Author Archives: Michael Gossie

Michael Gossie

About Michael Gossie

Michael Gossie is a competitive marathon runner, Ironman triathlete and award-winning journalist who has earned more than 50 awards for writing, editing and design. He studied economics at Elmira College in Elmira, N.Y., and put his entrepreneurial spirit to work in 2007, using a 200-year-old family recipe to launch an Italian sauce company. He is most proud of being the founding president of the Steuben Arc Foundation in Upstate New York, which serves individuals with developmental disabilities, including his sister.

Spa-at-Gainey-Village0de79f

Spa Week Provides Affordable, Reliable Relief from Stress

Five years after the worst economic collapse since the Great Depression, many Americans are still living a “post-recession” lifestyle. Between pay cuts, lack of opportunity for advancement and heavier workloads, it is no surprise that one third of American employees experience chronic work stress according to a recent survey by the American Psychological Association. Countless studies show that this never-ending, physical and mental strain can lead to a number of severe health problems including heart disease, diabetes and even cancer. The bright side, however, is that even the most stress-inflicted workers can lower their risk of disease by simply practicing healthy habits. As research shows, this most definitely includes regular spa visits.

Since its inception in 2004, Spa Week Media Group has lead the way in connecting consumers with the powerful and life-changing benefits of the spa with its Spring and Fall Events’ affordable $50 spa and wellness treatments. According to the International Spa Association, 72% of spa goers in the past year said their stress levels influenced their decision to visit a spa. With consumers becoming increasingly more health (and budget) conscious, spas have experienced a major shift from being portrayed as places of pampering to healing sanctuaries for body and mind for millions of people. Spa Week, the country’s leading and most reputable Spa Marketing Event, has successfully manifested the connection of health and spa to the masses for almost a decade by heavily discounting costly spa and wellness services on the grand scale.

Moving into its 19th installation, Spa Week’s Fall 2013 Event will take place from October 14th – 20th when hundreds of spas (day, medical and resort), yoga and Pilates studios, and fitness and wellness centers will offer up to three signature treatments for just $50 each. Featured services are valued at anywhere from $100 to $500. Holistic healing and natural therapies including Ayurveda have been used for centuries to help counter the effects of stress and better overall health and well-being. Now, with the majority of spa patrons seeking stress relief, such practices have gone mainstream and are being offered by the most prestigious wellness facilities and local day spas alike. Look no further than the Spa Week menu to find hundreds of these detoxifying, relaxing and renewing services, all at an affordable cost. With endless treatment options to choose from, Spa Week provides a way for everyone to find calm and a sense of balance all while keeping their fear of overspending at bay.

In order to receive exclusive information on participating spas and wellness locations and their $50 services, consumers should register on SpaWeek.com as early as possible. The complete directory will launch on September 16th to allow spa-goers to begin booking their most desired services in advance. Visitors to SpaWeek.com also have the opportunity to give the gift of wellness by conveniently purchasing the Spa & Wellness Gift Card by Spa Week® on SpaWeek.com. Accepted at over 7,500 spas and wellness locations across North America and never expire, Spa & Wellness Gift Cards may be used during Spa Week or any time of the year. Recipients will have the freedom to choose from thousands of locations and services, all while knowing that you have their long-term health and happiness in mind.

While the economy still struggles to repair itself, many people are taking their health and well-being into their own hands and this includes seeking medical, emotional and even spiritual relief from the spa community. Equipped to embrace consumers’ needs, spas and wellness locations are rolling out newer and more innovative services than ever before, especially those that help combat the perils of stress and stress-induced maladies. Thanks to Spa Week’s Spring and Fall Events, consumers have the comfort of knowing that they have “spas on their side” to help improve and maintain their health, well-being and happiness, now and in the future.

PhoenixVA_CLCRehab_018_Williams

Phoenix VA Rehabilitation Medicine opens doors

The Phoenix VA Health Care System of Arizona has opened its new 37,000 square foot new Rehabilitation Medicine Building.  Located at Indian School Road and Seventh Street in Phoenix, the new addition co-locates Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation Services with Prosthetics Services.

Westlake Reed Leskosky of Phoenix, Arizona is serving as architects, engineers, and technology designers for the $8.5 million project.  Nationally recognized for integrated design, Westlake Reed Leskosky provided medical programming and planning, architecture, mechanical, electrical and plumbing engineering, structural engineering and interior design services.  RCDS Contractors, Inc. of Glendale, Arizona, is general contractor.

The Rehabilitation Program is located on the 13,500 square foot first floor of the new addition.  The rehabilitation programs include physical therapy, occupational therapy, kinesiotherapy, acts of daily living and driver training.  The area also includes four electromyography rooms and administrative offices. Prosthetics Services occupies the 13,500 square foot second floor of the addition, and includes exam rooms, amputee evaluation, wheel chair repair, shoe modification, administrative offices, and prosthesis laboratory work areas. In addition to bringing physical medicine, rehabilitation, and prosthetics services under one roof, the new addition is constructed with a partial basement, and is designed to accommodate expansion in a third floor.

Sharon Helman, Medical Center Director said, “The Phoenix VA Health Care System is committed to delivering health care to Veterans with physical medicine and prosthetic needs.  As we honor our commitment to our nation’s heroes, we are proud to announce the grand opening of a new rehabilitation medicine building.”  She continued, “These services are key to expanding services to Veterans in Phoenix which has seen long term growth over the last ten years.”

Rebecca C. Olson, AIA, LEED® AP, Principal and Director of the Phoenix studio of Westlake Reed Leskosky, explains the design solution of building in flexibility from the start. “Another goal of the VA is to be able to build a third floor for storage initially and as a future Surgery Suite expansion.  As a part of this design effort, the VA requested that Westlake Reed Leskosky investigate, program, and plan the relocation of their current Surgery suite to the third floor.  We also looked at how this addition could be expanded to the west for additional clinic space as part of the master plan for the facility.” Experienced in leading integrated project delivery and healthcare facilities, Ms. Olson is currently serving on multiple projects with multiple design teams and hospitals for the Veterans Administration Healthcare Systems in Arizona, California, New Mexico, and West Texas.

As part of the design services for the Rehabilitation Medicine building, Westlake Reed Leskosky modeled the existing chilled water distribution system using the PipeFlo software to identify capacities at different areas of the loop, and to evaluate the necessity of another chilled water loop.  This design optimizes the funding available and provides more efficient and functional co-located programs.

Per federal mandate, the new Rehabilitation Medicine addition was designed to Silver LEED criteria, but will not seek certification.  The new addition was documented in Building Information Modeling with all disciplines except civil engineering and landscape.

Rick Cordova, President, RCDS Contractors, Inc. says, “This particular project was challenging because of confined work area and the task of building adjacent to and connecting to a fully operational healthcare facility.  Our staff worked hand in hand with WRL and the Phoenix VA to minimize impacts to patients and employees who visit and work here every day.  Being a service-disabled veteran, who also receives care at this facility, I am proud to deliver this state-of-the-art facility to the Phoenix VA and to fellow veterans.”

lease

Kroot Negotiates 3 New Leases for Goodwill

Andy Kroot with Velocity Retail Group, LLC announced that Goodwill of Central Arizona has signed three new leases in the Phoenix metro area. Kroot, Principal at Velocity Retail has represented Goodwill for 10 years and been an integral part of their store growth. “We are pleased to be able to help Goodwill expand their presence in the greater Phoenix area. We are continuing to seek additional full retail stores as well as donation centers,” said Kroot.

Goodwill of Central Arizona is one of the oldest and largest nonprofit agencies in Arizona. Their commitment is to put people to work throughout Arizona by providing job training and employment services to a wide range of clients. These new locations will enable Goodwill to service many more customers and donors and will create jobs for the community.

The new stores include:

• SEC of McDowell Rd and Pebble Creek Parkway – 30,256 square foot store will be a full retail store with career center.
• NEC of Yuma Rd and Watson Rd in Buckeye, AZ. This brand new 25,000 square foot full retail store will be developed for Goodwill by DTD Devco 12, LLC dba Desert Troon Companies
• A new 1,331 square foot donation center located in the Maricopa Fiesta center at John Wayne Parkway and SR 238 will soon be open to the area residents as a convenient way to make donations.

162271838

Construction employment stalls in August

Construction employment stagnated in August, while the industry unemployment rate fell and a majority of companies reported difficulty finding workers, according to an analysis of new government data and an industry survey by the Associated General Contractors of America. Association officials called for education and immigration reform measures needed to ensure an adequate supply of skilled workers.

“After a strong rebound in 2012, construction hiring and spending have been stuck in neutral through most of 2013,” said Ken Simonson, the association’s chief economist. “Yet the unemployment rate for former construction workers hit the lowest August level in five years, suggesting that experienced workers are leaving the industry rather than returning to it. As a result, firms are already having trouble finding workers.”

Construction employment totaled 5,798,000 in August, matching the July total, which was revised up by 5,000 from the initial estimate released four weeks ago. The August total is 3.0 percent higher than in August 2012 but has been nearly flat since March 2013. Similarly, a Census Bureau report on construction spending released on September 3 showed spending had changed little between May and July, the latest month available. Meanwhile, the unemployment rate for workers actively looking for jobs and last employed in construction declined from 11.3 percent in August 2012 to 9.1 percent last month—the lowest August rate since 2008.

“Over the past three years, the number of unemployed, experienced construction workers has dropped by half,” Simonson noted. “Unfortunately, the construction industry has been able to hire only about a third of those workers, while the rest have left construction for other industries, schooling, retirement or have dropped out of the labor force. The recent leveling-off of construction hiring means the industry risks losing more of its experienced workers, setting up a potentially grave shortfall when demand for construction resumes.”

Nearly three-fourths (74 percent) of the construction firms that responded to a survey that the association released on September 4 reported they are having difficulty filling some craft-worker positions. More than half (53 percent) of the respondents also said they are having difficulty filling professional positions.

Association officials said that the fact that hiring problems appear so widespread when overall construction employment is flat was particularly worrisome in light of the high demand for workers expected in the near future. They urged elected officials in Washington to support construction education and training programs and to treat construction equitably in guest worker provisions of immigration reform legislation.

“Construction employment has leveled off for now, but retirements and selected areas of demand mean there is still a need to address worker shortages before they become acute,” said Stephen E. Sandherr, the association’s chief executive officer. “We need to make sure there is an adequate supply of skilled construction labor to meet future demand.”

rossmore

Cooper, Cardinal and Company sell apartment complex

Cooper, Cardinal and Company LLC, a boutique multi-family investment brokerage firm with headquarters in Phoenix, Arizona, recently closed the transaction for Rossmore Apartments, an 26-unit multi-family community located in Glendale, Arizona near Westgate City Center and Historic Glendale District. The sale price of $635,000 represents a capitalization rate of 7.10% on Proforma income. It equates to $24,423 per unit or $42.50 per square foot.

Gary R. Cooper, a Managing Director and Jack A. Cardinal, a Managing Director of the firm, represented the Seller in the transaction. “Rossmore Apartments is a great example of the premise that commercial real estate is not a zero sum game. The Seller purchased the property in distress and did well by taking risks when others would not. The Buyers own in the area and have a great vision for the property and thus will be able to take the property to new heights creating a true win-win transaction’,” stated Cooper.

The 14,940-square foot apartment community, built in 1963 is situated on a 1.61-acre lot and was 85% occupied at the time of sale. Jack A. Cardinal added, “With recent capital improvements such as a new roof and ceramic tile flooring, the bones of this 1963 asset are rock solid. We were very pleased with the outcome of this transaction and in helping execute the exit strategy as the Exclusive Listing Agents for our opportunistic, Canadian based Seller. This was an important assignment for a repeat client in helping the client reach his market goals and reinvest the proceeds on the East Side.”

SanTan Village Furniture Center photo - August deals

De Rito Partners Announces Recent Transactions

New bike shop opening in Tempe

The Pedal Bike Shop signed a lease for 3,763 square feet at 405 W. University Drive, near the Arizona State University campus. The shopping center is located at the southeast corner of University Drive and Wilson Street in Tempe. De Rito Partners’ brokers John Palmieri and Chris Corso represented the landlord in the deal.

Dental Care of Mesa to open at the Village at Superstition Springs

De Rito Partners’ brokers Gordon Heckaman and Steve Berman represented the landlord in signing a lease for 2,615 square feet at the Village at Superstition Springs. Dental Care of Mesa will be joining the center located just west of the northwest corner of Power Road and Baseline Road.

Verizon Premium Dealer set to open in Gilbert

MyBullfrog.com, a Verizon Wireless Premium Dealer, signed a lease for 2,000 square feet at the northwest corner of Gilbert Road and Warner Road in Gilbert. Gordon Heckaman and Morey Fischel of De Rito Partners represented the landlord in signing the lease.

Van’s Golf Shop coming to SanTan Village Furniture Center

Van’s Golf Shop signed a lease for 7,500 square feet at the northwest corner of SanTan Village Parkway and Market Street, in the SanTan Village Furniture Center. De Rito Partners’ broker Matt Morrell represented the landlord in completing the deal.

L’Mage Salon Suites adding location in Gilbert

One of Metro Phoenix’s top salons, L’Mage Salon Suites, signed a lease for 3,598 square feet at Gilbert Town Square. The center is located just south of the southwest corner of Gilbert Road and Warner Road. Stan Sanchez represented the tenant; and Bill Bones and Carl Jones, Jr. represented the landlord in completing the deal.

TitleMax opening a store in Sierra Vista

De Rito Partners’ broker Bill Bones represented TitleMax in signing a lease for a new 5,592-square-foot store in Sierra Vista, Arizona. The new store is located at 822 W. Frye Boulevard, near the corner of Frye Boulevard and Buffalo Soldier Trail.

Cabinets Beyond expanding at Cave Creek Plaza

Cabinets Beyond is relocating within the Cave Creek Plaza to a 2,793-square-foot space, an increase of 1,353 square feet from their previous location. Chris Corso and Lizette Fonseca of De Rito Partners represented the landlord in signing the lease at the center located at the southwest corner of Cave Creek Road and Bell Road.

Scottsdale adding a new bicycle shop

Javelina Cycles Owner Rick Marquis signed a lease to open Giant Scottsdale/Liv Giant Bicycle Shop at 68th Street and Thomas Road in Scottsdale. Morey Fischel of De Rito Partners represented the tenant in signing the lease for a 5,000-square-foot space.

Pet groomer to open first location in Chandler

Paws Attractions, a pet sitting and grooming service, is opening their first location at Monterey Vista Village in Chandler. The tenant leased a 1,265-square-foot space at the center located at the northwest corner of Pecos Road and McQueen Road. Steve Bonnell of De Rito Partners represented the tenant in the deal.

NexTech Repair coming to Scottsdale

NexTech Repair, a repair service of smartphones and personal communications electronics, is set to open a new location in Scottsdale at Loop 101 Freeway and Via de Ventura. Gordon Heckaman of De Rito Partners represented the tenant in signing the lease for a 1,000-square-foot space.

New furniture store being added to Verde Valley Plaza in Cottonwood

Classic Home Furnishings is opening a new furniture store in the Verde Valley Plaza. The tenant signed a lease for a 3,800-square-foot space at the center located at the southwest corner of Highway 89A and Highway 260 in Cottonwood, Arizona. De Rito Partners’ broker Dale Harsh represented the landlord in completing the deal.

Styles for Less adding new location in Scottsdale

Styles for Less will be opening a new location at Scottsdale Fiesta Shopping Center located at the southeast corner of the Loop 101 Freeway and Shea Boulevard. Paul Serafin of De Rito Partners represented the tenant in signing the lease for a 4,000-square-foot space.

Public charter school to open in Downtown Phoenix

Arizona School for Integrated Academics and Technologies, part of a nationwide network of public charter schools, will be adding a new school at the southwest corner of 12th Street and Washington Street in Downtown Phoenix. Carl Jones Jr. of De Rito Partners represented the landlord in signing the lease for a 10,194-square-foot space.

Shari A Tucker-Gasser-Sperry-Van-Ness-LLC

Tucker-Gasser Recognized as a Women of Influence

Real Estate Forum celebrates the 20th Annual ‘Women of Influence’ by naming Shari A. Tucker-Gasser, Partner of the Phoenix Sperry Van Ness, LLC office and Multi-Tenant Retail Investment Council Chair of Sperry Van Ness International, among ‘Women of Influence’ in the commercial real estate industry for 2013.

ALM’s Real Estate Forum announced its selections for the most influential women of 2013 in the commercial real estate industry and has categorized the prestigious list by “The Legends”, “Women of Influence” and “Next Gen: Women to Watch”. Senior level women from all over the country were recognized for their contributions to the commercial real estate industry and over 500 applications were submitted.

“Over the course of my 15 year career, I’ve enjoyed being a part of the ever changing commercial real estate industry,” said Tucker-Gasser. “No longer is commercial real estate controlled by the good ol’ boys networks, women today are in many viable roles; they’re running billion dollar REITS, owning brokerage houses and negotiating million dollar transactions. It’s been fun, challenging and rewarding,” continues Tucker-Gasser. “I enjoy sharing my knowledge and mentoring those interested in the commercial real estate profession and hope that in some small way I’ve influenced others.”

Tucker-Gasser began her career in 1999 with a local brokerage company where she was named Rookie of the Year her first year in the business. She was later recruited to the Phoenix Sperry Van Ness, LLC office as an Investment Advisor, and in 2011, purchased the Phoenix office to become one of four veteran partners. During the course of her 15 years in the business, Tucker-Gasser has completed more than $2 billion dollars in retail sales transactions.

Shari specializes in the acquisition, disposition and leasing of multi-tenant retail properties throughout the Phoenix Metro and Arizona markets.

lease

Metro North Corporate Park Signs 2 New Leases

Metro North Corporate Park recently signed the following two new Leases at their 13450 N. Black Canyon Highway facility in Phoenix, Arizona.

  • The State of Arizona signed a 30,000 s.f. five-year Lease and will be utilizing the space for its Department of Economic Security – Child Protective Services Division.  The space will be used primarily for administrative activities.
  • Peckham, Inc. (Lansing, Michigan) signed a 40,000 s.f. five-year Lease.  Peckham, Inc., a nonprofit vocational rehabilitation organization, provides job training opportunities for persons with significant disabilities and other barriers to employment.  Initially, Peckham plans to employ approximately 100 people and eventually they should have approximately 250 employees within the facility.

The Leases were negotiated by Cashen Realty Advisors, Inc.

Construction Employment - Welder

74% of construction firms have trouble finding qualified workers

Nearly three-fourths of construction firms across the country report they are having trouble finding qualified craft workers to fill key spots amid concerns that labor shortages will only get worse, according to the results of an industry-wide survey released today by the Associated General Contractors of America. Association officials called for immigration and education reform measures to help avoid worker shortages.

“Many construction firms are already having a hard time finding qualified workers and expect construction labor shortages will only get worse,” said Stephen E. Sandherr, chief executive officer of the Associated General Contractors of America. “We need to take short- and long-term steps to make sure there are enough workers to meet future demand and avoid the costly construction delays that would come with labor shortages.”

Of the 74 percent of responding firms that are having a hard time finding qualified craft workers, the most frequently reported difficulties are in filling such onsite construction jobs as carpenters, equipment operators and laborers, Sandherr said. Fifty-three percent are having a hard time filling professional positions – especially project supervisors, estimators and engineers.

The association official added that most firms expect labor shortages will continue and get worse for the next year. Eighty-six percent of respondents said they expect it will remain difficult or get harder to find qualified craft workers while 72 percent say the market for professional positions will remain hard or get worse. Seventy-four percent of respondents report there are not enough qualified craft workers available to meet future demand while 49 percent said there weren’t enough construction professionals available, he added.

Sandherr said that many firms report they are taking steps to prepare future construction workers. He noted that 48 percent of responding firms are mentoring future craft workers, 38 percent are participating in career fairs and 33 percent are supporting high school-level construction skills academies. In addition, 47 percent of responding firms are offering internships for construction professionals.

Sandherr cautioned that more needs to be done to address labor shortages. He said Congress needs to jettison arbitrary caps on construction workers that were included in immigration reform the Senate passed earlier this year. “Lifting those restrictions will go a long way to ensuring construction jobs left vacant by domestic labor shortages go to workers who are in the country legally.”

He urged elected and appointed officials to do more to ensure public school students have an opportunity to participate in programs that teach skills like construction. He added that skills-based programs offer students a more hands-on way to learn vital 21st century skills such as math and science. Such programs also have been proven to reduce dropout rates and give students an opportunity to earn the higher pay and benefits that come with construction jobs.

Fired-Pie-Prep-8202#12406D3

Fired Pie delivers with hot new concept

Here’s the beautiful thing about Fired Pie: In less time than a typical commercial break, the staff at Fired Pie can make you a fresh pizza that suits your taste and specifications.

Fired Pie is the latest Chipotle-inspired build-your-own-meal, fast-casual dining concept to hit the Valley. The creation of veteran restaurateur Fred Morgan — the former CEO of Oregano’s — and partners Doug Doyle and Rico Cuomo, Fired Pie’s pizzas take three minutes to bake in a brick oven after customers choose their sauce, cheese, meats, vegetables and herbs.

“The fast-casual concept is really exploding,” Morgan said. “What we’ve been able to do here is create a concept that delivers high-quality gourmet pizza at a cost and convenience that appeals to the customer.”

During a recent visit to Fired Pie, that concept created a taste sensation.
We opted to try a pizza and the Steak & Blue, one of Fired Pie’s signature salads. Signature pizzas include Hawaiian barbecue with barbecue sauce, mozzarella, Canadian bacon, pineapple and cilantro; meaty Italian with tomato sauce, mozzarella, pepperoni, salami, capicola and sausage; and tomato basil with two types of mozzarella, tomato, basil and garlic. We chose to build our own pizza with tomato sauce, pepperoni and fresh mozzarella.

Pizzas and salads are $7.75, regardless of the number of toppings.

During our visit, both dishes were exceptional. I grew up in an Italian family in New York, eating amazing homemade pizzas that my Italian grandmother spent all day preparing, so I am very discriminating when it comes to Italian food. But I can honestly say that Fired Pie’s pizzas match or exceed the quality of other Valley pizza restaurants, and they even give my grandmother a run for her money. Sorry, Grandma. The quality of the ingredients far exceed the expectations one would have from a high-end Italian restaurant, let alone a fast-casual restaurant. But Fired Pie takes that fast-casual concept to a whole new level.

The great thing for me is that one of Fired Pie’s location is at Park Central Mall, which is right across the street from my Central Phoenix office. And customers are already lining up to take advantage of the three-minute cooking time that makes a Fired Pie pizza a healthy lunch option for downtown workers.

If you do decide to get off the healthy train for a moment, words cannot adequately express the mouth-watering deliciousness of the Fired Pookie, Fired Pie’s soft-baked chocolate chip cookie topped with vanilla ice cream that only costs $3.

Trust me on this one. If Fired Pie doesn’t have you at pizza, they’ll hook you by Pookie.

Fired Pie has locations at 3049 W. Agua Fria Freeway, Deer Valley Towne Center, Phoenix; 3110 N. central Ave., Phoenix; and one coming soon to Chandler.

For more information, visit firedpie.com.

Bernards & Construction

Construction Spending Rises 0.6 Percent in July

The nation’s builders were busy in July as construction spending increased 0.6 percent to $900.8 billion—the largest upswing in four years—according to the Sept. 3 report by the U.S. Commerce Department.

Nonresidential construction spending also rose 0.6 percent in July, but is down 0.8 percent compared to one year ago.

Private nonresidential construction spending grew 1.3 percent, only to be offset by a 0.2 percent decline in public nonresidential construction spending. On a year-over-year basis, private nonresidential construction is up 2 percent while public nonresidential construction spending has dipped 3.7 percent.

Eleven of 16 construction sectors posted monthly gains in spending. The largest gains were in lodging, up 5.8 percent; conservation and development, up 3.6 percent; manufacturing, up 3.3 percent; and transportation, up 2.4 percent. Six subsectors experienced higher spending on a year-over-year basis, including lodging, up 29.9 percent; commercial, up 1.6 percent; power, up 6.1 percent; sewage and waste disposal, up 3.8 percent; water supply, up 9.5 percent; and manufacturing, up 0.2 percent.

In contrast, spending in five nonresidential construction sectors declined in July, including educational, down 0.7 percent; religious, down 3.1 percent; public safety, down 8.1 percent; amusement and recreation, down 2.7 percent; and highway and street, down 1.1 percent. On a year-over-year basis, construction spending has softened in 10 subsectors. The largest losses occurred in religious, down 18.1 percent; public safety, down 14.1 percent; amusement and recreation, down 12.6 percent; and communication, down 12.5 percent.

Residential construction spending increased 0.5 percent for the month and is 16.8 percent higher than the same time last year.

rsz_orion

Orion sells Desert Harbor for $26.7 million

The ORION Multifamily Group of Orion Investment Real Estate is pleased to announce the closing of the 264-unit, “Class A” apartment project – Desert Harbor Apartment Homes – for $26,682,000 ($101,068 per unit). The buyer, an affiliate of Murray Hill Developments Ltd., is one of the most experienced multifamily real estate operating and development companies in Canada. “It was a true pleasure working with the seasoned group of individuals at Murray Hill Developments Ltd. Desert Harbor Apartment Homes is the perfect addition to their expanding U.S. multifamily portfolio.”, stated Alon Shnitzer with the Orion Multifamily Group.

Desert Harbor Apartment was built in 2001 and is located across the street from Rio Vista Community Park and just ½ mile from the Loop 101 Freeway. Nearby is the Peoria Sports Complex, home to Major League Baseball’s Seattle Mariners and San Diego Padres spring training facility as well as Lake Pleasant,  Arizona’s second largest lake.

Based in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada and established in the 1960s, Murray Hill Developments Ltd. and its affiliates are actively involved in Real Estate activities in Western Canada and the United States. The firm owns and manages quality apartment communities in Alberta, British Columbia, Arizona and California. Murray Hill Developments Ltd. developed Edmonton’s Brentwood Village, the first condominium property in Canada (registered December 20, 1967).

The seller is the nations largest multifamily REIT, Equity Residential, who acquired the property in early 2013 through a $9.1 billion dollar portfolio transaction with Archstone, which incorporated 73 total properties in the markets of Phoenix, Eastern Los Angeles County, Metro Los Angeles, San Diego, San Fernando Valley, Northern California South Bay/East Bay/San Francisco Peninsula, Seattle, Urban Boston, Manhattan, Northern New Jersey, Washington DC, Northern Virginia, Urban Atlanta, and West Palm Beach.

Alon Shnitzer, Rue Bax, John Kobierowski, Doug Lazovick, and Eddie Chang of ORION Investment Real Estate in Scottsdale represented the buyer in the transaction (www.ORIONMultifamilyGroup.com). The Orion Multifamily Group was formed to provide clients with the most comprehensive and effective brokerage experience. A seasoned group of brokers was assembled with a combined track record consisting of over two billion in sales, 1,000+ transactions and collectively over 55 years of experience. The Orion Multifamily Group provides brokerage and advisory services to Arizona multifamily owners, developers, lenders and managers.

Brad Goff and David Lord of ARA represented the seller in the transaction.

rebecca

Goldberg joins Stein Law

Stein Law, PLC announced that Rebecca C. Goldberg has joined the firm as Of Counsel.

Goldberg brings with her over ten years of experience in the areas of commercial leasing, real estate and finance transactions to expand and compliment Stein Law’s thriving real estate and corporate transactional practice.

For more informationm call (480) 889-8948, or visit www.SteinLawPLC.com.

Broadway Ind Portfolio

Jones Lang LaSalle Closes $22 Million Portfolio Sale

Capital Markets experts in the Phoenix office of Jones Lang LaSalle (JLL) have completed a $22.1 million sale of Broadway Industrial Portfolio, totalling three Class A buildings and 308,038 square feet in Tempe, Ariz. The deal is JLL’s second investment sale in the area this quarter, accentuating the strength and draw of the submarket’s commercial real estate inventory.

Jones Lang LaSalle Managing Directors Mark Detmer and Bo Mills represented the property seller, San Francisco-based Prologis, Inc. The buyer is DCT Industrial Trust.

Broadway Industrial Portfolio encompasses an 110,000-square-foot building at 1005 W. Alameda Dr; a 96,437-square-foot building at 2910 S. Hardy Drive; and a 101,601-square-foot building at 2925 S. Roosevelt St., all in Tempe. Each building is a Class A, institutional quality asset offering manufacturing, distribution and office space. The properties are also all located directly off of Interstate 10 and fully occupied, with no near-term rollover, to tenants including United Stationers Supply Co., ACI Plastics, Inc., Misty Mate, Inc. and Triumph Group, Inc.

“These buildings are exceptional in that they combine outstanding functionality and full occupancy with a true Class A image in an infill location,” said Detmer. “This includes access—within minutes—to many of the key amenities that a high-end industrial user might need: an extensive freeway network, international airport, deep labor pool and host of retail opportunities.”

In addition, the project is located within the Southeast Valley, an area that over the last decade has remained one of the nation’s fastest growing regions for industrial and technology companies, and according to JLL is well situated for long-term stability.

Jones Lang LaSalle Executive Vice Presidents Pat Harlan and Steve Sayre, and Associate Kyle Westfall, will serve as the exclusive leasing brokers for the property buyer on behalf of DCT Industrial Trust.

This is the second investment sale closed by JLL in the Tempe submarket this quarter. In July, the firm completed a $27.1 million sale of Broadway 101 Office Park, a deal that was driven by high market demand and fundamentals reminiscent of pre-recession transactions.

Jones Lang LaSalle is a leader in the Phoenix commercial real estate market. Employing nearly 400 of the region’s most recognized industry experts, the firm offers office and industrial brokerage, tenant representation, facility and investment management, capital markets and development services. In 2012, the Phoenix team completed 9 million square feet in lease transactions valued at $458 million, directed $63 million in project management and currently leases and/or manages a 19.8 million-square-foot portfolio. For more news, videos and research resources on Jones Lang LaSalle, please visit the firm’s U.S. media center webpage.

Jones Lang LaSalle Capital Markets is a full-service global provider of capital solutions for real estate investors and occupiers. The firm’s in-depth local market and global investor knowledge delivers the best-in-class solutions for clients — whether a sale, financing, repositioning, advisory or recapitalization execution. In 2012 alone, Jones Lang LaSalle Capital Markets completed $63 billion in investment sale and debt and equity transactions globally. The firm’s dealmakers completed $60 billion in global investment sales and buy-side transactions, equating to nearly $240 million of investment trades completed every working day around the globe. The firm’s Capital Markets team comprises more than 1,300 specialists, operating all over the globe.

nagel

Nagel joins Silver Fern Companies

Silver Fern Companies is continuing to grow with the economy, recently adding John Nagel as their newest Project Manager. Bringing over 15 years of experience to Silver Fern, as Project Manager John directs daily operations during the construction process of land development. He works closely with the clients on a daily basis, consulting on project drawings and dry utility coordination, providing complete project estimating and schedules, and managing budgets. Prior to joining Silver Fern, worked for Campbell Development and KB Homes.

“John’s experience in development and homebuilding is a powerful combination and a valuable addition to the Silver Fern team.  His drive and ethics make him an asset for both Silver Fern and our clients,” says John Fortini, Silver Fern President.

BannerEstrellaMedicalCenter

Banner Estrella celebrates construction topping-off

Banner Estrella Medical Center, recognized by U.S. News & World Report as one of the Valley’s top 10 hospitals, celebrated a major construction milestone today with a topping-out ceremony for the $161 million new patient tower.

Construction of the six-story, 279,000-square-foot tower at Banner Estrella, located at 9201 W. Thomas Road in Phoenix, will deliver 178 additional private patient beds to serve the growing West Valley, bringing the total number of beds at Banner Estrella to 392 at build-out. The lower level through fourth floor will be completely built out, and the fifth and sixth floors will be shelled for future build-out as needed by the community. The new tower will also contain additional obstetrical suites, additional neonatal intensive care unit capacity, new cardiac catheterization labs and a new endoscopy suite. The second tower is anticipated to open to patients in March 2014.

“When we opened in 2005, we promised residents that we would grow our services to meet the growing health care needs of the community,” said Deb Krmpotic, chief executive officer of Banner Estrella. “This project demonstrates our commitment to that promise and to the community we are honored to serve.

“We believe this project will strengthen our position as the leading provider of care in the Southwest Valley by providing our community much-needed inpatient beds, maternity beds, surgical treatment capacity and emergency room capacity to care for both children and adults,” she added.

Banner Estrella’s new patient tower is the first hospital structure in metro Phoenix to be built using concrete since the early 1980s. Aside from being more cost-effective, using concrete enabled the tower expansion to be completed earlier than a steel structure. Concrete also provides structural advantages of dampening vibration and, with medical equipment becoming more sensitive to movement, concrete offers important advantages long-term.

“Topping-out of the growing campus is an important milestone to achieve, marking our progress towards the successful completion of the hospital’s campus expansion that will serve the west Valley community,” said Bo Calbert, president of McCarthy Building Companies’ Southwest Division. “Thanks to collaboration with our partners, the choice to use concrete for the tower structure provides for easily adapting to the community’s long-term health needs, and allowed us to fast-track the project in order to meet demands sooner.”

During the topping-out ceremony, the final beam, signed by Banner Estrella staff and members of the design and construction team, was placed atop the tower. A mesquite tree was also lifted atop the structure, which is a tradition of recognizing project milestones achieved without injury. The mesquite tree will later be planted on campus.

KPNX TV, Channel 12 - Best of the Best Awards 2009 presented by Ranking Arizona

Transaction Creates New Partnership at SkySong

SkySong, The ASU Scottsdale Innovation Center has a new ownership structure after a transaction involving SkySong I and II, a 290,000 square foot, two-building office project located at Scottsdale Road and McDowell Road.

A partnership formed by Holualoa Companies, the ASU Foundation for A New American University, and Plaza Companies has purchased the entirety of the ownership in a transaction that closed on August 26, 2013. Financing for the acquisition was provided by Citigroup.

The same partners will also be starting construction of SkySong III, a third office property in the SkySong project. This new partnership represents a strong and continued collaborative focus on the cohesive technology, entrepreneurship, innovation, and education platform that positions SkySong tenants with competitive and distinctive advantages for their businesses.

During the period when the transaction was in escrow, leasing activity remained brisk at SkySong I and II, with more than 46,000 square feet of lease renewals and expansions in the past few weeks.

Stanton Shafer, Chief Operating Officer of Holualoa, said the transaction is a sign of the success of the project and the positive impact that SkySong has had on the Scottsdale area and the entire region.

“SkySong has had a tremendous impact on Scottsdale and on the Valley as a whole in aiding and strengthening economic development,” Shafer said. “With this transaction and with the start of construction of SkySong III, the project is truly well-positioned for tenants and companies to advance their business growth and success.”

R.F. “Rick” Shangraw Jr., CEO of the ASU Foundation, said the transaction is a sign of significant and ongoing investment into SkySong.

“SkySong has been a tremendous success story for Arizona State University and the ASU Foundation in furthering innovation and technology in Arizona,” he said. “We are now seeing a continued investment into SkySong in the form of this transaction and the start of SkySong III, which will have an even stronger impact on the region.”

More than 1,000 employees and 50 companies are already located on the SkySong property. Completion of SkySong III and IV and the 325-unit apartment property currently under construction will bring the total square footage of development at SkySong to almost 1 million square feet, and bring total invested capital at SkySong to almost $150 million.

“We are excited about moving forward with our new partnership and continuing to build one of the biggest success stories our community has seen over the past few years,” said Sharon Harper, President & CEO of Plaza Companies. “Existing tenants and prospective tenants both have come to realize the unique value proposition of SkySong. We offer something special that no other project in Arizona — or the entire country — offers.”

CBRE’s Kevin Shannon and Michael Moore in the firm’s Torrance, Calif., office, along with Bob Young, Steve Brabant, Glenn Smigiel and Rick Abraham of the Phoenix office, represented the selling entity. They were assisted by the Lee and Associates leasing team of Craig Coppola and Andrew Cheney.

The estimated construction cost of SkySong III is $32 million. The construction of SkySong III also includes a significant parking structure that will serve SkySong III and IV, as well as surface parking. Additionally, pre-leasing continues on SkySong IV, which would be located next to SkySong III and face Scottsdale Road. SkySong IV is fully permitted and shovel-ready, and the SkySong team continues to work with prospective anchor tenants.

SkySong, the ASU Scottsdale Innovation Center is a home to a global business community that links technology, entrepreneurship, innovation, and education to position ASU and Greater Phoenix as global leaders of the knowledge economy.

SkySong is a 42-acre mixed use development designed to:

• Create an ecology of collaboration and innovation among high-profile technology enterprises and related researchers;
• Advance global business objectives of on-site enterprises;
• Raise Arizona’s profile as a global center of innovation through co-location of ASU’s strategic global partners; and
• Create a unique regional economic and social asset.

Companies located at SkySong enjoy a special relationship with Arizona State University, which has more than 76,000 students at four metropolitan Phoenix campuses. ASU’s campus in Tempe is the single largest campus in the U.S., and is located less than three miles from SkySong.

In addition to locating its own innovative research units at the center, ASU provides tenants with direct access to relevant research, educational opportunities and cultural events on its campuses. Through ASU’s on-site operations, tenant companies have a single point of contact for introductions to researchers, faculty and programs to address their specific needs.

For more information on SkySong, visit www.skysongcenter.com or www.facebook.com/skysongcenter.

Dawn Malone

First Fidelity Bank names retail operations manager

Lee R. Symcox, president and CEO of First Fidelity Bank, a locally owned full-service community bank, has announced the promotion of Dawn Malone to retail operations manager, banking officer.

Malone will be responsible for coordination and oversight of First Fidelity Bank’s retail operation functions in the Oklahoma City and Tulsa, Okla. and Phoenix, Ariz. markets by providing appropriate guidance and policies to maximize retail staff performance. She will consult with office management to provide problem resolution. She will also develop and disseminate policies and reporting functions to ensure effective controls and customer service.

Malone has worked for First Fidelity Bank for more than six years. She is an active supporter of the United Way of Central Oklahoma and past volunteer for the Urban League and Habitat for Humanity.

iPhone Business Apps

‘Bring Your Own Device’ trend a growing concern

The rise in popularity of smart phones, tablets and laptops has blurred the increasingly thin line between professional and personal life, between work time and personal time. But it’s is also creating security concerns for business owners who let their employees use those tech toys for work.

“Employers need to address the question of how to react to the inevitable or current use of personal or shared devices by their employees,” said Cheri Vandergrift, a staff attorney for Mountain States Employers Council, a leader in human resource and employment law services for the business community. “From IT issues to privacy and litigation concerns, companies that ignore the rising ‘Bring Your Own Device’ tide may find that BYOD brought nothing but disaster.”

While an AccelOps Cloud Security Survey of IT security personnel ranked BYOD as the top source for fear of incurring data loss, there are also concerns regarding employee privacy should litigation ensue and the question of using personal devices goes into the courtroom. The use of personal devices in the workplace stirs questions within the IT, legal and human resources departments of companies.

“Data access and ownership are significant legal issues that surround the BYOD trend,” said John Balitis, director at Fennemore Craig. “Employees accessing employer systems with personal devices can create major network security risks and employer IT staff accessing the devices to support them can infringe on employee privacy. Further, how to define who owns what information on the devices is challenging.”

Laurent Badoux, a shareholder in Greenberg Traurig’s Phoenix office, said there are a number of legal issues that could arise from the BYOD trend. Among them:

* Breach of confidentiality — especially with medical or financial data.
* Commercial espionage or unfair competition.
* Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) claims of unreported or unpaid time.
* Dispute as to ownership of data stored on personal devices.
* Claims of harassment, defamation, invasion of privacy, etc. from improper social media posting of workplace conduct.
* Negligence torts if an exployee tries to answer a work text or email while driving and causes an accident.

“The most glaring risk (an employer takes) is that sensitive confidential corporate data becomes compromised, either because an outsider is able to access that data through an employee’s device or to copy data stored on that device,” Badoux said. “When their sensitive data becomes compromised, companies face damage to the bottom lines and public image.”

According to Travis Williams, senior counsel at the Frutkin Law Firm, if a company believes information is jeopardized, or upon termination of an employee’s employment, the employer may have the right to seize the device for a short time to ensure proper protection or removal of company’s sensitive information.

“Employees need to understand that business information on their device is the property of the employer,” Williams said. “The employer has the right to protect the information. The protection may allow the employer to seize or force ‘wipe’ the device to ensure proper removal of the information.”

While there is no doubt that the BYOD trend has given tech-savvy employees the opportunity to create a more flexible schedule and therefore increase their productivity, experts said it’s imperative that companies find a balance between protecting sensitive work data, while still providing employees flexibility and independence.

“Have a policy that specifically addresses what employees can and cannot do with PEDs (personal electronic devices) used for work-related purposes and enforce that policy,” said Tibor Nagy, Jr., a shareholder at the Tucson office of Ogletree, Deakins, Nash, Smoak & Stewart. “Be sure the policy addresses what happens to employer data when the employee leaves employment.”

Experts said companies who worry about issues related to the BYOD trend should look to impose tighter security constraints, develop technology guidelines and policies or employ mobile-device management tools, services and systems.

“An employer absolutely should implement a BYOD policy if the employer allows or encourages employees to use personal devices for work,” Balitis said.

Badoux said an effective BYOD program should include:

1. Mandatory Mobile Device Management software
2. Clarification of expectations on ownership of data, privacy and access to dual-use devices.
3. “Acceptable Use” procedures harmonized with the employee handbook or agreement).
4. A well-crafted social media policy.

“Do not allow highly sensitive employer, personnel, health information, or customer data to be stored on an employee’s PED, unless you are certain that device will be used and protected to the same degree as an employer-owned device,” Nagy said. “Only allow PEDs that are ‘enterprise; enabled. Enterprise requirements include encryption of storage media; the ability to remotely wipe or clean a device; the ability to enforce password changes and password complexity; the ability to apply upgrades and patches; and the ability to revoke rights to data or corporate network access.”

damore

CEO Series: Beverly Damore

Beverly Damore
President and CEO
St. Mary’s Food Bank Alliance

Question: How is being CEO of St. Mary’s Food Bank different from being CEO of a more traditional company?

Damore: I don’t know if it is a whole lot different. In terms of being a nonprofit, we are beholden to our mission and beholden to donor intent, whether it’s people donating their money or their time or food. Other than that, it’s very much the same. It’s about maintaining corporate policy and staying true to your intent.

Question: How do you define the company’s intent?

Damore: The concept of food banking was started here in Phoenix. St. Mary’s was the first food bank and is one of the largest in the nation. We are going out and find food that otherwise would go to waste, whether it’s the dozen eggs you didn’t take home from the grocery store because one was broken or working with corporations who will donate Grade A products. Essentially, we are hunters and gatherers who have developed a network to distribute all the food that we gather to those who are in need.

Question: What qualities do you have that make you an effective CEO?

Damore: I’m a manager that likes to bring people together to collaborate. I like to find people who have strengths that complement my strengths or and supplement my strengths. Once I have those people in place, I get out of their way and let them work their magic.

Question: What’s been your biggest challenge at St. Mary’s Food Bank?

Damore: As a reaction to the economic downturn, we had to grow really big really fast. When I first came on staff (in 2008), we were distributing about 45 million pounds of food a year. Last year, we shot up to 74 million pounds of food, so that was a really fast growth. That’s a challenge for any company to have that large an arc of growth. Now that we’ve achieved that growth, the challenge becomes “how can we run ourselves as a really strong, strategic business?”

Question: What is St. Mary’s Food Bank’s strength?

Damore: We do exactly what we say we do. We’re devoted to our mission. When people donate to us, they are confident that we are going to do exactly what we say we will do: feeding the people who need us in our community.

Question: What would surprise most people about St. Mary’s Food Bank?

Damore: How big we are. The majority of people think “food bank” and think “soup line.” We are more like a Costco warehouse. We’re the step before the agencies that are serving the food. We have strong name recognition in the state, but most people don’t realize just how big we are.

Question: If you weren’t doing what you’re doing now, what would you be doing?

Damore: I have been involved with this organization for so long, I can honestly say that I have my dream job. I cannot imagine doing anything else.

damore

CEO Series: Beverly Damore, St. Mary’s Food Bank Alliance

Beverly Damore
President and CEO
St. Mary’s Food Bank Alliance

Question: How is being CEO of St. Mary’s Food Bank different from being CEO of a more traditional company?

Damore: I don’t know if it is a whole lot different. In terms of being a nonprofit, we are beholden to our mission and beholden to donor intent, whether it’s people donating their money or their time or food. Other than that, it’s very much the same. It’s about maintaining corporate policy and staying true to your intent.

Question: How do you define the company’s intent?

Damore: The concept of food banking was started here in Phoenix. St. Mary’s was the first food bank and is one of the largest in the nation. We are going out and find food that otherwise would go to waste, whether it’s the dozen eggs you didn’t take home from the grocery store because one was broken or working with corporations who will donate Grade A products. Essentially, we are hunters and gatherers who have developed a network to distribute all the food that we gather to those who are in need.

Question: What qualities do you have that make you an effective CEO?

Damore: I’m a manager that likes to bring people together to collaborate. I like to find people who have strengths that complement my strengths or and supplement my strengths. Once I have those people in place, I get out of their way and let them work their magic.

Question: What’s been your biggest challenge at St. Mary’s Food Bank?

Damore: As a reaction to the economic downturn, we had to grow really big really fast. When I first came on staff (in 2008), we were distributing about 45 million pounds of food a year. Last year, we shot up to 74 million pounds of food, so that was a really fast growth. That’s a challenge for any company to have that large an arc of growth. Now that we’ve achieved that growth, the challenge becomes “how can we run ourselves as a really strong, strategic business?”

Question: What is St. Mary’s Food Bank’s strength?

Damore: We do exactly what we say we do. We’re devoted to our mission. When people donate to us, they are confident that we are going to do exactly what we say we will do: feeding the people who need us in our community.

Question: What would surprise most people about St. Mary’s Food Bank?

Damore: How big we are. The majority of people think “food bank” and think “soup line.” We are more like a Costco warehouse. We’re the step before the agencies that are serving the food. We have strong name recognition in the state, but most people don’t realize just how big we are.

Question: If you weren’t doing what you’re doing now, what would you be doing?

Damore: I have been involved with this organization for so long, I can honestly say that I have my dream job. I cannot imagine doing anything else.

Phoenix Symphony Contest

Spielberg Joins Williams with The Phoenix Symphony

Five-time Academy Award and 21-time Grammy Award winner John Williams joins The Phoenix Symphony to conduct an unforgettable evening of music from the movies, featuring selections from some of his most popular and iconic scores, including Star Wars, Harry Potter, Jaws, E.T., Indiana Jones, Schindler’s List and more.  During this special appearance on September 28, 2013, acclaimed director Steven Spielberg joins Williams to host the second half of the evening, presenting selections from their remarkable forty-year artistic collaboration, including selected film clips projected on a giant screen above the orchestra. Experience the magic of music and cinema with two great maestros of the movies!

When John Williams and Steven Spielberg met in 1972, Williams had nearly 20 years of film and TV scoring behind him and Spielberg was a 25 year-old television director about to shoot his first theatrical feature. When they agreed to work together, arguably the most successful film music partnership in Hollywood history was born. Their first film together was The Sugarland Express and the partnership has continued over the years with such popular and iconic films as Jaws, E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial, Jurassic Park, Schindler’s List, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, Saving Private Ryan, War Horse, Lincoln and more. Williams has composed the scores for 26 out of the 27 feature films that Spielberg has directed.

“John Williams and Steven Spielberg are two of the greatest American icons of our generation and tremendously important to the film industry. Their music and films are iconic and recognized the world over. This is a very special night and those lucky enough to attend will never forget the magic created on stage.” Said Jim Ward, President and CEO of The Phoenix Symphony. “It is an honor to have legends like John Williams and Steven Spielberg grace our stage at Symphony Hall and we will be forever grateful for their generosity to the Symphony and our community.”

In a career spanning over six decades, John Williams has won five Academy Awards, four Golden Globe Awards and twenty-one Grammy Awards. In total, Williams has forty-eight Academy Award nominations, making him the second most-nominated person after Walt Disney. He has composed some of the most recognizable film scores in cinematic history, including the Star Wars saga, Jaws, Superman, the Indiana Jones films, E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial, Jurassic Park, Schindler’s List, Saving Private Ryan, War Horse, Lincoln, and the first three Harry Potter films.

Steven Spielberg is one of the film industry’s most successful and influential filmmakers of all time. He is collectively the top-grossing director in the business, having helmed such blockbusters as Jaws, E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial, the Indiana Jones franchise, and Jurassic Park. Among his myriad honors, he is a three-time Academy Award winner and a two-time Directors Guild of America winner.

Maestro Williams and Mr. Spielberg are generously donating their services, and all proceeds from this one-night-only performance will benefit The Phoenix Symphony’s Education and Community Outreach programs.

Sponsorships are available and tickets can be purchased online at www.phoenixsymphony.org or by calling 602-495-1999.

Arizona School Choice Trust

D-backs Accepting Submissions For $150K School Challenge

The Arizona Diamondbacks announced today that they are now accepting applications for the $150,000 School Challenge, presented by University of Phoenix, to benefit schools across the state of Arizona. The program is open to all Arizona public, private, and nonprofit charter schools, Grades K-12, and teachers and administrators are encouraged to “make their best pitch” on why they deserve to receive this important funding by submitting an application online at www.dbacks.com/schoolchallenge by Sept. 30.

“Last season we were astounded by the volume and quality of applications received and we know that schools across the state truly need help,” said D-backs’ President and CEO Derrick Hall. “That’s where the D-backs and University of Phoenix step in and we are excited to be able to bring back this valuable program. We are dedicated to ensuring that the schools in our state receive the resources that will make the biggest impact on our students and the community at large.”

The D-backs kicked off the program last spring with the $100,000 School Challenge and received an overwhelming response that inspired the team to also host a $150,000 Back-To-School Challenge last fall. With more than 1,300 applications last year, the D-backs were able to grant $5,000 to 50 schools for a grand total of $250,000 in 2012. The Arizona Diamondbacks Foundation provided $150,000 for the program and the University of Phoenix provided $100,000.  The $5,000 grants helped schools from across the state with needs such as educational supplies, books, updated computer programs, mobile computer labs and school improvements.

“Our community, schools, and students thrive when supported by local businesses and organizations,” said University of Phoenix President Dr. Bill Pepicello. “University of Phoenix is committed to providing support in the communities in which we reside and we are so proud to be part of this School Challenge program in partnership with the D-backs helping to ensure the education of our youth.”

The School Challenge is part of the D-backs’ overall charitable efforts and last season, the team and its charitable arm, the Arizona Diamondbacks Foundation, surpassed $30 million in combined donations since their inception in 1998, including more than $4 million in 2012.

humana

What does the Obamacare mean for small businesses?

Small-business owners who are anxiously waiting for regulators to finalize rules that will define the three-year-old Affordable Care Act remain uneasy. Their anxiety is justified since they are waiting for rules that will be enacted next year and no one knows what growing pains lie ahead.

But they shouldn’t necessarily view the ACA as a bad thing for business.

“Beginning in 2014, purchasing insurance coverage should become simpler and more streamlined,” said Jon Pettibone, managing partner of Quarles & Brady in Phoenix. “When a small business purchases a new insurance policy, insurance rates will vary only due to the following limited factors: family size, age, geography, and tobacco use. Insurers will no longer be able to base insurance rates on pre-existing conditions, claims history, gender, size of employer, and/or occupation of employees. In addition, insurers cannot deny a small business’s application for insurance if the business fails to meet the plan’s minimum participation or minimum contribution requirements as long as the small business applies for coverage between November 15 and December 15.  Although coverage may not become cheaper, increases from year- to-year will be based on a significantly larger risk pool and so may become somewhat more predictable.”

According to Scott B. Carpenter, an attorney with Carpenter, Hazlewood, Delgado & Bolen, the ACA will require all business with 50 or more employees to provide affordable, minimum essential coverage or face a penalty of $2,000 per employee, excluding the first 30 employees.

“An employer with 60 employees, for example, that does not provide coverage, will pay a penalty of $60,000,” Carpenter said. “If a small business owner decides to pay the penalty, the amount of the penalty is not a deductible business expense.”

So what happens if an employer realizes that a $60,000 non-deductible penalty is still less than what she would pay in health insurance?

“That decision will force those employees into the individual market or ‘exchange,’ where there is no guarantee that the subsidies and premium tax credits will make the insurance affordable for that employee based on the wages they receive,” Carpenter said. “In other words, employees who do not receive coverage through their employer may seek employers who do provide coverage. This is one of the biggest unknowns – the behavior of employees who do not receive coverage through their employer.”

Pettibone said a small business owner should analyze the “shared responsibility” payment it might owe if it makes no changes to its health insurance program.

“In some cases, a small business owner might discover that it could have a small — or even zero — shared responsibility payment,” Pettibone said. “In that case, the business owner may decide to make little change to its health insurance program. In other cases, the small business owner might discover that it could have a very large shared responsibility payment and thus needs to develop a strategy to minimize the amount of the payment.  Developing a plan now will help avoid an unwelcome surprise later.”

Carpenter also suggested that small business owners need to make sure that they are outsourcing non-critical functions — including payroll processing, IT support, etc. — to reduce headcount, if possible.

“From there, an attorney can be utilized to make sure that employee and independent contractor policies are ironclad and that possible business restructuring options are pursued,” Carpenter said. “ There is no question that today there is an incentive, until the Affordable Care Act and the various markets it will create — both good and bad — become more mature, to stay under 50 employees. Companies under 50 employees will have maximum flexibility.”

While the potential impact of the ACA remains anything but clear for small-business owners, there is one major misunderstanding that needs to be cleared up, even for companies with fewer than 50 employees.

“The biggest misconception out there,” said Rich Boals, president and CEO of Blue Cross Blue Shield of Arizona (BCBSAZ), “is that health insurance is going to be free. That’s not going to happen.”

The cost of health insurance has been a growing concern for small businesses, said Jeff Stelnik, senior vice president of strategy sales and marketing for BCBSAZ. Overall, about 71 percent of firms with 10 to 24 employees offered health insurance in 2011, compared with 77 percent in 2001, according to a 2011 Kaiser Family Foundation survey. Of firms with three to nine workers, 48 percent offered insurance in 2011, compared with 58 pecent in 2001.

“While the Affordable Care Act gives more people access to health insurance coverage, it doesn’t address the affordability issue,” Stelnik said. “In the coming year, small businesses will see higher premiums that are the result of the ACA provisions including essential health benefits, guaranteed issue, ratings and taxes/fees. These increased premiums are a weight that could have a significant impact on the bottom line of small businesses.”

Another misconception is that many small business owners don’t think there are not many requirements if they stay under the 50 full-time employee or 50 full-time employee equivalent threshold, but experts said that is not the case.

“Small employers still need to be educated on their compliance responsibilities,” said Shay Bierly, director of client services for MJ Insurance’s employee benefits department. “Those compliance responsibilities include maximum waiting periods, how to distribute medical loss ratio rebates, SBC (Summary of Benefits and Coverage) disclosure rules and reporting requirements, to name a few.”

Bierly said that all business owners — no matter the size of the business — need to educate themselves and prepare a strategic plan with a professional consultant or advisor so that they don’t fall prey to the many misonceptions that are floating around regarding the ACA.
“The law is here and is not going away before the big implementation date of January 1, 2014,” Bierly said. “Business owners need to understand the expectations, possible financial impact and prepare themselves and their employees.”

Bierly said the ACA provides an opportunity for employers to assist their employees in becoming educated consumers.

“With the possibility of moving to a consumer driven health plan, employees will have more skin in the game and, by necessity, find the need to understand the cost and quality of services they need,” she said. “It is all about working smart and staying in the know. Employers must be engaged in what the market demands from a recruiting and retention standpoint while creating a responsible, healthy workforce.”

To make sure they are ready for the arrival of the ACA, Stelnik said business owners should do these things:

* Understand if your business has a grandfathered health plan.
* Know how your business is classified under the ACA. For example, businesses with 51 or more full-time employees will have to pay a penalty if they do not offer employees health insurance. Small businesses with fewer than 25 full-time employees may be eligible for tax credits to assist with cost of insurance.
* Balance the decision to offer health insurance by weighing corporate finances, culture and the best interests of your employees.
* Begin looking into unique, new offerings specific to small businesses. Companies like BCBSAZ is tailoring plans to meet the needs of small businesses.

“For some businesses, a number of employees may be eligible for subsidies through the ACA, lessening the employer’s responsibility to offer health insurance,” Stelnik said. “Employers might also see improved employee satisfaction and quality of life as a result of the increased access to healthcare.”

Ultimately, experts said the ACA may drive small businesses in Arizona to new levels of success and innovation.

“Currently, many people who would like to start businesses do not do so because they cannot obtain affordable insurance in the private market and must rely on employer-provided coverage,” Pettibone said. “If those budding entrepreneurs can obtain subsidized coverage on the individual insurance marketplace, they might be more likely to take career risks and start new businesses. It’s thus possible that the Affordable Care Act will enable more people to pursue entrepreneurial activity and create more small businesses.”

5 THINGS TO KNOW FOR SMALL BUSINESSES

On average, small businesses pay about 18 percent more than large firms for the same health insurance policy because they lack the purchasing power that larger employers have. The Affordable Care Act provides tax credits and gives small businesses the ability to shop for insurance in the new Health Insurance Marketplace, which should help close the cost gap.
1. If you have up to 25 employees, pay average annual wages below $50,000, and provide health insurance, you may qualify for a small business tax credit of up to 35 percent (up to 25 percent for nonprofits) to offset the cost of your insurance.
2. Under the health care law, employer-based plans that provide health insurance to retirees ages 55-64 can now get financial help through the Early Retiree Reinsurance Program. This program is designed to lower the cost of premiums for all employees and reduce employer health costs.
3. Starting in 2014, the small business tax credit goes up to 50 percent (up to 35 percent for nonprofits) for qualifying businesses.
4. In 2014, small businesses with generally fewer than 100 employees can shop in the Health Insurance Marketplace, which gives you power similar to what large businesses have to get better choices and lower prices. Open enrollment begins on October 1, 2013.
5. Employers with fewer than 50 employees are exempt from new employer responsibility policies. They don’t have to pay an assessment if their employees get tax credits through an Exchange.