Tag Archives: aca

internet

ACA names Arizona Innovation Challenge semifinalists

The Arizona Commerce Authority (ACA) today announced 25 semifinalists in its Fall 2014 Arizona Innovation Challenge (AIC), a bi-annual business plan competition awarding $3 million annually to talented entrepreneurs.

Each year, the ACA awards – $1.5 million in the spring and $1.5 million in the fall – to the most qualified, innovative startups and early-stage companies. Recipients receive up to $250,000 in capital to grow their businesses, advancing innovation and technology commercialization opportunities in Arizona.

“We congratulate the forward-thinking entrepreneurs selected as our newest AIC semifinalists,” said Sandra Watson, President and CEO, Arizona Commerce Authority. “Arizona’s engagement with early-stage companies through its suite of targeted programs continues to spur growth, technology commercialization and capital investment within Arizona’s innovation ecosystem. With more than 1,200 applications received for the AIC since 2011, the program continues to be among the many opportunities available to innovators which have made Arizona a top hub for entrepreneurial activity and startup success.”

The 25 Fall 2014 Arizona Innovation Challenge Semifinalists include:

• Adosia, LLC, IT – Software, Tempe, AZ
• Allbound, IT – Software, Scottsdale, AZ
• Cactus Semiconductor, Advanced Manufacturing, Chandler, AZ
• CampusLogic, IT – Software, Gilbert, AZ
• Crowd Mics, IT – Software, Mesa, AZ
• Dermspectra, LLC, Bio & Life Sciences, Tucson, AZ
• Energy Conservation Mgmt., Cleantech/Renewable Energy, Scottsdale, AZ
• EZ Dump Commercial, Advanced Manufacturing, Phoenix, AZ
• HiringSolved, IT – Software, Chandler, AZ
• Iris PR Management, IT – Software, Phoenix, AZ
• Iron Horse Diagnostics, Inc., Bio & Life Sciences, Scottsdale, AZ
• MWI Laboratories, Advanced Materials, Tempe, AZ
• Next Alternative, Inc., Cleantech/Renewable Energy, Chandler, AZ
• Numa Tactical Eyewear, Advanced Materials, Phoenix, AZ
• NuvOx Pharma, Bio & Life Sciences, Tucson, AZ
• Park Genius, IT – Software, Tucson, AZ
• PoG Technologies, LLC, Cleantech/Renewable Energy, Peoria, AZ
• Pure Chat, IT – Software, Scottsdale, AZ
• RightBio Metrics, Bio & Life Sciences, Scottsdale, AZ
• Salutaris Medical Devices, Inc., Bio & Life Sciences, Tucson, AZ
• Sentinel Internet Systems, IT – Software, Phoenix, AZ
• Smart Service Desk, IT – Software, Chandler, AZ
• Spotlight Software, IT – Software, Peoria, AZ
• Universal Bio Mining, Bio & Life Sciences, Tucson, AZ
• Zero Shock Seating, Advanced Manufacturing, Chandler, AZ

A panel of expert judges evaluated 154 applications from the Fall 2014 AIC submitted by companies based in Arizona, California, Colorado, New Mexico, Ohio, West Virginia, and Virginia. The judges assessed each application on a set of criteria including technology potential, marketing strategy, quality of management team and economic impact. These companies represent high-value industry sectors that include IT software, IT hardware, bio and life sciences, cleantech/renewable energy, advanced materials, advanced manufacturing, and aerospace and defense.

Every applying company that meets the AIC’s eligibility requirements will receive constructive feedback generated from the rigorous online evaluation and scoring process. All semifinalists also will be considered for participation in Venture Ready, the ACA’s mentor program that connects early stage companies with high-level CEOs to further refine business plans and investor pitches.

The ACA will name its Fall 2014 Arizona Innovation Challenge finalists in early January and the winners later that same month.

economic development - 8 honored

APAC Customer Services’ expansion to create 1,100 jobs

APAC Customer Services, Inc., a leader in global customer care outsourcing solutions, in partnership with the Arizona Commerce Authority (ACA) and Tucson Regional Economic Opportunities, Inc. (TREO), announced Monday an expansion in Phoenix and Tucson that is expected to bring more than 1,100 jobs to Arizona’s Sun Corridor over the next three years.

Jack Jones, Chief Operating Office of Expert Global Solutions, Inc., APAC’s parent company, stated, “Having lived in the state of Arizona for a number of years, I am a big fan of the ‘Sun Corridor.’ Access to qualified and experienced customer service personnel, top educational institutions and great weather make the state an ideal place for us to grow.”

City of Tucson Mayor Jonathan Rothschild echoed Jones’ sentiments and recognized APAC’s long history and significant presence, “APAC has been a major employer in Southern Arizona for many years, currently employing nearly 2,000 of our citizens. We know every business has a choice of where to operate and the City of Tucson continues to make this a business-friendly climate for its existing employers to expand.”

“This is a positive step for Phoenix, Tucson and the entire Sun Corridor,” Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton said. “For our economy to grow, we must continue to work together as a region and as a state.”

During the first year, the partnership is expected to generate over 300 new jobs in Tucson – split between APAC’s two sites in the city – and an additional 135 jobs to its site in north Phoenix. Throughout the next two years, the state is expected to benefit from 669 additional jobs (382 in Tucson and 287 in Phoenix), bringing the overall three-year job creation total to over 1,100 jobs for Arizona.

“APAC is the global leader in its industry serving top brands around the world, and we thank the company for its continued commitment to Arizona as it undertakes its next phase of growth,” said Sandra Watson, President and CEO, Arizona Commerce Authority. “APAC’s investment and expansion in Phoenix and Tucson will create hundreds of professional services jobs for Arizonans across our state.”

Commenting on the growth, Joe Snell, President and CEO, TREO, stated, “State leaders, local officials and economic development partners joined together to deliver an important win for the economic recovery: nearly 700 new jobs here in Southern Arizona.”

“We’re pleased that APAC’s existing presence in the Sun Corridor mega-region continues to grow,” said Sharon Bronson, Chair, Pima County Board of Supervisors. “Tucson’s high-quality, bilingual workforce is a key competitive advantage in today’s global economy.”

APAC delivers tailored solutions to leading companies in many industries, including communications, education, financial services, government, healthcare, insurance, retail, technology, transportation and logistics, travel and hospitality and utilities. Headquartered in Illinois, APAC currently operates at the following locations in Arizona:

·       Tucson East: 1650 S. Research Loop, Tucson, AZ  85710
·       Tucson West: 2929 E. Corona Road, Tucson, AZ  85756
·       Phoenix: 20401 N. 29th Avenue, Phoenix, AZ  85027

In terms of the jobs that are coming to the state, Jones commented, “We’re excited about the opportunities we’re bringing to local communities. For us, it’s not simply about jobs. It’s about providing a chance for people to build a rewarding career and make a difference within our company.”

The new jobs created by this expansion are full-time positions that will work to support major clients. The positions will include both call center, leadership and support roles.

Staying Innovative as a One Man Operation

Innovators get boost from Arizona Commerce Authority

The Arizona Commerce Authority (ACA) has selected 18 recipients for AZ Fast Grant, a highly competitive grant program that provides qualified Arizona-based, early stage technology companies with intensive training and technical assistance to help them commercialize their innovations, grow their businesses and create quality jobs.

“Early stage companies play a key role in developing innovations that fuel our state’s economy,” said Sandra Watson, President and CEO, Arizona Commerce Authority. “The AZ Fast Grant program helps companies with critical training, technical expertise and the ‘know how’ to secure additional funding and commercialization opportunities to propel their businesses.”

Companies may use AZ Fast Grant awards for professional consulting services (that may include an expert review of technology under development); a commercialization feasibility study; or other commercialization assistance such as training to compete more effectively for federal Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) funding programs.

More than 50 Arizona small businesses applied for this round of the AZ Fast Grant program and awardees represent a variety of target industries.

AZ Fast Grant Recipients include (Total: $141,000, plus an additional $134,000 in leveraged funds):

* Arbsource, Tempe – Bio & Life Sciences
* Arizona Medical Systems, Peoria – Bio & Life Science
* Elliptical Mobile, Chandler – Advanced Manufacturing
* Engineering Science Analysis Corp., Tempe – Aerospace/Defense
* Grannus, Tucson – Cleantech/Renewable Energy
* Hildeez Enterprises, Peoria – Bio & Life Science
* MediCoventures, Peoria – Bio & Life Science
* Movement Interactive, Laveen – Bio & Life Science
* Kulira, Peoria – Bio & Life Science
* Prime Solutions Group, Goodyear – Aerospace/Defense
* QuantTera, Scottsdale – Advanced Materials
* Saccadous, Scottsdale – Bio & Life Science
* Score Algae, Scottsdale – Cleantech/Renewable Energy
* SiO2 Nanotech, Phoenix – Advanced Materials
* StatTransfers, Flagstaff – IT-Software
* Verve, Peoria – Bio & Life Sciences
* Vicinity Health, Chandler – Bio & Life Sciences
* YourLabs, Tucson – IT-Software

“I can honestly say the AZ Fast Grant really helped us get over the hump,” said Joe Marvin, Founder and President of Prime Solutions Group, a systems engineering and IT services company providing consulting expertise to government and defense contractors. Prime Solutions Group received AZ Fast Grant awards this year and in 2013.

With the help of AZ Fast Grant program support and technical expertise, the company recently secured $1 million in federal funding from the U.S. Department of Defense for its SBIR/STTR program submission this past fall. “We used our last AZ Fast Grant for commercialization strategy development, and that went directly into our federal proposal,” said Marvin.

global

Phoenix eyes Mexico City Trade Office

The Phoenix City Council on Tuesday unanimously voted to move forward with plans to partner with the Arizona Commerce Authority to open an Arizona Trade Office in Mexico City.

“Phoenix is taking the right steps to become a global city, and we’re ready to open our first trade office in Mexico City,” said Mayor Greg Stanton. “This partnership with the Arizona Commerce Authority demonstrates that we’re all committed to increasing exports, and that we know we can be more effective if we work together.”

The City, ACA and other regional partners plan to collaborate in the same office space in Mexico City. The partnership will better leverage the City’s investment and lower overall costs.

The City Council also voted to authorize the firm Molera Alvarez to represent and advance the City of Phoenix’s efforts with Mexico, specifically in the areas of trade, promotion, foreign direct investment and tourism.

121277693

Study: Arizona’s Medicaid Expansion Will Cost $1B

Arizona’s Medicaid expansion will cost the state’s taxpayers almost a billion dollars a year within a decade, according to a new study from Health Systems Innovation Network (HSI) and the National Center for Policy Analysis (NCPA).

Medicaid expansion is often touted as a “no brainer” for states, as the federal government promises to pay 100% of the costs through 2016 and 90% thereafter.  But, as the saying goes, there’s no such thing as a free lunch.

Medicaid expansion will cost Arizona taxpayers plenty, despite what they have been told by those supporting expansion of the program. Many people will drop private coverage to take advantage of the free public coverage.  The number of Medicaid enrollees will swell far above initial projections, and the cost to Arizona taxpayers will be higher than advertised:

·         The number of privately insured individuals could fall by 333,000 in 2014 alone. By 2023, there could be 450,000 fewer privately insured Arizonans than there would be without the Medicaid expansion.

·         The net number of Medicaid participants could increase by 1.07 million people in 2014 and by 1.65 million within the next 10 years.

·         The total cost to the state of covering these new Medicaid beneficiaries could reach $906 million annually within the next decade.

Arizona’s Governor Jan Brewer has insisted upon expanding Arizona’s Medicaid program, but the actual costs to Arizona taxpayers have been masked. In addition to the extra $906 million in annual Medicaid costs, the Affordable Care Act will significantly impact the cost of private insurance in Arizona, with some premiums nearly doubling over the next decade.

childrens hospital

PCH Helps Families Understand ACA

Families considering their health care coverage options have a new resource from the experts in pediatric care.

Phoenix Children’s Hospital has created a webinar to help parents understand how the Affordable Care Act impacts their health care coverage and what to look for in both private insurance as well as the new marketplace exchanges.

Whether families are already familiar with health care reform or they need an introduction to the basics, Phoenix Children’s Hospital wants to help Arizonans better understand this complex law and what it means to them and their child¹s health care coverage, especially if their family is a frequent user of pediatric specialty care.

“With the changing environment in health care, resulting from the implementation of key provisions of the Affordable Care Act, we want to provide our patient families with information on those changes and guidance on making health insurance purchases in the future,” said Laura Handy-Oldham, MHA, Director of Patient Access for Phoenix Children’s and presenter of this webinar. She shares a wealth of information for patient families, helping them to make an educated decision to provide them with the best health care option for their family.

The webinar is free and available online at www.phoenixchildrens.org and click on the Health Care Reform box.

Photo by Gregg Mastorakos

Healthy Side Effect: ACA's impact on CRE, sustainability

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
01ez7a/d29T0cn9k80weHrXWCdrK60baV9vM9LvPFngOS5ivLPWYoTN9jt/I/wBP+123bP8AZ2p8/wDQR/SuS1vxR8O7fW7rxDc6xayxQ/8APlY393d6l/oGpabx/wBwr/E15xbf2frHg+HULe3ji1QQf88DknPb/PrXnX/CNx3mp2Gn3Gqfb78QfaL7yP8Aj0/z6Zx9K+Dwmc43+P8AVFvZ9unb0b16ep+s/wBguyorGPo0tdU7dX+vnpsanjP4oW+qQy/Z4pbXRYfsf7++/wCXkab/AMg7/iXdNM/5COP+JLnvivl/VdP8YfFDxJpVnpdnf/2XDqtnb6HpUEH/ACEtY+v07/XmveH8H3HjDxFa6HYWcssX246PbwQf6Xd6lrH/AD4adx/yFP8AqMdfyr9i/wBm/wDZL0P4X/YPHHiiztbrxlDY/Z9D0o/8gnwTZ6j/ANA7tqeqEcnWPxr7zIcLXzesm1Zdf+Bppbby/Pyc0q4Phyi69fWVkl9y+f3d+h5r+yp+xno/wahtfHnjWOLWfiXeWPkQQf8AH3pPgmz1H/lw04c/8TToPEOsex9K+5fsfyf6sZzj2+n0x+vtXUTW4/5Z/wAv8/5HbvF5fl/wf59eox6e9fpdHC0MHQVDD2TaXNa13339H0+R+OZhmFfM8R9Yrt2T0v8Aprpprr5aWPzi/ac8F6hoepWHiizjll0HUv8AR5+f+QZefj/kdD0r5ksLj99FJJ/qZuPYc+vb/Jr9mtf8P6X4gtpdD1CztL+K8/5YX39fTp/KvDPEn7NfgvWLaWOTS4vC+pw/8eOuaH/odp1/5iOnY/sj3/OvGxWA/f8A1ihptdfd0fn5W2ClVv8APTXT+n+fqfFth/rvM8yKX/PP/wBf2r6g+GMkcmm/9Nf8f8//AKq+c/EPgPxB8P8AWP7P1zVPNtpv+PHVYLAfZNS7Z98+v/6q9Q8B6h9jhl8vXMY/6YZz/jj9Oua0w3X0/U5qnT5/ofX0H/IGsf8AsK33/pBplbNtH5n5D+h/L15ryrRNYvJPstnJeWssXn/aP9R9c9Pwz7ZNeoQ+Z+6/0j/U5P8AqOfz/wA9Bx3rrq/a+X6BT6/L9Sz/AKxP3nfGef8A6/rmilTfslk8zt/zwyefx/qfT0FFcU916fqzQ/zWdHvP3P8APjp/jXrXhi4z/n8Pb/8AWe/byDRLf/Ve/wDn/PT8O/rWjxx/uvXHOf5dgP5VhU6fP9Dqq9f8L/U9QtJI43/p34+nv09817x4JuPkH+f8PbPBrwzSrOS4z/kf5749c1614ejks8eX5v8Anr+XPH+Ry1ev+F/qa0d16v8AI9z0qSPzv8R/iffr/SvVdB8vzv8AP+enpz6cV4ZpVxeSfvOOuenXjv8AmPxNeoeGNQk+2eXJH/h068dMn/IxXDU6fP8AQZ6V5X+k9D/nn88c4/TtXXabJ5f+s/P3Pf3/AJ9a477ZHHc/u+34c9evT39uv06LTbyOT/lrx9O/+Rz79ucVmdB6/wCFZPNv4o/+WXkYH6Dp+v6etdk+yPUJo4vz/wDr+n+eea858K3kcd/F+856f564P+ea9k8GeEvEHjzxna+H/DdnLdX95jE/W00yz73+oevv/nIlfY5z2T4RfD/WPiJ4ksPD+lxy+WP9I1W+/wCXTTbM/wD6/evs343+INH+Dfw9i8N+G4/Klnsb3R57Hm7/ALSs9RsP+JjqGo/5Ne5/A3wV4T+GfhgaRb6hay69N/yMd9fQfZLu5vf/AJV//r75r5k/a0+H+seJdN1648Nyf2pqmpaVefYRB/y7XmPzyR0r2oYVUsNKva6cXeL66X1T+S1v000OrLdMevbaWat5JS6en338j807a4vI9Nij0+SaKK8h/cZ4/Mf55re8AeD9UuJpdP0vS9U8U69eXGfIggv7u7uOR+H0/wDrV7n+yd+z/efEi28Oah4kt7r/AIQ3R7Gzt9cngn+yXepaxp1gP+JDp2o/+pD36H0r9d/DvgPQ/Dem/wBn+G9D0vw5osPSx0qx+yfack/8hH/oJ/8Aca/+vX5plPDGIzGcq7vl+B5paO937y6PXv8Am9ND9Szbjahk8VQw9swxqSV97aR73skuv6Hzd+y/+zHp/wAP7n/hPPGklhf+N5oPs9jpUE9hd2nhL+0sf2if+wp7V9uXnlx8x/X68V59Dpd5pc39qRyG1j/5bwY/5CX/AE4f/q/xrrVuPtCRSfvP30H7jIz/AJz+fr7frmTYCjltBUKGrslf7rO9l201PyPOc0xucY1Y3H7dF62tfW3Xp92mklRuPk8yT8h+gwc//Wx0FSVmX/mSCK3jB/ff6RPxn/H+nbivVPH3Odmk8y/8y3i/ezev+HfngVFf6heXh8uWPyvUwf8ALzj/AD1rYSz5lt4xLN5x/fzwf4/561QuY7y3/dx28UX/AE3/AOPv09cfh2rz6tX2ttNdtNLW+7t/Wh2fwV/Wit89Xf8ApnJeJ/Del+MNEl0fWNPzFPx5/wDz7cf8f+ne5/z3x8W6n4G1/wAD6xLbzx+bYc/YdVg/49Ln/wCt+We1fcz29xJ/rI7qY9f859PXFRaxodvrGmyW95ZxSxTQfZ57GfqT/n+X0rP2fn+H/BMz5z8JapLvMn/PD247ZH5e/Pr6/QWiapJGkUckksvT+f8ALr36V8+3/he48GX4uLfzbvR5v9RPcDH2X/pw1H2/z6V6X4evPMhi8u483zv68fp/LuD06KfX5fqc56+/7tJY45P+W/7j2/Dr/P60VQsLiO4hi/5bf8+/48f5/H3orn9n5/h/wTT2nl+P/AP80/QZPMSIeXz/AJ/Lrnr7/X2TRPLk/wD1nt79MY/z2rzTwvYRyWsX5Z4+v/169L0mPy8R5/8A1jkfh9K8+p0+f6HdV6/4X+p7T4b8qPr+pP8AP/PP6ev6OfM8r94DF+v5dfqa8C0OSSN4uP3X4j/I46Yr2nQb/wCeISe3+f5da5avX/C/1NaO69X+R7x4Xt45ZvLkj6jHP69+/P4/Su3ht447z93H29fw6fT/ADzXG+FbiKR4v3n+A/lj+XUc4r0a28v7V+8644z16e/6964anT5/oM6Ow0+3uP8AWevvzj/Pv7c5rqLXR47dTJ5n8unTr2P69RxWDYSR7+n8/wCuPz69h2r60+BvwD8UfFzzdQjk/svw5Zz/AGefVfI/4+bz/nw07AFZKi33180ae08vx/4Bwfwx+GfiD4geIbDQ/D0c0t1NP+/n/wCXS2sx/wAv+Rx/X+VfuP8ABz4LeH/hX4S+z2ccV3rOpQfZ77VZ8/bLntqPt2x+Fcl8E/gn4f8AhXpv2PTo/tWqXg+0X2qz/wDH3c2fqex6fT16V9I6xcf2fbRW8f8Ayxgs7fPt1/l9e+eK9jC4X2Xpp+S19ey3+45atW/nf9PyX4/ieNvqOuap4wtfD8fhuXVNGs/9frmfsn9iY5/7if8A2B+np616NN4T/tGH+y4/K/0z/R4M8+359+PSu38N2/l6DFJJb/ZZZZ/tHHp6f046575rrfDGlRyXN1eH/VQ/uIOvrx/n/J6lS9rp0T/y6fd/wQ9r7Hfv0+X4beepleCfh/ofgfw9pfhfw5p8Vho2mwfZ4IIP/BlqN/8A9xrVf7R1jOfT159CubPy4YreSPn/AI+J/wCnp3/lW9a2fz8xj3/p+NZepXEck0vP7r/j3x7e3br7dPyPppYeglZdE7La/wArWt+T8zlu6zu3r36q3nr+v+XMX9vHcD95/qof9RB6fiOv4fTrWLDbyRv5fPGPI/X3/Lnt17Vveb9of1i7Z/T+f5/iay7zEkn7v/lj09f8Dz+tR7bzX3M19k/P/wABZK9v5aD8iOOfXp7f4CsZI5N91JcSeVLNP+//AOnazP8AyDrDOf8AD+Val5qMUkMX2f8A1s/Bg9bwnjGf885rnHkkvLn7PHJ/oGmz/wCnT5A+03mP8+3X0pVarqtd/u29bdtP+GMqVL/LT+vm2/8ANm8knlp9nt4x5v8Ay3/6dvrnHt39+e1W5ks9PTzZJP8Av/0/A4/nVW5vPs8Pl2dt5sv/ACwg/mdR7aZpf+R3rl5I/Lb7RcS/b9Ux/wBult0/5B3r9KKVJ1X5vXXT/Lt+QVftfL9DUmvJbnEnmRWsX/6vy/wxxXL3muSJN5dlJLdY/wCPj7RB/on+fzxVq5j8xP8ATJBJz/qP89v8Ovpy95cSfvY7f911x+ePT+n5Yrvo0qGnq/6/rV9ranOX7m4s9QQafqEcX+mQC3nx/wAen1/H/Pv5zbfaNH1iXS/M/wBTcfuefw07/JPbv33v+Pf93LJ+9m/P/P5eucVl+KjIL/RtUi/5fIPs8+ef9M07/OffP40fVF2f3v8AyJq9f8T/AFPRtNuMeV5n+cc/h9P8krG02XzEilj4i/Ht6+x/+t2oo9i/P70Ze2Xl9zP85Xwref6NF0/L9frjt+teoaP+8mi/XPPr/jn6/nXi3huOQwxeWOOn+fx7fp0r1/RI5IzFj+Z/p09sn+VeNV6/4n+p657dpsceyL/EcH0+nHQ8V6ro9nb3HyRcy4/D0/xx6cd68R0/URsiBk46fj/n3x9e3tHhu8twnX8vb8unX36VwVt36r8jejuvV/keweHrO4t2Pl9vf6f5IJr0G2F5HNwO2Ov+fx/znz7RtQ8vyv8AP9fxP1zivX/DGn3niTUdL0fS7eW/1TUr6z0+xgg/5ebzUfr+f8q4Kura78v6DO88B+G/EnjjXrDw94W0u61TVLyf9xBB/wAu/wD0/wDT8e/rzX9HXwf+Hdn8N/hj4S8L/Z4/tVnpVn9u8gf8fOsf8xG/5/z6+leQfs2fs5+H/gv4MtfNt4brxlq8Fn/wkmreR/5IacO3+elfWmpSfZ38vpFZ2P547e3+ffHdhML7Nbtp2/Jat669v8jnKGj3EcmsX9xJH5trZ/6PjH+eh7455+lbV5eafJeS3n+tlm/1Hf7N6/5P5Vgafb3EdnFbxxj7VeZuJx/n/P6VqQ6fb2aeZcSdfyx/9fseOfrgdftl5fcwLX2+/kT93/qvb6Y+o/rXvHhKzjs9H0qS9/e+dB9on9/x9z2+leLaJp8muXMUlxHLFpfn+3+k9cdM/wCeteyTXnHlx/uoh+fT2x9f59K1pdP8S/QzqdPn+hs6hrNvbw+b5n73yPs/+o/4+f8APHb8RXB3N55j+X0685H8+uf8+tUL/UPMcyf63/nhx65z7j3/ACqrbcfvOefx/wA8/wA6oKfX5fqaklz9nh+nHH9P8Pb61lzSeWg8yQ/9N8cfnmorm4/feXH+96/uOR7Dj8O3+FZc0ktxN9n8zv8Av+39B29f/wBYaEsMlxKst5bfurqfOn6V5/8Ay7H/AJ//AE/6jH071atrOOO2/d+b9gs/+W8//H3c9Pw7cfrUum+XePdeV/x62n/Ev8/r/wBhH8vp+HWor+8kuHijt/3UX/LDn39+nb/GpVP21rfjtpfR/wBW0AoTSG4f7Pb/ALqLH7+f+nA//X+dRTeXboY4/r+mPf8Al39BVry47dPLjx17d/8APB9PzFY15J/y0Hf9PzFd9Krpb5a6Xtt8/wAH6nOY15J5n7uM/T0/w/QdO1c5cyRxv9njPm3U34/z/wAO1aGpahHbp+7/ANaSfI9v8PyrFaP+y9HutUvP+P8Al/0eDP8Anjr2/lXqUf0f5o5zC+0CW8mzJ/y35yP8D7elJ4wuPs/hW71DzPKi02+s9Qn9Psee/wDn6VmWEv0/r/Mde/HSt3W4/tHhLxRb9fP0PWM/+AGpdPr3/wDr1tSpfv8Ar8mvTr6fhfqYVav7j18rvv6ddfWy1Ra0TULO8tori3uYpYv+mH4f4/Tv3orl/h7cSSaLYSfuv9RZ4/D6e/v9etFbypWe9vxMvaeX4/8AAP8AOu8N3hjhijk/P2/x+n/1q9p0e8/c+Z5n1/EA/wBMfn3rwfw9+88nof8A6x/T2/DvXqGm3Ekf7vPr6/zI/PpXx2K2Xp+qPcPadKAk5/z6/l7da9G0q4ks3ik6jv8A579uvTpxXjeiX/zxfvPb8v8A9X/1z39esJI5Ei/rx9efqOf1rhrbv1X5G9Hder/I9b03XJJI4ov8j/8AXz7/AJV+yv8AwSo+Gej+OPH3ijxx4gt4r/8A4QnSrL+w4J/+gxqP/L/j1/srkZwK/FbR7f8AfRR/89v8P16eh+hGBX9C/wDwSy8H+IPCfgn4g+KNQt/suleJJ9GuND8/H+k2enf2li/P58965KX76v8Al93/AAFbXpv1HV/gv+urP1j02OPZdR94b7jj6/8A6vwyMDFFzHJeXP7v/VTX32fp/wAuenfl689alhs5bhItY0+8ii86D9/BP/y8/wD6wf6Z7VqW1nJcP5mD5UP8/wAf6c5H0r1DnIry9+xfu44zLL29M/54P/1sUWGj3GoTRXGof9sIB6e+Ov8AnIrZh0+3tz5nl+bL+uM+31HX8K2bXofp/U1v7H1+9AallHHHdRRxx/uoYP8AAVav7jy7aX/nrN/o/wBcj3x+X+TFpv8Ay9XHp9jt+O/T+Q/n+eNrdx+5iTA/1/8A+vnHXt7d6VXr/i/zM6fX5fqVU/0iY+Z9P6e+fzq/+7jT1H5Hj8sf4ewqqn7tPX3+n/6wB0zUWoXHyeXHx5309ew49v8A61UaERuPLS6vJP8At3/yf5jOenpWX5klvZ+ZGD9qvJ/s9jx/y+f56/TrUt/J88VvH/yx/wA9+/06YrGS4Ooa39it5P3WjwH7RP8A9Pmon/P/AIM/pXOB1thbx2dhbaXb+bLa2f8Ar5+9zd+nPb86Hkjj83zJMdfy/n/PpnoMVV+2ySJ9m0+P93zmf/PT3qJLfy/3jyebL2n9PxHYZ6jv1ral0/xL9AIprn/v19MD6+//ANbHeuXv7iT97j/P06fTt1/PevLiONP1/L/PY1y6WcmoTD/nlx/Tn8OmPf8AE+phaVtX69Nf6v16dbo56v2vl+hn6bp8moXP2i4/1UPH1+n/AOr8q5PxzrEdxfw6XbyfurP/AF57f579P5V6B4l1238P6VL5ckXnTQYg545/DHFeBpLJI8txJ/rJv898Zz1/nXqYVe1tXta3S/4f0vxOCr+613XdPuu//DbnR2P3x/nua6O/kH/CPa9mProesf8ApB6fX/Hrk1y+m9U+v9DXR6l5knh7Xo4/9bNoesCDGf8Anw9Pxx14rSl/vD/7e/IyqdPn+hyXw0l8rRLCSL91FNB/4De3p+H40VV+G8fl6JYY7QdPT+Xp6UVviv4r9dPSy/AzP867wxcjyopP8c+3516rptxHv/p0xj/HjtXg/hu4MkMX+f8A9eR/njn1DSrjy54pB7dv0x+X/wCvp8Xitl6fqj6A9pto/wDVeX9eT/8AW/A5+lelaJceX5Uckn5/5/L/ADjyGwuPkiEfH9fU++frXqvh63uNQmtbeOOWWWafyIIIP+Xnp+fv6H9fMq9f8L/U6D70/ZI+C+ofHj4qaD4Xt/N/sGzxrHiO/wD+fbR/T/uNf57Af1XfD3w3peh6PdeHtGs4rXS9N0P+z7KCD/OR1OO/vXwB/wAE+v2d5Pgv8HItY1yz8rxx42/4nOq97vTbP/mHWH4/56cfpF4Px/p8n/TD8+w+nWtcLS/D8On6et1cxq1b+d/0/Jfj+IeDNYkuNJutLkk8q602e9t/5+n4fj2r2TSv+QbFJz5o/wCPj+X6/p69K+Wr/UI/DfjD7R/y7axnv/y+d+3619N6bJ/oFrkf8sP8/l0/zz1Ueno/zCr1/wAL/UtPJ8/t+v4fmPx/OrX+rT6/gev9c/l61jQYkuc/579vcetW5rgDzf8AP/xX9K1pdP8AEv0ManT5/oadzqkml2FrJb2/my3t99n/AD/lx29PrxQ1PMmsxR9YvIFyOD/n8OPw5res/wB3YWH/AFw+0f5559OOma5eaXzNVuZO0P8Ao/v/AFxn+v0rP/l9/wBu/oaF95PLj8ySQD+eevf/AB496xkuI5JZbyTHkw/6j/PbHX2ouZJLj7LZ2/k+bNP9n/0j/PJ/T3qK58N6h9l8uTULWLnrBBkf55x61sBlvqEkaS3n+t728HH+lfj6E8Vb8PeH/sdp/pknmy3k51C+P/Pzef4Z6c+tJo+nyb/MuP3sUM/7j/p5xn6+mcVav9Uk3/Y7KQkc8fh/Xp0rnA1
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" width="200" height="301" /> Mark Stapp, professor of real estate practice and executive director of Arizona State University’s Master of Real Estate Development program.

There’s another trend growing out of the Affordable Care Act’s (ACA) emphasis on wellness. Mark Stapp, a professor of real estate practice and executive director of Arizona State University’s Master of Real Estate Development program at the W.P. Carey School of Business, says the trend can benefit Arizona’s economic development efforts.
“You say sustainability, and people think about energy, green building and conservation,” he says. “In reality, sustainability also includes a healthy workforce. When the workforce is healthy, productivity increases.”
Stapp says a combination of Millennials’ lifestyles combined with an aging boomer population means changes in development patterns. “Improved healthcare and an emphasis on wellness shifts where and what space is in demand. The population wants healthy places to live.”
Stapp sees the trends as drivers bringing populations closer to city centers. He also believes a healthy community is a big economic development selling point.
“The movement (in the Affordable Care Act) is to maintain and improve health rather than fix it,” he says. “This is crucial with the shortage in primary care physicians. It also means that healthy living is going to become integrated in other areas of the community.”
Stapp sees new business models developing around the ideals of healthy living. “As (the ACA) evolves, its policies will change and encompass a broader range of health care and wellness options. Integrative healthcare will become far more important,” he says.
What this means to economic development, Stapp explains, is that healthy cities are more productive.
“Supporting healthy lifestyle choices becomes a competitive advantage,” he says. “This is a direct shift of a portion of healthcare responsibility from insurance companies to communities.”
Changing the types of medical practices and patterns will also change building design and usability. “Real estate has value to support an activity,” he says. “If an activity goes, so does building value.”
Stapp sees a gradual change in office environments. “There is a shrinking demand for space. Can medical campuses withstand the test of time?” he asks. The bigger pie, in terms of health care and wellness, he says, is to look ahead to rapidly emerging trends that may make today’s medical office infrastructure useless.
“People are capital,” says Stapp. “Businesses are going to protect capital, and that is going to lead to adaptation when the demand creates new opportunities with different office uses.”

Phil Schiller

Apple brings 700 jobs to Valley manufacturing plant

Apple Inc. says it will open a manufacturing plant in the Phoenix suburb of Mesa that will eventually employ 700 workers.

“Apple’s presence in the region will be a game-changer for the Greater Phoenix area, its innovation landscape and future ability to attract other high-tech companies,” said GPEC President and CEO Barry Broome. “Between their plans to hire 700 direct employees and run completely on renewable energy, I’m convinced Apple could not have chosen a better location than Mesa and Eastmark. This deal is the result of the cooperation and support of several parties, including Maricopa County Supervisor Steve Chucri, City of Mesa Mayor Scott Smith, DMB Associates, the ACA and SRP, whose infrastructure will enable more projects to move forward in the surrounding area.”

The Cupertino, Calif., maker of the iPhone confirmed Monday that it is expanding its U.S. manufacturing operations in a former First Solar plant in Mesa. The city southeast of Phoenix already hosts a long list of high-tech manufacturing firms.

About 1,300 construction jobs will also be created as the First Solar plant designed to make thin-film solar panels is converted. The company sold the plant last month.

Apple spokeswoman Kristen Huguet says the plant will be powered with renewable energy provided by local utility Salt River Project.

Gov. Jan Brewer said Apple’s decision to come to Arizona is a sign that the state’s efforts to provide a pro-business climate are paying off.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Service helps employers Understand Affordable Care Act

Mountain States Employers Council (MSEC), a leader in human resource and employment law services for the business community, announces its Health Care Reform Assessment program, a specialized service helping employers understand and comply with the Affordable Care Act (ACA), also known as the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA).  This service analyzes the impact of health care reform on an employer and provides steps to implement the changes necessary to ensure compliance.

The Health Care Reform assessment includes a one-hour consultation with a health care reform specialist working through a customized, detailed checklist for implementing the necessary changes related to the Act. Available to existing members, the assessment helps member companies navigate requirements of the law, including:

·         Qualifications necessary for an organization to be considered an “Applicable Large Employer,” including how to analyze variable hour, seasonal, and part time employees
·         Insurance affordability and minimum value requirement calculations
·         Potential fees for not providing compliant coverage to the vast majority of all full-time employees
·         Considerations for joining the Small Business Insurance Marketplaces
·         Eligibility for tax credits for employers who do provide insurance
·         What employee notices are required under the Act and when they must be delivered

“It’s important that employers continue to prepare for the impending requirements of the Act even with the delays of the employer mandate until 2015,” said Mountain States Employers Council’s Ryan Sarni. “Employers should take advantage of this additional time to make sure they fully understand the impact on their business and start the process of preparing for the changes. Additionally, employers who are offering insurance next year still have a host of new requirements that will impact their plans.”

MSEC also offers its members free access to the new Health Care Reform Learning Zone, a comprehensive online tool providing easy access to an interactive, informative portal to guide them through the administrative details and requirements of health care reform. Based on the demographics of the employer, the tool guides members through the relevant Affordable Care Act requirements.

Non-members who are interested in learning more about the assessment, online learning zone tool or MSEC membership can contact Karen Stafford, Membership Development at 602.955.7558 or 800.437.9262 (toll free) or email azinfo@msec.org for more information.

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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.

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Delay on ACA mandates was unavoidable

With the announcement from the Obama administration regarding the delay of the Affordable Care Act’s employer mandates, business owners took a slight sigh of relief heading into the Fourth of July weekend.  In the announcement made on the U.S. Treasury’s website, the “concerns about the complexities” was cited as a reason for delay.  A vast number of businesses do not have the resources, or the understanding of the intricacies of the guidance, to meet the deadline of 2014.

The administration underestimated the financial burden that the reporting requirements would place on employers, insurers and the entities receiving those reports. Furthermore the Health and Human Services, the DOL and the IRS have been unable to effectively manage or provide realistic, timely guidance for employers.  The business community has been voicing their discontentment for quite some time and, as the 2014 deadline looms closer, those voices become louder.

There are several factors at work that made this delay unavoidable. The federal government did not anticipate the number of states that would opt for a federally run exchange.  By adding the employer mandates and tracking requirements on top of implementing the exchanges, it all became too much of burden under the proposed timeline.  This does shift the focus from the employers to the individual mandate but with this huge concession it leaves room to wonder what else will be delayed.  The announcement also referenced streamlining the reporting and alleviating requirements for employer groups that meet compliance standards.

Many employer groups have invested dearly in trying to prepare their businesses to meet the convoluted guidance that has been released thus far and, although relieved for the extension and hope of simpler requirements, this delay can add to the frustration caused by the legislation and the far-reaching implications. The lack of final guidelines has left many employers to guess what to do next and puts vendors, who are developing technology to assist businesses, in a position to make assumptions that could be costly and create unnecessary work for employers.  This reprieve gives everyone – including policy makers – an opportunity to take a much-needed step back.

The question remains how this will ultimately affect the life span of reform and the impact on the Obama administration, and what the inadvertent consequences will be from this decision.  It is difficult to say if this will be a win or lose.  On one hand, they are counting on favor from business owners due to the sympathetic, “careful, thoughtful” ear they have given them regarding implementation of the requirements.

Others will argue that this is the beginning of the end and will give critics new ammunition to attack the legislation, picking it apart piece by piece.  In light of this development it will be interesting to see what the final guidance will reveal and the national reaction to such an announcement.  The Administration will continue to communicate the need for reform as it is the cornerstone of Obama’s presidential legacy but, more than likely, this delay will fuel criticism that is already strong for the repeal of reform.  Some unintentional results could include employers not expanding coverage to employees not currently benefit eligible but also may keep employees’ hours from being cut.

Some employers, in order to avoid penalties, were cutting a majority of their hourly employees to below 30 hours a week.  At 30 hours a week, an employee is considered full time under the mandate and penalties can be assessed on those employees.  This also stands to have a bearing on Medicaid expansion, and sheds doubt on the assurances that have continued to flow from the White House that everything is on track, a statement made as recently as June.  And one cannot help but raise questions about the timing as it relates to mid-term elections.

 

Shay Bierly is the director of client services for MJ Insurance and its Employee Benefits division in Phoenix.

From left: Steven Murray, president of Direct Energy; Jim Lundy, chairman of GPEC; Kevin Sullivan and Matt George of the Arizona Commerce Authority. Photo by Huan Vo/Az Business

Direct Energy bringing 500 jobs to Valley

Wednesday marked the official announcement of the expansion into Arizona of Direct Energy, a multibillion-dollar energy company which promises to create about 500 new jobs by the end of this year.

Based in Houston and specializing in upstream production and downstream delivery, Direct Energy is one of North America’s largest energy services providers with approximately 6,000 employees.

The company worked with the Arizona Commerce Authority and Greater Phoenix Economic Council to open a new call center in Tempe, which is expected to bring $7 million of capital investment to the region and create 250 to 300 new jobs when it’s open.

“I can’t tell you how easy they have made it for us to expand and invest in Arizona,” said Steven Murray, president of Direct Energy. “It’s an easy, pleasant experience.”

Expected to be fully functional by the end of the first quarter year of 2013, the new call center will be tasked with call taking for the residential energy business, which will enable Direct Energy to “offer a wide range of products and services in one location,” according to the company’s news release.

Working with the ACA and GPEC gave Direct Energy an understanding of and access to a quality workforce that attracted Direct Energy in the first place, Murray said.

“Beyond the ease, I mean the quality workforce, you can have an entirely educated, motivated, hardworking people, and it really makes it easy,” he said.

“I think this commitment just illustrates that we do have a quality workforce in addition to the quality, smart economics policies that GPEC and ACA, the governor’s office, the state Legislature have been working behind the scenes just to get this economy going again,” said Jim Lundy, chairman of GPEC’s board of directors and CEO of Alliance Bank of Arizona.

Direct Energy is on a mission to make a difference to its customers through the provision of choice, which will help families with tight budgets.

“In a world of constraint household economics, people on tight budgets need to have products that meet their needs and give them control of how they are actually consuming and spending money,” Murray said.

Murray said Direct Energy has grown quickly over the years, and with each step in growth, the company is doing its best to invest and create jobs in communities where it started.

Direct Energy is accepting job applications online at www.directyourenergy.com, and at the Nation Career Fair at Phoenix Airport Marriott, 1101 N. 44thSt., from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. on January 21.

ACA FAST Grants promote growth

ACA Awards FAST Grants To Small Businesses

This week 25 small businesses were awarded $184,832 in FAST Grants by the Arizona Commerce Authority. The ACA hopes that this will initiate the commercialization process. The grants ranged from $5,000 to $7,500 for each company and may be used toward reviews of technology, commercialization feasibility studies and commercializations assistance.

According to the president and CEO of the Arizona Commerce Authority Don Cardon, “This is a seed investment the ACA is making towards startup companies which we believe will assist the company advance in the crucial steps towards bringing the idea to the market place.” Don Cardon states that he is pleased with the amount of responses received for the program and believes that they are a promising glimpse into the future of Arizona.

Since 2008, Arizona has seen a 57 percent increase in entrepreneurial activity, ranking 5th in the U.S. for business start-ups. Programs such as the ACA’s FAST Grants awards have been crucial in the advancement of small businesses.

Executive director Laura Tyler of Stimwave Technologies Inc. said, “We are so thankful to the AZ Commerce Authority for their support of Stimwave’s efforts in expanding the reach of our innovative wireless neuromodulation platform.” Tyler also added that the grant will allow Stimwave to complete market investigations and device planning as well as local research partners like TGen/TD2 and Barrow’s Neurological Institute. This will further their ability to provide effective and minimally invasive therapies for cancer and brain disorder patients.

The co-founder and chief technology officer of Acudora, Inc. stated that the grant will be used to assist their continued commercialization efforts. Mark Banister, founder and chief technology officer of Medipacs said, “This grant will provide Medipacs the ability to finish market research and our product launch plan for a medipacs device that can be launched in the Veterinary market late this year. This product will help build value for our investors and jobs for Arizona.”

Besides awarding FAST Grants, the ACA also secured $18.2 million for the Arizona Innovation Accelerator Fund — A fund that helps stimulate business growth, capital investment and the creation of jobs in Arizona. The ACA’s second Arizona Innovation Challenge is also underway and semi-finalists will be announced in early March.

2012 Arizona FAST Grant Recipients
Acudora, Tucson, $7,500
Arbsource, Tempe, $7,500
Arizona Cancer Therapeutics, Tucson, $7,500
Castle Biosciences, Inc., Phoenix, $7,500
Colnatec, Gilbert, $7,500
Cyclone ADG, LLC, Tucson,$7,500
Earth Knowledge, Tucson, $7,440
ECOmplete, LLC, Chandler, $7,500
Fennova Corp., Tucson, $5,000
inXsol, Phoenix, $7,500
Kinetic Muscles, Inc., Tempe, $7,500
Latitude Engineering, LLC, Tucson, $7,440
Medipacs, Inc., Tucson, $7,500
MSDx, Inc., Tucson, $7,500
NEST Energy Services, Prescott Valley, $7,500
Power Gold, Phoenix, $7,500
Prime Solutions Group, Goodyear, $7,500
Provista Diagnostics, Inc., Phoenix, $7,500
Quaesta Instruments, LLC, Tucson, $7,452
Reply Buy, Inc., Scottsdale, $7,500
Science Tomorrow, LLC, Phoenix, $7,500
Serious Integrated, Chandler, $7,500
Siegel Consulting, LLC, Scottsdale, $7,500
Stimwave Technologies, Inc., Scottsdale, $7,500
VisionGate, Phoenix, AZ, $7,500

For more information on the Arizona Commerce Authority and its current projects visit azcommerce.com
Arizona Commerce Authority, AZRE Magazine November/December 2011

Arizona Commerce Authority Celebrates Its 1st Anniversary

With the Arizona Commerce Authority celebrating its 1st year, jobs remain the focus as the state’s CRE industry reaps the benefits.

Arizona Commerce Authority, AZRE Magazine November/December 2011In August, Tempe-based First Solar purchased 635 acres in Pinal County for $9.8M and announced plans to build a generating station on the property.

The rapidly expanding, clean-energy company is still constructing its solar module manufacturing plant in Mesa, expected to be up and running by mid-2012 with as many as 600 new, high-paying jobs.

The company also is building generating stations in Gila Bend and Yuma. In January, Power-One opened its first North American manufacturing facility in Phoenix. The California-based company, which makes inverters to convert renewable energy to usable energy, said it will employ as many as 350 people at build-out.

At Power-One’s grand opening ceremonies, Gov. Jan Brewer credited  the Arizona Commerce Authority for the big win and for wielding CEO clout and corporate incentives in making Arizona a hot spot for solar companies looking to expand or relocate.

“I have been consistently focused on ensuring Arizona is a magnet for business relocation, capital investment and a catalyst for the creation of new business and new jobs. And, with the work of my Arizona Commerce Authority, we’re seeing tremendous results in the solar space,” Brewer said at the time.

A year after the Arizona Department of Commerce, a government agency, morphed into the Arizona Commerce Authority, a public-private partnership led by a board of directors filled with many of the state’s top business leaders, six solar companies boasting a combined 1,700 new jobs have announced plans to expand or move to Arizona, says Bennett Curry, who has been piloting the organization’s business attraction efforts since it launched.

Besides growth in the renewable energy sector, diverse companies are finding Arizona attractive. They include:

  • Amazon, which recently announced plans to add another 1.2 MSF of warehousing space and 200 jobs to its existing Arizona enterprises;
  • Able Engineering, which hopes to expand into new manufacturing facilities in Mesa, eventually more than doubling its 230-employee roster within a few years of the expansion;
  • Ventana Medical Systems, which is expanding and adding another 500 jobs in Oro Valley.

Best is yet to come

Arizona Commerce Authority, AZRE Magazine November/December 2011Arizona Commerce Authority counts new jobs, not the square footage to house them, so it’s difficult to estimate the new office, manufacturing and warehousing space represented by the business growth, Curry says.

But while Arizona Commerce Authority’s mission is to generate jobs, Arizona’s commercial real estate industry is a big beneficiary of the growth, adds Mike Haenel, executive vice president Industrial Division at Cassidy Turley/BRE Commercial.

“Job growth creates absorption, construction and new development opportunities for the state’s commercial real estate industry,” Haenel said.

Arizona Commerce Authority has assisted companies such as Amazon, First Solar, Suntech and others with expansions and relocations, he says, but possibly even more important is the organization’s impact convincing local legislators and other Arizonans about the importance of proffering tax breaks and other enticements to snag coveted business.

He credits the prestige of the corporate leaders backing the group with influencing passage of the Arizona competitiveness package. And their combined weightiness as enticing to national business leaders looking for relocation options.

“Even though the Arizona Commerce Authority has only been in existence for one year, and the fact that we are in a slow recovery cycle, the Arizona Commerce Authority has  been instrumental in educating the business community and those businesses looking to relocate that Arizona has the incentives available for quality job growth,” Haenel says. “We’re still in a tough economy and having Arizona Commerce Authority can only help the state with job attraction.”

Sundt Construction chairman Doug Pruitt, an Arizona Commerce Authority board member, says the organization has logged some early successes.“Working with Arizona Commerce Authority partners, there has been a
massive reduction in vacant space,” he says.  But Pruitt says the biggest bang-for-the-buck is still to come as the organization spent much of its first year laying groundwork.

“Arizona Commerce Authority’s active projects are up 38 percent over a year ago,” Pruitt says. “One of our short-term plans includes aggressive recruitment of California-based firms within our targeted business sectors.”And the vision doesn’t stop at the Pacific Ocean. “Not only are we working to promote the state nationwide, we are taking the message that Arizona is the best place to do business to a global audience,” he says.

DMB Associates chairman Drew Brown, also an Arizona Commerce Authority board member, says each successful recruitment breeds more business. And as the expansions and relocations pile up, a boom in the state’s commercial real estate industry will be a welcome by-product.

“I think Arizona Commerce Authority’s function of attracting high-quality export jobs will be a big shot in the arm for the local economy,” he says. “The multiplier effect will encourage other new jobs.”

As more businesses come to the state, they will fill up vacant residential and commercial real estate, generating demand for new construction and development and the new jobs associated with that. “It’s out there. It will happen,” he says.

Building lasting relationships

Arizona Commerce Authority, AZRE Magazine November/December 2011Brown, like other Arizona Commerce Authority leaders, says the organization can’t take most of the credit for attracting the impressive influx of new business during its first year.

Arizona Commerce Authority has been forging important strategic relationships with key economic development groups such as Greater Phoenix Economic Council (GPEC) and Tucson Regional Economic Opportunities (TREO) to marshal joint clout, Brown says.

“We are working with the Arizona Commerce Authority on several active projects,” says Laura Shaw, TREO’s senior vice president for Marketing and Communications. “While the authority is still very new and thus getting its legs, so to speak, we have formed a close partnership and have many opportunities moving forward.”

And the Arizona Commerce Authority’s Curry says the new competitiveness package passed early this year opened a lot of doors for Arizona Commerce Authority to pitch the state’s wares.

“Before our toolbox didn’t have a lot of tools,” Curry says. “Now Arizona is ranked high among Western states.”

During a recent trade conference in San Francisco with international companies looking for a U.S. presence, the organization landed 19 meetings with interested prospects, and three are actively pursuing a possible Arizona relocation, he says.

Pruitt adds the Arizona Commerce Authority still faces hurdles — the uncertain global economy and Arizona’s somewhat tarnished reputation regarding school funding, immigration, gun laws and other issues. But he is optimistic.

“Some 300,000 of our residents have lost jobs since the recession began,” Pruitt says. “We realize that people are counting on us to do our job. The Arizona Commerce Authority takes this duty seriously and is focused on a single task — getting businesses to invest in Arizona to create jobs.”

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www.azcommerce.com
www.gpec.org
www.treoaz.org

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AZRE Magazine November/December 2011

Arizona Unemployment

Arizona’s Unemployment Rate in February Stays Steady at 9.6 Percent

The state’s unemployment rate held steady in February at 9.6 percent for the fourth month in a row. The economy added 23,400 nonfarm jobs. The Arizona Commerce Authority (ACA) reports today that the job gains were predominantly seasonal and slightly lower than the historic average.



Feb. ’11Jan. ’11Feb. ’10
United States8.9%9.0%9.7%
Arizona9.6%9.6%10.2%



The private sector generated 12,000 jobs in February and the government sector created 11,400 jobs.

“Overall, nonfarm employment in Arizona in February was somewhat weaker than typical Februarys
in years prior to the recession, but moderately better than the last three years,” according to the ACA employment report.



Feb. ’11
Jan. ’11
Feb. ’10
Overall 2,386.62,363.22,381.3
Monthly Change1.0%-1.8%0.8%
Annual Change0.2%0.0%-4.4%



Nine of the state’s 11 major sectors gained jobs, one was flat, and one lost jobs last month.

Gains were reported in: government (11,400); educational health services (4,300); leisure and hospitality (3,500); trade, transportation and utilities (2,800); and professional services (1,700). Financial activities, other services, manufacturing and information combined created fewer than 10 percent of the total jobs in March.

Losses were reported in construction (-2,300); and natural resources and mining was flat.

The unemployment rates dropped in all of the state’s largest metro areas.


Feb. ’11
Jan. ’11
Feb. ’10
Phoenix Metro8.8%9.3%9.7%
Tucson Metro8.8%9.2%9.3%
Yuma Metro21.5%23.1%20.0%
Flagstaff Metro8.9%9.4%10.2%
Prescott Metro10.5%11.0%11.0%
LHC-Kingman Metro10.9%11.5%11.7%
Arizona Commerce Authority - AZRE Magazine November/December 2010

Arizona Commerce Authority: Team Effort in Arizona CRE

If there’s one person who can help give Arizona the home-field advantage when it comes to attracting new businesses, new jobs and making the state more competitive in the global market, it’s Jerry Colangelo, the vice chairman of the Arizona Commerce Authority.

Perhaps that’s why Gov. Jan Brewer picked the Valley businessman as vice chairman of the newly formed Arizona Commerce Authority, a private sector board that will replace the Arizona Department of Commerce. The 35-member board includes a diverse group of business and educational leaders from across the state.

No matter what you’re in, it takes teams and people to win,” Colangelo said. “It’s true in every walk of life. Look at the disconnect that has existed in our state for such a long time, with the Legislature, with the business community, the lack of a game plan. Everyone has to be on the same page. And so the good news is this: There’s only one way to go. There is plenty of space here for us to be very, very successful.”

There definitely is room to grow when it comes to business attraction in Arizona.
According to Department of Commerce statistics, 47 companies located or expanded in Arizona in 2007, bringing a capital investment of $1.6B, almost 10,000 new jobs and an annual payroll of $483M. Then the recession hit and in just two years those figures took a nose dive: 24 companies located or expanded in Arizona with a capital investment of $255M, 2,649 jobs and a $124.6M payroll.

“When I became governor, I promised to get Arizona back on track by creating quality jobs, attracting high-growth industries, and advancing our competitive position in the global economy,” Brewer said. “With this board, I have now delivered a model to advance Arizona.”

Arizona Commerce Authority: Addressing the Industry’s Needs

How that model will advance Arizona is a question those in commercial real estate are asking. To its credit, the Arizona Commerce Authority includes several board members with direct business ties to the industry.

They are: Drew Brown, chairman of the board, DMB Associates; Peter Herder, chairman of the board and CEO, Herder Commercial Development; Mike Ingram, CEO and president, El Dorado Holdings; Doug Pruitt, chairman and CEO, Sundt Construction; and Mo Stein, principal and senior vice president, HKS Architects.

How do those in the industry envision an entity such as the Arizona Commerce Authority boosting a sagging commercial real estate market in Arizona?

“I look for the Arizona Commerce Authority to create a business model for all aspects of development in the state,” Stein said. “The authority will allow leverage of both public and private strengths that go beyond individual projects to opportunities that impact large segments of our communities and industries throughout the state.”

Mike Haenel, executive vice president, Industrial Division at Cassidy Turley BRE Commercial, noted: “I would like the Arizona Commerce Authority to communicate to the State Legislature exactly what it would take to relocate a company to Arizona. Thanks to a sophisticated local commercial real estate development industry, we have well-located and functional real estate available. Given the current economic conditions, pricing is extremely attractive, which translates into a perfect time to rent and or buy real estate in Arizona. The Arizona Commerce Authority needs to figure out what our state government should do to be competitive in attracting and retaining companies.”

Jim Gibson, senior associate in real estate at Squire, Sanders & Dempsey adds: “There has always been a long-standing partnership between economic development and the commercial real estate industry. Because of its role attracting new businesses to the state, I suspect that the Arizona Commerce Authority will be a tremendous resource for lead generation to brokers, developers and others in the industry. In addition, because of the Arizona Commerce Authority’s make-up of leaders in the private sector, it seems well-positioned by having both the business savvy to understand the wants and needs of companies looking to expand or relocate to Arizona, as well as having established relationships in the real estate industry to help each company assemble the right team depending on its particular real estate needs.”

Brewer made sure the new Arizona Commerce Authority is a statewide endeavor. While most board members are from the Metro Phoenix area, there also are four board members from Tucson, two from Flagstaff, and one each from Prescott and Yuma.

By creating a more competitive landscape and making economic development a higher priority, commercial real estate opportunities and transactions will result,” said Joe Snell, president and CEO of Tucson Regional Economic Opportunities (TREO). “The ability for the authority to assist groups like TREO in attracting and expanding primary jobs will result in significantly more commercial opportunities downstream.”

Listening to the Industry’s Concerns

While those involved are excited over the prospects of what the Arizona Commerce Authority may be able to achieve, there also is guarded optimism. Mark Singerman, regional director of Rockefeller Group Development Corp., said that just to stay even with what most other states offer, Arizona needs to become more competitive in attracting businesses to relocate here. He cites SB 1403, a bill giving special tax breaks and incentives to the solar energy industry.

Within several months of that incentive for renewable energy companies becoming law, there were at least a dozen solar companies looking to locate here,” Singerman said. “This type of incentive program needs to be expanded to all desirable industries.”

Up until 2006, Singerman said, Arizona became complacent about attracting residents and businesses. By virtue of being in close proximity to high-cost California, the state enjoyed steady growth with little effort.

“We now have to up our game to stay even with other states,” Singerman said. “If we have competitive economic incentive programs similar to what other states offer, our total package will be hard to beat when companies do their comparisons. But we are not there yet.”

Added Tim Lawless, president of NAIOP-AZ, adds: “While strategically targeting specific industry sectors like aerospace in the hopes of further diversifying our state’s economy is laudable, it is very unclear what the Arizona Commerce Authority can or will do to assist the vast number of firms that are already in the state, especially with their very limited budget. We need to keep in mind that we have more than 350,000 firms in our state and we need policies that will create an environment for them to survive and add jobs.

This can only happen should the Commerce Authority advocate for broad-based tax reform, rather than exclusively relying on esoteric tax breaks that create winners and losers,” Lawless continued. “Cake and ice cream tax breaks for industries like solar are fine, but only after a more substantial and well-balanced economic development diet is put on the table for all firms.”

For the Arizona Commerce Authority to make the state more competitive in business attraction, Lawless said Arizona needs to lower overall commercial property tax burdens, which are among the highest in the U.S.; create a significant deal-closing fund (non-tax benefit related) to land large employers that leverage the highest paying jobs; and lower corporate income tax rates that would put the state in a better position to compete with other Western states.

Arizona’s political climate could be another stumbling block in attracting new businesses, said Marty Alvarez Sr., CEO of Sun Eagle Corp.

“Part of the problem is the perception throughout the country that Arizona is a racist state with no upside for their companies to move here,” Alvarez said. “The Hispanic business community needs to be part of the marketing effort to dissuade the thought that our state is in political turmoil. This is the time to bring national and international firms to Arizona.
The collaboration led by the ACA needs political, social and business direction from the Hispanic business community in order to create a positive atmosphere for incoming companies,” he added. “The idea and implementation of the ACA is not only good but is a necessary solution for the future economic well being of our state. The leaders chosen to enact this organization and jumpstart the dialogue must be a public-private partnership.”

AZRE Magazine November/December 2010