Morales Makes the Case For Community Colleges

SBIR Wants to Give Away Billions

Founders Day Celebrates Einstein

Homes, Loans & Scams

NJAWBO Conference Keynote Addresses Attitude Adjustments

Tips on Hiring People With Disabilities

Protecting Jersey Jobs

FEMA Is Waiting

Corporate Angels

Corrections or additions?

These articles were prepared for the May 18, 2005

issue of U.S. 1 Newspaper. All rights reserved.

Survival Guide

Top Of Page
Morales Makes the Case For Community Colleges

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

Bogota, Columbia.

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

Top Of Page
SBIR Wants to Give Away Billions

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

www.dodsbir.net/solicitation/sbir052/default.htm.

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

winning proposal.

– Michele Alperin

Top Of Page
Founders Day Celebrates Einstein

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

institute.

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

Zionism.

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.

Top Of Page
Homes, Loans & Scams

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

loans.

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

consumer-protective guidelines.

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

limited.

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

Top Of Page
NJAWBO Conference Keynote Addresses Attitude Adjustments

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

negotiating techniques.

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

Institute.

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

Top Of Page
Tips on Hiring People With Disabilities

‘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

says.

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

overlook."

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

$15,000.

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

impaired."

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

insurmountable.

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

Top Of Page
Protecting Jersey Jobs

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

state."

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

district contracts.

Top Of Page
FEMA Is Waiting

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

programs.

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

year.

More information on how to claim the deduction is available at

www.irs.gov.

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

papers.

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

www.njscpa.org.help.

Top Of Page
Corporate Angels

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.

icrew-nj.org.

Corrections or additions?


This page is published by PrincetonInfo.com

— the web site for U.S. 1 Newspaper in Princeton, New Jersey.

Facebook Comments