What Has Bean on Farmers’ Minds During Planting Season?

(NewsUSA) – For America’s agricultural producers, springtime means planting season – and soybeans are on the agenda.According to the USDA, the U.S. is currently the world’s leading soybean producer. As farmers work to get those soybeans in the ground this year, there are global issues weighing on their minds.The latest results of the Purdue University-CME Group Ag Economy Barometer suggest that America’s food producers are concerned that a prolonged trade war with China could impact U.S. soybean exports. The monthly survey, from Purdue University and CME Group, the world’s leading and most diverse derivatives exchange, measures farmer and rancher sentiment toward the U.S. farm economy.The number of producers expecting soybean prices to decline this year rose to 27 percent in April, compared to just 15 percent at the beginning of the year. Soybean prices are particularly vulnerable to disruptions in trade with China, as China’s share of U.S. soybean exports is approximately 30 percent.Overall, the Ag Economy Barometer experienced two consecutive months of decline, falling 10 points in April, following a March dip of 5 points."Producers’ weakening perceptions of the current agricultural climate, along with a decline in their expectations for future economic conditions, were the main drivers of the barometer’s overall decline," says James Mintert, the barometer’s principal investigator and director of Purdue University’s Center for Commercial Agriculture.Since May 2016, Purdue University and CME Group have published the Ag Economy Barometer on a monthly basis to measure food producers’ shifting perceptions about the U.S. agricultural economy over time. The barometer surveys 400 agricultural producers each month to discern their opinions on key economic drivers, and analyze what factors are influencing their outlook for the farm economy.To read the full report, visit www.purdue.edu/agbarometer

Payday for Instagram Users

(NewsUSA) – If you’ve spent any time obsessing about photos of your life, business, wardrobe, pet, or the last cupcake you ate, on Instagram, you understand that rush of excitement that comes when "Likes" pop up on your feed. Not only is it downright thrilling, but you can now cash in with Quantum Sponsor.Imagine getting paid just to post on Instagram about brands and local businesses you are interested in.Quantum Sponsor is the platform that’s making it happen. Unlike traditional talent agencies, Quantum Sponsor doesn’t require you to have millions of followers to participate – even a couple of hundred is just fine!Now, Aunt Suzie, who just started Instagram last month, can make money posting about her favorite new Clutch Coffee shop that opened down the street, and so can you.Both small businesses and Fortune 500 companies alike are using Quantum Sponsor to pay everyday Instagram users for posts.Most consumers today are overwhelmed by and tired of banner-style and traditional ads; they want to learn about products from other trusted consumers who are willing to share their interests and expertise.Quantum Sponsor’s new advertising platform pairs enthusiastic Instagrammers with clients who will hire them for paid promotions. Best of all, Quantum Sponsor is easy for both the Instagrammers and businesses."We want to give social media users the opportunity to earn money for the content they’ve created and the influence they’ve earned. So we made it easy. In doing so, we also created an effective, cost- saving tool for digital advertisers across all industries," says AJ Silverman, founder and CEO of Quantum Sponsor.Working with Quantum Sponsor streamlines the process of influencer selection, sponsorship, and payments.Here’s how it works: Instagrammers sign up as influencers on the Quantum Sponsor website. The website will tell them exactly how much money they’ll make for posts based on how engaged their followers are. Quantum Sponsor reviews and categorizes all influencers by audience interests, location, gender, and brand safety.Advertisers sign up as "sponsors," and create campaigns directly on the Quantum Sponsor platform, which will automatically send out email alerts and offers to influencers who match with the advertiser’s target audience.Influencers post and complete offers by leaving posts active for a minimum of seven days. Once offers are completed, influencers can withdraw their earnings with PayPal. Influencers can increase their earnings by posting interesting, engaging content but need to eliminate cruel or violent language in order to receive offers.Quantum Sponsor recognizes that digital influencers are the future of marketing, the new darlings of the Internet, and that advertisers who want social media followers, depend on them. This creates an opportunity for influencers to cash in while building their own personal brands – just by doing the things they love.Whether it’s sewing, surfing, or skin care, there is a potential marketing campaign to fit any interest.For more information on how to become an influencer and get paid to post, visit www.quantumsponsor.com.To view the video, click here

Small Business Checklist for Tax-Time Technology

(NewsUSA) – Anyone who operates a small business, home-based business, or even a home office knows that tax time can be stressful. However, investing in the right equipment and technology can help a small business navigate tax season – and every season – smoothly and efficiently.Some tips to make technology work for you at tax time:- Digitize: Making the transition to digital documents can be a big step for a small business, but converting documents to digital is becoming increasingly simple and popular.Advantages of scan-to-digital at tax time include less paper to sort through and easy access to a variety of records.- Go mobile: Try using a mobile device or laptop and a portable scanner to digitize tax documents while on the road.Portable scanners can save space in the office setting as well, by reducing the amount of space needed to store paper records and documents.Printing from a mobile device or laptop to a wireless-enabled printer also helps save time, especially during tax season. And many printers have security features for output management and ease of use.When choosing the right office products, key points to consider include:- Convenience. Equipment that is easy to set up and use saves valuable time for small businesses. For those on the go, portable products such as the Canon imageFORMULA P-215II Scan-tini handle document scanning for individuals on the road or working remotely. A lightweight design allows for easy document digitization from a range of locations, such as a hotel, airport, offsite meeting venue, or a home office.- Confidence. Investing in technology with a trusted reputation means less worry that an office solution – hardware or software – might fail at a crucial time. The technology of scanners designed for small businesses has improved in recent years."Small businesses with limited resources demand reliability and dependability in their document management technology," says Nobuhiko Kitajima, VP and general manager of Canon USA Inc.’s Business Imaging Solutions Group.One example, the Canon imageFORMULA DR-M260 Office Document Scanner, provides small businesses with reliable and efficient performance, and comes with an industry-leading, five-year warranty.- Protection. Data security is essential, especially for businesses that work in the cloud. Be sure to choose products with security features, such as password protection, multi-factor log-in and output file encryption.For more information about optimizing technology for an easier tax season, visit https://shop.usa.canon.com/shop/en/catalog/high-speed-document-scanners 

University Students Compete for Top Prize in Global Trading Competition

Five words or less(NewsUSA) – CME Group’s 15th Annual Trading Challenge is kicking off, and university students from all over the world will put their trading skills to the test. The stakes are high as teams are competing for a cash prize and a trip to Chicago for a day of education and networking.
The Trading Challenge, hosted by CME Group, the world’s leading and most diverse derivatives marketplace, is complimentary for undergraduate and graduate students and attracts the next generation of finance professionals interested in expanding their education.
By offering a simulated trading environment on a real-time professional platform, the electronic trading competition, teaches students how to trade a variety of CME Group products. Students will be able to trade CME Group’s benchmark products in agriculture, energy, metals, interest rates, equities and foreign exchange.
Last year, a record 600 teams from 240 schools in 35 countries participated in the competition, with Rutgers University, Carnegie Mellon University and Columbia University taking the top spots. In 2016, Singapore’s Nanyang Polytechnic dominated.
Teams consisting of three to five students learn hands-on techniques for trading up to 10 different CME Group derivatives products from multiple asset classes. To up the ante and help students stay on top of trending economic topics, live data and news is provided free of charge during the competition.
Following the competition, CME Group hosts a Day of Market Education Conference in Chicago – a full-day exclusive look at CME Group and the financial industry, concluding with a networking expo and dinner for the top 10 percent of teams. Each member of the first-place team receives a cash prize of $1,500, as well as a trip to Chicago for the educational event. Cash prizes are also awarded to the top five teams.
To sign up your team for the CME Group Trading Challenge, visit cmegroup.com/tradingchallenge. Registration for the competition is open until Thursday, February 15, at 5 p.m. CST.
Students can also advance their skills year-round by visiting Futures Fundamentals, an independent non-profit and one-stop educational resource for complex market topics.
To learn more, visit www.futuresfundamentals.org.

4 Tips for Cutting Your Home Energy Bills Even in Winter

(NewsUSA) – Sponsored by GAF – You know it’s cold when it snows in Florida.Which is exactly how the new year unfortunately began thanks to a "bomb cyclone" that hammered much of the East Coast with heavy snow, howling winds, and temperatures so frigid that Niagara Falls on the Canadian border actually froze. Meanwhile, Embarrass, Minnesota – yes, that’s really the town’s name – was busy winning the unofficial title of "The Last Place in the Freezing Midwest You’d Want to Go Skinny Dipping," by hitting a low of 45 degrees below zero on New Year’s Eve.Forty-five degrees. Below. Zero.While you’re imagining the heating bills in Embarrass and with winter far from over, read on for some tips for lowering your own home energy costs that you may not have thought of.* Easiest money-saver ever. "Aside from the furnace, a laser printer draws the most standby power in the house at $131.07 watts," SaveOnEnergy.com reports. And yet, even though that translates into about $131 a year, a new survey found that only 14 percent of respondents unplugged their printers when not using them.* Pellet stoves aren’t just for environmentalists. ThisOldHouse.com likens them to the family pet — "they require a regular feeding schedule" — but Fido won’t heat a 3,000-square-foot ranch house, say, for perhaps less than $120 a month. And with the weather turning chillier in most places, curling up with a glass of wine in front of one of these babies in the living room could be as appealing to romantics as their eco-friendly heating is to greenies.What’s a "regular feeding schedule"? Depending on the size of the hopper and how often you use the stove, you’ll need to load in pellets — made from super concentrated sawdust — every four or five days.* Make sure your attic is properly ventilated. Homeowners might as well just send utility companies a blank check if they lack what GAF’s Jason Joplin, program manager for the Center for Advancement of Roofing Excellence, calls "a continual flow of air to help protect the efficiency of your attic’s insulation."The culprit working against achieving that: excess moisture buildup that clings to your roof’s underside in winter from seemingly benign sources — i.e., appliances, showers and cooking vapors — before ultimately soaking the insulation when the condensed moisture falls.Don’t be one of the 86 percent.Joplin’s suggestion to help ward off the problem? A properly balanced ventilation system consisting of Cobra Ridge Vent (installed at the ridge) and Cobra IntakePro (installed at the eave) by GAF (gaf.com), North America’s largest roofing manufacturer. "Both products work in tandem to allow cool, fresh air to enter at the eave edge while forcing moist, super-heated air out of the ridge vent," he explains.* Adjust door thresholds. "Sneaky" is the word Popular Mechanics magazine uses to describe this hint. The theory being, if you can see daylight beneath your front door, it means the indoor air –which, remember, you’re paying to heat or cool — is escaping outside."A little light in the corners is okay, but don’t raise the threshold so high that it interferes with opening and closing the door," the magazine notes.

Seeing London in A New Light

(NewsUSA) – "People are looking for magic in their lives and to experience something that stays with them forever," says Helen Marriage, the director of Artichoke, the producers and creators of the Lumiere London festival."People respond to light in a special way," Marriage continues. "and in the middle of winter, when night falls early, it’s just so wonderful and uplifting."In January 2018, London’s most iconic buildings, streets and landmarks will again be illuminated artistically for the British capital’s largest night-time festival, Lumiere London.Lumiere last lit up London in 2016, when millions of people visited the city to interact with the art installations. In January, the festival returns to London much bigger and bolder than before.More than 40 international artists will work to transform the city into a vast, nocturnal exhibition space, offering dazzling new perspectives on London’s iconic landmarks and historic architecture with beautiful, thought-provoking installations.As an example, Westminster Abbey, which has stood at the heart of London for hundreds of years, has been the setting for every coronation in the British monarchy since 1066 and has hosted 16 royal weddings, will be one of the key festival locations again.It will be illuminated by the French digital artist, Patrice Warrener, who will present the second installment of The Light of the Spirit for Westminster Abbey, one of the most popular installations at Lumiere London in 2016.Other installations include: Love, a Matisse-inspired animation of two paper-cut figures who spend the evening kissing and dancing to a bespoke soundtrack at the Royal Academy of Arts; interactive illuminated singing see-saws in Mayfair and, at Kings Cross, an immersive work that imagines a world underwater.The artists will create bespoke light installations for each selected building in London, turning the capital into a gallery without walls. Lumiere London is about more than the art: it’s about people sharing public space and re-discovering the city."Lumiere London offers the chance for visitors and Londoners alike to see the city in a totally new light, explore new areas, and see a familiar city in different ways," says Helen Marriage."Our mission from the start," Marriage continues, "was to make great art accessible to everyone and to bring back the joy of experiencing it. Lumiere London is about reclaiming the streets and bringing a new dimension to the daily life of our city."Lumiere London will take place on closed roads over four nights between 18 and 21 January 2018 at locations around the city, including: London’s West End, Mayfair, Westminster, Piccadilly, St James’s, Fitzrovia and Kings Cross.To find out more about the festival and to plan your trip to London, see https://www.visitlondon.com/lumiere#7kk8D0owMHHw6OqU.97

Seasonal Workers Could See Major Boon from 2017 Holiday Hiring

’Tis the season for holiday hiring.

Early predictions indicate a holly, jolly Christmas for retailers, with total sales expected to grow as much as 4.5 percent versus last year’s 3.6 percent. To help, according to the National Retail Federation, 500,000 to 550,000 season workers will need to be hired.

And while some companies are making it attractive to apply, there are still some things that applicants need to be aware of:

• The economy may not be your friend. Rather than hire a slew of temps, some employers such as Walmart are offering extra hours to existing workers.

Solving A Major Problem in “Additive” Manufacturing

(NewsUSA) – A new approach to making everything from jet engines to toys, called 3D printing, is creating a revolution in manufacturing — and a small company called Sigma Labs, Inc (NASDAQ:SGLB) has an enabling technology that can make it happen.In traditional manufacturing, companies start with metal or other materials, then cut, shape or drill the material to get the finished products.In the late 1980s, however, researchers at MIT came up with a radical new idea. Instead of cutting material away, why not build things by adding layer after successive layer? The method they developed was similar to printing ink onto paper, only in three dimensions.3D printing, also called "additive manufacturing," is now becoming big business. GE Aviation uses it to build jet engine fuel nozzles, for instance, instead of welding together 20 small pieces. Technology Review recently named additive manufacturing one of its 10 "Breakthrough Technologies."But 3D printing turns out to have a major challenge: It’s extraordinarily difficult to build identical top-quality parts every single time. In fact, Sigma Labs has now solved this problem, ensuring that every part and product is built correctly.How? The company uses sensors to measure key parameters such as the temperatures of the material as each layer is deposited. Then it uses sophisticated algorithms to process the data, and to determine if the resulting part meets customer quality standards."When we monitor every layer, for every part, we can tell if it’s a good part," explains John Rice, CEO of Sigma Labs.Sigma has installed its PrintRite 3D system at 3D manufacturing facilities for more than a dozen key companies, such as Siemens, Honeywell, Woodward, and Pratt & Whitney.Rice envisions that, once the technology is proven in actual operations, Sigma’s patent-protected approach may fuel explosive growth in 3D printing, and become an essential part of 3D metal manufacturing operations, dreaming of "Sigma Inside," such as Intel chips in personal computers."This has the potential to be a major transformative technology by enabling the leap to volume AM metal production," says Rice. 

New Form of Farming Revolutionizes the Way We Eat

(NewsUSA) – By 2050, the world population will reach almost 10 billion people, at least 66 percent of whom will live in urban areas.Water-scarcity issues are rampant and will only increase, and the ability to feed humanity is a vital issue that must be tackled now.Thankfully, technological innovations are giving hope to addressing this catastrophic problem.Texas-based Mouser Electronics created a program this year called Shaping Smarter Cities that features engineering marvels throughout the world that are helping solve humanity’s most pressing problems.The company makes electronic components that engineers of any level can purchase online to make the projects of their dreams.In this video, (http://bit.ly/2grhOWD) their celebrity spokesperson, Grant Imahara, visits Tokyo, Japan, where more people live than in the entire state of Illinois — too many mouths to feed for traditional farming to take on alone. The city presents an ideal testing ground for vertical/urban farming.Mouser shows how a vertical farming facility can efficiently provide fresh food for the densely populated city.The food produced there yields 50-100 times more per square meter than traditional farming. And the indoor setting allows for almost complete control of weather conditions and temperature. Even the water gets recycled to reduce the drain on resources. The end result? Up to 99 percent in water savings.This video is one of many in Mouser’s Empowering Innovation Together initiative.Since its creation last year, incredible engineering feats have been spearheaded through their electronic components partners — with projects ranging from bringing superhero technology to life to 3D printing a semi-autonomous car with drone technology.The focus of this year’s program is about solving tough problems that impact humanity as a whole.To watch more awe-inspiring videos, visit http://www.mouser.com/empowering-innovation

Incubators Help Florida Small Businesses Bloom

Five words or less(NewsUSA) – For neophyte companies, business incubators can offer economic space and experienced leadership for entrepreneurs in their critical first years.
The reality is that without marketing savvy and the expertise to manage certain costs, more than 70 percent of companies will fail, according to the U.S. Small Business Administration.
To combat this, one state is finding a way to help small businesses flourish.
In Florida, there are more than 70 recognized organizations instrumental in incubating small businesses. Some of those include UF/Sid Martin Biotechnology Institute, which received the 2017 InBIA Top Global Incubator Award; Beaver Street Enterprise Center; The South Florida Accelerator; and Venture Hive. The success of these programs can be seen in the numbers, with startup growth up 61 percent since 2014.
Whether the incubator programs are sponsored by economic development organizations, government entities or academic institutions, Florida stands out.
“There’s a movement across the country to help startups succeed,” says Dr. Thomas O’Neal, executive director of the University of Central Florida Business Incubation Program (UCFBIP) and the president of Florida Business Incubators Association (FBIA). “There is a culture focused on it [helping small businesses] and it’s especially friendly to do business in Florida.”
Small businesses are flocking to Florida because the state has a solid reputation of helping startup companies thrive. In fact, U.S. News & World Report recently named Florida number one for entrepreneurship.
In addition, Florida has the second-highest density of startup businesses in the United States, with more than 100 startup firms per 1,000-firm population, according to Business Insider, which considers the state a hot spot for innovative entrepreneurs.
“We [incubators] increase their chances of success,” says O’Neal. “We get that idea off the kitchen table and make it legitimate. We teach them how to work smartly. Set milestones. We help them make connections. Incubation is a process, not a place.”
One company member of the UCFBIP program would agree.
Alvin Cortez and Ronnie Elliott started an Orlando-based company that places nurses at hospitals across the country, for either short- or long-term assignments. They work to provide housing, benefits and good salaries, and to build relationships with the nurses to better place them in locations that may turn into full-time work.
Cortez, Elliott and Richard Manuel finished the incubation program in March 2016. They changed the name of the company from Nurses First Staffing to Nurses First Solutions, based on advice from the program to show the company as more than a staffing business. They have also grown their business from $300,000 to $6 million in the last year.
“It has been nothing short of enlightening,” Elliott says. “The program introduced us to a lot a people and opened a lot of doors. We wouldn’t be where we are today if it wasn’t for the incubation process. It has broadened our horizons, and we are already looking to open our next business in Florida.”
For more information on small businesses opportunities in Florida, visit enterpriseflorida.com.