“Home ownership is a part of the American dream that is increasingly unattainable, but thanks to your work, the lives of two families are changing today,” said Terre Haute City Council President Curtis DeBaun IV at Habitat for Humanity’s twin housewarming ceremonies in North Terre Haute on Wednesday.
Those families were Bailey Rogers and her daughters Kendall, 5, Zy’Lynn, 3 and Ralieigh, 1, and Michelle Dowell and her children, Lucy and Lincoln Childress, 10 and 7, respectively.
They were given the keys to side-by-side homes on Third Avenue with spacious living room and kitchen areas, three bedrooms and one and a half baths and new appliances including a washer and dryer.
“I’m actually truly grateful,” Rogers said. “I never thought I would make this happen as a single mom, and I did.”
Dowell echoed Rogers’ sentiments.
“It’s amazing — I’m just so grateful,” she said. “It’s something I thought I’d never have the opportunity to do. Habitat for Humanity is so amazing.”
Habitat board member Valerie Craig said that housewarmings are “always this emotional. It makes me feel like we’re doing something worthwhile for this community, and especially on the north side of Terre Haute — we’re rebuilding neighborhoods by doing this.”
She lauded all of the volunteers who provided materials and help to construct the houses.
“All these people are pushing up their sleeves and saying, ‘Hey, we’ll help get somebody in something they don’t have to worry about slipping out from beneath them,’” Craig said. “This is a wonderful thing that we do. I’m am so glad to be a part of this.”
At the ceremony preceding the housewarming parties presided over by Wabash Valley Habitat for Humanity’s board president Chuck Norman, both families were given Christmas gift baskets from Century 21.
The Vigo County Public Library provided bags of books for each woman’s children. Habitat board members and those who assisted in constructing the homes were also in attendance, and Norman thanked them all profusely.
Norman called the cherry cabinets in the homes “the best cabinets in Terre Haute.” They were built by inmates at the United States Penitentiary in Terre Haute, who cannot sell them but donates them to Habitat, along with coffee tables with concrete countertops.
Todd Hart, vocational instructor at the federal prison, said Habitat provides the prison with the materials and the inmates build the finished products.
“It gives them a sense of accomplishment,” he said of the inmates building the cabinets. “They know it’s being donated.”
Phil Kesner, the Terre Haute Department of Redevelopment’s grants and planning administrator, said his department donated the land to Habitat and used Department of Housing and Urban Development money to shave $40,000 off the cost of building each home.
Norman’s daughter Donna, who’s on Habitat’s advisory board and serves as the organization’s attorney, said she enjoys watching her father immerse himself in nonprofit work.
“It’s such an opportunity for him to be part of the community in a way that’s meaningful to him,” she said. “It allows him to give back. He knows half of the people in this town and he knows how much need there is in this town and it just means the world to pay that forward.”
Donna said Habitat has put six families in homes in the past 12 months, alleviating Terre Haute’s housing crisis one house — or in this case, two houses — at a time.
“That’s how you do it,” she said.
After the housewarming ceremony, Rogers’ daughters gleefully tumbled around in their new front yard.
About the author: Alexander Torrens is the head of Walter Scott North America, a global equity portfolio manager and an investment firm of BNY Mellon Investment Management.
With the clock ticking down on 2023, U.S. equities look set to further extend the decade-long period of dominance they have enjoyed over their international peers. Mix in considerable geopolitical uncertainty in various parts of the globe and U.S. investors could be forgiven for leaving their passports at home and sticking exclusively with their home market. I think this could be a missed opportunity.
The case for investing globally is often framed in terms of “why now?” Proponents point to shifting macro conditions or other cyclical reasons to look beyond U.S. shores at a given point in time. Today, the argument might focus on the likely persistence of many of the drivers of U.S. outperformance over the past decade, whether valuation expansion, the epic run of the “magnificent seven” group of tech stocks, or the strength of the dollar. Advocates of mean reversion, meanwhile, tell us that the stark outperformance of U.S. equities is unlikely to last.
But while these are all legitimate, interesting, and important questions to ask, relative calls between markets are notoriously difficult to get right on a consistent basis, let alone time well consistently too. In our view, investors should consider exposure to both the U.S. and international equity markets at all times for two separate, but closely connected, reasons.
The first of these, diversification, is well-understood. Or at least it should be. In the 70 years since Harry Markowitz introduced the world to modern portfolio theory, diversification has with good reason become a bedrock of investor thinking. Done correctly, diversification can potentially allow investors to increase the expected return of a portfolio for the same level of risk.
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Of course, when Markowitz labelled diversification “the only free lunch in finance,” he was speaking to the risk/return benefits that accrue from buying uncorrelated assets. Today, the correlation between the U.S. and other developed equity markets is relatively high, so the benefits of diversification are certainly not what they were prior to our globalized era. Only when investors venture into emerging and more esoteric geographies do we see a more material benefit emerge. That said, there is a residual diversification benefit to investing globally that allocators should want to harness: The serving might not be as big, but you’re still getting your sides for free.
The second and most compelling argument for investing globally is the freedom to pursue the very best investment opportunities regardless of where they happen to be listed. Put bluntly, why would you not want access to the broadest possible opportunity set? To be solely exposed to the U.S. is to leave some outstanding opportunities on the table. No country has a monopoly on corporate excellence.
Many of the most interesting companies identified by our fundamental company analysis don’t have U.S. peers, or if they do, they are a rather pale imitation. Just as there are no international equivalents of the Silicon Valley behemoths, there are no U.S. analogues of the storied French and Italian luxury houses. Asian savings and protection? Industrial automation? Fashion and beauty? All long-term opportunities with market-leading exponents domiciled outside the U.S.
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Nor are these businesses narrow plays on domestic economies. Overwhelmingly, they are global multinationals deriving a significant proportion of their sales and earnings from countries other than where they are listed. You’re unlikely to be investing in a Japanese automation business for exposure to the Japanese economy or a Danish pharmaceutical firm solely for the domestic healthcare opportunities.
It goes without saying that this bottom-up approach to global equity investing demands rigorous analysis of all stock-specific opportunities and risks. This includes paying due consideration to the impact of geopolitics, an issue very much front of mind for U.S. skeptics of global investing.
At a portfolio level, rather than look at events such as Ukraine or the Middle East through the prism of geography or sector, we think it more relevant to consider risk exposure by the potential for value impairment across stocks, and then aggregate this up. To think of China-Taiwan risk, for example, only as an Asian phenomenon is to overlook the severe ramifications for those U.S. tech companies entirely dependent on Taiwanese chip manufacturers. Better to understand how risk is expressed across real-world businesses, then stocks, then the portfolio. Globalization may be in retreat, but the world is still incredibly interconnected.
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The myriad links and chains in the global economy are an inconvenient truth for those who question the wisdom of straying from U.S. shores in an uncertain and volatile world. Ultimately, no amount of U.S. exposure can offer immunity from geopolitical risk. What it can guarantee you, however, is a sizable chunk of country-specific risk, whether you’re 100% invested, overweight or even just at “market” weight. Risk, just like opportunity, can be found anywhere.
Guest commentaries like this one are written by authors outside the Barron’s and MarketWatch newsroom. They reflect the perspective and opinions of the authors. Submit commentary proposals and other feedback to firstname.lastname@example.org.
The St. Helena City Council has designated the former City Hall sites on Main Street and Railroad Avenue as surplus land, starting a process that could end with the sale of both properties.
Past councils have talked about pursuing a hotel at the Main Street site and affordable housing at the Railroad Avenue location. The current council didn’t identify potential uses on Tuesday. Instead its members focused on the state’s Surplus Land Act, which gives affordable housing developers first crack at both sites.
Before moving ahead with a sale, the Surplus Land Act requires the city to send a Notice of Availability to qualified affordable housing developers, which would have 60 days to indicate interest. Then the city and the developers would have 90 days to negotiate a deal. (The city couldn’t be forced to sell the land for less than fair market value.)
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If no agreement is reached, the state’s Department of Housing and Community Development could authorize the city to sell the land.
That whole process could last until next July, or sooner if no affordable housing developers show interest.
Selling one or both properties could raise much-needed money for a city that faces an operational gap of about $6.9 million per year and a long list of unfunded capital projects.
The former City Hall/police station at 1480 Main St. was abandoned at the end of 2019 due to smoke damage. The property was appraised at $4.9 million.
The second surplus parcel is at 1572/1574 Railroad Ave. 1572 was used as a temporary City Hall until city employees moved to the Napa Valley College Upper Valley Campus. 1574 is occupied by the Parks & Recreation Department, which could move to the Carnegie Building or Crane Park to free up the space.
The Railroad Avenue property was appraised at $3.1 million, and rezoning it would drive up its value.
Mayor Paul Dohring said he’s “committed to getting some housing on one of our properties.”
“I don’t want this to be focused totally on revenue,” he said. “We have to make a compromise there.”
The Surplus Land Act process could give the city a better idea of what’s possible on both sites. For example, developers could get creative by proposing commercial development on one site to finance affordable housing on the other.
Aside from the Surplus Land Act, there are other options to consider before the city sells the land.
The firehouse sits on the Main Street property, but City Manager Anil Comelo proposed a lot split that would allow for the sale of the City Hall/police station site without affecting the firehouse.
The city could also partially vacate the area of Pine Street known as Britton Way to enhance the property’s functionality.
As early as Dec. 12, the council could consider demolishing the old City Hall/police station and soliciting proposals for short-term use of the property.
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You can reach Jesse Duarte at (707) 967-6803 or email@example.com.
Home sales in six Forsyth County residential markets included in U.S. Treasury-certified “opportunity zones” continue to produce mixed results, according to a third-quarter report released by Attom Data Solutions.
Opportunity zones, launched in May 2018, are economically-distressed census tracts qualified to receive private investments.
The program was created by Congress and is designed to connect those tracts with investors, offering tax credits and other incentives.
All but one of the 11 Forsyth tracts are in the central part of Winston-Salem. They account for more than 25,000 residents. They are among 47 in the Triad and 252 statewide.
The Forsyth tracts reviewed by Attom for the third quarter are:
Tract 1 in the central business district. The average sales price was $413,750, compared with $268,000 in the second quarter and $190,000 a year ago.
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Tract 3.02 in the Kimberly Park neighborhood. The average sales price was $71,000, compared with $81,000 in the second quarter and $75,000 a year ago.
Tract 14, which contains Whitaker Park, a 1.7-million-square-foot former R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. plant. The average home sale price was $107,500, compared with $150,000 in the second quarter and a year ago.
The campus is part of a high-profile renovation project being undertaken by Whitaker Park Development Authority Inc. and Cavalier Winston Development, an affiliate of Frye Properties of Norfolk, Va.
Tract 16.02, Smith Reynolds Airport and neighborhoods south of the airport. The average home sale price was $62,500, compared with $50,000 in the second quarter. There was no sales during the third quarter of 2022.
Tract 17, which contains Lakeside Villas multifamily housing development. The average home sale price when the opportunity zone program began was $143,000. It has since fluctuated from a low of $55,000 in the third quarter of 2020 to $214,000 in the third quarter of 2022. It was $167,000 in the second quarter and $210,000 a year ago.
Tract 33.13, which contains Horneytown Road. The average home sale price was $235,000, compared with $277,500 in the second quarter and $296,500 a year ago.
Not reviewed for the third quarter were: Tract 2 in the central business district; Tract 3.01 in the Boston-Thurmond neighborhood; Tract 7 contains Innovation Quarter in downtown Winston-Salem; Tract 8.01, which encompasses Winston-Salem State University, the UNC School of the Arts and Happy Hill neighborhood; and Tract 8.02 covers the Atkins Community Development Corp.
Winston-Salem city officials consider opportunity zones as another “tool in the economic and community development toolbox that can be used to help spur private development and redevelopment in some of the areas in our community that have not seen the growth.”
There are 12 tracts in Guilford County, along with four in Alamance, three each in Randolph, Rockingham, Surry and Wilkes, two in Davidson and one each in Alleghany, Ashe, Davie, Stokes, Watauga and Yadkin.
The certified “opportunity zones” list for North Carolina has at least one low-income census tract in each of the state’s 100 counties.
Renewable energy developers are actively preparing for a potential change in planning policy which would ease the path for more on-shore wind projects to get the green light.
The constraints of the National Planning Policy Framework have made landowners’ applications for turbines almost impossible to pass for nearly a decade.
But if there is a change in government at the next general election – due to take place within 14 months – a fresh outlook on the viability of these projects is expected.
Shadow Energy Secretary Ed Miliband confirmed last month that he would double onshore wind if Labour came to power.
As a result, renewable energy developers were looking for suitable sites again, and this is leading to more farmers being offered exclusivity agreements, according to national property consultancy Carter Jonas.
Carter Jonas surveyor Alex Ireton said: “An exclusivity agreement is essentially a restriction on the landowner at the beginning of the process while the developer puts their money down and makes a commitment to explore the grid.
“For a set period of time, and in exchange for the developer investing their resources in exploring the grid, the landowner will not enter into discussions or negotiations on renewable energy development with any other developer.”
Mr Ireton advises landowners approached by renewable energy developers to pay attention to the detail of an agreement.
“Landowners should be comfortable with the duration of the agreement and receive a fair payment in return for signing,” he said.
“The developer is effectively cutting out the competition while they explore the possibility of a project being brought forward, so there is a value to that. I have seen fees as low as £500 and as high as £10,000 paid to landowners.”
The scope of the agreement should also be closely scrutinised, Mr Ireton added, with some developers wanting to include more than just renewable energy or want to have the scope of exclusivity over all the land.
“Some developers may want to include more than just renewable energy or have the scope
Before selecting a developer and signing an agreement, Mr Ireton advised due diligence and seeking expert advice.
He said farmers should check if the developer has the ability to deliver, if they had high-level understanding of the offer and whether it was in line with the market.
“You should also insist on a commitment to investigating the grid and a termination provision if that does not happen. Be aware of what you are prepared to sign off on.”
URBANA — Urbana officials are proposing a plan to recoup part of the city’s $5.5 million investment in the under-construction Hotel Royer — an extra tax on the hotel’s room rentals.
The incentive will be paid when the hotel, a Hilton Tapestry Collection property, is fully operational. And if the city council agrees, part of that incentive will be recovered through a new 4 percent “boutique” hotel tax levied on room rentals at only that hotel.
That would be in addition to the regular hotel/motel tax.
When exactly the hotel under renovation next to Lincoln Square will be open for business has been a moving target, but “the developer has indicated that a mid-December opening date is possible,” according to a memo to the council by Elizabeht Hannan, the city’s human resources and finance director.
As of Friday, the Hilton website still indicated reservations were being accepted for Hotel Royer for March 15 and beyond.
Hannan said it would be the only hotel in the city that the new tax would apply to, because it’s the only one that meets the definition of a boutique hotel.
The tax, which would be 4 percent of the rental or leasing charge, would be imposed on each room rental per 24 hours, or any portion of that time.
Imposing an additional tax to help recoup the city’s $5.5 million incentive for the hotel was part of its agreement with the developers, Hannan said.
The boutique hotel tax, if approved, would be just one revenue source used to repay the city for the development incentive, with others including the regular hotel/motel tax, the food and beverage tax and an increase in property-tax revenue for the tax-increment-financing district it’s located in resulting from the development, she said.
The council is set to meet as a committee of the whole on Monday, so final action on the tax proposal will come at a future regular session.
The United States and the Philippines have signed a nuclear cooperation pact under which U.S. investment and technologies are to help the Southeast Asian nation transition to cleaner energy and bolster its power supply
MANILA, Philippines — The United States and the Philippines have signed a nuclear cooperation pact under which U.S. investment and technologies are to help the Southeast Asian nation transition to cleaner energy and bolster its power supply.
Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. witnessed the signing of the deal by his energy secretary and U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Thursday on the sidelines of the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in San Francisco.
“We see nuclear energy becoming a part of the Philippines’ energy mix by 2032 and we are more than happy to pursue this path with the United States as one of our partners,” Marcos said at the signing ceremony.
He said the pact, known as a Section 123 agreement, would support the development of reliable, affordable and sustainable power in the Philippines. It will also open doors for U.S. companies to invest and participate in nuclear power projects, he said.
Blinken said negotiations with the Philippines were completed within a year, the fastest for a Section 123 agreement, which is required under the U.S. Atomic Energy Act to allow the transfer of nuclear equipment and material for peaceful uses.
He noted that the Philippines has set an ambitious target of cutting greenhouse gas emissions by 75% by 2030. With its peak energy demand expected to quadruple by 2040, nuclear energy will help it meet its needs in a sustainable way, he said.
“With access to U.S. material and equipment, the U.S. and the Philippines will be able to work together to deploy advanced new technologies, including small modular reactors, to support climate goals as well as critical energy security and baseload power needs within the Philippines,” he said.
“In a nation of more than 7,000 islands, small modular reactors -– some just the size of a city bus -– can generate energy locally and conveniently,” he added.
The Philippines began building a nuclear generating plant, the Bataan Nuclear Power Plant, in the 1970s but it was never completed after questions were raised about its cost and safety, including its location near a major fault and the Pinatubo volcano.
Ng reported from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
Police are looking for a man believed to have murdered a commercial sex worker in a lodging along Kirinyaga Road, Nairobi.
The woman’s body was found in a lodging she and a man had booked on Saturday night. The man was missing, police said.
According to security guards at the building, the woman booked the room and was accompanied by the man who is believed to have killed her.
They spent the night there but the man left alone at about 5 am alone and told receptionists the woman was sleeping and would leave later.
Come midday, almost seven hours later the cleaners went to the room seeking to clean it when they stumbled on the body of the woman.
She lay naked with her legs and hands tied with a piece of clothing.
Police who visited the scene said she had been strangled with a bed sheet tied around her neck.
The motive of the murder is yet to be unravelled, police said. The body of the woman was moved to the mortuary pending autopsy and further probe.
Nairobi police boss Adamson Bungei said they are investigating the murder.
He said they are pursuing the suspected killer and a team of detectives is already on the ground handling the matter.
In the Kabete area, police said they are also investigating the murder of a man whose body was found on the roadside with visible injuries.
The body had visible injuries at the back of the head at the time it was found.
Police said they are investigating murder in the incident and no arrest had been made so far.
Elsewhere in the Zimmerman area, police are investigating the death of a man whose body was found lying on the roadside.
The body had vomit on the mouth and had no visible injuries at the time of the discovery.
The cause of the death was not immediately known, police said adding the body was moved to the mortuary pending autopsy.
Police say they are concerned with the discovery of bodies at various places. Some of the deaths are natural while others are out of murder which are pending probe.
According to police reports, at least two bodies are recovered daily in the city alone.