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West Florissant, Mo. Explodes in Protest of Police Shooting, More Than 30 Arrests

West Florissant, Mo. Explodes in Protest of Police Shooting, More Than 30 Arrests

Special to the NNPA from the St. Louis American

The Target parking lot of the Buzz Westfall Shopping Center was filled with dozens and dozens of police vehicles and the area of West Florissant from Jennings to Ferguson was blocked off. Helicopters and tanks –as well as vehicles from a host of area departments – descended on West Florissant as looting and vandalism…

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Suppress Voting, Impeach Obama and Close HBCUs

Suppress Voting, Impeach Obama and Close HBCUs

By Peter Grear

Our campaign has sought to educate our communities to the point that they would organize and mobilize for a massive voter turnout for the November General Election and beyond. 

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Risky Situations Increase Women’s Anxiety, Hurt Their Performance Compared to Men

Risky Situations Increase Women’s Anxiety, Hurt Their Performance Compared to Men

Study author Susan R. Fisk

“On the surface, risky situations may not appear to be particularly disadvantageous to women, but these findings suggest otherwise,” 

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Voter Suppression: An Existential Threat to Democracy

Voter Suppression: An Existential Threat to Democracy

By Peter Grear

To properly understand where we are today, we must look to history, to Black Slavery.  Slavery has existed since the time of ancient civilizations and in its inception was based upon conquerors enslaving the conquered without regards to race.  

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Dorothy Buckhanan Wilson Installed as International President of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated

Dorothy Buckhanan Wilson Installed as International President of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated

Charlotte, NC (BlackPR.com)

Dorothy Buckhanan Wilson of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, a business executive, was installed as the 2014-2018 International President of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated (AKA)

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Nielsen Expands Communications Leadership Team with Key Media Relations Hire

Nielsen Expands Communications Leadership Team with Key Media Relations Hire

New York (BlackPR.com)

New York (BlackPR.com) -- Nielsen today announced that Andrew McCaskill has joined Nielsen as Senior Vice President, Corporate Communications. He will report to Chief Communications Officer Laura Nelson.

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Voter Suppression: It’s Mobilization Time

Voter Suppression: It’s Mobilization Time

Written by Peter Grear

With this article we will start detailing the ingredients of a revisable action plan that needs comments and revisions as we move toward the Tuesday, November 4, 2014 General Election.  

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Voter Suppression: NC Black Republican Advisory Board

Voter Suppression: NC Black Republican Advisory Board

Written by Peter Grear

Educate, Organize and Mobilize: I confess that I’m amazed. The Republican National Committee and the Republican Party of North Carolina announced last week that they have launched theNorth Carolina Black Advisory Board (BRAB) 

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Getting Smart on Surety Bonds: African-American Female Business Owner in St. Louis Got Funded.

Written by Rhonda Taylor on 22 February 2012.

When I quit my job with the post office to start a building maintenance company that specialized in big public buildings, I knew I would have to be good. Better than the big companies that were already doing it. What I didn’t know almost killed my compnay: I needed bonding and working capital and was told it was impossible for me to get it because I was a new business and had no credit. But I found it. And I thought this information might be useful to other minority entrepreneurs.

There is nothing wrong with being dumb. That’s how all smart people start out.

In my case, I was dumb enough to quit a lifetime-guaranteed job with the government to start my own business.

I was dumb enough to think, as an African American woman, I could compete with huge corporations for government contracts. And I was dumb enough to think that once I got the job, I could do it well.

Like a lot of smaller contractors, I smartened up. Fast. Turns out I was smart enough after all.

But one thing that lots of business people never really smarten up about is getting a surety bond. To do a government job -- my first -- I needed a bond. Who knew?

Not the insurance companies. They told me I could not get a bond because my company did not have a good credit score. Turns out that surety bonds and completion bonds and other bonds are not really insurance. They are more like lines of credit.

Here’s why: If a contractor does not finish a job, the bonding company has to step in and make it right. Then the bonding company can turn around and pursue the original contractor for reimbursement.

If bonding companies think your credit is such that they cannot recover their losses, they will not issue a bond.

That is what happened to me -- 11 times. There was nothing wrong with my credit: My books were in order. Taxes paid. Vendors happy.  Clients too.

I just did not have enough of it to get a bond for a three year contract I had already won.

When I talked to other business people about bonding and working capital, they all said the same thing: Nothing we can do about it. That is just the way it is. 

“But wait a minute,” I asked:  “All that government stimulus money is supposed to help small businesses. And now you are telling me that most small businesses cannot do government work? That can’t be true.”

Most did not answer. They just shrugged their shoulders and walked away.

The agency with the work gave me an extension but it was not looking good.  With two days to go, my agent, Chondra Martin, told me she had a lead: A  bonding company that looked past credit scores and looked at your ability to do the work you were contracted to do. That seemed kind of smart.

Soon we were talking with Andrew Wohl at Ox Bonding.  He wanted to know about my company and its balance sheet and whether I had any tax liens or other problems. That was all good.

Then we started talking about the job and how I bid on it; why I bid the way I did (I went to the agency and got a copy of the contract from the last time it was up. So I knew what the number was and I told Andrew how I could do the job better, faster, cheaper.)

He got into my grill. And soon I got  a bond.

Next think you know the St. Louis Post-Dispatch is doing a story about how this small business owner overcame obstacles to win a job. That of course got me even more clients.

I didn’t know about that either.

Later I had a chance to talk to Robert Berman, co-founder of Ox Bonding and another smart guy. He told me that he started Ox Bonding because when he was a teenager, his father could not get a bond for a bigger government job.

They ignored all his great work. All his references. 

“There are so many good companies out there that do great work but who cannot get a bond,” Berman told me. “So we help them with a bond and with working capital. Because on government jobs, sometimes a lot of money goes out before any comes in.”

Berman is not a member of the Little Sisters of the Poor: He is not running a charity. 

Ox Bonding manages risk by having the agency issue our checks to them. They pay the workers and the vendors. 

“We can even negotiate better deals,” Berman told me. “We will call a vendor and say we can pay you in 30 days, as stated in the contract. Or we can pay you today if we get a discount. Most vendors are happy to negotiate.”

That is pretty smart. 

Being the smart person that I am, I detected a flaw in Berman's grand plan for dominating the world of bonding and working capital.

"Once your clients get a bond and do the work, won't that help them get the credit they need to get a bond from one of the big boys, like Zurich?"

"Smart question,” he said. I knew that.

"We do help our clients get better credit. But we also help them with working capital, payroll, and other services. So what we have found so far is that once contractors have been with us for a while, they want to do even more with us."

Even I’m smart enough to know that.

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