Author Archives: AZ Big Media

AZ Big Media

About AZ Big Media

AZ Big Media has grown to cover a multitude of niche topics and industries within its various publications, and become a host for a series of publication-related events and statewide expos.

121956596

5 Tips To Get The Best Mortgage Rate

No. 1: Establish a baseline.
Call a lender and have your credit pulled. Do a full application and establish what you can and should be borrowing.

No. 2: Contact a mix of financial institutions and do it all on the same day.
Interest rates fluctuate constantly for a variety of reasons, including the occasional promotion of a particular loan product by a financial institution, but to really understand you must contact the lenders all on the same day for the same rates even within the same timeframe, because a bond rally could mean that mortgage rates have dropped dramatically from the morning to the afternoon. Diversify and try a mix of places, such as a direct lender, a regional bank, a credit union, a community bank and a national bank

No. 3: Decide when you want to close.
The length of your lock-in period will impact your mortgage rate, so discuss your target close date with each lender and ask about the charges for different loan-lock periods. Many lenders charge one-eighth percent more if you must lock-in the loan for 60 days. If you need a 90-day loan lock, your interest rate could be as much as one-third percent higher.

No. 4: Ask about fees.
The variation in fees associated with a loan are one reason why you shouldn’t comparison shop solely based on the best advertised interest rate. Sometimes a mortgage at a lower advertised rate can end up costing you more because of all the fees associated with it. Some lenders blend all their fees into a loan preparation fee, while others separate them out, so be sure to ask for the total amount it will cost to close the loan. Generally, a mortgage with higher fees should have a lower interest rate.

No. 5: Consider whether you should pay points.
One of the largest expenses can be the points attached to a particular loan. Each point is equal to one percent of your loan amount. In most cases buying down your rate is a wise choice! If you intend to stay in the home for the long term, such as 10 years or more, you may want to pay points to keep your interest rate as low as possible for the life of the loan. If you plan to sell in a few years, paying a lot of cash upfront to pay points may not be worth

And remember:

* How large is your down payment? Interest rates vary according to your loan-to-value ratio.

* Are you buying a single family home or a condominium? A borrower purchasing a condominium with a loan-to-value ratio above 75% will pay a one-quarter percentage point higher interest rate.

* Are you refinancing or purchasing? Interest rates may be higher on a refinance, especially if you are taking out cash, which could raise your rate by one-eighth of a percentage point.

* If you intend to waive escrow and pay your taxes and insurance yourself, your mortgage rate could be one-eighth of one percentage point higher because that’s considered a riskier loan

Tanya Marchiol is a real estate and investment expert. As founder and president of TEAM Investments, she has built an empire on coaching others how to make money and prosper. Today, Tanya runs one of the most successful real estate investment firms in Phoenix with presence in over 20 states. She is a regular in the media and has recently been on Fox Business Channel. CNN, CNBC, HGTV, Sirius Satellite Radio and more.

87665813

How Financial Professionals Can Better Cater to Women

Historically, women have been viewed as secondary decision makers in financial situations – a sorely outdated posture that’s quickly evolving at most financial institutions. However, the insight alone isn’t sufficient enough to attract and retain more female clients. Many financial professionals are still struggling with their approach to working with and catering to women. What has traditionally worked with men isn’t necessarily ideal for their counterparts.

The need for financial institutions to adapt is apparent now more than ever, as women are increasingly taking on the role of household CFO, playing a much greater role in both daily money management and long-term financial planning. Data from the May 2013 BMO Private Bank Women’s Study reveals:

  • Seventy-six percent are either primary decision makers or share ownership of decisions related to savings, investments and retirement
  • Fifty-two percent of Arizona women work with their spouse or partner to decide which banks and financial institutions they will use
  • Ninety-four percent of Arizona women take charge or share decisions equally with their spouse or partner regarding groceries, children’s clothing and other everyday necessities

Yet even with this financial clout, many women are still lacking quality financial guidance. The BMO study also found 66 percent of women do not use the services of a financial advisor – even though women tend to outlive men and may require much more financial support in their elder years. A recent study from Boston Consulting Group found that once a woman’s spouse passes away, one of the first things she does is fire her financial advisor. There’s an obvious gap that needs to be filled, especially as a record number of women are earning graduate and professional degrees, launching new businesses and rising in the corporate ranks.

To better cater to women, financial professionals need to consider the following:

  • For women, money is a tool to accomplish goals; it’s not the goal. Women typically focus on preserving wealth and protecting their family’s financial future, whereas men tend to be more concerned with the acceleration of wealth, such as the rate of return and performance of investments.
  • Women reject traditional “sales” approaches and value relationships. Women like to ask questions and be part of the financial conversations. They do not want to be talked “at,” as is often the case. They reject typical sales approaches and prefer to engage in a meaningful, two-way dialogue, and connect by sharing personal stories. During the decision-making process, they gather information from many sources, consult with friends and may take longer to make decisions than men.
  • Women communicate differently than men. Women are looking for clear, honest and relevant communication. They want to be spoken to in a conversational style and treated with the same respect and dignity that their male counterparts receive.

When dealing with couples, both women and men need to be engaged. In situations where a spouse or partner is present, it’s important to bring both into the conversation. Financial professionals also need to overcome misconceptions that women are not as financial or investment savvy as their spouses or partners. Condescending tones, words and body language – whether intentional or not – is a surefire way to turn off women.

When financial professionals take time to understand women’s needs and outlooks, all parties benefit. Individuals and couples can find more comfort and security with their financial advisor, and in turn, women are more likely to remain loyal to their financial institutions and provide referrals.

 

April Ward is Regional Director, Wealth Advisor for Stoker Ostler, a part of BMO Financial Group. The Scottsdale wealth management firm provides comprehensive financial planning services to affluent individuals, families, small-to-medium-sized institutions and non-profit organizations. She can be reached at april.ward@stokerostler.com or (480) 890-8088.

same.sex

The impact of the Supreme Court’s Windsor ruling

Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act (“DOMA”) defined marriage under federal law as a legal union between one man and one woman. In June, the Supreme Court declared that provision unconstitutional in U.S. v. Windsor (No. 12-307, June 26, 2013). On Aug. 29, 2013, the Department of the Treasury and the IRS jointly issued initial guidance on how Windsor affects federal tax law. Here are answers to some questions that will help clarify the impact.

AFTER WINDSOR, WHAT CONSTITUTES A MARRIAGE FOR TAX PURPOSES?
Rev. Rul. 2013-17 states that a marriage is recognized for federal tax purposes if the marriage was validly entered into in any one of the 50 states, the District of Columbia, a U.S. territory or foreign country whose laws authorize the marriage of same sex individuals. Even if a married couple resides in a state where the marriage is not recognized under state law, federal tax law will treat the same-sex couple as legally married. Rev. Rul. 2013-17 does not extend such recognition to other relationships recognized under state law that are not “marriages,” such as registered domestic partnerships or civil unions.

WHEN IS REV. RUL. 2013-17 EFFECTIVE?
The ruling is effective for most purposes on Sept. 16, 2013 and is primarily prospective; however, it may be relied on retroactively for purposes of filing tax returns, amending returns and certain credit or refund claims for income and employment taxes regarding exclusions from income based on an individual’s marital status for employer-provided health benefits and certain fringe benefits.

HOW DOES WINDSOR AFFECT RETIREMENT PLANS?
The Internal Revenue Code requires certain benefits and options for spouses, such as default survivor annuity benefits for married participants and qualified domestic relations orders for the assignment of retirement benefits during a legal separation or divorce. The guidance clarifies that, effective Sept. 16, 2013, retirement plans must recognize the spouses of same-sex marriages and extend to them the same rights that spouses in opposite sex marriages previously enjoyed. Future guidance will address the application of Windsor for periods prior to Sept. 16, 2013, and will provide sufficient time for employers to amend and correct their qualified plans as necessary to avoid disqualification and preserve favorable tax treatment.

HOW DOES WINDSOR AFFECT THE TAX TREATMENT OF HEALTH, WELFARE AND OTHER FRINGE BENEFITS?
Before Windsor, employees were taxed on health, welfare and other fringe benefits provided to their same-sex spouses, domestic partners or partners in a civil union. As a result, employers had to impute income on the employee’s W-2 for such benefits. According to Rev. Rul. 2013-17, health, welfare and other fringe benefits for legally married same-sex spouses are generally excluded from income for federal tax purposes. However, employees will still be taxed on employer-provided benefits extended to domestic partners and civil union partners unless the partner qualifies as the employee’s dependent.

WHAT OTHER CHANGES WILL BE REQUIRED FOR HEALTH AND WELFARE PLANS?
Certain health plan requirements, such as HIPAA special enrollment rights and COBRA continuation coverage for recognized same-sex spouses, may require amendments to health plans that cover spouses. Employers will also need to revise cafeteria plans to allow premium reimbursement for same-sex spouse coverage pre-tax and to permit the reimbursement of the medical expenses of same-sex spouses by health flexible spending arrangements. The FAQs indicate that all limits and rules applicable to opposite sex married couples now apply to legally married same-sex couples. Notably, plans must impose a single family maximum contribution to both spouses in a same-sex marriage.

DOES THE WINDSOR DECISION CHANGE RIGHTS RETROACTIVELY?
Rev. Rul. 2013-17 clarifies that the Windsor decision will be applied retroactively, although to what extent remains an open question. Among the possibilities, the IRS could take an expansive view of retroactivity for retirement plans, since the IRS’s correction program already allows for (and generally requires) correction for closed tax years. Rev. Rul. 2013-17 promises future guidance on Windsor’s retroactive impact for employee benefit plans.

FOR EMPLOYERS IN STATES THAT DO NOT RECOGNIZE SAME-SEX MARRIAGE, WILL ANYTHING CHANGE?
Yes, all employers must be prepared to amend and administer plans to reflect federal tax law recognition of legally married same-sex spouses. Depending on state law, the value of health coverage and certain fringe benefits provided to legally married same-sex spouses in states that do not recognize same-sex marriage will be tax-free for federal income tax purposes but may still be taxable for state income tax purposes.

CAN EMPLOYERS AND EMPLOYEES OBTAIN REFUNDS FOR TAXES ALREADY PAID ON THE VALUE OF EMPLOYER-PROVIDED HEALTH COVERAGE OR FRINGE BENEFITS FOR THE EMPLOYEE’S SAME-SEX SPOUSE?
As long as the statute of limitations on refund claims is still open (generally, 2010, 2011 and 2012 for most taxpayers), employers that paid Social Security and Medicare (FICA) taxes may file refund claims to recover those taxes and affected employees may file for income tax refund claims paid with respect to the following benefits: employer contributions for health plan coverage, qualified tuition reductions, meals and lodging furnished to an employee for the convenience of the employer, dependent care assistance, and no additional cost services, employee discounts, retirement planning services and on-premises gym facilities. In addition, employees may file income tax refund claims with respect to amounts an employee paid on an after-tax basis for health benefits for a same-sex spouse if the employer had a cafeteria plan and the employee made pre-tax salary reductions for his or her own coverage. The IRS intends to issue guidance with a streamlined process for employers to file FICA tax refund claims.

WHAT SHOULD EMPLOYERS DO NOW?
Starting Sept. 16, 2013, any same-sex spouse must be recognized prospectively if benefits are required under federal tax law (for example, survivor annuities, consent requirements) or if plans are already extending benefits to same-sex spouses. Employers must prepare now to implement plan design and administration changes, as well as plan communications to describe those changes. While awaiting further guidance, employers should take the following steps:
* Identify benefits currently available for spouses under its benefit plans (e.g. death benefits, medical coverage eligibility, reimbursements for spousal expenses).
* Review how each plan defines “spouse” and “marriage.”
* Interpret “spouse” and “marriage” to include same-sex spouses as of Sept. 16, 2013.
* Gather workforce data: for example, which employees have entered into legally recognized same-sex marriages, domestic partnerships, and/or civil unions, and in which states they reside.
* Stop imputing income (and withholding employment taxes) for health and other fringe benefits provided to employees with same-sex spouses, and make adjustments for current year federal income tax withholding by year-end.
* Consider the company’s goals — does the employer wish to extend benefits to all same sex couples or other relationships recognized under state law.
* Manage litigation risks through the use of thoughtful, honest communications with employees who inquire about benefits while the company is assessing its options.

 

Joseph T. Clees and Nonnie L. Shivers are shareholders in the Phoenix office of Ogletree, Deakins, Nash, Smoak & Stewart, P.C.

solar

Why isn’t there more solar in Arizona?

Eleven years ago, I wrote a guest editorial for the Arizona Daily Sun newspaper in Flagstaff in which I put forward a question that was quite popular at the time: “Why isn’t there more solar in Arizona?”

It was in the aftermath of the California energy crisis.  New incentive programs adopted by Arizona utilities were just starting to kick in, and the popularity of solar energy was beginning to emerge from a decade of stagnation; but still, Arizona’s most abundant natural resource had barely been tapped.

In 2002, the solar industry in Arizona was at the beginning of a boom-cycle that continues to this day.

What we were seeing in the way of solar installations back then was just the first flicker of what was possible.  “The technology is on track to become a permanent part of Arizona’s landscape,” I wrote on October 2, 2002.

That comment may be just as appropriate today in 2013 as it was more than a decade ago.

But there may be ominous new storm clouds ahead for the current boom-cycle.  Solar advocates believe that proposed regulatory changes pose a threat to the continued good times for solar businesses and those working in the industry.

The modern solar industry, founded in 1974 following the Arab oil embargo of the previous year, has endured one boom/bust cycle before. From the end of the 1970s through the late 1980s the industry experienced tremendous growth. But as conventional energy became cheaper and incentives disappeared, the solar industry suffered through a down-cycle in the 1990s. That cycle began to reverse itself in the late 1990s and has been on an upward trajectory ever since.

This new boom era was boosted in the beginning by technological advancements, tax credits and utility rebates. But it was net metering policies that substantially increased demand, and dramatic cost reductions followed, pushing the industry to today’s apex.

From its original niche of remote homes and summer cabins to homes in neighborhoods in every city and town throughout the state, the market exploded. The 1,200 off-grid remote rooftop solar PV systems in 1987 have grown to more than 25,000 grid-tied residential rooftop solar electric systems today.

But is history about to repeat itself?

The mainstay of the solar industry during the 1970s and 80s, the solar water heating industry, suffered tremendously when incentives ended and boom turned to bust. A majority of companies went out of business, leaving a number of orphan systems in their wake.

The favorable incentives and policies that have fueled today’s boom have come under increased scrutiny ever since a utility industry study identified solar energy/distributed energy resources as a potential “game changer” and a disruptive challenge with financial implications for the electric utility business model.

If fundamental changes to regulatory rules and financial incentives come about, the solar electric industry will have to borrow a page from the solar water heating industry and reinvent itself to survive.

But what about the utility business model? While the report warns of the disruptive challenge of solar, it also states that Kodak and the U.S. Postal Service are examples of what happens when industry leaders fail to adapt to innovation.

What is preventing utility companies from reinventing themselves and getting in front of the trend toward solar?  The electric utility industry could learn a lesson from AT&T, which successfully made the transition from the old telephone business model to the wireless telephone business.

In 2025 when I look back on this column, I hope that the question will no longer be, “Why isn’t there more solar in Arizona?,” but rather, “Which innovators embraced this unique opportunity and grew with it?”

Today’s answer to the question of eleven years ago is: There is more solar in Arizona than there used to be, and all indications are there’s more to come as long as utility companies continue to be on board with innovation as they have been in the past and embrace the inevitable future of solar energy rather than impede it.
Jim Arwood served six Arizona governors in various capacities managing federal energy programs, culminating in his appointment by then Governor Janet Napolitano, as Director of the State Energy Office in 2006. After nearly 25 years serving the state of Arizona, Mr. Arwood retired from government service in 2010 and today consults for a variety of energy related organizations. He also serves as Director of Communications for the Arizona Solar Center.

MWU-PR Open House - OT

Midwestern Opens Doors to a Future in Healthcare

Midwestern University’s faculty, admissions staff, and students are ready to help you embark on a career in healthcare.

The University’s Glendale campus will host a free public open house in the campus Auditorium on Saturday, October 26, 2013 from 10:00 a.m. to 12:00 pm. Current Midwestern students will conduct informative campus tours which will allow you to experience the University’s facilities, clinics, and accommodations from a student’s perspective.

University staff will be on hand to provide information on admissions, while Midwestern faculty will introduce and explain professional degree programs in osteopathic medicine, pharmacy, physician assistant studies, occupational therapy, cardiovascular science/perfusion, podiatric medicine, nurse anesthesia, biomedical sciences, clinical psychology, optometry, dental medicine, physical therapy, and veterinary medicine.

To register, please call 888/247-9277, send an email to admissaz@midwestern.edu, or register online at http://www.midwestern.edu/AZOpenHouse. Midwestern University is located at 19555 North 59th Avenue in Glendale, just south of the Loop 101.

JessieAtencio Small

Could doing the right thing hurt your business?

There are few stories as disheartening as those of Good Samaritans who come to the rescue of others – only to have kindness repaid with a nasty lawsuit. The first inclination for many is to help our fellow man, yet, as director of the Arizona Division of Occupational Safety and Health (ADOSH), I’m often asked “should I help or stay out of the way?”

Many Arizona workers spend much of their time in an office. Often, employees are parked in a chair with hands on a keyboard – hardly the path to catastrophic illness or injury. But be aware: according to the National Safety Council, some 50 workers in the U.S. are hurt on the job every minute of every day. That means office workers, too. So, how does one know when to steer clear and when to get involved when a co-worker needs help for an illness or injury?

Safety begins with being aware of risks and vulnerabilities. Are there sharp objects nearby? Have electrical cords and cables been safely tucked away? How often do employees need to lift heavy items? Are all employees aware of the location of the fire alarms and fire extinguishers? Do individuals keep personal supplies of aspirin or other necessary medications at their workstation?

Tiredness is a leading cause of workplace accidents, so it is crucial employees get adequate sleep and take breaks. The most common office injuries are sprains and strains – backaches and hamstring pulls from lifting heavy objects and the aches and pains of tendonitis or carpal tunnel syndrome. Other common injuries include falls, slips, cuts, burns and headaches or migraines from eyestrain.

Accidents do happen and the best office-workers are prepared for anything. A good rule of thumb is that if there’s doubt, just call out. Supervisors should be consulted immediately if an accident takes place or someone’s safety is of concern. If there are any questions about the severity of an injury, call 911 to get medical assistance. It is important to stay calm and to be ready to provide details and specifications of the emergency. Follow directions and stay with the injured individual until help has arrived.

If the situation requires only minor first aid and no other employees are at risk, support your co-worker as he cares for himself. Stay with the injured person and recruit someone nearby to get the first aid kit and the supervisor.

Remember:
·         Every second counts. Don’t hesitate to call 911 especially if the person is unconscious, not breathing, dizzy or confused, experiencing chest pain, vomiting blood, slurring their speech or severely burned.
·         Try to avoid putting yourself in harm’s way when attempting to help someone else.
·         Do not move someone who has fallen, unless absolutely necessary.
·         Do not touch someone who has been shocked by an electrical current, but DO turn off the power if it is safe to do so.
·         Do not administer medication.
·         Do not remove foreign objects from a person’s body.
·         If someone is choking, you can administer five quick, upward abdominal thrusts or they can lean over and press their abdomen against any firm object such as the back of a chair.

Some offices identify an “appointed person” who is equipped to take charge, call emergency responders and maintain a fully stocked first aid kit. A current list of emergency telephone numbers (police, fire, ambulance, poison control) should be displayed and easily accessible for all employees. And be sure to have family emergency information available to the supervisor, as well.

Regarding potential liability for rendering aid, be reassured that in Arizona, an individual cannot be held liable for damages when providing first aid in good faith. But, also know that not everyone who needs help will want help. In fact, touching someone who does not want help could result in legal action.  So, get permission – written, verbal or even body language – before engaging.

For more information, please visit www.osha.gov  and download the free “Best Practices Guide: Fundamentals of a Workplace First Aid Program.”

The Arizona Division of Occupational Health and Safety regularly offers classes free of charge on such subjects as office safety; creating a safety culture; slips, trips and falls; heat stress prevention and violence in the workplace; and complying with Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) standards for small and large businesses. Find a list of classes and dates at www.ica.state.az.us/ADOSH or call (602) 542-5795 or toll free at (855) 268-5251.

Chandler Innovation Center

How to Awaken the Steve Jobs in You

Just like everyone else, small business owners get caught up in their personal economic successes and woes. They’re trying to find more time; trying to deal with the exigencies of life; trying to just survive.

The latter is both the cause and result of the broken and failed businesses we see in such large numbers. I know, because I’ve been helping entrepreneurs fix their businesses for 40 years.

In that time, I’ve also found a few small business creators who have discovered the secret of what I call “going beyond.”  They go beyond the ordinary. They go beyond the seeming limits of their personal economy and the barriers that keep so many others consumed with just getting by.

Early in my career, the driving question became: What’s the difference between the survivors and the thrivers? What’s the difference between entrepreneurs like Steve Jobs and the Murray Smiths who were my clients?

With only $5,000, Jobs and his partner and an unlikely idea they called the personal computer created what would become the most valuable enterprise on the planet: Apple, Inc.

Murray Smith, meanwhile, creates a job for himself, works it and works it and … ends up with  little more than what he had starting out.

Why?

Most people suffer a lack of what Steve Jobs possessed.  Was he so out of the ordinary that it would be virtually impossible to awaken the Steve Jobs within every one of us?

I did find the answer to that question. Over the past 40 years, millions of readers of my E-Myth books, and tens upon tens of thousands of small business owner clients learned exactly how (not theoretically how) to awaken the Steve Jobs within them.

Here’s the key:  Steve Jobs was a Dreamer, a Thinker, a Storyteller and a Leader.

The Dreamer in Steve Jobs had a Dream. The Thinker in Steve Jobs had a Vision. The Storyteller in Steve Jobs had a Purpose. And The Leader in Steve Jobs had a Mission.

His Dream drove him. His Vision gave him clarity. His Purpose told him who was the most important person in his life – his customer.  And his Mission told him exactly how to put the wheels on his wagon.

Once I understood that, I immediately saw the way. If I could help Murray learn to do what came naturally to Steve Jobs, I could help Murray thrive. And so, I did!

I’ve helped tens upon tens of thousands of Murrays. The difference it made was huge. Murray no longer went to work IN his business, he learned instead how to go to work ON his business. As a result, Murray’s business grew and grew and grew and grew.

Then I had a second, even more important, epiphany: There was absolutely no difference between Murray the small business owner, and Murray the underemployed, or Murray the unemployed, or Murray the self-employed, or Murray the loser.  All I needed to do was to help anyone stuck in their form of survival to awaken the Dreamer, the Thinker, the Storyteller and the Leader within them, and they could accomplish what my small business clients have accomplished.

That’s what I told Pastor Rick Warren of Saddleback Church when I first met him. And Pastor Rick said, “Go do it. Go do it in the Saddleback community.”

And so began The Dreaming Room™, the only entrepreneurial incubator in the world. There, I teach people how to apply the formula for thriving so they can re-create their lives – to learn more, to earn more, to grow more, to give more, to create more.

I believe, passionately, in everyone’s ability to do more than “just survive.” Maybe you won’t end up with the biggest corporation on the planet – and maybe you will. But by becoming a Dreamer, Thinker, Storyteller and Leader, you can live a happier, more abundant and fulfilling life.

Michael E. Gerber is an entrepreneur, thought leader, speaker and best-selling author whose modern classic, “The E-Myth: Why Most Businesses Don’t Work and What to Do About It,” has sold more than 1 million copies. He is the founder of The Dreaming Room™, where entrepreneurs and others are provided the tools and facilitation to see, experience, develop and design their Dream, Vision, Purpose and Mission.

homeless

Study reveals Arizonans’ chances of climbing economic ladder

Location matters when it comes to the chances that a child born into poverty in Arizona will move up the economic ladder during his lifetime, a recent study shows.

The study, by researchers at Harvard and the University of California, Berkley, found that a child born into a Phoenix family in the bottom fifth of income has a 7.8 percent chance of ever rising to the top fifth. Those are about average odds for the nation, one of the report’s authors said.

But near some of Arizona’s Indian reservations, a child born into poverty has just a 4.8 percent chance of rising to the top, the lowest rate in the Southwest.

Chances of success varied significantly around Arizona, from the best odds of 10.8 percent in Yuma to the worst at 4.8 percent in northwestern Arizona, which part of a “commuting zone” around Gallup, N.M.

“There are very high concentrations of poverty among the Native American tribal members because of lack of access to opportunities,” said Teresa Brice, executive director for the Phoenix office of Local Initiatives Support Coalition.

For “people who want to stay in their indigenous lands, it’s very difficult for them to get to where the job centers are,” Brice said.

The study, by the Equality of Opportunity Project, divided the U.S. into 741 commuting zones, each named after the largest city in the zone. The researchers looked at anonymous earnings records over time to determine the likelihood that someone could move from one income level to another.

People making $25,000 or less were considered to be in the bottom fifth of income while those making more than $100,000 were put in the top fifth. For purposes of the study, then, a child who had one parent making $25,000 would have to earn $100,000 or more as an adult to be counted as successfully making the bottom-to-top transition.

Nathaniel Hendren, assistant professor of economics at Harvard and one of the report’s authors, said that Phoenix’s odds were about in the middle for the country. By comparison, Atlanta had one of the nation’s lowest mobility rates at 4 percent, while San Francisco had one of the best rates at 11.2 percent.

Hendren could not explain why Yuma, which regularly posts some of the nation’s highest unemployment rates, had the best chances of upward mobility in Arizona. But he said there are several factors that correlated with mobility in markets around the nation.

Hendren said that regions with low levels of segregation, better school quality and higher civic or religious engagement tended to have higher rates of upward mobility. He also said that children in two-parent households tended to do better as well.

While Hendren pegged Phoenix’s upward mobility chances as about average, several local experts painted a different picture on the ground.

Brice said a key factor in economic mobility is actual mobility – the ability to get to and from work and other supports. In that sense, she said Phoenix and Atlanta are somewhat similar in terms of sprawl and transportation options.

Brice said that those two factors have made it difficult for people who can’t afford cars to find and maintain jobs.

“Phoenix and Atlanta were very similar five years ago in the amount of sprawl that we were doing,” she said. “At the height of the housing bubble, Phoenix was eating up an acre of desert an hour to development” without offering many transit options.

That isolation is one of the reasons behind low social mobility numbers near Indian reservations, Brice said.

Cynthia Zwick, executive director for Arizona Community Action Association, agreed that transportation is a problem. But she also pointed to relatively low funding of schools in Arizona and the state’s low minimum wage.

“We talk with folks every day who are working two, three jobs, but at minimum wage,” Zwick said. “It’s very difficult, actually impossible really, to sustain yourself or family on that level of income.”

Brice noted that Phoenix’s light-rail system has helped some people keep jobs without a car, but said more work needs to be done. She hopes that cities will focus more on adding to “existing infrastructure” than on building farther out in the future.

“We have to look at what is already in place, how can we fix it first rather … than having to continually build new infrastructure further and further away in order to accommodate development,” she said.

BORDER GOVERNORS

Brewer earns less than most governors

Besides having one of the lowest governor’s salaries in the nation, Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer also makes less than almost all of the state’s top administrative officials, according to a recent report.

Brewer’s $95,000 annual salary was less than that of 44 other governors in 2013 and was topped by 37 Arizona administrators out of 44 included in an April survey by the Council of State Governments.

The top Arizona salaries in the report went to state officials who direct higher education and commerce departments, each of whom made $300,000, the survey said.

But governors across the country consistently make less than the bureaucrats who reported to them, according to the data, which came as no surprise to experts.

“We don’t pay our elected officials a lot. Period,” said Ruth Jones, a professor at the School of Politics and Global Studies at Arizona State University.

And the author of the survey said the salary is not why governors run for the office, either.

“You don’t want to be governor just to make a lot of money,” said Audrey Wall, the managing editor of the Council of State Governments. “That’s not what your goal is if you’re running for that office.”

Wall said there is no single reason why governors make such little money relative to administrators.

The recession played a big role. But while Wall said that states “are on the road to recovery,” governors’ salaries will not rebound as quickly as those in the private sector.

“States have a tendency sometimes to move a little slower,” she said.

Wall said many governors do not receive pay raises because citizens don’t want to see their governors receiving huge CEO salaries.

“Governors are even more closely linked to the electorate, to the people,” Wall said.

Among governors, Brewer made more than only those in Arkansas, Maine, Oregon, Colorado and Alabama in 2013.

Among top officials in her own state, Brewer’s salary was higher than only the secretary of state, treasurer, attorney general, and administrators in public library development, employment services and education.

A state administrator’s pay in Arizona should not be compared to a comparable bureaucrat in another state, Wall said, because the structure of the state governments might be different. The official overseeing border security in Arizona, for example, might have more responsibilities than an official with the same job in Nebraska. That could account for a difference in state administrators’ pay, she said.

But Jones said the governor’s salary should not be compared to state administrator salaries at all. They are two different types of jobs, she said: One is an elected office and many of the others, like the administrator for higher education, are not.

Jones noted that Brewer receives other perks with her job. Governors get free transportation and probably don’t have to pay for many meals, she said. The biggest perk is the power and influence that comes with being governor.

Jones said she knows many people who say the state should not be giving more money to the governor. State voters and legislators are weary of raising the governor’s pay, Jones said, adding that, “it’s not good politics to raise your own pay.”

Brewer’s office did not return calls seeking comment on the report.

Wall said it is hard to predict if Brewer’s pay will be raised anytime soon. A lot has to do with politics and whether or not it’s an election year.

With or without a raise, Jones said the state is getting its money’s worth from whomever is in the governor’s office.

“It’s a hard job. It’s not an easy job,” she said. “It isn’t paid with what the job demands.”

Estate Planning: Planning Your Future

Avoid Making Duplicative Payments for Final Services!

Have you ever considered paying in advance for your funeral/burial expenses to save your loved ones the financial burden?  If your finances allow you to do so, pre-paying for funeral/burial services is an efficient and effective step in your estate planning that can alleviate the often onerous task for your loved ones to undertake while grieving.  A few words of caution if you do pre-pay for funeral/burial services:  TELL YOUR LOVED ONES!

Why? You likely do not want to join the list of individuals who caused their loved ones to pay for services that were already paid for due to a lack of communication regarding the purchase of a pre-paid insurance policy.  It is critical to inform your loved ones that your services were pre-paid, and inform them of the location of the paperwork or insurance policy to avoid duplicative payments after you are gone.

To emphasize the importance of communicating your estate planning with your loved ones, the American Association of Retired Persons reports an actual situation where burial services were paid twice due to a lack of communication.  Specifically in 1973, a woman purchased a prepaid full-burial insurance policy from a local funeral home. When she passed away in 2008, her family paid $8,128 to lay the woman to rest because they were neither aware of the burial policy nor advised of its location.  The family later found the policy among the woman’s possessions.  The woman’s daughter presented the burial policy to the funeral home and asked for a refund.  The request was declined as untimely because it fell outside the window of time set forth in the policy for seeking payment.

Generally, contemporary life insurance and burial policies do not have payout expiration dates. However, older policies may set forth a particular window of time in which to make a claim for payment of the policy.

Be Proactive.  Take steps to organize your affairs, put your wishes in writing, and secure your documents in one place to make it simple for your family.  Plan your estate so that your loved ones have the tools and authority they need to carry out your wishes and safeguard your legacy.  An estate planning attorney can assist you in creating a highly effective estate plan.

 

MichelleM. Lauer is an attorney at Jaburg Wilk. She focuses her practice in Estate Planning, Probate and Guardianships and Conservatorships. She can be reached at 602.248.1075 or mml@jaburgwilk.com. Lindsay Preach is the Marketing Coordinator at Jaburg Wilk. She can be reached at 602.248.1044 or lmp@jaburgwilk.com.

Looking Good

Flake tops The Hill’s ‘most beautiful’ list

Sen. Jeff Flake had already made something of a name for himself as a freshman, by being one of the bipartisan “Gang of 8″ that drafted a sweeping immigration reform bill.

Now the Arizona Republican can boast of another freshman achievement: most-beautiful person on Capitol Hill.

Flake was awarded the top spot Wednesday in The Hill newspaper’s annual list of the 50 most-beautiful people on Capitol Hill. He was the only Arizonan on this year’s list and one of only five elected officials.

“He had a good chuckle over it,” said Emily Goodin, features editor at The Hill. “He was a little embarrassed but he was a good sport about it.”

Goodin said she warned Flake that he might get some teasing from his colleagues on Capitol Hill, adding that he is the first lawmaker to make the top of the list since 2009.

Flake’s office did not return calls for comment Wednesday on the honor, and there is no mention of the list on his office website or social media accounts.

Robbie Sherwood, a political media consultant in Arizona who was an adviser to former Arizona Democratic Rep. Harry Mitchell, said making the list is a conversation starter, if nothing else.

“I don’t think it hurts him in any way politically nor does it help him,” Sherwood said. “It’s one of those things that you say, ‘Hmmm,’ and then you move on with your day.”

The Hill, which dubbed Flake “Mr. All-American” on its list, attributed his “youthful appearance” to his healthy lifestyle: Flake exercise regularly and has never tried coffee, tea, alcohol or tobacco.

He gained notoriety in 2009 after flaunting his abs in a shirtless photo taken during a “Survivor”-like trip to one of the uninhabitated Marshall Islands. He made a similar trip this year, taking two of his sons along for several days of the three of them on an otherwise empty Pacific island.

But Flake still has guilty pleasures – ice cream, specifically – he told The Hill.

“I’m one of 11 kids. I grew up on a ranch. There was never enough dessert, never enough ice cream,” he told The Hill. “I still consider it a scarcity, so I eat all I can whenever I can. So that’s my big vice.”

Flake was one of five lawmakers – along with Reps. Tulsi Gabbard, Frederica Wilson and Beto O’Rourke and Sen. Tim Scott – named to the list that includes Hill staffers, and anyone who works for federal agencies. The 50-year-old Flake was not the oldest – that honor goes to Wilson, 70 – while most on the list were 20- and 30-something staffers.

In preparation for the list, The Hill placed ads on social media and in the newspaper asking for nominees. Then, the paper’s staff went through the nominees and voted.

Goodin would not say what Flake’s margin of victory was: The Hill doesn’t like to reveal the whole process, she said.

In the long term, Sherwood said, the list doesn’t matter. But it still has to be flattering, he said.

“Who wouldn’t want to be named one of the 50 best-looking people?” he said with a chuckle.

immigration

Report: Immigration reform could boost economy

WASHINGTON – Passing an immigration reform plan that provides for a pathway to citizenship could create up to 123,680 jobs and boost the gross domestic product by $10.32 billion by 2014, according to a new study.

The report by Regional Economic Models Inc. predicted that Arizona alone would see 3,254 new jobs and an additional $264 million in economic output by 2014 if a pathway to legal status was established. By 2045, those numbers would rise to 19,731 new jobs and a $1.5 billion boost to the gross state product, the report said.

“It’s showing comprehensive macroeconomic impacts on a state-by-state basis across all industry sectors,” said Frederick Treyz, one of the authors of the study. It was presented Thursday at a Capitol Hill news conference, where a small group of lawmakers and business leaders called for action on immigration reform.

But others charged Thursday that, far from boosting the economy, a pathway to citizenship would actually harm it.

“Just because the economy is bigger, it doesn’t mean we’re better off,” said Derrick Morgan, the vice president of domestic and economic policy at Heritage Foundation.

Morgan said many of those who apply for a pathway to citizenship would end up costing the U.S. more than they would put back into the economy, and that a pathway to citizenship would hurt the welfare system. Instead of a pathway to citizenship, he suggested the need for a temporary agriculture program and a visa program for high-skilled workers.

“When you’re looking at immigration, you have to look at the benefits and the cost,” Morgan said. “A lot of the immigration research that’s done ignores that fiscal cost.”

But Treyz and others disagreed.

“These proposals are about growing the economic pie,” Treyz said of comprehensive immigration reform plans.

Treyz agreed that there is a need for expanded visa programs for both high-skilled and lesser-skilled workers – elements of reform that would also lead to additional U.S. economic growth.

Ken Barbic, the senior director of federal government affairs at the Western Growers Association, also spoke at Thursday’s event and said that farmers need comprehensive immigration reform.

“Agriculture producers across the country right now need a legal, stable workforce,” Barbic said.

He said restrictions by Immigration and Customs Enforcement and the mandated use of programs like E-Verify hurt the industry. He noted that strict immigration enforcement in Alabama and Georgia has hurt both the agriculture industry and the overall economy in those states.

Agriculture is vital to the economy and it provides a “safe and secure food supply” for Americans, Barbic said.

Thursday’s event also included Reps. Tony Cardenas, D-Calif., and Jeff Denham, R-Calif., who stressed the importance of comprehensive reform and its impact on the economy.

Cardenas said he has firsthand knowledge of the importance of a stable workforce in the agriculture industry.

“My father took me out to pick peaches one time. He had me by almost 40 years in age,” Cardenas said. “I couldn’t keep up with him.

“There’s some skill in working hard and working those long hours,” he said of the supposedly low-skilled farmworker jobs.

Cardenas and Denham said they hope the House acts soon on immigration reform so that states can see the economic benefits predicted in the report, and so farmers can continue providing a secure food supply to Americans.

“When we set things right, we will catapult our economy forward,” Cardenas said.

identity.theft

Identity Protection: Who to Notify When a Loved One Passes

When a loved one passes away, a crucial step in minimizing the risk of identity theft is to notify the proper entities, such as government and credit reporting agencies, banks, and creditors of your loved one’s death.

To expedite notification, the National Funeral Directors Association (NFDA) recommends that you initially make contact with government and credit reporting agencies, banks, and creditors by telephone followed by written confirmation.  Many of the governmental agencies and financial institutions require the decedent’s social security number, a (sometimes a certified) copy of the death certificate, and, if you are the personal representative (executor) of the estate, verification of your appointment by the probate court.  It is imperative that you retain ALL copies of the notices/correspondence you send to these agencies.  In some instances, if you are dealing with a funeral home, it may notify some of these agencies for you.  The funeral director can provide you with the list of agencies and/or institutions it notified of the decedent’s death.

The NFDA suggests the following agencies be notified of your loved one’s passing:

  • Social Security Administration
  • Veteran’s Administration (if the decedent  formerly served in the military)
  • Defense Finance and Accounting Service (military service retiree receiving benefits)
  • Office of Personnel Management (if the decedent is a former federal civil service employee)
  • U.S. Citizen and Immigration Service (If the decedent was not a U.S. citizen)
  • State Department of Motor Vehicles (If the decedent had a driver’s license)
  • Credit card and merchant card companies
  • Banks, savings and loan associations and credit unions
  • Mortgage companies and lenders
  • Financial planners and stock brokers
  • Pension providers
  • Life insurers and annuity companies
  • Health, medical and dental insurers
  • Disability insurers
  • Automotive insurer
  • Mutual benefit companies
  • All three credit reporting agencies: Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion
  • Any memberships held by the decedent (ex: health clubs, professional associations, clubs, library etc.)

You can list the decedent on the Deceased Do Not Contact List, maintained by the Direct Marketing Association, which is a service that removes the decedent from all direct mailing lists.

“An estate planning attorney can assist you in creating a highly effective estate plan, which can reduce not only the risk of identity theft, but also the hardships for your family,” said Jaburg & Wilk, P.C estate planning attorney Michelle Lauer.

 

MichelleM. Lauer is an attorney at Jaburg Wilk. She focuses her practice in Estate Planning, Probate and Guardianships and Conservatorships. She can be reached at 602.248.1075 or mml@jaburgwilk.com. Lindsay Preach is the Marketing Coordinator at Jaburg Wilk. She can be reached at 602.248.1044 or lmp@jaburgwilk.com.

2013 Biggest Fastest Growing Business Industries

The 7 Fastest Growing Industries of 2013 – Infographic

The economy is, thankfully, recovering, and entrepreneurialism has played a large role in helping it along. One of the most interesting parts of this recovery, however, is the emergence of new types of industry. Businesses have found all new niches to fill, and seven industries in particular have shown substantial growth in 2013:

MyCorporation - The Seven Fastest Growing Industries of 2013

Entrepreneurs

The Myth Of The Shark Tank

Television makes it look like VC firms and Angel investors are lining up to take your great idea and give you all the money you need to get your restaurant or other venture off the ground. The truth is, only about two percent of small businesses have what equity investors are looking for—and unless you’re a sexy tech start-up or other company that can scale to exponential growth, you’re not going to have much luck with equity investors.

VC firms and Angel investors invest for a piece of the pie. They want equity. Because of that, they’re looking for a big payout within the next three to five years. They’re looking for companies where their relatively small investment will return an exponential gain ($1,000,000 turns into 10-20,000,000, for example). Knowing ahead of time that equity investors don’t reap the rewards of their investment until a business is sold or goes public, the focus of your new partner, will be to flip your company for a big return as quickly as they can. If you want to create a business that you spend the rest of your life running, that you can hand down to your kids, this type of funding is probably not what you should be looking for.

Although there are some benefits to Angels and VC firms, particularly for idea-stage or very early-stage businesses, it isn’t all a bed of roses. Other than my personal distaste for what is sometimes described as “taco chip” companies—companies with the long-term value of a taco chip, below are listed some of the challenges associated with equity-based funding, and what they might want from you in lieu of the monthly payment you’d otherwise be making to the bank:

  1. A management role: Most of the time, they’ll want to be added as a member of your company’s board of directors. They’ll want to ensure they’re in a position to increase the odds your company can be flipped into a positive return on their investment.
  2. You’ll need to achieve milestones or objectives to receive funds: Unlike a loan, you might have to achieve milestones before they offer any cash. Funding is usually released in stages and typically allocated for growth and expansion.
  3. You’ll be giving away equity: Most VC firms expect some kind of equity position when they provide you with cash. And, depending on the amount of cash they give you, it could be a substantial position—maybe even a controlling interest.
  4. Some decisions might not be yours anymore: Depending on the VC or Angel, they might expect a voice in any of the major decisions you make. What’s more, they might not agree with some of what you might want to do. Equity gives them a seat a the table when big decisions are made.

Equity funding isn’t for everyone, but it can be a great way to get a good idea off the ground—you just need to know what you’re getting into before you get started.

 

Small business evangelist and veteran of over 30 years in the trenches of Main Street business, Ty Kiisel makes small business best practices, tips and advice accessible by weaving personal experiences, historical references and other anecdotes into relevant discussions about leading people, managing a business and what it takes to be successful.

Makucell Skincare

How to create Optimal Summer Skin

Surviving a scorching Arizona summer means mastering the art of keeping cool. For some, that entails lathering on the SPF and flocking to the backyard or community swimming pool, while others beat the heat with a crank of the thermostat, relishing the air-conditioned indoors.

Whether or not you’ve suffered from dry, cracked skin or that dreaded blistering burn, you may feel like these summer months simply aren’t conducive to good skin health. Instead of accepting that as the unavoidable truth, try using this sizzling season as an opportunity to broaden your skin health awareness.

Before we start figuring out how to protect, heal, and nourish it though, let’s first recognize just how incredible the skin is. Did you know that it’s your body’s largest organ, accounting for about 15% of your bodyweight, and that it sheds more than 30,000 dead cells each and every minute? On a day-to-day basis, we may be more in tune with how acceptable it looks in the mirror’s reflection, but the skin functions as our prime sensory and barrier organ, transmitting contact with the outside world and protecting us from our external environments, not to mention the integral role in plays in virtually every one of our body’s complex processes.

Youthful skin is comprised of plump, aqueous cells and it’s the job of the cell membranes to maintain the structure of those cells by keeping the desirable water and nutrients inside, while facilitating the removal of undesirable waste products. The cell membrane itself is primarily composed of fatty acids, so when the body’s topical and dietary supply of healthy fats falls short, the result is an accelerated aging process of the skin.

Unfortunately, our go-to summer pastimes can exacerbate this natural aging process. Here’s a breakdown of the season’s worst environmental culprits and suggested strategies to reduce topical and systemic chemical exposure, fight pre-mature aging, and optimize overall skin health.

  • Pool chemicals. The same way that chlorine breaks down the fats in the cell walls of harmful bacteria and microorganisms to denature the enzymes inside, it does a job on our skin cells, stripping them of their natural oils and leaving our skin feeling dry and itchy.  According to the EPA, chlorine can even irritate the respiratory system.

Healthy Skin Strategies:

  • Maintain proper swimming pool chemistry by checking chlorine levels (aim for 1.0-4.0 ppm) and pH levels (aim for 7.2-7.8) daily. If you need help, request a free pool test kit from the Water Quality and Health Council.
  • Consider switching to a salt water system (which won’t be totally free of the chemical, but less harsh than traditional chlorinated pools).
  • To help restore lost moisture, rinse off immediately after taking a dip with an oil-based soap like Dr. Bronner’s and apply only natural skin care products or your own “skin food” (see below).
  • Air conditioning. As it zaps moisture from the air in your car, home, and workplace, AC also dehydrates your skin.

Healthy Skin Strategies:

  • Stay hydrated! You may not be as inclined to chug water in the cooler air, but your cells need it more than ever. Aim to consume a half ounce to one ounce of pure water per pound of your own body weight each day. Carrying a reusable water bottle with you (ideally BPA-free) will help make the habit stick.
  • Consider using a humidifier. Humidifiers are devices that emit water vapor or steam to increase moisture levels in the air, which should ideally fall between 30 and 50 percent. To determine if you need one, you can pick up a hygrometer at the hardware store to measure moisture levels.
  • Bring the outdoors in. Did you know that plants are natural humidifiers? The top recommended air purifying house plants include the bamboo plant, snake plant, areca palm, spider plant, peace lily, and gerbera daisy.
  • Conventional cosmetics. Commercial skin care products can contain emulsifiers, or binding agents that enable oil and water to mix in moisturizers and lotions. The resulting residue left on your skin can easily disrupt skin’s lipid barrier, which dries out the skin by allowing water to evaporate from it more quickly.

What’s even more concerning than their dehydrating properties, though, are all of the other synthetic chemical additives present in these products. Cosmetics (which include all men’s, women’s, and children’s personal care products) are one of the least regulated consumer products on the market. Currently, the regulation of cosmetics is governed by the Safe Cosmetics Act of 1938. This 2.5 page long, 70 + year old piece of legislation does not require cosmetics companies to conduct pre-market safety assessment, which means that virtually any chemical can end up your lotion, shampoo, or aftershave.

Many of these chemicals have been linked to endocrine disruption, certain cancers, neurological toxicity, impaired fertility, and even insulin resistance. Your skin is permeable organ, so it does absorb what goes on it, even if in amounts so minute that they’re considered biologically insignificant. The danger comes from the cumulative effect – years of regular (often, daily) exposure.

Healthy Skin Strategies:

  • Become a more conscious consumer. Use the Environmental Working Group’s Skin Deep Cosmetics Database to find safety scores for thousands of different products. On their website, EWG.org, they also have a wallet guide that you can print out and bring right to the store with you.
  • Avoid the “Dirty Dozen” of cosmetics which include BHA and BHT, coal tar dyes, DEA, cocamide DEA and lauramide DEA, dibutyl phthalate, formaldehyde-releasing preservatives, parabens, parfum (fragrance), PEGs, petrolatum, siloxanes, sodium laureth sulfate (A.K.A. “SLES”), and triclosan To learn more, check out University of Arizona Integrative Health Center’s July Newsletter: The Skin Issue.
  • Make your own skin food! Choose organic, unrefined, cold-pressed oils like olive, coconut, almond, jojoba, avocado, or hemp seed and add a few drops of an essential oil like lavender, eucalyptus, or peppermint. Perform a skin patch test before applying to the skin and remember that a little goes a long way! For more recipe ideas, check out The Campaign for Safe Cosmetics DIY Recipes.
  • The sun. While conventional wisdom is certainly correct in preaching protection from sun, many conventional sun screens contain the hormone-disrupting compounds. Like all personal care products, not all sunscreens are created equal.

Healthy Skin Strategies:

    • Look for shade, wear protective clothing whenever possible and avoid “laying out” in the sun.
    • Avoid sunscreen products with oxybenzone (an endocrine disruptor) and vitamin A (or retinyl palmitate) – a common additive, which has been associated with an increased risk of skin cancer.
    • Look for products without added fragrances. Synthetic chemical fragrances act as hormone disruptors.
    • Choose sunscreens with SPF 30. A higher SPF can not only dissuade you from frequent application, but the extra protection you get from increased SPF is negligible. SPF 50 sunscreen blocks about 98% of sunburn rays when applied properly, and SPF 100 blocks 99%. Higher SPF products also have a much weaker UVA protection (which means that these products may suppress sun burn a little bit more, but not other forms of sun risk like free radical damage). Lastly, higher SPF products are generally more chemically-dense, which means an increased risk of exposure to potential harmful chemicals.
    • Find mineral-based products containing zinc oxide or titanium dioxide or 3 percent avobenzone. Ideally, look for products that contain these ingredients in their standard form instead of as nanoparticles, which are more susceptible to skin penetration.
    • Check other personal care products (especially cosmetics) that may contain sunscreen.
    • Use the Environmental Working Group’s 2013 Guide to Sunscreens for more consumer tips and healthy alternatives.
    • Incorporate more antioxidant-rich foods into your diet, which help protect against free-radical damage from the sun. Look for fruits and veggies naturally rich in colors like blue, purple, red, orange, yellow, and green to maximize antioxidant intake. Visit Dr. Andrew Weil’s Anti-Inflammatory Diet to learn more.

Want to learn more environmental health tips? Subscribe to our free monthly newsletter at http://ihc.arizona.edu/ihc_newsletters.html and follow us at www.facebook.com/UAIntegrativeHealthCenter.

 

Katie Dalton, ACE, is a health coach at the University of Arizona Integrative Health Center.

92455413

Chillin’ at home: These are some hot design ideas to keep your home cool through the summer

It’s no surprise that many Arizonans cringe at the thought of the inevitable summer
heat. With an average summer temperature wavering around 100 degrees, the
struggle to keep cool can seem impossible. Our homes can now serve as a getawayfrom the scalding summer months, as Arizona’s best designers shared their professional tips and tricks on how to keep any home cool and breezy this season.

Screen Shot 2013-07-12 at 11.00.09 AM

Paint colors

Blues, greens and cool purples are the perfect paint colors to use in order to keep any room looking and feeling light and airy. Amanda Billings of CoCo Milano’s recommends “Mountain Air” by Sherwin Williams if you are looking to try a different shade on your walls. For those of us with white walls, Valerie Borden of Chimera Interior Design suggests
incorporating deep blue, lime green or bright orange accents to keep the space feeling cool and looking hot.

 

Fabric panelsScreen Shot 2013-07-12 at 11.00.21 AM

If you aren’t going for a total repaint, Jamie Herzlinger, owner of Jamie Herzlinger
Interiors, suggests creating fabric panels for your walls to create a breezy feel and
integrate cool colors into any room. All you have to do is find your favorite summer
material, get it framed, and hang it on your wall as a fabric panel.

Ceiling fans

If you are looking for a stylish ceiling fan to keep a cool breeze flowing throughout your
space, Herzlinger recommends Modern Fan Company. According to Herzlinger,
they make the process of choosing a striking ceiling fan much easier. Borden
recommends their Aurora fan because it not only helps spread the breeze, but also comes with a beautiful up light.

Screen Shot 2013-07-12 at 11.00.38 AM

Windows

In order to keep the heat out but still enjoy your view, roller shades serve as the best option to cover your windows. According to Hart, a 95 percent open roller shade will
tremendously reduce the amount of UV rays entering your home and will noticeably
lower the temperature. For those who prefer draperies, Herzlinger advises lining them with blackout fabric. By lining your drapes you will dramatically decrease the heat that enters your home.

173436124Leather

Despite the belief that leather will leave you sticky and sweaty, it can actually reflect
the temperature of the room. Borden recommends top grain leather, because it is
typically between 12 and 14 percent water and will acclimate to your body temperature. Because leather is an organic material, it can “breathe” easier than most fabrics.

 

 

Flooring

It’s not surprising that carpet has a tendency to hold in heat. Instead, Adrienne Hart,
owner of ModaScapes Interior Design, suggests opting for a natural stone orScreen Shot 2013-07-12 at 11.00.46 AM
anything that is naturally porous in order to let air flow through freely. Although,
you do not have to completely eliminate all carpet within your space. “A nice area rug can balance your need for defining a space, good acoustics, and a touch of warmth
within your space,” Billings says. For an outdoor space, one should incorporate sandblasted limestone in a light color, because it does not trap heat, according to Borden. “You can walk barefoot on a 120-degree day and not have to rush to the emergency room,” she says.

 

Screen Shot 2013-07-12 at 11.00.52 AMNatural Fiber Fabrics

There’s nothing worse than sitting down on your couch and immediately starting to
sweat. Microfiber, better known as polyester, is the worst offender for working up an instantaneous sweat. “You could sweat just from sitting on it, because it is made from oil and oil heats up with friction,” Hart says. Natural fibers, such as cotton, serve as a more breathable alternative. The only downside to natural fibers is their lackluster stain-fighting abilities. But don’t fret, Herzlinger has provided us with the perfect solution— slipcovers. “Slipcovers are ideal because you can use them over and over again, year after year. And they can be washed, so if you have animals and kids, no need to stress!” she says.

beer

Phoenix firm helps bars tap into profits

A Phoenix business’s device keeps the spirits from overflowing in bar profits.

Aaron Post and his team at Bar Vision produce innovative bar technology. Devices track pouring measurements to prevent bartenders from over pouring. Bar Vision designs products that improve “pour profits” rather than detect “pour loss.”
“Every industry in the world tracks its most important asset, yet the bar industry is one of the last industries to track its most important asset,” explaining the company’s overall concept is to teach bars how to understand numbers to keep bars profitable.

All company products are made in the Phoenix area. One of their most successful products is the pouring spout, which is custom made for each bar depending on the brands of alcohol is served. Every spout is custom designed to fit the bottle.

The company also designed a time tilt device to measure beer. Post said beer is the biggest seller but it’s also more subjected to theft. However, the device doesn’t measure how much is being poured, but it measures what is being poured. According to Post, measuring the amount of alcohol used will help bar owners save money.

The system is used to notify owners of certain trends occurring in the bar scene. They can determine employee work ethic and gender ratio at certain times of the night. For instance, Post said the system records what time certain alcoholic beverages are in demand based on guy-to-girl ratio. This information helps owners keep track of their employees and profits.

The system keeps track of the time of pours. Since there is a lot of theft in the bar industry, the company constructed a system for owners to monitor when theft has occurred.

Todd Manger, bar manager at Tilted Kit in Peoria, said the system is very beneficial for managers to keep track of numbers, noting, “The system is an efficient way to continuously watch counts and provides us physical evidence.”

Bartender Jackie Kopp also commented on the product’s efficiency, saying, “It gives bartenders a sense of how much alcohol is being used, making it easier to count and prevent over pouring. “Overall you get a better visual of numbers,” says Kopp.

Since 2007, Bar Vision has grown from a local business to an international manufacture. Products are sold in Greece, the Middle East and China.

In 2012, Bar Vision was featured in Spike T.V.’s Bar Rescue. The reality show featured bars in the U.S. seeking guidance in order to save their business. Post said he hopes to see more interest in Phoenix area and to grow more as a company.

Employee Theft

Identity Thieves Targeting the Deceased: Plan Now

Identity theft is always a difficult and frustrating situation and could take many years to repair the damage done to one’s credit. However, today millions of Americans are being haunted with an even more disturbing situation: learning that a criminal is using the identity of a deceased loved one to apply for credit.

An ID Analytics study determined 2.5 million deceased Americans identities are stolen each year. Targeting the deceased is appealing to identity thieves because it can take up to six months for death records to be registered, giving thieves ample time to rack up charges. Thieves scour through obituaries to obtain the victim’s name, age and birthdate. They are then able to locate the Social Security Number through the Social Security Administration’s list of deceased Americans known as the “Death Master File.”

This could turn out to be quite a headache for surviving family members as they are left to manage the estates of their deceased loved ones. Luckily, a simple yet effective estate plan can safeguard you or your family members if identity theft after death does indeed occur.

For example, storing all important account information within your estate plan and designating a financial power of attorney to monitor your information after death will help reduce the risk of identity theft. It is also crucial to notify the proper Government agencies of one’s death right away which helps limit opportunities for identity theft occurring.

“Be proactive- plan your estate and have everything organized for your family before death so that your loved ones know exactly what needs to happen when you are gone”, said Jaburg Wilk Estate Planning attorney Michelle Lauer.” “An estate planning attorney can assist you in creating a highly effective estate plan which can reduce not only the risk of identity theft but also the hardships for your family”.

taxes

Taxes and The Defense of Marriage Act

In their recent decision, the Supreme Court found that a portion of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) violated the equal protection clause of the Fifth Amendment of the US Constitution as applied to same sex couples legally wedded under state law.

The decision means that same-sex married couples will now enjoy many federal tax-related benefits, including income tax, estate & gift, tax-free fringe benefits, and more.  Employers may need to prepare for major changes in the treatment of employees in same-sex marriages.

Federal Tax Consequences

Couples legally married in states recognizing same-sex marriage are now required to file married-filing-jointly or married-filing-separately tax returns, and enjoy the benefits of such filing statuses, regardless of if their state of domicile recognizes their marriage.  In fact, due to the fact that law was not changed, but was instead ruled unconstitutional, legally wed same-sex couples who previously filed using the “single” filing status may be required to file amended tax returns using these statuses.  Due to the modified tax brackets, the married couple may now be subject to the “marriage penalty,” resulting in an increases income tax liabiliyt.

Married couples will be subject to modified threshold and AGI floors for items such as medical expenses, ceilings on capital losses, thresholds on itemized deductions, personal exemptions as well as the new investment income tax.  Phaseouts will change for American Opportunity Tax Credit and Lifetime Learning Credits, Coverdale Education Savings Account, and IRA withdrawals for education.

Estate & Gift

Same sex couples will now be eligible for the unlimited asset transfers allowed between spouses (previously limited to 14,000).  Additionally, the enhanced portability provisions of the estate tax are now available for a serving spouse.

Employee Benefits

Many employee benefit plans recognized “domestic partners” and provide benefits to the partner.  However, under the unconstitutional DOMA law, these benefits were taxed to the recipient because there was no legal exclusion.  Post-DOMA, benefits provided under pre-tax plans such as §125 Cafeteria Plans are now non-taxable.

Social Security Benefits

Same-sex couples are now eligible for survivor benefits (if qualified) and divorced couple benefits are also now available.

Effective Dates

Since the law was considered to be unconstitutional, the tax benefits were theoretically always available.  However, due to statute-of-limitations issues, same-sex spouses will not likely be able to claim refunds for years prior to 2009.

State Tax Issues

20 states and the District of Columbia have laws recognizing same-sex marriage, unions, or domestic partnerships (37 have laws expressly restricting them).  Couples who marry in a ‘recognition’ state that move to or reside in ‘non-recognition’ states have significant tax consequences.  They will be considered married for federal tax purposes, and unmarried for state purposes.

Aaron Blau, EA, CPA, is a Fellow of the National Tax Practice Institute and vice president  of The Blau Company, Ltd. Contact him at aaron@blauco.com.

Entrepreneurs

10 Wealthiest Entrepreneurs of All Time

An entrepreneur is not an ordinary person. If you plan to organize and operate a business, you are taking a financial risk to do so — as well as personal risks and an investment in time and effort. But, sometimes the risks and investments pay off, as shown by this list of the ten wealthiest entrepreneurs of all time. The list is ordered by wealth and the focus is in the United States. The businesses created by these individuals range from oil to cars, and from dry goods to lumberyards. The wealth estimates in most cases are based upon several observations from Forbes, mainly based upon modern net worth. You might note that only one person on this list was born in the twentieth century and is still alive — Bill Gates.

1. John Davidson Rockefeller: Rockefeller founded Standard Oil in 1870, which dominated the oil industry and was the first great U.S. business trust. He was 31-years-old at the time, and his pursuits revolutionized the petroleum industry and defined the structure of modern philanthopy. Standard Oil began as an Ohio partnership formed by John D. Rockefeller, his brother William Rockefeller, Henry Flagler, Jabez Bostwick, chemist Samuel Andrews, and a silent partner, Stephen V. Harkness. As kerosene and gasoline grew in importance, Rockefeller’s wealth soared, and he became the world’s richest man and first American worth more than a billion dollars. His peak fortune? $336 billion.

2. Andrew Carnegie: After jobs such as a factory worker in a bobbin factory, a messenger boy, and an upwardly-mobile employee for a telegraph company, Carnegie built Pittsburgh’s Carnegie Steel Company. After he sold Carnegie Steel Company to J.P. Morgan in 1901 ($480 million), Carnegie devoted the remainder of his life to large-scale philanthropy, with special emphasis on local libraries, world peace, education and scientific research. Carnegie slowly accumulated capital, the basis for his later success, through investments. His life has often been referred to as a true “rags to riches” story. His peak fortune? $309 billion.

3. Henry Ford: As founder of the Ford Motor Company and sponsor of the development of the assembly line of mass production, Ford had a global vision of how to run a company and treat employees. Ford astonished the world in 1914 by offering a $5 per day wage ($110 today), which more than doubled the rate of most of his workers. The move proved extremely profitable; instead of constant turnover of employees, the best mechanics in Detroit flocked to Ford, bringing their human capital and expertise, raising productivity, and lowering training costs. His peak fortune? $188.1 billion.

4. Cornelius Vanderbilt: This entrepreneur began working on his father’s New York harbor ferry as a boy and quit school at age 11. He then borrowed $100 from his mother to purchase a boat at age 16, and began to build a complicated shipping business while also fathering 13 children. He also built an interest in railroads, eventually selling all his ships and concentrating on that business. He was the patriarch of the Vanderbilt family and one of the richest Americans in history. He provided the initial gift to found Vanderbilt University, which is named in his honor. His peak fortune? $185 billion.

5. Bill Gates: A contemporary entrepreneur, many people know how Bill Gates built his fortune. Gates is the former CEO and current chairman of Microsoft, the software company he founded with Paul Allen. In 1987, Gates was officially declared a billionaire in the pages of Forbes’ 400 Richest People in America issue, just days before his 32nd birthday. As the world’s youngest self-made billionaire, he was worth $1.25 billion, over $900 million more than he’d been worth the year before, when he’d debuted on the list. He is consistently ranked among the world’s wealthiest people and was the wealthiest overall from 1995 to 2009, excluding 2008, when he was ranked third. In 2011 he was the wealthiest American and the second wealthiest person alive. His peak fortune? $136 billion.

6. John Jacob Aster: As the first prominent member of the Astor family, John (born Johann), was a German-American business man and investor who was the first multi-millionaire in the United States. He was the creator of the first trust in America. Astor arrived in the U.S. American Revolutionary War to build a fur-trading empire that extended to the Great Lakes region and Canada. He later expanded into the American West and Pacific coast. He also got involved in smuggling opium and then began to purchase land in Manhattan, creating a land-rich empire. At the time of his death in 1848, Astor was the wealthiest person in the United States. His peak fortune? $121 billion.

7. Stephen Girard: Born in France, Girard lost the sight in his right eye at age eight, and he had very little education. As an established merchant in Philadelphia, Girard eventually purchased the First Bank of the United States charter. His bank because the principal source of government credit during the War of 1812. Towards the end of the war, when the financial credit of the U.S. government was at its lowest, Girard placed nearly all of his resources at the disposal of the government and underwrote up to 95 percent of the war loan issue, which enabled the United States to carry on the war. He became one of the wealthiest men in America, estimated to have been the fourth richest American of all time, based on the ratio of his fortune to contemporary GDP. Childless, he devoted much of his fortune to philanthropy, particularly the education and welfare of orphans. His peak fortune? $105 billion.

8. Alexander Turney Stewart: Also known as “A.T.” Stewart was a successful Irish entrepreneur who made his multi-million fortune in what was at the time the most extensive and lucrative dry goods business in the world. He received an inheritance of somewhere between $5,000 to $10,000, taking this money to New York and creating a store on Broadway. Along with his successful retail store, Stewart also established himself as one of the wealthiest men in the United States by allowing women all over the country to purchase and order items from his wholesale department store. His peak fortune? $88.9 billion.

9. Frederick Weyerhaeuser: Weyerhaeuser, a German-born son of farmers, emigrated to the U.S. in 1848 and worked in a brewery, on the railroad, and eventually became an upwardly-mobile employee in a sawmill factory. He eventually purchased the sawmill business and formed the Weyerhaeuser-Denkmann Lumber Company with his brother-in-law, Frederick Denkmann. The Weyerhaeuser Company is still the world’s largest seller of timber. His peak fortune? $79.4 billion.

10. Jay Gould: Although being ranked as the eighth worst American CEO of all time by the Conde Nast Portfolio, Jay Gould’s successes made him, at one time, the ninth richest American in history. He was a rail baron and gold speculator, masterminding the 19th-century transportation boom in America. He and financier James Fisk bought up a dominating share of the gold market, enough to directly affect market movements during his lifetime. His peak fortune? $71.2 billion.

Kate Hubbard is content editor for OnlineBusinessSchool.org.

92190696

The changing role of nurses

They are the healthcare providers that will see 22 percent job growth – more than any other occupation – through 2018. They are the communicators. They bridge the gap in the medical industry. They are the part of the healthcare team that makes sure that the right patient is in the right place getting the right thing done.

They are nurses and they are now taking on more specialized roles, applying advanced technologies and filling voids created by an anticipated shortage of primary care physicians.

“We are encouraging our nurses to return to school to advance their degree,” said Deborah Martin, senior director of professional practice at Banner Health. “Patients are much more complex in our hospitals, as well as in the home and our communities … Nurses need to have higher levels of education to manage these complexities in all settings where nurses practice. Advanced degrees are now required for our upper level nursing managers.”

About 10,000 Baby Boomers reach retirement age every day, fueling the long-term demand for specialized nurses. To help fill that need, Arizona State University implemented the Adult-Gerontology Nurse Practitioner Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) concentration.

“It will prepare nurse practitioners to deliver primary care to adults throughout their lifespan with increased emphasis on care of the aging population,” says Katherine Kenny, clinical associate professor and director of the DNP program at ASU.

Johnson & Johnson’s website lists more than 3,000 capacities in which nurses can be employed — from school nurses to jailhouse nurses. Nurses practice in hospitals, schools, homes, retail health clinics, long-term care facilities, battlefields, and community and public health centers. Everywhere there are people, there are patients, and everywhere there are patients, there are nurses.

“Nurses are becoming more influential in the policy changes that are occurring with the Affordable Care Act,” Kenny says. “More nurses are practicing in ambulatory care settings and public and community health.”

Arizona educational institutions are now offering a wide range of educational opportunities which support the nursing profession’s challenge to improve patient care outcomes for individuals, systems, and organizations. And because of skyrocketing healthcare costs, preventative care and education have become integral elements in reducing chronic illness and minimizing re-hospitalization.

“Nurses are now specializing in everything from palliative care and managing chronic illness, to maintenance and preventative care,” says Ann McNamara, dean of Grand Canyon University’s College of Nursing. McNamara says students at GCU are spending more time concentrating on home healthcare and hospice in their new hands-on simulation labs, complete with live actors, computer-operated mannequins, and dynamic patient scenarios.

Angel MedFlight provides air medical transportation services from bedside to bedside.  The company’s CEO, Jeremy Freer, says “[Our] nurses are able to put all the components of the puzzle together and make the medical flight process more efficient, effective and compassionate.”

Nurses are also assessing the long-range healthcare needs of patients.

“Where once the hospital nurse’s prime responsibility was to provide the best care possible that the patient needed at that moment, now the nurse is also focused on what happens next,” explains Maggi Griffin, vice president of patient care services at John C. Lincoln Health Network.

Griffin says that patient discharge planning and post-hospitalization follow up are other key roles of the evolving nursing profession.

Advancements in technology have significantly enhanced patient care in recent years.  Nurses now have the ability to monitor patient conditions remotely, and electronic health records enable nurses to track, evaluate, and document patient information.

“Technology is opening doors to deliver nursing care in new and innovative ways, often serving as a second set of eyes to enhance patient safety or monitoring patients from their homes,” says Deborah Martin, senior director of professional practice at Banner Health. Martin adds that Medication Bar Coding is another example of how technology is helping nurses be more effective and prevent errors.

Due to the skyrocketing cost of healthcare in general, nurses are becoming more involved in a patient’s primary care.

“As advanced practice providers of healthcare, nurses with master’s and doctoral degrees are able to deliver high quality care to patients in their own individual practice,” Martin says, “as well as work side by side with physicians to provide care in a more cost effective manner.”

“As the major component of hospital rosters, nurses’ salaries account for a significant part of any hospital budget,” Griffin adds. “With financial stresses coming from the economy, from government healthcare program budget cuts and from other areas, nursing is much more tightly controlled.”

A decade ago, nursing shifts were scheduled regardless of room occupancy. Currently, industry experts say those staffing schedules fluctuate based on patient population in each unit.

The other major shift is in the demand for specialized nurses. Julie Ward, chief nursing officer at St. Joseph’s Hospital and Medical Center, says specialties have nurses working in both the inpatient and outpatient settings.

“We are also exploring roles for nurses to shepherd groups of patients through the maze of care,”  Ward says. St. Joseph’s nurses make follow-up phone calls to patients to ensure the patient is safe and able to follow their discharge instructions, Ward says.

Still, the primary evolution of the nursing industry has been in higher education. Gone are the days when nurses were simply bedside attendants. Now, they are replacing the expensive medical doctors and are running their own practices as Family Nurse Practitioners (FNPs) and in other upper level specialties. Most hospitals are encouraging their nurses to return to school to improve their knowledge base and advance their degrees.

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) and the Institute of Medicine of the National Academies (IOM) launched a two-year initiative to respond to the need to assess and transform the nursing profession. The IOM appointed a Committee on the RWJF Initiative on the Future of Nursing for the purpose of producing an action-oriented blueprint for the future of nursing. Through its deliberations, the committee developed four key messages:

* Nurses should practice to the full extent of their education and training.

* Nurses should achieve higher levels of education and training through an improved education system that promotes seamless academic progression.

* Nurses should be full partners, with physicians and other health care professionals, in redesigning health care in the United States.

* Effective workforce planning and policy making require better data collection and information infrastructure.

“We are encouraging our nurses to return to school to advance their degree,” Martin says. “Patients are much more complex in our hospitals, as well as in the home and our communities. As noted by the IOM, nurses need to have higher levels of education to manage these complexities in all settings where nurses practice. Advanced degrees are now required for our upper level nursing managers.”

University of Arizona Customized Executive Education - AZ Business Magazine Jul/Aug 2010

Arizona Manufacturers Council urges skills certification

Not too long ago, Arizona’s five C’s — cattle, cotton, copper, citrus and climate — were the foundations of the state’s economy. Today, the driving engines are a somewhat different set of C’s: choppers, computer chips, cell structure and cruise missiles. Oh, and climate’s still in there.

Gone are the days of Arizona’s insular economy: we are now part of a global economy, one in which the stakes for our future are high; one in which a student graduating from a Greenlee or Maricopa or Mohave County high school competes for a job against not just his classmates, but high school graduates in China and Germany and India, too.

That’s why education has moved front and center in the discussion of economic development goals for the state of Arizona. Businesses already here, as well as those looking to relocate, must know that they have at their disposal a willing and able workforce that is trained and prepared for the jobs and careers of the 21st century. This skilled workforce will also be the catalyst for future innovation and investments in the state’s major industry sectors – science and technology, aerospace and defense, bioscience and healthcare, and renewable energy – leading to even more economic growth and competitiveness, not just for the state, but also for the nation.

Some of these skills require a four-year college degree; others do not, but what they all require is more rigorous training, world-class knowledge and in-depth skills than have been taught in the past. Students need to be critical thinkers, good communicators and problem-solvers who can work collaboratively. They must be able to see the connection between what they’re learning in the classroom and what they’re going to experience in the ‘real world.’ And they must be well-versed in STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) skills.

Along with more than 40 other states, our state Board of Education has adopted the Common Core Standards, grounded in research and evidence, and developed over several years with the input of industry, state superintendents of public instruction and governors nationwide. Now, in 2013, we are well along the way toward implementing in local school districts these consistent, strong benchmarks inspired by the education standards of academically high-performing countries. Assessment of these new, rigorous K-12 standards in English language arts and math will be conducted for the first time during the 2014-15 school year.

Similarly, during the past six years, the Arizona Skill Standards Commission, with the support of the Arizona Department of Education, Arizona State University and the University of Arizona, has developed end-of-program assessments for the state’s high school career and technical education students to ensure that they are workforce-ready when they graduate, regardless of whether they head immediately into the work world or pursue a post-secondary education. These assessments are based on industry-evaluated standards that lead to industry certifications. EVIT (East Valley Institute of Technology) and West-MEC (Western Maricopa Education Center) lead the way locally among the state’s Joint Technical Education Districts (JTEDs). And they must be doing something right: Arizona’s CTE programs annually graduate 90 percent of their students. Statewide, the on-time high school graduation rate is a disappointing 76 percent.

Yet, while CTE is having a tremendous impact on the students and partner industries served, and community colleges systems statewide are doing a terrific job delivering post-secondary, workforce-development programs, how is it possible that the Arizona Commerce Authority reports that 6,452 Arizona employers, big and small, had 52,871 job openings in February of this year and that the state’s unemployment rate in January stood at 8 percent? In the case of manufacturing, the industry I represent, 190 employers had more than 1,045 positions go unfilled. Why?

Manufacturing has its challenges, chief among them a major public perception problem. Just say the word ‘manufacturing,’ and most conjure up pictures of pollution-belching smokestacks of yesteryear’s big-city steel plants. That is hardly today’s reality. Manufacturing has gone high-tech. It’s on the leading edge of innovation and plays a huge role in the U.S. economy, consistently giving back more than is put in. In fact, for every $1 spent in U.S. manufacturing, another $1.48 is added to the economy (Source: National Association of Manufacturers). At the company I work for, employees with GEDs to PhDs use sophisticated process-control software, electronic calibration devices, financial forecasting and product-scheduling programs every day. They use STEM skills as a matter of rote. Yet because of a pervasive, incorrect perception of manufacturing, jobs in our industry and in the many fields that support us go unfilled.

Manufacturing must do a better job of telling its story, not just to students, but also to parents, school counselors and teachers, the people who have the most influence with them. While studies show that the American public believes a strong manufacturing industry is critical to our economic prosperity, standard of living and national security, we steer our children away from careers in manufacturing, in favor of industries we see as more stable, with jobs less likely to be shipped overseas. A 2012 Manufacturing Institute survey found that manufacturing ranked fifth out of seven key U.S. industries that people would consider beginning a career in if they were starting today. Further, just 20 percent of the Americans polled believe their local schools encourage students to pursue careers in manufacturing. This is the case despite the fact that those possessing the advanced skills required to work in today’s highly technical manufacturing facilities earn 19 percent more in wages and benefits than those employed in non-manufacturing fields. In Arizona in 2010, that amounted to more than $76,000/year, according to the National Association of Manufacturers. This is clearly a message we need to get out there.

So why did 1,045 Arizona manufacturing jobs go unfilled in February? Bottom line: There’s a serious skills gap pervading all stages of today’s advanced manufacturing workplaces, from engineering to skilled production. And despite all the good things going on in secondary and post-second education, ‘baby boomers’ are retiring and the skills gap is growing. Employers aren’t finding enough of the skilled people they need right here, right now.

What do we do about that? There’s plenty of work to go around. First, employers have to do a better job of articulating what they’re looking for. They need to invest in their local schools and community workforce development programs. They need to take time out from running their business to get in front of as many people as possible and tell them what they need, or one day they won’t have a business to go back to. “I need employees who can perform this set of skills. I need people who show up to work on time and who take pride in what they do. I need people who are willing to take on challenges and work with others to find solutions. I want people who are interested in careers, not drifting from one entry-level job to the next.”

We need to develop an education-validated, employer-endorsed portfolio of industry skill standards certification, such as the ones developed and piloted by The Manufacturing Institute. Under the auspices of the Arizona Chamber of Commerce and Industry and the Arizona Manufacturers Council (AMC), I have been part of a group that has been working for the past year to develop such a skills gap-closing portfolio. The interest in the Arizona Skill Standards/Education Pathways to Career Skills task force has been great, and the 21 education and business leaders who gather each month bring their best practices and vast knowledge to the table in the effort to provide even more paths to manufacturing skills certification. We expect to present our initial plan at the AMC’s annual Manufacturer of the Year Summit May 31 in Phoenix.

In conjunction with similar efforts in other states, our task force is working to arrive at a set of nationally portable, industry-recognized credentials that validate the skills and competencies needed to be productive and successful in entry-level positions of any manufacturing environment. Our goal is to get to the point that an Arizona manufacturing-trained and certified person can present a skills certificate to an employer anywhere in the U.S., who will a) recognize the endorsement and b) know exactly what that person can do. That employer will know that the investment in hiring this person is a smart one because the applicant will be ready to work from day one.

Is the effort worth it? Absolutely. Manufacturing generates wealth for the nation and supports millions of American families, raising the standard of living for all Americans.

We can’t afford to wait any longer: It’s time to educate and train this nation’s next generation of manufacturing talent.

 

Mark Dobbins is senior vice president for SUMCO Phoenix Corporation. SUMCO Phoenix is the U.S. subsidiary of SUMCO Corporation, an international leader in the production of ultra-pure, defect-free, single-crystal silicon wafers for the global semiconductor industry. SUMCO operates 12 manufacturing facilities located in Asia and the U.S.

law.courts

Determining Supervisory Status in Harassment Cases

In a season filled with many highly-anticipated rulings from the Supreme Court, one that warrants particular attention by Arizona employers is its June 24, 2013 decision in Vance v. Ball State University, in which the Court clarified the circumstances under which employers will be held strictly (i.e., automatically) liable for harassment by supervisors.

According to previous Supreme Court rulings, employers could be held automatically liable for harassment by a supervisor if the harassment culminated in a “tangible” employment action.  If, however, the harasser was not the victim’s supervisor, but instead merely a co-worker, then the employer only could be held liable if it was negligent in controlling working conditions.

It was under this 15-year old legal precedent that a federal court in Indiana considered Maetta Vance’s lawsuit.  Vance, an African-American woman, worked in the Banquet and Catering Department at Ball State University. Over the course of her employment, Vance lodged numerous complaints of racial discrimination and retaliation, including against Saundra Davis, a white catering specialist.  Vance alleged that Davis intimidated and harassed her due to her race.  Although the parties disputed the facts, they agreed that Davis did not have authority to hire, fire, demote, transfer, promote, or discipline Vance, although she could direct Vance’s daily tasks.

The trial court concluded that, even if Vance’s factual allegations were true, the University could not be held strictly liable for Davis’ alleged creation of a racially hostile work environment because Davis was not empowered to make tangible employment decisions regarding Vance, and therefore was not a supervisor.  Other courts, however, had ruled inconsistently, finding that strict liability applies to “supervisors” who have the right to exert significant direction over another’s daily work, even if they cannot hire or fire.

The Supreme Court concluded that, while an employer will be held automatically liable for harassment perpetrated by employees who have the authority to hire, fire, promote, reassign, or make significant changes in benefit decisions with respect to other employees, they will not be automatically liable if, as in the Vance case, the “supervisor” can do no more than direct another employee in the performance of routine duties.  According to the Court, establishing a “bright line” test for determining supervisory status is essential to providing guidance to employers, employees, courts and juries in harassment cases.  The Court rejected the far more amorphous standard proposed by Vance.

This outcome is clearly favorable to employers, as it reduces the number of employees whose actions can result in automatic employer liability for workplace harassment.  That said, Arizona employers should nonetheless continue to be vigilant in preventing, investigating, and disciplining harassers.  Additionally, because employers can be held strictly liable for the actions of their supervisory employees, they must continue to draft and disseminate clear policies prohibiting racial, sexual, and other forms of unlawful harassment.  Supervisors and managers – and not just the most senior managers in an organization, but all supervisors who have authority to hire, fire, demote, and promote employees – should be trained on, and held accountable for complying with, these policies.  Complaints of harassment should be promptly escalated for investigation, and credible complaints of harassment should result in prompt disciplinary action against the harasser, up to and including termination.  Failure to do so could expose employers to substantial liability.  Arizona employers are therefore urged to review their current policies, amend those policies if and to the extent necessary, and consider implementing or refreshing manager training on harassment prevention.

Lawrence J. Rosenfeld is a partner and Laura Lawless Robertson is a senior associate at Squire Sanders in Phoenix.