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By Debbie Gregory.

The entrepreneurial spirit is a mindset. It’s an attitude and approach to thinking that actively seeks out change, rather than waiting to adapt to change. It’s a mindset that embraces critical questioning, innovation, service and continuous improvement.

Many millennials get their idea of entrepreneurship from watching Shark Tank, giving little thought to the fact that most of the goods and services they enjoy probably sprang from the imagination of an entrepreneur.

Fred Smith is the founder, chairman, president, and CEO of FedEx. In 1962, Smith entered Yale University. While attending Yale, he wrote a paper for an economics class, outlining overnight delivery service in a computer information age. It is said that his professor told him that, in order for him to get a C, the idea had to be feasible.

Following his graduation, Smith served two tours in Vietnam with the Marine Corps, one as an infantry officer and one as a forward air controller. There he witnessed the military’s logistics operations, using flight to move personnel and equipment on a massive scale.

After leaving the military with a few distinguishing medals, including a Silver Star, a Bronze Star and two Purple Hearts, Smith bought an aviation company that would grow to be FedEx. He named the company Federal Express because he believed the patriotic meaning associated with the word “federal” suggested an interest in nationwide economic activity.

Federal Express officially began operations on April 17, 1973. That night, 14 small aircraft took off from Memphis and delivered 186 packages to 25 U.S. cities.

Today, FedEx is consistently recognized as one of the most admired brands in the world and one of the best places to work. But like many innovative companies, it started out as an idea championed by a determined person.

By Debbie Gregory.

The Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve (ESGR), a Department of Defense office, has selected 30 employers and government organizations from 2,350 nominations for 2018 Secretary of Defense Freedom Award, commonly referred to as the “Freedom Award.”

Almost half of the U.S. military is made up of National Guard and Reserve members, many of whom also hold jobs with civilian employers. The Secretary of Defense Employer Support Freedom Award is the highest recognition given by the U.S. Government to employers for their support of their employees who serve in the Guard and Reserve.

ESGR organizes the annual award program. The award was instituted in 1996 by then Secretary of Defense William Perry, and has since presented the honor to hundreds of recipients.

ESGR received nominations for employers in all 50 states, Guam-CNMI, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands and the District of Columbia.

Fifteen awards are presented in three categories – large (500 or more employees), small (fewer than 500 employees), and public sector.

Here are this year’s Secretary of Defense Employer Support Freedom Award finalists:

 

Amazon

AME Swiss Machining LLC

ArgenTech Solutions, Inc.

Barclays

Big Sky Advisors

Central Washington University

Crystal Group Inc.

CUNA Mutual Group

Duke Energy

Dunlap Police Department

Ecolab, Inc.

Ellsworth Correctional Facility.

FMI Corporation

Greencastle Associates Consulting Company

LG&E and KU Energy

Michigan Department of Corrections

Minnesota Department of Transportation

National Grid

Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Corrections

Prudential Financial Inc.

Sacramento Municipal Utility District

Slippery Rock University of Pennsylvania

South Charleston Police Department

State of Nevada

Stokes County Schools

Texas Department of Insurance

Werner Enterprises, Inc.

West Valley City

Wicomico County Sheriff’s Office

Worcester Police Department

In 2008, ESGR launched a web site for the Freedom Award. Using videos, news articles, profiles of recipients, and tips about employer best practices, the site provides information about the support that employers across the nation provide to their Guard and Reserve employees and their families. The site also houses the nomination form for the award.

By Debbie Gregory.

If California was an independent country, it would have the fifth largest economy in the world.

The tech sector in Silicon Valley, combined with the entertainment industry and agricultural are the main contributors to the state’s economy of $2.7 trillion, just behind the United States, China, Japan and Germany.

California has 12% of the U.S. population, but has contributed 16% of total job growth between 2012 and 2017. California’s gross domestic product also went up by $127 billion from 2016 to 2017, helping to push the state into the fifth spot.

Of course, California’s economic success comes at a price. Paralyzing gridlocked traffic is one symptom; the increasingly absurd price of housing is another. Partially due to the unaffordability of housing in the state, California saw the fastest growth in its homeless population of any state (14 percent), and also had the highest proportion of them unsheltered: 68 percent of the state’s 134,000 homeless people sleep outdoors.

California also has strict environmental protections, but the state has a progressive tax system and an ascendant minimum wage (now $10.50 an hour) that is set to rise in stages to $15 in 2023.

The state also welcomes immigrants, celebrates ethnic and linguistic diversity, and actively tries to combat climate change.

And with all that, its economy continues to soar.

When current Governor Jerry Brown returned to office in 2011, he faced a budget deficit of $27 billion. Now, after eight years of economic expansion, the state has a surplus of $6 billion, and its tax revenues are running well ahead of projections

By Debbie Gregory.

Hotel Tango Artisan Distillery was founded by former Marine Travis Barnes and his wife Hilary, with the goal of making his venue a one-of-a-kind destination in downtown Indianapolis.

The name “Hotel Tango” reflects Barnes’s military roots. Using the NATO phonetic alphabet, Hilary and Travis have their first letters of their name expressed by “Hotel” and “Tango” respectively—thus the Distillery’s name.

After serving three combat tours with 1st Battalion Recon Marines from 2003-2006, Barnes was disabled during his last deployment to Iraq.

Barnes went to law school with intentions of becoming a lawyer but, instead he met a group of fellow law students who are now a fundamental part of Hotel Tango and its existence.

Over Christmas break of his 3rd year of law school, Barnes took an interest in spirit distillation. He also took an interest in Indiana’s liquor laws and noticed an opportunity too good to pass up. He built his first still out of a turkey fryer. People enjoyed the end result, and an entrepreneur was born.

Hotel Tango opened its doors on September 15th, 2014. In addition to his tasting room and distillery, Barnes and his partners, wife Hilary, Brian Willsey, Nabeela Virjee, and Adam Willfond acquired Hotel Tango Farms, in order to grow the ingredients for their spirits. There is also the opportunity to stay at the farm’s Airbnb.

Not only is Hotel Tango the first craft distillery in Indy, it’s the first service-disabled combat-veteran owned distillery in the country.

Hotel Tango has locations in Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio and Texas, but expansion plans are in the works.

The lessons Barnes learned in the Marine Corps have served him well in his business venture.

By Debbie Gregory.

Bethesda, Maryland based defense giant Lockheed Martin Corporation has secured a contract with the U.S. Air Force to develop a prototype of the Hypersonic Conventional Strike Weapon. It is hoped that the hypersonic cruise missile will be able to travel at Mach 5 – five times the speed of sound. That means a hypersonic weapon can travel about one mile per second.

If the hypersonic conventional strike weapon is successful, it could result in a $928 million payday for the defense contractor over the course of the project’s lifetime. No end date has been set for the new contract.

“Both Russia and China are aggressively pursuing hypersonic capabilities,” said General John Hytens, the head of U.S. Strategic Command. “We’ve watched them test those capabilities.”

Lockheed Martin will be responsible for the design, development, engineering, systems integration, test, logistics planning, and aircraft integration support of all the elements of a hypersonic, conventional, air-launched, stand-off weapon.

The development will take place in the northern Alabama city of Huntsville, which is dubbed the “Rocket City” as it was the birthplace of America’s rocket program.

The Pentagon’s research and development chief, Michael Griffin, has called hypersonic technology the Defense Department’s first priority.

“In my opinion, today the most significant advance by our adversaries has been the Chinese development of what is now today a pretty mature system for conventional prompt strike at multi-thousand-kilometer ranges,” he said.

A second hypersonic project being pursued by the Air Force is the Tactical Boost Glide system,  which is a boost glide craft  accelerated to high speed by a rocket before gliding unpowered to its destination.

Both projects are part of a program to develop advanced prototypes that can later be fielded on U.S. jets.

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