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Articles

As an investigative reporter, I have the luxury of gaining the perspective of both sides of the argument. Here are some recently published articles discussing issues small business owners face, and some solutions to overcome the challenges, in my syndicated column, The Green Lane.”

     

  • Hiring Your Weaknesses

    There are several reasons why someone wants to own and operate a business. Some people see it as a pathway to economic freedom, while others are tired of working for someone else and desire to be their own boss. There are individuals who begin their own business because they want more time to spend with their family. Some folks want the bragging rights and glory to say they are the captain of their own ship. Also, some people feel they need to prove something, and want to settle scores from yesteryear by way of being a successful business owner.

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  • Knowing Your Why

    There are several reasons why someone wants to own and operate a business. Some people see it as a pathway to economic freedom, while others are tired of working for someone else and desire to be their own boss. There are individuals who begin their own business because they want more time to spend with their family. Some folks want the bragging rights and glory to say they are the captain of their own ship. Also, some people feel they need to prove something, and want to settle scores from yesteryear by way of being a successful business owner.

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  • Establishing the Rule of Governance for Your Business

    In the initial hustle and bustle of establishing a new small business venture, I have found that most small business owners overlook the importance of setting up rules and standards for their business to be governed by. Then later, because the rule of the law of the business was overlooked or never formally established, they are forced to face challenges that put the business at risk. I have seen several small businesses face serious consequences, including litigation from a business partner, employee disputes, relationships with vendors change, all because they did not have key agreements and elements in place.

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  • Bootstrapping Your Small Business

    One of the largest hurdles an entrepreneur will face in getting their business off the ground is funding. Many small business owners find it difficult to obtain the capital they need to finance their new business venture. The good news is there are many options for capitalizing your small business venture. All you must do is research the opportunities and discover which finance options are best in line with the vision and growth strategy of your business.

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  • Location, Location, Location; Where to locate your Business

    Now that you have chosen the type of business to establish and the products and/or services you will be offering for sale, it is time to determine a location for your business. Most small business owners choose a location based on their own perception of where they think the business might be a good fit. The reason for this is that many small business owners make this decision and choice about their business location based on emotion. Maybe you like a particular community or town, or maybe you spent your childhood there and the location is in close proximity to family and friends. Today business owners need to rely on data to help them make the best decision on where to locate their business, so that the business has the most optimum chance in succeeding.

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  • Product or Service; Which Do You Choose to Offer?

    Making the decision to become a business owner is a substantial undertaking. After the initial decision to do so, you will need to give consideration to the next steps which include your specific industry interest, and then whether you desire to offer a product or a service, or both. Owning a business that sells products can be a costly investment depending on the type of business you are planning on opening. On the other hand, selling services that are intangible relies on your ability to transfer confidence about your expert skill sets. In choosing whether to offer a product or to be a service oriented business, there are advantages and disadvantages with the types of value proposition offerings.

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  • So You want to Own Your Own Business…

    So you want to own your own business. Before you can determine the path in which your entrepreneurship career will be headed, you may want to take a moment to explore all of your options and review some of the hard facts about becoming an entrepreneur in today’s economic and technology climate. There are a number of types of businesses that you can choose from, spanning thousands of product and/or service categories and industries.

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    • Essential Must Have Marketing Tools for Most Small Businesses

      A quality marketing plan, which includes an advertising campaign, and an ongoing on-line presence, is the best place for every small business to invest their focus financially. Yet most small business owners say they cannot afford it. I tell them that they cannot afford to be invisible and allow for their competition to gain all the potential customers. A small business can invest tens of thousands or even hundreds of thousands of dollars on advertising and see absolutely no results. The reason for this is that in order to know what types of advertising will best suit your business reach, you need to understand your goals and targets, your ideal clientele, and a defined budget you have available to allocate towards marketing and advertising.

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    • America’s Endangered Species, The Main Street Business

      America faces a number of serious issues as it looks to turn around its economy, job growth and infrastructure, while simultaneously tackling a number of social and moral concerns. One of the country’s most valuable assets to economic recovery, local and regional job growth, and the creation of new innovation is the family owned small business. However, in today’s hostile geo-political climate, it is getting far too difficult for a small business to survive. Why is this happening and who’s to blame? It is we who decide with our consumer dollars the fate of the economic health of our local communities. Ultimately we are to blame for this issue that now plagues our community. The responsibility falls on each of us to change our consumer habits and ideals in order to reverse this trend. We vote with our dollars on how our Main Streets will be shaped, and the view today is dismal.

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    • Branding the Right Message About Your Business

      So you just founded your venture. It could be a local, small, family owned Main Street business or a large endeavor with hopes to expand globally, creating a far reaching effect. Regardless of the size of your business, the message you choose to send to the street is paramount in explaining what type of business you have, the purpose your business serves, the product or service it offers, as well as the demographic populace and geographic locale in which you offer your value creation.

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    • Homeless and Displaced Veterans; America’s Hidden Pandemic

      The statistics are alarming; beyond alarming. It’s as if the alarm has been signaling to our great nation, yet many of us decided to turn the radio up, similar to when we hear that irritating noise our car may make when it needs a repair, however at that time it is easier to ignore it than be inconvenienced by taking time out to solve the problem. Veteran homelessness is rising at an unprecedented rate. Even with the number of non-profit organizations that outreach to homeless veterans aimed at getting Veterans off the street and into a home and/or back to work, the amount of homeless Veterans outpace the investment of time it takes to reach a Veteran and get their situation resolved

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    • What Was The Real Root of the Auto Industry Emissions Scandal?

      First there was Volkswagen, which included all of the VW Group (Audi, Bentley, Lamborghini, Bugatti, Porsche, Ducati, Scania, Seat, and Skoda); then there was Mercedes; then fell Mitsubishi, joined by Fiat, Peugeot, Renault, Hyundai and Kia, BMW, and even the American vehicle manufacture main stays Ford and General Motors offered their fair share of having to make amends with consumers for representing false fuel economy and/or emissions results on their window stickers. You would thing that these corporations with vast research and development departments would be able to breeze through testing protocols with ease, however many of them still have not been able to obtain the peak efficiencies to meet mandated benchmarks. Or is the problem more complicated than that? So with so many manufacturers having this issue, what is the core of the problem?

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    • The Race to Protect Our Most Important Natural Resource: Part 3-Quantity Vs. Quality

      Who would have thought we would be paying upwards of two and three dollars in some cases for a bottle of water when thirty years ago a person would just put a glass under their faucet and drink what came out of the pipe. It seems our society took clean fresh water for drinking for granted, and now because so many of local fresh water sources have been polluted, many of us have resorted to purchasing water from the supermarket.

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    • The Race to Protect Our Most Important Natural Resource: Part 2-Distribution and Delivery

      Water; without it our society comes to a screeching holt. Water is the source of life, and the vast majority of our way of being depends on it. From manufacturing, to food production, water is required to help us feed our planet and build the modern conveniences of today. Water is our most precious resource on planet earth, yet we put our future at risk every time we either waste this valuable commodity, and/or abuse it with pollutants.

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    • The Race to Protect Our Most Important Natural Resource: Part 1-Source of the Problem

      As our world’s population grows and our available sources of clean drinkable freshwater dwindle, the race to find ways to preserve and protect our current water supplies have rapidly increased; while other alternatives on how to clean up used and polluted water supplies are explored. Schools of thought and tech companies are eager to find ways to filter recycled water for reuse; fresh water supplies continue to be maxed out.

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    • Effective Supply Chain Management Practices for Small Businesses

      The management process can be a bit overwhelming sometimes, and if left unchecked, vendors and suppliers can overstep their bounds, taking advantage of the small business. Here are a few tips on how to establish and effective vendor/supply chain management system for your small business.

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    • Cost Effective Small Business Strategies

      Small Businesses need every advantage available to them in their wheelhouse. Across America, family owned small businesses have struggled with the invasion of big box retailers whom have strategically placed their store locations to purposefully draw audiences of consumers away from Main Street. So how does a Small Business compete against this kind of capitalism? There are three areas of competency that Small Businesses can incorporate into their business strategy that are cost effective and keep small business owners out in front of their customer audience.

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    • The Real Climate Change-Global Warming Hoax

      Whether you believe in the science in which is provided by experts in support of Climate Change; or you believe that the entire issue of Global Warming is a hoax and made up by man, there is no ignoring this social geo-political subject matter. Elected officials on both sides of the aisle have politicized this issue, making this matter a football during election cycles. Large companies in the fossil fuel industry have spent millions of dollars to fund studies through private think tanks and institutes in the hopes of having the blessing of the scientific community in their camp. While small pockets of other causes have gathered up the muster to hire experts; experts whom use computer models and data of samples taken from the earth which they believe provides insight to historical trends. Yet with all of this information available the jury is still out.

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    • Benefits of Business to Business Barter

      Small businesses life blood relies on cash flow in order to support its needs and make a profit for its owner. Not all businesses are so lucky to have constant clientele to provide ongoing patronage that will allow for a business to experience growth or advancement. Today’s risky economic climate has curbed many banks from funding small ventures due to the extremely high amount of potential risk of a business defaulting on their loan. Business owners must rely on other avenues of funding their business while conserving their cash for rent, utilities, inventory, and payroll.

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    • Motorsports Marketing No Longer Just For NASCAR

      Travel to any local dirt or asphalt circle racing track on a Friday or Saturday night and you will find race cars, full fender and open wheel, covered in flashy graphics and logos of businesses and companies you may have never heard of. Local and regional businesses such as RV Escape from Branchville, New Jersey, a company that sells and rents travel trailers and recreation vehicles to or Halmar International, a construction company with corporate offices located in Nanuet, New York; have devoted themselves to all out race car team sponsorship programs. Race tracks like those of the Orange County Fair Speedway, Middletown, New York, are built to accommodate tens of thousands of race fans, many whom reside within a 50 mile radius of the speedway dubbed the “Hard Clay.”

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    • Crypto Currency Versus Barter

      Individuals whom have lost faith in the traditional monetary system have been in search for other ways to exchange their goods and/or services for other desired needs and wants, using other platforms to be compensated for their wares. Since the housing bubble crisis in 2008, and the evolution of electronic software and secured purchasing platforms, Crypto Currency and Barter are on the rise. Crypto currencies such as Bitcoin and OneCoin have gained popularity internationally as confidence in national currencies, such as the US Dollar, have been dwindling.

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    • 8 Practices for Developing Trust with Your Investors

      In today’s market, for any innovation to become commercialized on the large scale, it takes a recipe of things, including time, devoted and determined team of staff, a winning concept or product, and capital. Most start up organizations lack the final component, which is the proper funding to go the distance in developing their product, to market the product, and have enough resources for the market to catch up to the company’s innovation (market demand). According to the Small Business Administration, the majority of new businesses fail within the first two years because many of them are underfunded.

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      • The Minimum Wage Debate: What Are We Really Missing

        In June of 2015, the City of Los Angeles had adopted an ordinance which mandates the hourly minimum wage to be raised to $15 per hour over the next four years. Prior to the action by the governing body of LA, the City of Seattle passed a similar ordinance. This came after much public outcry over the issues that surround the dubbed “income inequality” and “fair share” for individuals who may receive minimum wage compensation for entry level positions or jobs that are considered low skilled work. Theses recent actions taken by government that mandate individuals to be compensated based on their need rather than being compensated on their performance sets a very dangerous precedence.

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      • Nursing Home, Assisted Living, or Rehab Center; Which to Choose?

        Before an individual can make a decision on which type of senior health care they need or which type of facility to choose, one must understand the differences that nursing homes, assisted living campuses, or a rehabilitation center offers. Do you need short term care, or long term care? Is your loved one near their end days and therefore would require hospice care? Each type of care has its own unique services, cost, and usually addresses a different set of circumstances.

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      • Five Automotive Gadgets that were mocked before Becoming Standard Equipment

        It is inevitable that the majority of us will reach our golden years and have to make choices determining our lifestyle after retirement and beyond. One of the hardest choices we will have to make is choosing our senior health care provider(s). It is even more difficult when we are shopping for assisted living or nursing home facilities for a loved one who may no longer be able to make decisions on their own. It seems like a daunting task, so where does one begin?

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      • business-investment-versus-cost

        Excellence in Senior Health Care-What Matters

        It is inevitable that the majority of us will reach our golden years and have to make choices determining our lifestyle after retirement and beyond. One of the hardest choices we will have to make is choosing our senior health care provider(s). It is even more difficult when we are shopping for assisted living or nursing home facilities for a loved one who may no longer be able to make decisions on their own. It seems like a daunting task, so where does one begin?

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      • business-investment-versus-cost

        Business Investment Versus Costs

        The Small Business Administration estimates that nearly half of all new businesses fail and disappear in the first five years of operation. One of the key reasons for this unfortunate statistic is that the majority of businesses are underfunded, and do not have enough cash on hand to pay for operational expenses during lean times. If your business is one of the more fortunate stories, congratulations, you survived the statistics; however you might still be operating on a shoe string because cash is limited. I have seen many businesses in this shape, and when they are operating with very limited cash, business owners will usually say, “they cannot afford to spend money,” whether it be on marketing and advertising, new equipment, or even on hiring new employees. Managing cash can be a balancing act. There is the old saying, “you must spend money to make money.” So, when it is safe to spend money as a small business?

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      • Does-Equality-Equal-a-Good-Economy?

        Does Equality Equal a Good Economy?

        Even though Wall Street has enjoyed record gains, we can agree that Wall Street is not a reflection of the pain in which small businesses experience each day to keep their doors open. Some small businesses are doing very well, despite the slow economy, due to their choice to serve a niche space of clientele. These are the thriving businesses which serve the LGBT Community (Lesbian Gay Bi Transgender Community) as these consumers exercise their spending power. Some businesses refuse to serve individuals from this community citing that it will compromise their religious beliefs. But are they missing out on a potential consumer who has disposal income to spend on goods and services?

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      • Why Main Street Matters

        Why Main Street Matters

        For generations, small family-owned businesses on Main Street were the lifeblood of local economies in most corners of America. They provided local jobs, accounted for majority of the ratable tax base, and were usually the first entities to contribute financial resources to causes within the community. In recent decades, we have seen the disappearance of healthy Main Streets across our nation. Gone by the wayside have been the family-owned enterprises, where someday, a son or daughter would take over the store, continuing the family tradition as the go-to local merchant. In their place, we have watched the explosion of the big box retailer, run by corporate executive teams who have no connection to the community. These corporations usually redistribute their gathered wealth via Wall Street, leaving Main Street to fend for itself.

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      • How to Have a Positive Car Buying Experience

        How to Have a Positive Car Buying Experience

        I have always been fascinated by how much value I always seemed to get out of a well serviced used vehicle. As an early driver, I never had the luxury of borrowing my parent’s vehicle, or a friend’s car; so I had to be my own best guarantee, making sure I was getting the most out of every vehicle purchase I made. I have been a driver for over 23 years, accumulating a record of having over a million miles behind the wheel, including multiple coast to coast trips. During that time, I have own and driven a number of vehicles, and so I decided to share with you some of my practices in how I have managed to maximize my vehicle purchasing experience, thus getting the most value for your money.

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      • Does NJ Hate Green?

        Is the Garden State Really Green?

        The latest decision of Christie administration to let Exxon Mobile off the hook ends a ten year dispute between the corporate giant and the Garden State. The Christie administration settled a long lasting environmental dispute for pennies on the dollar; upsetting some environmentalist and representatives in the legislature. Letting the world’s most profitable energy company off the hook after causing massive damage to the environment is just the beginning of a string of controversial environmental policies made in the Garden State. In the article in the New York Times “Shortchanging New Jersey by Billions,” written by former New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (NJ DEP) Commissioner Bradley M. Campbell, on March 4, 2015, explains this issue in great detail.

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      • Innovation Is Key

        Innovation Is Key

        History will show, every time the United States’ free market system was met with economic crisis, innovation and technology ushered in at the eleventh hour to save the day. Our great nation and its free economy has faced over forty-seven recessions, since very conception. Advances in farming technology allowed us to overcome the challenges an economic engine which depended on agriculture production in the late 1700’s. After the Civil War it was the race to connect America coast to coast that spurred on the age of the railroads. Evolutions in manufacturing processes and the spread of available electric power allowed for hard goods to cost less and be readily available on demand in the late 1800’s.

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      • What the Frack

        What the Frack?

        The argument and debate of fracking is still alive and well.  Head of one of the largest multinational oil and gas companies in the world, Exxon Mobil CEO Rex Tillerson who was one of the most outspoken industry leaders on the practice of hydraulic fracturing, also known as fracking, joined a lawsuit to stop construction of facilities that are common place to a fracking operation near his homestead in Texas.  I find that interesting since Exxon Mobil is one of the leading companies in the oil and gas industry who has adopted the practice of fracking which is a practice that most associate the recent resurgence and rise of the energy industry in America.  So I have to ask “what the frack?”

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      • Samuel Burlum and Frank Basile

        The Birthplace of Green Energy

        It is came as no surprise when the World Green Energy Symposium announced that it would hold its 2014 Expo in Niagara Falls, N.Y., the very birthplace of green energy.  With just six weeks to go, the Niagara Falls Convention Center will play host to the World Green Energy Symposium; where attendees including but not limited to energy and technology industry leaders, representatives from governing agencies, scholars from schools of thought, green policy advocates, celerities, and individuals/entities who are seeking out green solutions; will share information from energy conservation to public policy initiatives.

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      • Fuel Efficient Trucks

        Obama’s Call for Fuel Efficient Trucks

        Both in his State of the Union Address and at a speech in which he gave in Upper Marlboro, Md., the President has called for higher fuel economy standards for heavy duty and medium duty trucks.  This initiative will work in parallel with the cause to reduce harmful vehicle emissions which have a negative impact on air quality, which are already in place.  The President will push for the tougher standards by 2016.  Both the EPA and the DOT are leading this initiative and will be developing and issuing a Notice for Proposed Rulemaking on this subject matter, with more stringent policy to be drafted by 2016 and instituted 2014 to 2018.

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      • War on Trucking Part 1

        The War on Trucking-Part 1

        The trucking industry has always been a very competitive arena, owner-operator versus large national carriers; trucking has for the most part been a tough way for one to make a living.  In today’s volatile market, trucking has had many competitive factors that affect whether transporting a load is profitable.  Rising cost of fuel and tolls, highway taxes and costly repairs, price wars set by the dispatching brokers, rising insurance cost, and the initial layout of replacement or upgrading equipment (truck and trailer) are just some of the ongoing concerns one must face when behind the wheel of a rig.  Today new threats are emerging and are instruments of war against the trucking industry, causing many fleet owners to go for broke and consumers to face rising cost of consumer goods.

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      • War on Trucking Part 2

        The War on Trucking-Part 2

        As continued of a three part series, I took a look inside the war being waged on the American truck driver.  Two major issues have forced both national carriers and owner-operators to have concern about the profitability of the trucking industry.  We previously spoke about the environmental compliance lurking in the shadows nibbling at the heels of the transportation industry, forcing owner-operators to go for broke.  Truckers willing to take a pro-active position on becoming greener in their operations want the freedom of choice of what technology works for their fleet and budget.   Many trucking fleets have been taking steps to become sustainable, and they have identified that young consumers take into consideration the environment when chosen to do business with other companies.

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      • War on Trucking Part 3

        The War on Trucking-Part 3

        As a part of a three segment series, I took a look inside the war that is being waged on the American truck driver.  Two major issues have forced both national carriers and owner-operators to have concern about the profitability of the trucking industry.  We previously spoke about the environmental compliance lurking in the shadows nibbling at the heels of the transportation industry, forcing owner-operators to go for broke.  Truckers willing to take a pro-active position on becoming greener in their operations want the freedom of choice of what technology works for their fleet and budget.   Many trucking fleets have been taking steps to become sustainable, and have identified that young consumers consider the environment when chosen to do business with other companies.

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      • Buy Local

        This Holiday, Buy Locally

        It is that time of the season in which many travel to the mall to purchase gifts for their family and friends.  As many scour the internet and the newspaper for coupons and deals on merchandise, they begin to plot their plan of action, as if they were generals prepping their battle plan to conquer the world of retail.  The dawning of commercials and circulars enticing consumers with blockbuster early bird door-buster deals and discounts only rallies the troops to ready themselves to part with their hard earned cash.  It has become a custom in the United States to stand on a line beginning at 4:30 in the morning, the very day after Thanksgiving, in being one of the first people in that zip code to buy that new trendy item, thus officially ushering in the holiday consumer season.

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      • Real Heroes

        Real Heroes of the Storm

        I want to take a moment and thank those who have been on the forefront of the relief and recovery efforts of Hurricane Sandy, in my home state of New Jersey.  Recently, I was on my way home last Sunday from the Mid-west on some business, (ironically meeting with county government department heads on lessening their environmental impact) and there I was on route 80, finding myself surrounded by a swarm of commercial vehicles.  My trip began with leaving the City of Rockford, Illinois Saturday night, and by the time I hit Indiana, I was sharing the highway with fleets and fleets of vehicles, driven by those that would be now assisting in our recovery efforts from what is considered the “largest storm to ever hit the Northeast”.

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      • Green Jobs

        Where are All of the Green Jobs?

        Wow, what a great question. As many people sit idle without gainful employment, either they were on unemployment, or their unemployment benefits ran out, many ask the question what are they going to do now in order to provide for their families.

        In tough economic times, many of the filtered-down government subsidized programs have lost their funding, only prolonged the inevitable, long lines at the unemployment office. Many of the upstarts in the environmental, energy, and green technology industry sectors jumpstarted by government grants and incentive programs have only lost the fuel in their tank, now creating the ripple effect of workforce to go for broke.

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      • System Integration

        Sustainable Me

        Many Fortune 500 companies have a roadmap around sustainability and environmental mitigation.  There is statistically a correlation between economic reward and environmental stewardship. Firms such as Wal-Mart, BJ Wholesale, General Electric are just a few who have designed a framework of institutional practices and procedures that limit risk and liabilities while maximizing their employment opportunities and profits.

        These same practices and procedures are tools that are not just for large corporations.  In tough economic times every edge to save resources and consider environmental concerns into our daily business should be a consideration.

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      • Save Money On Gas

        Save Money on Gas

        n tough economic times, and with prices at the gas pump still hovering around $3.25 per gallon, many of us look to alternatives to lower our fuel usage.  Some of us have even explored into upgrading our larger, older vehicle for a smaller more fuel efficient model.

        But there are many basic no cost/low cost practices that we can use in order to save a few bucks at the pump, and get the most out of the vehicle we already own.

        These simple tips are some of the basic practices we tend to overlook that aid in compromising our fuel savings and vehicle performance.

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