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Arctic Blasts of Cold Air Begin to Invade US Along with Biting Wind
Snow and sleet is expected to continue across much of the Plains through the weekend. Graphic courtesy
Snow and Frigid Temperatures Blanket St. Louis Area With First Major Storm
ST. LOUIS, MO, (, December 5, 2013 - With snow accumulation forecast for 3 - 6 inches, the St. Louis area seems to have dodged the major ice storm that is unfolding across portions of the southern Plains this week. has reported that the ice storm could be the worst to hit the United States in years with threat of major power outages and difficult travel for motorists.

The most significant icing is expected from Texas to Kentucky through Friday. Widespread power outages are likely as ice weighs down tree branches and power lines, while treacherous travel is developing in areas receiving freezing rain, sleet and snow.

"In some locations, the storm has the potential to allow one half of an inch or more of ice to accumulate on the ground and accrue on elevated surfaces," Expert Senior Meteorologist Alex Sosnowski said. Power suppliers in the path of the ice storm are mobilizing in anticipation of major power outages. Entergy Arkansas, Inc., which serves nearly 700,000 customers in 63 counties of Arkansas, lies in the zone expected to receive ice for the longest duration.

"With a major storm that affects a large area of our territory, power restoration for all customers could take between five to seven days to complete, with the majority of customers being back in service much sooner than that," said Brady Aldy, transmission and distribution operations director for Entergy Arkansas Inc.

In a press release, Entergy Arkansas, Inc., said they are bringing in 6,700 workers to prepare for the storm.

Community Colleges to Train Workers for Boeing Jobs
ST. LOUIS, MO, (, December 5, 2013 - Five community colleges in the greater St. Louis region have formed a Missouri Aerospace Training Consortium and committed to train thousands of Missouri workers for advanced manufacturing jobs at Boeing and other aerospace companies.

In an announcement, Governor Jay Nixon said the consortium, which includes East Central College, Jefferson College, Mineral Area College, St. Charles Community College and St. Louis Community College, would give Missouri another competitive advantage in its efforts to win production of the Boeing 777X. A copy of the resolution is available here.

"The availability of a large, highly-skilled workforce is one of the key factors Boeing will use to determine where to produce its next generation of commercial aircraft," Gov. Nixon said. "Especially in high-tech industries like aerospace, we're seeing once again that Missouri's human capital is one of our most precious and marketable assets. With a strong public education system and an outstanding network of community colleges, this is an area where Missouri already has a competitive edge and the Missouri Aerospace Training Consortium will capitalize on this strength. By training thousands of workers in the areas of aerospace and advanced manufacturing, this consortium will fill a pipeline of highly-skilled workers ready to hit the ground running in these high-paying jobs on Day One."

The members of the consortium currently offer many programs that are related to aerospace manufacturing such as aerospace production and assembly, robotics and automation, precision machining, and welding. These institutions also have specialized facilities for this purpose including an aerospace composites assembly lab, an aerospace mechanical/electrical lab, an aerospace metal structures lab as well as capacity in general classroom space, offices and computer labs. Members of the consortium also committed to making their best efforts to ensure that at least 10 percent of training participants consortium-wide are minorities. Other public colleges may join the consortium as additional training needs are identified.

"The Missouri Aerospace Training Consortium will have the capacity to train thousands of Missourians for high-demand, high-wage jobs, and it will strengthen existing relationships community colleges and manufacturers throughout the state," said Dr. Ray Cummiskey, Jefferson College President and Missouri Community College Association Chair. "I speak for all of my community college colleagues when I say that we're looking forward to rolling up our sleeves and getting to work on this exciting new partnership."

Boeing 777X
Boeing launched the 777X program at the 2013 Dubai Airshow with a record-breaking number of customer orders and commitments for 259 airplanes from four customers across Europe and the Middle East. Image courtesy Boeing
St. Louis-area Construction Labor Councils Commit to 24-hour Work Schedule to Win Boeing 777X Contract
ST. LOUIS, MO, (, December 3, 2013 - Gov. Jay Nixon today announced an historic agreement among St. Louis-area construction labor councils to work a 24-hour work schedule and forgo overtime to help Missouri compete for and win Boeing's next-generation commercial aircraft, the 777X.

In a letter to the Governor, the St. Louis Building and Construction Trades Council, the Eastern Missouri Laborers' District Council, and the Carpenters District Council of Greater St. Louis committed to 24-hour work schedule without overtime during construction of Boeing's facilities. This aggressive work schedule would double the number of work hours each week, triple the committed workforce, and reduce the construction time by at least a year.

"Here in Missouri, building things is in our blood and this historic agreement demonstrates that when it comes to competing for game-changing economic development projects like the Boeing 777X, Missouri's skilled workforce is one of the best advantages we have," Gov. Nixon said.

"By reducing the cost and time associated with building these facilities, this unprecedented commitment offers Boeing yet another very compelling reason to locate production of the 777X right here in the Show-Me State. Today it's clear that the most highly-skilled, hardest-working labor force in the world is committed to doing whatever it takes to compete and win in the global economy. I applaud these organizations for recognizing the importance of this transformative opportunity, and for stepping up in an aggressive way to help us seize it."

Arctic Blasts of Cold Air Begin to Invade US Along with Biting Wind
A brief period of freezing rain, sleet and/or snow is possible late this week from Texas to Pennsylvannia. Graphic courtesy
Late-Week Ice Storm May Threaten Travel From Texas to Pennsylvania
ST. LOUIS, MO, (, December 3, 2013 - December is now underway and wintry air and snowstorms are set to move into much of the U.S. this week. A swath of ice and a wintry mix later this week threatens to slow travel and cut power from parts of Texas to Pennsylvania, according to

As dangerous cold sweeps southward and eastward over the Plains and Midwest in the wake of a North Central states snowstorm, it will set up a weather pattern favoring a narrow zone of freezing rain, sleet and some snow late this week.

The icy mix will spread from part of northern Texas Thursday to central Kentucky and southern Ohio Thursday night to central Pennsylvania Friday.

The potential for slippery travel includes the cities of Dallas; Oklahoma City; Little Rock, Ark.; Louisville, Ky.; Cincinnati; and State College, Pa.

There is the potential for ice and a wintry mix to last more than a few hours. In some cases, a buildup of ice may span two days, which could result in sporadic power outages.

A wedge of warm air will hold over the southeastern United States and will extend northward to the I-95 Northeast this week. The warmth is forecast to outlast the precipitation in this area so that rain falls from Houston to Atlanta and in the corridor from Raleigh, N.C., to Washington, D.C., Philadelphia, New York City and Boston.

However, at the tail end of the rain, a brief period of freezing rain, sleet and/or snow is possible in Shreveport, La.; Memphis, Tenn.; London, Ky.; Charleston, W.Va.; and Scranton, Pa.

Governor Nixon Pushes Special Session of General Assembly on Boeing Expansion in Missouri
ST. LOUIS, MO, (, December 1, 2013 - Governor Jay Nixon has called a special session of the General Assembly to pass legislation to help the state win production of Boeing's next-generation commercial aircraft, the 777X. The 2013 Special Session will convene at 4 p.m. on Monday, December 2. State responses to Boeing's Request for Proposal, received last week, are due by December 10 and legislative action is necessary in order for Missouri to put forward a competitive proposal.

In a statement, Governor Nixon said, "Building this next-generation commercial aircraft in Missouri would create thousands of jobs across our state and secure our position as a hub for advanced aerospace manufacturing - and that's why I am committed to competing for and winning this project."

"In order to put forward a competitive proposal on this very aggressive timeline, decisive legislative action is required to add capacity to four of Missouri's existing economic development programs, which already include strict job creation and investment requirements, so that they can accommodate an aerospace project on this scale."

While the administration continues to work closely with its local partners on a final response to Boeing's RFP, the State's proposal will seek to address the company's critical needs in worker training, infrastructure development and job creation incentives. To put forward a competitive proposal in all these areas, the Governor has asked the General Assembly to pass legislation adding additional capacity of up to $150 million annually for large-scale aerospace projects under four of Missouri's existing economic development programs: Missouri Works, Missouri Works Training, Missouri BUILD, and the Real Property Tax Increment Allocation Redevelopment Act.

"It's important to note that these are the same targeted, fiscally responsible programs that are available to any company creating significant numbers of high-paying, family-supporting jobs," said Gov. Nixon. "This legislation will simply give us added capacity to compete for this type of massive aerospace project, while maintaining existing accountability measures and ensuring a positive return for taxpayers. Aerospace companies like Boeing, will have to invest and create jobs in order to earn these benefits."

To meet the company's workforce needs, Gov. Nixon's administration is also engaging a consortium of area community colleges to train and certify thousands of additional graduates in aerospace and advanced manufacturing areas to grow a pipeline of highly-skilled workers for this project and others in this sector.

"Boeing has been very clear that the availability of a large, highly-skilled workforce is one of the key factors the company will use to determine where to produce its next generation of commercial aircraft," said Gov. Nixon. "Especially in technology-intensive industries like aerospace, we're seeing once again that our human capital is the best economic development tool we have."

"It's a real testament to Missouri's significant competitive advantages that we can put forward a competitive bid for this project without undertaking risky experiments or veering off into uncharted waters," Gov. Nixon said. "I look forward to working with the General Assembly to make sure the tools we have in place are ready to bring this game-changing project and thousands of jobs to the Show-Me State."

Americans Opting for 'Couch Commerce' Spending
ST. LOUIS, MO, (, December 1, 2013 - U.S. desktop retail e-commerce spending for the first 29 days of the November - December 2013 holiday season, according to comScore. For the holiday season-to-date, $20.6 billion has been spent online, marking a 3-percent increase versus the corresponding days last year.

Due to variation in the 2012 and 2013 holiday shopping calendars with Thanksgiving falling so late this year, current season figures are being compared to last year's, which contain a full week of heavy post-Thanksgiving/Cyber Week buying.

Black Friday 2013 (November 29) saw $1.198 billion in desktop online sales, making it the season's first billion dollar day and heaviest online spending day to date, while representing a 15-percent increase versus Black Friday 2012. Thanksgiving Day (November 28), while traditionally a lighter day for online holiday spending, achieved a strong 21-percent increase over Thanksgiving Day last year to $766 million.

"While Black Friday - and now Thanksgiving Day - is the traditional kick-off to the brick-and-mortar holiday shopping season, both days continue to grow in importance on the online channel," said comScore chairman Gian Fulgoni. "Clearly many consumers prefer to avoid the crowds and lines typically associated with Black Friday by shopping from the comfort of their own homes, and we saw a record 66 million Americans do that this year. Also interesting is that the recent trend of kick-starting holiday shopping by opening stores on Thanksgiving Day seems to be having a spillover effect on the online channel. Thanksgiving once again posted a well above average growth rate and is the fastest-growing online shopping day over the past five years, as more Americans opt for couch commerce following their Thanksgiving Day festivities."

Amazon Ranks #1 Among Online Retailers on Black Friday

66.1 million Americans visited online retail sites on Black Friday using a desktop computer, representing an increase of 16 percent versus year ago. Amazon once again ranked as the most visited online retail site on Black Friday, followed by eBay, Walmart, Best Buy and Target.

Apparel & Accessories Leads the Way for Holiday Category Spending

For the holiday season-to-date, Apparel & Accessories ranks as the leading product category for the season-to-date, accounting for 28 percent of online spending. Computer Hardware ranks #2 at 19 percent, followed by Consumer Electronics (7 percent), Consumer Packaged Goods (5 percent) and Shipping Services (5 percent).

Bill and Melinda Gates Select Four Charities for Giving Tuesday
ST. LOUIS, MO, (, December 1, 2013 - Bill and Melinda Gates have announced they are supporting Giving Tuesday, a national day of giving on December 3. As part of that movement, the Gates' are highlighting four of the organizations they personally support, in an effort to help others who want to donate to effective charities this holiday giving season.

Now in its second year, Giving Tuesday is a movement to add a national day of giving to the holiday calendar following Thanksgiving, Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Giving Tuesday is an opportunity for the giving community to come together to support worthy causes and to encourage giving. During Giving Tuesday in 2012, online giving increased by nearly 50 percent from the previous year according to some measures, and more than 50 million people worldwide spread the word about Giving Tuesday.

Bill and Melinda Gates' top four causes to donate to this Giving Tuesday include these: is an online charity that makes it easy for anyone to help students in need. Public school teachers from every corner of America post classroom project requests on the DonorsChoose site, and visitors can give any amount to the project that is most inspiring to them.

Heifer International empowers families to turn hunger and poverty into hope and prosperity by helping bring sustainable agriculture and commerce to areas that need it most. The animals provide partners with both food and reliable income, as agricultural products such as milk, eggs and honey can be traded or sold at market.

Save the Children gives kids in the United States and around the world what every child deserves: a healthy start, the opportunity to learn and protection from harm, especially when disaster strikes. When disaster strikes, Save the Children advocates and achieves lasting change for millions of children. They save children's lives.

World Vision is dedicated to working with children, families and their communities worldwide to reach their full potential by tackling the causes of poverty and injustice. World Vision works on every level to achieve the goal of child well-being - from international activism to checking in on children face-to-face.

" No matter who you support, and how much you give, it's a great way to help create a better world," said Bill Gates, co-chair of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

As the holiday shopping season begins, individuals are encouraged to contribute what they can to these worthy causes - or any other charitable organizations - to make a positive impact.

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