Industry leaders organize day of service to promote financial literacy

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Urban Financial Services Coalition (UFSC) and Operation Hope Future (BOOF) DC have joined forces to put on a Financial Literacy Day of Service in Washington, D.C. on September 24, 2014. Individuals attending the Congressional Black Caucus’ 44th Annual Legislative Conference, professionals and business owners in the Northern Virginia, Washington D.C. and Maryland areas are invited to learn about how technology and money can empower a community, provide financial literacy for youth and enjoy an opportunity to network with power players.

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On Wednesday, September 24, the organizations will put on activities which include an 8: 00 a.m. breakfast  to discuss money and technology. The breakfast event is billed as a  “thought-provoking panel discussion at the Microsoft Retail Store, at The Fashion Centre, Pentagon City Mall.” The discussion will feature panelists from Microsoft, government agencies and community organizations, who will talk about how technology and money can work together to make communities more financially savvy. The breakfast will be followed by a financial workshop for youth at Kenmore Middle School at 11:00 a.m.

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“Nothing is more exciting than providing financial literacy for over 300 school students at Kenmore Middle school, located at 200 South Carlin Springs Road, Arlington, Virginia 22204,” said the event’s organizers. “We need 18 volunteers, from 11:00 am to 2:00 pm that are passionate about depositing the seeds of financial literacy in the minds of middle school students that will grow into financially savvy minority professionals. Banking on Our Future (BOOF) – DC will provide training and financial literacy curriculum to all volunteers.”

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The day will conclude with a Green Carpet networking reception at 5:30 p.m. at Washington DC’s newest financial institution, Premara Bank. Premara Bank Office is . located at 1299 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW Branch, Washington, DC 20004.

The Economic Evolution of Our Future Selves

Operation HOPE’S Banking on Our Future (BOOF) program educates youth ages 9 to 18 at no cost to school districts and community-based organizations, with a focus on urban, underserved communities. The Urban Financial Services Coalition (UFSC), formerly known as the National Association of Urban Bankers (NAUB), is an organization of minority professionals in the financial services industry and related fields. Affiliation with UFSC offers a unique opportunity to influence the shape of the banking and financial services industries

For more information or questions, please email president@ufscnet.org or contact Ditu Kasuyi at 804-651-7739-OnPointPress.net.

VP Records’ pop-up exhibit makes debut at recent jerk festival

 

Jerk Festival patron examines the VP Records exhibit.

Jerk Festival patron examines the VP Records exhibit designed by Michael Thompson.–Ajamu Myrie Photo.

By Tiffany Mea

2014 marks the 35th anniversary when VP Records’ founders Vincent and his wife Patricia Chin moved their headquarters from Kingston, Jamaica to Jamaica, New York,- transforming their operations into the largest reggae company worldwide. The label celebrated with a special pop-up exhibit that debuted Sunday,July 20, at the Grace Jamaican Jerk Festival 2014. The festival attracted over 15,000 patrons this year in Roy Wilkins Park in Queens, NY, and the VP Records 35th Anniversary launch event was among the main attractions.

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VP Records Co-founder Patrician Chin (c), surrounded by family and supporters,  cuts ribbon to launch the company’s  35th anniversary pop-up exhibit. –Ajamu Myrie Photo.

The ribbon-cutting ceremony kicked off at 2 p.m. VP Records Co-Founder Patricia Chin gathered with family and friends as media and fans caught the first glimpse of the historical feature, designed by Michael Thompson. Inside was an exclusive photo exhibit by Ajamu Myrie, documenting Jamaican reggae culture, an illustrative map exploring the global impact of the genre in every continent and a timeline covering each era, beginning in 1958 when the Chins established Randy’s Record Mart and Studio 17 in Kingston, Jamaica.

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Patricia Chin with Grace Jerk Festival Founder Eddy Edwards.-Ajamu Myrie Photo.

In a roped off area of the exhibit, Mrs. Chin debuted a short documentary video for the press. From ska to rocksteady, roots reggae to dub, lover’s rock to dancehall, VP Records has been at the forefront of Jamaica’s musical evolution. The video which was narrated by Sirius XM reggae personality Pat McKay, revealed the social and political history of Jamaican music and explained how VP Records is a key contributor to its growth, development and future.

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A large crowd awaits performances by Maxi Priest and Etana at the Jerk Festival.-Ajamu Myrie Photo.

The label plans to take this traveling exhibit into other markets throughout the rest of the year, including Grace Jamaican Jerk Festival in Florida. More details will be announced at a later date. For more information contact tiffanym@vprecords.com–OnPointPress.net

Registration deadline looms for Silicon Harlem conference

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New York, NY (July 22, 2014): Early registration for Silicon Harlem’s inaugural conference is approaching its August 15 deadline. Silicon Harlem, the pioneering group dedicated to transforming Harlem in to a technology hub, will present its inaugural Silicon Harlem Conference on Thursday, October 16 in Harlem, New York at My Image Studios (MIST), 46 West 116th Street. The title of the conference will be “Show Your Love” for technology, film, video games, apps, Harlem and more.

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Clayton Banks, business executive, is a co-executive producer of Silicon Harlem.

The event is a one-day interactive conference on how to transform Harlem into a technology and innovation hub. Inspirational speakers and leaders from software engineering, digital film and art, video game development, broadcast and video, graphic design, mobile and more will share actionable insights about technology, practical skill building, new creative techniques and business innovation that impacts the Harlem community. The event will also feature keynote speakers such as telecommunications expert and technology visionary Larry Irving, whose company The Mobile Alliance for Global Good” is using mobile devices to solve global problems.

“The Silicon Harlem Conference brings together the brightest and most creative minds in the industry to discuss ways to best serve our freelance, startup and anchored businesses and institutions,” said Clayton Banks, co-executive producer of Silicon Harlem. “We’re excited to have so many great people sharing their experience and setting Harlem on the path to thrive in the innovation economy.”

Technology expert Larry Irving will speak at the conference.

Technology expert Larry Irving will speak at the conference.

Silicon Harlem is a social venture focused on growing the technology sector in Harlem. The Silicon Harlem pillars include Gigabit infrastructure, Monthly Meet-ups and an annual conference to galvanize the community, provide opportunities in STEM education for the youth in the community, and collaborate with electives, stakeholders and the investment community to bolster business opportunities in Harlem. Learn more at siliconharlem.net.

The conference will be held at MIST in Harlem and includes a welcome breakfast, networking breaks, luncheon and an appreciation reception. For details, please visit http://showyourlove.mydagsite.com/For questions about registration, contact Katrina Monroe at info@siliconharlem.net or visit the Conference website. For sponsorship information, contact Von Joseph, at von@siliconharlem.net.–OnPointPress.net.

Scholarship opportunities available for students with UFSC

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By Ditu Kasuyi

The Urban Financial Services Coalition (UFSC) is trying to find 30 of the nation’s brightest, motivated and highly intelligent high school and college students to participate in the nation’s most unique, exciting and challenging leadership development program for young people – the MARK I (MI) UFSC Emerging Leaders – National Apprentice Challenge (See attachment).

The MARK I Emerging Leaders – National Apprentice Challenge is a one-year group business competition that focuses on the development of critical foundational management and leadership skills through an intensive five-day leadership program. The components of this program include personal development and management issue oriented seminars, developmental heat through an apprentice style group competition and the opportunity to apply the skills learned through the completion of a challenging community action task.

The MARK I program will take place from June 1 through June 7, 2014 in Chicago, Illinois. Activities for the MARK I program will take place at the Club Quarters Hotel in Chicago, Illinois.

The MARK I program promises to make the young people stand out from the crowd and the cost is only $625 That’s right only $625. This registration fee covers the hotel room for 8 days and seven nights. UFSC will be covering the cost of facilitators, program materials, post conference webinars/tele-seminars, learning materials, breakfast and lunch and other cost associated with administrating such a dynamic leadership program. Only the UFSC can deliver a year-long leadership develop program such a low price. Participants will be responsible for their own transportation to Chicago, Illinois.

Interested students are asked to complete the attached application and return it to the UFSC national office by May 30, 2014, or Click Here to Register online. If you should have any questions, or need additional information, please contact Melanie Lee at Melanielee@mleelaw.com or me 804-651-7739/Email Ditu.Kasuyi@dla.mil.–OnPointPress.net.

5 ways to become more financially literate and savvy

Norman Forrester, Financial Advisor with Merrill Lynch in Connecticut

Norman Forrester, Assistant Vice President/Senior Financial Advisor with Merrill Lynch in  New Haven, Connecticut

By Carmen Glover

As the economy continues to make strides towards full recovery, a plethora of skilled, versatile and diversely trained potential employees are eagerly seeking the few job opportunities that exist. For some, fed up with the lack of job offers despite attending numerous job fairs, networking events or submission of applications, the path has led to entrepreneurship.

No matter the situation, financial literacy is fundamental to all decisions regarding survival. Quite often, people’s financial circumstances are clouded by the realization that income is woefully inadequate to meet all of the monthly expenses.

New Haven, Connecticut-based, Merrill Lynch Assistant Vice President/Senior Financial Advisor Norman Forrester is passionate about educating clients on the subtle nuances of financial literacy in order to help them make sound fiscal decisions and achieve stability. Financial health has been examined often in the month of April, Financial Literacy Month, and this has resonated with Forrester because he sees areas in which all households can enhance overall financial literacy . Below, Forrester provides five tips that can steer people towards financial freedom, regardless of their current circumstances. His tips are as follows:

1. Avoid Debt: “There are things within our conduct that impede financial health and one of the main things is getting into debt,” Forrester said. He explained that it is important to cut costs, keep cars for longer periods and pay off debts to improve credit and have peace of mind. “If you can pay less for a car by keeping your older model longer and then buying a certified used car you end up saving more that you would if you buy a new car that will depreciate as soon as you leave the car lot.”

2. Live Within Your Means: “We have to be able to sacrifice our ego on a temporary basis for financial security,” he said. “This is at odds with what we see in society as a black person. The norm is to buy fancy cars and expensive items to feel special.” Forrester said it is important to budget wisely and invest extra money into assets that appreciate. “Wealthy people bring their lunches to work and then invest the savings into vacation properties where they can relax after working hard.”

3. Pay Yourself First by Saving: “People keep saying they want to save but then they spend all that they earn. One of the best ways to pay yourself first is to invest in your company’s 401(k) or 402 (b) plan because most companies match the amount you contribute so if you start at age 20 by the time you are 30 you could have $100,000 put away,” he said.

4. Expand Your Financial Literacy and Embrace Entrepreneurship: “Make learning about finances mandatory by getting information from a financial advisor or from your church or civic organizations,” he said. “Use a multi-faceted strategy to solve financial problems. If you have a lot of bills and you just came out of college look at the three job approach: Get a job to pay the bills, get another job to network for jobs in your field of study and use your spare time to work towards entrepreneurship.”

5. Invest: “Learn about investing. Everyone should have a financial advisor so that they can tell you about asset allocation and your risk tolerance level,” he advised.

Forrester said that by utilizing these strategies and engaging the services of a financial advisor most people will find it easier to enhance their financial literacy and stay ahead of the curve.-OnPointPress.net.

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New York’s week old paid sick leave law, good for business

Pio Cadaba

Pio Cadaba, a small business owner of a bar in Manhattan, sees the Sick Leave Act as beneficial to both employees and employers by ensuring the health of the workforce.

By: Onissa Sancho

The average full-time New York employee works between 35-40 hours a week within a 12-month period but until Mayor Bill de Blasio made paid sick leave mandatory, low income workers were not entitled to that basic work benefit.  The mayor, along with the Department of Consumer Affairs (DCA) First Deputy Commissioner Alba Pico, announced the Earn Sick Time Act on April 1, 2014. The new law requires New York City employers to grant its employees sick leave to take care of themselves or a family member.

“Today marks a new beginning for many working New Yorkers who used to fear that asking for a sick day to take care of themselves or their family members would result in the loss of their income or even their jobs,” said New York’s 109th mayor on April 1, the first day the law took effect.

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New York Mayor Bill de Blasio is flanked by supporters after he signs the first law of his tenure, the Paid Sick Leave Law, which went into effect on April 1 and is now one week old.

Under this law, an employer who has five or more employees working 80-plus hour shifts within the year must provide one hour, regular hourly rate, no less than $8, of paid sick leave for every 30 hours worked. The employee can accumulate up to 40 hours of paid sick leave during the year. The same dynamics apply to an employer with fewer than five employees, working 80-plus hour shifts a year, the only exception is its employees sick leave would be unpaid rather than paid. A domestic employee who works more than a year for the same employer must receive two days of paid sick leave. How can this law, which sounds ethical, affect the way businesses operate?

Pio Cadaba a small business owner of a bar located in Manhattan, doesn’t expect any side effects, instead, he sees the law as a net positive.

“This law will affect me very minimally, it doesn’t really hurt me. If it improves employee morale, I am all for It,” he said. “I think businesses should consider anything that can help its employees. You can have any business but the employees are the backbone.”

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Supporters cheered and New York Mayor Bill de Blasio smiled after signing the Paid Sick Leave Law.

With five employees, the bar is opened Mondays through Thursdays, 8:00 p.m-4:00 a.m. The flow of customers is just enough to allow Cadaba to schedule one employee to work weekdays. On the weekends, business picks up and two employees are scheduled to work. An assistant manager of a fashion retail giant in Queens, NY, who requested anonymity, had a different outlook from Cadaba.

“Such a law will benefit the employees, but the company will probably lose profit. I feel like the company is going to try its best to compensate the paid sick money in other ways, like charging more for merchandise, or cutting back employee working hours,” the manager said.

Mayor de Blasio and the DCA introduced the Earn Sick Time Act as much needed since a healthy employee is a happier employee and as Cadaba stated, a business cannot run without the labor of its employees. –OnPointPress.net.

Onissa Sancho is an intern at OnPointPress.net. Please follow her on Twitter @osjou222.

 

 

Chicago to host international financial summit

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(Washington D.C., October 30, 2013): The Urban Financial Services Coalition (UFSC) will hold its 40th Annual International Summit on June 5-7, 2014 at the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago. The summit will continue to give members and constituents an opportunity to convene and discuss the ongoing changes in the financial services industry that affect their personal and professional lives.

The summit will include information sessions such as “Career Planning in Financial Services,” “Financial Services Regulatory Updates,” “Information Technology in Financial Services,” “Small Business and Business Professionals,” a “CEO Symposium” led by leaders of major businesses, and the “Intercollegiate Oratorical and Youth Business Plan Competitions.” These summit components will be held at the head office of the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago. The summit will culminate with a Community Empowerment Day event that is free to the public.

UFSC, formerly the National Association of Urban Bankers, is a nonprofit organization of diverse professionals in the financial services industry and related fields. Affiliation with UFSC offers a unique opportunity to influence the shape of the banking and financial services industry. UFSC promotes the personal and professional growth of its members and collectively articulates concerns and marshals resources to improve the economic development of under-served communities.

UFSC supports programs that offer practical benefits for diverse financial services professionals, banks and financial institutions. UFSC’s underlying goals and objectives are to foster the interest and increase the number of minorities in the financial services industry; strengthen the financial fitness of low-income communities; and provide scholarship programs for minority youth pursuing financial services careers.

The summit will culminate with an awards reception at which outstanding members, chapters and community leaders will be recognized for their dedication to UFSC and its mission.

For more information, please email ufsc@ufscnet.org-OnPointPress.net

Insight, inspiration and fun abound at Circle of Sisters Expo

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Motivational Speaker Iyanla Vanzant elicited the strongest reaction at Circle of Sisters Expo.

By Carmen Glover

The line to enter New York’s Jacob Javits Convention Center for the WBLS-sponsored Circle of Sisters Expo on Saturday, October 19, wrapped into a giant circle as eager attendees peered around, impatient to enter the convention hall. But once the line began to move and people started entering the coveted area, the energy, excitement and anticipation were palpable. The event did not disappoint, from vendors promoting products to celebrities and WBLS personalities mingling with fans, Circle of Sisters was off to a promising start.

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Newark Mayor and Senator-elect Cory Booker discussed his plans.

WBLS News Director Ann Tripp gave insight into current news stories while she waited for the panelists to get settled. Then the parade to the podium began and included Norman Seabrook, president of the Corrections Officers’ Benevolent Association, Inc (COBA), Ken Thompson, Democratic nominee for Brooklyn’s District Attorney office, WBLS Vice President and General Manager Deon Livingston and Newark Mayor/Senator-elect Cory Booker. “

Journalist Ed Gordon interviews Activist Al Sharpton

Journalist Ed Gordon interviews Activist Al Sharpton

Booker was engaging as he shared lessons he learned from his father as well as his plans to “make change” when he goes to Washington as New Jersey’s Senator. “I’m looking forward to going to the Senate to talk about our issues that don’t usually get discussed there,’ he said passionately, while observing that “The power of the people is always greater than the people in power.” He left the stage to sustained applause. Afterward, Reverend Al Sharpton discussed his new book with award-winning journalist Ed Gordon while Gospel singer Yolanda Adams talked about healthy living.

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(l-R) Journalists T.J Holmes and Lenny Green share the stage with Singer Eric Benet to discuss relationships.

Among the topics tackled were “It’s your money: Learn how to spend and save it,” “Now It’s time to own your own home,” “The state of Black America,” “Black Men Revealed,” “Book signing and chat with Rev, Al. Sharpton and the Honorable David N. Dinkins. But the highlights of the day were delivered by Iyanla Vanzant, Steve Harvey, and the panelists for “The State of Black America,” and “Black Men Revealed.”

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Journalists Roland Martin and Keli Goff discuss the State of Black America with Dr Michael Eric Dyson.

The panel on “The State of Black America,” moderated by Gordon, featured Georgetown University Sociology Professor Michael Eric Dyson, TV One’s “Washington Watch” host Roland Martin, Journalist Keli Goff and Seabrook, who seemed out of touch when he bashed the relevance of social media. Dyson stressed the importance of leveraging political clout and community strength to “do for ourselves instead of asking folks to do for us.” Goff appealed to the attendees to support the movie “12 Years a Slave,” describing it as the “most accurate depiction of slavery” that she has ever seen because it “shows the psychological impact of slavery.”

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The audience cheers as Iyanla leaves the stage.

Actor Gbenga Akinnagbe, who has appeared in “The Wire” and “Taking of Pelham 123,” nearly incited a riot with his brazen thoughts about relationships while joining singer Eric Benet, journalist T. J. Holmes and radio personality Lenny Green on the “Black Men Revealed,’ panel, which was moderated in dramatic style by singer/reality star Tamar Braxton. “ A woman has to try to get my attention and she will know I’m interested if I speak to her for more than five minutes on the telephone,” Akinnagbe said boldly.

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Singer/Reality Star Tamar Braxton moderates relationship panel.

When a female from the crowd took him to task he asked her if she were single then said “I’m not surprised,” when she said yes. At that point, pandemonium erupted and women of all ages ran to the front of the room, dying to wring his neck. Braxton rolled her eyes, glared at him and made it clear she had no use for his thoughts. Holmes sat next to him to offer support, while Benet and Green kept silent. When the topic of cheating came up, Benet said he “knew something about that,” but largely kept quiet.

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WBLS VP/Gm Deon Livingston addresses the gathering.

The sponsors of the Circle of Sisters Expo addressed the audience. Norman Seabrook spoke to the crowd about the importance of COBA and the corrections department. Meanwhile, WBLS Vice President and General Manager Deon Livingston thanked the attendees for coming out in such large numbers to support the expo.

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WBLS personality Deja Vu talks to the audience.

But the excitement built to a crescendo as the crowd waited for Vanzant. She came out in style, dancing to Beyonce’s “Love on top,” while the crowd erupted in cheers. Vanzant had the audience eating out of her hands from her opening prayer, to her request that each person holds the hands of the one next to them, to her profound words of wisdom.  She urged the attendees to “Get it clean in 2014,” by cleaning up their minds, hearts, life, spirit, mouths, energy and credit. “Whatever you tell yourself about who and what you are it will happen,’ she said, warning about the power of thoughts to manifest into reality. “Clean up your minds by committing to forgiveness,” she said, “we have to stop expecting people to clean up our lives for us.” She left the stage to deafening applause and shouts.

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Comedian/Talk Show Host Steve Harvey performs a comedy routine before hosting a live edition of Family Feud.

By the time Harvey took the stage to treat the audience to a taste of his comedy routine in preparation for a live version of “Family Feud” the crowd was hyped and passionate. The Circle of Sisters was filled with fun, education and supportive interactions. Vendors, including the Network Journal magazine which had promotions maverick Julia Shaw at the helm of its booth, were creative in attracting patrons, while the panelists and presenters were entertaining. Surprise appearances were made by Cynthia Bailey and her husband, Peter of “The Real Housewives of Atlanta,” while Drea Kelly (ex-wife of singer R. Kelly) elicited gasps of admiration from men and women alike when she strutted by in a form-fitting dress that showcased her remarkable figure.

One area that could be improved is inadequate the number of ladies’ rooms, which created such long lines that some attendees, including this writer, commandeered one of the male bathrooms and posted other females at the door to keep the men out.—OnPointPress.net

 

WWE, perfecting the art of cross-branding

Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson graces the cover of the latest WWE 2K14 video game to be released  Oct. 29, 2013.

Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson graces the cover of the latest WWE 2K14 video game to be released Oct. 29, 2013.

By Charles Glover, Jr.

The WWE has become a leader in the concept of cross-branding, a tactic that has helped them become a billion dollar industry. The idea of promoting two or more brands at one time was not invented by the WWE but the company has perfected the approach.

Through different generations, the WWE has had superstars like Hulk Hogan (l) and John Cena (r) crossover to the big screen.

Through different generations, the WWE has had superstars like Hulk Hogan (l) and John Cena (r) crossover to the big screen.

 

In sports, cross-branding is second nature as commercials offer networks the opportunity to advertise other network shows during sporting events. The challenge for sports trying to increase viewership is to be interesting enough to attract brands that can help grow both industries.

 

Most sports market their biggest attractions in commercials and cameo appearances on television and in movies. Many sports also have their athletes featured in video games and fantasy sports leagues. The WWE became a promotion partner with other stars by inviting them to be guest hosts on WWE’s flagship show “Monday Night Raw”. Donald Trump, former NBA player Shaquille O’Neal, actor and “Wolverine” star Hugh Jackman, and former “Price Is Right” host Bob Barker led a long line of superstars from various areas to guest host in the WWE over the years.

Stone Cold Steve Austin has transitioned from being the face of the WWE to a star in movies and television.

Stone Cold Steve Austin has transitioned from being the face of the WWE to a star in movies and television.

The WWE has been exceptional at cross-branding because it has had a long list of superstars appear in movies that have earned hundreds of millions of dollars across the globe. Hulk Hogan, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, “Stone Cold” Steve Austin, and John Cena are among the long list of WWE superstars to headline major motion pictures. The WWE has taken the next step in cross-branding with the growth of the WWE movie production company. WWE Studios has collaborated with other major movie production companies to produce films in 2013 that featured stars like Colin Farrell, Terrence Howard, and Halle Berry.

Halle Berry stars in The Call, a WWE Studios movie released in theaters in March, 2013 and on DVD in July, 2013.

Halle Berry stars in The Call, a WWE Studios movie released in theaters in March, 2013 and on DVD in July, 2013.

The WWE model is not easy to replicate but there are a few methods that sports struggling to increase their popularity can learn from. The number one skill a major WWE superstar learns is how to sell themselves. That connection between the stars and the fans is necessary to grow interest in those stars outside of their perspective sports. The WWE shows that cross-branding their industry with other major genres like video games, television, and movies, ensures that their superstars attract more fans to the WWE brand.–OnPointPress.net–

Charles Glover Jr. is a sports aficionado and management training consultant.

New Martinique cluster program unveiled at Panama shipping conference

Martinique's port, a hub of activity in the Caribbean

Martinique’s port, a hub of activity in the Caribbean

Fort-De-France, Martinique (October 10, 2013) – “Clustergates,” a newly formed public-private initiative, targeted to the Caribbean, was showcased by Martinique at a major shipping conference held in Panama City, Panama October 7-9, 2013.. The Cluster GAT Caraïbes Logistique et Transports or GAT Caribbean, a group of transportation companies and public sector organizations based in Martinique, participated for the first time at the 43rd Annual General Meeting of the Caribbean Shipping Association’s (CSA) Conference and Exhibition event.

GAT Caribbean, whose mission focuses not just on Martinique, but also on the greater Caribbean and the Americas, is encouraging public and private sector members to join the cluster to create, design and share future solutions that benefit the sustainable development of the transport and logistics industry. This regional network hopes to boost growth by capitalizing on the increased passenger and freight traffic anticipated from the major expansion of the Panama Canal in 2015.

In conjunction with the modernized Port of Martinique, one of the biggest natural harbors in the region, and with the support of Martinique’s Regional Council, GAT Caribbean is preparing the French Overseas Department to become a major Caribbean hub and “Gateway to Europe in the Americas” in the new post-Panamax era. With support of the Regional Council, which has a keen interest in integrating Martinique with the wider Caribbean, GAT Caribbean is hoping to become a major player in global transport and logistics negotiations that directly affect the globalization of the regional economy.

One of the tools to be developed by GAT Caribbean is “Clustergates” a marketplace grouping of both freight and passengers that will match demand and supply and optimize the flux of increased traffic into the greater Caribbean and the Americas. The cluster’s regional network will further create a dynamic exchange between bigger clusters across the greater Caribbean, the Americas, France and Europe. More than 300 shipping executives from across the Americas participated in the CSA meeting in Panama City, leading to a successful event.

The Cluster Groupement Antillais de Transport Caraïbes Logistique & Transport or GAT Caribbean was created in December 2012 at the initiative of private sector companies of the transportation and logistics sector in Martinique, and then other private and public sector companies and organizations and the Regional Council of Martinique. GAT Caribbean member companies fully benefit from resources and innovative solutions that result from sector studies and research projects in connection with organizations involved in training and research on behalf of the cluster.

All cluster members are considered an essential link in the value chain, and therefore help design, model and disseminate solutions for transport and logistics, sustainable development, not only for Martinique but also to the benefit of the Caribbean region.Annual objectives include a freight exchange solution for the Caribbean (in the Americas and to Europe), the development of ICT solutions for transport and logistics, business tools to improve logistics performance, and the use of “inter modality” for both freight and passenger transport.

The Port of Martinique is one of the biggest natural harbors in the region, with a draft of up to 17 meters (56 feet) deep, which with its modern infrastructure has all the potential to become a leading regional hub and gateway to Europe in the Americas. Through support of the Regional Council and a major investment of 70 million €uros (approximately US$95 million), the Port of Martinique is presently being renovated and modernized to handle post-Panamax vessels of up to 13,000 TEUs.

For more information on the cluster, please visit .www.clustergatcaraibes.com.