Author: Alfredo Casuso

“Valencia Lights” Official Lighting Ceremony: Friday, May 7 at 8pm

Media contact: David Perry & Associates, Inc. (415) 676-7007 / news@davidperry.com 

“Valencia Lights” Official Lighting Ceremony: Friday, May 7 at 8pm

Over 35 Merchants and More than 500 Community Members Raised Money
to Light Valencia Street from 14
th to 24th Street

5 May 2021 – San Francisco, CA:  If you light it, they will come. Such was the successful reasoning of the Valencia Corridor Merchants Association as they sought to beautify and promote the Mission District avenue that has become a symbol of the area’s resilience during COVID and its recovery as we move beyond it. On Friday, May 7 at 8pm, a ceremony between 16th & 17th  on Valencia Street will officially launch the project that has electrified community support – and the neighborhood – with LED ambient string lights stretching all the way to 24th Street. Registration for the lighting ceremony is at the link below:https://www.eventbrite.com/e/valencia-street-lights-lighting-ceremony-tickets-152750225035

“Lighting up Valencia from end to end, from 14th to 24th street, will bring a sense of community and warmth we all need as we re-emerge as a City and come back swinging. It’s a project built by the community and we should all be so proud of that fact. We did this together.” said Jonah Buffa, co-owner of Fellow Barber and President of the Valencia Corridor Merchants Association.  “TheVCMA as the group, in service of the merchants, the corridor, residents and neighborhood, really made this happen.”

The lighting of Valencia Street for a ten-block stretch is the first such initiative in the history of the neighborhood, and a direct outgrowth of the COVID-induced Shared Spaces Program – of which the Valencia Street Corridor was the first — which continues on weekends through June 27 when three blocks of Valencia becomes a pedestrian and cyclist only area to encourage retail and outdoor socially distant dining options.  Cars are prohibited during this period in the following blocks of Valencia: 16th to 17th; 18th to 19th; 20th to 21st during the following times: Fridays 5pm to 9pm and Saturdays 12pm – 9pm. Vehicular traffic on the cross streets will not be impacted.

To pay for the project, a GoFundMe campaign was launched by the Valencia Corridor Merchants Association and $40,020 was raised to pay for the lights. The campaign link continues at: https://www.tinyurl.com/valencialights

“This project was made possible thanks to the generosity of the whole community, with over 500 businesses and individuals coming together to raise the funds for lights and over 35 merchants coming together to power them,” said Manny Yekutiel, owner of Mannys and Valencia Corridor Merchants Association Board Member. “It is our hope and intention that they serve as a beautiful little beacon to bring back our precious customers and neighbors.”

The ceremony will begin at 557 Valencia street, between 16th-17th streets on the closed portion of the street. The program will include a live Mariachi band (Mariachi Puro Jalisco), a community blessing led by Sister Roma and the Sister of Perpetual Indulgence, and remarks by Supervisor Rafael Mandelman and small business leaders. Light refreshments will be provided. 

The Valencia Corridor Merchants Association is a member-operated neighborhood association including merchants in and around the Valencia Corridor. Its mission is to cultivate and beautify the corridor for the benefit of visitors, residents and merchants. Additionally, it endeavors to combine its members voices and views toward the goal of maintaining the unique identity and independent spirit of the neighborhood.

SAN FRANCISCO LAUNCHES SMALL BUSINESS WEEK

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

Friday, April 30, 2021

Contact: Mayor’s Office of Communications, mayorspressoffice@sfgov.org

*** PRESS RELEASE ***

SAN FRANCISCO LAUNCHES SMALL BUSINESS WEEK 

Starting May 1, a weeklong series of events will highlight recovery and celebrate the resiliency and vibrancy of San Francisco’s small businesses 

San Francisco, CA — Mayor London N. Breed today announced the launch of San Francisco’s Small Business Week, which will take place from Saturday, May 1 to Friday, May 7, 2021. This year’s small business week will include resources and information that will support small businesses and entrepreneurs as San Francisco gets on the road to recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic. 

San Francisco’s 94,000 small businesses make up over 93% of total businesses in the city and support more than 364,000 jobs. As cornerstones of San Francisco’s neighborhoods and communities, the small business sector will be central to the city’s economic recovery in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

“Over the past year, the COVID-19 pandemic has decimated many of our small businesses. Throughout it all, business owners and their employees have shown tremendous resilience and strength, with many adapting their business models and implementing public health guidelines,” said Mayor Breed. “With more businesses and activities reopening and more people getting vaccinated each day, the future for our City is bright. We all need to do our part to ensure our small businesses can recover and keep moving forward. This Small Business Week will provide San Francisco’s small businesses with resources and support to help them stay open and come back even stronger than before.” 

The theme for the 17th Annual San Francisco Small Business Week is Roots of Recovery, and the week will include resources and information for small business owners at every point in their small business journey. The City has partnered with the San Francisco Chamber of Commerce to host a series of informational events, networking opportunities, and business-building workshops to highlight available resources and best practices for businesses as the city builds towards recovery.

“This Small Business Week is a great opportunity for San Franciscans to celebrate the incredible resilience of our small businesses and support our neighborhood merchants as they reopen after a year of unprecedented challenges,” said Anne Taupier, Acting Director of the Office of Economic and Workforce Development. “Small businesses are the economic and cultural cornerstones of our communities, and right now they are relying on all of us to shop small, protect local jobs, and work together to support a stronger and more vibrant San Francisco.” 

“Our San Francisco small business community has faced true hardships over this last year, but we have proven how resilient and vibrant our small businesses can be,” said Rodney Fong, President and CEO of the San Francisco Chamber of Commerce. “Our residents have stepped up throughout the pandemic to support their beloved neighborhood businesses – that sentiment should be celebrated during Small Business Week and throughout the year. I look forward to this year’s San Francisco Small Business Week as an opportunity to help our small businesses as we look towards a recovery.” 

This Saturday, May 1, Small Business Week will kick-off with the installation of 13 floral butterflies placed throughout San Francisco’s merchant corridors. The butterfly wings, built by local artists and designers, are six to nine feet in diameter and constructed of natural materials and fresh flowers. The wings are a partnership with the San Francisco Flower Mart, the Office of Economic and Workforce Development, and Kilroy Realty and are designed to attract shoppers to San Francisco’s merchant corridors. A map of the wings can be found on Shop and Dine in the 49.  

May 1 also marks the start of the Small Business 30-day Challenge. Organized by Small Business Commission President Sharky Laguana and small business owner and SFMTA Board Director Manny Yekutiel, the challenge will begin on May 1 and go through May 31, with the goal of encouraging individuals to shop at local businesses for the entire month and for all of their shopping needs as much as they can. Individuals who choose to participate are encouraged to post on social media using the hashtag #SmallBizChallenge. More information is available here

“It is so exciting to start to see the City opening up again, and the Small Business 30 day Challenge is a great way to help our small businesses recover,” said Small Business Commission President Sharky Laguana. “We all use online stores and services, so it is going to be an interesting challenge to see if we can get by for the month of May by shopping and dining only at our local small businesses. We hope everyone will tag their favorite small businesses with the #SmallBizChallenge hashtag, and visit our website at SmallBiz30.com to take our pledge challenge and find interesting places to shop!”

Since the beginning of the pandemic, the City of San Francisco has provided immediate and ongoing support for small businesses, including directing more than $50 million in grants and loans to more than 3,500 small businesses, tens of millions of dollars in fee and tax deferrals, and assistance applying for state and federal funding. This includes legislation introduced and signed by Mayor Breed to waive $5 million in fees and taxes for entertainment and nightlife venues and small restaurants, meaning that businesses that receive a waiver do not have to pay back the fees at a later date. 

In addition to creating and supporting programs that respond to the urgent and ongoing needs of COVID-19, Mayor Breed has continued to invest in programs that regularly support small businesses in San Francisco, including the Nonprofit Sustainability Initiative and Grants for the Arts. Lastly, the City has advanced numerous initiatives to make it easier to operate and open businesses during COVID-19 and beyond, such as the Shared Spaces program and the Small Business Recovery Act legislation, which is currently before the Board of Supervisors.  

Small business owners and employees looking for assistance should go to oewd.org/covid19. Businesses can also call the hotline at 415-554-6134, and employees can call the hotline at 415-701-4817. Assistance is available in multiple languages. 

More information about San Francisco’s support for small businesses is available here.

About Small Business Week 
This year’s San Francisco Small Business Week will take place from May 1-7 and is partnership between business and government organizations to honor and support the thousands of small businesses and entrepreneurs that call San Francisco home. As part of National Small Business Week, it celebrates the contributions and achievements of small business owners by offering a series of educational and networking events designed to inspire, empower, and connect the members of our business community. For more information on San Francisco Small Business Week, go to sfsmallbusinessweek.com

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San Francisco Chinatown Renaissance 2021 Initiative Kicks Off May 4th

Media Contact: David Perry & Associates, Inc. / news@davidperry.com / (415) 676-7007

San Francisco Chinatown Renaissance 2021 Initiative Kicks Off May 4th

Community Leaders Unite to Save Communities Devastated
by COVID and Economic Downturn

30 April 2021 – San Francisco, CA: A consortium of San Francisco business, community and civic leaders have come together to revitalize Chinatown post-COVID and develop a unified grant proposal seeking new and incremental foundation funding for Chinatown revitalization projects in San Francisco and other major American cities. The kick-off event for the San Francisco Chinatown Renaissance 2021 Initiative will take place on Tuesday, May 4, 12pm at the Victory Memorial Hall (827 Stockton Street, San Francisco). COVID protocols will be strictly enforced including mandatory mask wearing, socially distant seating and temperature checks.

“The impact of COVID shutdowns, ‘China-virus’ scapegoating, and anti-Asian xenophobia has had a disproportionate economic impact in Chinatown,” said Buck Gee, longtime Committee of 100 member.  “In the past few months, we have seen exciting and innovative ideas from many individuals in Chinatown.  But now it is time for the community to acknowledge that this is a collective problem, and that we need to work together to build a better Chinatown.”

According to Gee, in February 2020, immediately before the pandemic hit San Francisco, 15% of Chinatown business storefronts were vacant.  Six months later, it was 48%.  Along Grant Avenue, the main tourist district, empty storefronts rose from 16% to 58%.  Along Clay, vacancies among small businesses mostly serving local residents climbed from 11% to 66%.

“While there have been a few new businesses opening along Grant recently, it will take an extraordinary effort to replace the 180+ businesses shut down in the past year,” said  Jane Chin, Board co-chair for the Chinatown Community Development Center: “COVID-19, China scapegoating, and anti-Asian hate have devastated businesses in Chinatown.”

The ad hoc consortium is being sponsored by the Northern California Region of The Committee of 100 in partnership with the Chinatown Community Development Center, and the Asian Pacific Fund. The initiative seeks to work with a wide range of community groups and organizations, collect their ideas to revitalize Chinatown post-COVID, and develop a unified grant proposal seeking new and incremental foundation funding for Chinatown revitalization projects.

“This initiative is intended to assist the renaissance and renewal of Chinatown,” said Audrey Yamamoto, President and Executive Director of the Asian Pacific Fund. “It will bolster support from the state and local government to maintain Chinatown as a safe and sustainable environment for residents and community businesses.  We’re honored to be part of this historic effort, given the devastating impact that the pandemic has had on our Asian American and Pacific Islander community, especially the businesses and nonprofits in Chinatown.”

In addition, the San Francisco Chinatown Renaissance 2021 Initiative is exploring partnerships with leaders in other large urban Chinatowns to see whether the regional concept could be expanded into a National Chinatown Renaissance initiative.  In addition to Gee, Chin and Yamamoto, other Initiative leaders include David Lei with the Chinese American Community Foundation, Dennis Wu, Cally Wong, and Dan Lee.

MEDIA ADVISORY / REQUEST FOR ONSITE COVERAGE:
TUESDAY, MAY 4 – 12PM

WHAT:
Kick-Off for San Francisco Chinatown Renaissance

WHERE:
Victory Memorial Hall, 827 Stockton St, San Francisco
ONLINE ACCESS: TBD.

WHEN:
Tuesday, May 4
12pm doors open, temperature checks, mask check, assigned (socially distanced) seating
12:30pm program startsWelcome: David Lei
Covid’s impact on Chinatown: Jane Chin
Impact to Chinatown business: Nancy Yu Law (Chinatown Merchants United Association)

Chinatown Renaissance Consortium: Buck Gee
Consortium objectives: Dan Lee (Chinese Consolidated Benevolent Association)
1:30pm Meeting ends, box lunches distributed

LIVES OF THE LINERS: CRUISING, CRUISE SHIPS & THE COVID PANDEMIC – APRIL 28, 2021

LIVES OF THE LINERS:  CRUISING, CRUISE SHIPS & THE COVID PANDEMIC – APRIL 28, 2021

From Bill Miller

April 2021

Mon Apr 19th  UK-based Saga Holidays has experienced a 127-percent increase in the number of booking inquiries to its contact centers in the week after the UK government released a report suggesting that international travel can be resumed from May 17th.

Wed Apr 21st  Royal Caribbean Group CEO Richard Fain expressed optimism Monday that cruise lines will be able to resume operations this summer, more than one year after the industry effectively shut down in the coronavirus pandemic.

AIDA Cruises will begin offering seven night cruises out of Corfu on May 23rd. The cruises will travel through the Greek islands to Crete and Rhodes, as well as to Katakolon (Olympia) and Piraeus (Athens).

Thu Apr 22 Small-ship operator American Cruise Lines is now operating six of its 13 vessels in eight states around the country. The U.S.-flagged company, based in Connecticut, was the first line to resume operations in the U.S. on Mar 13th  when the 100-guest Independence began coastal cruises from Florida.

Royal Caribbean:  The first voyages of the biggest cruise ship ever built are now available for booking. Royal Caribbean on Tuesday began taking reservations for the initial sailings of its much-awaited, soon-to-debut Wonder of the Seas (below), the fifth vessel in its groundbreaking Oasis Class series. At 236,857 tons, the Wonder of the Seas will be nearly 4% bigger than the current size leader in the cruise world, Royal Caribbean’s three-year-old Symphony of the Seas. It’ll be able to hold up to 6,988 passengers — a new record for a passenger ship.

Cruise Saudi, a  public investment fund-owned business that seeks to develop Saudi Arabia’s cruise industry, and MSC Cruises have announced the launch of Red Sea cruises in the coming winter 2021-2022 season. Under the terms of the agreement, the MSC Magnifica will homeport in Jeddah, the commercial hub and one of the largest cities of Saudi Arabia, as well as the second-largest port in the Middle East with a historical centre that has been designated as a UNESCO World Heritage site. Operating seven-day Red Sea cruises from Nov 2021 to Mar 2022, the vessel will visit a selection of ports and destinations in the region and three Saudi ports including weekly calls to the port of AlWajh, the gateway to the UNESCO World Heritage site of AlUla.  As the Kingdom prepares to host the inaugural Formula 1 Saudi Arabian Grand Prix 2021 on Dec 5th  in Jeddah, MSC guests will have the chance to follow this global sports event during their trip aboard the Magnifica.

Cheap Fares!  A recent survey of more than 3,000 past cruisers found that health and safety tops the list of factors shaping that decision. It’s not surprising, considering a global pandemic has shut the industry down for over 13 months and travel restrictions are still in place in many parts of the world.  But it is interesting that when asked about the most important factors in deciding whether to book a cruise, the top six on the list are all COVID-related. The ability to get a discount ranked number eight! And who doesn’t want a discount?

Seabourn will homeport in Barbados this summer, starting Jul 18th.  Carnival Corporation’s ultra-luxury brand will sail two different Southern Caribbean seven-day itineraries with the Seabourn Odyssey. The Odyssey marks the second Seabourn ship back in service as the Seabourn Ovation will start cruising in Greece in early July.

Mon Apr 26th MSC Cruises may be the biggest cruise brand based on confirmed resumption plans (as of late Apr 2021) with ships and berths back in service by Aug 31st.   On a corporate level, Carnival Corporation will have the most ships and berths back in service, with six brands set to operate 13 ships by late Aug at press time, and indications are that more announcements are forth coming. 


Returning MSC Ships:
  MSC Virtuosa, MSC Grandiosa, MSC Seashore, MSC Seaview, MSC Seaside, MSC Preziosa, MSC Splendida, MSC Magnifica, MSC Orchestra and MSC Musica.     Total Berths: 37,066.  Regions: Europe – Western Mediterranean, Eastern Mediterranean and Northern Europe.  After announcing a massive restart plan, MSC intends to have ten ships in service in Europe by August.

UK-Based Cruise ships sailing in UK waters will be limited to 1,000 passengers when operations begin on or after May 17th. All travelers must also be residents of the British Isles, according to new regulations issued by the department of transport.  The rules also state Covid-19-secure guidance will continue to apply. 

Carnival Corporation:   The road to a resumption of cruising worldwide is not as easy as it may sound. To that effect, Carnival Corporation, the world’s largest cruise operator, has now contracted Bureau Veritas to support the ships that will be sailing in the upcoming months and those that are sailing already with various health and safety measures. The company will be supporting Carnival Corporation with health and safety services to facilitate the return to cruising, protecting passengers and crew.

Travel restrictions are evolving for those who have gotten a COVID-19 vaccine. Fully vaccinated Americans looking to travel this summer will now be able to add the European Union to their list of potential destinations.

Tue May 27th Viking Cruises has added two more departures to its program of short UK coastal cruises for June. The additional cruises were added after the first three cruises sold out, and will be operated using the same ship, the 930-berth Viking Venus. The new cruises will start at £3,690 per person. Sailing from Portsmouth, calls are being scheduled for Liverpool, Tresco in the Isles of Scilly and in the bay of Falmouth.

Cunard:   This month Cunard Line announced three centenary voyages that will celebrate Cunard’s first World Cruise by the Laconia in 1922-23.   And sales are already strong!

Cunard has noted:  “2023 marks 100 years since the RMS Laconia completed Cunard’s first World Voyage and to celebrate we’re sailing on a season of global adventures inspired by this pioneering feat in ocean travel.”

“On the morning of Nov 21st 1922, if you were a bit posh and more than a little adventurous, you might have boarded the luxury liner Laconia for her inaugural around-the-world cruise. For 130 glorious days, you’d visit some of the world’s most exotic destinations — Yokohama and Shanghai, Rangoon and Bombay, Egypt, and Naples. You’d steam through the Suez Canal, visit the Taj Mahal, and pass through the Valley of the Kings.“

“Although the ship could carry up to 2200 passengers, this excursion was limited to just 450 travelers who were assigned to only the largest and most well-appointed cabins on board.”

World cruises boomed in 1922-23, with the Laconia being only the first of four ships to leave New York on world cruises that winter. The others, booked either by travel agent Frank C Clark or by American Express, were United American Line’s 19,653-ton Resolute, Canadian Pacific’s 18,481-ton Empress of France and Cunard Line’s 19,602-ton Samaria, which sailed in the opposite direction from the other three, proceeding from west to east. The rest, as they say, is history.

Thank you to all our readers, correspondents, those “agents” in faraway places! 

Half a Million Dollars Raised! Clorc crosses $500,000 Seed Funding Accelerates Plans Into India

media contact: David Perry & Associates, Inc. (415) 676-7007 / news@davidperry.com

Half a Million Dollars Raised!
Clorc crosses $500,000 Seed Funding Accelerates Plans Into India

All-in-one digital legacy planning service for families and individuals, also looks for further funding and global business expansion

www.clocr.in
www.clocr.com
 

23 April 2021 – Austin TEXAS / New Delhi, INDIA:  In a competitive market, Clocr, Inc. (www.clocr.com  / www.clocr.in)the first-of-its-kind all-in-one legacy planning online tool for arranging digital assets founded by the father-and-daughter team of Sree and Apoorva Chintala — has raised over $500,000 through organic and family fundraising in addition to its Republic Crowd Funding Campaign, a major benchmark for a new company, especially coming out of the challenging COVID-impacted year. With its seed round raised in December 2020, Clocr’s Republic Crowd Funding Campaign continues and will be used for footprint expansion in India.

“It has been a long journey for us to get to this point,” said Apoorva Chintala, Clocr. Co-Founder and CEO. “Raising the seed round and people joining our journey through crowdfunding has validated what we are working on and has affirmed that there is a real need in the market for our services. We are super excited about our progress thus far, and we have lots of big plans to innovate in the legacy planning industry.”

The idea for Clocr (prounced “Clocker” as in short for “Cloud Locker”) came to Apoorva when she lost her grandfather and saw her father struggling emotionally and mentally with digital assets and legacy management.  

“I would have been lost if I had needed to figure all this out on my own, especially if it had been during COVID and I had no physical access to records,” said Apoorva who is now 21.  In 2020, she and her team were selected as one of the top 16 collegiate entrepreneurs of the year.  “My response of ‘I just don’t know’ gave way to ‘I’m going to invent a system to make sure this doesn’t happen to anyone else.”

Founded on on November 18, 2018, Clocr offers customizable onboarding and digital vault with proprietary, patent-pending, multi-layered security protocol, built on IPFS and blockchain concepts.  Clocr, a SaaS (Software as a Service), empowers its users to efficiently organize their digital assets including all accounts (social media and others) and files, identify their heirs, and provide these heirs access to the digital legacies of their loved ones. Clocr offers digital estate solutions with an easy-to-use online tool. Clocr allows people to set up, manage, and pass on all digital assets in a safe and legal way.

“Clocr had been bootstrapped until we got funding and was originally completely reliant on organic growth,”said Sree Chintala, serial entrepreneurand Clocr CTO and Co-Founder, noting that the company has recently entered the Indian market. “Initially, it was a balancing act between cost and quality. Soon the digital solution matured and worked out in the favor of the company.”

Additionally, Clocr is also expanding its global footprint and hiring teams in different geographies in addition to India. Clocr’s expansion will allow it to be ready for B2B integrations in various verticals. The company has also planned to allocate substantial funds for sales and marketing efforts in the Indian market with the funding received in the first round. Clocr is also scaling its operations fast and its funding needs will also increase with future expansion.

“We have an early mover advantage and a big enough roadmap that brings a multitude of additional services into our digital legacy platform,” said Sree, stressing that Clocr is the first company bringing revolutionary digital legacy solutions to the Indian market after its success in the USA. “With that being said, we are more cautious about further funding expansions. We would consider potential strategic investments, majorly in India, which can enhance our product offering and enrich the revenue.”

About CLOCR INC.
Clocris the first all-in-one digital legacy planning and disbursement platform designed specifically for digital assets. Clocr allows users to efficiently organize their digital assets and files, name beneficiaries, and give them access to everything they need in case of an emergency or death. Customizable onboarding makes it easy to create more than 150 of the most used online accounts and creates alerts if one’s estate becomes incomplete, beneficiaries deny a bequest, or if any account is disbursed due to incapacity or death. The system can even track who has assigned an individual as their beneficiary to get a more nuanced understanding of assets. Through the use of an intuitive user interface, the latest advancements in security technology (including Clocr’s own patent pending security platform), the start-up has created an impressive digital asset storage and distribution platform with the most secure personal storage available. (www.clocr.com  / www.clocr.in)