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Bristol Borough : Innovation + Job News

6 Bristol Borough Articles | Page:

State dollars double Career Wardrobe's budget, making way for a five-county expansion

Thanks to a huge new contract, April 2016 is the biggest month yet for the Philadelphia-based Career Wardrobe, which celebrated its 20th anniversary last year.

But back in 2011, things weren’t so rosy for the nonprofit, which connects jobseekers with professional clothing, career counseling and resume help. Career Wardrobe Executive Director Sheri Cole spent a month in Harrisburg after former Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett’s administration cut funding for PA WORKWEAR, a Department of Health and Human Services program that helps provide career clothing to those living in poverty. Thanks to data showing the program's success in reducing reliance on public assistance, funding for PA WORKWEAR was reinstated that same year.

Fast forward to 2016 and a major new contract from PA WORKWEAR will double the nonprofit’s budget; the money has already enabled them to hire five new employees. Career Wardrobe is also expanding from Philadelphia County into Montgomery, Chester, Delaware, Bucks and Berks Counties. As of April 1, Career Wardrobe is operating out of its Spring Garden location in Philadelphia, as well as new boutiques in Chester City and Bristol, while overseeing similar programs in other counties.

Starting with their new fiscal year on July 1, Career Wardrobe’s budget will jump from about $700,000 to $1.5 million. In the coming year, Career Wardrobe will be able to serve up to 7,000 people, 80 percent of whom will be referred through PA WORKWEAR.

The results are real, says Cole of the outcomes Career Wardrobe measures through surveys, conducted at six months and a year after the initial appointment at their boutiques.

"Of those individuals, over half are successfully at work, and only 30 percent of them are still receiving cash assistance," explains Cole. "If you’re a government official looking for programs that move people out of poverty, that’s a great program to be interested in. If we can capture you and help you bounce back into employment before you hit cash assistance, that’s great."

Currently, the PA WORKWEAR dollars -- which Career Wardrobe will administer with the help of partnering county organizations -- will benefit referrals who are on cash assistance. Fortunately, since half of its budget still comes from non-government sources such as corporate, foundation, and individual donations, Career Wardrobe can continue its Philadelphia-based programs, which are open to a wide range of people facing hardship because of unemployment, with a sliding scale of fees ranging from $5 to $20.

People currently ineligible for help through PA WORKWEAR programs in nearby counties can still be referred for sessions within Philadelphia, and Cole hopes that with time, this flexibility will expand to other counties. And while the vast majority of Career Wardrobe clients are women, the new dollars are aiding expansions in programs for men, too.

"We really believe that the cost of a suit should not be a barrier to you being able to go out and market yourself and conduct a proper job search," insists Cole.

To support Career Wardrobe, learn more about donating clothing or volunteering.

Writer: Alaina Mabaso
Source: Sheri Cole, Career Wardrobe


Two newcomers among six startups to rake in more than $1M in Ben Franklin Technology funds

Two suburban companies, AssetVUE  in Bucks County and MobileReactor LLC in Chester County, were each approved for $200,000 investments in the latest round of funding announced in a news release on Monday from Ben Franklin Technology Partners of Southeastern Pennsylvania.

AssetVUE, based in Bristol and led by President Sean Cotter, provides hardware, strategies, support, assembly and upgrades for data centers. The other new investment was for MobileReactor, based in Devon and doing business as OneTwoSee, which develops products and services that allow TV viewers to use mobile devices to play along with their favorite shows and other viewers in entertaining ways that are also meaningful for advertisers.

Also funded were:

Essential Medical, Wayne: $250,000 to aid in developing innovative products for use in cardiac catheterizations in leg arteries.

Novetas Solutions, Philadelphia: $200,000 toward processing and marketing of recycled glass that is crushed through a patent-pending grinding process and used in industrial processes. Previous Ben Franklin investments total $300,000.

Real Time Tomography, Villanova: $150,000 to continue its development of state-of-the-art image processing and image reconstruction for next-generation 2D and 3D medical imaging systems. Previous Ben Franklin investments total $425,000.

, Philadelphia
: $25,000 for the e-commerce company providing online ticket-selling services for event organizers also provides barcode scanning, instant credit card swiping and design and tracking services. Previous Ben Franklin investments total $500,000.

Source: Jaron Rhodes, Ben Franklin Technology Partners of Southeastern Pennsylvania
Writer: Joe Petrucci

NJ farm-to-table distributor Zone 7 doubles sales, hiring

There's a whole lot of hiring going on in Zone 7. Lest you think you've slipped into a science fiction world, Fresh From Zone 7 is the name of a fast growing company that's, well, all about growing. Founded in 2008 by Mikey Azzara, the Cranbury, N.J.-based farm-to-table distributor serving Pennsylvania and New Jersey has doubled in sales every year.

Right now, there are five job openings for energetic people who are committed to providing local food to local eaters: sales, warehouse crew, warehouse crew leader, drivers (multiple) and a sales team intern. While the positions are primarily part time, the right candidate could combine several to create a full time gig. Currently there are 9 people on staff, and the new hires would represent about a fifty percent increase. The company began with just two employees in 2008.

Azzara reports that each week of the 2011 season, Zone 7 has been adding deliveries at an almost explosive rate and at this point is maxed out in terms of staffing.

"On Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, all three of our trucks are out," says Azzara of the fleet that picks up from all over New Jersey and Pennsylvania, delivering to over 80 establishments, including The Farm and Fisherman, Southwark, Garces Trading Company, Weaver's Way, Greensgrow and the Fair Food Farmstand in Philadelphia. The New Jersey territory stretches from Atlantic City to West New York, NJ.

The 40 farms that supply Zone 7 include Blooming Glen, Jah's Creation Organic, Griggstown Farm Market, and Branch Creek, where the original seed for Zone 7 was planted.

Azzara had been working for the Northeast Organic Farming Association of New Jersey for five years when he sat down at the table of Mark and Judy Dornstreich, pioneers of the local food movement and founders of Branch Creek Farm, which has been growing and delivering organic produce to Philadelphia restaurants since the 1970s. "They supplied me with the truck, the name and the idea," says Azzara.

Zone 7, named for the USDA Hardiness Zone in which we live, is a 52-week-a-year operation, says Azzara, and its busiest months, surprisingly, are November and December. "Our time to catch our breath is January, February and March." Starting in April, asparagus and swiss chard are the first crops to harvest.

Source: Mikey Azzara, Zone 7
Writer: Sue Spolan

Green data center at former Bucks County steel mill could create up to 1,100 jobs

On the banks of the Delaware River, a green data center is set to rise from the remains of an old steel mill. David Crocker, CEO of Steel Orca LLC, says that while demand for data centers is growing at about 18 percent per year, supply is growing at only 5 percent every year. With many older data centers becoming obsolete in the face of new technology and increased power requirements, Steel Orca's goal is to build the greenest data center in the world, powered entirely by renewable energy sources. "Three to five percent of all energy generated in the United States goes into data centers. You can appreciate that data centers have a responsibility to be as efficient as possible," says Crocker.

As power density increases, so do cooling requirements. Steel Orca's planned center near Fairless Hills in Bucks County will require 100 megawatts of power, with an ultimate goal of 300,000 square feet of 'white space,' the term coined to describe the area where the servers are located, with a total footprint of 730,000 square feet.

The data center is in now the planning stage. HP has signed on to lead the design and construction team, with help from GE, Gilbane Construction and Villanova University Professor Alphonso Ortega. Ideas in the works include a triple failsafe power system, river water as a cooling mechanism, solar panels and and wind turbine generation.

Crocker terms the future center "a source of technological renaissance in the Delaware Valley," eventually creating 1,100 jobs in Bucks County. Steel Orca has completed a first round of funding with more than 50 investors, and Crocker projects that the first phase of the center, with at least 50,000 square feet of white space, will go online in the second quarter of 2012.

Source: David Crocker, Steel Orca
Writer: Sue Spolan

Sustainability-minded singles get their own dating site courtesty of Doylestown healthy living pub

When Cindy Gruenwald started Doylestown's Creating Community magazine 17 years ago, the term "going green" hadn't yet  taken over the American lexicon and Al Gore was famous for simply being the Vice President. Creating Community was launched with a very specific community in mind; those interested in healthy living, sustainability and personal fitness. All these years later, the community is stronger than ever, leading Gruenwald to take her green guidance to the next level. Her new dating website, ANaturalAffinity.com, matches singles with similar interests in leading a healthier, more active and more environmentally friendly lifestyle.

"All of my single friends, no matter how crunchy granola they may be, were doing online dating because they found it hard to meet other single people" says Gruenwald. "And then, in doing online dating, they go on Match.com and there aren't enough like-minded people. Or they go on GreenSingles.com but there are not many people in their area. People who are interested in this range of things, it is generally not a casual interest like loving German Shepherds. These are really cornerstones of someone's lifestyle."

For fans of a more active lifestyle, there are groups and events calendars so dates are built right into the social fabric. The site even offers a list of conversational topics and access to message boards so you can chat before you date. Gruenwald announced the site this week with the hopes of going live January 1. In the meantime, Creating Community is looking to hire two staffers to help manage the site going forward, so that all the features work as they should.

"People want to connect with other people in their area," says Gruenwald. "The range of topics is the thing, really, the range of interests we have put together really drives people."

Source: Cindy Gruenwald, ANaturalAffinity.com
Writer: John Steele

Interactive mapping platform launched to connect Philadelphians to their local communities

It's one of life's great mysteries: you can travel to a thousand cities and eat at a hundred fancy restaurants and drink a dozen craft beers at each of the bars along the way. But a meal never tastes as good as one at your favorite neighborhood haunt. And according to Philadelphia's sustainability leaders, this phenomenon is not just good for your appetite, it can be good for your neighborhood and your city as well.

Based on a concept created by the William Penn Foundation, partners from the Sustainable Business Network, Azavea and NPower created Common Space, a new mapping platform that creates a network of neighborhood establishments within a certain walkable, bikeable or busable distance to help residents support local business.

"The really cool thing is, I can map my friend's common space as well as my own," says SBN Executive Director Leanne Krueger-Braneky. "So if I am leaving from my office in Center City and meeting my husband who is coming from our house in West Philadelphia, he could say he is going to bike for 15 minutes and I could say I was going to walk for 20 minutes and Common Space will map the area where we would be able to meet up and map local culture events and businesses in that field."

Partnering with tastemakers like UWISHUNU and Yelp, Common Space shows you the best spots in your transit area, allowing you the most sustainable way possible to hit your next favorite haunt. After their trial run, organizers hope to partner with citywide festivals and cultural events like LiveArts and Philly Beer Week.

"Sustainability was one of the values William Penn outlined, which is why they wanted to partner with us," Krueger-Braneky says. "Because the application does encourage walking, biking, and public transit, it's a way of showing what's going on in the city while encouraging alternative transit."

Source: Leanne Krueger-Braneky, SBN
Writer: John Steele

6 Bristol Borough Articles | Page:
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