- 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
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))
- Created on 16 April 2013
The old saying, “The check is in the mail,” is often a ruse not worth heeding. But beginning April 12, checks will begin going into the mail for 4.2 million mortgage borrowers who were in the foreclosure process in 2009 or 2010 and who likely experienced robo-signing or other deficiencies by their mortgage servicer.
Initially, the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) and the Federal Reserve required servicers to hire consultants to do detailed reviews of borrower case files and determine specific harms that borrowers received to qualify for monetary rewards. This process ultimately became unwieldy, slow and expensive without producing timely benefits to borrowers.
Earlier this year, the OCC and the Federal Reserve negotiated a settlement with 13 mortgage servicers. They agreed to pay a total of $3.6 billion in cash payments ranging from $300 to $125,000 to all affected borrowers. More than 90 percent of the payments due borrowers are expected to be paid by the end of April. Remaining borrowers are expected to be paid no later than mid-July.
Borrower payments will be based upon the stage of foreclosure and in some cases, gravity of servicer errors. The largest payments will go to borrowers with completed and wrongful foreclosures. The vast majority of checks payable to borrowers will be for less than $1,000.
The spring 2013 payments will include all but two of the servicers – Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley – agreeing to the settlement. A second and separate announcement in the near future will address payments for the two holdouts
In the meantime, for the other 11 servicers, a payment schedule includes eligible borrowers in any stage of foreclosure in 2009 or 2010 with one of the following servicers, affiliates or subsidiaries: Aurora, Bank of America, Citibank, HSBC, JPMorgan Chase, MetLife Bank, PNC, Sovereign, SunTrust, U.S. Bank and Wells Fargo.
The largest payment of $125,000 is reserved for one of two types of completed foreclosures: military families covered by the Servicemembers Civil Rights Act (SCRA) and loans that servicers foreclosed when borrowers were not in default.
In cases where borrowers were completely foreclosed despite fulfilling all requirements during a trial loan modification plan, or if a servicer failed to convert borrowers to a permanent modification after successfully completing the trial period, a $25,000 payment will be issued.
According to the schedule, additional payments will be made to borrowers experiencing one of the following errors:
- Modification request denied;
- Modification request received; but no underwriting decision reached
- Interest rates charged in excess of SCRA limits;
- Foreclosures begun while borrowers were protected by federal bankruptcy laws;
- Servicer failure to engage borrowers in loan modification or other loss mitigation.
Eligible borrowers were recently notified of their eligibility for payments under the settlement. Any borrower who believes he/she may be covered by the agreement should call toll free at 1-888-952-9105 to verify their inclusion and also update their contact information.
Payment acceptance does not remove any borrower’s right to private legal actions. The agreement explicitly denies servicers permission to ask borrowers to sign a waiver of any legal claims in exchange for payment.
Any borrower needing foreclosure prevention assistance is encouraged to contact the Homeowner’s HOPE Hotline at 888-995-HOPE (4673), or visit www.makinghomeaffordable.gov.
- Created on 16 April 2013
(CNN) -- Smartphones are powerful tools, and with the right apps and accessories, they can become even more so. A California-based tech company has launched a tool that turns a regular iPhone 4 or 4S into a powerful biometrics scanning tool. AOptix has unveiled its app and a wrap-around device for turning the smartphone into a portable iris, face, fingerprint and voice scanner.
The hardware and software system, the first of its kind for the iPhone, is called AOptix Stratus, which comprises both the iOS app --- which will cost $199 --- and a wrap around device for an iPhone 4 or 4S. The app uses the iPhone camera to snap pictures of faces and record voices, while there's an extra camera that does iris scanning and a small sensor to scan fingerprints. AOptix will also release a software development kit to its customers so they can customize the app to their own needs.
In February, the Department of Defense paid AOptix $3 million to develop an enhanced solution using the tool that's being launched today.
The idea behind this system is to make biometrics recognition easier and mobile. Think of a border protection agency that could use iris recognition at an airport's customs checkpoint, or a police or law enforcement agency that needs to verify identities on the go and can't afford large, cumbersome hardware to do so. That's where Stratus comes in.
Making the system work on an iPhone makes everything easier. "If you used an iPhone before, you can use this," said AOptix's Director of Product Marketing Joey Pritikin.
In a teleconference demonstration, Pritikin showed how the system works. The user inserts the iPhone in the device, plugging it in using the 30-pin connector, and then launches the app. The app interface is user-friendly and simple, and lets the user register the biometrics of the person in front of him with relative ease. Using an iPhone also lets the app register GPS coordinates and transmit all the data through the phone's mobile Internet connection.
The app is designed to help the user determine the distance at which to stand in front of the other person and automatically takes a picture when the subject is in the right range. This automatic capture works both with the iPhone camera and with the built-in iris scanner. All pictures taken are stored and easily accessible within the app. The app allows the user to create a person's profile including his or her iris, face, voice, fingerprints and biographical information. This trove of data is then accessible with the tap of a finger.
Pritikin explained that when they started working on the project, they had to decide whether they wanted to use an off-the-shelf product like the iPhone, or develop their own, perhaps using a platform like Android. But they eventually settled on the iPhone for various reasons.
"It is very secure as a platform, which is, naturally, important to our customers," he said. "[It is] very stable, you can buy the same device globally. They have a very strong ecosystem for supporting accessories like the one we created."
Pritikin declined to say how much the device costs, stressing the fact that it is not a consumer product but, rather, it is intended for companies or government agencies. Stratus could be used at border crossings, during disaster relief operations (when regular infrastructure for identity verification isn't present), for remote mobile banking or even remote healthcare.
Countries like India, which is deploying national ID programs to give every citizen a unique number linked to biometric data (PDF), could also be target customers.
Asked if there's any country AOptix would refuse to sell their products to, given that they could be used for surveillance and profiling, Pritikin answered that his company follows the guidelines of the U.S. Department of Commerce and won't export their products to countries like Iran or North Korea.
Pritikin declined to identify specific customers who have already bought Stratus, but said that the first shipments will be at the end of April.
- Created on 16 April 2013
After starting her first business at the age of 14, an Atlanta high school student is about to be recognized for her business acumen under the bright lights of New York City.
Youth Entrepreneurs® Georgia student JuShawn Carter, a senior at Benjamin E. Mays High School, began her business, CakesbyFourteen, in 2009. It has grown over the years and in 2012 generated gross annual sales of more than $6,000 – no small feat for a teenager.
Carter offers decorated cakes from her home and provides a wide variety of tastes and styles. "Growing up, I tuned in constantly to the cake shows, and then my cake decorating hobby became my passion," says the young pastry chef.
"Working with pastries takes a lot of time and creativity. I plan to attend La Cordon Blue and extend my knowledge in the culinary field."
On April 23, 2013, Carter and Franchesca L. Thompson, a Youth Entrepreneurs® Georgia teacher at North Atlanta High School, will be honored at the 25th Anniversary Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship (NFTE) Gala at The Waldorf Astoria Hotel in New York.
Youth Entrepreneurs® Georgia is a high school business education program that helps create productive members of society and improve communities by cultivating an entrepreneurial way of thinking.
For more information on Cakesbyfourteen visit cakesbyfourteen.webs.com.