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While traversing the nation’s highways, drivers may not realize they are in the company of people who help keep the country’s economy flowing smoothly. The various trucks seen on the roadway are crucial economic components, as are the drivers who toil hours on end behind the wheel.
As vital as they are, truck drivers are now in short supply, with some citing an aging workforce, high turnover rates, increased freight demand, and “lifestyle priorities” that can make other industries seem more attractive to would-be drivers.
The economic advisor Morgan Stanley reports that about 75 percent of freight in the United States is moved over the nation’s roadways by the roughly three million truckers. The American Trucking Associations says that about an additional 50,000 drivers are needed to meet deficits, particularly in the long-haul sector of the industry. If the trucking shortage goes unaddressed, industries could falter and deliveries may be late. In addition, rising costs of transporting goods by freight companies may be passed down to consumers. Industry experts fear the shortage may almost triple by the year 2026.
Analysts say this problem has been festering for about 15 years. However, the recession that began in 2008 masked the issue, and when the North American economy strengthened once again, the cracks in the system became more apparent. The trucking lifestyle isn’t attracting millennials and the incoming Generation Z individuals who are interested in a work-life balance, continues the ATA.
If consumers are wondering why prices on certain goods have steadily risen, they may have trucker shortages to blame. Transportation costs have been problematic for companies such as PepsiCo, Halliburton, Hasbro, and Tyson Foods, just to name a few. Tyson has said freight costs spiked by an estimated $200 million in 2018.
Experienced truckers who are interested in finding work or individuals new to this employment sector may find that odds of getting gainful employment are in their favor. The demand for drivers has resulted in freight companies offering higher salaries as well as signing bonuses for qualified drivers. Trucker compensation has risen as much as 12 percent a year in recent years, according to Bob Costello, chief economist at the ATA. That’s a considerable increase in wages compared to other sectors, which have barely budged recently.
Additionally, while current U.S. regulations restrict commercial driver’s license-holding drivers from operating across state lines until they are 21 years of age, the introduced DRIVE-Safe Act would establish an apprenticeship program for individuals under age 21 who hold a CDL to prepare them for interstate commerce.
Truck driver shortages are affecting businesses. However, for those interested in a becoming truckers, there has never been a better time to sign on.
With unemployment rates at a nearly 50-year low, many businesses are struggling to find workers. This tight job market is opening doors for people with disabilities, as many companies are turning their attention to diversity and inclusion in the workplace.
Though more Americans with disabilities are working, their unemployment rate is still more than twice that of the overall workforce. An estimated 81% of adults (18+) with developmental disabilities do not have a paid job in the community.
Some companies view hiring people with disabilities as “the right thing to do,” but not as a strategy that will benefit business. A recent study by the National Organization on Disability found that only 13% of U.S. companies have reached the Department of Labor target of a 7% disability representation among their staff. Often companies don’t know where to find this untapped resource of talent.
Programs like Best Buddies Jobs can help. They match skilled and qualified individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD) with businesses seeking enthusiastic and dedicated employees. Job coaches look beyond the typical positions that individuals with IDD might hold, to match job seekers based on their individual talents and interests. The program develops partnerships with employers, assists with the hiring process and provides ongoing support to the employee and employer.
“We started the program to help improve the quality of life for individuals with IDD, and what we found is that the employers also benefit by getting an extremely dedicated, well-prepared staff member, improved company morale, and a better bottom line,” explains Anthony Kennedy Shriver, Founder, Chairman & CEO of Best Buddies International. “The Jobs program is really a win for all of society since we end up creating employees who can support themselves and contribute to the economy, removing the need for government assistance or parental support.”
Dudley Williams III personifies the highly successful program participant. After graduating from Threshold, a Lesley University postsecondary program that prepares young adults who have diverse learning challenges for the world of work and independent living, Williams joined Best Buddies Jobs to work toward his professional goals. “I worked part-time jobs at first ranging from a hotel, to schools, and the Boston Minority Business Development Agency Center as an office assistant,” said Williams. “My ultimate goal was to find a full-time job.”
Williams is currently employed full-time as a marketing coordinator at John Hancock in Boston and has become a tireless advocate for employment for people with IDD. “My life has changed dramatically. I’m more confident in myself as a person and more independent at work. I’ve made new friendships as well.”
Rob Friedman, former assistant vice president of sponsorship and event marketing at John Hancock, says, “I think a program like Best Buddies Jobs is a terrific asset to John Hancock. It teaches our employees about diversity and working with different populations and certainly having someone like Dudley on staff has taught so many employees here so many great things.”
As companies increase diversity and inclusion, they are discovering employee morale and fiscal performance also improve. Harvard Business Review reports that diverse companies are 70% more likely to capture a new market. Research from renowned global human resources analyst Josh Bersin shows that more inclusive companies have a 2.3 times higher cash flow per employee over a three-year period and are 1.7 times more likely to be innovative leaders in their market.
Jobs programs for people with disabilities can provide a cost-effective solution to address the tight job market brought on by low unemployment rates and reduce recruitment and training costs associated with repeatedly filling high turnover positions. Hiring people with disabilities is a win for both employees and employers.
If you are interested in participating as an employer or applying to the Best Buddies Jobs program, please visit bestbuddies.org/jobs for more information.
CONTRIBUTED BY CFB
The following statement is attributed to Don Shawcroft, president of the Colorado Farm Bureau:
“Farmers and ranchers in Colorado are pleased with the announcement of new reforms to the Endangered Species Act (ESA). These new rules will reduce the disconnect between successful species recovery and the continuing, unnecessary regulatory burden that affect landowners under the current rules.
ESA’s purpose is to restore species that are at risk for extinction and unfortunately, the rules in their current form have failed to de-list species showing recovery. Moving forward, these changes will create transparency and continuity between various regulatory agencies and farmers and ranchers on the ground while also clarifying the distinction between threatened and endangered species. This will help more effectively allocate resources and better provide meaningful protections for our most vulnerable animals.
Colorado Farm Bureau and its members have a long history of supporting species recovery efforts, including those for the Black Footed Ferret and Mountain Plover. Colorado Farm Bureau even received an award from the Department of the Interior on the Mountain Plover recovery efforts. This proves what can happen when we all work together for the greater good instead of removing landowners’ voices from the process.”
CONTRIBUTED BY HBA OF METRO DENVER
The Home Builders Association of Metro Denver (HBA) is opening doors throughout the metropolitan area for its annual home showcase tradition running from Thursday, Aug. 8 through Sunday, Aug. 25, 2019. In addition to showcasing more than 75 beautifully designed homes along the Front Range, the 2019 Parade of Homes presented by Samsung will debut two new weekend events, Chefs on Parade and Paws on Parade, as well as the new feature, the Samsung Connected Home.
“We’re excited to introduce new features for the Denver Parade of Homes this year,” stated Tracy Sandoval, 2019 chair of the Parade of Homes and marketing manager at Meritage Homes. “The Chefs on Parade and Paws on Parade events and Samsung Connected Home will provide attendees unique opportunities to experience the Parade and see the latest in home trends.”
This year’s Parade will feature:
Showcased homes: more than 75 newly designed model and custom homes, nine of which are luxury “Dreams Homes,” by 20 area residential builders located in neighborhoods in Metro Denver from Longmont to Castle Rock and Arvada to Aurora.
Chefs on Parade: exclusive two-day event open to the public at select locations and times on Saturday, Aug. 17 and Sunday, Aug. 18, 2019. Participating Parade Homes are paired with some of the area’s best chefs and restaurants to deliver a traveling gourmet party. Attendees will have the opportunity to sample fine cuisine and tour the home before moving on to the next home on the tour.
Paws on Parade: two-day event open to the public at select locations on Saturday, Aug. 24 and Sunday, Aug. 25, 2019. Participating Parade Homes are paired with some of Denver’s top animal rescue and shelter organizations to provide the public a chance to meet rescue pets looking for a home.
Samsung Connected Home: Samsung, the presenting sponsor of the 2019 Denver Parade of Homes, will present the Samsung Connected Home in the Dream Home by Lokal Homes at Two Bridges. The home conveys the future of connected living through simple steps and home appliance technologies that allow homeowners to take control and connect remotely via smart devices while away from home.
A longstanding tradition, the Parade is Denver’s go-to local home show and design houses tour showcasing the city’s hottest new homes and communities and the latest in home design and decor trends. The participating homes represent a wide-range of new homes, from no-maintenance townhomes and paired homes to custom built, high-end luxury, state-of-the-art homes – all for sale.
The home builders and developers joining the 2019 Parade include: Ascent Builders, Berkeley Homes, Brookfield Residential, Cardel Homes, Dream Finders Homes, Epic Homes, Highland Development Company, Invalesco Real Estate, KB Home, Koelbel and Company, Lennar, Lokal Homes, McStain Neighborhoods, Meritage Homes, Newland Communities, Oakwood Homes, Shea Homes, Taylor Morrison, Thrive Home Builders, Toll Brothers, William Lyon Homes.
Being held on Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. from August 8 through 25, 2019, the Parade of Homes is free, self-guided and open to the public. Plan your tour now at paradeofhomesdenver.com.
BY FREDA MIKLINGOVERNMENTAL REPORTER
After 11 years, Denver South EDP Senior Vice President Lynn Myers is getting ready to move on. She told The Villager that although she loves what she does, she wants to have more time to enjoy life, including her beloved Colorado Rockies.
Myers plans to leave sometime this fall, hopefully after her replacement is found. She will “return to her roots” and join President and CEO Kevin Hougen at the Aurora Chamber of Commerce, strictly on a part-time basis. Before entering the field of economic development, Myers served as an Arapahoe County Commissioner from February 2000 to Janaury 2007.
Lauren Masias, Denver South EDP Managing Director of Corporate Engagement, told The Villager that she has spent 25 percent of her life at Denver South EDP and wants to explore the world. Her last day at Denver South was August 1. She plans to take time off to travel before deciding what she wants to do next.
At its summer partnership meeting at the Lone Tree Arts Center on August 1, Denver South EDP board member Buz Koelbel, president and CEO of local residential real estate development leader Koelbel and Company, told members about the importance of the rich cultural assets in our community. He reminded people that “all our cultural facilities are in a constant process of change,” so it’s well worthwhile to visit places like the Denver Zoo if one hasn’t been there for some time.
Bert Vescolani, president and CEO of the Denver Zoological Foundation, said that the zoo is the most visited cultural institution in metro Denver, drawing two million guests annually. The 80-acre campus, consisting of 105 buildings, costs $100,000 per day to operate. It is ranked in the top five accredited zoos in the U.S. The Denver Zoo contains over 3,300 animals representing 550 species, including more than 50 endangered and threatened species. Said Vescolani, “It is one of only four zoos in the world to hold two of the highest international distinctions for environmental, health and safety management systems.” Also focused on education, the zoo’s programs serve more than 150,000 students from 1,200 schools every year and awarded $185,000 in scholarship funds last year for camps, classes, fieldtrips, and other programs.
The economic impact of the zoo over the next five years is estimated at $636 million to the Science and Cultural Facilities District (SCFD), consisting of the seven-county metropolitan area (Denver, Arapahoe, Douglas, Jefferson, Adams, Boulder, and Broomfield Counties).
Less known by many is the Denver Zoo’s focus on worldwide conservation. It has participated in over 600 conservation projects in 62 different countries. In addition to the Rocky Mountains/Great Plains area in the U.S., the Denver Zoo has identified four other focal areas for conservation around the world: Mongolia, Vietnam, Botswana, and Peru.
Denver Center for Performing Arts
Begun 40 years ago, the Denver Center for Performing Arts (DCPA) is the country’s largest non-profit theatre organization. It brings a wide variety of live theatre events to the metro area, including Broadway productions, smaller theatre productions at four different venues, cabaret shows, and private catered events in the Seawall Ballroom. Also focused on education, the DCPA has served over 1.7 million students through a variety of programs.
Drawing 84 percent of its patrons from the seven-county SCFD, the DCPA’s economic impact for the last fiscal year was $193.4 million from operations including 43 shows with 1,143 performances attended by 850,782 patrons. In addition to receiving nearly $7 million in SCFD funds, the DCPA raised $4.5 million from individuals, corporations, and foundations, and $5.3 million from its capital campaign. Gross revenues for the fiscal year of $90.8 million compared favorably with expenses of $82.6 million.
Janice Sinden, who has been president and CEO in 2016, previously served as Denver Mayor Hancock’s chief of staff for five years. Sinden explained that although Broadway productions account for most of the DCPA’s income and costs, its role for those shows is mostly that of providing space. It uses its resources to keep all its venues in top condition. The 40-year old Stage Theatre located at Speer Boulevard and Arapahoe Street, and the Ricketson Theatre, on the DCPA campus at 1400 Curtis Street, are being fully renovated, including updated seating layouts with improved sight lines and technology and improved accessibility for patrons.
Sinden acknowledged the generosity of philanthropists Marvin and Judi Wolff, for whom the Stage Theatre will be renamed, and also Dean Singleton, former publisher and owner of the Denver Post from 1987 to 2013 and former chairman of the board of directors of the Associated Press from 2007 to 2012. The revamped Ricketson Theatre will honor Singleton.
Sinden told the Denver South EDP audience that the DCPA team is “actively engaged in expanding and deepening mutually beneficial partnerships with our community” through forming a board committee and a team for that purpose. She also talked about the DCPA’s focus on adopting a core value focused on “equity, diversity, and inclusion.”
Attending the Denver South EDP partnership meeting were Arapahoe County Clerk Joan Lopez, Arapahoe County Commissioner Jeff Baker, RTD Board Chair Doug Tisdale, Douglas County Commissioner Lora Thomas, Centennial City Council Members Kathy Turley and Mike Sutherland, along with Mayor Stephanie Piko and former Mayor Cathy Noon, and Joe Rice, Lockheed Martin executive and former Colorado state representative and mayor of Glendale.
Worksite hurdles are the issues or hassles that prevent employees from being engaged, successful and happy at their jobs. To help overcome these hurdles, and for more satisfied, productive employees, an increasing number of employers are looking to their employee well-being programs for answers.
According to a survey from Fidelity Investments and the National Business Group on Health, more than two-thirds (67 percent) of companies plan to expand their well-being programs over the next few years. Also, UnitedHealthcare’s 2019 Wellness Check Up Survey revealed that more than half (57 percent) of employees with access to an employer-sponsored well-being program say the initiative has had a positive effect on their health.
Creating a culture of well-being in the workplace can be challenging for employers, but it doesn’t have to be. Ann Marie O’Brien, R.N., national director of health strategies, UnitedHealthcare, shares the following tips to help employers align their worksites with a focus on employee engagement, health and well-being.
1) Encourage staying active
Having a meeting? Put your walking shoes on and talk on the go by having a “walk-and-talk” meeting. Employees whose jobs require them to sit at a desk all day may appreciate the change, and it may be good for their health. Also, onsite yoga may have numerous physical and emotional benefits. Additional ideas to consider: onsite walking trails, fitness equipment and classes, treadmill conference rooms, and stand-up desks.
2) Reduce employee stress
Use available office space to create a low-lit “relaxation room” to help employees recharge and lower their stress levels. Also consider offering employees a mindfulness program that may help fill the workplace with positive energy, where working relationships are optimized and distractions give way to focus and self-awareness. Additional ideas to consider: a 5-minute stretching routine, paid time off for volunteer work and behavioral health counseling.
3) Healthier food options
Ensure healthier food options are available in vending machines and cafeterias, and at company events. Also, consider putting healthier options at eye level within those vending machines and denoting those options with stickers. Additional ideas to consider: a free onsite salad bar, onsite cooking demonstrations, a fruit sampling day or even onsite gardens to help increase teamwork.
4) Prioritize employee health
Consider banning all forms of tobacco (and vaping/e-cigarettes) from company premises, at company events and within company vehicles. Also, consider dedicating a private room for telehealth (virtual visits) appointments and allow employees to connect to a telehealth care provider as needed during the work day. Additional ideas to consider: onsite biometric screenings and flu shots, finding a wellness champion for the office, and offering financial well-being programs.
For more information about well-being programs, visit UHC.com.
CONTRIBUTED BY CORY GARDNER AND MICHAEL BENNET
Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senators Cory Gardner (R-CO) and Michael Bennet (D-CO) today introduced the Railroad Rehabilitation and Improvement Financing (RRIF) Equity Act. The bill would require the US Department of Transportation (DOT) to refund credit risk premiums (CRP), as required under the Railroad Rehabilitation and Improvement Financing (RRIF) loan program, upon the satisfaction of a loan’s obligations. In 2010, Regional Transportation District (RTD), and the City and County of Denver received a RRIF loan for the Denver Union Station project. RTD paid off the RRIF loan more than 20 years early, but is still waiting for reimbursement of the CRP they provided under the loan.
“The Denver Union Station project has been a wonderful success, and it’s important that RTD gets this money back so they can continue to invest in Colorado,” said Senator Gardner. “I was proud to introduce this legislation with Senator Bennet. We remain committed to enhancing the transportation and infrastructure systems in Colorado to increase the quality of life for Coloradans.”
“Denver and RTD worked hard to repay their Railroad Rehabilitation and Improvement Financing loan 20 years ahead of schedule,” said Senator Bennet. “With this project fully completed and the loan repaid, our legislation will ensure that Denver and RTD receive the premium refund they are due promptly. This will enable them to continue to pursue critical transportation projects that will benefit the community.”
“The Denver Union Station redevelopment project continues to yield benefits for RTD riders throughout metro Denver, and this legislation would repay to RTD and Denver millions of dollars in long-withheld funds from the project – funds we are eager to re-invest in new transportation improvements for the region. It is clear that Senators Gardner and Bennet share my commitment to leveraging our limited public resources for much-needed infrastructure investment,” said Dave Genova, RTD CEO and General Manager.
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