Corrections or additions?
These articles were prepared for the May 18, 2005
issue of U.S. 1 Newspaper. All rights reserved.
More than 50 percent of American college freshman are enrolled in
community colleges. No longer considered an academic after thought,
the community college feeds a substantial percentage of transfers into
baccalaureate and advanced degree programs. These schools also
specialize in upgrading American business by offering career programs
and specialized development courses.
Last January Joann La Perla-Morales, who has spent 30 years working at
community colleges, became the president of Middlesex County College.
On Thursday, May 19, at 11:45 a.m. she speaks at the Middlesex County
Chamber of Commerce’s Leadership Luncheon, where she discusses exactly
what is happening at her school, and at community colleges across the
country. The luncheon takes place at the Hyatt Regency in New
Brunswick. Cost: $55. Visit www.mcrcc.org to make reservations.
Morales, who sees community colleges as "the most dynamic centers of
learning in America," is a native of Manhattan. She earned her
bachelor’s degree in English and Spanish at the State University of
New York at Oneonta (Class of 1968). She then joined the Peace Corps
and spent the next two years teaching in the jungles surrounding
Returning to the United States, Morales earned her Ph.D. and headed
the adult education program at Montclair State University and then
became dean of continuing education at Union County College. She has
also served as associate dean of academic affairs at Bloomfield
College, and dean at Nassau Community College, the nation’s second
largest community college. Until her current appointment, Morales was
provost at the New York City College of Technology, where she
introduced three new baccalaureate programs. Now Morales oversees the
education of the school’s 13,000 students.
Perhaps the strongest benefit of the community college, as Morales
sees it, is its flexibility. Unlike large universities with
traditional, pre-set curricula, a community college can quickly set up
courses of varied length – one day to multiple years – tailored to
businesses, professionals, or fulltime students. At Middlesex,
Morales’ challenge is to determine the region’s educational
requirements and to wrap her course offerings around them.
The scholar shift. After serving her full tour of duty, ex-marine
Melissa Melendez enrolled in Middlesex County College, where she
headed the chemistry club and was inducted into Phi Theta Kappa, the
school’s academic honor society.
Melendez is typical of the new wave of college students who seek to
sample a bit of life or a profession after high school before
returning to academe with more directed goals. The average age of a
Middlesex County College student is 25 years, and nationally community
college students are, on average, 28. "Our percentage of students age
25 to 45 is quickly growing," says Morales.
As students’ goals change, so do their course preferences. Back in the
l980s it was all about business. Whether as corporate executives or
start-up entrepreneurs, students were cracking business administration
texts and were eager to advance in the business world.
By the l990s interest in business careers had fallen off and the most
popular majors were in healthcare occupations. Some of this, reflects
Morales, was doubtless due to the influence of the television show
"ER." But the practical benefits of nursing, with its instant hiring,
good pay, and outstanding job security and flexibility, proved to be a
more solid enticement.
With the new millennium, the range of popular majors has broadened.
Education and healthcare still draw a substantial portion of new
students, and business administration has re-emerged as a popular
major. Pharmaceutical studies at Middlesex – and at all Garden State
community colleges – continues to expand.
But the surprising new runaway major is criminal justice. "I think a
lot of this comes from students watching ‘Law & Order’ and ‘CSI’ on
television," laughs Morales. "Students come to my office and say they
want to be forensic criminologists, and I have to explain that this is
a science, not a criminal, major." A more practical impetus for the
interest in criminal justice has come from the advent of Homeland
Security and the increase in identity theft. "Cybersecurity is one of
our most sought after fields of study," says Morales.
Businesses’ gymnasium. "I keep telling businesses that they can
schedule their specific training course here with us for a few hundred
dollars a head, instead of shoveling $10,000 at a consulting group,"
says Morales, "and many are catching on." Beyond seeking a two-year
associate’s degree and a transfer, people turn to community colleges
for specialized workforce development programs or for career programs
– for example, real estate licensing.
Individual business people can select a single course to enhance their
accounting abilities, or they can shoot for the entire management
degree and walk away with a real resume punch. Morales is striving to
make Middlesex a business training ground with course development
determined by faculty with a great deal of local business input.
The teacher factor. One of the great boasts of the community college
has been having a faculty where every teacher teaches. At many elite
four-year schools, some professors find course instruction a brief,
annoying interruption of research and publishing. At Middlesex County
College the 180 full-time faculty and 200 adjunct professors all come
to campus solely to instruct students.
Community college faculties are traditionally drawn from a different
pool than are university faculties. They are more likely to be
individuals who have gained their expertise as employed professionals
in their fields, rather than through years of academic study. It does
not make them more or less effective than their academic counterparts,
merely more suited to the applied-career-orientation of community
college students. The budding high tech freshman at Middlesex will
more likely learn his skill from a professor who has spent two decades
at IBM than from a computer science Ph.D.
"My main concern here at Middlesex is the expansion of our faculty,"
says Morales. "The physical plant is great, the state funding is
adequate, but we do require a larger staff."
Of New Jersey’s l9 community colleges, only three have women
presidents. Though tiny, this number compares favorably with the mere
two percent of our nation’s colleges currently headed by women. "I do
not mention this as a challenge," says Morales, "It is merely a fact
of which the academic community might take note."
– Bart Jackson
When someone is giving something away, usually plenty of people are
standing in line waiting for the doors to open. But when the
government is offering "free" money, it’s not so straightforward –
companies usually have a few hoops to jump through and papers to
prepare. That’s true of the $2 billion SBIR (Small Business Innovation
Research) grant program, but the odds are pretty good that the effort
will pay off. The government required to give away a certain amount of
money to small businesses, and CERDEC (the Communications-Electronics
Research, Development, and Engineering Center) at Fort Monmouth is
hosting a seminar on how to get it. (While the Pentagon last week
proposed closing Fort Monmouth, the SBIR show will go on.)
Sponsored by the New Jersey Commission on Science and Technology, the
half-day seminar on "Secrets of Winning SBIR Proposals" is offered by
Randy Harmon and Roger Cohen at Fort Monmouth on Thursday, May 19, 8
a.m. Cost: $40. Call 973-353-1923.
SBIR is the largest research and development grant program for small
businesses, and all of the large federal R & D agencies are required
to participate. Eleven agencies, including the Departments of Defense
and Agriculture, NASA, and the National Institutes of Health, must set
aside 2.5 percent of their external R & D budgets for these
competitive grants for small business.
The agencies that supply projects to SBIR publish one or more
solicitations per year. According to Harmon, they either identify
areas of research interest or, as is the case with DoD and NASA,
specify "very real problems that they need help from entrepreneurs in
solving." CERDEC has included 46 topics in DoD’s recent solicitation –
the second of three this year.
Each SBIR project has three potential phases.
Phase I. Small businesses that believe they can develop the specified
technology are invited to submit a Phase I proposal. "It’s purpose is
to demonstrate the scientific merit and technical feasibility of your
solution," says Harmon. In short, "that it works." Phase I extends for
six months, with a maximum award of, typically, $100,000. The goal of
Phase I is to lay the groundwork for Phase II, where a prototype is
developed. The odds of getting a Phase I grant range from one in five
to one in ten, depending on the agency.
Phase II. A Phase II award is more substantial, with a maximum that
generally reaches $750,000; it runs for two years and includes the
development of a prototype. This sizable grant, says Harmon, "makes
the SBIR program the best source of risk capital to develop promising
new technologies at their early stages. It is the closest thing for
entrepreneurs to a Holy Grail of free money." There are no loans to be
repaid, and the entrepreneur maintains ownership of the intellectual
property and can patent the resulting technology. Because the
technology is being funded, an entrepreneur can also give more time to
marketing and other business areas in order to be a reasonable
prospect for an equity investor by the end of Phase II. The odds for
getting a Phase II grant range from one to two to one to five.
Phase III. "If a company is successful in Phases I and II, it is
expected to commercialize the technology for a government or a
business customer," says Harmon. Phase III offers no new money,
because at that point a company is expected to be able to raise money
privately or through a strategic partner. Although the first two
phases provide a much needed cash infusion, says Harmon, "the real
underlying value of the program is that it can serve companies as a
pathway to venture capital or other types of equity financing, for
example, angel investors."
In addition to providing information on SBIR grants, the seminar also
covers a second smaller program, STTR (the Small Business Technology
Transfer Program), in which only the five largest R & D agencies
participate. STTR demands only a .3 percent funding set aside, less
than 10 percent of the money required by SBIR. "What differentiates
the two," says Harmon, "is that STTR requires collaboration with a
nonprofit or academic research program." A minimum of 30 percent of
the award must go to the research contract with the collaborator.
Although some people think that STTR is not worth a try, because it is
not as large and requires finding a collaborator, Harmon claims that
"right now the odds for success are better under the smaller program."
According to Suzanne Weeks, the SBIR Program Manager for CERDEC, Phase
I at Fort Monmouth is awarded for up to $70,000, with the possibility
of a four-month extension grant of $50,000 to fund interim efforts for
companies going on to Phase II. The Phase II awards are $730,000.
Weeks notes two past success stories of the SBIR program at Fort
Monmouth. Planning Systems Inc. developed a ground penetrating radar
sensor that detects buried anti-tank mines, and Mykotronx Inc.
delivered four prototype models for low-cost ethernet encryption.
Companies interested in the SBIR program of CERDEC and other military
SBIR opportunities can review research requests at
Weeks offers one tip on preparing a successful proposal, and she
advises potential bidders to follow up on it immediately. Her advice
is to "contact the topic authors with questions" during the
pre-solicitation phase. Knowing as much as possible about what they
are looking for gives entrepreneurs an edge in putting together a
– Michele Alperin
The Institute for Advanced Study is celebrating both its 75th
anniversary and the life of one of its most prominent fellows with a
day of lectures by eminent scholars on Friday, May 20. Events are
free: call 609-734-8000 for information.
Founders Day opens at 9 a.m. with the dedication of a sculpture. The
lectures begin at 10:30 a.m. in Wolfensohn Hall with a focus on Albert
Einstein’s three principal papers of 1905. Philip C. Argyres will
explain the concept of special relativity, including the famous
formula E=mc2, in laymen’s terms. Simeon Hellerman will discuss
"Brownian Motion and the Atomic Theory," which showed how Einstein
used the zig-zagging motion of particles of pollen suspended in liquid
as evidence for the existence of atoms. This paper moved the concept
of atoms from the abstract ( a description of the phenomenon of heat)
to the specific (an analysis of the microscopic structure of matter).
When Einstein suggested that light comes in discrete particles, he
predicted the photoelectric effect, to be described by Graham Kribs.
This observation began the long road to the quantum revolution of the
1920s and its metamorphosis into modern-day particle physics. Stephen
Adler will continue that discussion with "Einstein and Quantum
Mechanics: A Love Hate Relationship."
Afternoon lectures have more general interest. At 2 p.m. Peter Goddard
talks about how the Institute for Advanced Study was founded by Louis
Bamberger and his sister Carrie. Their initial grant was $5 million.
Flush with a fortune from the successful Bamberger’s department store
in Newark, they hoped to found a medical school there, but were
dissuaded by Abraham Flexner, who chaneled their interest into an
George Dyson will tell how the first 25 years of the Institute’s
existence marked the last 25 years of Einstein’s life. Einstein’s
tenure in Princeton helped establish the concept of a permanent home
for scholarship and statesmanship without obligation to a particular
institution or patron. In a paper called "Einstein, Freud and their
pamphlet ‘Why War?’" Peter Paret covers Einstein’s unusual
collaboration with Freud in the 1930s.
Einstein was a pacifist who supported the war against Hitler’s
Germany, an internationalist, and a strong advocate for academic
freedom. Joan Scott will discuss "Einstein and Politics," while
Michael Walzer covers the scientist’s enthusiasm for and criticism of
At 5 p.m. Peter Galison, Professor of the History of science and of
physics at Harvard, will talk about "The Assassin of Relativity."
Einstein was friendly with another physicist, socialist Friederich
Adler, who assassinated the Prime Minister of the Austro-Hungarian
Empire in 1916.
Not only does the day represent the 75th anniversary of the founding
of the Institute, but it also is part of the 100th anniversary
celebration of the "annus mirabilis" or the miracle year, when
Einstein wrote his seminal papers.
Will the bubble ever burst? Homes don’t even make it to their first
open house before being snatched up in a bidding war. A lot of the
fire in this over-heated market comes from low interest rates and easy
money. While banks and nontraditional lenders can barely shovel loan
money out the door fast enough, they are keeping an increasingly
uneasy eye on an uncertain loan horizon. First, the much-touted
economic turnaround seems to be moving more sluggishly than expected.
Second, all lenders and credit institutions are struggling with the
administrative tasks that came with the passage of the Fair & Accurate
Credit Transition Act (FACTA.)
How the lending community will face such challenges are only two of
the topics on the table at the New Jersey Bankers Association’s
Consumer Lending Conference on Tuesday, May 24, at 8 a.m. at the
Sheraton Hotel in Eatontown. Cost: $225. Call 609-521-1221 or visit
www.NJBankers.com. Speakers for this panel discussion include Rob
Drozdowski, vice president of America’s Community Bankers; Rae Rosen,
senior economist with the Federal Reserve Bank of New York; attorney
Michael Horn, partner with McCarter and English; G. Elaine Wood,
managing director of Kroll Associates; and Jeffery Marsico, vice
president of the Kafafian Group.
"New Jersey is in a very strong economic position," says the Federal
Reserve’s Rosen, "but rather than poised for a boom, I see the state
moving towards steady growth." From the highest levels, Rosen has been
tracking the tri-state area’s fiscal progress for the past 15 years. A
native of New York City, she grew up in Colorado. She holds a B.S. in
economics from Barnard and an MBA from New York University. She worked
as an economic consultant at several private firms, and then joined
New York’s Federal Reserve where she has remained for the last 12
years. As senior economist, Rosen focuses her energies on the
financial health of New York, Connecticut, and most of New Jersey.
Mature New Jersey. Old folks and old economies do not move with the
explosive energies of youth, but they progress with a more directed
purpose. "New Jersey is a developed state," says Rosen. "We cannot
expect it to have a building and loaning boom that lasts seemingly
forever, like, say, Florida or Arizona." On the other hand, all the
factors are in place for a powerful, continued economic growth.
Rosen points to the record 4.3 percent unemployment and the labor
shortage at all salary levels. Jobs continue to grow at a modest, but
undeniable, 1.5 percent, faster than New York. From Jersey City to
Princeton, the Garden State continues to draw large portions of the
national financial community from across the Hudson – a process begun
well before 9/11.
Additionally, New Jersey continues to grow as one of the major freight
handlers of the nation. "As goods from China back up on the West
Coast," says Rosen, "the massive schemes for more extensive and
effective freight handling will become necessary – bringing more
cranes, and more jobs to the state."
The unprecedented numbers of huddled masses bursting on New Jersey’s
shores are seen by Rosen as actually a steadying influence. Retiring
seniors and career shifters cause a great population drain on the
state every year. Unlike a century past when the overwhelming number
of immigrants were unskilled laborers and agriculturalists, today’s
new residents bring in the whole spectrum of jobs skills, heavily
weighted at each end. This fresh blood at all levels keeps the job
market dynamic, and also supports a healthy turnover of homes and
The FACTA factor. But as loan and credit systems take on this
international aspect, so have the frauds and crimes. To counter the
expanding abuses, the Fair & Accurate Credit Transactions Act (FACTA)
was signed into law in December 2003. The aim of the law was to
provide a national standard for credit reporting, with
As vice president of payments and technical issues for America’s
Community Bankers, Drozdowski has watched the layers of this law take
effect with a mixture of relief and fear. "It is a very confusing act,
with a lot of parts still in developmental stages, but two things are
certain: credit customers will get a lot more disclosure; and banks
will face oceans more paper work in every transaction."
Raised in a retail household in Springfield, Massachusetts, the son of
an auto parts store owner and a jeweler, Drozdowski learned the woes
of business early on. As he graduated from Western New England College
in l985, then earned a graduate degree in public policy from George
Washington University, banking seemed a natural career path. He worked
for the FDIC before moving into the vice presidency of the community
banking trade group, a post he has held for the past 10 years.
Designed to get the credit customer more involved in issues
surrounding his loan, FACTA affects loan seekers in four major ways.
Free credit reports. Previously, for a fee of $9, and a lot of labor
and patience, the "big three" credit bureaus – Experian, TransUnion,
and Equifax – would share with you your own credit report. Under
FACTA, your credit reports will be supplied to all loan applicants and
are available immediately on demand at no charge. The process is being
phased in nationally and East Coast residents will be able to take
advantage by this September. Visit www.annualcreditreport.com or call
877-322-8228 for a report application form.
Lending rate disclosure. Ever wonder why your loan rate differs from
prime – or from your neighbor’s? Now the lender must disclose what its
lowest rate is, its credit scoring system, and why you were qualified
for a higher rate. "This is going to provide a massive migraine for
loan administrators," says Drozdowski. "It will mean a lot of
additional paper with each loan, but the disclosure is good. A lot of
the Internet offerings had become quite sneaky in the past few years."
Consumer opt out. Loan applicants have become accustomed to the siege
of unwanted marketing assaults that follow soon after any loan query.
Frequently personal information from the application is sold to
marketing listers who re-sell it to various advertisers. The resulting
spam may be the least of your problems. Often these lists get sold to
countries where the our national standards are unenforced. Under
FACTA, the credit applicant – this includes credit and debit cards –
will be given an opt-out document, allowing him to prevent his name
and personal information from being sold anywhere.
Fraud alert. FACTA places greater tools in lenders’ hands to fight
identity theft. One such item calls for the truncation of all credit
card, debit card, and Social Security numbers to the last four digits
in almost all records. Access to the full numbers becomes much more
You can become your own credit watchdog. If you suspect identity theft
you can contact the three major credit bureaus to red flag your
account. Once you do, you get a copy of the report and the bureau
keeps an active-duty watch on the account for 12 months, and makes
periodic reviews for seven years. The fastest way to report fraud is
by each bureau’s fraud hotline: Experian, at 888-397-3742; TransUnion,
at 800-680-7289; and Equifax, at 800-525-6285.
As good times and freely-available credit expand exponentially, so
must our wariness. In this easy-credit age, the government has made a
very sensible judgment. It has allied lending institutions and
citizens to watch their backs, take the few extra monitoring steps,
and fight potential fraud.
– Bart Jackson
And the buzzword for today is "leadership." Bored with "empowerment,"
"managerial skillsets," and a raft of other cliched terms, it seems as
if every business improvement gathering must have "leadership"
somewhere on its flip chart. Several consultants have sheepishly
confessed that having this term in their talk’s title actually allows
them to charge more for their advice. For veteran corporate trainer
Joanne Smikle, such buying into buzzwords indicates that companies are
desperate to keep on the edge.
Smikle, who eschews jargon for solidly-sculpted planning, outlines a
few of her programs as keynote speaker for the New Jersey Association
of Women Business Owners’ annual conference, on Wednesday, May 25,
beginning at 11 a.m., and on Thursday, May 26, beginning at 7:30 a.m.,
at the Caesars in Atlantic City. Cost ranges from $550 full package to
$50 for individual events. Call 609-581-2121 or visit www.njawbo.com.
In addition to Smikle, founder of Smikle Training Service in
Maryland, speakers include Douglas Crisman, founder of Old Horses, a
consulting firm based at 212 Carnegie Center, and Susan Onaitis,
president of New York City-based Global Learning Link, who speaks on
Daughter of a steel worker and music teacher, Smikle grew up in
Buffalo, New York. In l983 she enrolled in the University of Maryland,
loved the state, and never left. Aiming originally at a law career,
Smikle earned a political science B.A., then continued with graduate
studies in public policy. Finally, in the midst of her dissertation,
she cried "enough" and threw herself into the job market.
"Oh, I tried all those odd jobs, ranging from retail sales to
telemarketing manager," she says. She then began her career in
earnest, taking a job with the State of Maryland. Her first position
helped her work through her self-confessed shyness, and in a short
while she ended up as an executive trainer. Smikle got swept up in the
field and ever since has made it her personal mission. She formed
Smikle Training Services 14 years ago, and uses it as a platform from
which she has lectured, written, and provided one-on-one counseling.
She is the author of "Calamity Free Collaboration" and the newly
written "Value Driven Leadership," both published by The Help Desk
Smikle sees corporate improvement as a mental process that begins in
the brain of every worker and flows out through the company structure.
If you want to call that leadership, fine. She calls it effectiveness.
Self assessment. Using everything from very honest self-analysis to
standard testing tools, each executive and owner must determine
specifically where his personality strengths and skills lie. Smikle
employs several tools, some proprietary, to determine personality and
leadership style. Do you lead as an innovator, a facilitator, a
motivator, or just a terminator?
Link to mission. Once one’s personal competencies are established, the
individual can begin to examine how they fit within the corporate
mission. This is assuming, of course, that the company has a corporate
mission. A business’ mission, insists Smikle, is not the same thing as
the goal of its president, which he has quietly ascertained and which
is filed only in his own mind.
It is a publicized, examined, and reshaped set of goals that every
employee and client knows. It gets infused into every action of the
company. Because the mission is made by and for individuals, it stands
not as a work of stone, but is a malleable dynamic that radiates from
the firm’s operations.
Play to strength. "Face it, George W. Bush is not the sharpest pencil
in the box," says Smikle, "but he is smart enough to surround himself
with experts in every field to and consider their advice." Even the
very brilliant Franklin Delano Roosevelt, she points out, surrounded
himself with his fabled "brain trust." Very few entrepreneurs are
naturally wizard accountants or business people. Al Capone would have
been lost without Frank Nitti.
Once an owner has ascertained his best role in the company, the next
task is to bring together that brain trust and determine how each
person’s ability can best fill the mission. Then, working in a ripple
effect, executives and all employees must discover how each action
affects the mission. This collaboration creates its own time-motion
study and leads to effectiveness. People analyze their actions
according to the total picture, and begin to weed out unnecessary
projects based more on tradition than need.
Smikle is optimistic not only for herself, but for our nation’s
business as a whole. "Within the past five years, I have witnessed a
much greater receptivity by corporations to creating clear
objectives," she says. Owners seem very willing to make the investment
in time and restructuring to unite their staffs toward the common
goal. It may be that they are driven by little more than the desire to
stay perched on the cutting edge. But whatever the motivation, it
makes a better – and more profitable – workplace.
– Bart Jackson
‘We don’t specifically hire people with disabilities, we look at each
employee’s abilities," says Mindy Howard, employee representative for
Wegman’s. The grocery store chain’s policy for hiring people with
disabilities is "to look at the work each person is able to do," she
Howard discusses her company’s experiences in hiring people with
disabilities as part of a Business Forum sponsored in part by the
Mercer County Chamber of Commerce on Tuesday, May 24, at 8 a.m. at the
Conference Center at Mercer County Community College. This month’s
topic, "Hiring People with Disabilities: Employer Awareness, Training
and Resources," is presented in partnership with the New Jersey
Department of Labor and the Mercer County Employer Council.
Also speaking are Renee Balke of the New Jersey Division of Vocational
Rehabilitation, and Anthony Chiesa of the Department of Labor. Cost:
$25. Call 609-393-4143 or visit www.mercerchamber.org.
The Business Forum is a partnership between the Mercer Chamber, Mercer
County Community College, and Mercer Business Magazine, says Michele
Siekerka, executive director of the chamber. It is designed "as a
place to discuss topics of relevance to people in business." At this
month’s meeting panelists help other business people identify "the
numerous resources that are available to companies that want to hire
people with disabilities," she says. There are resources to help in
learning how to make a workplace barrier free, along with grants for
training employees, she says.
"We want to create a push for hiring more people with disabilities,"
says Siekerka. "There are so many benefits both to the employer and
employee. There is value to the people with disabilities who want
gainful employment that matches their skills." For employers, "there
is an amazing pool of untapped talent out there that we often
Statistics show that people with disabilities are often at a "critical
disadvantage compared to other Americans in 10 key areas of life,"
according to a 2004 National Organization on Disability/Harris Survey
of Americans with Disabilities. The National Organization on
Disability is a private organization founded in 1982 to promote the
participation and contribution of people with disabilities in all
aspects of life.
The poll shows that:
The disabled are under-employed. Only 35 percent of people with
disabilities reported being employed full or part time, compared to 78
percent of those who do not have disabilities.
Many disabled people are poor. Three times as many – 26 percent versus
9 percent – live in poverty, with annual household incomes below
Educational attainment is low. People with disabilities remain twice
as likely to drop out of high school – 21 percent versus 10 percent.
Isolation is a problem. The disabled are more than twice as likely to
have inadequate transportation – 31 percent versus 13 percent.
Health care is inadequate. A much higher percentage of disabled people
go without needed health care – 18 percent versus 7 percent.
In addition to the primary findings, the report also stated that
although 22 percent of employed people with disabilities report
encountering job discrimination, this is a "dramatic drop" from 36
percent four years ago.
The severity of disability makes a significant difference in all of
the gap areas, and people with severe disabilities have much greater
disadvantages. But no matter what the degree of disability, people
with disabilities are much more worried about their future health and
well-being. Half are worried about not being able to care for
themselves or being a burden to their families, compared to a quarter
of other Americans.
Wegman’s, says Howard, has been very successful in hiring people with
a variety of special abilities or needs. "I’m very lucky to work for a
company that has such a positive approach (to hiring people with
disabilities). We look at every candidate in light of what they are
able to do. What are their interests and abilities?"
Howard mentions that a previous job helped her to have an open mind
when it comes to hiring people with disabilities. "I worked in a photo
finishing company," she says. "Much of the work was done in the dark.
It only made sense to consider hiring someone whose sight was
While blindness, or partial blindness, is the sort of thing that most
people think of when they think about disabilities, Howard points out
that a disability may not always be physical. "At one end of the
spectrum, you can have a person who has not held a job before," she
gives as an example. "Their diploma is from an alternative school.
They’ve gotten a job coach and have developed the skills and
competencies to do the job."
People with physical disabilities often face the most obvious
challenges when it comes to employment. "Because a person has a
physical disability doesn’t mean that he can’t do a good job," she
says. "There are many areas of Wegman’s where people are functioning
every day with physical disabilities."
For example, she says, a cashier who needs to sit could be
accommodated at a lower cash register counter. "We have people in
wheelchairs who perform very well in several functions in our stores.
In our culinary area, we have hearing-impaired people who work with
the public because they read lips."
People with development challenges can also be "very successful in
certain jobs," she says. "Even people who are considered fully
functional are not able to do every job," Howard adds. "We all have
our own interests and abilities."
Wegman’s, she says, is open to looking at any person for any job they
can do. "There is no specific formula that says you have to have X to
do this job. It works for us." She adds that a person’s desire to work
can often help him to overcome difficulties that others see as
An employer who does not consider a person with a disability may be
disregarding a great employee. "You could be missing out on some of
best people you could have," says Howard. "We all have value."
– Karen Hodges Miller
Acting Governor Richard Codey has signed a bill to protect New Jersey
jobs from being outsourced to foreign countries by requiring that all
services under state contract or subcontract must be performed within
the United States.
"Every day, hundreds of thousands of New Jersey residents are
desperately seeking employment in order to support their families,"
Senator Shirley Turner, a sponsor of the bill, said in a prepared
statement. Turner, who represents Mercer County, went on to say that
"it is foolish for the state to send taxpayer dollars abroad to hire
workers in India, China, or Indonesia when these same jobs can be
performed by the unemployed here in the United States. Not only are we
losing the benefits those jobs bring to the individual, but we also
lose the tax and the economic growth benefits those jobs bring the
The bill, which was signed on May 5, requires only that American
citizens and persons authorized to work in the United States provide
services under a state contract or subcontract. Only when it can be
certified that a service cannot be performed within the United States
will an exemption be made. The bill applies to the executive branch of
state government, the legislature, and any independent state
authority, commission, or agency authorized to enter into a contract
on behalf of the state. It does not cover county, municipal, or school
FEMA representatives are awaiting aid applicants at the Trenton War
Memorial, but few people are showing up. Eligible for aid are
residents of areas that were flooded in early-April. This includes a
number of people living along the Delaware River in Mercer, Hunterdon,
and Gloucester counties, and their counterparts on the other side of
the river in Pennyslvania.
Anyone who does not want to apply in person can file a claim by
calling 800-621-3362 or by visiting www.fema.gov. There follows a
series of questions about family income, extent of damage, and any
costs incurred in obtaining alternate housing during the six or so
days that homes along the river were uninhabitable.
Assistance can include rental payments for temporary housing; grants
for home repairs not covered by insurance; and grants to replace
personal property and to help meet medical, dental, funeral,
transportation, and other serious disaster-related needed not covered
by insurance or other federal, state, or charitable assistance
Also, anyone who lost work because of the flood – or subsequent
clean-up, may be eligible for help from the state, and FEMA can
provide instructions on how to apply.
Where income levels or other factors preclude help from FEMA,
homeowners may be eligible for SBA loans of up to $200,000 for primary
residence and $40,000 for personal property. Business owners and
qualifying non-profits may apply for up to $1.5 million for physical
and economic damages sustained as a result of the disaster. Again,
FEMA can explain the details of this program, and will put interested
home and business owners in touch with SBA loan officers.
For those who do not qualify for FEMA assistance, and do not want an
SBA loan, there is one other possible form of relief. Flood losses not
reimbursed by insurance can be taken as income tax deductions, and can
be claimed for either 2004 or 2005. Even though 2004 taxes have been
filed in most cases, taxpayers can file an amended return and get
their refund now rather than in 2006. The deduction is figured by
subtracting $100 for each casualty event and then subtracting 10
percent of adjusted gross income from total casualty losses for the
More information on how to claim the deduction is available at
If all of this sounds confusing – it is. Stepping in to help is
NJSCPA, the state’s society of certified public accounts. The
organization has updated its "Disaster Recovery Guide" and, through
its New Jersey CPA Help Center, is providing free financial and tax
advice to crisis victims.
The guide is designed to assist disaster victims with many of the
details involved in the recovery process, including documenting losses
for tax and insurance purposes, and replacing personal indentification
It is available online at www.njscpa.org/recovery or by calling
973-226-4494, ext. 246.
Anyone desiring a one-on-one talk with a CPA can obtain help through
the Help Center. To request help, call 973-226-4494 or visit
The Industrial Commercial Real Estate Women of NJ recently presented a
check in the amount of $5,000 to Barbara Gursky, director of the Child
Life Program at Bristol-Myers Squibb Children’s Hospital at Robert
Wood Johnson University Hospital.
The Children’s Hospital is New Jersey’s largest free-standing
state-designated, acute care children’s hospital. BMSCH serves the
health care needs of children from New Jersey and beyond. It also
brings the full spectrum of comprehensive pediatric specialties and
subspecialties and nationally recognized services to pediatric
patients. As home to the region’s first pediatric intensive care unit,
and the only Level I Trauma Center with a pediatric commitment, the
children’s hospital is uniquely qualified to handle the most
life-threatening illnesses or injuries.
The proceeds were as a result of raffle tickets sold to win the grand
prize of a set of Calloway Golf Clubs, donated by Denholtz Associates,
represented in the ICREW membership by Kristine Burnitis.
The organization’s golf outing, held at the Forsgate Country Club on
May 5, drew over 125 women and men.
ICREW is the New Jersey Chapter of CREW Network, the Network of
Commercial Real Estate Women. They are a full-service network of
commercial real estate professionals and represent all disciplines of
the commercial real estate industry. Membership is open to qualified
professionals in the commercial and industrial real estate field.
For more information, contact ICREW at 732-842-5070, or check www.
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