The Front Royal-Warren County Economic Development Authority ended 2016 on an upbeat after a year of frustration revolving around delays to Avtex site re-development.
At the EDA’s final meeting of 2016, Executive Director Jennifer McDonald told her Board, First, that the State Commonwealth Transportation Board had approved the Town of Front Royal’s application for Industrial Access funding for the West Main Street extension that could be worth as much as $500,000 in unmatched state funding for one of the primary access roads to the Royal Phoenix Business Park;
And Secondly, that a new Environmental Protection Agency Superfund Project Manager had given the okay for walking trails through the Conservancy Park section of the property.
During earlier monthly reports McDonald had already informed both the Front Royal Town Council and Warren County Board of Supervisors that final authorization of the first property sale to a commercial client, Information Technologies Solutions contractor ITFederal, had been authorized by the Department of Justice on September 23, 2016.
That authorization, which according to EPA officials required approval by all involved Avtex Superfund stakeholders, including the EPA/DoJ, the Town of Front Royal, Warren County, the EDA, and former owner and mandated cleanup partner FMC Corporation, was required to remove the ITFed parcel from a $2,060,000 lien on the property. That lien is designed to provide some compensation to the feds and FMC for the millions of dollars in cleanup and remediation costs spent by both over a quarter century of work at the site. The feds alone spent over $24-million there.
As first reported at Royal Examiner, the EDA request to remove the 30-acre ITFederal parcel from the lien to facilitate a one-dollar sale price was sent by then-EDA and Warren County attorney Blair Mitchell to the EPA on September 18, 2015. Unfortunately for time considerations, long-time EPA Superfund Project Manager Kate Lose retired, leaving a vacuum of EPA leadership concerning the Avtex Superfund site just as the EDA request was made. But with Fed sale approval and State road funding authorization now in place, along with a new Superfund Project Manager, things appear to be taking a positive turn.
Even State DEQ approval of a stormwater management plan vilified by outgoing Town Councilman Bret Hrbek as a primary delaying factor on November 28, was received over a year BEFORE Hrbek made his recent allegations of possible partisan hanky panky by the Democratic Governor’s Office. According to a document provided to us by McDonald, DEQ verified the necessary permitting was in place under guidelines established in July 2014, on November 16, 2015. The EDA-ITFederal sale negotiation wasn’t completed until September 2015.
McDonald has predicted ITFederal will start breaking ground this spring on the first of as many as eight buildings shown in their site plan. Exactly what kind of businesses may occupy the bulk of space in those buildings remains a matter of unresolved contention on the Town Council. BUT I guess the majority thought process is as they said in the baseball fable “Field of Dreams” – “Build it and they will come” … whoever “THEY” may be.
Despite low temperatures delaying the laying of the Leach’s Run Parkway road surface, McDonald said contractors remained confident the key north-south connector road on the Town’s east side would be ready for traffic by April. The project deadline is June 24, 2017.
She also reported positive movement on the EDA’s Workforce Housing Project designed to provide 36 rental units in three buildings off an extension of Royal Lane on Front Royal’s south side. The Front Royal Town Council gave final approval to a Special Exception Request for the extension of a dead-end cul d’sac road enabling the project on November 14. Only Bébhinn Egger opposed the permitting, citing authorization of the construction project without attaching what her colleagues agreed were necessary road improvements to dead-end Royal Lane. Royal Lane will require an extension to reach the currently landlocked property donated to the EDA in return for tax credits to the former owners. Royal Lane already funnels traffic from nine single-family homes, 99 apartments and two commercial buildings onto John Marshall Highway.
EDA Board member Greg Drescher, who is also Superintendent of Warren County Public Schools, noted that 65 percent of new teachers hired by the system did not live in the county. The primary rationale for EDA development and management of an apartment complex is the need for affordable housing for young professionals, most commonly cited as teachers and law enforcement officers.
McDonald also reported that the Railroad Workers Brotherhood located off Shenandoah Shores Road near the Happy Creek Commercial Park was seeking an exemption from parking requirements attached to a planned expansion of that facility. She noted the RR Brotherhood would have to buy additional land for the expansion if they did not receive the permitting exemption from the Town. McDonald said the building now houses office space essentially for one person.
The EDA Board and staff also bid farewell to Bill Sealock. Sealock is resigning to take the seat on the Front Royal Town Council he won in the November Election. Sealock was presented with a plaque and acknowledgement of his five years on the EDA Board. – “I’ll miss you all, we’ve had a good run,” he told his colleagues. He added that as a Town Councilman he would not contribute to “silly fights with the County – it ought to be cooperative for both,” he said of the attitude he will take to Town Hall.
Essential qualities every plumber needs
Are you looking for an interesting career that doesn’t involve sitting behind a desk? If so, plumbing may be right for you. This trade provides job security and the opportunity to do something different every day. However, not everyone can become a plumber. Here are a few qualities needed to successfully practice this profession.
Plumbers need to be able to access awkward spaces, lift heavy objects and spend many consecutive hours on their feet. You don’t need to be a pro athlete to be a plumber, but you do need to be reasonably strong and fit.
Plumbers must be able to read, analyze and create plans quickly. They also need the ability to think critically and solve problems in order to efficiently complete each job. Furthermore, the best plumbers are interested in the newest plumbing technologies and products. These tradespeople should be curious and willing to continue learning over the course of their whole career.
Plumbing requires you to be around people all day. Whether you’re working on a job site with other tradespeople or in someone’s home, you need to be able to get along well with people and work as part of a team. And if you decide to start your own business, you’ll also need to be able to manage your employees.
If you think you have what it takes to become a plumber, contact your local trade school and find out how to start a new career in this field.
The “irreplaceable” employee
“No one is irreplaceable” is a common phrase in business, especially in large corporations.
While everyone can be replaced, some employees would be painful to replace. Why? They’ve earned it.
According to Forbes.com, nearly-irreplaceable employees exceed what’s required of them. They know how to address an issue without long explanations. They respect the time of others and practice effective communication.
They listen, observe, understand relevant content, and act upon it. They anticipate the situation and know what to do about it.
They are trustworthy, accountable, and reliable. When his or her manager is out of the office, the irreplaceable employee not hesitant to take on significant responsibilities. They’re loyal.
They initiate new and better solutions. They make recommendations, ask questions, and are willing to help others. They’re upbeat, friendly, outgoing, and optimistic in hard-working, tense hours.
They quickly adapt to change. They don’t resist it and know there must be a good reason for it. They are problem solvers, not complainers. When they come with a problem, they bring their proposed solution.
They don’t need constant attention and motivation. They know what they do and how and why they do it. They know how to motivate their colleagues.
They embrace the big picture without specifically-detailed guidance. They don’t shy away from a new challenge. They’re fast learners and thinkers.
They have in-depth knowledge of the company, its products, processes, clients, and culture. When something new arrives, they can efficiently process it, apply the latest knowledge, and put it into effect.
They’re organized and efficient. They come to work because they want to, not because they have to. They’re the people who invest their time and potential each day to make the company successful.
That’s why they’re “irreplaceable.” Or nearly so.
Truck industry always needs drivers
Trucks transport about 70 percent of all of the freight in the U.S., a $670 billion business and there is plenty of room for help.
Opportunities for drivers are everywhere, including at jobs with top companies, offering excellent money and sterling insurance and retirement benefits.
But, it is also a career that requires both skill and sacrifice.
In terms of skill, it’s not easy to become an expert in navigating a massive rig with an engine six times larger than a car and built for more than a million miles of nonstop running.
Both companies and private schools teach people how to handle rigs, but the demands of the road require experience and even knowledge of the trucks themselves.
To become a driver, you must be 18 years old to drive truck intrastate, 21 across state lines. A commercial driver’s license (CDL) is required to drive any vehicle carrying more than 26,000 pounds, hazardous materials, or oversized loads. To earn a CDL, you must produce a clean driving record, pass a written test, and a Department of Transportation physical.
You also must have good eyesight, hearing, regular use of arms and legs, and normal blood pressure. You can’t use medications affecting your ability to operate the vehicle safely, and employers are required to check their drivers for drug and alcohol use.
For all this, good drivers can earn well over $45,000 in their first year. With some companies, drivers earn over $70,000, according to Truck Driver Salary.
But, as with everything, there is sacrifice.
One of them is the driver’s work schedule. Drivers earning the highest salaries can be gone from 2 to 5 weeks at a time, a schedule that can strain home life, especially for families. Some companies offer guaranteed weekends off, although they probably don’t pay the kind of salary that over-the-road drivers make.
Not every driver is required to shower and sleep at truck stops, though many do. Some companies may offer hotel rooms to drivers.
There is a certain mystique to truck driving. It’s a hard life, but an interesting one that takes a driver to many unique places. Even with the advent of some driverless trucks, there are still plenty of openings in this industry.
The impact of target marketing in small business
Target marketing, according to Inc., is collecting information to determine your ideal customers among those who also need and will pay for your product or service.
For these purposes, you need their age, gender, family size, education level, and occupation. To find out where they are, you need their zip codes, size of the area, its population, and climate.
How does your ideal customer decide to make a purchase? The answer helps you determine why they buy what you’re selling, how much of it they need, and how often they must buy it.
Most social media profiles for your business provide a free demographic breakdown of customers like yours. Zip Codes can furnish vast amounts of info from the U.S. Census Bureau.
If you’re currently in business, your sales data clearly show what your customers are buying, when, and their purchase prices, among other data. For the essential feedback, talk to them in person or on the phone, conduct a few customer surveys. You don’t need a ton of responses to acquire a pretty good sense of your customer base.
In addition to the basic demographics, these should be among the takeaways from your target customers:
Is the distance to your location a problem? Parking? Public Transportation? Do, or can you, deliver?
How do they make a living? Knowing what your primary customers do can help you adjust your hours to fit their needs or devise special offers. Having an idea of the money they can or are willing to spend can help with your pricing. With this kind of information, you can confirm some of your assumptions regarding your customers and dismiss others.
Practical target marketing is almost always beneficial. And genuine interaction with your patrons — plus giving them what they want — is almost always a pathway to loyalty and future growth.
Why Facebook ads are often not profitable for small business
The revenue of Facebook ads is ever-increasing, and small businesses are the reasons why.
But not all small businesses profit.
With 2.2 billion users every day, Facebook will easily surpass $4 billion in advertising this year. It has a global reach that promises highly-targeted audiences.
All this can be managed with a small dollar amount to begin if the audience is local.
Why, then, do 62 percent of small businesses not make any money with their Facebook ads?
The reason has four parts:
1 – Nature of Facebook
Facebook has become a friends, and family favorite and enabling conversation is Facebook’s first mission, according to Facebook itself. It is an after-work pleasure for most. The key idea is that people are taking a break from work or are at home when they are on Facebook. Something to remember.
2 – The service or product
Consumer items like clothes, decorations, games, and toys do sell on Facebook. Maybe this is because Facebook ads come to people when they are relaxed.
3 – Facebook targeting
Facebook’s targeting abilities are widely acclaimed. Yet, it is sometimes impossible to see whether your targeted ad hit the target. You might gets likes, comments, or shares, but many times you won’t get them from your actual audience. Why is this? Facebook claims that ads are shared. Yet, the person who shares is often not the target market. If your results are bad, change targeting, but you will probably never be able to confirm whether any portion of your ad hit your target.
Consumer products that appeal to nearly everyone work best. Service niches, product niches, just won’t work as well. Business products won’t work as well either, though some do.
4 – User skill
Still, if you want to buy Facebook, you must put in the time to become an expert in its targeting and ad styles.
An eye-catching meme-like ad with an offer usually will attract likes and shares, which expand your audience organically.
Book Review: The dark shadows of “The Four”
According to serial entrepreneur and NYU business professor Scott Galloway, they’re The Four Horsemen of technology and digital media.
In his best-selling “The Four: The Hidden DNA of Amazon, Apple, Facebook, and Google,” Galloway casts a harsh light on the dark features of their business models and impact on society.
He calls out Apple for its eagerness to become a luxury brand that maintains high prices for its devices.
Google, he writes, seeks the image of a public utility.
Amazon continues to devour the retail marketplace while leaving local shopping mails deserted if not already closed.
Facebook? According to Galloway’s book, it’s now “the world’s biggest seller of display advertising – an extraordinary achievement, given Google’s brilliant takeover of advertising revenues from traditional media just a few years ago.”
Indeed, Galloway foresees Google and Facebook ultimately in command of more advertising media spending than any two firms in history.
According to the book, from 2007 to 2015–when the average tax rate for the S&P 500 was 27 percent, The Four Horsemen paid much less.
Apple paid 17 percent of its profits in taxes, Google 16 percent, Amazon 13 percent, and Facebook 4 percent.
Meanwhile, the overall impact of The Big Four continues to alter the economy, impede the growth of innovation, and stifle competition. They don’t have many employees, but they do have millions to spend on D.C. lobbyists.
Nevertheless, Galloway believes the breakup of Big Tech will occur because “We’re capitalists.”
This book is a worthy read, especially for those in or starting a new business competing with even a segment of The Four.