Reaching California Wildfire Survivors

This year, several wildfires raged through northern California burning everything in their paths: houses, cars, farm equipment, even telephone poles. One day, my team visited a family who survived the wildfire. The fire moved so quickly that this family, like many others, was forced to flee the flames with only the clothes on their backs.

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Village of Lombard

"Our shared Vision for Lombard is a community of excellence exemplified by its government working together with residents and businesses to create a distinctive sense of spirit and an outstanding quality of life."

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Fiscal year 2021 prime for government contracts of every type

Article | May 27, 2021

In spite of a decline in contracting opportunities in state and local government, public officials are announcing dozens of new, large projects each week. The announcements usually include upcoming solicitations for new construction projects as well as renovation and upgrade projects. Because of population growth, many of the most recent announcements have expansion projects. Educational facilities need more classrooms, cities and counties need more office facilities, and economic development organizations have plans to develop more revenue-generating venues. Overall, it appears that contracting opportunities will not suffer much as a result of fewer solicitation documents that are anticipated over the near term. Here’s a sampling of what to anticipate in 2021. New York Broome County is planning a two-phase $180 million renovation project for the Floyd L. Maines Veterans Memorial Arena. The project will be a rather large one, and the first phase work has a projected cost of $58 million. That work will involve improvements and upgrades to the arena's current space. Phase two of the project carries an estimated cost of approximately $125 million. It will include construction of a second ice rink and a convention center, both of which will be linked to the current arena. The objective is to increase the number and type of activities that can be accommodated in this downtown. Accommodations will be made for e-sports, various types of tournaments and space for practice sessions by the American Hockey League Binghampton Devils. Phase two will also include another downtown hotel and a new park alongside the Susquehanna River. Formal solicitations for the project may be delayed until 2022, but interested contractors and/or partners will find no better time than now for positioning and pre-sales activities. Mississippi The Mississippi Legislature ended its yearly session with the approval of a bond bill in the amount of $291 million. This funding will be allocated for various types of projects. The sum of $13.5 million is earmarked for Mississippi Valley State University. The school will expand its student union building and upgrade other facilities. Another $13.5 million has been set aside for repairs to the state capitol building, grounds, and War Memorial building. Funding also will be provided to the city of Tupelo for repair, renovation, and expansion of the BancorpSouth Arena and Conference Center. Greene County will receive funding for the renovation and expansion of the county’s rural events center in Leakesville. Georgia The Georgia General Assembly’s final version of a $25.9 billion fiscal budget was adopted in June and it calls for making $70 million available for an expansion project related to the Savannah Convention Center. Another $10.24 million is allocated for infrastructure improvements to the Georgia World Congress Center in downtown Atlanta. The budget also will finance universities, colleges, and technical colleges. Specifically, $5 million is designated for renovations at the Driftmier Engineering Center at the University of Georgia’s main campus in Athens, $4.8 million for renovations to the Dublin Center and Library on the Dublin campus of Middle Georgia State University, and $4.5 million for renovations to the Memorial College Center on the Armstrong campus of Georgia Southern University in Savannah. Massachusetts An architecture firm will be selected to conduct a fast-tracked assessment of the Holyoke Soldier’s Home for an upcoming renovation and expansion project. The state of Massachusetts has designated 12 weeks for a firm to complete a needs assessment that will provide three scenarios for improvements that focus on infection control and needs of the residents. Planning for this project which is projected to cost approximately $116 million plan began years ago. The objective is to expand the facility with a five-story addition that provides 120 new private rooms. Oregon The Portland Public School Board plans to move forward with a $1.2 billion November bond election. If voters approve the bond package, there will be funding available for the modernization of Jefferson High School. Planning documents outline plans to fund design work and additional master planning. Initial implementation will include investments in the neighborhood schools surrounding Jefferson High School, pre-construction planning for the modernization of Cleveland and Wilson high schools, and final modernization of Benson Polytechnic High School. Indiana The Seymour ISD has announced plans to convert the Seymour Middle School Sixth Grade Center into an intermediate school for fifth- and sixth-grade students and also upgrade Seymour High School. Construction should begin in 2022 on this $52.45 million project. Objectives include the provision of additional classroom space, enhanced security, upgraded accessibility, and expansion opportunities for career and athletic programming. Enhancements and upgrades also will be made at the intermediate school. These include the construction of a new kitchen and cafeteria, administrative office, gymnasium, library, and band and choir rooms. The number of classrooms will be increased from 15 to 38. At the high school, a minimum of 25 new classrooms will be added and a corridor will be constructed to relieve congestion and create space for additional lockers. West Virginia The Greenbrier County Courthouse, built in 1837, is slated for an expansion project that will add approximately 22,000 square feet. The new annex, which will have an elevator, will be attached to the northern end of the current courthouse. The solicitation for construction is likely to begin in December. The construction project will include code upgrades and the upgrading of air conditioning equipment, sprinkler systems, and heating units. A secure elevator will be added in the existing courthouse to move prisoners. These projects are indicative of what can be found by researching upcoming contracting opportunities. Each new project also will require additional purchases related to technology, security, upgraded equipment, furniture, office supplies, landscaping, and numerous professional services. The government marketplace is still one of the hottest places to find abundant opportunities for private sector firms. Mary Scott Nabers is president and CEO of Strategic Partnerships Inc., a business development company specializing in government contracting and procurement consulting throughout the U.S. Her recently released book, Inside the Infrastructure Revolution: A Roadmap for Building America, is a handbook for contractors, investors and the public at large seeking to explore how public-private partnerships or joint ventures can help finance their infrastructure projects.

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U.S. Engagement with WHO

Article | May 26, 2021

During the pandemic, the United States supported the WHO through collaborative operations. Let’s understand in detail below. The United States government has historically supported WHO financially, through involvement in governance and diplomacy, and through collaborative operations. A new chapter in the U.S. relationship with WHO began in 2020, following the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, when the Trump administration ceased financial support and started the process to withdraw the country from membership. Financial Support: The United States has traditionally been the single largest donor to WHO, but in the 2020–2021 period it was the second largest as other donors, particularly Germany, increased their contributions. The U.S. dropped to third place. The United States contributed an anticipated $581 million to the WHO in 2021 as a result of restored funding from the Biden administration, which included both assessed and voluntary contributions. The assessed contribution for the United States has been set at the maximum permitted rate of 22% of all assessed payments from member states for a number of years. The U.S. assessed contribution has been very consistent between FY 2014 and FY 2022, varying between $110 million and $123 million. Increased U.S. support for particular WHO initiatives, such as emergency response, may be reflected in higher levels of voluntary contributions. Other WHO initiatives supported by U.S. voluntary donations include the fight against polio, maternal, infant, and child health initiatives, food safety initiatives, and regulatory monitoring of pharmaceuticals. Governance Activities: The United States has long been a prominent and involved member of the World Health Assembly, sending a sizable delegation that is typically headed by a delegate from the Department of Health and Human Services and includes representatives from numerous other U.S. agencies and departments. Technical Support: Government officials from the United States frequently act as liaisons at WHO regional offices and headquarters, collaborating daily with employees on technical initiatives. Partnering Activities: The United States has collaborated with WHO both before and during epidemic responses and other global health emergencies, notably by joining multinational teams that WHO organises to look into and address outbreaks all around the world. For instance, the US collaborated with WHO and the larger global response to the 2014-onset Ebola epidemic in West Africa, and US scientists were a part of the WHO mission that visited China in February 2020 to evaluate their COVID-19 response.

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Emerging Technology

Billions in funding from COVID relief programs now flowing to state, local governments

Article | July 13, 2022

The CARES ACT (Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security) passed by Congress created a sprawling, multi-faceted plan to combat COVID-19 and its debilitating effects on the U.S. economy. Signed into law in March, the $2 trillion relief package allocated funding for preserving jobs, backfilling government budgets, helping school districts, providing assistance for the unemployed and establishing grant programs for various industry sectors such as transportation and telecommunications. There are murmurs of a second stimulus bill which could be debated as soon as July, with the president on July 2 expressing his support for one. But, billions of dollars remain in the CARES Act funding for numerous programs. Much of that funding has reached recipients already, and more should start flowing at any time. All parties and stakeholders are eager, of course, for the funding to reach governmental entities. CARES Act funding programs include the following examples. The Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief, or ESSER, program was established with approximately $13.2 billion. This funding is designated for public school districts through an application process that has oversight from each state’s centralized education agency. Texas school districts received $1.29 billion through the program, just behind the state of California, which received the highest allotment at $1.6 billion. Other states receiving a larger share of ESSER funding are New York ($1.03 billion), Florida ($770 million), Illinois ($569 million), and Georgia ($457 million). The program requires that at least 90 percent of the grant funding must be awarded to schools that received Title I, Part A funding during the 2019-20 school year. That stipulation will result in only school systems with a high number of students from low-income families being eligible for the bulk of the revenue. Applications are to be submitted to the state education agency for review and approval. However, decisions about how the funding is used are to be made by local officials in the school districts. Another part of the CARES Act provides billions more in funding for airports. The Airport Improvement Program (AIP) offers $10 billion in distributions through grants for capital projects. This revenue can also be used to fill funding gaps in fiscal year 2020 budgets, since airport systems throughout the nation sustained such heavy losses as a result of the pandemic. Previously, the grants required a local funding match, but the CARES Act increased the federal share to 100 percent. The AIP program allocates $7.4 billion for commercial airports that serve more than 10,000 passengers annually. Another $2 billion is set aside for commercial airports and general aviation airports. Looking at the listed intended uses of these funds, it appears that many airports will have thousands of upcoming contracting opportunities. Millions will be spent on projects to extend and/or rehabilitate runways. Other airports plan to install new lighting, expand terminals, purchase additional safety equipment, reconfigure taxiways, conduct studies, and develop planning documents for future expansion. Cities and counties are most eager to participate in the $5 billion in funding available for local government programs and projects through the Community Development Block Grant, or CDBG, program. This funding is intended for local governmental officials to use for corridor redevelopment, economic development initiatives and other projects. Every state received funding and some of the larger allocations were designated for Texas ($63.4 million), California ($113 million), Florida ($63 million), and New York ($70.5 million). The U.S. Economic Development Organization continues to accept applications for projects that reinvigorate regional economic recovery, with $1.5 billion earmarked in the CARES Act for the Economic Adjustment Assistance Program. Through grants for projects that “leverage existing regional assets,” this program is designed to support economic development within distressed communities. Funding is available to states, counties, universities, and regional planning organizations, as well as for public-private partnerships. Examples of funding allocated through the program include the award of a $400,000 in grant to the Kennebac Valley Council of Governments in Maine to update its economic development plans and provide COVID-19 services. In Texas, the Concho Valley Council of Governments in San Angelo received a $2.2 million grant to purchase a building for its regional headquarters. The city of Odessa is using $927,708 in CDBG grant money for several social services programs and to supplement local nonprofits’ efforts during the pandemic. And the city of Lewisville recently received $5.8 million in CARES Act money, which includes $452,305 in CDBG grants. The Federal Transit Administration is distributing $25 billion with approximately $22.7 billion earmarked for large and small urban areas and $2.2 billion set aside for rural areas. This funding does not require a local match of any kind, and it can be used for capital projects and for operations and/or planning purposes, as long as those activities relate in some way to COVID-19. Transit agencies in urban areas with a population over one million --- such as Cap Metro, which received $104 million --- are getting $17.5 billion through the FTA. Transit agencies serving areas with populations fewer than one million --- such as Brownsville, Texas, which is receiving $7.6 million --- are getting $5.1 billion. In the middle of the current, historic pandemic, the economy will significantly be stimulated by projects and initiatives that result from this funding. Public-private collaboration will not only create jobs and generate additional revenue flow, it will result in getting Americans working together again … and that will serve the country well. Mary Scott Nabers is president and CEO of Strategic Partnerships Inc., a business development company specializing in government contracting and procurement consulting throughout the U.S. Her recently released book, Inside the Infrastructure Revolution: A Roadmap for Building America, is a handbook for contractors, investors and the public at large seeking to explore how public-private partnerships or joint ventures can help finance their infrastructure projects.

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Government Business

Revitalization of Economies: Government Supporting Start-ups

Article | July 14, 2022

The pandemic has blown up entrepreneurs and start-up ecosystems, so government support for start-ups has become critical. The majority of them faced cash shortages and a lack of venture capital. For start-ups, cash is the most pressing issue. Furthermore, start-ups experienced a slow fundraising process accompanied by investor indifference. Furthermore, the global workforce was not left untouched by the spillover. Start-ups began to lay off employees and reduce pay. According to StartupGenome research, three out of every four employees were letting their employer down. While 39% of them laid off 20% or more of their workforce, two-thirds admitted to laying off 60% or more of their full-time employees. In the United States, the economy experienced the sharpest decline in employment, with 20.5 million people losing their jobs. Following that, in order to address this and reduce the pandemic's impact on start-ups, the governments of many countries have stepped in to save their country's start-up ecosystem. We've listed a few of the government's initiatives to help start-ups during the current cash crunch. Direct grants and zero-interest loans: Right now, cash is the most important concern for new businesses. Grants are regarded as the most beneficial policy instrument (29%), followed by loans (12%). Access to venture capital investment: If history is any guide, venture capital activity will likely decline in 2020 as well. This creates a quandary for the 18% of start-ups that require access to financing tools to increase investment. Employment support schemes: COVID-19 has had an impact on workforces all over the world. The US lost a record 20.5 million jobs in April, the fastest and sharpest drop since the government began tracking the data. Given these circumstances, it's no surprise that 17 percent of start-ups rank immediate employee protection as one of their top priorities.

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Village of Lombard

"Our shared Vision for Lombard is a community of excellence exemplified by its government working together with residents and businesses to create a distinctive sense of spirit and an outstanding quality of life."

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GM, Toyota, Fiat Chrysler back Trump on California emissions challenge

Reuters | October 29, 2019

Major automakers are siding with the Trump administration in its bid to bar California from setting its own fuel efficiency rules or zero-emission requirements for vehicles, the companies said in a filing with a U.S. appeals court late on Monday. The move by firms including General Motors Co (GM.N), Toyota Motor Corp (7203.T), Hyundai Motor Co (005380.KS), and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV (FCHA.MI), follows legal challenges by California and 22 states and environmental groups in September. Those challenges aim to undo the Trump administration’s determination, issued in September, that federal law bars California from setting stiff tailpipe emission standards and zero-emission vehicle mandates.

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California Governor signs anti-BDS bill into law

State of California | September 26, 2016

California Governor Jerry Brown signed into law a measure that prevents companies that boycott or discriminate against any sovereign country, including Israel, from doing business with the state, JTA reported Sunday. According to the report, Brown signed Assembly Bill 2844 on Saturday afternoon, days after the California State Assembly voted to send the bill to Brown for approval. An earlier version of the legislation banned the state from making contracts worth over $100,000 with companies boycotting Israel.

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Calif. Supreme Court follows the lead of U.S. Supreme Court on amending proposed initiatives

Supreme Court of the United States | September 18, 2016

The California Supreme Court’s first-time interpretation of Section 9002 of the state’s Elections Code shows its willingness to follow the lead of the U.S. Supreme Court.

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GM, Toyota, Fiat Chrysler back Trump on California emissions challenge

Reuters | October 29, 2019

Major automakers are siding with the Trump administration in its bid to bar California from setting its own fuel efficiency rules or zero-emission requirements for vehicles, the companies said in a filing with a U.S. appeals court late on Monday. The move by firms including General Motors Co (GM.N), Toyota Motor Corp (7203.T), Hyundai Motor Co (005380.KS), and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV (FCHA.MI), follows legal challenges by California and 22 states and environmental groups in September. Those challenges aim to undo the Trump administration’s determination, issued in September, that federal law bars California from setting stiff tailpipe emission standards and zero-emission vehicle mandates.

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California Governor signs anti-BDS bill into law

State of California | September 26, 2016

California Governor Jerry Brown signed into law a measure that prevents companies that boycott or discriminate against any sovereign country, including Israel, from doing business with the state, JTA reported Sunday. According to the report, Brown signed Assembly Bill 2844 on Saturday afternoon, days after the California State Assembly voted to send the bill to Brown for approval. An earlier version of the legislation banned the state from making contracts worth over $100,000 with companies boycotting Israel.

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Calif. Supreme Court follows the lead of U.S. Supreme Court on amending proposed initiatives

Supreme Court of the United States | September 18, 2016

The California Supreme Court’s first-time interpretation of Section 9002 of the state’s Elections Code shows its willingness to follow the lead of the U.S. Supreme Court.

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