny County Department of Human Services, Vibrant Pittsburgh, and the YWCA’s Liz Prine Fund. Refugee service providers were Prospect Park Family Center, Union of African Communities in Pittsburgh, Northern Area Companies, Jewish Family and Children’s Services, Catholic Charities, AJAPO, and Young Men and Women’s African Heritage Association. Kimura identified the Greater Pittsburgh Literacy Council as assisting with ESL needs. The Pennsylvania Southwest Regional Key is working to develop trainings in pediatric first aide, mandated reporting, emergency preparedness, nutrition, and the business component.
The Immigrant Family Childcare Project falls under CEED’s Skills to Wealth Program’s Micro-enterprise and Technical Assistance service which responds to challenges faced by startup and existing underserved and disadvantaged entrepreneurs struggling to sustain, stabilize, or grow a business in Southwestern Pennsylvania.
When asked how the Immigration Bill will affect CEED and some of their clients, Idris said, “Knowing the importance of new businesses; the economic opportunities, the jobs, and the innovative products that help us compete in the global economy, an immigration bill that gives more non-criminal immigrants a pathway to legal status in the United States will help more entrepreneurial immigrants qualify for assistance from CEED to start or grow businesses in Pittsburgh and its environs.”
Four Democrats and four Republicans known as the, “gang of eight” plan to present an immigration bill this week.
Last Updated on Wednesday, 17 April 2013 05:59
Category: Business Written by Courier Newsroom
Career Development Series
Academic & Career Information Session
APRIL 18—The Community College of Allegheny County South Campus will host an Academic & Career Information Session from 6-7:30 p.m. at 1750 Clairton Rd., West Mifflin. The topic will be “Engineering, Technology & Mathematics: Discover Educational & Career Opportunities.” Registration is requested and this is free and open to the public. For more information, call 412-469-4301.
Job Fair and College Expo
APRIL 19—The Community College of Allegheny County Boyce Campus will host a Job Fair & College Expo from 9 a.m.-1 p.m. at the CCAC Boyce Campus, Student Union, 595 Beatty Rd., Monroeville. There will be a job fair and a professional dress fashion show at 11 a.m. sponsored by the Monroeville Area Chamber of Commerce. The event is free and open to the public. For more information, call 724-325-6771.
Business Skills Development Workshop
APRIL 27—Chatham University’s Center for Women’s Entrepreneurship will host its Business Skills Development Workshop from 8:30 a.m.-12 p.m. at Chatham University, Woodland Rd., Oakland. The topic is “Tuning Up Your Business Plan.” This workshop will re-energize existing and unused business plans, encouraging participants to break of their comfort zones to reach the next stage of growth. Registration is required and the cost is $35. For more information, call 412-365-1253 or visit www.chatham.edu/cwe.
APRIL 30—The Pennsylvania Department of Banking and Securities will host Money Matters 2013 from 6:10-9:05 p.m. at the Pittsburgh Marriott North, 100 Cranberry Woods Dr., Cranberry Township. Investing and personal finance experts will facilitate free sessions on topics such as Retirement and Estate Planning, Senior-Oriented Finance, Protecting Yourself from Scams, New and Experienced Investors and more. Nationally syndicated columnist Michelle Singletary will be the keynote speaker. Registration is required, this event is free and seating is limited. For more information, call 1-800-PA-BANKS or visit www.dobs.state.pa.us.
Last Updated on Wednesday, 17 April 2013 05:59
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