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Comcast Continues Major Fiber Network Expansion in Texas

Comcast Texas

Comcast announced today it will continue to significantly expand its next-generation Xfinity network across several southeast Texas counties in 2024. The media and technology company will invest more than $265 million to install more than one thousand miles of new fiber-rich highways that will reach more than 100,000 homes and businesses by the end of this year. The planned expansions add to Comcast’s ongoing $3 billion investment in Texas over the last three years. Comcast’s fiber network expansion in 2024 will begin in the cities of Conroe, Montgomery, Hempstead, Porter, Navasota and Cleveland. Construction will also continue in other communities that have ongoing network infrastructure projects in the Houston area. Conroe, parts of which already have access to Xfinity and Comcast Business services, will be the largest expansion area of the year — reaching approximately 20,000 additional homes and businesses. These locations will have the foundational next-generation network in place to begin deploying DOCSIS 4.0, setting the stage for the introduction of new symmetrical multi-gigabit Internet options. “Reliable high-speed internet is essential in today’s digital economy, which is why Comcast continues its commitment to connect more southeast Texas families and businesses to the moments that matter most,” said Jose Espinel, Comcast Texas’ Regional Senior Vice President. “We are expanding our fiber highways in Montgomery, Waller, Grimes and Liberty counties, strategically investing in areas undergoing significant growth. By establishing the best broadband infrastructure today, we are securing the economic prosperity of these communities for tomorrow.” Comcast’s commitment to new communities goes beyond the build-- addressing digital opportunities in communities through Project UP, the company’s $1 billion dollar commitment to help tens of millions of people connect to the Internet and build futures of unlimited possibilities. Last year, Comcast Texas invested more than one million dollars to help local community organizations provide hands on digital skills training, offer workforce development/readiness workshops and other tech education to students, adults and people with disabilities. The funding also supports ongoing efforts to build awareness about affordable connectivity services like Internet Essentials, which offers eligible households high-speed internet for $9.95/month or Internet Essentials Plus for $29.95/month. Affordable computers are also available through Internet Essentials. For more construction details and updates, visit ComcastTexas.com/Expansion. Powered by Xfinity Comcast’s network and Internet experience are powering homes today and into the future. Ultimate Capacity: Xfinity customers connect more than 1 billion devices across the company’s network annually. With the next-generation Xfinity gateways we deliver the most advanced WiFi technology carrying three times more bandwidth to power streaming, gaming, videoconferencing, and more, simultaneously. Fastest Internet: More than a third of Xfinity Internet customers subscribe to gigabit speed products. Recently Comcast connected the first customers in the world to a DOCSIS 4.0 connection, delivering symmetrical gig speeds over existing connections in customers’ homes with plans to continue to rollout these speeds across the country over the coming years. Unprecedented Coverage: The latest Xfinity Gateway provides a more reliable connection throughout the home. Customers can get wall-to-wall WiFi coverage with a powerful WiFi Boost Pod that extends coverage to hard-to-reach areas of the home. Most Reliable Connection: Comcast is scaling the nation’s largest and most reliable network that passes 62 million homes and business and counting. The company launched Storm-Ready WiFi, a new device that comes powered with cellular and battery backup to help keep customers connected even when the power goes out. Ultra-Low Latency: The Xfinity network and the latest Xfinity Gateway are a powerful combination that deliver ultra-low latency for those moments when response times matter most like video games, a fast-growing category with Xfinity households averaging more than one gaming console per home. The Xfinity network is also self-monitoring and uses AI to detect potential problems before they arise, delivering a reliable connection that is up and running in customers’ homes 99% of the time. For local businesses, Comcast Business offers a suite of connectivity, communications, networking, cybersecurity, wireless, and managed solutions to help organizations of different sizes prepare for what’s next. Powered by the nation’s largest Gig-speed broadband network, and backed by 24/7 customer support, Comcast Business is the nation’s largest cable provider to small and mid-size businesses and one of the leading service providers to the Enterprise market. Comcast Business has been consistently recognized by industry analysts and associations as a leader and innovator, and one of the fastest-growing providers of Ethernet services. Ookla’s Speedtest TM Market Index report shows that Xfinity delivered the fastest median download speeds to its Internet customers in the United States for the final quarter of 2022. Comcast Corporation (Nasdaq: CMCSA) is a global media and technology company that connects people to moments that matter. We are principally focused on connectivity, aggregation, and streaming with 57 million customer relationships across the United States and Europe. We deliver broadband, wireless, and video through our Xfinity, Comcast Business, and Sky brands; create, distribute, and stream leading entertainment, sports, and news through Universal Filmed Entertainment Group, Universal Studio Group, Sky Studios, the NBC and Telemundo broadcast networks, multiple cable networks, Peacock, NBCUniversal News Group, NBC Sports, Sky News, and Sky Sports; and provide memorable experiences at Universal Parks and Resorts in the United States and Asia. Visit www.comcastcorporation.com for more information. Contact Details Taisha Walker +1 832-942-1131 Taisha_Walker@comcast.com Company Website https://houston.comcast.com/

March 21, 2024 06:00 AM Central Daylight Time

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NMTC Coalition Applauds Tax Credit Permanence in FY2025 Budget Proposal

New Markets Tax Credit Coalition

On March 11, 2024, the Biden Administration released its FY2025 budget proposal. The budget includes a permanent extension of the New Markets Tax Credit at $5 billion a year in the annual allocation authority with an inflation adjustment in the out years. In 2019, Congress increased the annual allocation of NMTC credits to $5 billion, and in 2020, Congress enacted a five-year extension of the NMTC, the largest in the program’s history. The program, however, is set to expire in 2025 unless extended or made permanent. “The New Markets Tax Credit has been and remains absolutely vital for many of America’s urban neighborhoods and rural communities and provides billions of dollars for high-impact, community revitalization projects,” said Bob Rapoza, spokesperson for the NMTC Coalition. “Over the years, the credit has been instrumental in financing plant and equipment for small manufacturing businesses and patient, flexible capital to other small businesses, hospitals, healthcare centers, homeless shelters and other transformative projects that improve communities, and create jobs and economic opportunity. We applaud the President’s leadership and commitment to this important program, as well as the bipartisan support of leaders in both chambers.” All NMTC projects are in low-income communities, and the vast majority of NMTC investments are located in communities where the magnitude of economic distress far exceeds the statutory requirements for qualified investments. NMTC allocation applicants face stiff competition. In 2023, applicants requested more than $14 billion in awards, nearly three times the amount available. The application rewards community development entity applicants who propose investments in areas of severe distress. While all NMTC projects must be located in qualified low-income communities, and according to NMTC Coalition survey data and CDFI Fund transaction data, roughly 75 to 85 percent are located severely distressed census tracts with extremely high poverty and unemployment rates. During this Congress, both the Senate and House introduced bills (S. 234 and H.R. 2539) with bipartisan support to make the NMTC extension permanent. Throughout its 20-year history, the NMTC has delivered more than $125 billion to rural and urban communities outside the economic mainstream, which has led to financing to more than 8,000 businesses and projects and over one million jobs. “Establishing the NMTC as a permanent part of the tax code, as proposed by the President in his budget request, will provide certainty and further promote getting patient, flexible capital to low-income and marginalized communities, creating jobs, increasing economic opportunity, and improving lives at a time when the economic frailty of our underserved communities has never been more apparent,” said Rapoza. Established in 2000 in the Community Renewal Tax Relief Act (P.L.106-554), the New Markets Tax Credit is a bipartisan effort to stimulate investment and economic growth in low-income urban neighborhoods and rural communities. For examples of how the NMTC is making an impact in each state, see the NMTC Coalition’s website, where you can find more than 2,500 NMTC success stories organized by state and congressional district. About New Markets Tax Credit Program The New Markets Tax Credit (NMTC) was enacted in 2000 to stimulate private investment and economic growth in low-income urban neighborhoods and rural communities that lack access to the patient capital needed to support and grow businesses, create jobs, and sustain healthy local economies. Since its inception, the NMTC has generated more than one million jobs. Today, due to the NMTC, more than $125 billion is hard at work in underserved communities in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Guam, and Puerto Rico. For more information, visit www.NMTCCoalition.org. Contact Details Greg Wilson +1 571-239-7474 gregwilsonpr@gmail.com Company Website https://nmtccoalition.org/

March 20, 2024 09:38 AM Eastern Daylight Time

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Builders Capital Appoints New Chief Sales Officer Expanding Nationwide Reach to Homebuilders

Builders Capital

Builders Capital proudly announces the appointment of Mark Woodbridge as the Chief Sales Officer, ushering in a new era of strategic growth and nationwide expansion for the company’s homebuilder outreach. With an impressive 28-year career in private finance and mortgage banking, Mark brings a wealth of expertise to his new role. Having been an integral part of the Builders Capital Management Team for the past nine years, Mark has excelled in various leadership positions, including Vice President of Strategic Accounts, National Wholesale Director, and National Sales Director. “Mark’s appointment as Chief Sales Officer signifies our commitment to continued growth and excellence,” affirms Rob Trent, CEO. Beth Glein, COO at Builders Capital praises Mark’s exceptional leadership style, emphasizing his hands-on approach, profound industry knowledge, and innovative finance strategies as pivotal factors in his appointment. “Mark’s instrumental contributions have propelled Builders Capital to become the top private construction lender nationwide,” remarks Glein. She expresses delight in partnering with him as they enter a new phase of organizational effectiveness. In his new capacity, Mark has restructured the sales organization, appointing: Alissa McCord as Director of Sales Support Rich D’Agostino as National Sales Leader Bryan Ruff as Director of Sales Operations This dynamic leadership team is tasked with providing comprehensive training and guidance to the sales force, ensuring alignment with company objectives, and optimizing opportunities within the residential homebuilder market nationwide. Expressing his enthusiasm for the role, Mark Woodbridge said, " I am honored and excited to lead our sales initiatives as Chief Sales Officer. Together, we will drive innovation, refine our strategies, and elevate Builders Capital to the next level of success. I am committed to fostering a culture of collaboration, customer satisfaction, and continuous improvement within our organization. " Under Mark's leadership, Builders Capital embarks on a transformative journey, poised to redefine industry benchmarks and consolidate its position as a pioneering force in residential construction lending. To learn more about Builders Capital and the construction loans they offer to builders and developers, visit builderscapital.com About Builders Capital Builders Capital is the nation's largest private construction lender, offering innovative financing solutions to a wide spectrum of developers and homebuilders. Loan products include options for Acquisition, Development, Construction, and Bridge financing, in the form of single-asset loans, portfolio loans, and revolving credit facilities. In addition to financing opportunities, Builders Capital borrowers can leverage national accounts for material purchase discounts, and access cutting-edge technology for project management, accounting, and BIM technology tools. Builders Capital is headquartered in Puyallup, Washington, with regional sales offices across the country. The management team at Builders Capital brings over 100 years of expertise in residential construction lending, home building, real estate development, and loan servicing. Learn more at: Builderscapital.com Contact Details Joann Whetstine joann.whetstine@builderscapital.com Company Website https://builderscapital.com/

March 19, 2024 07:03 AM Eastern Daylight Time

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Spring Bird Makes its Expo Debut at the 2024 Texas Transit Association State Conference, Expo, and Roadeo

Spring Bird

Spring Bird, a name synonymous with excellence and innovation in the transportation industry, is thrilled to announce its first-ever expo attendance at the Texas Transit Association (TTA) State Conference, Expo, and Roadeo from March 15-20, 2024, in San Antonio, Texas. This landmark event marks Spring Bird's grand entrance into the expo scene, showcasing their comprehensive range of services, including maintenance, retrofitting, leasing, and sales of transit-style buses. Spring Bird, under the visionary leadership of Elliott Carson, continues the legacy of the Carson family in the bus industry, bringing over 75 years of combined experience and dedication to quality, safety, and customer satisfaction. The company specializes in offering top-tier transit buses from renowned manufacturers like New Flyer, and Gillig, emphasizing the latest safety features and technological advancements. Spring Bird’s cutting-edge rehabilitation services will be the heart of its expo showcase. Attendees will learn about the company’s capabilities in performing minor repairs, major overhauls, and retrofitting buses with the latest low-emission engines and GPS tracking systems. Spring Bird is committed to providing customized solutions that meet clients’ unique needs, whether they want to purchase new buses or service their existing fleets. Elliott Carson, representing the fourth generation of the Carson family in the bus industry, expressed his enthusiasm about participating in the TTA State Conference, Expo, and Roadeo: "We are excited to debut at this wonderful event and look forward to connecting with transit agencies and other entities from Texas and across the United States. Our attendance at the TTA Expo is a testament to Spring Bird's commitment to excellence and innovation in providing high-quality, affordable transportation solutions." Texas is also the home of Spring Bird, located in Austin, TX. The Texas Transit Association, organized in 1986, brings together metropolitan, small urban, and rural transit agencies, along with private and public entities from across the country, making it the perfect platform for Spring Bird to introduce its services to a wider audience. Visit Spring Bird at the 2024 TTA State Conference, Expo, and Roadeo to explore how they can support your transit needs with their high-quality buses and comprehensive rehabilitation services. About Spring Bird: Spring Bird is a premier provider of transportation solutions specializing in the sale, leasing, and service of heavy-duty transit buses and motor coaches. Drawing from the rich Carson family legacy in the transportation industry, Spring Bird offers an inventory of high-quality buses from leading manufacturers and provides customized rehabilitation services, including minor repairs, major overhauls, and technological retrofitting. Dedicated to safety, innovation, and customer satisfaction, Spring Bird addresses the unique needs of cities, transit agencies, and private operators, ensuring reliable and efficient transportation solutions. Contact Details Spring Bird Media Contact press@springbirdbus.com Company Website https://springbirdbus.com

March 18, 2024 03:00 PM Central Daylight Time

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CDFI Coalition Marks 30th Anniversary of CDFI Fund

CDFI Coalition

Members of the CDFI Coalition gathered in Washington, DC, this week to mark the 30 th anniversary of the CDFI Fund with a keynote address by Senator Mark Warner (D-VA), panel discussions and the release of a report highlighting the three decades of successes celebrated by the CDFI movement. Coalition members, legislators and Administrations officials held panel discussions on New CDFI Certification Requirements, Cybersecurity and AI, Financing CDFIs and Community Development, Opportunities in Climate Financing, and Challenges and Opportunities for new CEOs of Color. The report is based on data from the Coalition’s survey of its members. Highlights of the report and the 30 th Anniversary of the CDFI Fund include: Seventy CDFIs responded to the survey, making $22.5 billion in loan originations and $185 million in EQ2 and equity investments. This financing created or sustained more than 500,000 jobs and 105,000 units of affordable housing, over 150,000 community facilities and 437,000 business. The CDFI industry has grown significantly since its infancy in 1994. 1,462 CDFIs have been certified to work in low-wealth communities nationwide as of January 2024. These CDFIs have assets totaling more than $200 billion and outstanding portfolios of more than $150 billion. Certified CDFIs include 573 loan funds, 516 credit unions, 161 depository institution holding companies, 197 banks or thrifts, and 15 venture capital funds in rural and urban areas in all 50 states and the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and Guam. In FY 23, CDFI Fund Financial Assistance recipients financed more than 126,000 businesses, provided funding for more than 76,000 affordable homes, and originated more than $57 billion in loans and investments. Thirty years ago, only a handful of CDFIs had been funded with philanthropy and other support, and their success provided the roadmap for the 1994 legislation and the impetus for the CDFI fund. One of the more unexpected successes of the CDFI movement and the CDFI fund are the offshoots that they have supported and enabled. Significant new programs were built on the CDFI infrastructure and commitment created in 1994 by the Riegle Act. “The CDFI 30 th Anniversary Report contains numerous success stories from CDFIs around the nation about how the credit, the products and the technical assistance they have made available have been transformative in their communities,” said CDFI Coalition spokesperson Bob Rapoza. For example: CDFI Program Financial Assistance (FA) Awards – The CDFI Fund makes FA awards to both large and small certified CDFIs. CDFIs use FA awards for lending capital, loan loss or capital reserves, operations, or development services. Award recipients must match their FA award dollar-for-dollar with non-federal funds. The Native American CDFI Assistance Program, launched in 2001 to encourage investing in Native Communities by supporting the creation and expansion of Native CDFIs -- which in turn help to create jobs, establish, or improve affordable housing, and provide appropriate financial services and counseling to community residents. The number of Native CDFIs has increased from 14 in 2001 to 66 in 2024. The New Markets Tax Credit Program, authorized in 2000 to stimulate private investment in low-income communities. The CDFI Fund has made 1,563 allocation awards totaling $76 billion to date. New Markets tax Credit investments have created more than one million jobs that cost the federal government less than $20,000 per job. The CDFI Bond Guarantee Program, authorized in 2010 to empower the Treasury Department to guarantee notes or bonds issued at no cost to the federal government to support CDFI lending and investment activity. Since 2013, the CDFI Fund has guaranteed nearly $2.5 billion in bond authority through the program. The Capital Magnet Fund, administered by the CDFI Fund, provides grants on a competitive basis to CDFIs and other non-profit organizations to finance affordable housing and related economic development efforts for low-income families and communities. The Capital Magnet Fund has generated $20 additional investment for every $1 of award funding and created more than 63,000 affordable homes. The report also highlights the power of CDFIs, their investors and stakeholders in responding to our nation’s racial equity challenges as well as the Great Recession and the COVID 19 Pandemic. For example: CDFIs served as economic shock absorbers, providing flexible and patient capital, rigorous risk management, and commitment to the projects in their communities and the sustainability of their borrowers. When traditional lenders pull back from economically distressed communities, policymakers look to CDFIs to fill the void. Recognizing the power of CDFIs, during the height of the pandemic, Congress made an investment in 2020 through appropriations for three temporary programs to support CDFIs, totaling $12 billion, including $1.25 billion for what became the Rapid Response Program, $1.75 billion for increased investment in low-income communities of color, and $9 billion for an emergency capital investment program for CDFI’s certified depositories and MDIs. CDFIs used those new resources to provide a wide variety of financial services to support the recovery of underserved markets under siege from COVID-19. In addition to stabilizing businesses, CDFIs financed initiatives to expand access to healthy food, health centers and hospitals, affordable housing, shelters, treatment centers, and other businesses and community facilities on the front lines of the pandemic. Private sector corporations and foundations have also recognized the efficacy and power of CDFIs. For example, between 2020 and 2022, in the aftermath of the murder of George Floyd and the ongoing pandemic, the eight largest US banks made $9.2 billion in commitments to CDFIs. This commitment and the increased federal support allowed CDFIs to expand their efforts and launch new initiatives in communities of color. “As we look forward to the next 30 years, we know that CDFIs are going to continue to be a major force for bringing access to credit to low-income communities and individuals across the nation. They will be pivotal in our collective efforts to eliminate racial wealth gaps and increase opportunities for people and communities of color,” Rapoza added. CDFIs continue to innovate, to solve problems, to finance opportunities and to make sure that lending capital and technical assistance is available to all communities in our nation. In doing so, they acknowledge there is a newer and burning challenge – how CDFIs can support reducing the carbon in our atmosphere and ensure that low-income communities and communities of color can access the same opportunities, tools and resources that will help mitigate the impact of climate change on our communities and economy. “The confidence of Congress and the Administration in providing such a key role to CDFIs under the Green House Gas Reduction Fund is a wonderful testament to the positive impact and reach of CDFIs in our most underserved communities,” said Rapoza. “We know that CDFIs will bring their innovative cultures, their commitment to serving low-income communities and communities of color, and their experience leveraging federal and philanthropic resources with private capital to make such a difference in America’s communities.” DOWNLOAD THE CDFI FUND 30 TH ANNIVERSARY REPORT About the CDFI Coalition Community development financial institutions (CDFIs) are lenders with a mission to provide fair, responsible financing to rural, urban, Native and other communities that mainstream finance doesn’t traditionally reach. The CDFI Coalition, formed in 1992, is the unified national voice of community development financial institutions. Our mission is to encourage fair access to financial resources for America’s underserved people and communities. Through its member organizations, the Coalition represents CDFIs working in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. This national network of CDFIs includes community development loan funds, community development banks, community development credit unions, microenterprise lenders, community development corporations and community development venture capital funds. The CDFI Coalition coordinates industry wide initiatives to increase the availability of capital, credit and financial services to low-income communities across the nation. For more information, visit www.CDFI.org Contact Details Greg Wilson +1 571-239-7474 gregwilsonpr@gmail.com

March 14, 2024 11:06 AM Eastern Daylight Time

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Atrato Capital highlights strong performance and growth opportunities for Supermarket Income REIT

Supermarket Income REIT PLC

Atrato Capital managing director, Robert Abraham and finance director Michael Perkins visit the Proactive studio to discuss the interim results of Supermarket Income REIT PLC (LSE:SUPR, OTC:SUPIF), emphasising the sector's strong performance. Abraham said key tenants, Tesco and Sainsbury's, have reported robust sales growth and market share, particularly in omni-channel stores, which have seen the most significant sales increases. The investment market presents an attractive pipeline of accretive assets for SUPR, with current leverage allowing capacity for targeting these opportunities, he added. Perkins noted that SUPR reported a 15% increase in net rental income for the six months ending December 2023, driven by acquisitions and rent review income, maintaining stable adjusted earnings of 2.9 pence. Despite operating at lower leverage, the company is on track to meet its full-year dividend target of 6.06 pence. Since SUPR's IPO in 2017, Abraham said the grocery sector has seen a 35% sales growth, reaching a market size of £250 billion, with this increase largely attributable to like-for-like sales growth in omni-channel spaces, indicating a maturation phase for discounters. The grocery sector's strength has enhanced the property market, with store turnovers growing ahead of rents, demonstrating the affordability of rents for key tenants. The investment market has witnessed record volumes of £2.1 billion, highlighting the attractiveness of supermarkets as an investment. With a robust balance sheet, low leverage (LTV of 33%), and significant headroom across banking covenants, Perkins said is well-positioned to pursue earnings-accretive acquisitions. Contact Details Proactive UK Ltd +44 20 7989 0813 uk@proactiveinvestors.com

March 14, 2024 08:16 AM Eastern Daylight Time

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CIOB Report Reveals Construction Industry’s Reluctance to Hire People with Criminal Convictions

Chartered Institute of Building

Just 25 per cent of construction bosses say that they would hire people with a criminal conviction Negative stigma, lack of prior qualifications and fears over existing employees’ safety cited amongst barriers New report says recruiting people with a criminal record could decrease rate of employment for those leaving prison (Currently 74 per cent still unemployed after six months). Government estimates annual cost of reoffending is £18 billion. Negative stigma and a lack of proper training opportunities are blocking many people with criminal records from earning a second chance at life within the construction industry, a Chartered Institute of Building (CIOB) report has revealed. The report, called Building Opportunity: Employing People with Criminal Convictions in Construction, shows individuals with a criminal record face significant barriers to gaining employment within the industry including perceived risk to the business by employers and fears about business reputation. It urges the Government to break down barriers and provide more accessible training opportunities to improve individual’s employability and ease the skills shortage in the construction industry. Statistics show nearly 75 per cent of people leaving prison are still without work six months after their release. CIOB says breaking down barriers would lower unemployment amongst people with criminal convictions. Meanwhile, the Government estimates the current cost of re-offending is approximately £18 billion per year. Niamh Evans, Policy and Public Affairs Officer North at CIOB, said more people within the industry should consider an open-minded approach to hiring people looking for a fresh start, adding: “Construction companies across the UK are facing a labour shortage and there is an untapped market of potential candidates waiting to be unearthed. “However, negative stigma and a lack of access to proper training for people in prison means there are many people missing out on a second chance at life. “Companies can proactively show they are willing to consider applicants with a criminal record by making this known on their website and teaming up with organisations that support people with criminal convictions to find work. “While there are some training opportunities available for people with criminal convictions, we would like to see improved access to give more candidates a chance to develop their skills ahead of a rewarding career within construction.” CIOB’s research shows just 25 per cent of construction managers surveyed* would consider hiring a person with an unspent criminal conviction – despite the sector facing a significant labour crisis. Thirty-two per cent of respondents said they would not consider hiring someone with an unspent criminal conviction while 43 per cent said they might. More than 12 million people in the UK currently have a criminal record with hundreds of thousands of convictions remaining unspent – so candidates must declare their convictions when applying for a job. Some survey respondents said they would not hire people with criminal convictions due to the lack of trust in an individual’s behaviour and concerns over existing employees’ safety, particularly in a high-risk environment like a construction site. Despite this CIOB’s report highlights how some construction companies have already enjoyed success through hiring people with criminal convictions and specifically showcases how one large construction company and one much smaller one, are being proactive in this area. They include Williams Homes, based in Bala, Wales, which has taken on several recruits through its work with HMP Berwyn. Owain Williams, joint managing director, added: “Our initiative to provide work experience and training to individuals in our local prison has been incredibly successful. We have gained loyal workers and we have been able to tailor our supply chain to meet the company’s needs, whilst giving back to the community. “Everyone working in the prison academy and on site through temporary release receives a high standard of training. Our colleagues and clients have all supported and embraced the project as it allows us to make an immense difference to the lives of people leaving custody by broadening their career opportunities. “As we have had such a positive experience with this initiative, we are now exploring how to scale up this work and employ more people following their release from prison.” It is estimated 225,000 additional construction workers will be needed to meet demand by 2027, according to data from the Construction Industry Training Board (CITB). Demand for construction work is likely to increase in the years ahead with significant plans for the regeneration of the built environment in the UK, particularly with the Government’s flagship levelling up agenda and political focus on delivering a faster rate of housebuilding. CIOB obtained its data through a survey of more than 130 construction companies across the UK. To read the report in full, visit: www.ciob.org/industry/research/criminal-convictions-employment Notes to editors * Survey of 270 construction industry representatives across 133 businesses carried out by CIOB in September/October 2023. Other CIOB recommendations include: Construction companies should review the recruitment process to remove unnecessary barriers and look to assess applicants on an individual, case-by-case basis Prisons and training partners should align qualifications and training with construction industry needs, whilst also considering the specific learning requirements for people in custody Improved Government support for individuals leaving custody, including access to appropriate accommodation and financial assistance which is vital for supporting individuals to reintegrate into the workforce. About CIOB The Chartered Institute of Building (CIOB) stands for the science, ethics and practice of built environments across the world. We have over 47,000 members worldwide and are the world's largest and most influential professional body for construction management and leadership. Everything we do is to improve the quality of life for those using and creating the built environment. We have a role in the management, leadership, education and development of our industry. For our members, guiding and educating them as they embark on their careers. For policymakers, defining the standards for all to meet. For the public, creating an environment they can live and work in safely, comfortably and confidently. Contact Details For further information please contact Courtney Friday CIOB Media Relations Officer +44 7552 538788 cfriday@ciob.org.uk Company Website https://www.ciob.org/

March 12, 2024 07:00 AM Eastern Daylight Time

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BRKZ Secures $8m in Series A Funding to Revolutionize the Building Materials Sector in MENA

BRKZ

Total value of the various infrastructure, transport, and building projects across the MENA region is approximately $2.5T. Helping to connect construction businesses with suppliers of building materials, a pioneering B2B construction tech startup BRKZ that specializes in materials procurement for construction projects is today announcing a $8 million investment to empower contractors to reach their full potential. The funding round was co-led by 9900 and BECO Capital, with participation from Aramco’s Wa’ed Ventures, Knollwood Investment Advisory, RZM Investment and MISY Ventures. With this series A funding round, BRKZ has now raised $13.55m in total. BRKZ’s seed round ($5.55m) was led by Better Tomorrow Ventures, with participation from Class 5 Global, Knollwood Investment Advisory, Plus VC, and several other strategic Saudi angel investors. BRKZ was launched in 2022 and founded by Ibrahim Manna, a three-time logistics founder and former Careem executive, to address critical challenges in the construction industry such as fragmented supply chains, operational inefficiencies, and lack of access to finances. The company aims to leverage technology to ensure equitable access to the best market prices for all contractors and is on a mission to build a tech-enabled ecosystem to revolutionize the MENA construction industry. For buyers of building materials, BRKZ offers access to the best prices across a wide pool of suppliers and materials along with multiple delivery and payment options. And importantly, a quick and easy Request for Quotes via WhatsApp or website. Suppliers engage with BRKZ to benefit from access to a wide customer base. The simplified portal for suppliers enables them to customize prices by size, location, and delivery options. To date, BRKZ has facilitated over $170m quotations across nearly 1200 products from more than 350 suppliers. Ibrahim Manna, Founder of BRKZ, commented: “The investment underscores BRKZ's commitment to digitizing buying and selling building materials, promoting transparency, and fostering efficient contractor financing. It comes at a pivotal moment for BRKZ, enabling us to grow further within the $100billion construction market here in KSA. We're set to drive significant change, through tech, across every single touchpoint relevant to how building materials are sourced and supplied in a sector crucial to our economic landscape.” With this new funding, BRKZ is set to deepen its proprietary capabilities, getting closer to being a one-stop-shop for the construction industry, and expand its footprint across Saudi Arabia and beyond. Thus, contributing to the growth and efficiency of the construction sector in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the MENA region. Dany Farha from BECO Capital said: “The MENA construction market is full of substantial opportunities both for investors and contractors. BRKZ is well placed and capitalized to be the catalyst to boost development. The investment aligns with Saudi Arabia's Vision 2030, attracting foreign investors and founders to a flourishing construction sector. BRKZ's strategic initiatives are aligned perfectly with our investment philosophy at BECO Capital. We're excited to be part of their journey.” Chris Corbishley, Managing Partner at 9900 added: “At 9900, we focus on ‘big problems’, identifying extraordinary founders solving for externalities across a range of sectors, globally. Nowhere is this more evident than in the construction sector - an industry marred by inefficiencies resulting in an estimated $1.6 trillion in annual losses to economic actors, as well as 5.7 billion metric tonnes of CO2 each year, which accounts for ~26% of global emissions. With their best-in-class procurement platform delivered through the power of technology, we’re excited to be backing Ibrahim and the BRKZ team towards driving positive change for this important economic sector within the MENA region” About BRKZ BRKZ is a B2B construction tech startup revolutionizing the buying and selling of building materials, through a managed marketplace. With a focus on digitization and transparency, BRKZ is committed to providing the best prices and financing solutions to contractors and suppliers in KSA and MENA. BRKZ is backed by leading VCs including 9900, BECO, BetterTomorrow Ventures, Waed, Knollwood Investment Advisory, Class 5 Global, RZM and Plus VC. Reflecting strong confidence in its mission to innovate the construction materials market. For more information please visit: https://brkz.com/en About 9900 9900 Capital is a multi-stage fund based in London, with offices in New York and a growing presence in MENA. Founded in 2023, it is managed by former investors at the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the London-based investment firm Hedosophia. Alluding to the firm’s numerical name, which comes from the average number of working days in a lifetime, 9900's mission is to back extraordinary founders tackling 'big problems' across a range of sectors, globally. About BECO Capital Founded in 2012, BECO Capital is one of the first early-stage VC firms to have been founded in the UAE with a focus on MENA. Today, we are one of the largest non-governmental venture firms with c.$450m in assets under management. We’ve had the privilege of partnering early on with the regions’ biggest success stories which has resulted in all our funds being consistently ranked in the top 10% globally in terms of performance. We back early-stage tech entrepreneurs across a wide range of sectors who are tackling massive white spaces, building robust technology, and driving the evolution of the ecosystem in the MENA region and beyond. We support our startups with their overall strategy, fundraising and business development efforts, and provide mentorship and ongoing data analytics and insights. We've invested in 40+ startups and are building a global platform to continuously invest in cutting edge tech. For more information please visit: https://becocapital.com/ Contact Details BRKZ Bilal Mahmood +44 7714 007257 b.mahmood@stockwoodstrategy.com Company Website https://brkz.com/en

March 06, 2024 06:00 AM Eastern Standard Time

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Roberts & Ryan Inc. Joins NYSE and Welcomes the Mark J. Muller Equities Team to Strengthen Its Equity Trading Operations.

Roberts & Ryan, Inc.

Roberts & Ryan Inc., a Veteran Owned broker-dealer, is delighted to announce it has been approved for membership by the New York Stock Exchange and began operating today on the iconic NYSE trading floor. In conjunction with this milestone, the firm proudly introduces the esteemed Mark J. Muller Equities trading team to its floor operation. Comprising seasoned professionals including Mark Muller and Robert Moran, the team brings a wealth of experience and expertise to Roberts & Ryan Inc. The addition of the Mark J. Muller Equities trading team to the firm's already robust equity trading platform serves to fortify Roberts & Ryan's capabilities, reinforcing the company's commitment to anticipating and addressing client needs and concerns. Membership at the NYSE will empower the firm to harness broader liquidity pools, achieve parity in situational trading, and access real-time insights from point-of-sale access. These synergies, combined with Roberts & Ryan's existing institutional trading operation, will enhance the company's ability to serve equity clients effectively. Additionally, Roberts & Ryan will be well-positioned to assist clients during key price discovery events on the NYSE Floor, such as IPOs and secondary offerings. Founded on the core value of prioritizing competence, Roberts & Ryan Inc. places client satisfaction at the forefront of its operations. As a Veteran-Owned firm with the requisite certifications to fulfill all DEI mandates and set-asides, the company is dedicated to its social mission. A portion of all commission dollars earned is donated to foundations supporting Veterans and other deserving charities. Since 2018, this initiative has generated over $1.8 million in charitable contributions, benefiting more than 800 Veterans and their families. The combination of competency, diversity, and charity has enabled Roberts & Ryan Inc. to make a meaningful impact in the community. When asked to share his thoughts, Mark Muller, Managing Director of Roberts & Ryan's NYSE Floor Operations, remarked, "The Muller team is excited to be part of the Roberts & Ryan family, a firm that not only provides great service to its clients, but also supports our nation's Veterans and disadvantaged young adults. With our shared vision and commitment to excellence, we will continue to provide value-added executions from the floor of the NYSE." "With these strategic developments, Roberts & Ryan Inc. is poised to deliver enhanced services and value to our clients while upholding our commitment to excellence, integrity, and social responsibility," said Edward D'Alessandro, Chief Executive Officer of Roberts & Ryan, Inc. About Roberts and Ryan, Inc. Roberts & Ryan, Inc. is a Service-Disabled Veteran Owned (SDVO) broker-dealer with execution capabilities in the capital markets, equities, and fixed-income trading. The firm was founded in 1987 by a United States Marine Corps Vietnam combat veteran and Purple Heart recipient. With over $1.8 million in committed donations, Roberts & Ryan is active in donating to charitable foundations that make significant positive impacts in the lives of Veterans and their families, focusing primarily on general wellness, mental health, and career transition. To learn more about Roberts & Ryan, please visit www.roberts-ryan.com. Contact Details Roberts & Ryan, Inc. Sadie Millard, Chief Administrative Officer +1 646-542-0012 smillard@roberts-ryan.com Company Website https://www.roberts-ryan.com

March 04, 2024 12:00 PM Eastern Standard Time

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