Murray, Vermont’s Chief Information Officer, to lead Vermont Telecommunications Authority

first_imgThomas E Murray, Vermont s CIO and Commissioner of the Department of Information and Innovation, has been named as the Executive Director of the Vermont Telecommunications Authority. The VTA was established by the Legislature in 2007 as part of Governor Douglas proposal to make Vermont the nation s first e-state. Its mission is to ensure Vermonters have access to affordable broadband and cellular service throughout the state. I want to thank Tom for accepting this vital mission at a very critical time in the extended development of the state s infrastructure, said VTA s Board Chairman Chris Dutton. Under Tom s leadership and vision, I m confident that Vermonters will soon see these important services available throughout the state.”I am pleased to join the VTA team and help lead this effort, said Murray. Whether it is for economic development, public safety, smart grid or improving educational opportunities, ubiquitous broadband and cellular services are essential to the state’s future. The VTA has a unique opportunity to build public/private partnerships that will ensure every Vermonter has broadband service available to them and that we have cellular coverage where we need it. While there certainly are challenges bringing these services to rural areas, the recent federal stimulus funding and the resources that the state and private sector have put forth should assist with moving Vermont toward improving these services statewide.” Tom has sixteen years of leadership experience in the telecommunications field having worked with TDS Telecom; Rural Cellular Corporation (UNICEL) and as Director of Telecommunications Infrastructure for the State of Vermont. Tom grew up in Montpelier and graduated from Western New England College with a BS in Business Administration. He currently resides with wife Cynthia and their two children in Middlesex.Source: Governor’s office. 10.19.2009last_img read more

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Comcast rolls out 50 MBPS Internet service in Vermont

first_img(Vermont Biz April 6, 2010) – Comcast, a leading provider of entertainment, information and communications products and services, today announced it has made the leap from broadband to wideband with the launch of next-generation DOCSIS 3.0 in 29 communities across Vermont.  With wideband, Comcast has introduced a new echelon of Internet speeds, redefining the customer experience online and creating a platform for Internet innovation in the years ahead.Comcast now offers among the fastest speeds available today with wideband, including the Extreme 50 tier with download speeds of up to 50 Mbps.  Wideband has also enabled Comcast to double speeds for the majority of its existing residential high-speed Internet customers.The new extreme speeds are now available to residential homes and businesses in the communities of Burlington, Essex, Huntington, Saint George, South Burlington, Williston and Winooski, as well as the Addison County communities of Bristol, Lincoln, Middlebury, Monkton, New Haven, and Starksboro.  Comcast also offers wideband speeds in the Upper Valley area in the towns of Bridgewater, Cavendish, Chester, Hartford, Hartland, Londonderry, Ludlow, Norwich, Plymouth, Reading, Springfield, Weathersfield, West Windsor, Weston, Windsor and Woodstock.“Wideband utilizes our existing advanced fiber-optic network in neighborhoods across our footprint to dramatically enhance our customers’ online experience,” said Pam Mackenzie, Vice President for Comcast in Vermont.  “This new service will enable us to continue to offer our customers even faster speeds and an entirely new realm of Internet innovation.”As part of the wideband deployment, Comcast has launched a new 50 Mbps premium speed tier to its residential and business customers.  This new service is ideal for households or businesses simultaneously using several computers or Internet-connected devices.  They also appeal to those who simply want some of the fastest speeds available today:New Residential TierExtreme 50, offers up to 50 Mbps of downstream speed and up to 10 Mbps of upstream speed at $99.95 a month.*With Extreme 50, Comcast customers will be able to download a high-definition movie (6 GB) in about 16 minutes, a standard-definition movie (2 GB) in about five minutes and a standard-definition TV show (300 MB) in a matter of seconds.  Customers with Extreme 50 also will be able to download digital photos, songs and games faster than ever.In addition to the new speed tier, Comcast also is increasing speeds for most of its existing customers:Performance tier customers will benefit from doubled downstream and upstream speeds, offering up to 12 Mbps and 2 Mbps, respectively.Performance Plus customers will be upgraded to Comcast’s Blast! tier, which will double their download speeds to up to 16 Mbps and provide up to 2 Mbps of upload speed. Plus, with PowerBoost technology, customers are able to enjoy even faster speeds to download and upload files such as videos, games, music and photos.New Business Class TiersBusiness customers will also benefit from wideband with increased efficiency and productivity.  Customers can sign up for the Deluxe 50 Mbps / 10 Mbps tier for $189.95 a month, which includes a full suite of features and support.  As part of their service, Comcast Business Class customers receive Microsoft Communication Services, providing corporate class e-mail, calendaring and document sharing, as well as additional benefits such as firewall protection, static IP addresses, multiple e-mail addresses and business class 24/7 customer support.  Existing Business Class customers also will receive speed increases in the near future – speeds on the Starter tier will be doubled to up to 12 Mbps / 2 Mbps – and a second new Premium Tier is also now available, offering speeds up to 22 Mbps / 5 Mbps for $99.95 a monthAs of today, Comcast has rolled out the new wideband technology to more than 75 percent of its footprint across the nation, which means that more than 38 million homes and businesses can now enjoy one of the fastest Internet services in the country.For more information on Comcast’s wideband services, customers can call 1-800-COMCAST or visit www.comcast.com/fastestfast(link is external).* Pricing for residential customers and requires subscription to Comcast Cable service.About Comcast in VermontSince entering Vermont in November 2006, Comcast has aggressively expanded its services across the state, investing in its advanced fiber-optic network to bring broadband services to previously unserved homes and businesses and partnering with local communities.  The company has launched a number of its advanced services in this time, including Digital Cable with On Demand, High-Definition Television Service, Digital Video Recorders, Comcast High-Speed Internet service, Digital Voice, and the company’s Business Class suite of voice, Internet and cable television services for small and medium-sized businesses.  In addition, Comcast has offered programming of special interest to Vermonters.  Comcast also assists local non-profit organizations in Vermont with financial, in-kind and employee volunteer support.About Comcast CorporationComcast Corporation (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK) (www.comcast.com(link is external)) is one of the nation’s leading providers of entertainment, information and communication products and services.  With 23.6 million cable customers, 15.9 million high-speed Internet customers, and 7.6 million Comcast Digital Voice customers, Comcast is principally involved in the development, management and operation of cable systems and in the delivery of programming content.Comcast’s content networks and investments include E! Entertainment Television, Style Network, Golf Channel, VERSUS, G4, PBS KIDS Sprout, TV One, 11 regional sports networks operated by Comcast Sports Group and Comcast Interactive Media, which develops and operates Comcast’s Internet businesses, including Comcast.net (www.comcast.net(link is external)).  Comcast also has a majority ownership in Comcast-Spectacor, which owns two professional sports teams, the Philadelphia 76ers NBA basketball team and the Philadelphia Flyers NHL hockey team, and a large, multipurpose arena in Philadelphia, the Wachovia Center, and manages other facilities for sporting events, concerts and other events.Source: SOUTH BURLINGTON, VT – (April 6, 2010) – Comcast# # #last_img read more

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Fitch downgrades $537 million Vermont Municipal Bond Bank general resolution bonds to ‘AA’

first_imgSource: Fitch Ratings CHICAGO–(BUSINESS WIRE)– 11.17.2010 Fitch Ratings assigns an ‘AA’ rating to the following 2010 Vermont Municipal Bond Bank bonds, issued under the 1988 General Resolution:–$24,280,000 (federally taxable recovery zone economic development bonds) series 5.The bonds are expected to sell via negotiation during the week of Nov. 15, 2010.In addition, Fitch downgrades $536,855,000 in outstanding general resolution bonds to ‘AA’ from ‘AAA’.The Rating Outlook is Stable.RATING RATIONALE:–The rating downgrade is due to the program cash flows failure to pass Fitch’s ‘AAA’ stress test.–The program’s pledged reserves and loan repayments, excluding federal subsidies, allow the bonds to withstand borrower defaults of up to 20.3% for four years without causing an interruption in bond payments. This is consistent with Fitch’s criteria for assigning an ‘AA’ rating given the loan pool’s borrowers’ credit quality, size and diversification.–The program, which consists of 298 borrowers, is diverse with low single-borrower concentration.–The program’s loan security is strong, with approximately 98% of all loans backed by a general obligation pledge and additional protection from borrower defaults through a state-aid intercept mechanism.KEY RATING DRIVERS:–Fitch will continue to evaluate the bond bank’s ability to balance future leveraging with program resources to maintain borrower default tolerance levels that pass Fitch’s ‘AA’ stress test scenarios.–Credit quality of the bonds is linked to repayment performance on the program’s loan portfolio.SECURITY:Program bonds are secured by borrower loan repayments and debt service reserve funds. A state moral obligation on the reserve fund and a state-aid intercept provision for borrowers provide additional credit enhancement.CREDIT SUMMARY:Established in 1970, The Vermont Municipal Bond Bank (VMBB) is a quasi-state agency. It is administered by a five-member board consisting of four gubernatorial appointees and the state treasurer. The bond bank issues bonds and uses the proceeds to make loans to local government borrowers throughout the state. Virtually all of Vermont’s eligible municipalities use the bond bank as their primary borrowing vehicle because it offers local government borrowers the lowest cost of capital.The loan pool consists of 298 borrowers from cities, towns, counties, school districts and other local governments throughout the state. Approximately 98% of all loans are backed by a general obligation pledge; the remaining are backed by utility pledges from four borrowers. About 51% of the loans are to school districts, which are further backed by an intercept mechanism that includes any state funds payable to borrowers. State aid is reportedly over 90% of school district debt service. The loan portfolio’s largest borrower, Springfield School District, comprises only 5% of the portfolio. The top 10 borrowers account for 33% of the total outstanding loan balance.Fitch analyzed the default tolerance of the VMBB loan pool using a stress test it also applies to state revolving funds and other municipal loan pools. The stress test considers loan quality, single risk concentration, reserve fund size, and debt service requirements. Due to the already tight margins on the program’s stressed cash flows, with the issuance of the 2010 series 5 bonds, the program cash flows fail to pass Fitch’s ‘AAA’ stress test by $4.4 million and $2 million in 2014 and 2027, respectively; this scenario assumes that no scheduled federal debt service subsidies are received. Per its report ‘Build America Bonds Broaden Municipal Market — Credit Considerations’ dated April 27, 2010, Fitch assesses the ability of the issuer to pay full interest on the BABs, regardless of the subsidy. While Fitch believes there could be offsets to some annual subsidy payments, it believes that VMBB management would take action to address the reasons for the offset and avoid multiple years with no subsidy, including the use of certain optional redemption provisions for its federally subsidized bonds. Even if the federal subsidies were considered in Fitch’s analysis, the stressed cash flows would still miss Fitch’s ‘AAA’ test by $1.3 million in 2014. Nevertheless, the program’s pledged reserves and loan repayments, excluding the federal subsidies, allow the bonds to withstand borrower defaults of up to 20.3% for four years without causing an interruption in bond payments. This is consistent with Fitch’s criteria for assigning an ‘AA’ rating given the loan pool’s borrowers’ credit quality, size and diversification.The debt service reserve fund, which is sized at the least of maximum annual debt service, 125% average annual debt service, or 10% of bond proceeds, is funded with bond proceeds and invested in U.S. treasury and agency securities. Pledged reserves currently total $51.3 million, or 9.5% of bonds outstanding. In addition, the bank currently maintains approximately $10.9 million in unrestricted general fund reserves, which are not pledged to bondholders but may be used if a deficiency occurs. The bonds are also supported by a state moral obligation to replenish the debt service reserve fund if it falls below its minimum specified level. Neither the intercept nor the moral obligation has ever been utilized, because no borrower has defaulted on a loan repayment since the bond bank began operations in 1970.Loan payments are due 15 days before the bond payment dates. Under Vermont’s state intercept provision, if a borrower fails to make its scheduled loan repayment, the bond bank will certify the failure of that payment with the state treasurer. The state treasurer would then pay the defaulted loan amount to the bank’s trustee from amounts appropriated and payable by the state to the defaulted borrower, if available. If sufficient state aid is unavailable, it will be paid from subsequent interceptable state aid payments, with bond bank reserves covering the temporary shortfall. To date, this mechanism has not been tested as there have not been any loan defaults in the history of the program.Additional information is available at www.fitchratings.com(link is external).Applicable Criteria and Related Research:–‘Revenue-Supported Rating Criteria’ (Oct. 8, 2010);–‘State Revolving Fund and Municipal Loan Pool Rating Guidelines’ (April 28, 2008);–‘Build America Bonds Broaden Municipal Market – Credit Considerations’ (April 27, 2010).For information on Build America Bonds, visit www.fitchratings.com/BABs(link is external).Applicable Criteria and Related Research:State Revolving Fund and Municipal Loan Pool Rating Guidelineshttp://www.fitchratings.com/creditdesk/reports/report_frame.cfm?rpt_id=3…(link is external)Revenue-Supported Rating Criteriahttp://www.fitchratings.com/creditdesk/reports/report_frame.cfm?rpt_id=5…(link is external)Build America Bonds Broaden Municipal Market — Credit Considerationshttp://www.fitchratings.com/creditdesk/reports/report_frame.cfm?rpt_id=5…(link is external)ALL FITCH CREDIT RATINGS ARE SUBJECT TO CERTAIN LIMITATIONS AND DISCLAIMERS. PLEASE READ THESE LIMITATIONS AND DISCLAIMERS BY FOLLOWING THIS LINK: HTTP://FITCHRATINGS.COM/UNDERSTANDINGCREDITRATINGS. IN ADDITION, RATING DEFINITIONS AND THE TERMS OF USE OF SUCH RATINGS ARE AVAILABLE ON THE AGENCY’S PUBLIC WEBSITE WWW.FITCHRATINGS.COM. PUBLISHED RATINGS, CRITERIA AND METHODOLOGIES ARE AVAILABLE FROM THIS SITE AT ALL TIMES. FITCH’S CODE OF CONDUCT, CONFIDENTIALITY, CONFLICTS OF INTEREST, AFFILIATE FIREWALL, COMPLIANCE AND OTHER RELEVANT POLICIES AND PROCEDURES ARE ALSO AVAILABLE FROM THE ‘CODE OF CONDUCT’ SECTION OF THIS SITE. last_img read more

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Online labor demand up 500 in Vermont, down nationally

first_imgOnline advertised vacancies gained 500 in Vermont but dipped slightly nationwide by 13,600 in October to 3,933,400, according to The Conference Board Help Wanted OnLine (HWOL) Data Series released today. The October drop follows a decline of 44,000 in September and a decrease of 164,000 in August.  The Supply/Demand rate stands at 3.54, indicating there were 3.5 unemployed for every online advertised vacancy in September, the latest monthly data available for unemployment. “The good news is that labor demand did not deteriorate further in October, but at the same time we have no clear sign that demand is picking up,” said June Shelp, Vice President at The Conference Board. The drop of 513,000 in demand over the last seven months has largely offset the gain of 763,000 in early 2011 and narrowed the average monthly gain for 2011 to 25,000. In October, occupational categories that continued to decline in labor demand included both Legal and Management occupations. Office and administrative support occupations were brighter; they posted a gain of 47,000 over the last two months. (See occupational detail section.)REGIONAL AND STATE HIGHLIGHTSIn October:The Midwest and West dip while the Northeast and South hold steadyPennsylvania, among the 20 largest States, is flat while other States show an overall downward trendIn October, the Midwest dipped 14,500, reflecting losses in 5 out of 6 of its largest States.  Minnesota was the only one of the larger states posting a gain (+2,500) in October. This was the first monthly gain for Minnesota since June 2011.  Ohio and Michigan experienced declines of 3,900 and 3,100 respectively in October while advertised vacancies in Missouri were down 2,100.  Illinois and Wisconsindropped 1,400 and 600 respectively, and both were states that have seen declines in advertised vacancies over the last few months. Among the less populous States in the region, Indiana and Iowa fell 1,900 and 1,300 respectively while North Dakota and South Dakota gained 500 and 200 respectively.Labor demand in the West was down slightly by 13,900 in October and was led by Washington State, which lost 9,300. California, the region’s largest State, rose 1,900 after a combined loss of 59,000 for the previous four months. Arizona remained virtually unchanged with a slight gain of 100. Colorado and Oregondeclined by 600 and 100, respectively. Over the past 5 months, Oregon has slipped by a total of 9,800. Among the small States in the West, Utah gained 500, New Mexico dropped 1,300, Idaho fell 500, andNevada lost 400.In October, the Northeast rose slightly by 13,600, reflecting gains in 3 of 4 of its large States.  Pennsylvania experienced the largest increase, 6,200.  New York gained 4,500 after a combined 6-month loss of 51,000.  New Jersey rose 3,300, after two months of declines.  Labor demand in Massachusettswas basically unchanged in October (-200).  Over the last five months, advertised vacancies inMassachusetts have declined nearly 20,000.  Among the smaller States in the region, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Connecticut gained 900, 500, and 200 respectively while New Hampshire dropped 500.The South also posted a modest increase of 4,700, reflecting slight gains in four out of six of its large States in October. Florida experienced the largest gain, 4,200.  Next was Georgia with a gain of 2,700, partially offsetting a combined 4-month loss of 33,100. Texas gained 2,600, and North Carolina rose 1,600.  Maryland dropped 2,800.  Since May 2011, labor demand in Maryland has slipped by over 27,300.Virginia fell 1,000 for a combined 5-month drop of nearly 15,000. Among the smaller States in the South,Alabama dropped 1,300, Arkansas lost 1,000, and Oklahoma fell a mere 100 while Tennessee gained 1,000.The Supply/Demand rate for the U.S. in September (the latest month for which unemployment numbers are available) stood at 3.54, indicating that there are close to 4 unemployed workers for every online advertised vacancy.  Nationally, there are 10 million more unemployed workers than advertised vacancies.  The number of advertised vacancies exceeded the number of unemployed only in North Dakota, where the Supply/Demand rate was 0.89.  States with the next lowest rates included South Dakota (1.46), Nebraska(1.52), Vermont (1.71), Alaska (1.78), and New Hampshire (1.95). The State with the highest Supply/Demand rate is Mississippi (7.73), where there are close to 8 unemployed workers for every online advertised vacancy. There are a few other States in which there are at least five unemployed for every advertised vacancy.  These include South Carolina (5.17), California (5.08), Kentucky (5.01), and Alabama(5.00).It should be noted that the Supply/Demand rate only provides a measure of relative tightness of the individual State labor markets and does not suggest that the occupations of the unemployed directly align with the occupations of the advertised vacancies (see Occupational Highlights section).OCCUPATIONAL HIGHLIGHTSIn October:Demand for Office and Administrative Support shows an upward bounceAds for Production workers and Sales staff level off following several months of declinesChanges for the Month of OctoberIn October, twelve of the twenty-two Standard Occupational Classifications (SOC codes) that are reported separately declined while nine posted some gains and one, Community and Social Services, was unchanged.  For most of the occupational categories the October change, whether up or down, was modest.  Among the top 10 occupation groups with the largest numbers of online advertised vacancies, demand forOffice and Administrative Support occupations rose 30,100 to 468,700.  This followed a September rise of 17,000.  Occupations that underwent increases in October included Receptionists and Information Clerks, Customer Service Representatives, and Executive Secretaries and Administrative Assistants. The number of unemployed in these occupations remains above the number of advertised vacancies with nearly 4 (3.81) unemployed for every advertised vacancy.Healthcare Practitioners and Technical occupations, in contrast, posted the largest decrease, 25,000, to 506,600.  Largely responsible for the drop were decreased advertised vacancies for Registered Nurses and Family and General Practitioners. However, the number of advertised vacancies in this occupational category continues to outnumber job-seekers by 2.6 to one (0.38 S/D based on September data, the latest unemployment data available).Labor demand for Management workers also declined in October, down 6,000 to 371,800, led largely by a decrease in demand for Medical and Health Services Managers and Marketing Managers. Demand for workers in this occupational category has fallen 96,000 since May.  There are close to 2 unemployed for every advertised vacancy in this occupational category (S/D of 1.91).Two occupations posting increases in October included Transportation and Material Moving and Sales and Related.  Demand for Transportation and Material Moving workers rose 8,900 to 198,900.  This increase was led by an increase in demand for Truck Drivers.  The number of unemployed in this occupational category continues to outnumber the number of advertised vacancies by close to 6 to 1 (S/D of 5.58).  Labor demand for Sales and Related workers rose 8,700 to 510,700. This increase, following a September drop of nearly 20,000, was led by an increase in demand for Retail Salespeople. The number of unemployed in this occupational category continues to outnumber the number of advertised vacancies by about 3 to 1 (S/D of 3.11).Longer View of Labor Demand for Selected Occupations”Looking at the 22 broad occupational categories over the ten months of 2011, the patterns for labor demand have been quite different, with some occupations easier to categorize in terms of their trend than others,” said Shelp.  Construction and Extraction, for example, has had a very slow but relatively steady increase throughout 2011; it has risen an average of 2,000 a month to 76,600 in October. The demand for Legal occupations, on the other hand, after stalling in early 2010, has declined rather sharply in the last seven months; it has dropped an average of 946 ads/month to 21,200 advertised vacancies in October. Other occupations that have lost ground in the last few months and continue their slide in October include Architecture and Engineering; Healthcare Support; Management; Life, Physical and Social Sciences; Community and Social Services and Computer and Mathematical.  “For other occupations, we will need another few months to tell if demand is stabilizing,” said Shelp.  For example, demand for Production workers, (117,000 advertised vacancies in October) is closely in line with the September level; it declined only 247, which is a hopeful sign that demand is stabilizing. “The increased demand for Office and Administrative Support in the last two months (+47,000) is positive note,” adds Shelp, “but the monthly average throughout 2011, at 456,000/month, is a level that is 117,600 fewer ads per month than in 2007.”      For the job-seeker, the difficulty of finding a job is a factor of the number of openings as well as the number of people seeking work in that profession. The broad occupational groups that can be termed “favorable,” where there are more advertised vacancies than unemployed people seeking positions, includeComputer and Math, Healthcare Practitioners and Technical, and Life, Physical and Social Sciences. Occupations where finding a position is more challenging and where there are more unemployed than advertised vacancies include Construction (18.9 unemployed for every available opening);  Food Preparation and Serving (9.6); and Production Work and Personal Care, both with over 8 unemployed for every available opening.  METRO AREA HIGHLIGHTSWashington, D.C., Oklahoma City, Boston, and Minneapolis-St. Paul have the lowest Supply/Demand ratesIn October, 38 of the 52 metropolitan areas for which data are reported separately posted over-the-year increases in the number of online advertised vacancies.  Among the three metro areas with the largest numbers of advertised vacancies, the New York metro area was down 5,600, or 2.2 percent, from itsOctober 2010 level and the Washington, DC metro area was down 3,600, or 2.5 percent, from last year.  In contrast, the Los Angeles metro area was up 2,900, or 1.9 percent, from last year’s level.The number of unemployed exceeded the number of advertised vacancies in all of the 52 metro areas for which information is reported separately. Washington, DC continues to have the most favorable Supply/Demand rate (1.30) with about one advertised vacancy for every unemployed worker. Oklahoma City, Boston, Minneapolis- St. Paul, and Honolulu were metropolitan locations where there were fewer than two unemployed looking for work for every advertised vacancy. On the other hand, metro areas in which the respective number of unemployed is substantially above the number of online advertised vacancies include Riverside, CA ‘ where there are nearly nine unemployed people for every advertised vacancy (8.94) ‘ Miami (5.84), Sacramento (5.14), Los Angeles (4.71), Detroit (4.67), and Las Vegas(4.63).  Supply/Demand rate data are for August 2011, the latest month for which unemployment data for local areas are available.PROGRAM NOTESThe Conference Board Help Wanted OnLine ® Data Series measures the number of new, first-time online jobs and jobs reposted from the previous month on more than 1,200 major Internet job sites and smaller job sites that serve niche markets and smaller geographic areas.Like The Conference Board’s long-running Help Wanted Advertising Index of print ads (which was published for over 55 years and discontinued in October 2008 but continues to be available for research), the new online series is not a direct measure of job vacancies. The level of ads in print and online can change for reasons not related to overall job demand.With the December 1, 2008 release, HWOL began providing seasonally adjusted data for the U.S., the nine Census regions and the 50 States. Seasonally adjusted data for occupations were provided beginning with the December 2009 release. This data series, for which the earliest data are for September 2005, continues to publish not seasonally adjusted data for 52 large metropolitan areas.People using this data are urged to review the information on the database and methodology available on The Conference Board website and contact us with questions and comments. Background information and technical notes and discussion of revisions to the series are available at: http://www.conference-board.org/data/helpwantedonline.cfm(link is external).The underlying online job listings data for this series is provided by Wanted Technologies Corporation.  Additional information on the Bureau of Labor Statistics data used in this release can be found on the BLS website, www.bls.gov(link is external).The Conference BoardThe Conference Board is a global, independent business membership and research association working in the public interest. Our mission is unique: To provide the world’s leading organizations with the practical knowledge they need to improve their performance and better serve society. The Conference Board is a non-advocacy, not-for-profit entity holding 501 (c) (3) tax-exempt status in the United States.WANTED Technologies Corporation.WANTED is a leading supplier of real-time sales and business intelligence solutions for the media classified and recruitment industries. Using its proprietary On-Demand data mining, lead generation and CRM (Customer Relationship Management) integrated technologies, WANTED aggregates real-time data from thousands of online job sites, real estate and newspaper sites, as well as corporate websites on a daily basis. WANTED’s data is used to optimize sales and to implement marketing strategies within the classified ad departments of major media organizations, as well as by staffing firms, advertising agencies and human resources specialists. For more information, please visit: http://www.wantedtech.com(link is external).  SOURCE The Conference Board 31-Oct-2011last_img read more

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Ben & Jerry’s admits first flavor was vanilla

first_imgBen & Jerry’s Homemade, Inc,Everybody knows the outlandish combination of chunks and swirls that put Ben & Jerry’s on the map over 30 years ago but few people correctly guess the first flavor the two real guys ever churned out. Mint with chocolate cookies? Cherry Garcia? Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough? The answer may surprise you.Co-founders Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield knew there needed to be a creamy, delicious ice cream that could stand on its own before adding any chunks and swirls. Since 1978 the duo stirred up every imaginable flavor combination ‘ many that had never been tried before. Still, Greenfield and Cohen are quick to point out that the first flavor an ice cream maker must perfect is the one without any chunks or swirls whatsoever. That’s why their first flavor was: Vanilla.‘While Ben & Jerry’s is synonymous with funky and chunky concoctions like Phishfood, Chunky Monkey and Chubby Hubby, the company has been heralded for its Vanilla ice cream in national independent taste tests year after year,’ said Leo Acquino, Director of the Flavor Guru team. ‘Usually testers cite our flavor, texture and creaminess;’ added Acquino, ‘it’s that homemade quality that we’re most proud of.’Customers agree too. Vanilla is the best-selling flavor in Ben & Jerry’s Scoop Shops nationwide. As the holiday season approaches, and you need the tastiest vanilla beside that pie you’ve perfected, there are even more reasons for choosing Ben & Jerry’s vanilla than simply for its award-winning taste. Ben & Jerry’s believes that it’s what’s inside that counts. That means never missing out on an extra scoop! Ben & Jerry’s pint is still a pint (a full sixteen fluid ounces) versus the downsized 14 ounces of other competitors. While it is the ‘giving season’ you shouldn’t be paying full price for less than a full pint of super premium ice cream.Furthering the company’s belief that it’s what’s inside that counts, Ben & Jerry’s Vanilla ice cream always starts with fresh and wholesome cream and milk from Vermont family farmers who promise not to use recombinant bovine growth hormone. In addition Ben & Jerry’s uses Fair Trade vanilla beans, paying developing world farmers a guaranteed fair price for their harvest. The result is a sweet deal all around. The effort combines great taste plus good business decisions which results in Ben & Jerry’s Vanilla not only being the company’s first flavor, but also being the world’s best vanilla.For more information on Ben & Jerry’s or to find your local Scoop Shop, visit www.benjerry.com(link is external). For up-to-date information on the company, coupons, images and more, become a fan on Facebook at www.facebook.com/benjerry(link is external).About Ben & Jerry’sBen & Jerry’s produces a wide variety of super-premium ice cream and ice cream novelties, using high-quality ingredients including milk and cream from family farmers who do not treat their cows with the synthetic hormone rBGH. The company states its position on rBGH* on its labels. Ben and Jerry’s products are distributed nationwide and in selected foreign countries in supermarkets, grocery stores, convenience stores, franchise Ben & Jerry’s Scoop Shops, restaurants and other venues. Ben & Jerry’s, a Vermont corporation and wholly-owned subsidiary of Unilever, operates its business on a three-part Mission Statement emphasizing product quality, economic reward and a commitment to the community. Contributions made via the employee led Ben & Jerry’s Foundation in 2009 totaled over $1.7 million. Additionally, the company makes significant product donations to community groups and nonprofits both in Vermont and across the nation. The purpose of Ben & Jerry’s philanthropy is to support the founding values of the company: economic and social justice, environmental restoration and peace through understanding, and to support our Vermont communities. For the full scoop on all Ben & Jerry’s Scoop Shop locations and fabulous flavors, visit www.benjerry.com(link is external).* The FDA has said no significant difference has been shown and no test can now distinguish between milk from rBGH treated cows and untreated cows. Not all the suppliers of our other ingredients can promise that the milk they use comes from untreated cows.last_img read more

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Opponents to New York natural gas pipeline push energy efficiency, renewable options

first_imgOpponents to New York natural gas pipeline push energy efficiency, renewable options FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Crain’s New York Business:New York is a city of canyons. But for Ashley Fallon, a child of Breezy Point who now lives in Rockaway Beach, her portion of Queens can seem closer to California than Manhattan. The view from her surfboard might include any of three species of whales, two kinds of dolphins and baby seals. Walking on the beach, she sometimes spots the rare snowy owl.Fallon knows the beach was not always this clean or the water this full of life. That is one reason she has joined a coalition of local civic and environmental groups fighting the proposed Williams Transco natural gas pipeline. The groups, including Surfriders Foundation, 350.org and the Rockaway Beach Civic Association, insist the pipeline could inflict lasting environmental damage on the area.The 24-mile expansion of existing pipeline infrastructure would run 17 miles underwater, from New Jersey’s Raritan Bay across lower New York Bay to a Transco pipeline already in place three miles offshore from the Rockaway Peninsula. The projects supporters are no less passionate than Fallon. They say the Northeast Supply Enhancement Project, or NESE, will address a looming natural gas shortage in Brooklyn and Queens and on Long Island that could inflict lasting damage on the region’s economy.The battle is playing out amid another gas shortage that has raised alarms across the region’s business community: Con Edison has declared a moratorium on natural-gas hookups in southern Westchester. As of March 15, the utility said, it will not be able to guarantee service for new projects, effectively stifling developments. National Grid, Williams’ partner in the NESE project, is warning of a similar moratorium in Brooklyn and Queens and on Long Island should New York not approve the billion-dollar pipeline by May 15. The state’s Department of Environmental Conservation, which is weighing public comments, could block the pipeline if it found the project does not comply with the state’s water quality standards.But the project’s critics maintain the energy sector is at a tipping point, with new technology making strides in efficiency, and renewables having more potential. They cite gains from new boilers, building retrofits, eco-friendly building codes and more efficient electric heating and cooling systems.“You have to consider the alternatives now more than ever,” said Tom Sanzillo, a former New York state deputy comptroller who is director of finance for the pro-renewables Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis. “And the reason you have to do that is because conditions in the industry are changing so fast and there are more and more alternatives and innovations.”More: Business groups say natural-gas delivery has reached a crisis point. Environmentalists agreelast_img read more

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Ørsted CEO expects strong growth in U.S. renewable market to continue even without incentives

first_img FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享S&P Global Market Intelligence ($):Denmark’s Ørsted A/S is ramping up its expansion into the U.S. renewables market, where it expects continued cost reductions and higher prices for corporate power deals to fuel sustained growth after renewable tax credits are phased out.The largest offshore wind producer in the world broke into the U.S. onshore wind market with its acquisition of Chicago-based wind developer Lincoln Clean Energy LLC in October and announced on May 1 that it was buying a subsidiary of solar developer Coronal Energy, marking its first dip into photovoltaics and storage.“The U.S. solar market has significant potential,” Ørsted CEO and President Henrik Poulsen said on a call to discuss the company’s first-quarter earnings on May 1. “We believe the combination of onshore wind, solar PV and storage gives us a very strong platform for long-term growth in the U.S.”Poulsen said the acquisition includes Coronal’s development team and utility-scale solar and storage project pipeline. The company, headquartered in Pasadena, Calif., and backed by Japanese giant Panasonic Corp., has a multi-gigawatt-development pipeline in more than 20 states, according to its website.Ørsted expects its burgeoning U.S. onshore business to thrive despite the phaseout of renewable production tax credits, or PTCs, this year, as the subsidies will be offset by higher prices on corporate power purchase agreements, or PPAs, and continued cost declines, especially for onshore wind.“Beyond the PTC expiry, there is no doubt that the market will need to go for realignment,” Poulsen said. “Right now, corporate PPAs have been struck at prices that are very low and I’ll claim are very attractive to the corporations buying green power … because of the PTC support. I have no doubt that we’ll continue to be a strong market in the U.S., also beyond PTC,” he added.More ($): Ørsted sees bright prospects for U.S. expansion after end of renewable tax credits Ørsted CEO expects strong growth in U.S. renewable market to continue even without incentiveslast_img read more

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Lawmakers criticize U.K. Export Finance Agency for funding fossil fuel projects

first_imgLawmakers criticize U.K. Export Finance Agency for funding fossil fuel projects FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Reuters: Britain must stop financing fossil fuel projects abroad by 2021 as it undermines the nation’s efforts to combat climate change, a report by lawmakers said on Monday.The report, which targets financial support provided by the UK Export Finance (UKEF) agency, was published as Britain debates plans to set tougher climate goals and move toward a net zero emissions target by 2050.“The government claims that the UK is a world leader on tackling climate change,” said Mary Creagh, chair of the Environment Audit Committee, commenting on the report published by the committee. “But behind the scenes the UK’s export finance schemes are handing out billions of pounds of taxpayers money to develop fossil fuel projects in poorer countries,” she said.UKEF, which aims to help British businesses win contracts abroad, allocated 96% of its energy sector support, or 2.5 billion pounds ($3.2 billion), to support fossil fuel projects in five years from April 2013, the report said.The committee said the support was incompatible with Britain’s efforts to reduce greenhouse gases and also carried risks for taxpayers.More: Britain must end financial help for fossil fuel projects abroad: lawmakerslast_img read more

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ExxonMobil stock falls to lowest level since 2010

first_img FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Bloomberg:It’s almost as if the last decade never happened for investors of Exxon Mobil Corp. shares.Once the gold-standard of Big Oil, the stock closed Monday at its lowest since October 2010, amid a slump in oil prices due to concerns about weak demand coupled with a glut. The S&P 500 also posted its worst one-day decline since October.But for Exxon, which dropped out of the index’s top 10 largest companies by market value for the first time last year, the malaise runs deeper than the state of the crude market.Chief Executive Officer Darren Woods is running a counter-cyclical strategy by investing heavily in new oil and gas assets, at a time when many investors are demanding energy companies improve returns for shareholders. Some shareholders are even demanding a plan to move away from fossil fuels altogether.Exxon is ramping up capital spending to more than $30 billion a year, without a hard ceiling, as it develops offshore oil in Guyana, liquefied natural gas in Mozambique, chemical facilities in China and the U.S. Gulf Coast, as well as a series of refinery upgrades. Woods is convinced the world will need oil and gas for the foreseeable future and sees an opportunity for expansion while competitors shy away from such long-term investments.The short-term cost of those investments is that Exxon can’t fund dividend payouts with cash generated from operations, instead resorting to asset sales and borrowing, according to Jennifer Rowland, an analyst at Edward Jones & Co. Exxon is the “clear outlier” among Big Oil companies on that front, she said. Exxon declined to comment.[Kevin Crowley]More: Exxon at a 10-year low shows challenges for oil’s biggest major ExxonMobil stock falls to lowest level since 2010last_img read more

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Outdoor Brands Consume Less Than One Percent of Global Down Production

first_imgFor years animal rights activist groups have targeted high profile outdoor brands in campaigns to halt inhumane practices used in the production of down and feathers for jackets and sleeping bags. But, according to research, such brands consume a tiny fraction of global down production, even at a time when down usage within the outdoor industry is at an all-time high, the European Outdoor Group (EOG) said in a study it released last week.The EOG, which represents 62 outdoor companies, including several U.S. brands, undertook the research to establish the type, quality and quantity of down used across the manufacture of outdoor products.  The effort was supported by Outdoor Industry Association (OIA), which encouraged its members in the U.S. to contribute to the research.A total of 1,058 tons of down was measured and the association has estimated that this represents somewhere in the region of 65-to-75 percent of the down used by European/American outdoor brands – giving a projected outdoor market volume of between 1,410 and 1,630 tons of down annually.  This is equates to less than one percent of the total global production of down, estimated to be at least 270,000 tons.Down feathersPatagonia, The North Face and Allied Feather & Down have all responded to criticism of inhumane practices in the down supply chain over the past year, launching initiatives to trace their down supply all the way back to individual villages and hatcheries. Some have argued such initiatives are futile given the fractured nature of the supply chain — and the fact that the food and bedding industries have much more demand.EOG said the survey will be used to influence the impact that outdoor, bedding and other manufacturers may have on the environment, communities in the supply chain, and animal welfare.“It is common knowledge that over the last few years there has been a growing focus from NGOs, retailers and consumers on the ethical sourcing of down within our industry,” said Mark Held, general secretary of the EOG. “Meanwhile, numerous brands are working hard to ensure that their use of down meets high ethical and environmental standards.  At the EOG, we have continued to maintain our approach of providing research support for our members and thereby facilitating both the debate and the move to best practice in terms of sourcing.“The fact that our industry’s volume of down use equates to less than one percent of total production suggests one reason why our leverage across the supply chain is limited and requires a combined effort,” said Mark Held, general secretary of the EOG. “We are confident that we are following the correct approach in trying to work together as an industry and promote best practices, while encouraging the wider down users and supply chain to get further engaged.  This research is an important step in achieving our long term aim, which is to help find a way to achieve one single industry standard, that is held by an independent body, is cost effective, and acceptable to both businesses and NGOs.The data that has been collected will be used to inform the future direction of the association’s CSR/sustainability program.  Full details of the down research results are only available to participants, but exceptions are possible in the case of companies that are prepared to actively support the general aim of an improved supply chain.  For more information, visit www.europeanoutdoorgroup.com.Down Jacket Womens Frontlast_img read more

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