ESOPs are not for everyone, however. Rusk cautions that factors such as firm size, cash flow, debt service capacity and corporate culture need to be carefully considered.Healthy Planet Healthy KidsHealthy Children Project, a project of the Learning Disabilities Association of America, has launched a Web site designed and developed to promote public awareness of the risks of environmental toxins. Visitors to the Web site will now have access to key information that can help them make better decisions about their personal health, as well as take action to encourage public officials to make good policy decisions. The Healthy Children Project serves women of child-bearing age, their partners and families, their healthcare providers, and the agencies and institutions that support them. The project provides information about the environmental health impacts of untested chemicals found in food, water and the products we use every day. It is intended to bridge the gap between scientific research and the information that is relayed to the public regarding the impact of environmental factors on developing fetuses, newborns and young children.Web site visitors can:* learn more about toxic substances in the environment and how they might affect children's health;* understand possible reasons why the incidence of learning disabilities, developmental handicaps and disease among children is on the rise;* and find valuable resources that can aid in reaching out to others in an effort to make a difference.For more information, visit www.healthychildrenproject.org.Modern Designs, Traditional MaterialsTMaterial ConneXion will show "Kenneth Cobonpue," an exhibition of innovative furniture blending modern design with traditional materials from the award-winning Filipino designer.Following a family tradition, Kenneth Cobonpue studied design at the Pratt Institute in New York. He apprenticed in Europe with various furniture production and marketing firms before returning home to the Philippines to manage his family's furniture design and manufacturing business. His designs reflect this cross-cultural background, a mix of American, European and Asian influences. His work integrates locally-sourced natural fibers and hand-made production techniques with modernist forms, achieving the warmth of organic materials fused with an intriguing transparency of structure. Combining handiwork and craft with modern form, a single sofa may have 5,000 knots in a dexterous weave that hold the fibers in place over a bent steel frame.The exhibition, scheduled to run from October 14 through November 15, 2004 at the Material ConneXion showroom in New York, NY, will include a selection of iconic pieces such as Yin & Yang, La Luna, Suzy Wong, Dimple, Pigalle and Croissant.A New Definition of Interior Design The Board of Directors of the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) approved in July a new definition of interior design. The definition will assist U.S. jurisdictions and Canadian provinces in regulating the practice and protecting the health, life safety and welfare of the public, while simultaneously helping the public and allied design professionals more clearly understand today's interior design practice.Because the practice of interior design has grown as technology and the environment have evolved, NCIDQ reports that a new definition was needed to better reflect the changes taking place in the profession. A task force of interior designers from the United States and Canada developed the new definition and presented it for review and comment by all NCIDQ member boards and members of the major interior design organizations and associations."As the practice of interior design becomes more complex, it's essential to have a common definition that the public, legislators and other design professionals can use when understanding what interior designers may do in the course of their practice," says Derrell Parker, NCIDQ president. "We will incorporate this language into our model legislative documents, and we encourage jurisdictions to review these documents to see how they align."The new definition can be accessed on the NCIDQ Web site at www.ncidq.org.Billings Increased Six Consecutive Months The American Institute of Architects' (AIA) monthly Architectural Billings Index (ABI) released in June marked the sixth straight month that U.S. architecture firms reported increased billings. Nonresidential construction activity typically follows billings for architectural services by six to eight months, indicating that nonresidential construction should increase substantially over the next several quarters after a sluggish first half of 2004. In addition to a continued increase in billings, architecture firms point to healthy times in the months ahead in their own business conditions based on a considerable increase in inquiries for new design work.Highlights from the report include:* Firms in all regions are reporting stronger business conditions. The largest gains in June came from firms in the Northeast, followed by firms in the South.* The commercial and industrial construction sector looks to benefit the most from the impending upturn in nonresidential construction activity. Architecture firms that specialize in this sector reported the strongest gains in inquiries for new work in June.* Over three-quarters of billings at architecture firms are for design phase activities. Approximately 13 percent of billings are services performed after the design phase-construction or post-construction services. The final 10 percent of billings are for services that don't directly result in construction activity-feasibility studies, consulting, building code analysis, expert testimony, etc."The construction industry, and all business sectors affected by it, should be encouraged by the billings that architecture firms have reported through the first half of 2004," said AIA chief economist Kermit Baker, Ph.D., Hon. AIA. "The only caveat is that improved economic conditions have had an inflationary effect on the price of construction materials, which has already created problems for the construction industry."The ABI is collected from the "Work-on-the-Boards" survey, which is produced by the AIA Economics & Market Research Group. The findings amount to a strong predictive economic indicator that can provide a six- to eight-month glimpse into the future of non-residential construction activity. The indexes contained in the report are derived from a monthly survey sent to a panel of AIA member-owned firms.Increase Projected for U.S. Office Furniture Industry
BIFMA International, Grand Rapids, MI, updated in July its projections on the U.S. office furniture market. Currently, BIFMA reports, as market size decreases, competition for market share is increasing. Manufacturers face a buyer's market where price and service are major considerations for the customer. Therefore, cost containment and operating efficiencies become even more important factors in meeting increased price
competition if a manufacturer is to remain profitable.
In October 2003, the Global Insight industry forecast model was adjusted to focus on the value of the U.S. office furniture market, which is defined as consumption rather than the historical and traditional value of U.S. shipments, also referred to as production. This change is due to the increasing significance of trade and its impact on the domestic market.