Al’s column

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WINNING PERSON: Back in December, we informed you that Howard Brodsky, chairman and co-CEO of CCA Global Partners and chairman of the Floor Covering Industry Foundation (FCIF), was named vice chair of the New England Chapter of CEOs Against Cancer. That, combined with his many other community efforts, earned him the 2012 Business Leader of the Year award by Business NH Magazine. Brodsky was chosen by a screening committee made up of members of the New Hampshire Association of Chamber of Commerce Executives and a panel of 2011 Business of the Year award winners. Brodsky is not only profiled in the magazine’s May edition, he graces the cover. Visit millyardcommunications.com/index.php to get the issue.

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WINNING SCHOOL: Mason County Middle School in Maysville, Ky., is the recipient of Centiva’s $3,000 Green Innovation Grant. The resilient company announced the program as part of its week-long activities surrounding this year’s Earth Day (FCNews, April 2/9). The idea is to encourage schools to develop creative, innovative, cost effective environmental projects which will improve the environment; make schools a healthier place to learn, play and work, and save money through reduced use of natural resources. Mason’s Wild About Water Quality project was one of a dozen entries received and will have students completing water quality monitoring during the school year on a section of Lawrence Creek, a tributary of the Ohio River.

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MORE: Along with monitoring the water, students will perform macro-invertebrate sampling to analyze species as bio-indicators of stream health and then use a habitat survey to compare the amount of riparian zone and physical features of the stream to the health of the stream. If that isn’t enough, the ambitious projects calls for students to design and install rain gardens around the school’s campus to reduce the amount of storm water runoff from parking lots and roads from getting into the stream without filtration. The project is scheduled to begin in September and thanks to the world of social media, Centiva will follow the evolution of the project and will post updates through its social media outlets.

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UPWARD: Sales of newly built, single-family homes rose 3.3% in April, according to newly released data from HUD and the U.S. Census Bureau. On a regional basis, new-home sales rose 7.7% in the Northeast, 28.2% in the Midwest and 27.5% in the West, while the South was the only region to post a decline for the month, of 10.6%. David Crowe, chief economist for the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB), said the figures are “representative of the kind of modest but consistent gains we expect to see in new home sales through the remainder of 2012.” While consumers are taking advantage of historically low mortgage rates, Barry Rutenberg, NAHB’s chairman, said “we could be seeing a faster pace of recovery if not for persistently tight lending conditions that are slowing both the building and buying of new homes.”

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OPTIMISM: With sales of new single-family homes mostly positive, builders are starting to get more optimistic, according to the most recent NAHB/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index (HMI), which gained five points in May and had its strongest reading since May 2007. The index gauges builder perceptions of current single-family home sales and sales expectations for the next six months. Three out of four regions registered improving builder sentiment, with the West being the only one to post a decline. NAHB’s Crowe said home building “still has quite a way to go toward a fully healthy market,” but the index is “an excellent sign firming home values, improving employment and low mortgage rates are drawing consumers back.”

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