Building Communities By Kim Tsui
he Asian Community Development Corporation (ACDC) is a committed organization with a mission to serve the Asian American community of Greater Boston with high standards of performance and integrity. ACDC began in the mid 1980s, when Bostonâ€™s Chinatown was in need of attention as Asian immigrants were forced out of their neighborhoods due to unaffordable housing and eminent domain. It is during this crisis that a group of community leaders took action and started ACDC on May 27, 1987, with a vision to preserve Chinatown and empower residents to gain back control of their local communities. ACDC recently celebrated its 20th year in existence, and one of the many noteworthy aspects of this organization is their commitment to helping thousands of families into affordable housing.
Programs Overview Affordable Housing Development works with public and private developers and the community to build a common vision for land use that will meet the needs of its residents, and help preserve and revitalize Bostonâ€™s Chinatown. The organization has countless accomplishments including an 88-unit mixed income residential project, Oak Terrace Apartments, completed in 1994 and now home to more than 300 residents and local businesses. Another astounding success is the completion of The Metropolitan, a 251-unit, mixed-use mixed-income development, now occupied with over 800 residents. Furthermore, an ongoing project, Parcel 24, is a development that will offer approximately 300 units of mixed-income housing. This project consists of support among the Massachusetts Turnpike Authority, Boston Redevelopment Authority, local community leaders and residents. Parcel 24 was part of the Chinatown neighborhood back in the 1960s before the Turnpike extension.
The Comprehensive Home Ownership Program (CHOP) offers multilingual classes where many first time home buyers learn about finance options and the home buying process. ACDC invites community professionals such as mortgage brokers, attorneys, real estate agents, and home inspectors to teach the classes; 350 potential home owners have graduated to date.
Asian Voices of Organized Youth for Community Empowerment (A-VOYCE) is a program with a mission to develop the leadership potential of low income Asian American youth by giving them the confidence, knowledge, skills, and technical know-how to share their views with the world via a weekly youth-produced radio show and youth-led historical walking tours.
Linguistic Access is about to launch Speakeasy, a telephone-based system that will provide easily accessible interpretation services. This program aims to break language barriers that hinder non-English speaking individuals with ordinary daily tasks like asking a pharmacist for instructions on a particular prescription.
Small Business Technical Service focuses on strategically helping small business owners find a niche and pursue any aspirations. A great example is Parcel 24, which has a high demand in hiring contractors and other specialized professions, which in turn offers numerous opportunities for small businesses in the community. ACDC has gained community-wide support through volunteer opportunities, donations and fundraisers to help finance their numerous programs. There are three major events that raise money to help support this non-profit organization. One is the annual Comedy Night at Hong Kong Restaurant in Harvard Square. This event successfully raised $25,000 last year. Another popular occasion is the Films at The Gate Series, which offers five straight nights of classic Kung-Fu films on Hudson Street. Lastly is the Asian Golf Tournament, which raised an outstanding $45,000 last year to benefit the affordable housing department. With a five-year strategic plan in place, ACDC hopes to broaden its development focus to nearby communities such as Lynn, where a significant Cambodian community resides. Lynn offers substantial growth potential and nonprofit affordable housing is a pressing need. ACDC aims to build a larger coalition by expanding into other Asian communities to better align with its regional model. Special thanks to Mary Fuller of ACDC for this interview. For more information on programs and upcoming events, please contact ACDC at www.asianacdc.com or by calling 617-482-2380
SAVING529 FOR COLLEGE? Saving for Plans Can College? Help By Michael C. Tow, Certified Financial Planner, New Boston Financial
h, the joys of parenthood! Ugh, the costs of parenthood! Saving enough to pay the tuition bills when they land on thez doorstep may be one of your biggest financial challenges. According to the College Board, four years of tuition, room and board runs about $120,000 for a private college. But don’t panic. There’s a way to channel a significant amount of money into a college savings account while receiving the benefit of professional investment management with your child’s college dates in mind. Earnings and withdrawals will be tax-free as long as the money is used to pay qualified higher education expenses. Here’s how to get started on the road to college savings.
Choose a plan Search for a plan that offers solid investment choices and is managed by a nationally
recognized investment company. Most companies charge an account fee. Expense ratios and other fees can add up. Be sure to ask about them.
Open an account There are no eligibility requirements. You can open an account for your child, your grandchild or any child regardless of family ties. Most plans allow contributions as low as $25 a month. Maximum contribution limits range between $200,000 and $300,000.
Select an investment option Because the savings window for college is smaller than for retirement, most plans are built around age-based portfolios. They weigh investments more aggressively for children in their early years and become more conservative as the college deadline approaches. Thanks to the new tax law, you can even roll over from one 529 plan to another.
Contribute regularly and encourag e others to add to your child’s savings Grandparents, for example can direct up to $60,000 in one lump sum ($120,000 for a couple) to any child’s account without triggering a federal gift tax. A maximum contribution counts against an individual’s $12,000 annual gift exclusion for five years, so another tax-free gift cannot be made to that child for six years. To decide whether a 529-college savings plan is right for your family, as well as which plan offers you the best combination of features, talk to a certified financial planner. College savings plans are complex so don’t be shy about asking for help.
STARTINGa A Business BUSINESS Starting Richard writes: “I am ready to start my new business. Where do I begin?” By Russell L. Chin, Esq.
ichard, you should first think about how your business will be affected by legal, financial, insurance, and other issues. If you’re not sure about the next step, then obtain professional advice at the outset. A business lawyer can help navigate these waters. The way you establish your business will depend on many factors, including how many owners/members or shareholders are involved and whether you have outside investors. What will the legal relationship be among the investors, owners and the company? What are the liabilities associated with this kind of business? Will you be negotiating a commercial lease? In many instances, it makes sense to establish a separate legal en-
tity such as a corporation or limited liability company (LLC) in order to protect the owner from personal liability. An LLC can be operated like a partnership but have the tax benefit and reduced liability of a corporation. LLCs are becoming increasingly popular and are similar to a Subchapter S corporation in which company profits will “flow through” to the individual, limiting the need to pay corporate taxes on profits in addition to personal income taxes. Both the LLC and corporation can provide protection from personal liability. The LLC may be easier to structure and offer more flexibility than a corporation.
the LLC and “Both corporation can
provide protection from personal liability.
The business lawyer will help determine if you have adequate capital to fund the start-up or need outside funding; many new businesses fail due to inadequate capitalization. Some questions to consider include: What are your finance terms and are they manageable based on cash flow projections? Should you lease or purchase equipment? Have you considered the tax implications of each? Would your company benefit from the establishment of a new banking relationship? After discussing these issues and reviewing your business plan, your lawyer should provide advice on each point. Be sure that you have appropriate levels of insurance coverage in place for general liability and risk pertinent to your business. To conclude, a careful review of all issues before starting your business will help avoid potential problems down the road and allow room to focus on achieving your goals and making money.
Please send your legal questions to firstname.lastname@example.org Fall 2007
CARALARM SYSTEMS of Dorchester, MA Photography: Lokagroup
By Julie T. Pham
Making Driving Enjoyable
ONE CAR AT A TIME
icture yourself driving a modest car with nothing more than the standard features. Now, modify that image with an Eclipse CD7100 stereo system with a 24-bit DSP and an iPod adapter. Let’s add a portable Alpine Blackbird – NAV system with rear seat DVD screens, and then top that off with some chrome performance wheels. Then secure your newly souped-up car with the most reliable car alarm system available. Wouldn’t that be the ideal ride? Well, that’s been a key focus of Car Alarm Systems of Dorchester, MA, for the past 14 years. It all started with Nam Trinh (founder and owner) and his hobby of fixing cars. The Vietnam born and oldest of five boys arrived in the U.S. as a teenager; hence, it was difficult for him to assimilate into the American culture. Often seen as an outsider, 1
Nam concentrated on school (one of his favorite subjects was science) and worked hard to provide for his family. His English improved every day from his effort to learn from his teachers, books, American movies, and close friends. In addition, he picked up American lingo from coworkers and customers at a restaurant he bused for in the evenings. His diligence paid off as an adult as he brought home a sizeable income from his position as an Electronics Manager at a notable high-tech company in MA. In the late 1980s, when car modifications were on the rise, Nam joined the trend and started adding high-tech toys to his car, his siblings’ and friends’ cars. As Nam says, he enjoyed, “dressing them up with amps, subwoofers, wheels, spoilers, etc.” Eventually this after-work passion turned into an entrepreneurial venture when Nam resigned from his long-term managerial position. With the help
service, competitive pricing, and honest and friendly employees. Most customers are known by their first name and they in turn refer everyone they know to this store. “We have customers who have been coming to the store since they were kids,” Nam says with excitement. This husband and wife team built a successful business by combining their respective skills and qualities where it’s needed most. For instance, Victoria uses her presentation skills to attract quality vendors and negotiate costs, while her outgoing personality welcomes new and existing shoppers to the store. On the other hand, the hard working Nam casually informs the customers about their newly purchased item as he installs it in their vehicle. Nam’s advice for future business owners or anyone who strives for success is to, “work hard and spend time on what you love.”
of his business-savvy wife, Victoria, and supportive family, he secured a loan and opened his shop in 1993. In the early years, Nam and Victoria struggled as new business owners since they lacked experience and credentials. Victoria with a slight smile recalls, “Well known automotive companies like Eclipse and Alpine refused to let us sell their high quality products because we were so new.” Nam quickly agrees, “We sold quality but lesser known accessories and products like car alarms and remote starters.” He continues, “We didn’t have a business plan…I simply bought and sold what I could.” That simple but practical business strategy has made Car Alarm Systems one of New England’s leading retailers in the market. In addition, this place is also recognized for superior customer
Today, the store is loaded with top-notch brands of car alarm systems, keyless entries, remote starters, audio systems, DVD players, along with many other products, and yes, Alpine and Eclipse products are now sold there! Furthermore, Nam stays ahead of the fierce competition by constantly upgrading his product line and providing innovative training for his staff on new installations and developments. Consequently, Nam and Victoria attend the consumer electronics convention in Las Vegas annually for a sneak peek of what’s to come in the mobile entertainment world. In fact, Nam just revealed that DirecTV is one of the newer features coming soon to a car near you. Ahhh…more futuristic playthings for your modest car…oh, the wonders of technology. Happy driving! Fall 2007