Recently in In the News Category

PermitsUSA ~ Innovative Solution

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The Nevada State Contractors Board (NSCB) recently received the National Association of State Contractors Licensing Agencies' 2014 Innovation in Regulation Award, an award that recognizes innovation, creativity, and excellence in regulation of contracting/construction industries. NSCB was recognized for its efforts in 2012 to partner with The Home Depot and local building departments to create and launch PermitsUSA, a kiosk system placed in The Home Depot stores allowing contractors and consumers to purchase building permits from multiple jurisdictions at one time.

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One More Reason To Treat Yourself To A McFlurry...

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The Sacramento Ronald McDonald House recently broke ground on a project to double the capacity of its housing facility located at 49th Street on the U.C. Davis Medical Center campus with a $6 million expansion. The expansion will add 20 bedrooms to the existing 18 bedroom facility, and add a kitchen, dining area, indoor playroom and fitness facilities. The 18,000 square foot expansion was made possible from a variety of fundraising efforts.

There are a total of 11 Ronald McDonald's Houses in California. Reportedly, McDonald's funds approximately 16% of the financial needs, which includes donating $0.15 for each McFlurry sold.

Additional Source: Sacramento Ronald McDonald's House will double capacity in $6 expansion; Ronald McDonald House Charities

Greater Sacramento Area Economic Council Wants YOU

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UPDATE: Sacramento Business Journal, CEO-led economic development group searches for leader (Jul. 23, 2014)

The Sacramento Business Journal recently reported that Up to 40 CEOs back new business recruitment effort for the capital region. Sacramento.jpgThe recently formed Greater Sacramento Area Economic Council reportedly "will be modeled after an economic development group in Phoenix that has made several trips to Sacramento to talk to various stakeholder groups." The new council is expected to attend national and international business recruitment events to sell Sacramento along and to utilize other methods of actively recruiting Sacramento business.

What would it take for you to join us here in the capital region?

Additional Source: The Sacramento Bee, CEO group plans Sacramento economic development push (Jun. 24, 2014)

Photo: Bev Sykes, State Capitol, Sacramento (Dec. 11, 2003) - Creative Commons

Would You Consider Paving the Way for Your Workers to Obtain a College Degree?

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Recently, Starbucks has been in the news for "giving its baristas a shot at an online college degree." Starbucks has reportedly team upped Arizona State University to offer certain of its employees access to an online undergraduate degree available at a steep discount (the "Starbucks College Achievement Plan"). Starbucks and ASU News reported that "Through this innovative collaboration, partners based in the United States working an average of 20 hours per week at any company-operated store (including Teavana®, La Boulange®, Evolution Fresh™ and Seattle's Best Coffee® stores) may choose from more than 40 undergraduate degree programs taught by ASU's award-winning faculty, such as electrical engineering, education, business and retail management."

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University of Texas Arlington Plans to Offer Master of Construction Management Degree

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Beginning in the fall of 2014, the University of Texas at Arlington plans to offer a new Master of Construction Management (MCM) degree with an option to take courses online to help meet industry demand in Texas, especially in the thriving North Texas region. It will focus on management of construction projects in three main categories: (1) heavy, which includes highways, pipelines and infrastructure; (2) residential and commercial construction; and (3) general construction. Southern Association of Colleges and Schools' approval for the program is required and it is expected by August 2014 . Once its approval is obtained, students may apply and be admitted to the program.

Additional Sources: Loud Buzzing Coming From Downtown Austin

Minnesota to Host Super Bowl LII in New $1 Billion Multi-Purpose Stadium

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Apparently it's true, "If you build it, the NFL will come." NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell announced Tuesday, May 20, that Minnesota was awarded the right to host Super Bowl LII, "[k]eeping with the tradition of rewarding teams with new stadiums." It confirmed that "[o]ne reason behind the league giving the nod to Minnesota is the nearly $500 million in public money going toward the team's new facility."

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WSJ critical of EPA's consideration of a "pre-emptive" veto of the Pebble Mine Project

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By Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman

This week the Wall Street Journal published Exposing the EPA, an editorial that was very critical of EPA's consideration of a "pre-emptive" veto of the Pebble Mine Project, a proposal to develop America's largest copper and gold mine in Southwest Alaska. The Journal writes that EPA has been planning for several years to exercise its authority under the Clean Water Act (CWA) even before a permit has been filed with the US Amy Corps of Engineers (Corps of Engineers). This controversy highlights the problems inherent in the CWA's division of authority between the Corps of Engineers and EPA with respect to the administration of CWA Section 404's dredge and fill permitting authority. Under the CWA, the discharge of a pollutant into navigable waters is regulated by EPA under CWA Section 402 with regard to most point source discharges while the CWA Section 404 authorizes the Secretary of the Army, acting through the Corps of Engineers, to issue permits for the discharge of dredged and fill material into navigable waters. However, CWA Section 404(c) also authorizes EPA to veto the Corps of Engineers' specification of a disposal site specified in the permit.

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What happens when construction workers are hungry?

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Instead of sexist catcalls, construction works yell: "I'd like to show you the respect you deserve!" "A woman's place is where she chooses!" "You know what I'd like to see? A society in which the objectification of women makes way for gender-neutral interaction free from assumptions and expectations" in a real-world extension of Snickers' "You're not you when you're hungry" campaign. Check out the YouTube video titled Aussie Builders surprise public with loud empowering statements.

Additional Resource: AdWeek, Construction Workers Yell Messages of Empowerment to Women in Snickers Stunt ... So when you're hungry, you're not a creep?

Building Around Nature - Literally

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Construction is set to begin in April on a highway bypass south of College Station, Texas. But a group of ancient oak trees sits near the site where the road will run. The Texas Department of Transportation ("TxDOT") intended to remove four of the trees, each 200 to 300 years old, which stood in the way of the planned bypass. And the safety of the nearby trees, including a massive 500 year-old oak tree thought to be one of the oldest trees in Texas, could not be guaranteed.

But community outcry has forced the TxDOT to reassess. For nearly 150 years, Regina McCurdy and her family have owned the land on which the ancient oak trees sit. The last 7 of those years, she and her family have been fighting with the TxDOT to save the trees.

It appears their pleas in favor of nature were finally heard. Last week, the TxDOT decided to redesign the road. The new design will use a narrower median to allow the road to be built around the oak trees. According to John Barton, TxDOT Deputy Director, it is an "urban design in a rural setting." Additionally, an arborist will monitor the trees during the construction process to ensure their survival.

Now THAT is sustainable design.

Are You Immune To A Cyber-Attack Or Data Breach?

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Not surprisingly, after the cyber-attacks that occurred at a couple (or perhaps few) large retailers over the holidays there has been much discussion about the need to ramp up efforts to protect against such attacks. According to a Guide entitled Cybersecurity in the Golden State that was recently issued by California Attorney General Kamala D. Harris, "[i]n just the first three months of 2013, there were more than one billion Cyberattacks," and "[i]n 2012, 50 percent of all targeted attacks were aimed at businesses with fewer than 2,500 employees." It might surprise you, but according to the Guide, "[s]ecurity threats can be broadly categorized in to the following categories:

1. Social Engineering Scams
2. Network Braches
3. Physical Breaches
4. Mobile Breaches
The Guide is directed at small businesses to assist them in protecting against cyber-attacks and data breaches. It outlines recommendations for "businesses to help protect against and respond to the increasing threat of malware, data breaches and other cyber risks." More specifically, a "cyber-attack" (aka "cyber-warfare" or "cyber-terrorism") is generally understood to include "any type of offensive maneuver employed by individuals or whole organizations that targets computer information systems, infrastructures, computer networks, and/or personal computer devices by various means of malicious acts usually originating from an anonymous source that either steals, alters, or destroys a specified target by hacking into a susceptible system." Examples of cyber-attacks include installing spyware on a personal computer or mobile device.

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Friday Favorites - New TV Show Catches Contractors Off Guard

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Not only is the government out to sting contractors (as noted by G2G's Amy Pierce here), now Hollywood is too. Rima Suqi's New York Times interview, "Getting Contractors to Man Up" (subscription required if you've used up your free articles) notes that SpikeTV has a new show about bad apple contractors. Hosted by Adam Carolla (who you may remember from "Loveline" and "The Man Show"), the show is geared toward helping homeowners who have hired contractors whose work has been sub-par. The show lures unsuspecting contractors to a decoy house on the premise of providing a bid, and then surprises them with a camera crew. The contractors are then offered a choice--fix the work under the show's supervision, return the money they were paid by the homeowner, or face a court battle with the homeowner in which the show will assist the homeowner. Not surprisingly, according to the interview, most contractors choose to finish the job.

"To Catch a Contractor" premieres this Sunday, March 9, at 10 p.m./9 p.m. Central. You can find out more about the show at Spike TV's site here. Am I the only one hoping at least one contractor will choose the court option?

What is the Construction Industry's "Bliss Score"?

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Recently I've come across a number of articles reporting on what I will refer to as the "bliss" factor for employees, measuring, for example, happiness with their current career path, with the city in which they work, etc. happy.jpgCareerBliss has published a number of bliss lists, evaluating what it considers to be the "key factors" which affect work happiness, including, for example: "one's relationship with their boss and co-workers, their work environment, job resources, compensation, growth opportunities, company culture, company reputation, their daily tasks, and job control over the work that they do on a daily basis" to come up with an overall "bliss rating" or "bliss score." A number of you with careers in the construction industry have reported that you are blissfully happy.

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Notre Dame Announces $400 Million Project That Includes Premium Seating In The House Rockne Built

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On January 29, 2014, The Observer, a student-run, daily print and online newspaper serving Notre Dame and St. Mary's, reported that Notre Dame "is hoping to begin massive construction of Notre Dame Stadium after the conclusion of the 2014 football season," after interviewing University President Rev. John I. Jenkins, C.S.C. It confirmed that the "Notre Dame Board of Trustees has endorsed a plan to build three buildings totaling 750,000 square feet that will surround the Stadium." The "Campus Crossroads Project" is expected to cost $400 millions, and to take 33 months to construct from start to finish. President Jenkins confirmed that, ideally, the University would make the decision to go ahead with the project in August and start building after Notre Dame's home finale against Louisville in November.

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Pay Now ... Or Pay Later: $3.5 Million For 700 Steelworkers (And Their Attorneys)

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January 8, 2014, Judge Jon S. Tigar, U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, in Cordy v. USS-Posco Industries, et al., 2014 BL 4209, N.D. Cal., No. 3:12-cv-00553, granted preliminary approval of the amended settlement agreement between approximately 700 steelworkers and their employer for $3.5 million to settle claims that the company failed to pay its hourly employees for, among other things, time spent donning and doffing protective gear and denying them meal and rest periods. Steelworker.jpgThe amended settlement agreement also provides for injunctive relief, including requiring the employer to confirm that it is "routinely maintaining records of the actual hours worked by its employees" and that "employee wage statements contain all information required under California law."

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Wind Farms - Not Just Green Energy?

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UPDATES: Energy Department Offers Conditional Commitment to Cape Wind Offshore Wind Generation Project (Jul. 1, 2014); Energy Department Announces $10 million for Wave Energy Demonstration at Navy's Hawaii Test Site (Apr. 28, 2014)

On December 12, 2013, in its article titled For Major Cities, Offshore Wind Farms Could Provide Both Electricity And Hurricane Protection, The Huffington Post reported on Stanford University's recent presentation at the American Geophysical Union fall meeting on the feasibility of building "tens of thousands of wind power turbines off the shores of some of America's cities most vulnerable to extreme weather to reduce wind speeds and lessening sever storm surges." wind turbine.jpgReportedly, Stanford civil and environmental engineering professor Mark Z. Jacobson and his research team "concluded that the wind turbines could have sapped Katrina of so much energy that wind speeds would have been reduced by up to 50 percent at landfall and the hurricane's storm surge could have been reduced by about 72 percent." In addition, it "would have generated 0.45 terawatts of wind power."

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