Could Moving to Kansas Be the Answer to Student Debt Struggles?

Are you drowning in student loan debt? Moving to Kansas might be for you. According to CNBC, The Kansas Department of Commerce is offering different full-time positions that come with some pretty amazing perks. One of those perks being the repayment of student debt. This is all part of a program called Rural Opportunity Zones, or ROZ. According to Kevin Doel, director of communications at the Kansas Department of Commerce, the program has really helped bring new residents to the area. In order to qualify for the program, you have to have an established residency after July 2011 and started living there on or after your county chose to be a part of the program. You also have to have your associate’s, bachelors or post-graduate degree before moving to Kansas. Additionally, you’ll need to find someone to sponsor you. This sponsor will pay half of your debt, while the state will pay the other half. “The ROZ program has also helped over 2,000 Kansans return home and has attracted individuals with a wide range of talents and occupations,” Doel said. “It has been particularly effective in attracting educators and healthcare professionals. The ROZ applicants have stated the incentives were important in their decision to move to a ROZ county.” Along with the millions of students looking for ways to pay their debt off, the Federal Reserve says that consumer debt in the United States continues to rise. It reached nearly $3.4 trillion in May 2015. Those participating in the program are eligible for up to 20% of their outstanding loans, which is equivalent to $3,000 per year or $15,000 over the course of five years. The counties that participate in ROZ offer an income tax waiver for new residents who have only made less than $10,000 in Kansas income within five years of moving to the area. Counties in Kansas aren’t the only ones who have decided to create their own payback program. Additional areas offering loan repayment for new residents include Niagara Falls, New York, Harmony, Minnesota, Curtis, Nebraska, and New Haven,...

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Interim Report Finds Cause of Increasing Amount of Algae in Jordan Lake
Jan09

Interim Report Finds Cause of Increasing Amount of Algae in Jordan Lake

After a six-year study, an interim report found numerous pollution sources to the contamination of Jordan Lake. This lake serves as a drinking reservoir for over 300,000 people in North Carolina. The report on nutrient management in Jordan Lake found that among the contaminants are industrial chemicals and agricultural runoff. However, many of the contributors to the reservoir’s problems can be linked back to home septic systems. Even though one quarter of U.S homes utilize a septic system, the shift from a once-rural watershed to a more urban area has lead to increasing amounts of discharge from these systems that have been feeding the harmful algae in Jordan Lake over the past 20 years. The report was produced by UNC System scientists who were hired by the NC Collaboratory, a think tank housed at UNC Chapel Hill. After the Collaboratory received $500,000 annually over six years after a 2016 budget bill, they began to investigate pollution sources and to identify potential solutions to the contamination in the Falls Lake and Jordan Lake watersheds. Mike Piehler, a joint associate professor at UNC’s Institute of Marine Sciences, said the study encompasses “a pretty comprehensive picture of the natural and human system.” Heavy rainfall can wash contaminants like nitrogen, phosphorous, and debris into the lake in densely developed areas. Nutrients like nitrogen and phosphorous can increase the growth of algae in waterways. While some types of blue-green algae can be toxic to humans and animals, even more benign versions create problems for municipal water treatment plants. In order to remove the algae from drinking water, additional expensive treatment is required. The latest proposal to fix Jordan Lake is to spend $1.3 million to have a contractor chemically treat the water. Additionally, there were be up to 350 tons of chemically treated clay dumped into a 300-acre portion of the 14,000-acre lake. However, this plan was rejected by the Army Corps of Engineers due to the fact the chemicals could damage aquatic life and reduce the reservoir’s storage capacity. The cost to reduce the contaminants entering the lake would be massive. The report mentioned that local governments, homebuilders, and farmers in the watershed “are not comfortable with the fairness of the rules”. Because of the disagreement surrounding costs, payment, and treatment methods, appropriate water quality standards will most likely need to be revisited. “Jordan Lake provides benefits to people, but if the lake degrades, those benefits are lost,” explained Piehler. “We can’t stand on the scientific mountain and say ‘This is how it is.’ There is the question of how it gets paid...

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Major Changes Coming to Home Remodeling and E-Commerce Industries
Jan08

Major Changes Coming to Home Remodeling and E-Commerce Industries

There are some major changes coming to the online retail world as well as the home improvement industry in 2018. Home Depot recently announced that is has acquired The Company Store, an e-commerce retailer of home goods and textiles. Experts believe this is a sign the home improvement giant may be going after Amazon’s e-commerce turf. According to Retail Dive, Hanover Direct previously owned The Company Store, but plans to sell the online retailer to Home Depot were finalized on December 19. The Company Store was founded in 1911 in Wisconsin; there are also five physical locations that will not be part of Home Depot’s acquisition. “We are building the capability and investing to tailor our messages and scale,” said Kevin Hofmann, Home Depot’s president of e-commerce. “We’ve grown the online business by approximately $1 billion in each of the last four year… so these interconnected retail efforts continue to be a key growth engine for our overall business. And over the last few years, they’ve contributed approximately 20% of the company’s total growth.” The entire U.S. e-commerce industry is rapidly growing, with revenue sitting at approximately $423.2 billion. And Home Depot wants to improve its digital presence as well, especially as more homeowners are looking to purchase items for home remolding projects. A recent survey found that nearly two-thirds of U.S. consumers are planning on renovating their homes. Hofmann also states that Home Depot’s e-commerce sales as of late were at 6.4%, roughly double their closest competitor, Lowe’s. “The Company Store is highly recognized and a staple in many households who are buying direct and have been for over 100 years,” said Jim Fosina, CEO of Fosina Marketing Group. “Consumers want more one-stop shop options in the verticals like home improvement by renovation, repair or decor that are available at multiple touch points, both direct and retail. Good move by both companies who clearly see the opportunity for their brands to reach broader into gender, channel and complementary products offerings and maybe even services. The Company Store’s long time database of direct to consumer customers will prove to be a highly valuable asset to the Home Depot in reaching more customers.” Currently, 60% of Home Depot’s sales (in-store or online) are influenced by a digital visit. And the recent acquisition of The Company Store will only drive that number higher. Home Depot expects to surpass 1.8 billion digital visits in 2018, rivaling just about any competitor and its own transactions inside physical stores. “Customers are moving online to begin the shopping experience in this space, and we will invest to connect our services business to the digital world,”...

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Mistakes Homeowners Make that Ruin their Property

When you’re a homeowner, you have a lot of responsibility. You have to pay bills, make sure you have enough food in the fridge, and you need to make sure your home is in good condition. Many homeowners go into owning a home thinking they can handle the investment and hoping to turn their property into their dream house. However, some find that it’s a lot harder to do than they originally thought. In order to avoid making a mess of the situation, there are a few mistakes to avoid. According to the East Bay Times, one of the most common mistakes homeowners make is planting without thinking about the future. Sure, a tree might seem like a good idea to provide shade in front of your home, but what will happen if the tree you chose becomes too big? The roots can become large and expand beneath your home, ultimately ruining the foundation and harming your home. While planting large pieces may seem like a great addition to your homes aesthetic, the International Association of Home Inspectors urges caution. Another popular mistake that homeowners make is ignoring the exterior. It might seem hard for an owner to take a lap around their home at the end of the day after a rough few hours of work. However, that lap around the property can help identify any exterior problems. Peeling paint and clogged gutters might not seem like a big deal at first, but at the end of the day, clogged gutters can end up causing a homeowner thousands of dollars. Clearly, gutter cleaning is an important job that should be done twice a year to prevent things like foundation issues, leaks, and roof problems. While stacking firewood against the exterior of the home may seem like a common practice, doing this can actually be extremely harmful. It may be helpful to have this on hand to heat your home or cook, but by stacking the wood against the home, rodents and mice are being taunted with a place to rest their head. Avoiding these common, but harmful practices can help give the homeowner the promise of the dream home they’ve always...

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