Cost of Doing Business
A Public Policy Institute of New York State Inc. study on the cost of doing business in 2007 ranks the state’s costs the second highest in the nation after Hawaii. The study, “Benchmark New York,” compares average annual wages, electricity costs, commercial rents and tax burdens. It says property taxes cost New York residents and businesses $8.1 billion more than would be the case if the state matched the national average and workers’ compensation adds $1.3 billion more to the cost of doing business than if New York’s average cost per case were the same as the national average. The additional costs for New Yorkers add up to an average of $1,830 a year for every state resident, or $5,015 for every private-sector job. Separately, “The 2008 State Business Tax Climate,” published in October by the Tax Foundation, ranks New York’s tax climate 48th in the nation, one place below its 2007 rank.
In a deal that makes it the first minority-owned manufacturer of active pharmaceutical ingredients (APIs) in the country, PRWT Services Inc., through its wholly owned subsidiary, Cherokee Pharmaceuticals L.L.C., acquired the Cherokee chemical manufacturing plant in Riverside, Penn., from Merck & Co. Inc. The plant manufactures products and antibiotics for humans and animals. Cherokee also entered into a five-year supply agreement with Merck for an estimated value of $100 million to $200 million annually. PWRT chairman and CEO Willie F. Johnson said the acquisition and strategic supply relationship with Merck place his firm solidly in the growing Life Sciences market.
H3 Enterprises Inc., the first publicly traded hip-hop company, launched its HipHopSoda-Shop franchise in Tampa, Fla. Benjamin Chavis, H3 Enterprises CEO and president, and Keith Chutjian, chairman of the board, hail the concept as a success recipe, combining popular music, healthful dining and socially responsible capitalism. At more than 11,000 square feet, the HipHop-SodaShop comprises a health-conscious menu featuring “rap” sandwiches with few carbohydrates and a beverage line made with antioxidant-rich white tea and sweetened with chicory syrup instead of sugar. Other features include: merchandising, a state-of-the-art recording studio, 30 giant LCD screens, the latest Xbox 360 live video games and a large area dedicated to online video gaming. Monikers sprinkled throughout the menu encourage financial literacy.
Africa Channel Deal
The Africa Channel, based in North Hollywood, Calif., signed an agreement with Time Warner Cable to distribute Africa Channel programming nationwide on Time Warner cable’s systems. The channel carries more than 1,600 hours of original and first-run English-language content on Africa and its people, including news and information, travel and lifestyle, music, feature films, soaps, talk and reality shows and special events. It currently is viewed on cable systems in Georgia, Louisiana, Michigan, Texas, Trinidad and Tobago, United Kingdom, Virginia and Washington, D.C.. Founded by James Makawa, Jacob Arback and Richard Hammer, its initial partners include Goodworks International, the company owned by former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations Andrew Young and National Basketball Association stars Dikembe Mutombo and Theo Ratliff.
Michigan’s Wayne County Airport Authority and the Office of Inspector General of the U.S. Department of Transportation are investigating a program aimed at helping minority and female contractors secure construction and concessions contracts at Detroit Metropolitan Airport. The investigations follow the discovery of undisclosed “irregularities” in the use of a subcontractor involved with the program on an airport project, the airport authority said in a statement. The federal Disadvantaged Business Enterprise program requires airport contracts to be shared with women- or minority-owned small companies. The airport has turned over results of a preliminary investigation to federal authorities.
Pizzas for Financial Literacy
Papa John’s International Inc. and Junior Achievement USA formed a partnership to help local JA offices deliver work readiness, entrepreneurship and financial literacy lessons to U.S. students. Papa John’s will donate two dollars to JA for each customer who places their pizza order at www.papajohns.com and uses the online coupon displaying the Junior Achievement logo. Papa John’s franchises and corporate-owned restaurants also will conduct “job shadow” events at which JA students can experience firsthand what it is like to own and run a Papa John’s restaurant, and Papa John’s employees will be encouraged to volunteer to teach JA classes at schools in their communities. JA offices can also expand the partnership to include recruiting Papa John’s franchisees and local market team leadership to serve on their boards of directors.
Thurgood Marshall Gift
The Thurgood Marshall College Fund received a $400,000 gift from Virgis and Angela Colbert at the Fund’s 20th Anniversary Dinner Gala in New York City. The gift is for the Fund’s annual Leadership Institute and the establishment of the Virgis and Angela Colbert Scholarship endowment. Virgis Colbert, formerly executive vice president of Worldwide Operations for Miller Brewing Co., was the founding chairman of the Fund’s board of directors. Miller Brewing Co. matched the Colberts’ contribution. Since 1987, the Fund has awarded $68 million in scholarships and programmatic support to more than 6,000 students who attend Historically Black Colleges and Universities.
Science Video Contest
Westinghouse Electric Co. is sponsoring a science video contest for middle- and high-school students to encourage young persons to think about energy in the context of worldwide political, economic and environmental realities. The contest is open to middle and high schools where Westinghouse has a presence. Entry videos must outline three key advantages of nuclear power and two other forms of energy. Videos can be staged as a short play, commercial, news broadcast, talk show, music video, documentary, etc. Entries must be turned in by May 9. Each student who took part in creating a winning video will receive $100 for school supplies, while their school’s science department will receive $3,000. Guidelines and application form can be found at www.westinghousenuclear.com, under the “Community” section/Student Video Contest on Forms of Energy.
OPIC Funds in Africa
The Overseas Private Investment Corp. pledged $250 million to support three new investment funds in Africa. The agency will provide up to $100 million for establishment of Africa Catalyst Fund, which will invest in exchange-traded and private equity, exchange-traded corporate debt, convertible bonds and private loans to provide growth capital in Africa. With a capitalization of $300 million, it will invest in OPIC-eligible countries, with emphasis on Angola, Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria, South Africa and Zambia. Two additional investment funds will receive a minimum of $150 million in OPIC financing and mobilize a total of $450 million for investment in Africa. The three funds are the first of several that OPIC plans to support under President Bush’s Africa Financial Sector Initiative, announced in May 2007.