Taking Care of Business

Taking Care of Business

Why you should care

Because we’ve got a mind for business — and so should you. Here are three stories that look ahead.

The Corner Store Revolution

Corner stores are being increasingly targeted, but not in the way you think. Groups like the Philadelphia-based Food Trust have been working, Frito by Twinkie, to overhaul their unhealthy inventories. Last year, the organization convened the first Healthy Corner Stores Symposium and released an extensive report in conjunction with ChangeLab and NPlan, “Toward a Sustainable Model for Small-Scale Healthy Food Retail.”

Membership in the Healthy Corner Stores Network has grown from about 50 stores in 2006 to more than 600 today nationwide.

And in Atlanta, brother-sister duo Alison and Alphonzo Cross are doing more than sneaking fruit in between the Froot Loops — they’re building an entirely new model of what a corner store can be. One-year-old Boxcar Grocer aims to bring healthy local food to all urban neighborhoods that need it.

Where the Smart Money Is

Not surprisingly, the smartest guys on the Street have already moved on to the next big thing.

What is it?

The next fortunes on Wall Street are being made and maintained in a new kind of investment firm that is like the love child of private equity firms (think Mitt Romney’s Bain Capital and KKR) and hedge funds. Some in the biz refer to these firms as “alternative asset manager conglomerates,” but they really should be called “hybrid hedge funds.”

Just as with hedge funds, there are often no limits on the sectors these hybrids can invest in. Whether it’s buying gold and oil, purchasing stock or backing a new movie, hedge funds can do whatever it takes to make money.

Eyes on the Prizes

Prizes offer the chance to get outstanding results for a fraction of the usual cost. Competition clearinghouses like ChallengePost and InnoCentive have sprung up, offering smaller bounties for innovation: $50,000 for a detailed description of a portable system for neutralizing chemical weapons, or $20,000 for a food-grade foam-stabilizing system for confectionery applications. Yum! The genius of a well-placed prize is that it will attract multiple teams to work on solving a problem. But as the model trickles down, is it a boon for everyday people or a threat?

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