January 31, 2014

In an effort to boost local economies, states and cities nationwide are amending zoning laws to make it easier for entrepreneurs to set up shop at home. For years local governments either banned home businesses outright or riddled them with red tape, such as requiring potential owners to seek approval through public hearings. But over the past decade restrictions have eased, paving the way for home businesses ranging from food makers to music instructors.

Small businesses often drive economic recoveries, Continue reading

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January 24, 2014

Over the past few decades farming towns across America have seen populations drop as more young people leave their rural homes behind in favor of big cities. However, urban living today doesn’t present as many opportunities as in the past. Not only do cities demand a higher cost of living, but also chances for career advancement can diminish given the large talent pool.

That’s the situation systems manager Wallace Harwood encountered at his job with an energy company in Lexington, Continue reading

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January 19, 2014

Although the American economy is slowly recovering, the job market is not. Low and minimum wage work has driven much of the recovery while mid-level jobs that disappeared during the recession have failed to rematerialize. Confronted with this bleak “new normal,” many people in both the private and public sectors have called for an increase to the federal minimum wage. Advocates for change point to cases like that of Anthony Goytia, who must supplement his salary as a Wal-Mart clerk Continue reading

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January 12, 2014

When people think about the average American college student, their minds often wander to images of fresh-faced teenagers hitting campus right out of high school on their parents’ dime. But in reality, only one-third of the nation’s more than 20 million students enrolled in two- and four-year universities fit that description.

Though it may not surprise seasoned professors, the idea of the “traditional” college student is becoming increasingly outdated. According to recent data collected by the U.S. Department of Education, Continue reading

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December 6, 2013

 

The nation’s first impression of the IBM supercomputer Watson came from the machine’s unprecedented appearance on Jeopardy. Over the course of a week, Watson handily defeated the best champions in the quiz show’s history thanks to its massive memory bank of facts. But it’s not just the supercomputer’s super-sized hard drive that sets it apart from other machines. Watson could compete on Jeopardy autonomously thanks to its ability to answer questions posed in natural language.

It’s this feature Continue reading

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December 3, 2013

Research and development has long been an expensive element of the auto industry. For decades devising even the smallest addition to an engine could cost millions of dollars and take as long as eight months to accomplish. But thanks to advances in technology over the last five years, engineers can now test dozens of designs within a virtual environment. As a result, automakers are at last seeking affordable innovations in fuel efficiency and overall vehicle performance.

For instance, in 2010 Continue reading

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December 1, 2013

Although many people can think of a great business idea, not everybody has the time or money to see their product come into fruition. That is unless they’re lucky enough to have their idea produced by crowd-sourcing manufacturer Quirky. The New York-based company has built a $50 million business by turning user-submitted blueprints into marketable goods.

Each week Quirky receives more than 2,000 invention ideas from its community of approximately 500,000 members. Staffers then select the best ideas of the Continue reading

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November 24, 2013

Coming up with innovative products and services is no simple task for companies to accomplish. After all, most new item that businesses roll out takes years of research and development, a costly investment that’s not guaranteed to succeed. In order to avoid R&D burnout, many companies have held competitions in the hopes of finding a great idea from outside the organization. And according to a new MIT study, this might just be the most efficient way for companies to innovate. Continue reading

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November 19, 2013

 

For many image-conscious consumers, product customization provides a way to stand out from the crowd without searching high and low for something totally unique. At Big Shot Bikes, for instance, customers can choose the color and shape of up to 10 parts of the Colorado company’s fixed gear bikes. Once customers select their preferences, Big Shot assembles the bicycles and ships them to the buyers for under $500. With such a relatively reasonable price tag, the company wants consumers Continue reading

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October 23, 2013

Last autumn the Weather Channel officially became the Weather Company, signaling the start of a major rebranding effort. The meteorological media firm didn’t pull the plug on its long-standing TV station, though. Instead, the change reflects the Weather Company’s new position as a data and analytics outfit concerned with all things weather. Over the course of 75 years the Atlanta-based company has amassed huge amounts of atmospheric information concerning dew points and cloud cover percentages. All this data combined with Continue reading

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