CEO of Etsy Steps Down

The online commerce company Etsy announced on Tuesday that its current chief executive would be replaced. The handmade and eclectic goods website reported lower first quarter profits than expected and it’s facing pressure from investors.

Once the leader in handmade items, Etsy must now compete with Amazon.com Inc.’s newly release marketplace. Despite a recent lower rating from Pacific Crest, Amazon’s success as a leader in e-commerce is not easily fought against. Etsy claims to combat Amazon’s mega-success with a wider range of products.

Josh Silverman, a former executive of eBay Inc. and current Etsy board member, will take over as chief executive this week. He is replacing Chad Dickerson whose loyal service to the company includes leading Etsy through its initial public offering.

While Dickerson could be called the impetus for Etsy’s growth into a well-known, even “trendy”, entity, redirection is perhaps in order. The valiant efforts of the company to remain ethically responsible often cut into profits.

The influence of a former eBay executive may be exactly what the company needs at this time in its development. Silverman’s strategies will be important to follow in the coming months.

A Hunt for New Prospects                                                        

Fred Wilson will replace Dickerson in his role of board chairman. Wilson has served as a board member since June of 2007 and a lead independent director since October of 2014.

In addition to leadership changes, Etsy stated the intention to cut about 8 percent of its workforce by eliminating 80 jobs. The change is an effort to save money after recent attempts to rebrand.

The past quarter saw unusually high costs as a percentage of revenue partially because of this change in marketing. Furthermore, employee expenses for the site experienced a jump for unreleased reasons.

Silverman plans to continue a strong marketing campaign without drastically raising expenses. With the site’s drop in popularity, a face-lift appears to be necessary.

Recent Failure

Analysts were disappointed with Etsy’s stock this quarter as 1 cent per share earnings were predicted. Instead, the company lost $421,000 over the course of the first quarter. This includes $2.1 million lost from interest expenses and other charges which went towards the company’s new headquarters.

This is a let-down after Etsy’s earnings of $1.2 million the previous year. Furthermore, the company’s predicted revenue of $98.4 million was not met. They instead reported a revenue of $96.9 million.

Etsy hoped to attract higher numbers of buyers to their site in the first quarter, especially with new branding methods. However, it reported slower growth in item value, gross merchandise sales, and a key metric.

The company declines to provide the usual financial forecast for this week because of the change in management. Analysis by the company of earlier months reveals decreases in consumer spending as a major cause of the slow-down.

An Impetus for Change

Black-and-white capital LP, an Etsy shareholder, reacted harshly to the company’s recent downturn. It requested early Tuesday that Etsy separates the roles of CEO and chairman and attempt further changes.

Black-and-white owns 2 percent Etsy and is, therefore, concerned about the company in the face of growing competition. It also critiqued the website’s search functionality. Plans to change this are currently in the works.

For now, the management change leaves some investors uneasy. In after-hours trading on Tuesday, Etsy’s stock decreased 17 percent. The future is uncertain for the e-commerce site.

Greece Agrees to Changes in Return for Bailouts

In an effort to finally pull Greece out of its financial slump, a deal made Tuesday requires the country to make domestic economic changes in return for much-needed bailout payments. Greece’s international creditors agree to financially help Greece on the condition that they raise taxes and lower social spending and pensions.

The over €7 billion of payments attempt to decrease Greece’s current debt of approximately €300 billion. Further discussions will be held on the extent to which other countries can continue to help Greece. This deal, which took months to solidify, is only the beginning.

The International Monetary Fund is adamant about increasing efforts to aid Greece. However, several European Union member countries have strong doubts. Economic power Germany is especially averse to further Greek bailout plans.

Three of Europe’s greatest economic powers, Germany, France, and Britain, may see their upcoming elections affected by the decision. Efforts by European officials to direct popularity away from far-right parties could be thwarted by the economic change.

Terms for Bailouts                                                                                         

The agreement requires Greece to cut pension payouts, raise taxes, and change its energy and labor markets. These terms emerged after a 12-hour discussion in Athens according to the Greek finance minister, Euclid Tsakalotos. The results are still subject to approval by the Greek Parliament and the eurozone finance ministers.

Athens stated that they will lower the income threshold for tax payments in order to increase tax receipts. Furthermore, through continued pension and benefit cuts, Greece hopes to raise gross domestic product by 2 percent.

Another major change is in the ability of businesses to fire employees. Companies will face less restrictions on the removal of inefficient workers as an effort to increase the competition of the labor market.

The European commissioner of economic affairs, Pierre Moscovici, expressed positive feelings towards the finished deal. Although debate came to multiple near stand stills over Greece’s potential for efficient improvement, most leaders feel positive towards the finished product.

A History of Debt

One of the oldest human civilizations, Greece’s past is peppered with financial ups and downs. The country’s current debt arose after the global economic crisis in 2007 and 2008. Since that time, the country stayed afloat through multiple bailouts.

With a nearly 25 percent unemployment rate and a shrinking economy change cannot come soon enough. Since the financial crisis, the economy decreased by a fifth and many fear that this will continue.

The current debt is shockingly almost 180 percent of the gross domestic product. Athens has already enacted measures to reduce this percentage however, the new deal will hopefully be the tipping point for change.

The repeated need to assist Greece financially caused contention among the economically stronger European states and the International Monetary Fund. Economic inequality within the EU has encouraged widespread dissatisfaction.

A Potential for Change

Under the current Prime Minister, Alexis Tsipras, the changes will likely pass through parliament. However, his control is shaky as popularity polls reveal a decrease in support. Furthermore, Tsipras’ leftist government retains only a three-seat majority in the chamber of 300 seats.

The legislation is required to be drafted and passed through parliament before May 22 when the eurozone finance ministers will meet. The ministers, called the Eurogroup, are almost certain to approve debt bailouts to Athens in July as long as all of the requirements are met.

Discussions will also be held over how to target Greece’s budget surplus and how to further attack their debt. Plans will hopefully be drafted to further alleviate Greece’s financial burden.

Although the past decade was financially difficult for the country, the future has a potential to be bright. The strengthening of Greece will strengthen the Euro as a whole and hopefully resolve issues of inequality.

Pacific Crest Lowers Amazon Rating

Pacific Crest lowered the stock rating of Amazon from overweight to weight after this week of trading. They believe the well-performing internet company has reached a peak and they are expecting a slow in gains.

In the past 12 months, Amazon’s stock raised 53 percent with 22.5 percent in 2017. The S&P 500 only had a 7 percent return. Amazon was more successful than expected in the first quarter and Friday premarket trading saw shares up by 4 percent.

Signs Against Amazon

However, Pacific Crest says that competitors are growing as well. Walmart and Microsoft will increasingly cut into Amazon’s business in the future, according to the firm. For example, Microsoft’s cloud business experienced a growth of 93 percent in March but Amazon’s cloud services went down from 47 percent in the fourth quarter to 43 percent last quarter.

There are other signs as well. The first party (1P) sector of the company in which Amazon sells items to customers directly experienced growth rates similar to and lower than in preceding quarters. The first quarter growth rate of 16 percent matched that of the previous fourth quarter. Furthermore, the rate is down from 2016’s first quarter rate of 21 percent.

Edward Yruma, an analyst for Pacific Crest explained the downgrade to clients in a note on Thursday. He stated that Amazon was near to its projected price target of $961. He later retracted the target without stating another.

Not Without Value

Regardless of Pacific Crest’s change, Amazon is still considered a valuable buy by many analysts. Although Raymond James decreased its rating of the company this week, no analysts assigned it a sell rating. Out of 40 analysts, 33 rate the stock as overweight or buy. The other seven gave it a hold rating.

This is the first time in more than a year that the successful company has been downgraded by an important sell-side firm. In fact, most companies with Amazon’s historic success rarely experience such decreases in ratings.

This doesn’t mean that the decrease should be ignored. The prediction of greater competition will likely be fulfilled. Walmart’s continued pursuit of growth in e-commerce poses an increasing threat.

Can Trump Change First Quarter Economic Slump?

Among hopes that the Trump administration would improve economic activity, the U.S. economy in the first quarter grew more slowly than it has in three years. It is too soon to tell how effective Trump’s promise to improve economics, however, recent levels of activity do not paint a positive picture.

In the worst performance since 2014’s first quarter GDP raised only 0.7 percent. The Commerce Department stated Friday that this is due to a decrease in spending on defense.

This comes as a major change after the fourth quarter’s 2.1 percent growth pace. Many economists altered their first-quarter growth estimates on Thursday when the March goods trade deficit and inventory data was released.

Businesses invested less this quarter and consumer spending saw very little increase. Investment in inventory strengthened in the two-quarters previous but has now fallen from $49.6 billion in October through December to $10.3 billion. Likewise, the addition of 1.0 percent from inventory accumulation to national GDP growth has dropped to a 0.93 percent deduction.

Consumer spending experienced a hit from several factors. Heating and utilities were in lower demand because of mild temperatures this winter and the late issue of income tax refunds discouraged many consumers from pulling out their wallets for big spending. Likewise, higher inflation contributed to the decrease.

Consumer spending only grew 0.3 percent, hitting the economy hard as it contributes to over two-thirds of economic activity. After the fourth quarter’s rate of 3.5 percent this slow pace which hasn’t been reached since the fourth quarter of 2009 is a disappointment.

View of the Future

Nevertheless, spending is likely to increase in the future as savings have risen from $778.9 billion to $814.2 billion. Consumer confidence is at an unusually high and the labor market is experiencing greater levels of employment. Also, private domestic demand is 2.2 percent higher than at the beginning of last quarter.

Federal Reserve officials meet next week and are predicted to not raise interest rates. This is because they likely view the consumer spending and GDP decreases as temporary.

Growth rates in the first quarter are only a small portion of the information needed to judge the strength of the economy. The first quarter is often reported as less positive because of data calculation problems which the government hopes to solve. Furthermore, the Trump administration plans to take actions to improve the situation.

Efforts including less economic regulation, tax cuts, and infrastructure spending will soon go into effect. Also, a new tax plan to cut corporate income taxes from 35 percent to 15 percent was proposed Wednesday.

These actions may improve the situation but many economists agree that raising the annual GDP to 4 percent, Trump’s stated goal, will not be easy. A large increase in productivity is necessary.

National, state and local governments decreased investment rates. On a national level, the change in investment is as dramatic as the decrease in the fourth quarter of 2014.

Government spending on defense went down at a 4.0 pace while overall spending decreased at a rate of 1.7 percent.

Economic Hope

In some ways, things are looking up for the U.S. economy. Oil prices improved after a period of decline causing oil well drilling to rise. Along with the rise of gas, this led to a 9.1 percent growth rate for business spending on equipment.

Additionally, investment in home building went up by a 13.7 percent rate. Nonresidential structure spending changed from a 1.9 percent rate to a 22.1 percent rate after this quarter.

These increases in investment were likely caused by the 449 percent rate of growth of mining. This is after only a 23.7 percent raise in the fourth quarter.

Lastly, the 4.1 percent rate of increase in imports fell below the increase of exports at 5.8 percent. The small trade deficit had little to no effect on GDP growth.

Delta Removes Passenger for Restroom Use

Another airline scandal has erupted after a YouTube video of a man being kicked off of a Delta Airlines Flight for using the restroom went viral. On April 18th Kima Hamilton of Milwaukee boarded a plane home and soon realized that he needed to use the bathroom.

The Unlikely Disturbance

Hamilton was initially told that he must remain in his seat. However, the flight was delayed and after 30 minutes Hamilton found himself unable to wait any longer. He rushed to the restroom while plane remained motionless on the tarmac.

Once he returned to his seat a Delta employee approached him. The employee ordered Hamilton to leave the plane. Hamilton and the crew member argued causing the crew to force all other passengers to temporarily exit the plane.

Passenger Removed from Flight

As is shown in the video, Hamilton calmly argued with the Delta employee. He explains that he will not leave the plane without being told what the situation is. Despite Hamilton’s seemingly reasonable behavior he is still ordered to leave.

Eventually, upon exiting with the employee, Hamilton was met outside by a group of FBI agents. Although the agents came to the scene to take Hamilton into custody they decided against taking action.

A Third Person’s View

The video of the argument was recorded by Krista Rosalino. She described the incident in an article posted online. Rosalino sat near Hamilton on the plane with her young child. She mentions that he was friendly and kind as they waited for the plane to begin moving.

Rosalino said in her blog post that Delta Airway’s treatment of a paying customer was shocking and disappointing. She described the incident as humiliating for Hamilton and uncomfortable for the other passengers.

The spokesperson of Delta Airways answered inquiries regarding the incident explaining that Hamilton was only require to leave because he did not cooperate with the employee. Furthermore, Delta stressed the importance of customer compliance with company rules.

Hamilton, desperate to return home to Milwaukee, had limited options. He purchased a ticket home for three times the cost of his original ticket. Unsurprisingly, this time he bought from a different airline.

Hamilton made it known that he is looking into legal options. However, he does not at this time have an attorney. He is concerned that his treatment was partly due to his race as an African American.

Will Congress Overhaul Financial Regulations?

This week has pitted Democrats and Republicans in the U.S. House and Senate against each other over a Republican bill to dismantle the Dodd-Frank Act. The legislation is a major part of enacting Republicans’ plans to overhaul the financial rules put in place during the recent economic crisis.

Jeb Hensarling, the House Financial Services Committee Chairman, drafted the bill to lessen the regulations on banks and money lenders. These efforts include a decrease in the exams which decide whether or not a bank can pay a shareholder’s dividends as well as an elimination of the Volcker Rule. The latter would repeal the rule that lenders must only use client’s money to make speculative bets.

Democrats, on the other hand, are attempting to use discussion surrounding Hensarling’s bill to bring up controversial issues. They are hoping to work towards breaking up the megabanks of Wall Street, to GOP lawmakers’ dismay.

Glass-Steagall

Democrats’ efforts include an attempt to reinstitute the Glass-Steagall Act which was instituted during the Great Depression and repealed in 1999. The law separated consumer lending and investment banking and many partially blame the 2008 recession on the repeal of the law. Some Democrats including Massachusetts Representative Mike Capuano consider proposing a Glass-Steagall amendment to Hensarling’s bill.

A bill to implement dramatic change in the way that banks currently run their businesses is unlikely to pass in Congress’ extremely polarized state. However, the discussions raised hold risk for the legislatures who receive support from the finance industry. Any support for the legislature which could weaken large lenders could harshly affect certain politicians’ careers.

However, a Glass-Steagall reinstatement was approved for the Republican platform during their July national convention. The act was not a focus point until these recent discussions brought it to light.

Comments by members of the Trump administration have only fueled the push to bring back Glass-Steagall. Gary Cohn, the White House economic advisor, recently stated that he would be in favor of a renewal of the act in some way.

According to anonymous sources, Cohn stated his support in a private meeting made up of senators. Cohn said that his opinion that investment and commercial banking should be separated is not new. He explained that cultural differences between the two sections of the finance industry make separation logical.

Banks Raise Concerns

The spread of the comments led to a flood of calls to the White House and congressional offices. Bankers and their lobbyists were desperately trying to get more details on Cohn’s stance.

Financial firms including JP Morgan Chase & Co., Bank of America Corp., and Citigroup Inc. hope to avoid being drawn into the debate but are concerned by its possible effects. Their fear is partially an effect of the lack of clarity over what a separation between investment and commercial banking means.

The Trump administration’s mixed signals on economic matters are partially to blame for the current disagreement in Congress. Trump himself has stated that financial regulations are harming economic growth and should be cut back on. However, his anti-Wall Street Populist statements while running for office contributed to his election success.

Trump and his administration have adopted the term “21st century Glass-Steagall” which was first coined by the liberal Senator Elizabeth Warren. Steven Mnuchin, Treasury Secretary, states that this term could apply to a policy less focused on breaking up banks and more focused on walling them off.

Keefe, Bruyette, and Woods financial policy analyst Brian Gardner say that the real trouble for banks is what Glass-Steagall may later lead to. An overhaul of financial rules by the Senate is what banks fear.

A hearing on Hensarling’s bill, now called the Financial Choice Act, was held Wednesday by the House Financial Services Committee. However, is time to propose amendments as the panel vote is planned for next week.

Flying Taxis and the Future of Uber

The future for Uber is all about looking up as the company announced its plan Tuesday at its Elevate Summit in Dallas, Texas to introduce series of aerial taxis to be tested for use. The project will be a collaboration with Aurora Flight Sciences to create the initial vehicles by 2020.

The two companies are planning to build on the idea to create the “Uber Elevate Network” which is their larger plan of extending Uber’s services to air travel. The use of a flying taxi service is a major step into the future of urban living.

Air taxis aim to cut down on automobile traffic while shortening transportation time. The service would represent a move towards greater human efficiency and has been likened to the invention of skyscrapers. This technology is a new example of humans saving space by moving off of the ground and into the sky.

Although casually called “flying taxis” the vehicles are properly referred to as electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) aircraft, terms which describe their helicopter-like movement. This technology is being adapted to be as noiseless as possible and to have zero-emissions. They will also come with systems to avoid in-air collisions to enhance safety.

The eVTOL designs are based on the prototypes for the XV-24A X-plane project. Aurora has already been researching and developing this project in cooperation with the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD).

Uber’s announcement of its plans is perhaps an attempt to escape the controversies which have recently surrounded the company. It has not been long since Uber faced claims of iPhone users being tracked by the app even after its removal from their phones.

Trump’s immigration ban led to trouble for the company as well when Uber continued offering rides to JFK airport in the days following the ban. The New York Taxi Workers Alliance had declared a ban on transportation to and from the airport out of solidarity for the people who were held there by Trump’s order. Uber’s continuation of service infuriated many and the #DeleteUber movement gained momentum.

Furthermore, Travis Kalanick, Uber’s CEO, raised eyebrows for screaming at his driver and later admitting that he needed help with his management of the company. Kalanick and the company both received criticism after the incident.

However, the company is looking forward. Uber and Aurora plan to test vehicles in Dallas, Texas and Dubai, United Arab Emirates. They have already successfully flown one vehicle and hope to continue to make improvements.

The project is hoped to take a different turn than Uber’s recent attempts at the creation of self-driving cars. They have been forced to cease testing for the time being in response to both a crash during a test in Arizona as well as a lawsuit with Waymo over intellectual property rights.

If everything goes as planned the Uber Elevate Network will have approximately 50 vehicles ready for testing by 2020. The taxis will be available upon demand and charge a similar amount of fair to current Uber rides.

The coming years will be an exciting experiment not only for the company but for the effects of eVOLT use on transportation. The old idea of a future with flying cars may not be as far from 2017 as anyone thought.

McDonald’s Masters Change with Big Mac

Several changes in the classic McDonald’s menu benefited the company’s business by a surprising amount. Earnings this past quarter were higher than predicted with a global rise in same-store sales of 1.3 percent and an increase of growth of 4 percent.

The menu changes and promotions made by CEO Steve Easterbrook put McDonald’s ahead of competitors including IHOP and Sonic Corp. The fast food industry as a whole experienced a recent decrease in sales which McDonald’s is now overcoming.

U.S. markets have become increasingly difficult to succeed in for both McDonald’s and competitors as traffic diminished in the first quarter. Fast-food industry same-store sales fell by 0.6 percent in March continuing a 4-month trend of decrease.

In a successful attempt to regain ground Easterbrook implemented several menu changes. Drink promotions of $1 and $2 deals paired with new sizes for the famous Big Mac, the even bigger Grand Mac and the smaller Mac Jr., drew in customers without making dramatic changes which risk attracting controversy.

Menu changes are historically risky, especially with well-known and popular products. The 2015 recipe change of Diet Pepsi and the famously abysmal failure of Coca-Cola’s “New Coke” in 1985 are prime examples.

However, Easterbrook’s changes have been met with success as U.S. same-store sales rose by a surprising 1.7 percent last quarter. The period saw earnings of $1.47 per share beating the prediction by analysts of $1.34 per share.

The increase is partially due to a rise in prices of about 2 percent this year. Other factors, including the long-lasting effects of the all-day breakfast policy implemented in 2015, contributed to recent success.

The McDonald’s Corp.’s stock experienced a 10 percent gain over the past year as of Monday. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index conversely, climbed by only 6 percent.

The stock also experienced the biggest intraday increase since October 2015 to $141.99. This is a raise of 5.8 percent.

Changes in offerings overseas were also successful. Efforts to improve customer service in Canada and new menu items in the U.K. contributed to an increase in international sales. McDonald’s leading international markets rose by 2.8 percent.

Additionally, an increase in store openings in China contributed to sales. Efforts are being made to compete with KFC and Pizza Hut stores owned there by Yum China Holdings Inc.

About two-thirds of total revenue for the company are brought in by overseas markets so success in these areas is of key importance. The high-growth division reported a rise of 3.8 percent in same-store sales surpassing the predicted 2.7 percent.

The chain’s total revenue last quarter was $5.68 billion which is higher than the average projected revenue by $150 million. Easterbrook plans to keep revenue rising through exploring digital options and delivery services.

Featured Image via Wikimedia Commons

Qatar Airways San Francisco Plan Raises U.S. Questions

Qatar Airways announced Monday that it plans to add San Francisco as its twelfth U.S. destination. Additionally, another 11 tentative destinations were announced to be added in the future. The San Francisco service was said to begin sometime in 2018 although specific details were not revealed.

The lack of details leaves many doubtful that the plan will be put into effect around the predicted time. The company’s CEO Akbar Al Baker is known for making ambiguous plans which are then pushed back.

In 2016 Baker announced the inclusion of Las Vegas as the 11th U.S. destination. Since then the starting date for flights has been moved from 2017 to January 8th of 2018. The company finally opened Las Vegas flights for sale on its website on Monday.

Qatar Airway’s non-stop flight from Doha to Auckland, New Zealand began with a similar story. The flight, currently the longest commercial passenger flight in the world, was first revealed at high-profile travel expo as the first of many new flight destinations. It was originally declared to launch December 3rd, 2016 but was delayed until February 5th, 2017.

The San Francisco flights would be an opportunity for the airline to tap into one more of the major U.S. markets. Qatar Airways already provides flights to Atlanta, Los Angeles, Chicago O’Hare, Philadelphia, Dallas/Fort Worth, Houston Bush Intercontinental, Miami, New York JFK, Boston, and Washington Dulles.

Controversy has arisen surrounding the announcement as the three largest U.S. airlines, United, American, and Delta, have long-held the belief that the federal restrictions on flight capacity to the U.S. should be placed on Emirates, Qatar Airways, and Etihad, considered the three major airlines of the Persian Gulf.

The three U.S. airlines have come together to create a lobbying group in an attempt to end what they consider the unfair subsidies which the Gulf carriers have benefited from. Meanwhile, several smaller U.S. airlines including Hawaiian and JetBlue and cargo carriers FedEx and Atlas Air have shown support for the Gulf carriers in the form of their own lobbying group.

However, not every Gulf carrier wants to expand flight services to more of the U.S. Emirates recently declared a plan to cut back on U.S. flights by about 20% in the coming months. This is in reaction to a decreased demand for U.S. travel after the attempts of the Trump administration to restrict travel from several historically Muslim countries as well as increased electronics bans.

Regardless, Baker seems intent on seeing the San Francisco plan to fruition. How soon it will go into effect, however, is uncertain.

Featured Image via Wikimedia

Detroit Receives Largest Investment by an Auto Supplier in 20 Years

Monday marked the groundbreaking of Flex-N-Gate Corp’s $95 million manufacturing facility in Detroit, Michigan. The facility will bring approximately 400 to 700 jobs to the city by mid-2018 and is widely considered the largest investment in Detroit by an auto supplier in 20 years.

The Illinois-based company, which produces headlamps, bumpers, and other front-end parts for vehicles, is expanding in response to a long-term contract with Ford Motor Co. Flex-N-Gate has not yet revealed for which Ford vehicle it will be producing parts.

Although Flex-N-Gate’s owner Shahid Khan has not shared whether city residents will be assured a percentage of the manufacturing jobs, specific plans have been made to focus on providing jobs to Detroit residents.

Khan has promised that Detroit construction companies will receive thirty percent of the contracts for the site and city residents will make up 51 percent of the workers required for construction. Focus: HOPE and Detroit at Work, two organizations which focus on job education and training, are partnering with the city to prime residents to be hired by Flex-N-Gate.

The plant is located near Coleman A. Young International Airport on 30 acres of land in Detroit’s I-95 Industrial Park. The 350,000 square foot facility is currently being excavated.

According to community leader Marvis Cofield, the company and the city have collaborated with residents of the area around the plant to insure minimal disturbance to the neighborhood. They have developed a site plan which will, among other things, deflect semi-truck traffic away from the nearby houses.

Flex-N-Gate was awarded a grant of $3.5 million dollars from the Michigan Strategic Fund for the plant. Additionally, the city is providing a property tax abatement of $5.9 million and a federal grant of $2.6 million to be used to improve the roads bordering the southern side of the facility.

The project is predicted to be a driving force for employment in the area and to provide opportunities for many of Detroit’s residents.

Britain Spends a Day without Coal for the First Time in 135 Years

A major turning point for energy resources occurred Friday when Britain’s National Grid announced 24 hours had passed without the use of coal energy. This is the first time in the 135 years since the world’s first coal-power plant, Thomas Edison’s Holborn Viaduct station, was built in London that the island has spent a full day coal-free.

Britain historically has much to owe to the resource, however, efforts to curb pollution are now gaining importance. Natural gas and renewable energy are becoming less expensive and countries across the world are implementing environmentally friendly policies. Both Britain and the U.S., formerly major coal users, have dramatically decreased coal consumption in recent years. In 2016 coal energy production in the United States fell by 18%. Britain was not far behind with a 14% decrease from 2015 to the end of 2016.

Efforts are being made to continue these decreases. This includes the British governments’ plans to shut down all coal plants by 2025. While a more easily attainable goal during the spring when sunlight and mild temperatures abound, powering Britain without coal is difficult during the months of more extreme temperatures.

In the past, plants which can easily be turned on in high demand called “peakers” have been used during the more severe months. Peakers often rely on coal meaning that without coal plants, the British power grid must change. Techniques like large-scale battery storage will have to be implemented to keep up the power supply during times of high demand.

In the world’s move toward sustainable energy use, this may only be a beginning step. However, if Britain can uphold its plans to eliminate the use of coal-powered energy a major impact will have been made. As other powerful countries follow suit, the world will experience a massive improvement in sustainability.

Featured Image via Wikimedia

Small Logging Town in Oregon for Sale

What is small town charm worth? In western Oregon, it is about $3.5 million, or the asking price for most of Tiller, a former logging town in the Umpqua National Forest. The price for this quaint settlement includes more than 256 acres of land in 29 parcels with a range of zonings, as well as water and timber rights, six houses, the general store and gas station, and the land under the post office. Buyers can purchase the closed six-room elementary school separately for $350,000.

The purchase of an entire town may seem to take a zeal for country living to the extreme but the untapped potential of Tiller is immensely appealing to many investors. Interest has buzzed around the previously little-known area. Several anonymous potential buyers have come forward looking to work with the 235 residents surrounding the town to build a permaculture community. The Tiller elementary school is rumored to become a campus of some kind. However, the future of Tiller is uncertain as backup offers are still being accepted.

Tiller’s history reveals a former prosperity which can be regained with the appropriate management. The beginning of the 20th century brought loggers, miners, ranchers, and farmers to the new town. In 1902 the post office was opened and within the next half century the general store, elementary school, and three timber mills grew and thrived.

Modern environmental regulations on the Umpqua forest slowed the logging industry dramatically and in the 1980’s one after another, the mills closed. As the community shrank, one resident saw the opportunity to begin buying land. After his death three years ago his family inherited a majority of the town including the school and market and realized the asset which they had been left.

Although the population has decreased the residents of the surrounding area treasure Tiller. It provides a common area to come together whether for community meetings or the use of the grocery store and post office. Many of these people have spent their entire lives in the area and hope that future generations can enjoy the town as well. Whatever the future may hold for Tiller, these residents will remain loyal to the community.

Featured Image via Flickr/Diana Parkhouse