Cream of the Crop: CME Group Awards Ag Scholarships at State Fair

(NewsUSA) – After a year of hard work and preparation, thousands of students participated in this year’s agriculture competitions at the Illinois State Fair. These events test students’ knowledge through livestock exhibitions, practical competitions and academic tests.As part of these events, CME Group, the world’s leading and most diverse derivatives marketplace, presented Grand Champion livestock exhibitors and 4-H Livestock Skillathon winners with scholarships totaling nearly $60,000."These students are the next generation of food producers and agribusiness leaders," said CME Group Managing Director of Agricultural Products Tim Andriesen."Through our scholarships, CME Group is pleased to support the brightest talent in agriculture and promote future participation in an industry that’s critical to feeding the world."CME Group awarded $5,000 in scholarships to each of the 10 Grand Champion exhibitors at the Governor’s Sale of Champions: Ella Bobell (Logan County), Olivia Caldwell (Peoria County), Bryce Clayton (Scott County), Katie Hummel (Kankakee County), Tara Hummel (Kankakee County), Adam Miller (Livingston County), Sammuel Pree (Iroquois County), Chase Tomhave (Morgan County), Morgan Wagner (Fulton County) and Grant Wilderman (Bond County).As part of the Illinois 4-H Livestock Skillathon, nine champions won $1,000 each in scholarships to use towards higher education: Andy Bates (Ford County), Erin Curley (McDonough County), Fred Grohmann (Randolph County), Kate Henkel (Woodford County), Tara Hummel (Ford County), Cody Knodle (Montgomery County), Mary Perry (Adams County), Lizzie Schafer (Christian County) and Lane Schilling (Washington County).These students compete in a written exam that includes how to use CME futures contracts to manage risk.CME Group is committed to supporting the next generation of producers interested in agriculture careers. Over the last four years, CME Group has invested over $200,000 in scholarships to students at the Illinois State Fair.Additionally, CME Group has partnered with the National 4-H Council for the sixth year to bring Commodity Carnival, an interactive experience, to 100 state and country fairs this summer.The Commodity Carnival fair game advances ag literacy by breaking down topics like managing business risks and costs associated with producing and bringing livestock to market. To date, it has educated more than 325,000 youth around the United States.The companion mobile app, "Risk Ranch," allows students to play the game year-round and is available online, in the App Store, and through Google Play. 

Scuba Diving Brings Health, Hope to Injured And Disabled

(NewsUSA) – Scuba diving can be an exotic and enriching activity, but for many, it can also be a therapeutic one.The weightlessness of a water environment allows individuals with a range of injuries or disabilities to exercise, relax, have fun, and gain confidence. Children and adults with challenges including traumatic brain injuries, amputation, spinal cord injuries, cerebral palsy, and blindness can enjoy the physical and psychological benefits of scuba diving.Diveheart, a nonprofit organization founded in 2001, trains thousands of volunteers and works with injured and disabled individuals across the world, in areas including the United States, Mexico,UK, Malaysia, Israel, Philippines and the Caribbean.As Darrell Young, a Vietnam veteran who is paraplegic as the result of a spinal cord injury, explains in a testimonial on the Diveheart website, "Diving gives me a high expectancy of myself. It gives me a goal to accomplish knowing that when it comes to the finish line it doesn’t matter how I finish my dive, but the feeling of strength I gain from diving," he says.Diveheart relies on volunteers and donations to help provide adaptive diving and scuba therapy experiences at no cost to the participants. Most of the initial training and first diving experiences occur in school or community pools. Participants don’t even need to know how to swim to benefit from therapeutic scuba diving, and the learning curve is almost immediate, according to Diveheart’s website details.Diveheart works to spread the word that diving is a real option with many benefits for the individuals affected with injuries and for the volunteers who get involved as "dive buddies." The basic experience of being in the water with the support of a trained "dive buddy" can relieve pain, improve focus, and bring joy, according to Diveheart participants.Diveheart also provides adaptive dive training for those who want to take the next step and become adaptive divers or dive buddies to help others.Most Diveheart participants are eager for destination scuba-diving adventures once individuals are trained and comfortable with the scuba experience. Diveheart offers opportunities for fundraising and also works to find grants for those who struggle with the cost of a dive getaway.In addition, Diveheart works with the science and medical communities to provide data and research opportunities on the benefits of therapeutic scuba diving for a range of medical conditions.For more information on participating, volunteering, or donating, visit diveheart.org

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.

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.

Content Agency Helps Clients With Small Advertising Budgets

Five words or less(NewsUSA) – NewsusaInfographic – One of the biggest differences between millennial men and women when it comes to saving? Vacations.

Women cited it as their top short-term savings goal in TD Ameritrade’s illuminating “Millennials and Money Survey,” while men were most concerned with having an emergency fund.

But don’t think those females surveyed aren’t also worried about coming up short in a crisis. In fact, by a 12-percent margin -; 62 percent vs. 50 percent -; more females were focused on socking money away to deal with what’s described as “the potential for a financial disruption.”