Here is a brief look at some of the recent news stories that featured Neeley students, staff and faculty. For a complete look at Neeley in the News, check out In the News Archives.

Washington Post
May 5, 2013
GWU students help small groups raise money - by Vanessa Small

While most students at George Washington University are studying for finals, Dylan Fox is tracking revenue and client activity on his laptop in his downtown office. Fox’s grades may be “going like this,” he says, his hand motioning like a diving plane, but the graduating senior and economics major has received nods of approval from business executives.

WP imgThe student entrepreneur started Crowdvance, an online charitable donation platform that has run fundraising campaigns for some 200 community groups since its creation last September.

Crowdvance recently won first place in a business plan competition for college students from around the world, held at Texas Christian University. He took home the $15,000 prize for the company’s focus on values and social impact.

Now Crowdvance is competing in the hot market of online giving. Sites such as DonorsChoose, GlobalGiving, Razoo, Causes, Network for Good and JustGive have spurred the rise in online charitable giving. Some worry the growing space could produce donor fatigue, but Fox and his business partner, Zachary Herman, a sophomore, said they believe Crowdvance can avoid that fate by using incentives to attract givers.

Crowdvance is something like a cross between LivingSocial and online fundraiser Razoo, only it targets its support to very small community groups, such as a Little League team struggling to pay for its uniforms or a high school debate team that needs money to enter a national competition.

When making a donation on Crowdvance, donors get a menu of exclusive deals — $25 off a concert ticket or 7 percent off a textbook rental for example. Then Crowdvance collects a service fee of 6.5 percent from the organization’s fundraising total. So far, incentive partners include Razorgator, ShoeBuy.com, Delivery.com and Ice.com.

…In between their busy schedules, Fox and Herman meet with other students to encourage them to start social ventures.

“I don’t want to be a big-time executive, I want to change the world,” Fox said. “I think you can only be successful if you’re not only creating a profit but a value.”

CNU
May 7, 2013
CNU Business Majors Win Over $12,000 in Business Competitions

Three Christopher Newport University students in the Luter School of Business recently won recognition in international and state business plan competitions for the development of SoundSense, a product that combines mobile communications and networked sensors to serve the deaf and hard of hearing. The system can alert users to oven timers, doorbells, baby monitors, phone calls and fire alarms using flashing lights, bed-shaking or smart-watch systems.

CNU teamAt the Values and Ventures Business Plan Competition at Texas Christian University in April, Andrew McGregor (’13), Ethan Emanuele (’13) and junior Edward Pekalski (left to right, above), placed second among 28 teams from around the world and won $10,000 in prize money. The team presented again at the statewide Governor's Business Plan Challenge in Richmond on May 2, where they were selected as the first runner-up. The prize included $2,500 and services from professional business consultants.

The students have formed a company, Prium Strategies, and will continue to develop their business.


Star Telegram
May 12, 2013
Could Texas soon have the golden touch? - By Anna M. Tinsley

Call it the Texas gold rush. State Rep. Giovanni Capriglione is racing against the clock to find a way to move forward his proposal to create a Texas Bullion Depository — and bring back to Texas the state’s gold that is currently stored in a New York vault. With two weeks left in the legislative session, Capriglione, R-Southlake, is hoping he can attach his proposal to another bill on its way to the Texas Senate, trying to hit pay dirt in the upper chamber.

“We’re running out of time,” Capriglione said. “We have billions of dollars of our own gold. There would be no place in the world safer to store precious metals than in the state of Texas’ depository.”

The goal of the measure is to create a Texas Bullion Depository, a secure facility to store around $1 billion of gold bars owned by the University of Texas Investment Management Co. that are housed in New York. The depository could also hold other deposits of gold or precious metals from financial institutions, cities, school districts, businesses, individuals and countries. The idea has drawn support from officials ranging from former U.S. Rep. Ron Paul of Texas, who has voiced concern about the safety of gold supplies, to Gov. Rick Perry, who has said Texas is in the process of “bringing gold that belongs to the state of Texas back into the state.”

“If we own it,” Perry has said, “I will suggest to you that that’s not someone else’s determination whether we can take possession of it back or not.”

Political observers say the motivation behind Capriglione’s proposal is clear.

“There is a strong feeling that Texas assets ought to be in Texas and I appreciate that from the perspective of sound money policy,” said Jim Riddlesperger, a political science professor at TCU. “But Texas assets have been safe and there’s no reason to think they would not be secure going into the future.”

Capriglione filed his bill earlier in the session after hearing Perry speak about the state’s gold investments during a local Tea Party event.

“Given the cost that the state is already spending to store the gold, this is a great way to save money,” he said. “Also, it creates an economic development opportunity. We have gotten hundreds of emails from people all over the country saying they’d rather put their gold in a vault in the state of Texas than anywhere else because it’s a safe haven in a safe state,” he said. “It makes a lot of sense.”

But some question why there are concerns about the state’s gold — which has been safe in New York for so long — that now prompt a need for it to be moved.

“It seems kind of far-fetched,” said Pete Locke, a finance professor at TCU. “I don’t see why Texas would be safer than any other place. It seems kind of unnecessary to me.”

Star Telegram
May 14, 2013
Penney says it’s changing Bangladesh contracting practices; Dickies says that information is proprietary - By Barry Shlachter

The scorecard is mixed on how U.S. brands are dealing with the garment factory disasters that have claimed thousands of lives in Bangladesh since 2005, including more than 1,000 in a recent building collapse.

In North Texas, JC Penney and Williamson-Dickie, owner of the Dickies brand, are examples of the very different tacks being taken.

Penney confirmed last week that it is tightening its contracting guidelines in Bangladesh following the tragic building collapse. However, Dickies has remained publicly silent on what it is or isn’t doing.

The Plano-based department store chain has begun implementing a policy that would prohibit contractors from operating out of multiuse buildings, as was the case with Rana Plaza, which collapsed in April, killing more than 1,000 workers. Joe Fresh and Mango garments, brands sold at Penney, were found in the rubble. Penney goods were made in a building that burned down in 2010.

“Standards of this policy are being finalized now and we plan to fully implement [the policy] across the company's entire supplier base,” spokeswoman Daphne Avila said. “The company has already begun phasing out the use of factories in multiuse buildings in Bangladesh and is expected to be completed later this month.”

Penney is also changing its scorecard for rating workplaces. It will now give more weight to structural and electrical inspections on the social compliance checklist to determine a particular factory’s level of risk, Avila said.

Fort Worth-based Dickies, citing a longtime practice of not disclosing what it considers proprietary information as a privately held company, declined to say if it has changed any of its practices in Bangladesh. Spokeswoman Misty Otto confirmed that it had clothing made at Tazreen Fashions, but that its contract had ended before a November fire there that claimed 112 lives.

In a statement, the company said, “It is standard operating procedure at Williamson-Dickie to ensure the global vendors and suppliers we work with provide a safe work environment in accordance with all applicable laws and fair labor practices.” It would not elaborate.

Bangladeshi worker advocates discovered pairs of Dickies jeans in the burnt-out Tazreen factory but it was unclear if they were from an old production run or if Tazreen was working on an order that another plant had farmed out — a common practice in the country and a dilemma for well-meaning, but unwitting, foreign companies.

Robert Rasberry, who teaches ethics at Southern Methodist University’s Cox School of Business, is willing to give Dickies the benefit of the doubt.

“I imagine they are doing a lot of investigating behind the scenes to see if they had a supplier within the fire zones in Bangladesh,” Rasberry said.

What is clear is that some American consumers are becoming increasingly aware that there might be blood on their bargain-priced jeans and blouses. There are growing demands for a clearer picture of how clothing is sourced since 97.7 percent of garments are now made overseas, according to the American Apparel & Footwear Association, where Dickies CEO, Philip Williamson, is chairman.

“As many of the U.S.-based businesses have relied heavily on the outsourcing of garment manufacturing to Bangladesh, it is increasingly important that these businesses be transparent in regards to their use of certain suppliers and their efforts at ensuring the safety of the facilities,” said Suzanne Carter, a professor at Texas Christian University’s Neeley School of Business where she teaches strategic management.

Neither Dickies nor Penney has offered compensation to families of those killed in plants where they had clothing sewn. And they are not alone. Not a single U.S. firm has stepped forward to help out their survivors, said Liana Foxvog of the Washington-based watchdog group, the International Labor Rights Forum.