Toll Free: 1-855-219-6008

Put Some Wind in Your Sails During the Slow Season

Business weathering slow downMariners once dreaded sailing the seas around the Earth’s equator. Not for the heat, or the sharks or the waves. Rather for the lack of wind. Sailing ships would often become stuck for days or weeks, unable to move due to the shortage of any breeze. The nautical term for this area is the doldrums, meaning windless waters.

Nowadays, the doldrums carry other meanings, as well. One of the most used is to denote a period of stagnation or inactivity. Like an ancient sailing ship leaving the trade winds, businesses also go through doldrums. Often these doldrums occur during a specific season and can be forecasted in advance.

For example, new home construction slows during the winter months as bad weather makes work difficult. Furnace repair contractors don’t get many service calls during the summer. The hospitality business grinds to a halt after Labor Day and the end of vacation season. Companies need to plan and budget accordingly to make it through these slower times until their next peak season rolls around.

Your business probably also has its own doldrums or slow season. For you it may be in the spring. Or perhaps in the summer, when customers and employees alike take off for some needed escape from work. No matter when your doldrums occur, you need to have a plan of action to properly deal with them and to make sure your sails are in tip-top shape when the trade winds return, and business takes off. Here are some quick tips to get you going:

Work on your business instead of for it – When sales are popping, you’re often too busy to take care of some basic house… well, make that businesskeeping chores. Now that times have slowed, it’s the perfect opportunity to take care of many tasks you just had to put off. Such as…

Update your marketing plan – A good marketing plan never stands still. It’s always moving, dynamic and flexible. Look back over the past 12 months. What didn’t quite go as planned with your marketing plan and could use some tweaking or revamping? What went right and should be done again? And, what went totally wrong and needs to be sent to Davy Jones’ locker at the bottom of the sea?

Give your website a fresh face – Have you looked at your website lately? Your customers do. Is it a proper and energetic reflection of your company that engages customers and encourages them to do business with you? Or is it a reflection that you really don’t know much about modern marketing? Even worse, is it a reflection that the last time you updated your website it was in the age of dial-up modems? A static, never-changing website can give your customers the impression that nothing’s going on with your company. A new, dynamic design, on the other hand, tells your prospects you’re a company on the move, ever striving to improve your products, services and your ability to help them. There’s no better time than your doldrum period to ask yourself these questions and act to ensure your site best showcases your firm’s knowledge, expertise and solutions-oriented approach.

Reconnect with old clients – There’s so little time to talk and interact in this fast-paced world of the early 21st century. The doldrums are a great time to reconnect with those with whom you’ve lost touch. No, not Aunt Mabel. In this case, your old clients. Give them a call, or better stop by their office to catch up. If they still do business with you, let them know how important they are and update them on any new offerings that could help them. If they’re no longer clients, call anyway. Let them know you appreciated their business in the past and that you were thinking of them. Update them on your company’s progress and see if there’s any chance to rekindle a business relationship. Don’t forget, it’s much cheaper to get old clients to either do more business with you or come back to the fold than it is to prospect for new business.

Get organized – Remember last tax season when it took you two days to find that important documentation? And remember how you swore it would never happen again… you were going to get organized next time around. Well, guess what? Now’s your chance to do that. Organize your office, your files, your marketing materials, your supply cabinet and whatever cluttered, disorganized and frustrating thing that has driven you to distraction.

Efficiency is the mother of success – Closely related to the above tip, the doldrums allow you to not only make your operation more organized but efficient as well. Every operation, no matter how perfect at its start, has inefficiencies creep in over time. Your boat’s engine may purr as you glide out of the marina, but overlook the occasional necessary tune up, and you have an engine guaranteed to leave you stranded somewhere. Examine your operation; Look at each step from the moment you meet a prospect to the making of a product or until you deliver the service. Examine your billing process and your follow-up. No matter how many steps you have in your company’s process, there’s a good chance you need at least a little tweaking at best, or at worst, a complete overhaul. Make productive use of your slow season to get back on course!

Help your bottom line – Your finances may need a boost during the doldrums as business drops. This can cause cash flow problems for smaller businesses. If revenues drop more than expected or you haven’t set aside sufficient funds to tide you over, your business could be in jeopardy.

There is an option that could put some wind in your sails during these doldrums. It’s called invoice factoring. Invoice factoring allows you to “sell” your accounts receivable invoices to a third party. This third party pays you upfront for outstanding invoices, giving you the cash you need today to run your business, and eliminating the worry and hassle of slow pay collections. You’re left free to run your business.

Invoice factoring is a convenient alternative to a traditional bank loan or fee-laden online loans. Factoring gives you the money you need when you need it with no long-term obligations. You can also get cash quicker through invoice factoring – usually within a day or two. If you would like to learn more about how invoice factoring works, simply call toll-free 1-855-219-6008 or email clientsupport@chartercapitalusa.com.

‘We were a great family’: Dad now lives to honor his wife and two kids killed in 107 mph crash [Sun Sentinel]

Jun. 10Gilberto Martinez says he lives each day to honor the wife, young son and daughter he lost in a catastrophic car crash a year ago in Delray Beach.

For the 42-year-old Mexico City lawyer, this means helping run a new charity for disadvantaged children in his country, named in memory of his loved ones. But Martinez, despite suffering a devastating tragedy, refuses to dwell on what becomes of the driver criminally charged with killing his family.

“To be honest with you, I don’t want to get involved and worry about what happens to him,” Martinez told the South Florida Sun Sentinel. “Of course I want that guy to pay for what he did. But that will never bring back my family.”

Killed instantly in the April 28, 2018, wreck on South Federal Highway were Veronica Mariel Raschiotto, 42, an accountant, Diego Martinez Raschiotto, 8, a third-grader, Mia Martinez Raschiotto, 6, a first-grader; and Veronica’s brother, Jorge Claudio Raschiotto, 50, a university professor from Argentina.

They were in South Florida for a family reunion; Gilberto Martinez was not with them due to work commitments.

Paul Wilson Streater, the driver of the pickup that rear-ended the victims’ minivan, is from Broward. Prosecutors allege he was impaired — from huffing chemicals in his system — when he slammed his 2010 Chevrolet Silverado at 107 mph into a 2018 Dodge Caravan carrying the victims. The road has a 45 mph speed limit.

Martinez says he gets occasional updates about the prosecution, but has no plans to attend the trial, which could happen before the end of the year.

“I don’t want to be in court with this guy. I don’t need that,” said Martinez, an attorney who specializes in intellectual property law, with a focus on trademark and copyright cases.

Martinez says he’s not out for vengeance or a particular punishment. “He killed four persons so I guess that’s like the biggest sentence he will always have. His life is destroyed, and I’m sure today he’s worse off than me.”

Was driver high on Dust-off?

The defense claims Streater, 22, was speeding uncontrollably because of a malfunction that caused the pickup to experience sudden acceleration that night. A witness said he swerved from one of the southbound lanes into a left-turn lane, where the Caravan was waiting to go east on Lamat Avenue.

“The car was accelerating through no fault of Paul,” said attorney Samuel Halpern, who plans to argue the Silverado couldn’t be stopped after Streater hit the brakes.

He contends Streater — who was unharmed aside from some bruises and scrapes — showed no signs of intoxication right after the crash, despite a blood sample including Difluoroethane, the main ingredient in Dust-Off, a brand name of compressed air canisters for cleaning computers and electronics.

Streater is charged with four felony counts of DUI manslaughter, four felony counts of vehicular homicide, and three misdemeanor charges of DUI causing or contributing to injury to person or property. The felonies are altogether punishable by up to 120 years in prison.

After pleading not guilty, Streater has remained in Palm Beach County Jail for nearly a year because he’s been unable to afford a $400,000 bond.

A native of Texas and the son of commercial airline pilots, Streater’s resume includes less than a year of working on charter boats and as a cook.

On May 17, Palm Beach County Circuit Judge Glenn Kelley agreed to reduce the bond to $115,000, which should enable Streater to go on house arrest with a GPS ankle monitor. Halpern said he expects his client to be released soon.

Court battles heat up

In a major victory for the prosecution, Judge Kelley on May 13 ruled prosecutors may tell the jury that Difluoroethane, the chemical known to produce a high by huffing, was detected in Streater’s blood.

Also, the prosecution can tell the jury that Streater and Tyler Fowler, his front-seat passenger and roommate, bought Dust-off at a Walmart less than four hours before the crash. There is store surveillance video and a receipt in evidence.

Halpern fears once the jury learns about the Dust-off, a guilty verdict is all but assured.

“Put another way, you can throw a skunk into the jury box and ask them not to smell it, but really, what good does that do?” he argued.

Streater’s lawyer argued that the inhalant produces only a short-term high of five to 20 minutes, yet stays in the blood for up to 22 hours. No cans of Dust-off were found in Streater’s truck.

Halpern says there is no indication the chemical in Streater’s blood had any role in the crash, and it is impossible to prove otherwise. He said the state’s toxicologist was unable to determine when or how the chemical was absorbed in Streater’s body.

The lawyer also pointed out Streater didn’t appear impaired when he spoke with officers and other witnesses. Halpern said Streater was wearing his seat belt and driving at proper speeds until less than a mile before the crash, when the Silverado suddenly raced out of control. Streater told police that his accelerator was stuck.

Streater has had some wins in court before his trial. That includes the judge’s decision to forbid witnesses from testifying that it was “the worst crash they have ever seen” or any other “hyperbole.” Also, among other details, jurors won’t be told that police found drug items, such as rolling papers and a spoon, inside Streater’s truck.

Moving forward

Gilberto Martinez, meanwhile, is doing his best to recover from losing his wife and kids in a flash. To help overcome his grief, he pictures his family in heaven looking down at him.

“I always think, how do they want to see me? I’m living, I’m working, I’m smiling, and I’m spending every day honoring their memory and making them be proud of me. They will never see me sad or destroyed or in a deep depression because I know the three of them are close to me.”

Martinez agreed with his therapist that he would honor his wife and children by going on a planned family vacation to Russia, to watch World Cup soccer games including teams from Mexico and Argentina. He went with two friends. The trip last June made international news and attracted the attention of the players.

Martinez wore a T-shirt with the words “Vero, Diego, Mia, always with me.”

Martinez also has established the Vero, Diego & Mia Foundation in Mexico City. The organization runs sports and health programs to help girls and boys ages 6 to 12 who are “in situations of social vulnerability.” So far, it has raised money to serve 80 kids.

Martinez says it’s taken longer for him to accept the loss of his own children. “They died quite young, I miss them,” he said of Diego, who played on three soccer teams, and Mia, who loved to dance and sing. “Now a lot of people all over the world know about them, how we were a great family.”

Not long after the crash, Martinez hired a personal injury law firm to explore the possibility of a wrongful death civil lawsuit against Streater, the truck manufacturer and possibly others.

But Martinez says the matter was dropped after an investigation concluded there was no way to recover money.

Attorney Scott B. Smith of West Palm Beach, who had represented Martinez, called it “one of the worst tragedies I’ve ever come across. It’s just so hard to comprehend. Four human beings are not supposed to die in a motor vehicle crash.”

For that reason, Streater’s side doesn’t want jurors to see “gruesome” photos from the crash scene.

Judge Kelley said he will rule later after reviewing the images that Assistant State Attorney Danielle Sherriff plans to use.

“I know that this is a very emotional case, and we’re all human,” Halpern said. “Let’s just try to keep it to the facts, and not inflame people.”

___

(c)2019 the Sun Sentinel (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.)

Visit the Sun Sentinel (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.) at www.sun-sentinel.com

Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

City names opportunity zone task force [The High Point Enterprise, N.C.]

June 07– Jun. 7HIGH POINT — Build your team. Ready your product. And then market it.

That’s how High Point Economic Development Corp. Executive Vice President Sandy Dunbeck described the city’s strategy in trying to draw investment to three so-called opportunity zones.

The federal program offers tax incentives for investors who finance projects within distressed U.S. Census tracts. Dunbeck and others recently formed a local task force to try to draw the attention of investors.

“We’ve assembled a blue-ribbon team here of people with experience across multiple fields so we can really brainstorm and have good conversations about these opportunity zones,” Dunbeck told the EDC board of directors Wednesday.

The task force will market projects like the proposed Main Street Station, where Forward High Point has assembled three vacant tracts near BB&T Point stadium that could be redeveloped with a mix of residential and commercial space.

The 18-person task force includes eight people who either work for or represent the city as elected officials.

The other members are Rick Callicutt of Pinnacle Bank, Tony Collins of the Southwest Renewal Foundation, Chip Culler of CJP Realtors, Chris Dunbar of Blue Ridge Cos., Joanna Easter of MarketPlace Management, Inc., Brian Gavigan, an attorney with Wyatt Early Harris Wheeler, Ray Gibbs of Forward High Point, Jack Hendrix of Hendrix Barney CPAs, Cyril Jefferson with Communities in Schools of High Point and Mark Norcross of Norcross Consulting.

EDC President Loren Hill told the board that his office is awaiting a decision from Ox BodiesInc., a company that’s looking to set up a dump truck assembly operation in part of the former Hatteras Yachts facility on E. Martin Luther King Jr. Drive.

High Point is competing for the project with other areas of North Carolina and one location in South Carolina. The City Council has tentatively approved $87,600 in incentives for Ox Bodies if it comes here.

“We’re very hopeful they will pick High Point,” Hill said. “The former Hatteras Yachts facility has had some limited occupancy, but it’s woefully underutilized.”

Hopes are also high, he said, about the proposed Oasis Center clinical drug trial research park on 80 acres on Gallimore Dairy Road that just obtained zoning and annexation approvals.

“Our office has been working that project for several months. Presumably, things are full gallop for that park,” Hill said. “If this falls into place, it will be quite a feather in High Point’s cap to have this research park.”

Oasis Center Founder Adnan Mjalli has worked with the EDC on several projects involving other pharmaceutical companies going back 20 years.

pkimbrough@hpenews.com — 336-888-3531

___

(c)2019 The High Point Enterprise (High Point, N.C.)

Visit The High Point Enterprise (High Point, N.C.) at www.hpenews.com

Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

Environmental impact statement for Enbridge oil pipeline ruled inadequate [Star Tribune]

June 03The Minnesota Court of Appeals has reversed a ruling by Minnesota utility regulators on the environmental impact statement done for Enbridge’s Line 3 pipeline.

The court ruled Monday that the environmental impact statement was “inadequate because it didn’t address the potential impact of an oil spill into the Lake Superior watershed.”

The Minnesota Public Utilities Commission (PUC) last year approved the environmental impact statement, which was done by the Minnesota Department of Commerce. Several environmental groups and American Indian tribes had appealed the PUC’s decision.

The appellate court reversed the PUC’s decision that the environmental impact statement was “adequate.” The PUC needs to consider an actual impact of a spill in the Lake Superior watershed, according to the court.

Enbridge’s $2.6 billion Line 3 project calls for the construction of a new oil pipeline to replace the old Line 3. The pipeline would carry Canadian oil across northern Minnesota to Superior, Wis.

The PUC signed off on the pipeline construction earlier this year. Environmental groups and the state’s commerce department are also appealing that decision, which is separate from the environmental impact challenge.

Mike Hughlett • 612-673-7003

___

(c)2019 the Star Tribune (Minneapolis)

Visit the Star Tribune (Minneapolis) at www.startribune.com

Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

Residents oppose oil projects at Brownsville port [The Brownsville Herald, Texas]

Refinery pipelines, oil and gas engineersJune 03– Jun. 3–BROWNSVILLE — At a public meeting hosted by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality on May 28, environmentalists spoke out against an oil-and-gas logistics company’s plans for the Port of Brownsville.

The meeting was intended to solicit public comment as part of TCEQ’s process for evaluating JupiterMLP’s air permit application for a proposed dockside terminal operation at the port that would include a facility for processing light crude oil into gasoline and ultra-low-sulfur diesel.

Approval of the company’s air permit application would allow it to proceed with construction. According to TCEQ, the facility would emit carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxides, organic compounds, particulate matter and sulfur dioxides “in a significant amount.” It will also emit hydrogen sulfide, sulfuric acid mist and contaminants classified as “hazardous air pollutants,” according to the agency’s notice for the May 28 meeting.

TCEQ Executive Director Toby Baker has completed the review of Jupiter’s application and prepared a draft permit, which if approved would set operating conditions for Jupiter’s operation, the agency said. Baker determined that emissions subject to TCEQ review “would not violate any state or federal air quality regulations and will not have any significant adverse impact on soils, vegetation, or visibility,” according to the notice. “Best available control technology” will be used to control the contaminants, TCEQ said.

Jupiter announced a year ago that it had secured all the necessary permits for loading and unloading Panamax-sized vessels at the port’s liquid cargo dock. “Panamax” refers to size limits for ships that pass through the Panama Canal. Jupiter announced a groundbreaking for the terminal project in September 2015, when the company’s name was Centurion Terminals LLC, though no ground has actually been broken to date, according to Eduardo Campirano, Brownsville port director and CEO.

Jupiter also plans to build 2.8 million barrels worth of storage, and possibly more, on land it leases from the port as part of the terminal operation. The company has also announced plans for a 1 million-barrel-per-day pipeline to the terminal from the Permian Basin, the largest oil field in the United States, accounting for about 68 percent of Texas’ production and 80 percent of its reserves.

The proposed 650-mile-long Jupiter Pipeline was not covered in the May 28 meeting, and TCEQ does not have jurisdiction over such projects. However, the company announced in October that it had secured funding commitment from Charon System Advisors sufficient to build the pipeline, which would feed Jupiter’s processing facility at the port.

Brownsville residents including members of the Sierra Club and SaveRGVfromLNG voiced opposition to Jupiter’s proposals during the TCEQ public meeting, with Rebekah Hinojosa of the local Sierra Club chapter saying the organization is firmly against the proposed pipeline and terminal.

“Jupiter oil terminal and pipeline is one of the many fossil fuel burning companies targeting our coast,” she said. “Our communities do not want to become a sacrifice zone so the oil and gas industry can make a profit, make a mess and leave our communities and our coasts more vulnerable and exposed to harmful pollution that directly infect our air and water.”

Bill Berg of SaveRGVfromLNG said the fossil fuels are destroying the Texas coast and that South Padre Island, one of the state’s last beaches not damaged by the petrochemical industry, is vulnerable.

“It is sad to see the Port of Brownsville becoming a fossil fuel port,” he said.

Jupiter said earlier this year that it expected the pipeline to begin operations by the fourth quarter of 2020. The company also plans to apply for permits to build a terminal six miles offshore from South Padre Island to accommodate VLCC (very large crude carrier) vessels.

Campirano said the port has an agreement with Jupiter for construction of a terminal operation but nothing more, which means a pipeline won’t happen “anytime soon.”

“As I understood it, the air quality permit pertained to the original application for a liquid terminal operation, which would receive commodity over the dock, either in or out,” he said.

“There’s still much more to do if all the other stuff is going to progress. … We’ve had numerous meetings about various issues. They’re basically exploring, investigating and doing due diligence on these other matters. Whether they come to bear remains to be seen.”

Public comments to TCEQ about the Jupiter project can still be made online at www14.tceq.texas.gov/epic/eComment/. The permit number for Jupiter is 147681. The greenhouse gas permit number is GHGPSDTX172.

___

(c)2019 The Brownsville Herald (Brownsville, Texas)

Visit The Brownsville Herald (Brownsville, Texas) at www.brownsvilleherald.com

Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

EDITORIAL: Still with questions about Lordstown [The Akron Beacon Journal]

June 02– Jun. 2–When word surfaced last month that General Motors had reached an agreement to sell the Lordstown plant, Mike DeWine advised caution. The governor made clear “this probably is not the day to celebrate,” stressing that he was “trying to be realistic.” He described the deal as “still a long ways away.” He expressed an understanding that raising false hopes would be “very cruel to the workers and the people in Lordstown and the Mahoning Valley.”

Jon Husted, the lieutenant governor, said similar things in joining the governor at the press conference. He called the prospective buyer, Workhorse, an electric truck manufacturer from the Cincinnati area, a “promising Ohio company.” Yet uncertainty hovered, the governor adding at one point: “For this really to work, it is going to take a contract with the United States Postal Service.”

Workhorse is one of the finalists for a $3.6 billion contract to supply the Postal Service with trucks, a decision expected sometime later in the year. That would make the company much stronger financially. It has received praise for the quality of its work. At the same time, a report in the New York Times last week raised questions about whether it would stay afloat until the announcement, Workhorse with under $3 million in cash at the end of March, suppliers requiring payment in advance and the company left to pursue high-interest loans.

Such doubt departs sharply from some initial enthusiasm about the GM deal. Recall President Trump getting in front of the automaker to tweet: “GREAT NEWS FOR OHIO! Just spoke to Mary Barra, CEO of General Motors, who informed me that, subject to UAW agreement etc., GM will be selling their beautiful Lordstown Plant to Workhorse, where they plan to build Electric Trucks.”

Not exactly, as DeWine and Husted realized, along with U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown and U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan.

This isn’t to counsel little but gloom. Workhorse is ahead of competitors in having produced actual trucks, 365, mostly for United Parcel Service, according to the Times. Electric trucks have an obvious place in the future. Yet, as the Times reports, from its founding in 2007 to the first quarter of this year, the company lost $150 million.

In 2018, Workhorse revenues totaled $763,000. What if it doesn’t get the Postal Service contract? How would it raise the $300 million at a minimum necessary to get the Lordstown plant retooled and operating? What are the chances, realistically, of the Postal Service selecting Workhorse?

It isn’t hard to follow the thinking of GM. The automaker is seeking to get ahead of the industry curve, focusing on electric and autonomous vehicles. It is investing $700 million in other Ohio plants. More, at the time of the federal rescue, now a decade in the past, the company received harsh, and deserved, criticism for lacking vision and the flexibility to remain competitive. It wants to avoid repeating such mistakes, and that involves difficult decisions in the current challenging marketplace.

Still, it remains a puzzle for many around here that the automaker cannot find a place for a plant with a record of high-quality work, and long ties to the company. To be sure, many workers laid off at Lordstown have the option of transferring elsewhere within General Motors. That hardly makes up for the loss to the larger regional economy, the plant long a mainstay for middle class households, directly and indirectly.

In that way, many are rooting for Workhorse to overcome the obstacles in its path, the making of electric trucks carrying the promise to which the lieutenant governor referred. They also know there is nothing to celebrate, so many questions still without answers.

___

(c)2019 the Akron Beacon Journal (Akron, Ohio)

Visit the Akron Beacon Journal (Akron, Ohio) at www.ohio.com

Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

Beacon Journal/Ohio.com editorial board: Still with questions about Lordstown [Akron Beacon Journal]

June 01–When word surfaced last month that General Motors had reached an agreement to sell the Lordstown plant, Mike DeWine advised caution. The governor made clear “this probably is not the day to celebrate,” stressing that he was “trying to be realistic.” He described the deal as “still a long ways away.” He expressed an understanding that raising false hopes would be “very cruel to the workers and the people in Lordstown and the Mahoning Valley.”

Jon Husted, the lieutenant governor, said similar things in joining the governor at the press conference. He called the prospective buyer, Workhorse, an electric truck manufacturer from the Cincinnati area, a “promising Ohio company.” Yet uncertainty hovered, the governor adding at one point: “For this really to work, it is going to take a contract with the United States Postal Service.”

Workhorse is one of the finalists for a $3.6 billion contract to supply the Postal Service with trucks, a decision expected sometime later in the year. That would make the company much stronger financially. It has received praise for the quality of its work. At the same time, a report in the New York Times last week raised questions about whether it would stay afloat until the announcement, Workhorse with under $3 million in cash at the end of March, suppliers requiring payment in advance and the company left to pursue high-interest loans.

Such doubt departs sharply from some initial enthusiasm about the GM deal. Recall President Trump getting in front of the automaker to tweet: “GREAT NEWS FOR OHIO! Just spoke to Mary Barra, CEO of General Motors, who informed me that, subject to UAW agreement etc., GM will be selling their beautiful Lordstown Plant to Workhorse, where they plan to build Electric Trucks.”

Not exactly, as DeWine and Husted realized, along with U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown and U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan.

This isn’t to counsel little but gloom. Workhorse is ahead of competitors in having produced actual trucks, 365, mostly for United Parcel Service, according to the Times. Electric trucks have an obvious place in the future. Yet, as the Times reports, from its founding in 2007 to the first quarter of this year, the company lost $150 million.

In 2018, Workhorse revenues totaled $763,000. What if it doesn’t get the Postal Service contract? How would it raise the $300 million at a minimum necessary to get the Lordstown plant retooled and operating? What are the chances, realistically, of the Postal Service selecting Workhorse?

It isn’t hard to follow the thinking of GM. The automaker is seeking to get ahead of the industry curve, focusing on electric and autonomous vehicles. It is investing $700 million in other Ohio plants. More, at the time of the federal rescue, now a decade in the past, the company received harsh, and deserved, criticism for lacking vision and the flexibility to remain competitive. It wants to avoid repeating such mistakes, and that involves difficult decisions in the current challenging marketplace.

Still, it remains a puzzle for many around here that the automaker cannot find a place for a plant with a record of high-quality work, and long ties to the company. To be sure, many workers laid off at Lordstown have the option of transferring elsewhere within General Motors. That hardly makes up for the loss to the larger regional economy, the plant long a mainstay for middle class households, directly and indirectly.

In that way, many are rooting for Workhorse to overcome the obstacles in its path, the making of electric trucks carrying the promise to which the lieutenant governor referred. They also know there is nothing to celebrate, so many questions still without answers.

___

(c)2019 the Akron Beacon Journal (Akron, Ohio)

Visit the Akron Beacon Journal (Akron, Ohio) at www.ohio.com

Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

Citgo kicks off ocean ambassador program to boost STEM education [Houston Chronicle]

May 23– May 23Houston’sCitgo Petroleum is giving a boost to STEM educators by sponsoring two Texas teachers and two others to learn more about ocean science by sailing abroad a research vessel to explore sea caves and submerged shorelines.

The annual Nautilus Ambassador Program, which invites teachers aboard the research vessel E/V Nautilus to learn about oceanography, is co-funded by CITGO and the Ocean Exploration Trust (OET), a non-profit founded by renowned explorer Dr. Robert Ballard to support ocean exploration. The vessel set sail May 9 from Los Angeles and the expedition will last through October.

The ambassadors join the Corps of Exploration aboard E/V Nautilus as they explore ancient submerged shorelines and caves on Osborn Bank near the Channel Islands in the Eastern Pacific Ocean. Citgo started participating in the program in 2014. The vessel leaves from a different location every year, and in 2015 ambassadors explored the Gulf Coast. The teachers return to their communities to share more about oceanography with their classrooms in the communities where Citgo has operations in the U.S.

The effort is driven by the CITGO STEM Talent Pipeline, a broader initiative promoting partnerships with schools near the company’s headquarters and refineries to increase access to quality STEM education.

“These ambassadors are role models for the next generation of scientists, engineers, and educators and we are privileged to be part of their voyage — on the E/V Nautilus and in leading the next generation,” said CITGO General Manager Community Relations, CSR and Legislative Affairs Larry Elizondo.

Citgo Petroleum is a Houston-based refiner with about 3,400 employees nationally and 800 in the Houston area.

___

(c)2019 the Houston Chronicle

Visit the Houston Chronicle at www.chron.com

Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

Permian Basin oil producer cuts 230 jobs [Houston Chronicle]

May 23– May 23Irving-based Pioneer Natural Resources Co, one of the oil producers in the Permian Basin of West Texas and New Mexico, said this week it plans to lay off about 25 percent of its workforce to reduce costs and increase shareholder value.

Pioneer said it would lay off 230 employees at its headquarters and in its Permian Basin offices, in addition to cutting another 300 workers in April, according to media reports.

“Decisions like these are never easy. In this case they were necessary to both align our cost structure with our business strategy and to create value for our shareholders over the long term,” the company said in a statement.

Pioneer reported $350 million in profits in the first quarter, during which it produced 320,000 million barrels of oil-equivalent per a day from the Permian Basin, according to its earnings results.

Even as U.S. oil production soars, investors have been pressuring oil producers to cut spending and use the cash to provide bigger payouts instead of producing more oil.

On May 6, Product & Logistics Services, a subsidiary of Schlumberger Limited, laid of 124 employees in the Permian Basin area, according to records from the Texas Workforce Commission (TWC). The trucking company said it would be “closing employee-serviced operations out of Monahans, Texas, and surrounding areas.” Monahans has been called “the center of the Permian Basin.”

___

(c)2019 the Houston Chronicle

Visit the Houston Chronicle at www.chron.com

Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

Truck wars: Silverado gets more weapons for 2020 [The Detroit News]

May 22– May 22–In the truck wars, you can never rest on your laurels.

Just a year after introducing an all-new Silverado, Chevy is back for 2020 with a menu of upgrades. Chief among them is its best-in-class 13,400-pound towing capability, dethroning the Ford F-150.

The 2020 Silverado also offers adaptive cruise-control for the first time, a common safety feature that many reviewers found lacking in the 2019 model. The pickup’s performance Trail Boss trim also gets the brand’s signature 420-horsepower, 6.2-liter V-8, making it the most affordable light-duty truck on the market with over 400 horsepower at $43,865.

“In today’s truck market, customers continually demand more features, more technology and more capability,” said chief engineer Tim Herrick. “For 2020 we are delivering more in each of these areas.”

The upgrades build on the all-new Silverado’s lightweight chassis, 10-speed transmission, and versatile, rolled-steel bed options. The truck is offered with a blizzard of options across eight trim lines. For 2020, more than half of those trim levels can be had with the top-dog V-8 paired with the sippy 10-speed tranny — in addition to V-6, turbo-4, and 3.0-liter diesel engine options.

The towing record comes courtesy of pairing the 6.2-liter V-8 with the lightweight, RST model.

The Silverado will need all those tools at it pursues the segment-leading F-150 while trying to hold off the resurgent Ram 1500. Media reviews raved about the all-new Ram last year as it took home an arm-full of prizes including North American Truck of the Year.

After closing the gap on Chevy the last two years, Ram surpassed its rival in the first quarter of this year: 120,026 to 114,313 units sold.

“It’s unlikely these Silverado changes were a response to market sales — and likely has more to do with product cadence,” says IHS Markit senior analyst Stephanie Brinley. “These are both highly competitive vehicles, and consumers are benefiting from the competition.”

The 2020 Silverado also benefits from technology recently introduced on the Silverado Heavy Duty bruiser. Features like 15-view and tailgate-mounted cameras have trickled down to the light-duty truck.

Henry Payne is auto critic for The Detroit News. Find him at hpayne@detroitnews.com or Twitter @HenryEPayne. Catch “Car Radio with Henry Payne” from noon-2 p.m. Saturdays on 910 AM Superstation.

___

(c)2019 The Detroit News

Visit The Detroit News at www.detnews.com

Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.