Why Today’s Young Entrepreneurs May Be Better Off Than You Think

Fewer students are defaulting on their loans, a positive indicator for entrepreneurship in the coming decade. Originally appeared on Inc.com.

23-year-old Matt McManus is only months out of college–long enough to invest everything in his sandal company Bokos, yet short enough that he hasn’t even considered his student loans.

Matt McManus graduated college this past May with $40,000 in student loan debt and not a dime to his name.

By April 2013, the then-junior at the University of Wisconsin-Madison had invested his life savings into starting a sandal company, Bokos, with his brother James. He never really considered his student loans. After all, he had a product he considered a sure thing, so paying off his debt would come–just later. Did he ever consider the risk of defaulting? “No,” the now-23-year-old says. “There’s always that risk, but the way I viewed it was, ‘I’m young. I think I’ve got some flexibility.’”

McManus is emblematic of the legions of startup founders taking a gamble in the face of significant student debt–it’s one of the biggest obstacles to this generation’s entrepreneurial dreams, and while many find themselves able to manage the task, others find themselves defaulting on their loans or opting out of entrepreneurship altogether. A recent report from the Kauffman Foundation, places the overall student debt tally at roughly $1.2 trillion. That’s equivalent to nearly $30,000 of debt per graduating senior, up about $10,000 in the last decade.

To make matters worse, new startups haven’t created as many jobs as they have in previous post-recessionary periods, says Dane Stangler, the Kauffman Foundation’s vice president of research and policy. “We’ve only just reached pre-recession employment,” he notes, adding that the recession after the dot-com collapse in 2001 triggered a similar jobless recovery.

Still, there is a glimmer of hope. READ THE FULL ARTICLE ON INC.COM: http://www.inc.com/cameron-albert-deitch/student-loan-defaults.html

 

Cameron Albert-Deitch // Inc. magazine

PHOTOS: Michelle Obama visits Atlanta’s historic Booker T. Washington High School

Originally appeared on atlantamagazine.com

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Cameron Albert-Deitch // Atlanta magazine

Q&A: Rep. Hank Johnson on ending police militarization

The Georgia congressman discusses his legislation and the momentum it’s gained since events in Ferguson.

Originally appeared on atlantamagazine.com

Courtesy U.S. House of Representatives

Rep. Hank Johnson

Hank Johnson may have been best known as one of two Buddhists in the House (the other being Hawaii’s Colleen Hanabusa). But the lawmaker, who has served Georgia’s 4th congressional district since 2007, has set his sights on reforming the Department of Defense’s 1033 Program, the mechanism through which local law enforcement agencies can request and obtain military surplus equipment. The program entered the national spotlight by way of events in Ferguson, Missouri where police countered protesters with massive armored trucks, M4 carbine rifles, body armor, and uniforms based on a U.S. Marine Corps camouflage pattern. We talked to the veteran Democrat about how he began his crusade to demilitarize police forces, and the reaction he has received post-Ferguson.

How long has the bill been in the works, and what first gave you the idea to craft it?
I first got interested in militarization in law enforcement after a Christmas parade [in Georgia] last year that I marched in. I happened to be marching behind the vehicle that the mayor was seated in, and it was a great, big piece of military equipment, and it was a very small municipality. As I walked in back of the equipment, it was so massive I was in awe of it. I couldn’t see over the top or sides, I couldn’t see anything–just a great, big, hulking piece of metal. I asked my staff to look into how that equipment was acquired, so they started looking at it and we stumbled across the 1033 program. Read more

PHOTOS: College Football Hall of Fame preview

Originally appeared on atlantamagazine.com

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Cameron Albert-Deitch // Atlanta magazine

Pains, Trains, and Automobiles

The new ATLtransit tool is a great concept, but the pilot program underscores the disjointed nature of Atlanta’s regional transit providers.

Originally appeared on atlantamagazine.com under the headline “We tested the ATLtransit trip planning service. It was not exactly a success.”

It’s no secret Atlanta lacks functional regional transit. As veteran transportation reporter Doug Monroe wrote in a 2012 Atlanta magazine analysis of the history behind our transportation woes, “at the heart of the rot eating at metro Atlanta is the Mother of All Mistakes: the failure to extend MARTA into the suburbs.” Indeed, MARTA is limited to the city of Atlanta and Fulton and DeKalb counties; traveling farther requires cobbling trips together on a host of smaller systems, each with its own unwieldy ticketing and scheduling vagaries.

This month’s launch of ATLtransit, an itinerary-planning website, was a step—albeit a small one—in the right direction. The website is a pilot project of (acronym alert!) MARTA, GRTA (the Georgia Regional Transit Authority), CCT (Cobb Community Transit), GCT (Gwinnett County Transit), Xpress, and the ARC (Atlanta Regional Commission). It’s an information portal, meaning it doesn’t address the underlying problems—but it does make navigating the multiple transit systems easier. In theory at least.

My task, following only ATLtransit itineraries: to start at my home in Roswell, find my way east to Gwinnett, cross back west to Cobb, and return home again. Maybe grab some food on the way or check out the new Braves stadium site—just like anybody without a car might do once the stadium opens. It all sounds so easy.

Photograph by Cameron Albert-Deitch
MARTA doesn’t serve large swaths of the suburbs, but the Doraville station serves as a main hub for connecting service to the Gwinnett County Transit bus system.


Tuesday night: Preparation
I quickly learn that ATLtransit’s mapping system gets finicky when identifying start and end points: If you want to visit the Atlanta magazine offices, for example, you can’t type “260 Peachtree Street.” Only “260 Peachtree Street NE” will do. Read more

In case you missed it, the new Atlanta Braves stadium site is under construction. See what it looks like right now.

The original start date was July 15, but heavy machinery has been up and running for a month.

Originally appeared on atlantamagazine.com

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The Atlanta Braves’ up-and-down streakiness has left them one game behind the Washington Nationals in the NL East (at least, that is, until the Nats play tonight). In the midst of this season’s roller-coaster ride, some may have forgotten about the team’s new stadium in Cobb County set to open in 2017. And the warm and fuzzy feelings from the weekend’s Hall of Fame inductions of Bobby Cox, Tom Glavine, and Greg Maddux might have just been enough to put outrage about the planned relocation on the back burner for most fans. (We stress: Most; not all.)

Here’s what you may have missed. Cobb County commissioners unanimously approved the stadium deal on May 27, leading to site clearing starting around three weeks ahead of schedule. A zoning change was again unanimously approved on July 15, allowing the whole site to be developed–not just the land the ballpark would cover. And on Friday, a Cobb judge approved the county’s plans to issue bonds to cover its share of the new ballpark.

It can be difficult to understand what all of that means, so check out the slideshow above to see what the future home of the Braves looks like right now.

 

Cameron Albert-Deitch // Atlanta magazine

Anything That Can Happen Will

Murphy’s Law dictates Chicago-based rock band The Kickback must make it big eventually, no matter the setbacks.

28-year-old guitarist and keyboardist Jonny Ifergan gazes across the frat quad at Northwestern University. He takes off his trucker hat to wipe his forehead, revealing a mess of black curls. It’s a late-May lawn party: hot dogs and hamburgers, Frisbees and footballs, a bounce house and a dunk tank, frat boys and sorority girls carelessly dancing to loud music blasting from a sound system. “Not our typical show,”Ifergan chuckles. His bandmates silently nod in bemused agreement.

For a long time, a typical show for The Kickback was an old, dingy dive bar smelling of piss and booze. Nowadays, it’s a much nicer club, maybe 150-200 people, with recognizable posters on the walls. Today, the Chicago-based alternative rock band is at Northwestern to play a 45-minute set at Zeta Beta Tau’s yearly “Fence-In” leukemia fundraiser – and it’s soon apparent why they don’t often play outdoors on small stages for college kids. The microphone levels fluctuate. Billy Yost, a lanky singer and guitarist with an expressive face, notices strange buzzing noises coming from his amp. It seems the Fence-In sound system doesn’t have enough power to support three guitars, three guitar amps, a keyboard and four vocal mics. During an instrumental section, Yost, 27, leans toward bearded bassist Eamonn Donnelly, 28, and Ryan Farnham, the 32-year-old drummer with long, blonde hair and a zip-up hoodie. “Everything that can happen will,” he yells, just loud enough to be heard over the music. “We should change our name to fuckin’ Murphy’s Law.”

Internet sensations don’t live this life. Not Adele, who was discovered on MySpace straight out of high school, or Justin Bieber, who made his name as a prepubescent YouTube warbler. In an era of instant success, The Kickback has been paying its dues the old-fashioned way since 2006, when Yost founded the band at the University of South Dakota – and going into the summer of 2014, it’s all coming to a head. They’ve recorded an album, and soon, they’ll sign with a record company – once they determine which offer is perfect for them. They’ll play increasingly bigger shows and make it to the charts. Or, at least, that’s the hope. After so many years of hearing “You guys are on the verge of being huge,” it’s hard to take anything for granted. Read more

A Quiet ‘Giant’

27-year-old photojournalist Andrew Nelles, infamously fired from the Chicago Sun-Times a year ago, is flying higher than ever before.

Andrew Nelles is back at his alma mater, and it’s like he never left.

It’s April 2014, and the 27-year-old photojournalist is at Columbia College Chicago to judge the annual Illinois Press Photographers Association’s student competition. He could pass as a college kid if he wanted to – the hipster-esque glasses and casually stylish clothes only amplify his youthful appearance. “Look,” he points, as he walks down Columbia’s orange halls and spots a photo of three older women set in black and white against a dramatic sky. “They’ve still got a photo of mine on the wall.”

But April 2014 means something else that proves he’s no student: It marks almost a year since the Chicago Sun-Times infamously fired Nelles and the rest of its entire photo staff, citing a need for more multimedia content. Nelles finds two former Sun-Times colleagues, all photographers – Rob Dicker, a fellow judge, and Rob Hart, just there to watch – and it’s clear that the anniversary is on all of their minds. One of the Robs mentions exactly what he thinks of their former employer, and the other, referring to a non-disparagement clause in their post-severance paperwork, responds, “Watch it now, you won’t get your $2,000!” The first Rob mock-panics. “Ah, I talked about it! Oh, fuck!” The conversation spirals. Nelles doesn’t say a word. Read more

Solving the ‘School-to-Prison Pipeline’

Originally published in The Chicago Bureau

Ordinarily, announcements of school funding awards by the United States Department of Justice are cause for celebration – or at least a mention in the news. Yet the department’s Sept. 27 decision to allot nearly $45 million to hire 356 new school resource officers nationwide was met with mixed reactions.

Some applauded the move as a response to mass school shootings, most notably the December 2012 shooting in Newtown, Conn. in which 20 Sandy Hook Elementary students and six others were killed. Others condemned the Justice Department for investing in school resource officers, claiming that the presence of police officers in schools creates a school-to-prison pipeline.

As it turns out, the Justice Department has seemingly found a solution to quiet  naysayers. It’s a solution so simple that it seems rather obvious: updating the job responsibilities of school resource officers. Read more

New Illinois Interrogation Law Making Effort to Stem Wrongful Convictions

Originally published in The Chicago Bureau

Juan Rivera’s wrongful conviction is one of the most infamous blots on the record of the Illinois justice system’s recent history. Due to coercive interrogation methods, he spent 19 years in prison for a rape and murder he did not commit before finally being freed in January 2012. With so many exonerations in Illinois – many blamed on the notorious term of Chicago Police Cmdr. Jon Burge, known for and convicted on charges related to running a crew that tortured confessions out of mostly minority suspects – some say it’s about time some teeth were put into the state’s legal system.

Now, a new law, Illinois SB1006 requiring the recordings of interrogations in certain violent crime investigations, is intended to close the Burge chapter for good and to put an end to stories like Rivera’s. Read more

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