Monthly Archives: January 2017

AirAsia X Awarded License to Fly to USA

The Federal Aviation Administration awarded AirAsia X, the Malaysia-based budget airline, a license to fly to the United States. It is the first such airline to achieve this status.

AirAsia X CEO Datuk Kamarudin Meranum said, ““It is an extraordinary achievement. Our expansion so far only focused on Asia, Australia and the Middle East. We are in high spirits to expand farther than just the Asia-Pacific.”

The AirAsia Group is the largest airline in Malaysia, with over 165 destinations in 25 countries, with 120 of those in the Asia-Pacific corridor.

With its newly awarded license to fly to the US, the company will also begin to re-introduce flights to London. It is now arranging the needed licenses.

Illinois Law Will Help Beneficiaries Recover Life Insurance Benefits

Illinois, with the backing of the state treasurer, is looking to enact a law which will help ensure that insurance companies pay out benefits of life insurance policies which until now have not been distributed.

The new legislation will compel companies to look at the last 20 years of payment history to check that all money owed to beneficiaries was paid out properly and in full. State Treasurer Michael Frerichs will help people who might not even know that they are entitled to payments from life insurance policies.

“We think there are tens if not hundreds of millions of dollars more that should be paid out to the loved ones, the heirs or beneficiaries, of Illinois life insurance holders,” Frerichs said.

The Office of the Treasurer has already been working with about 20 of the biggest insurance companies that sell these types of life insurance policies in Illinois. Frerich said that they have already found about half a billion dollars’ worth of unpaid benefits.

Legislation is needed because not all companies cooperated with his office to find unpaid funds. Some companies simply did not respond, while others declared that they would not participate.
Andrew Rand, Board Chairman of Peoria County, said such a law makes perfect sense.

“It seems so self-evident that the one event that the policy protects and covers, the death, would be the one responsibility the insurer would have,” he said. “Death is a certainty, and that’s why the life insurance policy was created.”

Where They are Today: Maxwell School Alumni

It’s always interesting to see where the movers and shakers today got their education. There are many fine institutions that are teaching students about public policy, public affairs and international relations. One such school, The Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs at Syracuse University, has an extensive alumni directory where they are continually updating the fascinating and multifaceted jobs that their alumni have taken. Here, we feature three such examples to show what so many are accomplishing.

Judith Douglas, who graduated with her MPA from the Maxwell School, was recently selected as Vice Chair of the Institute for Innovation Advisory Board at the American Council for Technology – Industry Advisory Council (ACT-IAC). She is a client industry executive at Hewlett Packard Enterprise where she uses her vast experience in public service at federal, state and local levels.

Sonya Reines-Djivanides is the executive director of the European Peacebuilding Liaison Office (EPLO) in Brussels, Belgium. This independent platform of NGOs and think tanks works to prevents violent conflict. She earned her Master of Arts in International Relations with the Maxwell School. Prior to her work at the EPLO as the executive director, she was the chair of the EPLO’s steering committee and she has held many positions on the international stage to work in conflict resolution.

Andrew Bobrek, who received his MPA from the Maxwell School, was recently recognized in the 2016 Upstate New York Super Lawyers Rising Stars list for employment and labor. Attorneys are selected by their peers for this nomination and all nominations are 40 years of age and under who have been practicing law for ten years or less.


Reaching Higher with the Harlem Children’s Zone

The Harlem Children’s Zone is a non-profit organization worth knowing about. They offer free support to families living within a 97 block of Harlem. They offer parenting workshops, a pre-school program, three charter schools, a health program and much more.

As they describe it, they are “aimed at doing nothing less than breaking the cycle of generational poverty for the thousands of children and families it serves.” And they are doing so with the help of so many business people and leaders in the community. Their board of trustees includes Chairman Stanley F. Druckenmiller and Chairman Anne Williams-Isom, while their list of donors includes financial executive Jeff Feig and many others.

The HCZ Project started out in the 1990s with just one block in Harlem. They launched a ten year strategic plan in 2000 to expand the depth and breadth of their programming and to move to 24 blocks. This then became 60 blocks, and eventually the 97 blocks they have today. Today, they serve more than 10,000 youth and almost 10,000 adults.

They have become a national model, with the help of many like Jeff Feig, for thought leadership in education, community development and the fight against poverty. And they are certainly a model worth looking at for business leaders in many other locations.

Optimism Index Has Most Growth in 36 Years

Simpleicon Business by SimpleIcon.

December was a great month of optimism among America’s small businesses as it soared its greatest amount since 1980. The presidential election is partly responsible for the surge, according to observers.

Washington-based National Federation of Independent Business’s index climbed by 7.4 points in December, arriving at its highest since 2004, at 105.8. Seven of its 10 components went up last month. Seventy-three percent of the monthly surge was caused by happier opinions about the future of sales and the economy, said the group.

Many business owners declared that now is a good time to grow their businesses, while more companies said they plan to increase their investment in their companies as well as continue to hire more employees.

“We haven’t seen numbers like this in a long time,” Juanita Duggan, president and chief executive of the NFIB. “Small business is ready for a breakout, and that can only mean very good things for the U.S. economy. Business owners are feeling better about taking risks and making investments.”

The NFIB report was based on the answers 619 small-business owners gave to a survey taken throughout December, 2016. Small companies represent over 99 percent of all employers in the US. Small businesses are defined as a company with less than 500 workers.

Half of all those who answered the survey said they expect better business conditions in the coming six months, the largest percentage since March 2002.

Mass Store Closures Expected in the Coming Year

West Palm Beach, Florida: Macy’s: Built on the site of the old Hibiscus Apartments. Photo courtesy of Ebyabe

As consumers continue to make the switch from brick and mortar shopping to on-line, old fashioned stores who can’t compete, will be forced to close, analysts say.

“If you are weaker player, it’s going to be a very tough 2017 for you, ” said RJ Hottovy, a consumer equity strategist for Morningstar.

Consumers are heading out of the house to shop in malls less and less, choosing the comfort of their laptops and desktops to bring home the goods. Hottovy is expecting to see retail establishments filing for bankruptcy while many shops shutter their outlets.

Huge retailers such as Macy’s, Kohl’s, Walmart and Sears have all had to close hundreds of stores over the past few years to counter the rise of e-commerce and lack of buyers in the stores.

But the closures will continue. The new year is a traditional time for companies to announce their plans to close stores. Almost half of all yearly store closings were announced during the first quarter of the year they closed, since 2010. Macy’s has already announced it will be closing almost 100 stores in 2017, about 15 percent of their total. Sears will be pulling the plug on 30 Sears and Kmart shops before April, with additional closures to be announced soon. CVS has said it will be closing about 70 of its fleet of stores.

Less severe, but also a result of loss of business, is the downsizing of existing locations.

“As leases come up, you’re going to see a gradual rotation into smaller-footprint stores,” Hottovy said.

Nevertheless, despite all the recent closures, the US still has far too many stores. So expect to see a correction in the coming months and years.