- Created on 22 April 2013
Decades ago when the Downtown Connector was built, the area known as Auburn Avenue was literally split in half.
Over the years, the highway's underpass has become home for people who have nowhere else to go and an area that does not attract visitors and businesses. Now, a group of metro area students are working together to develop a plan to solve a problem that has not been addressed by adult planners and engineers. Their results will soon be revealed and presented to government officials for consideration of the New Auburn Avenue.
In less than three months, students from Benjamin E. Mays High School in Atlanta and students from Hiram, Ga., have developed their own versions of what needs to happen to this valuable real estate.
"It will be fascinating to see if the students have come up with ideas that haven't been tapped by the 'powers that be' for years," said Atlanta architect Oscar Harris, who has been involved in mentoring the young people.
City planners will get their first look at what the students envision when they graduate from the Atlanta Center for
Creative Inquiry on Saturday, April 27, at the Georgia Pacific Tower.
A panel of distinguished architects, engineers and construction managers, will also scrupulously review and judge the students' work. Scholarships and internships will be awarded to the top designs, but all the students will benefit from this unusual endeavor.
The students walked along Auburn Avenue during the project and learned the importance the Fourth Ward played in the months leading up to Aug. 28, 1963. This year marks the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s "I Have A Dream" speech. The students talked with historians and people who live and work in the area. Some of the students called their experiences "life changing."
"It has been wonderful to see these students progress and the ripple effect they have on other students...like a drop of water in a pond," said Hebrew Dixon, this year's chairman of the board.
The Atlanta Center for Creative Inquiry (ACCI) began mentoring students attending Atlanta Public high schools in 2004 as part of the Studio for Creative Inquiry program developed by Carnegie Mellon University. The mission of ACCI is to mentor, educate and develop creative abilities in youth to promote future diversity in architecture, engineering and construction. There is no other program like ACCI in the country.
The program is funded totally through private donations and grants. Last year, internationally renowned "stipple" artist Kyle Lane donated one of his rare works to ACCI, which was later acquired by Georgia Pacific in an exclusive auction. All donations are tax deductible.
For more information, go to www.cci-atl.com or call 770-460-7647.
- Created on 19 April 2013
He has a nice house and some fancy rides, but President Barack Obama's salary is embarrassingly low compared to other CEOs. And, it's going down.
In fact, the Obama's tax returns show they made less money in 2012 than in any other year since he took office. The President and First Lady Michelle, who file jointly, had an adjusted gross income of $608,611, down from $789,674 in 2011. They also paid $112,214 in total taxes, compared to $162,074 in 2011, as the family's tax returns, which were publicly released, indicate.
The Obamas' total income came to $662,076, which plummeted nearly 22 percent from $844,585 during the previous year.
The presidential yearly salary comes in at $400,000, and for the previous two years, the Obamas' earnings were $394,800, the difference of $5,200 is attributed to the pre-tax amount of their health insurance premium. Consider that the President of General Motors made $7.7 million last year and the President of Bank of America made $950,000 plus $9.05 million in stock awards.
The monies the Obama's made from various outside business ventures also took a dip. In 2011, the Obamas had business income that came to $441,369, and last year, their earnings dwindled down to $258,772.
As far as deductions, the Obamas claimed a $50,000 retirement plan contribution, two dependents (daughters Sasha and Malia), some mortgage interest, real estate, and state income taxes.
The presidential couple donated $150,034, or about 24.6 percent of their adjusted gross income, to 33 various charities. The largest gift to charity was $103,871 to the Fisher House Foundation, which aids military families. The Obamas paid $29,450 to the state of Illinois.
If you'd like to see more of the Obamas tax return, you can download it at www.Whitehouse.gov, the White House website, where Vice President Joe Biden and his wife Jill have also posted their returns.
- Created on 17 April 2013
The latest free webinar from Verizon's small business team will be held on today, Wednesday (April 17) and feature Jean Chatzky, financial editor of NBC's "Today" show and a nationally known personal finance expert, author and frequent guest on "The View," "Morning Joe" and "The Oprah Winfrey Show."
Small-business owners often invest all of their resources in their business, leaving too little for themselves. In this one-hour live webinar, "Your Money, Your Business and Your Life," Chatzky will provide small-business owners with tips and insights to strike the right financial balance.
Small businesses can participate in several ways: joining the webinar; following @VZSmallBiz on Twitter (www.twitter.com/VZSmallBiz) for tips during the session; or searching in Twitter for #vzsmb.
The free webinar series presented by Verizon's small business team keeps small businesses informed to help them gain a competitive edge. All webinars are available for on-demand replay.
WHAT: Verizon Webinar Series: "Your Money, Your Business and Your Life."
WHEN: Wednesday, April 17, 2 p.m. ET/1 p.m. CT/12 p.m. MT/ 11 a.m. PT
WHERE: Admission to this online webinar is free, but please register at least one
hour before the start of the live webinar to receive an "e-vite." Please
click here to register, or visit http://vz.to/10QuIdt.
WHO: Jean Chatzky, financial editor, NBC's "Today" show
- Created on 17 April 2013
This week on The Urban Business Roundtable, Renita D. Young speaks with David L. Steward, the founder and chairman of Maryland Heights, Mo.-based World Wide Technology Inc. (WWT), the nation’s largest Black-owned business. With 2010 revenues of more than $4.1 billion, WWT is ranked No. 1 on the Black Enterprise 100s list of the nation’s largest Black-owned industrial/service companies.
Steward, who grew up in rural Missouri, spent his early career in jobs including working for the Missouri Pacific Railroad Company and as an account executive with Federal Express. Then, in 1990, he created WWT, a leading systems integrator and the leading supplier of advanced technology solutions to the U.S. government. The company offers products from more than 3,000 manufacturers from around the world and ranks as one of the leading Cisco Systems partners in the country. Steward is also the author of Doing Business By The Good Book: 52 Lessons on Success Straight From The Bible. (Hyperion)
Also, UBR Contributor Samantha Pass sits down with author and self-made entrepreneur Nolan McCants. The owner of a full-service public relations firm by the age of 18, McCants represented Fortune 500 companies, non-profit agencies, entrepreneurs and the entertainment industry, and was recognized in 1990 by the U.S. Small Business Administration as Illinois’ Young Entrepreneur of the Year. In addition to being an entrepreneur and author of the book You Can Do It!: Inspiration and Motivation For Those Daring To Dream BIG, McCants is also a pastor and international speaker, overseer of an international alliance of churches, and an award-winning fine arts photographer. McCants joins the Roundtable to share how he did and how you can do it, too.
And finally, every week on UBR, you’ll hear Pepper Miller’s YOU-TURN segment, get motivation and inspiration from author and entrepreneurial icon Farrah Gray, a weekly wrap-up of business news from USA Today business correspondent Charisse Jones, our Patient Investor Report from Ariel Investments and key economic intelligence for small business owners from our UBR economists Derrick Collins and Rashid Carter.
Pepper Miller is the Founder and President of The Hunter Miller Group and the host of The Urban Business Roundtable, a weekly radio show, sponsored by Ariel Investments, airing CST Wednesdays at 8:30 a.m., Thursdays at 6:30 p.m. and Saturdays at 9:30 a.m. on WVON-AM 1690, the Talk of Chicago. You can also listen live online at WVON.com. Check back each week for UBR Spotlight, which features additional resources, advice and information from and about the topics, entrepreneurs and experts featured on the show. If you have a question you want answered or a topic you want addressed on The Urban Business Roundtable, connect with us on Twitter @UBR1690.
Join more than 1,000 outstanding entrepreneurs and top business experts at the 2013 Black Enterprise Entrepreneurs Conference + Expo hosted by Nationwide, May 15-18, at the Columbus Convention Center in Columbus, Ohio. Expect innovative sessions, high-powered speakers, and an early peek at the products, trends, and services you’ll need to stay ahead of the curve. To register and find out more, follow the hash tag #BEEC on Twitter, “Like” the Black Enterprise Entrepreneurs Conference on Facebook and visit www.blackenterprise.com/ec!
- Created on 17 April 2013
Toyota recently unveiled their 2013 Avalon at a press tour in Cincinnati. The event not only provided the traveling media with a look at the newly designed vehicle, but also an inside look at the company that builds it and its strong commitment to diversity.
Billed a luxury car without the luxury price tag, the Avalon is sure to be a favorite among the African American consumer market. Members of the press got the chance to drive the impressive vehicle and see it being made at the Toyota Motor Manufacturing, Kentucky, Inc. (TMMK) plant.
The plant sits on 1,300 acres and employs about 6,600 people with an annual payroll of approximately $492 million. The annual production capacity is 500,000 vehicles and 600,000 engines. In addition to the Avalon, the plant produces Camry, Camry Hybrid, Avalon Hybrid, Venza, 4-cylinder and V6 engines, axles steering components, machined blocks, cylinder heads, crankshafts, camshafts, rods and axles assemblies/dyes.
James S. Colon, Vice President-Toyota Product Communications, Toyota Motor Sales, U.S.A., Inc., said, “Great cars do not happen without great people.” And great companies are great because of exceptionally talented people such as Colon, who participated in the media event. Toyota is proud of its diversity strategy. According to Colon, 30 percent of the workforce are people of color.
Colon is responsible for gathering and managing information and promotion initiatives for Toyota brand vehicles in addition to conducting product and sales training. He began his career in 1980 and he has held various roles at Toyota regional offices and at TMS headquarters in Torrance, Calif., as well as serving as general manager for the Portland and Chicago regions. He was also vice president of sales and dealer development for the Lexus Division. Most recently, he served as vice president for sales for the Toyota Division and was responsible for sales support for Toyota’s regional offices, public companies and private distributors.
He earned a bachelor’s degree in economics and business at Manchester College in North Manchester, Ind. He currently serves on the board of trustees of his alma mater as well as Clark University in Atlanta, the Black Star Project, The First Tee of South Los Angeles and California State University -Los Angeles. Colon was recently appointed to the board of the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation, where he concentrates on developing leaders, forming policy and educating the public.
He was awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Human Letters last year by Martin University in Indianapolis.
Another key member of the leadership team is Wilbert W. (Wil) James, Jr., president of Toyota Motor Manufacturing, Kentucky, Inc., the largest plant in North America. He provided an overview of the facility to the visiting media and said, “We are proud of the way we do business.” James became the seventh president of TMMK in July 2010.
His began working for the company in 1987. Over a 26-year period, he served in a variety of positions, including General Manager of Assembly and General Manager of Production Administration. He served as Vice President of Manufacturing from 2003-2006. He has also worked at other facilities, including Toyota’s Princeton, Indiana facility, as Senior Vice President for Manufacturing and Quality. In addition, he worked in Long Beach, Calif. as President of TABC Inc.
James received his Associate’s degree (1976) and his Bachelors of Science degree (1978) in mechanical engineering technology from Old Dominion University in Virginia. He directs Toyota Motor Engineering & Manufacturing North America, Inc.’s (TEMA) company-wide diversity and inclusion initiatives. He is an active member of the community, serving on the boards of the Kentucky Chamber of Commerce and the Bluegrass Economic Advancement Movement. He is also involved with the Executive Leadership Conference and Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity.
James insists that everyone be involved in diversity, saying, “That is the Toyota Way.” He said the company develops programs that unite both employees and members of the community. As a good corporate citizen, Toyota donates money to worthy causes in the community.
The company has received numerous awards for diversity, including:
- “Top 50 Company for Diversity” by DiversityInc for six years. In 2012, in addition to being included in the list of Top 50 Companies for Diversity overall, Toyota also ranked seventh in DiversityInc’s Top 10 Companies for LGBT Employees.
- “40 Best Companies for Diversity” by Black Enterprise Magazine for the past seven years.
- Hispanic Business Magazine’s “Top 60 Company for Diversity” for the past three years.
- 2011 “Corporation of the Year” by the National Minority Supplier Development Council (NMSDC).
- Proud member of the “Billion Dollar Roundtable” , recognizing more than $1 billion in annual spending with certified ethnic and women-owned suppliers.
Another valued member of the Toyota leadership team is Latondra Newton, who was promoted to Group Vice President at TEMA in 2013. She began her career at Toyota in 1991 and has held a variety of positions, including General Manager of the Team Member Development Center at TEMA. As Assistant General Manager of Human Resources, Newton started the corporate diversity function for North American manufacturing. She was also responsible for state and federal legislative/regulatory activity, media relations and community relations in her role as Assistant General Manager of Corporate Affairs.
Newton received her bachelor’s degree in management systems from Kettering University in Michigan. She was named one of the 100 Leading Women in the North American Automotive Industry in 2010 and was recognized as a Rising Star under 35 in 2000. As a member of the board of directors for the Manufacturing Institute, she chairs a new initiative focused on enhancing opportunities for women to enter and grow in professional careers in the manufacturing industry.
It was Rob McConnell, Senior Design Engineer at the Toyota Technical Center in Michigan, who brought the new focus to the Avalon. McConnell was the Principal Engineer of the design team that created the 2013 Avalon.
At 35 years old, McConnell is a rising star in the industry. He has been with Toyota his entire professional career. Before graduating from the University of Michigan, he worked at Toyota as an intern. After graduating in 2001 with a degree in mechanical engineering, he remained at the Technical Center, working in the Body Design Department. Now, he leads that department’s team of designers.
Because of his youth, McConnell relates well with his team members, many of whom are also young. Far from getting lost in corporate culture, members of McConnell’s group can be spotted with headphones on rocking to The Roots or Common as they seek inspiration. That inspiration seems to be paying off. McConnell’s team has taken the lead in designing seven different Toyota vehicles, including the Venza, Solara and Tundra. The Avalon was the first car that was totally designed and built outside of Japan. It has completely been re-styled and it has been eight years in the making.
The sleek design and body style of the 2013 Avalon makes it “sexy.” The vehicle makes a bold statement with the larger grill, the larger standard rim sizes and the innovative headlamps. The car has been designed to attract the African American and urban markets. Actor Idis Elba is the vehicle’s new spokesperson.
As long as McConnell’s team can design vehicles like the 2013 Avalon, no one is going to complain about whatever music his team listens to while coming up with the next fresh idea.
(Photo: Toyota’s Rob McConnell (principal engineer), Latondra Newton (Group VP, Toyota Motor North America), Wil James (President, Toyota Motor Company Manufacturing/Kentucky) and Jim Colon (Vice President of Product Communications, Toyota Motor Sales/USA))