Tag Archive: Business

  1. Residents, aldermen raise questions about Route 34 project

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    Residents and aldermen questioned city officials and developers at City Hall Tuesday night about a plan to renovate downtown New Haven.

    Kelly Murphy, the city’s economic development administrator, and Carter Winstanley of Winstanley Enterprises, a major developer, updated the Board of Aldermen on plans to redevelop the area around College and Frontage Streets. The redevelopment plan, called the Downtown Crossing project, will create a new complex at 100 College St. and remove Route 34, a highway that separates downtown from the city’s medical district and the Hill neighborhood. Federal, state and city officials are working with developers to replace Route 34 with local streets, roadways, parking spaces and bike lanes that encourage traffic and pedestrian flow and enable the downtown area to expand beyond the highway, which has acted as a barrier to growth.

    “This is a signature project for New Haven,” Michael Piscitelli, New Haven’s deputy economic development administrator, told the News before the meeting. “It captures our policy initiatives — creating jobs, making a larger tax base, producing better urban design, reclaiming unused land and creating a welcome mat for those coming from Union Station.”

    Piscitelli added that a project of this size inevitably runs into problems, and some residents have raised doubts about whether new roads and buildings will actually foster a long-term sense of community. The city’s bikers are also calling for more bike lanes and safer streets for cycling, according to Ward 24 Alderman Marcus Paca.

    “There is tremendous demand for more space here in New Haven, which is essentially unheard of in other New England cities,” Winstanley said. The primary developer of the project, he told the Board of his commitment to New Haven and said, “I don’t come here and hope to end up in New York — I’ve been here for 11 years, and I plan on staying.”

    Scheduled for 2015, the construction of a medical laboratory and office building on 100 College St. will create between 600 and 960 jobs, including laboratory technicians, researchers and doctors, according to Murphy. In addition, the project will create almost 2,000 short-term construction jobs. However, concerns arose about whether the new building fulfilled community needs.

    “I don’t want to see the area closed off to regular people that may not work or have business specifically in the medical district,” Paca said before the meeting. “My number-one goal at the end of the day is economic development and creating jobs.”

    Winstanley Enterprises has made a formal agreement with the city committing that at least 25 percent of its construction workforce will be comprised of New Haven residents. The project also includes funding for programs that would mentor students interested in architecture, biotechnology, medicine and engineering.

    Ward 5 Alderman Jorge Perez questioned how accessible these jobs would be for New Haven citizens.

    “I would really like to get something in writing about how many of those jobs are practical jobs you can train New Haven residents for, and what the plan is going to be,” he said. An observer also questioned whether attracting wealthier workers would drive out New Haven’s current workforce.

    Despite these complaints, the project’s funding for science and technology mentor programs may benefit students, according to some in attendance.

    “What we’re looking for is an opportunity for students to experience outside of the classroom what it would be like to be an architect or pharmacist,” Mary Ann O’Brien, supervisor of career and technical education of the Board of Education, said during the meeting.

    The federal government awarded a TIGER II grant of $16 million to City Hall in October 2010 for Downtown Crossing. The project originally asked for $40 million when the developers applied for the grant, according to Murphy.

  2. Metro-North fares to rise

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    Metro-North Railroad will hike its fares by more than 15 percent over the next three years, making the trip down to New York most costly than ever.

    The fare increase, announced by the Connecticut Department of Transportation on Monday, is the first since 2005 and takes into account inflation and the introduction of new M-8 cars on the New Haven line, said Commissioner James Redeker in a press release. While a one-way peak ticket between New York and the Elm City currently costs $18.50, by 2015 that could jump to $22.25, according to the proposed fares on the Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s website.

    “While operating costs continue to go up, now that state budget issues have been resolved, we can live with something less from the fare box,” Redeker said in the statement. Metro-North Railroad’s operating costs have risen 12 percent since January 2005, according to the Department of Transportation.

    But the fare hikes are unnecessary and will not be used to improve service, Jim Cameron, chairman of the state’s Rail Commuter Council, told CT News Junkie. He said the increased fares would go towards helping balance the state’s budget, which has been strained in recent years due to the economic downturn.

    Under the Department of Transportation’s plan, the cost of CTTransit bus tickets will also rise 12 percent over the next three years.

  3. Yalies to develop campaign finance software

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    A summer spent in front of Excel spreadsheets led two Yale seniors to develop software they say could make campaign finance trouble-free — but only for Democrats.

    Last month, Steven Winter ’11 and Yale College Democrats president Ben Stango ’11 helped to found QuickCampaigns, a company that will produce a Web application to simplify political campaign finances by transferring budget data between two budget software systems to avoid budget errors and state fines. The program will not be released until early 2011, and the company co-founders said they will sell their products only to Democrats.

    Seth Bannon, a Harvard senior, another co-founder and CEO of QuickCampaigns, said Democrats are not using technology as effectively as Republicans and need the software for themselves.

    Trevor Wagener ’11, president of the Yale College Republicans, said in an e-mail that “the software sounds like a simple mechanism.”

    “The time saved by this software is likely to be marginal, but in a close race, such details can influence the outcome,” Wagener added. “If they actually have a valuable product, it makes no sense for them to reject half of their potential consumers … They are letting partisan zealotry impinge on common sense.”

    In response, Bannon said products sold to political campaigns are made by groups that are “extremely partisan” and “no political vendors exist that sell a product such as [QuickCampaigns] successfully to both parties.”

    The QuickCampaigns co-founders became friends when they worked on budgeting for the state Democratic gubernatorial campaign of Ned Lamont SOM ’80 over the summer.

    “When entering a gas receipt into the spreadsheets, I had to find the original receipt, review what our campaign bought at the gas station and finally enter the information,” Stango recalled. “It was a waste of valuable time.”

    Although Winter said state fines due to errors in transferring budget data are rarely larger than $5,000, Bannon said public embarrassment from state elections compliance issues is far more damaging to a campaign.

    During the summer, the Lamont campaign suffered a $500 state fine after failing to report spending levels to Connecticut, Bannon said, adding that the opposing Dan Malloy campaign immediately seized on the fine. Stango said one important message during the campaign was Lamont’s experience as a businessman. The Malloy campaign attacked Lamont for failing to manage campaign finances as evidence that the candidate was not a fiscally responsible politician.

    Stango said that although he believes the fine did not lead to Lamont’s eventual defeat, it was an avoidable mistake.

    Reid Magdanz ’12, a summer intern for Mark Begich, the U.S. Senator from Alaska, said any product that makes “drudge work” easier for campaigns will be helpful.

    Bannon said the founders believe advertising will not be necessary because the co-founders have altogether worked on 18 campaigns and have many campaign contacts who might be interested in the software.

    Winter added that the company may not need any outside investment because the costs will be low, though he declined to say how much. The Yale Entrepreneurial Society is helping the founders to write a business plan and providing legal advice, YES President Max Uhlenhuth ’12 said.

    Stango and Winter said the profits will be split between the five co-founders. Stango and Winter added that they plan to work on the business after graduation and are already brainstorming ideas for other products to improve campaign efficiency for Democrats.

    QuickCampaigns will be based in Connecticut, though Stango said he is unsure whether it will remain in New Haven.

    Correction: Oct. 3, 2010

    An earlier version of this article incorrectly attributed two quotes regarding Ned Lamont’s SOM ’80 Senate campaign to Ben Stango ’11. That Lamont suffered a $500 fine this summer after failing to report spending levels and his experience as a business man is attributable to Seth Bannon.

  4. The New Haven Register lives!

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    A rare instance of good news on the newspapers-are-dying front: The parent company of the New Haven Register, the Journal Register Co., has emerged from Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.

    The Journal Register Co. — a conglomerate of small daily newspapers, of which the Register is the largest, and scores of weekly newspapers — filed for bankruptcy in February. That meant Connecticut’s two most prominent newspapers, the Register and the Tribune-owned Hartford Courant, were both operating under bankruptcy protection.

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  5. Report: Harvard’s endowment declines less than anticipated

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    Might the economic recession not be as bad as we think — at least as far as university endowments are concerned?

    An article in the August issue of Vanity Fair, a preview of which has been posted to the magazine’s Web site, says that according to a source on the board of Harvard Management Company, Harvard’s endowment only declined an estimated 23 to 25 percent in the fiscal year that ends today, rather than the 30 percent that officials had projected.

    That could be good news for Yale, considering its endowment (which is projected to fall 25 percent) is invested using strategies similar to those employed by the Harvard Management Company. Or, of course, it could mean absolutely nothing.

    (Photo: Vanity Fair)

  6. Bass ’82 launches second Web-only publication

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    Valley Sentinel

    As newspapers across the country continue to go bankrupt, Yale lecturer Paul Bass ’82 just launched a new media outlet for south-central Connecticut. But don’t look for this paper in print: Like the New Haven Independent, which Bass started in 2005, it is only available online.

    The Online Journalism Project, which is led by Bass, launched its second online-only newspaper, the Valley Independent Sentinel, this week. The Sentinel, employing two full-time reporters and freelance contributors, will cover news from Ansonia, Derby, Oxford, Seymour and Shelton. It is being financed by a $500,000 grant from the Knight Foundation.

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  7. Slifka Center hit by Madoff scandal

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    The Slifka Center for Jewish Life at Yale has indirectly fallen victim to Bernard Madoff, forcing the center to launch a fundraising campaign in an effort to save two positions from elimination.

    When the Madoff scandal erupted this winter, Yale officials said that the University had no money invested with the disgraced financier.  But two positions at the Slifka Center that were funded by a nonprofit organization that had invested money with Madoff may now have to be eliminated, the center said this week.

    Slifka’s Orthodox rabbinic educators, Rabbi Jason and Meira Rappoport, had been funded by the New York-based Heshe & Harriet Seif Jewish Learning Initiative on Campus, which had invested money with Madoff.  As a result of its losses, the organization informed the Slifka Center earlier this spring that as of mid-August, it would no longer be able to support the Rappoports’ positions at Yale.

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  8. A New Haven newspaper, made in India

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    The phenomenon of five-inch heels, technical support or the latest high-tech gadgets outsourced overseas is nothing new. But a newspaper edition made in India?

    Last week, the staff of the New Haven Advocate a joke and made it into a real-life experiment — hiring Indian freelancers to create an entire issue of their newspaper. The move came after a California newspaper, Pasadena Now, famously laid off its editorial staff and outsourced its local coverage to reporters in India, drawing ire from journalists across the country.

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  9. Finish his law degree? No, Brian Deese has G.M. to dismantle.

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    A few years ago, Brian Deese put his studies at Yale Law School on hold to volunteer for the presidential campaigns of Sen. Hillary Clinton LAW ’73 and, after she dropped out of the race, then-Sen. Barack Obama. After the election, it might have seemed likely that Deese would return to the Law School, where he was once a member of the class of 2008, to receive his degree.

    But it turned out President Obama had another assignment in store for Deese: He would be made responsible for the fate of the U.S. auto industry.

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  10. Watch out, Pepe’s: Zinc to open a pizzeria

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    Given the legacy of Pepe’s and Sally’s, the co-owner of the restaurant Zinc, Donna Curran, admitted it herself: “Do pizza in this town? That sounded crazy.”

    But on June 11, her new venture — the “artisan” pizza eatery Kitchen Zinc — will take the place of Chow on Chapel Street, aiming to stand up to the storied New Haven pizza giants with locally grown ingredients, a high-tech brick oven and beer from small-batch breweries.

    In an interview, Curran said that what will set Kitchen ZINC apart will be its focus on fresh ingredients, including Pecorino cheese from Beltane Farms in Lebanon, Conn., pepper made by one of Zinc’s employees and American-made La Quercia prosciutto.

    “We’ll be sourcing all sorts of local tasty things,” she said. “We’re really, really excited about it because we are already doing it at Zinc and we thought this was a perfect way to extend that.”

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