Monthly Archives: August 2013

Youth Unemployment Report Points To Crisis With Contradictions

by Categorized: Economy, Jobs, Labor, Poverty, Public finance Date:

On the same day when fast food workers in Hartford and across the country, many of them young, are protesting for sharply higher wages, an advocacy group has released a report decrying the high unemployment rate among people aged 16 to 24.

The report from Connecticut Voices for Children, titled “The State of Working Connecticut 2013,” reminds us that the issue of wages and joblessness among the working poor is anything but simple.

The so-called youth unemployment rate in Connecticut stands at 17.1 percent, lower than the peak of 18.2 percent in 2011 but higher than the national rate of 16.2 percent, and more than double the rate for the state’s work force as a whole, which is 8.1 percent.

Click here for the report

Although data by age groups within races is not available for states, the unemployment rate among black and Hispanic youths is at crisis levels. Joblessness among all black and Hispanic people in the state is about double the rate of whites and the effect for youths multiplies.

In largely minority Bridgeport, for example, the unemployment rate among youths 16 to 19 who are actively looking for jobs is an astounding 50 percent according to the report from the liberal New Haven group, which cites data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics and the Census.

Even at 17 percent, it’s a dire picture — made complicated by the debate over pay for low-wage workers. If the minimum wage rises, doesn’t that mean the total number of jobs will fall, or at least not rise to meet demand for jobs?

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As Fall Season Starts, Global Spectrum’s Hartford Presence Comes Together

by Categorized: Economic Development, marketing, Media Date:

The Hartford presence of Global Spectrum is taking shape as the company that’s managing the XL Center, Rentschler Field and the business operations of the Hartford Wolf Pack prepares for its first big event Thursday and moves its national development office from Glastonbury to Trumbull Street downtown.

Global Spectrum, a Philadelphia firm affiliated with Comcast, was picked earlier this year by the Capital Region Development Authority over AEG, which was running the XL Center, and the Bushnell, which managed the Rent in East Hartford.  GS has a core staff of about 50, mostly from the two previous firms.

“We kept a large majority,” said Chris Lawrence, general manager of XL, the Rent and the non-hockey operations of the Wolf Pack, the American Hockey League affiliate of the New York Rangers. “There were some new people, some people left.”

And of course, there’s a new name for the XL Center’s main tenant, as the 2 1/2-year-old Connecticut Whale trademark was put back on ice, or rather, off ice in a controversial decision that Global Spectrum supported but did not make.  With Howard Baldwin no longer in the picture, the idea is, or should be, to build on the hockey tradition that Baldwin helped greatly, without aspiring to bring back an NHL team — a goal that diverts attention from what Hartford needs to accomplish now.

The football season starts Thursday at Rentschler as UConn kicks off against Towson. At that and other big events, GS can have as many as 200 people on hand including concessions, ticketing, security, set-up and management.

On Wednesday, Global Spectrum unveiled its new LED video display scoreboard system at Rentschler, which will bring live video and instant replay. The system, which cost state taxpayers $1.67 million, features a 73-by-28-foot main board and 2-foot-high “ribbon displays” for each side of the stadium.

“We are committed to providing the ultimate fan experience here at the stadium,” Lawrence said in a written release. “We expect the fan interaction and general in-game atmosphere to improve significantly.”

Separately, Frank Russo, the Global Spectrum senior vice president in charge of business development for the company, is moving his office to 150 Trumbull Street this weekend. There, he and Chris Silver, and more staff to be added, will run Global’s global efforts to add to its roster of more than 115 venues under management.

Russo, a Glastonbury resident, ran the old Hartford Civic Center from 1974 to 1983 and had several other local roles including acting president of the Greater Hartford Convention and Visitors Bureau.

“This is definitely a ‘homecoming,'” said Russo, who holds a masters degree in public administration from UConn, in a written release. “It feels so good to move back to where my roots in this industry first took hold.”

The whole point of CRDA bringing in a unified, well connected group was to spark more events and more attendance, and Lawrence is optimistic. Highlight of the fall concert season is a three-night stretch on Oct. 25-27 featuring Pearl Jam, Drake and Phish, with hockey games on the Wednesday nights before and after that run.

“It’s exciting, three high-profile events three nights in a row,” Lawrence said.

As part of the changeover, GS is moving the Connecticut venues to its own ticketing system, New Era, and phasing out Ticketmaster.

There was a tiny bit of confusion this summer as ticket-buyers were directed to go to Ticketmaster outlets such as the one at Westfarms mall, which did not sell XL Center events. Global Spectrum has no plans to open local New Era ticket locations, said Lawrence, whose assignment before Hartford was the Glens Falls Civic Center in upstate New York — but he said that should not be an issue.

“The amount of tickets that are purchased an an outlet these days is reducing almost daily,” he said, “so it’s not really a concern of ours.”

GS will set up kiosks in the atrium of the XL Center, marketing director Erin Bilton said.

Lawrence declined to give numbers for season ticket sales of the Wolf Pack but said that effort, like the overall startup of the firm at the two venues, is off to a good start.

“We feel very positive about the way things are going right now.”




Subway Hits 40,000th Location In A British Gas Station

by Categorized: Consumer, Retail Date:

Just a few years ago it seemed odd that Subway passed McDonald’s in U.S. locations, then the Milford-based franchiser passed the Golden Arches  worldwide more recently.

Now Subway has zoomed ahead, logging its  40,000th franchise in Ipswitch, England.

Subway in Ipswitch, England. Handout photo.

Subway in Ipswitch, England. Handout photo.

Subway has 26,000-plus locations in the United States, some of them in retail crevices such as the side wall of a Shell Station. In fact, Subway says, there are 9,000 “nontraditional” locations, with 4,500 in gas stations — including the one in England.

In Connecticut, Subway has 367 locations, which explains why they seem to be on top of one another.  that’s one for every 10,000 residents.

Mickey D’s stands at 34,000, about 80 percent franchised and the rest company-owned. No other fast food chain is even close.

Of course, McDonald’s sales are several times larger than Subway’s but Subway has the health claim as the first fast-food purveyor to meet a certification program of the American Heart Association. Just hold the mayo.


Connecticut’s Tally From Huge Mortgage Bank Settlement: $448 Million For 6,260 Homeowners

by Categorized: Banking, Housing, Real Estate, Wall Street Date:

A preliminary tally is in for Connecticut’s take in the $25 billion foreclosure settlement with the nation’s five largest mortgage loan servicers: $448 million in loan restructuring for 6,260 borrowers, Attorney General George Jepsen said Thursday.

That’s an average of $71,618 that the homeowners won’t have to pay those banks, and they saw their mortgage interest rates fall by an average of 2 1/4 percentage points. On top of it, the state received $27 million for foreclosure prevention programs and 5,000 Connecticut residents who had already lost their homes to foreclosure received $7 million.

The February, 2012 settlement with Bank of America, Citigroup, Ally Financial, J.P. Morgan Chase Bank and Wells Fargo followed an investigation into abusive practices.

“The settlement has been a tremendous success in Connecticut, helping many distressed borrowers to keep their homes,” Jepsen said in a written statement.

“It was the goal we envisioned during long months of negotiations,” said Jepsen, who helped in the talks between the lenders, the federal government and 49 states.

Loan modifications and workouts continue but appear to be winding down as the banks reach their settlement targets. Nationally, nearly 644,000 borrowers have received $51 billion in mortgage relief, with an average benefit of $79,742.



Ahmad Rashad Joins Hartford’s Back9Network

by Categorized: Media Date:

Ahmad Rashad, who joined the Golf Channel’s Morning Drive show earlier this year, is leaving to join Back9Network in Hartford, a perfect fit considering his personal style and love of the game, Back9 said.

Celebrity Pro-Am

At the 2012 Travelers Championship, Bill Murray, Ahmad Rashad, PGA pro J.B. Holmes and Scott Burrell yucked it up during the celebrity pro-am event.

The Emmy Award-winning Rashad had a star NFL career as a receiver and has worked for 25 years in sports broadcasting at several networks covering football, basketball and golf. He’ll be on the air and working as an executive producer at Back9.

The question is, when will the multi-platform, golf and lifestyle network emerge on a cable system?

Back9 renovated a floor of the “Boat Building” on Constitution Plaza in downtown Hartford and took space nearby on the plaza, formerly occupied by Spris restaurant, with plans to spend $8 million on a buildout. But that buildout hasn’t happened yet, as the fledgling network seeks a deal with a major cable carrier.

As Back9 remains mum on where it stands with cable carriers, Rashad’s signing seems likely to help that effort.

“Ahmad’s personal style, love of golf, and desire to grow the game aligns perfectly with the mission of Back9Network,” Back9 CEO James Bosworth said in a written release. “In addition, Ahmad brings a unique dimension to our network’s programming with his vision and relationships within both the golf lifestyle space and professional sports.”

Rashad, 63, hosts the annual Ahmad Rashad Celebrity Classic at Mohegan Sun, a charity golf tournament that was held July 28-30 at the resort’s course. And Back9 already has star power, with a roster of investors and advisers that includes Clint Eastwood, Geno Auriemma and Ray Allen., a blog owned by USA Today, recently reported that Rashad’s role on Morning Drive was being changed following what sources called “friction” with co-host Kelly Tilghman. A Golf Channel spokesperson could not be reached for comment late Tuesday.

Back9 did not say the length of Rashad’s deal or the financial terms.

Rashad, in the Back9 release, thanked the Golf Channel, which is affiliated with NBC Sports as part of Comcast’s programming group.

“Back9Network is a special opportunity that I simply could not pass up,” he said.  “I’m excited for the many possibilities that lie ahead.”


Jobless Man At Heartless Tab

by Categorized: Media Date:

Remember the great New York Post headline, “HEADLESS BODY IN TOPLESS BAR”?

Vincent Musetto, the man who wrote it in 1983, has been axed by the Post from his gig as a freelance film critic — where he was paid $100 per review.

It’s a bad sign for the news business and should be a black eye for the Post, which hired Musetto in 1973. He spent his career there in various jobs, retiring as a staff reviewer in 2011.

I reached Musetto in his West Village apartment and he said he received an email late Wednesday from the chief critic, who informed him of budget cutbacks. News biz blogger Jim Romanesko posted the email.

On Thursday, Musetto got a call from Margi Conklin, a top Post editor, who apologized for the way the firing was done — but didn’t reverse it.

Musetto, 72, was doing two reviews a month in the retirement job.  “So Rupert Murdoch is saving $200,” he said of the News Corp. chairman.

“I just enjoy doing it,” Musetto said.

As for the famous headline, Musetto didn’t think he had a classic when he wrote it and he still doesn’t see it as a deserving icon. “It was just another headline. There have been a lot of good headlines written at the Post,” he said.

He’s proudest of this one, also from the ’80s: “Granny Executed In Her Pink Pajamas.”

As a critic, Musetto might get the last laugh. On Thursday, he sent an email to the New York Daily News, offering his services. The News ought to hire him — and let him write his own headlines.


UTC’s Chênevert Among Richest CEOs? Really?

by Categorized: Aerospace, Management, Wall Street, Wealth Date:

Louis Chênevert became CEO of United Technologies Corp. in 2008 and has made something in the ballpark of $20 million to $28 million a year since then.

UTC Celebrates Education Assistance Program Milestone

Chênevert at a 2012 event. He’s the big guy in the middle.
Michael McAndrews/The Hartford Courant

That puts him in the 1 percent of the 1 percent, for sure, but could it tie him for 4th place on the list of richest CEOs of Dow Jones companies?  Wealth-X, a research firm on ultra-rich people, says Chenevert’s net worth is $430 million, tied with John T. Chambers of Cisco Systems.

Click here to see the list.

Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer is No. 1 at $17 billion, wealth from his role as co-founder, not as CEO.  Hewlett-Packard’s Meg Whitman comes in at $1.2 billion.  Stephen Hemsley of UnitedHealth Group, who famously netted $102 million in the recession year of 2009, is No. 3 at $480 million.

How does Chênevert reach toward half a billion dollars after just five years in the big money? Wealth-X says it uses public and private sources, so we don’t know for sure, but it seems unlikely. Chênevert holds unvested stock and unexercised stock options worth about $145 million, according to federal filings. He also holds $49 million in UTC shares.

That gets him about halfway there, and his retirement package has to be worth a few tens of millions more.

By contrast, Jay S. Fishman, the Travelers CEO, holds a similar amount of shares, unvested stock and unexercised options, and he’s been CEO since 2004, making similarly crazy annual amounts. He’s also on the Wealth-X list, but only at No. 10 with a net worth of $220 million.

Both CEOs have boosted their own wealth dramatically by pushing share prices higher over the last five years: 16 percent a year for Fishman at Travelers, 12 percent a year for Chênevert at UTC.

Bottom line: Wealth-X might have overestimated Chênevert’s net worth and underestimated Fishman’s.  Neither one is close to making the Forbes 400 list of richest Americans,  which bottoms out at $1.1 billion. And other than as a scorecard, it doesn’t really matter. These guys are thinking legacy, not war chest.