Biden, according to WPRI-TV CBS 12, spoke at a R.I. Department of Transportation facility, where he praised Gov. Gina M. Raimondo's work on infrastructure and the RhodeWorks initiative.
WJAR-TV NBC 10 reported that Biden defended the concept of partly financing the plan with highway tolls on big-rig trucks.
RhodeWorks is a 10-year, $4.7 billion infrastructure project. Subsidizing the project is a new highway toll that once built will assess a fee on some commercial trucks, something that has raised the ire of the R.I. Trucking Association.]]>
The occasion was Providence Business News' 30th anniversary gala event, held Thursday at one of Newport's most resplendent Gilded Age mansions. More than 400 of Rhode Island's business leaders attended the party, which started in the soft light of the afternoon and ended with a miniature version of WaterFire. The culmination of the evening's festivities brought to mind events from when Rosecliff was built. Then, as now, attendees represented the work ethic, entrepreneurial spirit and business vision that can move the state forward.
Led by WaterFire Executive Artistic Director Barnaby Evans, the lighters of the two braziers located in the fountain in the ocean-facing lawn of Rosecliff were a number of the Driving Forces, 30 people chosen in honor of the anniversary celebration who have contributed greatly in the last three decades to Rhode Island's economy and culture, and just as importantly, who are expected to have a positive impact on the state going forward.
For some, the event and the venue recalled the first cinematic version of "The Great Gatsby," filmed at Rosecliff in 1974. In fact, one native Newporter at the party shared a story about what it was like to work as a child extra on the film, starring Robert Redford. The star was inside the mansion, preparing for a scene, and the young extras were goofing off on the great lawn. They made enough noise that Redford yelled at them from a second-floor window, telling them he couldn't learn his lines. That was the end of the fun.
Another Newport resident in attendance noted that on March 19 he had been married at Rosecliff, adding a sweet memory to the night's festivities.
The gala marked three decades of covering the region's business community, a period of transformative change. While PBN still publishes a weekly print edition, just like it did in 1986 when it was founded by Publisher Roger C. Bergenheim and his father, the late Robert C. Bergenheim, the publication publishes 15 e-newsletters a week, runs eight enterprise and individual recognition programs a year and produces three panel discussion "Summits" per year. The publication's website, PBN.com, is responsively designed, meaning that it adapts its layout to the device on which it is being read, changing from a smartphone layout to a tablet and finally to a full desktop look.
In honor of the anniversary, PBN produced a 104-page book, in which the major events of the last three decades are reported on. In an introduction to the book, Bergenheim said that the key to his optimistic outlook for Rhode Island's future is "the quality of the community leadership.
"During these past 30 years we have seen a lot of change, most of it for the better! ... Our economy survived the Great Recession and is poised for a push to compete in a world that is changing every day."
Also included in the book are edited transcripts of two roundtable discussions co-produced with WJAR-TV NBC 10 with four of the state's living governors as well as a panel of business leaders, pages of the some of the most interesting quotes from question-and-answer sessions from the print pages of PBN, 15 Top Lists from the beginning years of publication up to now, and mini-profiles of the 30 Driving Forces, many of whom attended the event.
The 30 leaders of the business community are:
Peter Andruszkiewicz, outgoing CEO and president of Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Rhode Island
Dr. Timothy J. Babineau, CEO and president of Lifespan
John J. Bowen, chancellor of Johnson & Wales University
Arnold B. "Buff" Chace Jr., managing partner of Cornish Associates
Dr. Anne S. De Groot, founder and CEO of EpiVax Inc., director of the Institute for Immunology and Informatics
Robert A. DiMuccio, chairman, CEO and president of Amica Mutual Insurance Co.
David M. Dooley, president of the University of Rhode Island
Barnaby Evans, executive artistic director of WaterFire
Stephen J. Farrell, CEO and president of UnitedHealthcare of New England
Brian Goldner, CEO and president of Hasbro Inc.
Helena B. Foulkes, CVS Health Corp. executive vice president, president of CVS/pharmacy
Alan G. Hassenfeld, chairman of Hassenfeld Family Initiatives, former chairman and CEO of Hasbro Inc.
William F. Hatfield, Rhode Island market president for Bank of America Corp., managing director of U.S. Trust
Richard G. Horan, senior managing director of the Slater Technology Fund
Dennis D. Keefe, CEO and president of Care New England
Ronald K. Machtley, president of Bryant University
Joseph J. MarcAurele, chairman and CEO of Washington Trust Bancorp. Inc.
Cheryl Merchant, CEO and president of Hope Global
Larry J. Merlo, CEO and president of CVS Health Corp.
Jonathan M. Nelson, founder and CEO of Providence Equity Partners LLC
Joseph R. Paolino Jr., managing partner of Paolino Properties
Christina H. Paxson, president of Brown University
James A. Procaccianti, CEO and president of The Procaccianti Group
Carolyn Rafaelian, CEO and chief creative officer of Alex and Ani
Thomas A. Ryan, former CEO and president of CVS Caremark Corp. and philanthropist
J.L. "Lynn" Singleton, president of the Providence Performing Arts Center
Neil D. Steinberg, CEO and president of the Rhode Island Foundation
John E. Taylor Jr., chairman of Twin River Worldwide Holdings Inc.
Bruce Van Saun, chairman and CEO of Citizens Financial Group Inc.
John Hazen White Jr., owner and CEO of Taco Comfort Solutions
Also supporting the celebration were presenting sponsors Gallo|Thomas Insurance and Sensata Technologies Holding N.V.; partner sponsors CVS Health Corp., Kelly & Mancini P.C. and Lifespan; and section sponsors Cox Business, FM Global, Hope Global, Johnson & Wales University, Mystic Aquarium and the University of Rhode Island.]]>
The parties are putting the four-year deal in writing, and union members should return to work next week, said Labor Secretary Thomas Perez in a statement. Full terms of the agreement weren't disclosed.
The walkout by the Communications Workers of America and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers has been one of the largest in the U.S. in recent years. Perez helped broker the deal by bringing Verizon CEO Lowell McAdam and two union executives to Washington to discuss ways to resolve the dispute.
The labor standoff pushed the number of striking U.S. workers to the highest in more than four years and could depress the May jobs numbers slated for release next week, data from the Labor Department showed.
To try and keep up with business demands during the strike, Verizon had dispatched managers and non-union workers to call centers and field-service assignments. Yet even with the temporary help, the strike has been a drag on the company's landline business, Chief Financial Officer Fran Shammo said during an investor presentation earlier this month. Because of the strike, Verizon probably won't add FiOS TV or broadband customers in the quarter, he said.
The new labor contract is the first since Verizon took full control of Verizon Wireless and agreed to buy AOL, two deals worth almost $135 billion that point toward a wireless-centric future. The company has been shedding union-heavy operations, including its FiOS business in three states last month. Landlines accounted for 29 percent of Verizon's revenue, down from almost 50 percent in 2008. And as its strategy has shifted, the ranks of union workers have shrunk by about half from 78,000 13 years ago.
Facing years of declines in the landline unit as more people opt for only wireless service, Verizon pushed to have union workers pitch in more for health benefits and be flexible on temporary job relocations. The unions, which had been working without a contract since Aug. 1, wanted to limit those transfers of workers to other regions, protect jobs from being moved offshore and preserve pension increases.
Of the workers, about 29,000 are represented by the CWA, 10,000 by the IBEW, according Candice Johnson, a spokeswoman for the CWA.]]>
The acreage, now cleared but awaiting park development, is owned by the I-195 Redevelopment District Commission and will become the western landing for a new pedestrian bridge that will cross the Providence River. The long-awaited pedestrian bridge recently moved forward. By the end of May, the R.I. Department of Transportation expects to advertise for a contractor to build the structure.
Building Bridges recently secured permission from the I-195 commission to develop programming for the park. Its first effort, called "The Launch" celebration, is from noon to 8 p.m. Saturday, and is designed to call public attention to the potential of the new park and future bridge connection.
The I-195 commission leadership has said the $13.2 million pedestrian bridge, and the park, are key selling points in efforts to attract new business development to the vacant I-195 district parcels.
Building Bridges President Sharon Steele and Chairman Olin Thompson, both downtown residents, said the future park will have a unique purpose among downtown parks. The space will be more active than passive, said Steele, and will be positioned to attract people living downtown, with vibrant social lives, who want outdoor access.
Options for the park include outdoor concerts, a location for organized club meetings and other purposes, Steele said.
"It's not like other parks," she said.
The celebration on Saturday will feature live music by Mark Cutler and Men of Great Courage, and food and drink by Matunuck Oyster Bar. Big Nazo puppets also will attend. Admission fee is $15 and includes a drink. Children under 12 are admitted free.]]>
Constituent feedback cards are available in major city departments. Residents are encouraged to submit customer experience reviews through the feedback cards or online at https://www.providenceri.com/ONS/customer-service-feedback.
"We are making sure the needs of our residents are met in a positive, courteous and timely manner," Mayor Jorge O. Elorza said in a statement. "Thanks to our Customer Service Initiative, our employees are better equipped to provide assistance to those seeking to do businesses at City Hall. I thank Laborers' Local Union 1033, Amica Mutual Insurance and the city's Human Resources Department for their partnership and dedication to moving our city forward."
Management also received training. The plan is to have all employees trained by 2017, according to information from Elorza's office. Future training is planned for Providence school bus drivers, public school employees and summer recreation staff.
Sixty percent of municipal employees have gone through the training, which focuses on developing better conflict resolution, collaboration, and internal and external communication skills, thanks to a partnership formed last year between the city, Laborers' Local 1033 and Amica Mutual Insurance Co.
The training module used in the partnership was developed utilizing Amica's customer service model and platform, with assistance from Amica Training Specialist Carolynn Woodis. Laborers' Local 1033 provided training space for the sessions, and City Training Coordinator Michael Welden served as a lead project coordinator. Due to their major roles in the initiative and their service, both representatives received keys to the city from Elorza.]]>
FAIRHAVEN, Mass. - The Acushnet Co., owner of Titleist, FootJoy and Pinnacle, is getting ready for an initial public offering this fall, according to a Reuters report.
The report said the company may register with U.S. regulators as early as June for the IPO that could value it at more than $2 billion.
Citing people familiar with the matter, Reuters said Acushnet is working with investment banks that include Morgan Stanley, JPMorgan Chase & Co, UBS Group AG and Nomura Holdings Inc. on the IPO.
The IPO would come five years after Fortune Brands sold Acushnet to South Korean sports apparel company Fila Korea Ltd. and Mirae Asset Private Equity for $1.23 billion.
"As a matter of policy, we do not respond to questions or speculation regarding strategic matters, including the potential capital structure of the company," Acushnet spokesman Eric Soderstrom said.]]>
Massachusetts' unemployment rate was 4.2 percent; Maine, 3.4 percent; Vermont, 3.2 percent; and New Hampshire, 2.6 percent.
Rhode Island also had the 16th highest unemployment rate in the nation in April, according to the DLT. Alaska and Illinois were tied for the highest rate at 6.6 percent, while South Dakota had the lowest rate at 2.5 percent.
Of the 39 cities and towns in Rhode Island, New Shoreham had the highest seasonally unadjusted unemployment rate in April at 19.8 percent, a drop from 21.6 percent in April 2015, followed by Woonsocket at 6.6 percent, which fell from 7.9 percent a year ago. Westerly was third highest at 6 percent, a drop from 7.5 percent, and Providence was fourth highest at 5.9 percent, a drop from 6.9 percent.
Richmond had the lowest jobless rate in April at 2.9 percent, a drop from 3.4 percent. Barrington was next lowest at 3 percent, a drop from 4 percent. Jamestown was third lowest at 3.1 percent, lower than 3.9 percent a year ago and Little Compton and Narragansett were tied for fourth lowest at 3.4 percent, with drops from 4.3 percent and 4 percent, respectively.
Rhode Island's unemployment rate fell a full percentage point from April 2015, but was still above the national rate of 5 percent. When not adjusted for seasonality, the rate was lower, 4.9 percent, in April, but still fell a percentage point from a year ago.
Rhode Island's unemployment rate swells to 11 percent when accounting for not only those who are in the labor force without a job and looking for work, but part-timers and those who want a job and have given up looking for work because they are discouraged or for other reasons.
That figure represents the four quarters ending in March, and is higher than the national average of 10 percent for the same four-quarter period for the same group, according to the DLT.]]>
This funding is in addition to $703,000 in NeighborWorks grants that Rhode Island received in March, bringing the state's total to over $1.3 million this year, Reed said.
The funding breaks down as follows:
$579,120 to Rhode Island Housing
$25,020 to the West Elmwood Housing Development Corp.
$25,020 to ONE Neighborhood Builders
Funds will be used to help neighborhoods hit hard by the foreclosure and economic crisis. Counseling to homeowners facing foreclosure will be offered. Money also will be used for potential mortgage modification, to train foreclosure counselors and assist with expenses related to implementing NFMC.
"I commend these organizations for providing free housing counseling to help Rhode Islanders keep their homes. The loan modification process can be difficult to navigate, and these additional funds will help connect Rhode Islanders with the information, assistance and guidance they need before time runs out. We want to spread the word and let folks know that help is available," Reed said in a statement.
Homeowners seeking assistance with mortgage payments may contact Rhode Island Housing's HelpCenter at: (401) 457-1130. Homeowners may also visit www.makinghomeaffordable.gov or call the national hotline at: 888-995-HOPE (4673) to apply for help. There should never be a fee for assistance with or information about the Making Home Affordable Program, according to information from Reed's office.]]>
The University of Michigan's final index of sentiment rose to 94.7 from 89 in April. The median projection in a Bloomberg survey of 62 economists called for 95.4, with estimates ranging from 93 to 96.5. A preliminary reading earlier this month was 95.8.
Household purchasing power is getting a boost as more Americans than at any time in the last 10 years said they expect their finances to improve over the next 12 months. A pickup in consumer spending, the biggest part of the economy, is key to helping spur economic growth this quarter after a U.S. slowdown earlier in the year.
"The late month falloff was due to a slightly less favorable outlook for the overall economy," Richard Curtin, director of the University of Michigan consumer survey, said in a statement. Households' biggest uncertainty, said Curtin, was "the outlook for future government economic policies under a new president. This has increased their emphasis on maintaining precautionary savings."
The current conditions index, which measures Americans' perception of their personal finances, climbed to 109.9, the highest since January 2007, from the prior month's 106.7.
The gauge of expectations six months from now rose to 84.9 from 77.6. The preliminary reading earlier this month was 87.5.
Respondents expected the inflation rate in the next year will be 2.4 percent, the lowest since September 2010 and down from 2.8 percent in the April survey. Over the next five to 10 years, they project a 2.5 percent rate of price growth, the same as in April and matching the record lows in data going back almost five decades.]]>
Six months ago, the regulator said a machine tied by a U.S. Senate report to a deadly superbug outbreak should be taken off the market "as soon as possible" to protect public health. Twice. But the machine, which uses water, disinfectant, and sound waves to clean certain surgical instruments, remains in use for some of those instruments after FDA officials backed down. And no one is saying precisely why.
The FDA ordered a small Ivyland, Pa.-based company called Custom Ultrasonics Inc. to take its 2,800 System 83 Plus machines out of service. The automated washing machines are used across the U.S. to clean endoscopes, devices with a light and camera on one end for probing inside your body. A specialized type of endoscope known as a duodenoscope, used to look in tiny crevices of the small intestine, has proven particularly hard to clean and was linked to antibiotic-resistant infections at hospitals over the last few years.
The use of Custom Ultrasonics equipment was one of several factors that "likely contributed" to dangerous infections spread by inadequately cleaned duodenoscopes, according to a report issued this year by Senate Democratic staff investigating the incidents. Up to 350 patients may have been infected at dozens of hospitals since 2010, according to separate documents released in April by the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform. The exact number is difficult to ascertain because reporting of cases has been spotty, though more than a dozen patients who were infected subsequently died. Not all outbreaks occurred at hospitals using Custom Ultrasonics machines, and the company has previously denied in court filings that its machines are unsafe or contributed to patient injury or death.
In its November 2015 correspondence with the company demanding a recall, the FDA raised concerns about the device's compatibility with disinfectants, whether it works with duodenoscopes, and whether it properly eliminates microorganisms from water. In pulling back that recall demand, the regulator now says it's working with the company to ensure that the machines "are validated in a timely manner," according to agency spokeswoman Deborah Kotz. "Validated" means the company has to prove the devices work as advertised. In the meantime, the machines can still be used to clean instruments including most endoscopes --; just not duodenoscopes, she said. The reversal was "based on information provided by the company," Kotz said, without elaborating. "We have nothing more to share on this at this time."
With the new FDA position, Custom Ultrasonics said in a notice posted on its website that it will send hospitals a label to affix to the washers. The label warns users not to use the machines to clean duodenoscopes.
Robert Blanchard, director of product management and sales for Custom Ultrasonics, said in an e-mail that the company declined to comment on the FDA letters.
The problem with duodenoscopes, used in more than a half-million procedures in the U.S. each year, is that they have an intricate design making them particularly difficult to clean. An expert panel convened by the FDA last May concluded the devices aren't reliably safe. In August, the agency recommended additional cleaning protocols to reduce risk of infection, including repeat washing, testing for contamination, or using a gas called ethylene oxide to sterilize the instruments. One model of scope made by Olympus was recalled for repair in January.
The FDA's scrutiny of Custom Ultrasonics predates the recent outbreaks. Inspections as far back as 1991 found "significant violations" of federal rules meant to ensure quality manufacturing and timely reporting of patient harm, according to a 2006 complaint filed by federal prosecutors in Philadelphia. Similar violations were evident in inspections in 1992, 1995, 2005, and 2006, according to the lawsuit. Thirteen patients tested positive for hepatitis C after being treated with endoscopes cleaned by Custom Ultrasonics' System 83 Plus machine, according to court filings (over a period of time that wasn't specified). The company learned of the infections in 2004 and was required by law to report them to the FDA within 30 days, prosecutors said, but didn't do so for more than two years.
Custom Ultrasonics disputed the allegations in its answer to the complaint. "To defendants' knowledge, its devices as manufactured have never been found to have caused or contributed to any patient injury or death," the company's attorney wrote. "Further, the safety of products manufactured by Custom Ultrasonics has never been at issue."
The government lawsuit led to a consent decree in January 2007 that remains in force, and was the legal basis for the latest recall. (Custom Ultrasonics didn't admit any wrongdoing as part of the agreement.) Under its terms, the company was initially barred from making or selling the devices. A few months later, however, the FDA found that it was complying with the decree and allowed it to resume operations on a limited basis.
But in 2012, the FDA ordered a recall of the System 83 Plus devices because of "recurring violations" of the law and consent decree, according to the agency's recent directive to the company. After another inspection, the FDA reiterated its recall order, and wrote that the company must pay damages under the consent decree. In April 2015, the regulator found that the company hadn't validated several aspects of its machine, including water filtration, compatibility with disinfectants, and that it fully cleans duodenoscopes, the same issues raised in the most recent recall.
Two bluntly worded letters dated Nov. 12, 2015 and Jan. 29, 2016 indicated that, given the company's "lengthy regulatory history," merely trying to fix the machines wouldn't suffice. The first letter instructed the company to recall all of them, at its own expense, and figure out how hospitals could "transition from the System 83 Plus as soon as possible." The second letter said the company's response to the first letter was insufficient because it only offered to correct the machines "rather than to remove those devices from use." The agency wrote, in bold text, "FDA orders Custom Ultrasonics to immediately recall all System 83 Plus devices by removing them from use."
FDA officials called the company's response "inadequate" eight times in an eight page letter. The regulator threatened to impose a daily fine starting on Feb. 8 if Custom Ultrasonics didn't comply.
Then, some weeks later, the FDA backed off.
The tenor of the two letters made the agency's turnaround puzzling, said Mark Duro, director of sterile processing operations at New England Baptist Hospital in Boston.
"In the 20 years that I've been in the business, I've never seen a recall get changed like that," said Duro. His hospital doesn't use Custom Ultrasonics equipment, but he said he remembers when the FDA determined in 2009 that a similar machine wasn't cleared for use because it didn't work as advertised. That time, the agency didn't back down. "We were forced to buy new devices," Duro said.
Replacing a cleaning machine can cost tens of thousands of dollars and "put a ton of hospitals in a world of hurt," Duro said. It's not clear how many hospitals are still using Custom Ultrasonics devices. Nine out of 16 U.S. hospitals that had superbug cases linked to duodenoscopes were identified in the Senate staff report as using Custom Ultrasonics machines to clean them. Only one of the hospitals, Hartford Hospital in Connecticut, said it "immediately" replaced the machines with other models after the recall.
A spokeswoman for UPMC Presbyterian Hospital in Pittsburgh said the hospital "complies fully with any such recalls it receives," declining further comment. A spokeswoman for Thomas Jefferson University Hospital in Philadelphia said the Senate report was incorrect and that the hospital never used Custom Ultrasonics.
Four hospitals where (according to the report) an estimated 86 patients were infected with superbugs declined to answer whether Custom machines were still being used to clean their endoscopes, which is still permitted under the FDA's current ruling. They include New York Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Medical Center in New York; UMass Memorial Hospital, in Worcester, Mass.; Advocate Lutheran General Hospital, in Park Ridge, Ill.; and Carolinas Medical Center in Charlotte, N.C.
Two hospitals --; UCLA Medical Center in Los Angeles and Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston --; said they are in the process of switching to other vendors. Both said they have already put stricter measures in place for the hard-to-clean duodenoscopes linked to the outbreaks.
Lawrence Muscarella, a former director of infection control for Custom Ultrasonics who left in 2013, said the FDA's change of course "appears to be sending the wrong message, that it may 'reward' a regulated company for not complying with an order to remove a censured device for all U.S. hospitals." Muscarella said patients should know if the hospital they're being treated at is using equipment that has raised safety concerns: "It's okay for hospitals to do that, provided the patient is told of this, so patient is aware of the care that they're getting."]]>