Offering Semi-Retirement to Workers Could Slow Turnover

retirement plan label on folder

Providing the flexible option of semi retirement may just slow down high employee turnover in the U.S., even if only momentarily, according to a new survey from The Harris Poll, commissioned by Express Employment Professionals.

 

With employee turnover showing no signs of slowing down, offering older workers a chance to delay full retirement may help slow the exodus—even if only momentarily.

This is according to a survey from The Harris Poll commissioned by Express Employment Professionals.

Retiring employees are expected to account for 28% of turnover in 2023, with U.S. hiring managers reporting among those at their company who retired in the past two years, most commonly 60 years of age or older (79%).

However, in an effort to postpone the time of retirement for employees, some have chosen to offer “semi-retirement,” which allows employees to reduce their hours and/or make a flexible schedule (30%).

Employees appear to take advantage of this offering, as nearly 3 in 5 hiring managers whose company offers semi-retirement say the number of employees choosing to semi-retire has remained the same over the past two years (59%) and nearly 2 in 5 reporting the number of those semi-retiring has actually increased (37%).

Given the contribution of retirement to companies’ turnover, it may be wise for more companies to offer semi-retirement in the hopes of retaining members of their workforce.

 

Retirement Timeline Disruptions

Around the country, Express franchise owners have noticed the disruption in retirement patterns over the past few years.

“Normally, I see or hear retirement announcements from LinkedIn, at various networking events and in newsletters,” said Jon Noceda, a California Express franchise owner. “I have not seen one retirement announcement since early 2022.”

Reggie Kaji, an Express franchise owner in Michigan, has actually seen an increase in employees retiring, hypothesizing that people don’t want to deal with the stressors in today’s workforce.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has also factored into early retirement,” he said. “More people who are older in age have been hanging up their boots because of the increased risk for infection at work.”

Market uncertainty has also played into foregoing retirement for now with skyrocketing inflation and the crashing stock market.

“Due to the uncertainty of our economy, many are extending their career timeline as their retirement funds have been significantly affected,” Noceda said.

 

Dual Benefits of Semi-Retirement

For employees who are somewhat ready to retire and companies that can’t afford to lose top talent, semi-retirement is a win-win situation for both. Semi-retirement could consist of transitioning to a consultant role working fewer hours and with more flexibility.

“Having someone in a semi-retirement role could benefit a company thanks to their experience and corporate knowledge,” Noceda said. “It’s a great benefit for both the employee and employer.”

Extra hands in the workforce are the greatest benefit for Kaji.

“Semi-retirement allows for the retention of the skilled workforce, will taper down the demand for workers and keep wages from continuously increasing,” he said.

Kaji says one of his clients employs an engineer on a part-time contract for 24 months just helping a company with a project. The hiring manager specifically asked them to recruit a retiree for this role.

“As baby boomers continue to age and consider retirement, the labor shortage is only going to get worse,” said Bill Stoller, Express Employment International CEO. “Semi-retirement is one solution to allow experienced workers time to train their successors, ensuring a seamless knowledge transfer and business continuity.”

 

Survey Methodology

The Job Insights survey was conducted online within the United States by The Harris Poll on behalf of Express Employment Professionals between Dec. 1 and Dec. 15, 2022, among 1,002 U.S. hiring decision-makers (defined as adults ages 18+ in the U.S. who are employed full-time or self-employed, work at companies with more than one employee, and have full/significant involvement in hiring decisions at their company). Data were weighted where necessary by company size to bring them into line with their actual proportions in the population. Respondents for this survey were selected from among those who have agreed to participate in our surveys. The sampling precision of Harris online polls is measured by using a Bayesian credible interval. For this study, the sample data is accurate to within + 3.2 percentage points using a 95% confidence level. This credible interval will be wider among subsets of the surveyed population of interest.

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RODEOHOUSTON®, the World’s Largest Rodeo Takes Place in America’s Fourth Largest City from 28 February – 19 March 2023

Man on horse, rodeo

RODEOHOUSTON®, one of the greatest events takes place in Houston every year for 3 weeks.  The world’s largest Rodeo will take place from 28 February – 19 March 2023 at NRG Park with more than 2 million people visiting the Rodeo each year. The Rodeo & Houston Livestock Show takes place beginning throughout the day followed by a live concert every night with a great line up of star entertainers. This year, 20 artists will take the stage during the rodeo representing an array of genres such as country, R&B and pop. 2023 RODEOHOUSTON Entertainer Lineup – Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo

Established as the Houston Fat Stock Show and Livestock Exposition in 1932, the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo™ has grown into the world’s largest event of its kind. With more than 30,000 livestock and horse show entries recorded, the Rodeo hosts exhibitors of all ages from across Texas, as well as several international competitors, trying for a chance to become a Houston champion.

Tickets for the 2023 Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo™ are now available via rodeohouston.com

With more than 7 million residents in its Metro area, Houston is one of the most diverse cities in the United States and a remarkable cosmopolitan destination.  The city is home to a respected 19-institution museum district, award-winning performing arts groups, professional sports teams, a vast offering of international cuisine, and Space Center Houston the official visitors center for NASA Johnson Space Center.

 

Here are some of the new and upcoming openings and developments that make Houston the place to visit in 2023!

 

Houston Zoo’s new Galapagos Islands project:  7 April 2023 sees the grand opening of Galápagos Islands: The first major exhibit of its kind to showcase the remarkable wildlife of the legendary island chain, the Houston Zoo’s Galápagos Islands will immerse guests in an environment evoking the archipelago’s unique landscapes and oceanic habitats and highlight how to protect it for the future. No place on our planet better exemplifies the wonders of unique species, the delicate balance of ecosystems, or the pressing need for conservation action more than the Galápagos. With sea lions, giant tortoises, sharks, and Humboldt penguins, Galápagos Islands at the Houston Zoo will add an extraordinary immersive experience to Houston’s world-class zoo.

Photo credit, Houston Zoo: https://media.houstonzoo.org/a.tlx?l=dipcdiCw

 

New Hotels

The Chifley Hotel (opening January, 2023) – Sheraton Suites Houston, located in Uptown Houston near the Galleria and River Oaks District, will rebrand as The Chifley, Tapestry Collection by Hilton. The rebrand includes renovations to 284 suite-style rooms and 8,000 square feet of meeting space. The name Chifley is inspired by the “schiffli” weaving process, which utilizes hundreds of needles to carefully stitch patterns into lace, reflecting the diverse culture and community in Houston.

Moxy by Marriott Houston (opening 2023)The new 15-story, 118-room hotel is located in the Historic District of downtown Houston. Moxy is a playful, affordable, and stylish hotel brand that boldly breaks the rules of a conventional hotel stay – starting with check-in at the Bar. The animated brand, created for the young at heart, celebrates nonconformity, open-mindedness, and originality above all.

Hyatt Place & Hyatt House Houston Medical Center (opening 2023) – A dual hotel property, the Hyatt Place side offers 157 spacious rooms; while Hyatt House offers 141 residentially-inspired studio rooms and one-bedroom suites with kitchen, aimed at extended-stay guests. Shared amenities include: a pool, a fitness center, a business center and meeting facilities.

 

New Restaurants

Navy Blue, the modern American seafood concept by chef/owner Aaron Bludorn debuted in Houston last November. This is the second restaurant from the former Café Boulud Executive Chef after opening his eponymous restaurant, Bludorn, in 2020. The restaurant name is not only a nod to the ocean but also a homage to Bludorn’s naval aviator father, whose call sign was “Blue.”

Money Cat -This January Chef Sherman Yeung debuted his new modern Japanese cuisine restaurant located in Upper Kirby, where guests are welcomed with an entry wall decorated with the restaurant’s namesake: 270 small, gold cat figurines believed to bring good fortune.

Late August (opening 2023) by chef Dawn Burrell, a James Beard Foundation Award semifinalist, and one of the top three finalists of Top Chef season 18. The new culinary collaboration with 2022 James Beard Award Finalist and Lucille’s Hospitality Group Founder Chef Chris Williams, will explore the soul and intersection of African and Asian flavors through a selection of innovative dishes and experiences. 

 

Planning Your Own Houston Experience

The Houston Marketplace makes it easy for visitors to find, purchase and experience great family activities and things to do in Houston. The platform allows people to search and add a variety of experiences that range from museum passes, tours and top attractions like Space Center Houston and the Downtown Aquarium. Beer enthusiasts can also purchase a Brew Pass, available for 1 or 3 days and experience some of the best local breweries.

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All You Need to Know About Encoders

Encoders are a device used to measure an object’s physical movement or position and convert it into a digital signal. They are commonly used in the UK by accident solicitors and other professionals who must accurately record data in order to provide services. In this blog, we’ll take a look at what encoders are, why they’re important, and the different types available on the market.

What are encoders?

Encoders measure physical motion or position and convert that information into digital signals for use in computers, robots, and other electronic systems. Commonly found in industrial automation, encoders can be used for a variety of tasks, such as measuring the speed of a motor or calculating the distance travelled by an object.

Here’s a quick overview of the different types of encoders:

Mechanical Encoder

A mechanical encoder uses mechanical components such as gears or levers to measure physical motion or position. The most common example is a rotary encoder which measures rotation angle by detecting gear teeth passing between contacts on its stator-mounted housing as its rotor turns. This type of encoder is often used for applications where accuracy is not critical and cost savings, such as controlling motors in toys or appliances, are important.

Magnetic Encoder

Magnetic encoders work by sensing changes in magnetic fields produced by magnets attached to moving objects such as motors or conveyor belts. These devices can be used to measure angular position, angular velocity, linear velocity, and linear displacement—all with very high accuracy and repeatability—and are typically found in machine tools or robotics applications where precise control is necessary.

Electromagnetic Induction Encoder

EMI encoders use electromagnetic induction technology to measure movement without contact between two components, such as rotors and stators in rotating machinery or wheels and rails on vehicles like trains or cars. EMI sensors provide highly accurate data but require specialised hardware for installation, which may add to costs depending on application requirements.

Optical Encoders

Optical encoders use light sensors to detect patterns on reflective surfaces, such as discs mounted on rotating shafts from motors or other moving parts in machines. Optical sensors do not require direct contact between components making them more reliable than EMI sensors. When measuring large distances over time with optical sensors, little maintenance is needed compared to traditional mechanical solutions, like gear teeth-based rotary sensors, which need regular calibration.

Understanding what kind of encoder you need for your application can be tricky business, so it’s important you thoroughly research each option before making your selection. By understanding the purpose of each type, along with their advantages and disadvantages, you’ll be able to determine which one best suits your needs. A little research goes a long way!

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88% of Hiring Managers Would Consider Firing Workers for Content in Personal Social Media Posts

Business man fired, unemployed box and dismissal from job in office

A majority of U.S. hiring managers say they would consider terminating employees for content found in their personal social media posts, according to a new survey from The Harris Poll, commissioned by Express Employment Professionals.

 

Personal social media posts are not off limits to employment determinations as 88% of U.S. hiring managers say they would consider firing employees for content found in workers’ posts.

This is according to a survey from The Harris Poll commissioned by Express Employment Professionals.

Fireable offenses include publishing content damaging the company’s reputation (59%), revealing confidential company information (58%), showcasing and/or mentioning illegal drug use (50%), violating the company’s social media use policy or contract (45%) and showcasing and/or mentioning underage drinking (38%).

Only 12% of U.S. hiring managers say there is nothing a company could fire an employee for based on their social media posts.

When asked the same question, the majority of job seekers (86%) agree companies can fire employees based on their social media posts that reveal confidential company information (64%), violate the company’s social media use policy or contract (58%) or damage the company’s reputation (57%). Further scrutiny extends to content showcasing and/or mentioning illegal drug use (50%) or underage drinking (43%) and showcasing and/or mentioning beliefs different than those held by the company (21%).

 

 

Social Media Use on the Clock

1 in 4 employers (40%) discourage the use of social media during work hours, while 30% provide resources and information on professional social media etiquette. Twenty-six percent of companies have a social media use policy/contract that employees must sign, and 25% encourage their workers to build their personal brand on social media.

Leadership blocks social media sites on company property at 19% of businesses, 17% view or monitor employees’ social media accounts and 13% have access to employees’ social media accounts.

 

 

Access to Workers’ Accounts

“Employees should limit social media use to only breaks and lunchtime,” said Mike Brady, a Florida Express franchise owner. “Without a doubt, social media consumption eats into productive time in the workplace, so personal social media should be conducted on personal time.”

Despite the distinction between personal social media and company-driven usage, Brady believes employers should only actively monitor online accounts used for business. This would apply to more professional positions versus light industrial.

Reggie Kaji, an Express franchise owner in Michigan, however, asserts due to the potential negative impacts on the company’s reputation, even the personal social media accounts of workers are fair game.

“If a potential customer or a current one follows an employee on social media and doesn’t agree with their content, it can harm the relationship,” he said. “Especially with politics and today’s polarizing environment, I prefer not to follow coworkers and customers on most social media other than LinkedIn.”

Regardless of privacy beliefs, both Kaji and Brady say certain content posted online would constitute termination, including anything racist, raunchy, and/or calling out of anyone affiliated with a company in an unprofessional manner and threats or threatening comments.

 

 

Professional Online Presence

One tactic to help mitigate inappropriate posts by employees is to have them commit to a company social media use policy.

“We have a policy in place, and it’s in our handbook,” Kaji said. “I think it’s important to set expectations so if employees violate the policy, it’s not a surprise.”

Brady is a little more hesitant to encourage a policy for what he calls a complicated situation.

“I think employers walk a very fine line here,” he said. “On one side is the right to privacy and free speech and on the other is the employer’s image. Especially in this day and age when accessibility is through the click of a button, the court of public opinion will almost automatically point the finger at the employer for ‘why’ they didn’t know something was good, bad, right or wrong, even if it’s on the employee’s social media account.”

Overall, according to Kaji, employers should remind workers of the importance of maintaining a professional image on social media and how it could impact their careers since a lot of hiring managers look at social media as part of the hiring decision.

“Social media is a powerful tool for expression and connection, but a poor decision in content posting can haunt individuals the rest of their careers,” Express Employment International CEO Bill Stoller said. “The best advice is to refrain from publishing anything you wouldn’t want your boss to see or think you may regret in the future.”

 

 

Survey Methodology

The Job Insights survey was conducted online within the United States by The Harris Poll on behalf of Express Employment Professionals between Dec. 1 and Dec. 15, 2022, among 1,002 U.S. hiring decision-makers (defined as adults ages 18+ in the U.S. who are employed full-time or self-employed, work at companies with more than one employee, and have full/significant involvement in hiring decisions at their company). Data were weighted where necessary by company size to bring them into line with their actual proportions in the population. Respondents for this survey were selected from among those who have agreed to participate in our surveys. The sampling precision of Harris online polls is measured by using a Bayesian credible interval. For this study, the sample data is accurate to within + 3.2 percentage points using a 95% confidence level. This credible interval will be wider among subsets of the surveyed population of interest.

The omnibus survey was conducted online within the United States by The Harris Poll on behalf of Express Employment Professionals from Dec. 13-15, 2022, among 2,041 adults ages 18 and older. Data are weighted where necessary by age, gender, race/ethnicity, region, education, marital status, household size, household income and propensity to be online, to bring them in line with their actual proportions in the population. Respondents for this survey were selected from among those who have agreed to participate in our surveys. The sampling precision of Harris online polls is measured by using a Bayesian credible interval. For this study, the sample data is accurate to within + 2.8 percentage points using a 95% confidence level.

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Outage America: EV Batteries and How They Can Help

The silhouette of power lineman climbing on an electric pole with a transformer installed

Power outages aren’t uncommon, with the rising issues of severe weather causing a strain on the power grid. This has resulted in 84% of Americans being worried about power outages occurring.

From freezing water thawing during long periods of outage to stocking up on canned food, many Americans are finding new ways to survive during these ever-increasing downtimes.

But batteries may be the answer to these problems. Here, we will explore the ways in which batteries can help revolutionize America’s power outage problems.

 

The US’s current power grid problems

Power outages are commonplace across America with the rising affects of global warming and extreme weather conditions hitting many family homes each year. This occurs in each state, with California and Florida being two prominent states hit by this problem.

Many Florida residents were without power for days after being hit by Hurricane Ian – resulting in almost 200,000 homes and businesses being left powerless. This is an issue in both comfort and safety – without necessary electricity, many are left without the basics, including refrigerated produce and water.

Blackouts are particularly dangerous for the vulnerable and elderly, with access to healthcare and emergency services also being impacted. The hurricane knocked out the power for more than four million homes in Florida, and over one million in North and South Carolina, making the efforts of the utility companies to restore the power grid a truncated one.

And with the weather conditions coming in extreme waves, it is likely America will face further outage exposure in the coming year. US power outages have doubled in the last two decades – marking a growing concern for the safety and stability of American living.

 

How batteries can help

Electric vehicle (EV) batteries could help restore the national grid across the country.

Utility companies could harvest the power of these electric vehicle custom batteries and set in place measures to return the unused power back to the electric grid.

This vehicle-to-grid approach is also known as bidirectional charging. Just as the EVs can be charged from the grid, the grid can feed off the unused power of our EVs. This power harnessing technique is already in use in some European countries, while Japan has been using bi-directional power from vehicle-to-home and vehicle-to-business since 2011, helping to stabilize the electric grid and provide additional power where needed.

And with states such as California aiming to stop the selling of gas and diesel cars by 2035 and instead focusing efforts into electric vehicles, this might be a possibility. Amid an uptake of electric vehicles across, there could be enough power to keep houses from experiencing outages.

However, you don’t want to be giving your power back for free.

Incentives for you to return stored power could include financial benefits, discounts on EV charging in the future, and home priority when it comes to restoring electricity after power cuts. By feeding back into your energy companies, you could be setting yourself and your house up for greater security in the future likelihood of an outage.

The current power grid crisis is a cause for concern for many, with the dangers of blackouts resulting in fatalities; during an outage in Texas in 2021, over 700 people died due to the lack of electricity.

Ensuring the infrastructure is in place to get the power grids running after severe weather is key. Electric vehicle batteries can use their stored power to help bring electricity back to houses and the power grid.

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Most Innovative Classroom & Office Furniture Manufacturer 2022

modern office interior.

A woman-owned company, FootFidget® is the game-changing dynamic footrest which helps students to get through their school day, adults to concentrate better at work, and seniors to stay active in the easiest way possible. We explore how FootFidget empowers everyone to be healthier and more successful, no matter where they spend their day.

Early in life, FootFidget® co-founder, Robin Singer knew she wanted to go into the medical field. Her interest in physical therapy was initially sparked when her mom fell and crushed her ankle, and she began attending her physical therapy sessions with her. Then, she began volunteering in the physical therapy department during high school, following which she pursued a career in physical therapy (PT). Later in her PT career she completed her Masters in Teaching and Leadership.

As a physical therapist, Robin is compassionate, motivated, and dedicated, having worked in rehabilitation, acute care, burn clinics, early intervention, home care, hippotherapy, military hospitals, assisted living, pediatrics, and schools. She strives to inspire patients of all ages with a mix of humor, joy, commitment, and knowledge, and she especially loves working with kids, knowing she can improve their quality of life.

Robin tells us, “I enjoy finding imaginative ways to motivate patients, especially kids, through challenges or games. I’ve designed and developed gross motor programs for parents, teachers, and schools. I developed a seasonal gross motor activity guide for parents of little ones who need help to get stronger and improve their balance and coordination. I love motivating kids to play hard, making therapy fun while being highly effective in reaching their goals.”

Kathy Spinabella, also co-founder of FootFidget®, became intrigued by physical therapy early on, too. She was college-age and one day sat with her mother as she watched her favorite soap opera. Kathy tells us, “Luckily for me, that day, a physical therapist was teaching one of the characters how to walk again after a terrible accident. It piqued my interest, and I eventually became a physical therapist. I consider myself lucky to have a career that allows me to help people rehabilitate and become their best physical selves.”

Throughout her career, Kathy has worked in acute care, rehabilitation, home care, hospital management, and schools. She strives to be a positive, empathetic cheerleader throughout the patient’s rehab journey. For kids, it requires patience and playfulness, and if it is not fun, there will be no progress.

As a result of their experience of working together in a school district with school children, Robin Singer and Kathy Spinabella first developed a Standing Desk Conversion Kit and the FootFidget® footrest, the first fidgeting product designed for students who can’t sit still. This was the first FootFidget® product on the market, which they patented.

Up to 10% of American students have been diagnosed with ADHD, and to be successful at school, they need to be able to move. Still, more students are high energy or low energy and can benefit from standing and purposeful fidgeting to help them maintain focus and attention. With Robin and Kathy both being physical therapists, their medical knowledge, and teaching experience inspired them to help kids move in the safest, most productive way to become more successful in school.

The FootFidget® footrests are ergonomically designed to attach to all four legs of the desk in an “X” design, developed with just the right amount of resistance to expel excess energy and increase focus without fatigue while either standing or sitting. Similar knock-off products only attach to two desk legs and do not provide ergonomic positioning, movement, or durability. FootFidgets’ “X” attachment design provides safe and correct ergonomic positioning, while providing leg and core activation/movement to improve circulation and overall health. The frequent purposeful movement dynamic helps improve the health of students and adults of all ages, with the multiple FootFidget® designs now available.

The first FootFidget® footrest was sold to a physical therapist in Florida, whose student would kneel on his chair and then do a cartwheel over his desk, landing on the floor. After the FootFidget® was attached to his desk, he didn’t do any more kneeling or cartwheels, he just fidgeted with his feet and legs all day. The in-class behavior was so improved that the student, teacher, and therapist were all very pleased with the results.

“I’ve found inventing, manufacturing, and distributing FootFidget products to be interesting and fulfilling,” says Kathy.

Agreeing, Robin tells us, “Inventing, patenting, manufacturing, and selling FootFidget® products has been an exciting process. The key component is the frequent purposeful motion of the feet and legs throughout the day, which increases circulation to improve health, focus, alertness, posture, and gentle conditioning no matter where you spend your day! This sets people of all ages up for a brighter future.

“I’m thrilled when we introduce new design improvements, or new products and our customers are delighted. The FootFidget® is now available in several designs: the student desk design, and now for adults, a free-standing design for use in the office, home, rehabilitation, or travel!”

Ultimately, the response and benefits of FootFidget® products to students have been outstanding, bringing them the needed alternative to be successful in the classroom at a competitive price. The expansion of the FootFidget® product line was introduced to be used by students at home, and adults of all ages for the same great benefits.

When students move and stand in the classroom, they are better able to focus, stay alert, pay attention, remember things, stay calm, and reduce their excess energy. FootFidget® products boost students’ success.

For business enquiries, contact Robin Singer, Kathy Spinabella from Footfidget®, CSS LLC via email [email protected] or on their website – www.footfidget.com

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Self Storage Rental Service Company of the Year – South America

Storage in an industrial building for rental to entrepreneurs or individuals with recyclable cardboard boxes on top of a pallet rack

Self storage is such an important feature of economies the world over, but providing a premier service is no mean feat. The team at Aki KB Minibodegas have led the way in this regard, with their efforts pushing the boundaries of what it means to service communities throughout Chile and Costa Rica. With success in the Latin and South America Business Awards 2022, we take a closer look to find out more.

Now established as market leaders in Chile, the team behind Aki KB Minibodegas have found time to reflect on some of the decisions that have led to their incredible success. Over the years, the business has grown from humble origins to an organisations with 16 facilities in Chile and one expansion into Costa Rica. Such growth is no mean feat, and reflects the incredible efforts of staff in every part of the business.

The driving force that sets the team apart is their determination to provide a truly stunning customer experience. People are always first in this team’s mind, and finding ways to assist them and serve them as effectively as possible. Hiring a staff who share this passion for supporting others is vital to the continued success of Aki KB Minibodegas, and is why any new hires are made only if they are aligned to the firm’s organisational culture.

The team operate in a manner which is effortlessly dynamic, proactively exploring new and exciting ways of working. Challenges may arise, but the team meet them with the greatest possible determination. As the business has managed to thrive, everyone involved has committed themselves to growing new facilities and to exploring the potential of new market opportunities.

The team has had to overcome many difficulties, despite their growth. Primary amongst these is the increase in costs when it comes to construction. New properties are difficult to create at accessible prices, which makes achieving an effective company return difficult. Considerations of environmental impacts also bring their own challenges to construction, but many of these challenges have been overcome by the tireless efforts of the Aki KB Minibodegas team.

Working for Aki KB Minibodegas has seen the business adopt an approach which is modern in every respect, but clearest amongst these is the way in which the business has managed to expand over the years. Looking forward, the firm’s leadership is exploring new ways of developing new projects, of acquiring new properties and of making the operation of the firm more efficient.

The future looks bright for this incredible firm, as the team step boldly forward into a brave new world. Their attitude has brought them astonishing levels of success as they have reinvented how many see the world of self-storage. For many in South America, Aki KB Minibodegas is synonymous with how to achieve something great. We cannot wait to see what they do next!

For business enquiries, contact Alan Stehberg from Aki KB Minibodegas via email – [email protected] or on their website – www.akikb.cl

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James Beard Foundation and Houston First Corporation Gather Chefs, Advocates, and Leaders in Houston

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Policy discussions in Houston will help influence new legislation and create federal policy asks in support of the people behind America’s food culture 

Over three days from January 29-31, some of the nation’s best chefs, advocates, and leaders—many of whom are alumni of the James Beard Foundation Chef Bootcamp for Policy and Change—will come together in Houston, Texas for the Foundation’s preeminent Chef Action Summit. In support of the people behind America’s food culture, as well as a thriving, more equitable, and sustainable food system—this is only the second time the James Beard Foundation (JBF) has held a summit of this magnitude.  

The James Beard Foundation, in partnership with Houston First Corporation, will host the pivotal event—resulting in a set of chef-driven policy recommendations for the 2023 Farm Bill. The Farm Bill is widely regarded as one of the most important pieces of food and agriculture policy that Congress passes about every five years. The bill has considerable ramifications for national food security and access, the environment, and support for our farmers and rural America. Following the event, the recommendations will be shared with policymakers responsible for drafting the 2023 Farm Bill. 

Summit participants will also influence the development of blueprints for local and state-based action, as it relates to America’s food and agriculture system.  

During the event, participants will have the opportunity to hear and engage with influential leaders from the policy, culinary, nonprofit, and corporate industries to address key issues such as: 

  • Nutrition Security and Hunger 
  • Conservation and Sustainability  
  • Improving Equity in the Industry  

 

Featured speakers—with more to be announced soon—include: 

  • Anne Biklé, Biologist, Science Writer, and Co-Author, Dirt: The Erosion of Civilizations; The Hidden Half of Nature: The Microbial Roots of Life and Health; and Growing a Revolution: Bringing Our Soil Back to Life 
  • Joel Berg, CEO, Hunger Free America 
  • Stacy Dean, Deputy Under Secretary for USDA’s Food, Nutrition, and Consumer Services 
  • Lisa Helfman, CEO, Senior Director, Public Affairs, H-E-B, and Founder and Board Chair, Brighter Bites 
  • Adrian Lipscombe, Founder, 40 Acres Project 
  • Michel Nischan, Co-Founder and Chairman, Wholesome Wave and Founder and President, Wholesome Crave  
  • Karen Washington, Farmer, Activist, and Co-Owner, Rise&Root Farm 

“Across our food system—from nutrition to hunger, conservation and agriculture, worker or supply chain issues—the stakes have never been higher. The James Beard Foundation is honored to bring together chef advocates, policy and industry leaders, and key stakeholders for critical dialogue and commitment pertaining to some of this country’s most pressing food issues,” said Clare Reichenbach, CEO of The James Beard Foundation. “Chefs—with their unique ability to influence the way we think about and consume food, and as pragmatic problem solvers—have proven time and again that they are the critical champions we need for our communities and broader food system. The Foundation, through initiatives like the Chef Action Summit, is committed to ensuring they have the tools and training needed to drive change. We thank Houston First for being an incredible host and partner and look forward to presenting our policy recommendations in support of a more sustainable, equitable, and thriving food system in early spring.” 

The second JBF Chef Action Summit will take place at three distinct Houston institutions: The University of Houston Hilton Hotel and Conrad N. Hilton College of Global Hospitality, POST Houston, as well as The Power Center Houston.  

The Summit, taking place just off the heels of the 10 year anniversary of the Foundation’s groundbreaking Chef Bootcamp for Policy and Change, features refreshers on the program, as well as new training, including: updated tools for working with one’s local representatives, as well as municipal and state lawmakers; advocacy training for social media strategies to move the needle in obstinate cities and states; tactics on fostering peer-to-peer support and networking; and deep-dive discussions around key sustainability issues. 

“What is taking place in Houston this January will impact everyone,” said Houston First Corporation President and CEO Michael Heckman. “Not only will the 2023 Chef Action Summit drive important policy discussions that will influence 2023 legislation, the contents of those conversations will directly affect how our food supply remains safe, abundant, and accessible to all. We applaud the James Beard Foundation for their continued commitment to addressing these difficult issues and look forward to hosting this influential group in Houston.” 

The Chef Action Summit is by pre-registration only. Programming will begin on Sunday, January 29 at 4 p.m. at the University of Houston Hilton hotel. Later that evening, a special welcome reception for participants and speakers, hosted by Houston First Corporation, will happen on the rooftop of POST Houston, kicking-off the three-day series of events. Keynote panels, programming, and policy discussion will follow from January 30-31, with Chef Christopher Williams—a 2022 James Beard nominee  for “Outstanding Restaurateur”—closing out the Summit with a special tour and lunch at The Power Center.  

The second Chef Action Summit—part of the James Beard Foundation’s advocacy programs—is hosted by the Houston First Corporation. Program sponsors include the Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute, Best Made, Deloitte, Distinguished Vineyards, TABASCO® Brand, Tequila Patrón, and YETI. The James Beard Foundation’s programs are also supported by American Airlines, the official airline of the James Beard Foundation; Capital One, the official credit card and banking partner of the James Beard Foundation; and Windstar Cruises, the official cruise line of the James Beard Foundation. 

To learn more about the discussions happening at the 2023 JBF Chef Action Summit in Houston or to obtain more details about the participants and speakers at the event, visit https://www.jamesbeard.org/2023-chef-summit.    

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Why 2023 is the Year to Visit Alabama, the Heart and Soul of the South

Aerial View of Downtown Montgomery, Alabama, USA Skyline

Looking for somewhere a little different for a holiday next year? Then take a look at Alabama, from a foodie road trip to back to nature, celebrate the centenary of country star Hank Williams’s birth plus experience an out-of-this world family holiday at space camp.

 

Enjoy a foodie road trip for a real taste of the South

What’s the recipe for the perfect trip in 2023? Try a food and travel break, following the BBQ trail on Alabama’s smartphone app, which features everything from the Original Alabama White Sauce invented at Big Bob Gibson Bar-B-Q in Decatur to the special house slaw at Brooks Barbeque in Muscle Shoals (or, if you prefer a history lesson with a meal, visit Brenda’s Bar-B-Q Pit in west Montgomery). Brenda’s namesake and founder secretly tutored neighbourhood residents to pass the literacy test, which was required for them to register to vote. Ask about the photo of her on the front lines of the Selma to Montgomery March. You can even take in gas pump pit stops along the road – fill the car up with petrol while you fill up your stomach at Butts To Go, at a Texaco garage in Pell City (buttstogobbq.com). Hungry for more? There’s soul food and slow-cooked Southern dishes on the menu, seafood on the coast where you can catch your own supper, and a wine trail featuring six wineries (northalabamawinetrail.com).

Tourists are encouraged to bring a hearty appetite and let the 100 Dishes to Eat in Alabama be a guide. Whether it’s delicious goat cheese, fresh-from-the-Gulf seafood, home-grown collards and sweet potatoes, or mouth-watering barbecue, foodies can discover new personal favourites in this collection of Alabama’s most interesting places to eat. It is a celebration of Alabama’s rich culinary history and diverse range of cuisine as you take in the unique eateries and must-see food destinations.

 

Get back to nature in 2023

As more of us seek different places to experience the big outdoors, Alabama has the perfect offering: white sand Gulf Coast beaches, lakes that are perfect for fishing or kayaking, and nature’s own obstacle course in the foothills of the Appalachians. The state’s coast has 28 miles of trails to explore on foot, by bike or Segway. Go kayaking in the Mobile-Tensaw Delta, dubbed America’s Amazon thanks to its plethora of wildlife, or canoe to see the endangered Cahaba lily in the Cahaba River National Wildlife Refuge near Birmingham. For something a bit more strenuous, get active in the foothills of the Appalachians, where you’ll find the long-distance Pinhoti trail as well as vast forests and towering waterfalls. Alabama has 21 state parks where you can stay in campsites, cabins or lodges (alapark.com).

 

Take an out-of-this-world family holiday to space camp

Families can take simulated missions to the International Space Station this year (April 2023) when  NASA launches the first crewed flight test of Starliner, which will carry astronauts to and from the space station.

Train together like astronauts on a three-day space camp at U.S. Space and Rocket Center, the world’s largest space museum, in Huntsville. Feel what it’s like to walk on the moon strapped into the 1/6 gravity chair, experience a spacecraft tumble during multi-axis training, launch your own model rocket and learn about the history and the future of space exploration. The camp costs start at $649pp for adults and children aged seven and above, including two nights’ accommodation and meals from Friday dinner through Sunday breakfast (spacecamp.com). Underwater astronaut trainer adventures can also be added for an extra fee.

See: NASA’s newest rocket, SLS, blasts off with Alabama DNA

 

Hit the high notes on Hank Williams’s centenary

Alabamian Hiram “Hank” Williams, born on September 17, 1923, was one of the most influential singer songwriters and gave a voice to the “everyman.” He was the first country music superstar and was referred to as the “Hillbilly Shakespeare” for his turn of phrase, modelled in hits such as “Hey Good Lookin’,” “I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry,” and “Your Cheatin’ Heart.” Celebrate Hank 100 by following the Hank Williams Trail, starting with a visit to his childhood home preserved as a museum in Georgiana, where he learned to play guitar from Black street musician Rufus “Tee-Tot” Payne. Then drive an hour north to Montgomery, where Hank moved in his teens, and pick up lunch as he did at Chris’s Hot Dogs. Visit Montgomery’s Hank Williams Museum to see his stage costumes, guitars, and the 1952 blue Cadillac in which he died, aged 29 (thehankwilliamsmuseum.net). You can pay your respects at his grave, in nearby Oakwood Cemetery, marked by a marble cowboy hat.

Meanwhile, April 23, 2023 marks the 60th anniversary of Rick Hall’s FAME studios in Muscle Shoals. The studios have attracted artists from Alabamian Wilson Pickett, who recorded “Mustang Sally”, Aretha Franklin and Etta James to Alicia Keys. A new behind-the-scenes tour takes visitors into Hall’s personal office and showcases his collection of instruments (famestudios.com). 

 

Trace the history of the last American slave ship at a new exhibit

More than 50 years after the United States banned participation in the Transatlantic Slave Trade, the schooner Clotilda trafficked men, women and children from Benin in Africa to Mobile in 1860. The last known American slave ship, its scuttled remains were discovered and identified in 2019.

In 2023, the story of the ship’s 110 prisoners will be brought to life when the Africatown Heritage House opens its doors, with artefacts from the ship and multisensory exhibit. Visitors will also be able to take a tour in Africatown with descendants sharing stories of their ancestors who survived enslavement and settled their community north of Mobile to preserve their African traditions.

The Netflix documentary “Descendant” about the Clotilda survivors and their lineage in Africatown was released at the end of October. Travellers can view the National Geographic documentary “Clotilda: last American Slave Ship,” available on Disney Plus for a deeper look at the archaeological exploration of the ship.

For more information, visit alabama.travel and www.outdooralabama.com 

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22% of Costa Rica’s ICT Business Park Offers Technologies Linked to the Fourth Industrial Revolution

Aerial view of business and finance district with new office building surrounded by parking and road.
  • Technology 4.0 exports exceeded $11.4 million in 2021. 
  • Nearly 8 out of 10 of these companies are exporters. 

 

Companies linked to the Fourth Industrial Revolution made up at least 22% of the total ICT business park in Costa Rica in 2021 (estimated at 450 companies), according to findings from the study Profile of the Costa Rican supply specialized in 4.0 technologies (II Edition, 2021), prepared by the Foreign Trade Promoter of Costa Rica (PROCOMER).

This is the second edition of the study conducted by the Promoter, the first of which was conducted in 2019.

Marta Esquivel, director of business planning and intelligence at PROCOMER, explained that the services offered by these companies are mainly: cloud computing (20% of the companies), industry 4.0 integration (19%), the internet of things (13%), robotic process automation (10%) and big data(9%), among a total of 10 technological categories.

“By the Fourth Industrial Revolution, we mean the interaction between digital technologies, cyber-physical systems, and cloud networks, for example. The world is undergoing a dizzying transformation that is radically changing the way we produce, consume, market, and work. A process of change to which numerous companies have been added at the national level,” stated Esquivel.

She added that, among the main technologies offered by this group of companies, it is industry 4.0 integration that recorded the greatest expansion between 2019 and 2021, going from 2% to 19% in the total number of companies in the sector that specialize in it.

In 2021, the sector was characterized by a greater number of small companies (54%) and micro companies (32%), that is, between 1 and 30 employees. Among the companies surveyed for this study, the sector registered 1,090 direct jobs, an increase of 120 positions compared to 2019, with companies specialized in cloud computing reporting the largest number of jobs.

Erick Apuy, economic analyst in charge of the study, explained that “these sized companies, measured in terms of employees, allow the sector to have some flexibility to develop their operations, not to mention that some of their services may have an experimental or exploratory aspect to them with high added value,” said Apuy.

 

Export experience 

78% of these companies recorded exports, and in 2021, an estimated at least $11.4 million in international sales: Colombia (43% of exporters), Mexico (42%), the United States (40%), Panama (38%), and Guatemala (36%) the main destinations for the commercialization of 4.0 technologies.

In addition, Apuy stated that the local market is still the main consumer of 4.0 technologies for this sector, representing 63% of total sales in 2021 (close to $19.5 million), and this participation increased compared to 2019 when it recorded participation of 56%.

“This may show a greater openness on the part of local demand for digital transformation integration processes. Additionally, as demonstrated, there is still room to develop more local chains, more sales, and a closer relationship between the two parties,” the analyst concluded.

 

Technology, health care, and the pandemic

The PROCOMER study shows that, between 2019 and 2021, a majority of the sector (78%) developed or prepared technological solutions in response to the needs raised by the pandemic, for example, solutions such as remote working, product traceability, digital payment systems, and others, such as applications for the health care sector.

Regarding this last area, Apuy points out that, in 2021, the sector showed customer growth in health care, medical devices, and the pharmaceutical industry, which reflects signs of the sector’s ability to adapt and explore new value-added opportunities derived from the market post-pandemic.

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