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PITTSBURGH (AP) – Uber riders in Pittsburgh can get a glimpse of the future by summoning a car capable of handling most of the tasks of driving on its own.

On Wednesday, a fleet of self-driving Ford Fusions began picking up Uber riders who opted to participate in a test program. While the vehicles are loaded with features that allow them to navigate on their own, an Uber engineer sits in the driver’s seat and can seize control if things go awry.

Uber’s test program is the latest move in an increasingly heated race between tech companies in Silicon Valley and traditional automakers to perfect fully driverless cars for regular people. Competitors such as Nissan and Google have invested hundreds of millions of dollars and logged millions of miles test-driving autonomous vehicles, but Uber is the first company in the U.S. to make self-driving cars available to the general public.

“That pilot really pushes the ball forward for us,” said Raffi Krikorian, Director of Uber Advanced Technologies Center (ATC) in Pittsburgh, the company’s main facility for testing self-driving vehicles. “We think it can help with congestion, we think it can make transportation cheaper and more accessible for the vast majority of people.”

Removing the cost of the driver is one way to make rides more affordable. But that prospect didn’t sit well with some Uber customers.

“It scares me not to have a driver there with an Uber,” said Claudia Tyler, a health executive standing near the entrance of an office in downtown Pittsburgh.

A reporter from The Associated Press tried out the service Monday. The ride through downtown Pittsburgh and over some bridges went smoothly, with the car waiting for oncoming traffic before making a turn and at one point stopping for a vehicle that was backing into a parking space. Parking, however, was a task the human driver had to perform.

Approaches to driverless technology differ. Google, a unit of Alphabet, and Ford Motor Co. want to perfect the fully driverless car – no steering wheel, no pedals – before letting the public climb in for a ride. Others are adding autonomous features in phases, while relying on the driver to take over in certain circumstances.

Many experts predict that it will be years, if not decades, before the public is being driven around in fleets of fully driverless vehicles under any condition.

“Because vehicles are driving at seventy miles per hour on the highway, if something goes wrong, things could go wrong very bad, very quickly,” said Carnegie Mellon engineering Professor Raj Rajkumar. “This technology needs to be ultra-reliable before we can take the human out of the driving equation.”

NuTonomy, a spinoff from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, got the jump on Uber globally three weeks ago when it began picking up passengers in self-driving taxis in Singapore. The company said Tuesday that its six taxis – with backup drivers – haven’t had any accidents since the service launched.

The Uber vehicles are equipped with everything from seven traffic-light detecting cameras to a radar system that detects different weather conditions to 20 spinning lasers that generates a continuous, 360 degree 3-D map of the surrounding environment.

Photo courtesy Uber.

Photo courtesy Uber.

During the demonstration for reporters two engineers were seated in front – the backup driver and another monitoring the car’s 3D map and scribbling notes on how to improve the car’s software. The engineers must undergo a week of safety orientation or more to drive the cars, with additional training as the vehicles continue to be refined.

Pittsburgh is a particularly good place to experiment, they said, because the city is a research hub for self-driving cars and has notoriously bad driving conditions, including snowstorms, rolling hills and a tangled network of aging roads and bridges. Uber executives are watching to see how the cars handle these challenges before saying when fully driverless vehicles will be ready to hit the roads.

“We actually think of Pittsburgh as the double black diamond of driving,” Krikorian said. “If we can really tackle Pittsburgh, that we have a better chance of tackling most other cities around the world.”

Bill Peduto, the mayor of Pittsburgh, lobbyied the Pennsylvania state government to allow ride sharing in the city.

“Lots of people think steel built Pittsburgh. It was innovation,” Peduto said. “Regulations rarely if ever come before innovation, and if you try to put regulations first, all you do is guarantee innovation will occur somewhere else.”

Uber officials hope the initial trial will teach them how to ease public fears of adopting the leading-edge technology.

“The Pittsburgh pilot is our opportunity for real world testing, so that we can learn more about what makes riders feel safe and comfortable,” said Uber product manager Emily Bartel.

Uber’s Silicon Valley roots means it tends to pivot quickly and plan, experiment, and adjust direction within weeks, in contrast to longtime carmakers like General Motors or Toyota who have years-long timelines when bringing out new features, Rajkumar and Uber officials said. When the drivers are removed from front seats, the cars will likely be restricted to driving in specific locations under good conditions at first.

“I’d probably give them a little bit and let them work their kinks out,” Patrick Holland, a Philadelphia-area student, said right before getting into a human-driven Uber. “But I think a product that’s well tested and it’s proven to work and safe – I think that’s where we’re heading, and I think I’ll eventually find myself in a driverless vehicle.”

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Dee-Ann Durbin in Detroit contributed to this report.

The Husky Energy Lima Refinery Charity Golf Outing raised $217,400 in support of 15 local charities. Submitted photo.

Staff Reports
news@the419.com

LIMA – The Husky Energy Lima Refinery Charity Golf Outing raised $217,400 in support of 15 local charities, setting a new record. In its tenth year, this outing has donated over $1,022,000 to the Lima community.

“We feel blessed to have been chosen as one of the recipients of Husky’s Charity Golf Outing this year,” said Brandi Schroeder, Executive Director of Lima’s Samaritan House.  “This donation will go a long way in covering expenses for updates and repairs in two, possibly three, of the seven bathrooms within the shelter. It is simply amazing to consider how many lives the Husky outing has touched with this community support over the past ten years.”

This year’s recipients, selected by the golf outing committee, are:

  • Allen County Council on Aging
  • Allen County Historical Society
  • Awaking Minds Art
  • Big Brothers, Big Sisters
  • Bradfield Center
  • Children’s Development Center
  • Courthouse Clock Project
  • Crossroads Crisis Center
  • Lima Allen County Crime Stoppers
  • Lima- Urban Minority Alcoholism and Drug Abuse Outreach Program, Inc.
  • Lima Rescue Mission
  • Northwest Ohio Literacy Council
  • Samaritan House
  • Teddy Bear Fund
  • West Ohio Food Bank

“The golf outing is one way the Lima Refinery and many of our business partners support the Lima community,” said Ed Goedde, Director of Project Engineering and Turnarounds, and Charity Golf Outing chairperson. “We would like to thank the generous support of our 104 sponsors, 416 golfers, and 70 volunteers.  Many organizations and individuals contributed and volunteered their time to make this event a success.”

Donations were presented to the organizations on Wednesday, August 31 during a dessert reception.

Octopus Productions was formed by Christine O’Neill, Shannon Wannemacher, Chad Stearns of Modo Media and Deb Duncan-Faul. The group gave the Lima Symphony Orchestra a donation of $14,000 Wednesday at the Jameson Manor in Lima.

Staff Reports
news@the419.com

LIMA – Octopus Productions, a local, non-profit organization committed to producing high quality, thought-provoking theater, presented a check for $14,000 to the Lima Symphony Orchestra Wednesday.

This was the first charitable donation Octopus Productions has made.

Octopus Productions mounted Cabaret, its initial show, in June 2016 and sold out the entire run.

Formed by Christine O’Neill, Shannon Wannemacher of the Jameson Manor, Chad Stearns of Modo Media and Deb Duncan-Faul, Octopus Productions will present its next collaboration, Shadows of Poe, in October in Lima and in Ada.

Tickets for Shadows of Poe are on sale now: poeinlima.com/tickets

 

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News articles from the 419 in Lima, Ohio

Media Release from Attorney Michael Rumer regarding his client Sheriff Sam Crish:

Date Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Over the past week there has been a great deal of speculation about the well being and activity of Sheriff Sam Crish. As a result of the recent activity of the FBI Agents, Sam has come to the realization that he has a serious personal Issue which he must address. As his attorney he has authorized me to make the following statement.

I first want to assure the public that the personal issue that Sheriff Crish has identified does not, and has not involved his duties as Sheriff, public funds or property.

As a result of the recognition and acceptance of his personal issue, Sheriff Crish has entered an inpatient treatment program to address the same. During his absence. Chief Deputy James Everett is in charge of the daily operations. During the interim the public should be advised that the operation of the Sheriffs Office is in very capable hands and that Sheriff Crish is communicating on a regular basis with Chef Deputy Everett.

Chief Deputy Everett’s supervisory responsibilities will remain full force and effect until Sheriff Crish returns to the office.

There will be no further press releases relative to the events of September 7, 2016 or activity subsequent thereto from Sheriff Crish. He looks forward to being able to address the various personal issues that have come to a head over this past week and return to his regular activities at the Allen County Sheriffs Office soon.

The first annual chamber olympics will feature Tug of War. The the team that pulls all the other teams down or across the middle wins. Photo: iStock
  • What: Business Olympics
  • When: Thursday, September 22 at 5 p.m.
  • Where: Lima YMCA, 345 S. Elizabeth St.
  • Why: Learn tips to have a healthier workplace & earn bragging rights by taking home the Gold
  • Cost: $100 includes training e-mails, a t-shirt for each registered teammate and paid entry into the Olympics
  • Registration: deadline is Thursday. Register now »

Taylor Johnson
tjohnson@the419.com

LIMA – It’s an excuse to get together with co-workers outside the office for a night of fun, laughter and exciting team-building activities centered around health and wellness.

And that’s exactly what you’ll get at the Lima Chamber’s first annual Business Olympics.

The event has teams of four to six people (must have two boys and two girls) competing against other area businesses in a variety of fitness challenges and mind games.

Lima Chamber Business Olympic events include:

  • Bike Relay: be the team that travels the furthest on a bike in five minutes
  • Basketball Hot Shot: make the most baskets in 90 seconds
  • Wellness Trivia: what does your team know about wellness in the workplace and at home?
  • Tic Tac Toe Run Relay: need to be quick with your feet as well as your mind – like tic tac toe, best 2 out of 3 wins!
  • Tug of War: be the team that pulls all the other teams down or across the middle
  • Obstacle Course: grand finale and will be revealed to all teams at once!

Gold is awarded in each category. However, the ultimate goal (bragging rights) is to win overall Gold.

Workplace wellness experts from the West Central Ohio Regional Healthcare Alliance (WCORHA), Activate Allen County, and the Lima YMCA will be on-site to help with the wellness trivia and provide tips to competitors. They, along with other local experts and sponsors like Lost Creek Chiropractic, have been sending training tips via e-mail and social media to help teams prepare for the challenges of the days events.

The goal is for teams to utilize this knowledge not just at the event, but to implement their own wellness program within their organization.

“Schedules are tight. We understand that. But we think by coming together and learning as a group and as a team, people can go back to their office and encourage one another to be more healthy and active during the workday,” said Adah Ellerbrock, Director of Programs at Lima/Allen County Chamber of Commerce.

The event is Thursday, Sept. 22 at 5 p.m. Games will take place rain or shine either entirely inside or inside and outside at 345 South Elizabeth Street.

The registration deadline is Thursday. The cost is $100 and includes training e-mails, a t-shirt for each registered teammate and paid entry into the Olympics. Register now »

For additional information, call Adah Ellerbrock at 419-222-6045 or email aellerbrock@limachamber.com 

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Watch dogs dads of great students

Staff Reports
news@the419.com

WATCH D.O.G.S. (Dads Of Great Students) is an innovative father involvement, educational initiative of the National Center For Fathering. There are two primary goals of the WATCH D.O.G.S. program.ELIDA – Elida Elementary will kick-off the second year of the Watch D.O.G.S Program on Tuesday, September 20 at 6 p.m. in the Elida Elementary Cafeteria 300 Pioneer Road with a Dad’s and Kids Hot Dog Night.

WATCH D.O.G.S.®, or “Dads of Great Students” is a one-of-a-kind, school-based father involvement program from the National Center For Fathering that calls on dads and other special father figures to volunteer at the school for at least one day each year.

Inspired by one father’s desire to increase male involvement in his children’s school and with the help of the schools teachers and administration, WATCH D.O.G.S. was created in 1998 at George Elementary in Springdale, AR.

Since then, the program has spread to more than 5,148 registered schools in 47 states and other countries abroad.

It can be fathers, grandfathers, uncles and other father-figures.

Last year, 100 father figures participated in the Program at Elida Elementary.

Studies by the U.S. Department of Education have demonstrated that a positive adult male role model will have a uniquely positive impact on the development and educational success of a child. Dramatically increasing the child’s likelihood of graduating and getting mostly A’s along the way, while at the same time dramatically decreasing the likelihood of that child living in poverty, getting involved with drugs and alcohol, and avoiding potentially devastating choices that result in a criminal record or a teen pregnancy. The U.S. Department of Education has identified the WATCH D.O.G.S. ® program as an effective way to increase male involvement in our nation’s schools.

Students gain a positive male role model. Some students do not have a father-figure present in their home and the number of male teachers has been steadily declining in recent years. More positive male role models are needed in the school setting.


FOR MORE INFORMATION on the WATCH D.O.G.S.® program call 1-888-540-3647,e-mail watchdogs@fathers.com or visit www.fathers.com/watchdogs.

Contact Elida Elementary Social Worker Allison Jones ajones@elida.k12.oh.us or call 419-331-7901 for more info.

Kent Fultz owner, Crankers Cycling. Crankers Cycling was recently named one of the best bike shops in the country. The shop is located at 1229 N. West Street in Lima, Ohio.

Staff Reports
news@the419.com

LIMA – Crankers Cycling of Lima, Ohio has been named one of America’s Best Bike Shops for 2016 by the National Bicycle Dealers Association.  There are approximately 4,000 bike shops in the United States and fewer than 300 were honored with the prestigious title of “America’s Best.”

“We work very hard every day to bring the best to our customers. Being named One of America’s Best Bike Shops for the third time shows our staff goes above and beyond in their work, education and care for Crankers Cycling customers and Northwest Ohio.” – Kent Fultz owner, Crankers Cycling

Americas Best Bike Shop 2016Shops were asked to fill out a detailed application describing what sets them apart from the average retailer.

Mystery shoppers then evaluated the business in more detail by visiting the store, reviewing their website, and contacting the shop by phone to assess the performance from a consumer’s perspective. The program is designed to help consumers find great stores in their areas that will provide the expertise and professionalism they need to get the most benefit from cycling.

The recipients of the America’s Best Bike Shops title not only offer great shopping experiences and expert staff, but are also rated on their support for their communities, as well as support for bicycle advocacy both locally and nationally.

Founded in 1946, the National Bicycle Dealers Association is a non-profit association promoting the interests of every specialty bicycle retailer in the United States.   

For more information, contact: Karen Townsend, National Bicycle Dealers Association, karen@nbda.com or the NBDA office, info@nbda.com or Kent Fultz, Crankers Cycling, crankerscyling@gmail.com or call 419-516-0131

The Mercer County Facial Hair Club will host its first annual Fallicle Festival Beard & Mustache Competition.

Taylor Johnson
tjohnson@the419.com

CELINA – A charity event celebrating all things facial hair!

The Mercer County Facial Hair Club will hold its first ever Beard and Mustache competition this Saturday at the Celina Eagles Lodge. All proceeds will be donated to the Cancer Association of Mercer County to help area cancer patients survive their disease physically, emotionally and financially.

Categories of competition

  • 0-4 inches
  • 4-8 inches
  • 8-12 inches
  • 12+
  • Ladies Creative
  • Ladies Realistic
  • Chops
  • Full beard free style
  • Partial beard
  • Partial beard free style
  • Mustache
  • Syled Mustache

 

Tickets are $15 for non competitors and $20 for competitors. You can purchase your ticket online now at brownpapertickets.com.

Competitors can pre-register to compete online at http://goo.gl/forms/hC5KOka23RPFTyD03. While you can only register for one category online, you will be allowed to compete in multiple categories. There will be a $5 charge for each additional category.

If categories are too small in number they will be combined. All those competing in the length category will have their beards measured from the bottom of the lip. The use of balms and oils is allowed for the natural categories, as well as styling agents for the styled categories. Awards will also be given for Best in Show and Best Team.

Brew Nation Celina will provide food and alcohol. Entertainment provided by Zach Laffin and the Double D’s. Emcee will be Ethan Westgerdes.

Registration begins at 5:30 p.m. on Saturday and will end promptly at 7 p.m. The competition will begin shortly thereafter!

For additional information, visit the Mercer County Facial Hair Club Facebook page.


 

Directions to Celina Eagles:

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U.S. News and World Report rankings have ranked Ohio Northern University sixth out of best Midwest Colleges, with Bluffton University ranked 29th.

Staff Reports
news@the419.com

The 2017 edition of U.S. News & World Report’s Best Colleges guidebook has ranked two colleges in Allen County in the top tier of midwest regional colleges among 79 comparable institutions in 12 Midwest states.

Ohio Northern University in Ada, Ohio is ranked sixth, tied with one other school, and Bluffton University in Bluffton, Ohio is ranked 29th.

Regional colleges are defined as institutions that focus on undergraduate education and offer a broad range of liberal arts programs, though those programs account for fewer than half of all bachelor’s degrees awarded.

One of the storage facilities at Potash Corp.'s Rocanville mine, one of Saskatchewan’s lowest-cost potash mines. (Image courtesy of Potash Corp.)

Agrium and PotashCorp to combine in merger to create a world-class integrated global supplier of crop inputs

Staff Reports
news@the419.com

NEW YORK (AP) — Potash Corp. and Agrium said Monday that they are combining to create the world’s largest crop nutrient company.

The Canadian companies both sell fertilizers and nutrients to farmers that help them grow their crops.

The new company will have 20,000 employees, a market value of $36 billion and annual revenue of $20.6 billion, the companies said.

A name for the new company will be announced before the deal closes in the middle of next year.

Potash shareholders will own about 52 percent of the new company and Agrium shareholders will own about 48 percent. As part of the deal, Potash shareholders will receive 0.4 of a share of the new company for every Potash stock they own. Agrium shareholders will receive 2.23 shares of the new company for every Agrium stock they own.

Potash Corp. of Saskatchewan Inc. and Agrium Inc. are both based in Canada. The new company will be based in Potash’s headquarters of Saskatoon.

Agrium CEO Chuck Magro will be CEO of the new company and Potash CEO Jochen Tilk will be executive chairman.

Shares of Potash fell 21 cents, or 1.2 percent, to $16.76 in midday trading Monday while Agrium shares fell $1.37, or 1.4 percent, to $93.84.


Creating a World-Class Integrated Global Supplier of Crop Input

Audio and presentation detailing the merger

Strategic and financial benefits of the merger

  • Pre-eminent, low-cost producer of potash and high-quality nitrogen and phosphate: The new company will have a balanced nutrient portfolio that includes world-class potash production and complementary high-quality nitrogen and phosphate operations. It will have the lowest-cost potash production assets and reserves in North America, and a meaningful platform to benefit from continued growth in global potash demand. The merger also results in more diversified and complementary geographic and product portfolios in nitrogen and phosphate, with the North American nitrogen business expected to continue to benefit from low-cost feedstock and local distribution.
  • Leading retail-distribution platform combined with two world-class nutrient production platforms: The new company will have a retail distribution platform encompassing crop nutrients and other input products, services, and solutions with operations in seven countries. The company will continue to emphasize innovation and growth in proprietary products, grower services, and distribution, with customers and suppliers benefiting from a broad agricultural solutions offering. The combined production footprint will drive freight savings and other operational efficiencies.
  • Significant value creation from synergies: The combination is expected to generate up to US$500 million of annual operating synergies primarily from distribution and retail integration, production and SG&A optimization, and procurement. The synergies imply value creation for the combined enterprise of up to US$5 billion, or a 20 percent increase above the combined market capitalizations on August 29, 2016. The all-stock nature of the transaction allows all shareholders to participate in the benefits of the combination. The new company is expected to achieve approximately US$250 million of these synergies by the end of the first year after closing with the full run-rate achieved by the end of the second year. The transaction is expected to be accretive for both sets of shareholders with run-rate synergies.
  • Compelling growth opportunities: Recently completed investments in new, low-cost capacity, particularly in potash, will improve the new company’s operating costs and position it well to respond to increases in demand. Continuing to grow the retail business will also be a priority, including roll-up opportunities, new store openings, and innovation in products and services to better serve growers. 
  • Strong balance sheet with significant cash flow generation: On a 2015 pro forma basis, inclusive of expected synergies, the new company would have had operating cash flow of over US$4 billion. With major capacity expansion projects essentially complete at each company, the new company’s low financial leverage, and significant cash flow generation, the combined company will have flexibility to return excess capital to shareholders and invest in growth initiatives, while also maintaining a strong investment grade credit rating profile. Both companies expect to maintain their existing dividend payments until the transaction is completed. Following the closing of the transaction, the new company will target a stable and growing dividend that reflects the strengthened cash flow profile of the combined company. Subject to market conditions and Board approval at the time of closing, the new company expects to establish a dividend payment equal to the current Agrium level, adjusted for the new share count.

infographic-sun-720Leadership and communities

The new company will be led by a proven team that reflects the strengths and capabilities of both companies. Upon closing of the transaction, Jochen Tilk will serve as Executive Chairman, and Chuck Magro will serve as Chief Executive Officer, both reporting to the new Board of Directors. Wayne Brownlee will serve as Chief Financial Officer, and Steve Douglas will serve as Chief Integration Officer. Additional senior leadership positions for the new company will be named at a later date. The new company’s Board of Directors will have equal representation. The Board’s independent Lead Director will be designated by Agrium.

In addition to leading the Board of Directors, the Executive Chairman will have executive responsibility for the new company’s business strategy function.

Following the closing of the transaction, the new company will have its registered head office in Saskatoon, with Canadian corporate offices in both Calgary and Saskatoon.

In addition to maintaining a strong workforce in each of its operations, the new company will maintain its commitments to community involvement and investment.

Canpotex

The new company will remain committed to Canpotex, the global logistics and marketing company that provides efficient and cost-effective distribution to many of the world’s fastest growing potash markets.

Tax Treatment

Canadian taxable resident shareholders will be able to elect such that they receive shares in the new company free of Canadian income taxes, and other shareholders will generally not be subject to Canadian income tax. It is expected that U.S. resident shareholders will generally receive shares in the new company on a tax-deferred basis for U.S. federal income tax ‎purposes.

Timing and approvals

The transaction will be implemented by way of a plan of arrangement under the Canada Business Corporations Act. It is expected to close during mid-2017, subject to the satisfaction of customary closing conditions, including receipt of regulatory approvals, Canadian court approval, and approval by the shareholders of both companies.

Advisors

Barclays Capital Inc. and CIBC Capital Markets are serving as financial advisors, and Blake, Cassels & Graydon LLP, Norton Rose Fulbright Canada LLP, Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison LLP, and Latham & Watkins LLP are serving as legal advisors to Agrium.

BofA Merrill Lynch and RBC Capital Markets are serving as financial advisors, and Stikeman Elliott LLP and Jones Day are serving as legal advisors to PotashCorp.

Morgan Stanley & Co. LLC is serving as joint financial advisor to Agrium and PotashCorp.

About Agrium

Agrium Inc. is a major global producer and distributor of agricultural products, services and solutions. Agrium produces nitrogen, potash and phosphate fertilizers, with a combined wholesale nutrient capacity of over nine million tonnes and with significant competitive advantages across our product lines. We supply key products and services directly to growers, including crop nutrients, crop protection, seed, as well as agronomic and application services, thereby helping growers to meet the ever growing global demand for food and fibre. Agrium retail-distribution has an unmatched network of over 1,400 facilities and over 3,800 crop consultants who provide advice and products to our grower customers to help them increase their yields and returns on hundreds of different crops. With a focus on sustainability, the company strives to improve the communities in which it operates through safety, education, environmental improvement and new technologies such as the development of precision agriculture and controlled release nutrient products. Agrium is focused on driving operational excellence across our businesses, pursuing value-enhancing growth opportunities and returning capital to shareholders. For more information visit: agrium.com

About PotashCorp

PotashCorp is the world’s largest crop nutrient company and plays an integral role in global food production. The company produces the three essential nutrients required to help farmers grow healthier, more abundant crops. With global population rising and diets improving in developing countries, these nutrients offer a responsible and practical solution to meeting the long-term demand for food. PotashCorp is the largest producer, by capacity, of potash and one of the largest producers of nitrogen and phosphate. While agriculture is its primary market, the company also produces products for animal nutrition and industrial uses. Common shares of Potash Corporation of Saskatchewan Inc. are listed on the Toronto Stock Exchange and the New York Stock Exchange.

Additional Information and Where to Find It

Additional information about Agrium and PotashCorp can be found under their respective corporate profiles on SEDAR at sedar.com or on EDGAR at sec.gov, respective websites at agrium.com and potashcorp.com.