Microsoft Teams just became a WhatsApp alternative
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Microsoft teams to replace whats up

By , Pocket Now

Microsoft Teams is not the first name that comes to mind if you’re looking for an alternative communications platform to WhatsApp after the controversial policy change around user data. So far, Teams has made its name as a workplace collaboration platform, but it is now going personal to become your preferred platform for staying in touch with family and friends. Today, Microsoft has announced that Teams is now available for personal use as well, and it is free on mobile (both Android and iOS), desktop as well as the web.

So, what features do you get on Microsoft Teams? Well, you can chat with friends and family members, to begin with. And even if they don’t have the app on their phone, Teams will let you communicate with them via SMS. But that’s not all. You can create tasks and to-do lists directly from chats, making it easier to collaborate on a family event such as your next barbecue party. Moreover, you can also schedule meetings and share invites without leaving your chats. And soon, Teams will also let you create polls in the app.

Coming to video calls, Teams will let you conduct a video call with up to 300 participants for free for up to 24 hours. However, this is a temporary perk for the pandemic era and will be waived off soon. Even after being scraped, Teams will allow you free 24-hour video calls for 1-on-1 interactions, while group calls will be capped at 100 participants for a maximum of 60 minutes. And in case the tile view reminds you of exhausting office video calls, Teams has a Together Mode that changes the view to that of a virtual cafe or a lounge for a more relaxed feel.

Moreover, there are some cool options to express yourself such as GIFs, chat animations, and emojis during video calls. And just in case you missed a group video call, you can still catch up on the fun as Teams keeps the text-based conversation happening during a group video call. Another convenience is that anyone can receive a Teams invite and join a video call over the web, even people who don’t have a Teams account.

Click here to read the full article on Pocket Now.

‘Sharkcano,’ Active Pacific Ocean Volcano Where Sharks Live in Acidic Water, Erupts: NASA
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Sharkcano erupting in the middle of the ocean

By KC Baker, Yahoo!

Stranger things have happened, for sure. But this could be a first for many.

According to scientists, an active underwater volcano in the Pacific has started to erupt, spewing smoke and ash — plus, quite possibly, fragments of the highly adaptable sharks that live inside it — sky-high into the atmosphere.

NASA recently released satellite images showing the Kavachi Volcano, located near the Solomon Islands in the Pacific, east of New Guinea, spouting huge plumes of water from the crater that has been dubbed the “Sharkcano.”

No, not Sharknado, the goofy Syfy franchise starting Ian Ziering, Tara Reid and a host of celeb guest stars — including Gary Busey, Olivia Newton-John, Bret Michaels, Jackie Collins and Real Housewives mainstay Cynthia Bailey — battling great white sharks flying through the air.

No, this is “Sharkcano.”

The volcano earned this memorable moniker in 2015, when scientists were shocked to find two species of sharks, including hammerheads, living — and thriving — in the hot, acidic, sulfur-laden water in the crater, located deep in the ocean, according to NASA Earth Observatory.

Using a baited drop camera nearly 150 feet inside the crater, the scientists also saw bluefin trevally, snapper, sixgill stingrays, jellyfish and silky sharks living in this extreme environment, the researchers wrote in a 2016 Oceanography article, “Exploring the ‘Sharkcano’: Biogeochemical observations of the Kavachi submarine volcano (Solomon Islands).”

“Populations of gelatinous animals, small fish, and sharks were observed inside the active crater, raising new questions about the ecology of active submarine volcanoes and the extreme environments in which large marine animals can exist,” the scientists wrote in 2016 in the article.

The January 2015 expedition to the Kavachi Volcano, which is about 15 miles south of Vangunu Island in the Solomon Sea, “was serendipitously timed with a rare lull in volcanic activity that permitted access to the inside of Kavachi’s active crater and its flanks,” the scientists wrote.

Click here to read the full article on Yahoo!.

World’s fastest passenger jet goes supersonic in tests
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The upcoming aircraft is described as "the world's fastest and longest-range purpose-built business jet."

By Tamara Hardingham-Gill, CNN

The race to resume supersonic passenger flights decades after the retirement of Concorde was offered a glimmer of excitement on Monday when plane manufacturer Bombardier revealed high speed achievements while confirming the launch of its new business jet.

The Canadian company said the in-development Global 8000 will be “the world’s fastest and longest-range purpose-built business jet.”
With a capacity for up to 19 passengers, a range of 8,000 nautical miles (14,800 kilometers) and a top speed of Mach 0.94, the upcoming plane is expected to enter service in 2025, according to a statement from Bombardier.

The news comes after a Global 7500 test vehicle broke the sound barrier during a demonstration flight last May, achieving speeds of more than Mach 1.015.

The aircraft, accompanied by a NASA F/A-18 chase plane, also became the first Transport Category airplane to fly supersonic with sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) as a result of the flight, says Bombardier.

“The Global 8000 aircraft leverages the outstanding attributes of the Global 7500 aircraft, providing our customers with a flagship aircraft of a new era,” Éric Martel, president and CEO for Bombardier, said in a statement released on Monday.
Flight testing for the Global 8000 has already begun on Global 7500 flight-test vehicles. Bombardier says the upcoming aircraft will also have a cabin altitude equivalent to 2,900 feet.

Click here to read the full article on CNN.

Inside the space hotel scheduled to open in 2025
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Space hotel orbiting earth

By Francesca Street, CNN

Waking up in a chic hotel room with a view of the solar system could be the future of travel, at least if space company Orbital Assembly has anything to say about it.

The US-based company has revealed new information and concepts for its space hotel idea, designs for which have been orbiting since 2019.
Originally premiered by Californian company the Gateway Foundation — and then called the Von Braun Station — this futuristic concept consists of several modules connected by elevator shafts that make up a rotating wheel orbiting the Earth.

The project is now being overseen by Orbital Assembly Corporation, a space construction company that cut links with Gateway.
Orbital Assembly is now aiming to launch not one but two space stations with tourist accommodation: Voyager Station, the renamed original design, is now scheduled to accommodate 400 people and to open in 2027, while new concept Pioneer Station, housing 28 people, could be operational in just three years.

The goal, says Orbital Assembly, is to run a space “business park” home to offices as well as tourists.

Space tourism seems closer than ever before — over the past year, billionaire Virgin founder Richard Branson blasted into suborbital space with his company Virgin Galactic, while Star Trek actor William Shatner became the oldest person in space thanks to a jaunt with Blue Origin.
But there’s still a pretty unbelievable price point attached to any space trip, which makes it hard for many of us to actually envisage spending our annual leave out of this world.

Tim Alatorre, Orbital Assembly’s chief operating officer, thinks this barrier will lift as space tourism takes off.

“The goal has always been to make it possible for large amounts of people to live, work and thrive in space,” Alatorre told CNN Travel in a new interview.

Alatorre says the appeal of new concept Pioneer Station is that its smaller scale makes it achievable sooner.

“It’s going to get us the opportunity to have people start to experience space on a larger scale, faster,” he said.

Office spaces and research facilities will also be up for rent on both Pioneer Station and Voyager Station.

This, said Alatorre, is a “win-win” for Orbital Assembly, as a lot of its near-term goals are funding-dependent.

Orbital Assembly envisages both stations resembling a rotating wheel orbiting the earth.

In a 2019 interview with CNN Travel, Alatorre explained the physics of Voyager Station as working like a spinning bucket of water.

“The station rotates, pushing the contents of the station out to the perimeter of the station, much in the way that you can spin a bucket of water — the water pushes out into the bucket and stays in place,” he said.
Near the center of the station there would be no artificial gravity, but as you move down the outside of the station, the feeling of gravity increases.

The physics haven’t changed, said Alatorre more recently. But, he explained, as Pioneer Station will be smaller, its gravity level would be different. There will still be what he calls the “comforts” of artificial gravity, like showers, the ability to eat and drink sitting down — but the spaces with less gravity will allow for even more fun, space quirks.
Related content

Click here to read the full article on CNN.

Airbnb’s Billionaire CEO Is Giving The Obama Foundation $100 Million For Travel-Focused College Scholarships
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Airbnb CEO Brian Chesky speaks onstage during “Introducing Trips” Reveal at Airbnb Open LA on November 17, 2016, in Los Angeles.

By Rachel Sandler, Forbes

Airbnb’s billionaire cofounder and CEO Brian Chesky is making his biggest philanthropic donation so far: a $100 million pledge to former President Barack Obama and Michelle Obama’s charitable foundation for an initiative that links education and travel. The funds will go toward scholarships for college students pursuing careers in public service, according to an announcement from the Obama Foundation on Monday. The program, called the Voyager Scholarship, is intended to relieve students of college debt, enable them to travel and expand their horizons—and provide them with mentors.

The two-year program will provide students with up to $25,000 in financial aid for their junior and senior years of college. Recipients will also be given $10,000 and free Airbnb housing to go on a “summer voyage” where students will design their own work-travel program to “gain exposure to new communities.”

It doesn’t end there. For a decade after graduation, students will get $2,000 per year on Airbnb to travel where they wish and “forge new connections throughout their public service careers.” The first cohort of Voyager scholars will include 100 students.

“If we want this next generation of leaders to be able to do what they need to do, they have to meet each other. They have to know each other. They have to understand each other’s communities,” the former president says in a video announcing the scholarship.

Chesky, who Forbes estimates is worth $9 billion, will donate the $100 million for the Voyager Scholarship over a period of five years to the Obama Foundation, which will be in charge of the program.

The goal of the scholarship is to open the world to young leaders who would normally be too cash-strapped to travel. “There are young people across the country who have a passion for public service, but can’t pursue it because of their student loan debt. We want to help reduce that burden,” Chesky says in the video announcement.

Click here to read the full article on Forbes.

Snapchat co-founder pays off college debt of new graduates at L.A. art and design school
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More than 200 graduates of Otis College of Arts and Design react to the surprise announcement Sunday that their college debts will be paid off by snapchat founder

By Teresa WatanabeRachel Uranga

Yaritza Velazquez-Medina took a chance on a major career turn when she decided to drop her work as a crisis counselor in 2018 to pursue her artistic passions. She enrolled at Otis College of Art and Design in Los Angeles to become a graphic designer — even though she racked up about $70,000 in college debt to do so.

But after she crossed the stage Sunday to receive her diploma at commencement ceremonies, she and 284 other graduates in the Class of 2022 received stunning news: Their college debt would be completely paid off through the largest donation in the school’s century-old history by Snapchat co-founder Evan Spiegel and his wife, Miranda Kerr, who is founder of the beauty company Kora.

Charles Hirschhorn, Otis president, made the announcement during the commencement ceremony at the Westin Los Angeles Airport Hotel, drawing gasps and cheers from the audience. Some graduates hugged, cried and jumped for joy.

“I’m speechless,” Velazquez-Medina said, tears streaming from her eyes.

Spiegel — whose creation of the popular instant messaging app with two former Stanford University classmates made him the world’s youngest billionaire in 2015 — took summer classes at Otis during high school.

“It changed my life and made me feel at home,” Spiegel told the graduating class. “I felt pushed and challenged to grow surrounded by super talented artists and designers, and we were all in it together.”

Spiegel and Kerr are founders of The Spiegel Family Fund. They said in a statement that the college is “an extraordinary institution that encourages young creatives to find their artistic voices and thrive in a variety of industries and careers.

“It is a privilege for our family to give back and support the Class of 2022, and we hope this gift will empower graduates to pursue their passions, contribute to the world, and inspire humanity for years to come.”

The donation comes as student loan debt has soared in the last few decades, driven by rising college costs and less public funding to cover them. More than 43 million Americans owe the federal government $1.6 trillion — an average $37,000 per person — making up the biggest share of consumer debt in the U.S. after mortgages.

In California alone, 3.8 million residents owe $141.8 billion, the largest share of any state. Those struggling most with crushing debt are disproportionately students who are low-income, underrepresented minorities and the first in their families to attend college.

The financial burden is harming mental health, delaying marriages, preventing home ownership and discouraging new businesses, researchers have found. The widespread effects are intensifying pressure on the Biden administration to craft a student debt relief plan; one proposal under consideration is federal forgiveness of at least $10,000 in debt for people making less than $125,000 a year.

The crisis has also prompted some donors to pay off student loan debt. In 2019, billionaire Robert Smith made national headlines when he announced he would cover the loan debt of the entire graduating class at Morehouse College by donating $34 million to the historically Black men’s school in Atlanta.

Hirschhorn did not disclose the size of the Spiegel family gift but said it surpassed the college’s previous largest gift of $10 million. Spiegel and Kerr offered their historic donation after Hirschhorn told them the college wanted to award the couple honorary degrees and invited them as commencement speakers this year. The couple was not available for an interview.

Click here to read the full article on Los Angeles Times.

Panda Express and 3.1 Phillip Lim Come Together to Celebrate AAPI Heritage Month
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In celebration of AAPI Heritage Month, Panda Express has come together with designer Phillip Lim and his 3.1 Phillip Lim for a collection benefitting charity.

By , Hypebeast

In celebration of AAPI Heritage Month, Panda Express has come together with designer Phillip Lim and his 3.1 Phillip Lim for a collection benefitting charity. The “Eat More, Share More, Love More” limited-edition apparel range not only marks Asian American & Pacific Islander Heritage Month but also highlights the prevalent, yet often overlooked issue of food insecurity in the AAPI community. Proceeds from the collaboration will go towards ensuring that those in need will have access to safe and nutritious food.

100 percent of net proceeds will be donated to local organizations focused on food security, including Heart of Dinner, More Than a Meal, OCA-Greater Houston, Radical Family Farms, Respect Your Elders, and Welcome to Chinatown. Additionally, Panda Express and 3.1 Phillip Lim have launched the “Eat More, Share More, Love More” Fund, in partnership with GoFundMe. The fund invites people to add to Panda Express’ $20,000 USD donation to pledge for initiatives dedicated to AAPI culture and community.

Inspired by the importance of food in Asian cultures, the collaboration features a crewneck sweatshirt, T-shirt and cap. Each piece found in the range is marked with designs centered around family-style plate sharing an homage to tradition and cultural appreciation. The circular shape of the dish motif also represents unity during testing divisive times.

“As we continue to combat hate and fight for representation, we must also balance this out with nourishment and love. Food is the best way to bring people together. Bring bread to a table and you can create an instant community. Across cultures and throughout history, food is the universal love language. Through the simple act of sharing a meal, we give each other the space to experience humanity in its quintessence,” said Phillip Lim.

“We are proud to be spotlighting our community partners and collaborating with Phillip Lim, a powerhouse for AAPI advocacy, on an initiative that’s anchored in the power of food and its ability to bring healing and togetherness,” said Andrea Cherng, Chief Brand Officer at Panda Express. “The beauty of what we get to do every day at Panda is bridging cultures and providing care through food, and this collaboration is an extension of that mission as well as an invitation for all to come to the table, to see past labels, and to hear and help those in need.”

Click here to read the full article on Hypebeast.

How the first disabled and woman-owned NYSE floor broker is changing Wall Street
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Cynthia DiBartolo (c), rings the bell during the NYSE closing auction on July 8, 2021.

By AJ Horch, CNBC

Cynthia DiBartolo’s journey to the New York Stock Exchange floor was fraught with challenges and difficulty.

In July 2021, DiBartolo’s firm, Tigress Financial Partners, became the first disabled and woman-owned floor broker to become a member of the NYSE.

Floor brokers are members of firms who execute trades on the exchange floor on behalf of the firm’s clients. They are physically present on the trading floor and are active during the New York Stock Exchange opening and closing auctions.

Tigress Financial Partners has been co-manager or selling group member on more than 620 IPO and secondary transactions with an aggregate market value of over $321 billion, including for companies such as​ Warner Music, Monday.com, and Airbnb.

In mid-2020, Wall Street banks, which are predominately run by white men, came under intense pressure to improve diversity following the Black Lives Matter protests.

Companies vowed to improve their practices via philanthropic programs, diverse hiring practices, and internships for underprivileged candidates. DiBartolo crafted a diversity questionnaire to make it easier for companies selling stock or issuing debt to find and vet minority and women-owned firms. American Airlines has already adopted the survey, and JPMorgan has begun to create a database to help automate the process.

Prior to launching Tigress Financial in 2011, DiBartolo served as a compliance director, an attorney, and as a risk management director for some of Wall Streets’ largest firms. However, her life would change in 2009 with a diagnosis of throat and neck cancer.

DiBartolo became severely disabled following life-saving surgery that compromised her ability to eat, speak and swallow. Through reconstructive surgery, DiBartolo was able to regain her ability to speak, but can only do so several hours a day.

Cancer not only took DiBartolo’s voice but also her career, as she recalled in an interview with CNBC’s Bob Pisani. “You see, there was no place for an attorney, risk management director, compliance director who couldn’t speak,” she said.

During her recovery, DiBartolo began to understand just how marginalized people in the disabled community were. “During the time I didn’t have the ability to speak, I realized how marginalized I was not just in financial services, but in society,” she said.

Inspiration from her father convinced her that she needed to act; “They took your tongue, not your brain.” her father told her. Using her experience from decades on Wall Street and tenacity DiBartolo launched the first and nation’s only disabled and woman-owned financial services firm.

Click here to read the full article on CNBC.

A high school student built a prosthetic arm he controls with his mind. Using AI?
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Choi demonstrating the arm he built.

By  , Interesting Engineering

Benjamin Choi, a seventeen-year-old student from Virginia in the U.S., used the spare time offered by the pandemic to build a mind-controlled, artificial intelligence (A.I.) powered yet low-cost prosthetic arm, Smithsonian Magazine reported.

Back in 2020, Choi was a tenth-grader, looking to research aluminum fuels at a research lab in the summer. But when the pandemic struck, the lab was shut down, leaving Choi with plenty of time to spare. Inspired by a documentary he had seen almost a decade ago, Choi made a ping-pong table in his basement, a makeshift laboratory. And then he got to work building a low-cost prosthetic arm using his sister’s $75 3D printer and some fishing line.

How does the prosthetic arm work?
The 3D printer at Choi’s disposal could print pieces no bigger than 4.7 inches (~12 cm). So Choi had to print the arm in smaller pieces and put it all together with rubber bands. With previous experience building robots and programming, Choi also wrote the code for the device to work.

To avoid the need for complex brain surgeries, Choi’s system uses electroencephalography (EEG), a method that records the brain’s electrical activity with two sensors. One is a baseline sensor that clips to the earlobe while the other sits on the forehead and collects the EEG data. This information is sent to the prosthetic arm via Bluetooth and is then converted into meaningful action by the A.I. model that is embedded in a chip on the arm.

A.I. embedded on a chip
The A.I. model was built with the help of six volunteers who Choi worked with for over two hours each, collecting their brain data as they focused on clenching and unclenching their hands. Choi trained the A.I. to distinguish between the brain waves and learn from the user’s brain waves. Since A.I. models can get rather large, Choi toyed with the idea of storing them in the cloud. However, this method delayed the response time of the arm and also required the user to remain connected to the internet at all times.

So Choi compressed his algorithm, which has over 23,000 lines of code, 978 pages of math, and seven new sub-algorithms, onto a chip embedded in the arm. Six months into his project, Choi posted a video about his invention on YouTube, which caught the attention of an upper-limb amputee from Pennsylvania, Joseph Dunn, who has provided his input on the prosthetic design, while funding and technical supervision has also come in from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

How well does it work?
Two years into the project, Choi’s prosthetic arm has undergone over 75 iterations and is now made up of engineering-grade materials that could withstand a load of up to four tons. Choi claims his A.I-powered device has an accuracy of 95 percent, while commercial designs have achieved a maximum accuracy of 73.8 percent, Smithsonian said in its report.

Click here to read the full article on Interesting Engineering.

Apple, Google, and Microsoft Team Up to Vanquish the Password
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woman checking password on computer

By Wired

WE’VE BEEN PROMISED the end of password-based logins on the internet for a very long time, but now it seems that promise may finally be fulfilled.

The FIDO Alliance, an industry group aimed at standardizing authentication methods online, announced that its passwordless sign-on method has received support from the big browser builders: Apple, Microsoft, and Google. That means that later this year you will be able to sign in to your various web accounts across the internet without using a password in all the major browsers.

If you use a modern smartphone, you’ll recognize how this works. Instead of asking you to enter a password, websites will push a notification to your phone that prompts you to verify your identity. You just authenticate using the same method you normally use to unlock your phone. That could be entering a PIN, using your phone’s fingerprint sensor, or using its face unlock system. FIDO’s passkey system alternatively lets you use one of your other existing devices to authenticate by sending the unlock request to that device using Bluetooth. So as long as you have your phone, laptop, or iPad nearby, you can log in with this method anywhere.

Some apps and websites offer a biometric authentication option already, but in most cases, you must have an existing account (that you created with a password) in order to activate the biometric alternative. FIDO’s system would allow you to use the biometric option from the start, meaning you’ll never need to even come up with a password to create an account. It’s also important to note that this passkey system doesn’t replace two-factor authentication; it just replaces the password in a standard authentication flow.

The FIDO Alliance published a white paper in March outlining this concept, but the announcement that the big browser makers had pledged support came this week in celebration of World Password Day.

Actually killing the password entirely is a tricky, complicated prospect, given that they’ve been the de facto way of verifying your identity on the internet for decades, and many people will be loath to give up the comfortable and familiar method of logging in. Still, having the big browsers on board with this new method is a huge step. May we never have to type out nAsC4rr0xx420! ever again.

Click here to read the full article on Wired.

Amazon Now Letting Some Merchants Sell From Their Own Websites…And Other Small Business Tech News This Week
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Amazon sign

By Gene Marks, Forbes

Here are five things in technology that happened this past week and how they affect your business. Did you miss them?

1— Amazon is expanding their fast shipping guarantee to other online businesses.

Amazon is expanding its Buy With Prime service to now allow select Amazon merchants to sell their listed merchandise directly from their own websites. With this new feature, those customers can make Amazon’s payments and fulfillment services available at checkout. Shoppers will get the option of using their Amazon Prime membership for quick, no-charge delivery and other benefits. The move is being made to take on its biggest competitor, Shopify. For now, the tool will be invitation only and will have an undisclosed fee attached. Participating merchants will display the Prime logo and expected delivery date on eligible products in their own online store, offer a simple, convenient checkout experience using Amazon Pay, and leverage Amazon’s fulfillment network to deliver orders. Amazon will also manage free returns for eligible orders. (Source: Bloomberg)

Why this is important for your business:

For an ecommerce company, this is Amazon giving you the chance to have your cake and eat it too. If accepted into the program you can sell your products right from your own site instead of Amazon’s which means that customers may not be enticed by competitors’ offerings or ads.

2— DIY repairs for iPhones are here.

Apple has released their self-service repair kit in the United States for iPhones 12,13 and third generation iPhone SE. Apple warns that the self-service repair is for somewhat experienced technicians rather than any iPhone user experiencing troubles. However, when comparing the DIY costs to the professional repair, the value isn’t much different. There are also some concerns from those for and against DIY repairs on the true value of this initiative. (Source: The Verge)

Why this is important for your business:

Despite the concerns, this gives you and your employees more options for repairs. I expect to see a number of phone repair shops take Apple up on these offerings and compete on price so that you’re not forced to only deal with one company. So the next time you need service done for your iPhone, you won’t automatically need to go to the Apple Store.

Click here to read the full article on Forbes.

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Upcoming Events

  1. City Career Fair
    January 19, 2022 - November 4, 2022
  2. The Small Business Expo–Multiple Event Dates
    February 17, 2022 - December 1, 2022
  3. USPAACC’s CelebrASIAN Business + Procurement Conference 2022
    May 25, 2022 - May 27, 2022
  4. From Day One
    June 14, 2022
  5. NABA 2022 National Convention & Expo
    June 21, 2022 - June 24, 2022
  6. From Day One
    June 22, 2022

Upcoming Events

  1. City Career Fair
    January 19, 2022 - November 4, 2022
  2. The Small Business Expo–Multiple Event Dates
    February 17, 2022 - December 1, 2022
  3. USPAACC’s CelebrASIAN Business + Procurement Conference 2022
    May 25, 2022 - May 27, 2022
  4. From Day One
    June 14, 2022
  5. NABA 2022 National Convention & Expo
    June 21, 2022 - June 24, 2022
  6. From Day One
    June 22, 2022