Tag Archives: arizona

Local Enrollment Kiosk_Draft

New Health Insurance Kiosk Launches in Valley

Local Enrollment Services, the first health insurance kiosk in Arizona, will open at Christown Spectrum Mall in conjunction with the Affordable Care Act’s open enrollment for health insurance on November 15. Local Enrollment Services and its staff will provide self-service solutions for people to enroll in the healthcare marketplace and to educate Valley residents about the 2015 health care changes.

The Affordable Care Act mandates that every U.S. citizen must have health insurance coverage by February 15, 2015 and the Health Insurance Exchange, which includes all of the public plans mandated by the Affordable Care Act, begins open enrollment on November 15. Local Enrollment Services is designed to be a convenient, fast, free way for people to sign up for health insurance. Licensed agents will be a the kiosk helping individuals, families and businesses navigate the health care changes and become savvy health care shoppers, enabling them to take control of the many health insurance options.

Located at Christown Spectrum Mall on 1703 W. Bethany Home Road in Phoenix, Local Enrollment Services will be set up right outside Costco for shoppers’ convenience. The kiosk will be able to help four shoppers at a time. To participate in the quick sign-up process that can take as little as 15 minutes, shoppers will only need to know their address, social security number, income for this year and an estimate of their income for 2015.

Local Enrollment Services Owner Nate Plett launched Local Enrollment Services to help people get the best health insurance for themselves and their families at the best possible price.

“We are committed to help Arizona consumers make the most intelligent and informed decisions about purchasing health insurance,” said Plett. “We want our customers to feel confident in making a decision to get the best health insurance policy available. Even if people enrolled last year, they should make sure their policy is still the best option for them. Local Enrollment Services is here to be a true community resource and help educate the public on why it’s important to have health insurance and have the right policy for themselves and their family.”

Local Enrollment Services will be open seven days a week starting November 15 during regular mall hours. For more information visit www.localenrollment.com or call 866.400.8901.

Banner Baywood Medical Center

8 Banner Health hospitals earn safety recognition

Eight Banner Health hospitals received top grades (A’s and B’s) for patient safety, an independent watchdog organization announced Wednesday.

Four Banner Health hospitals, two in Arizona and a pair in Colorado, earned “A” scores while four additional Arizona hospitals received “B” scores. Banner Boswell Medical Center and Banner Del E. Webb Medical Center in Sun City join North Colorado Medical Center in Greeley, Colo. and McKee Medical Center in Loveland, Colo. with top “A” grades for patient safety.

The Fall 2014 Hospital Safety Score report was released by The Leapfrog Group an independent organization which grades hospitals on how they protect patients from errors, injuries and infections.

“Patient safety is a guiding principle for all of our employees in the communities we serve,” said Dr. John Hensing, Banner Health’s executive vice president and chief medical officer. “We are dedicated to providing the highest quality care in a safe and healthy environment and are proud to be recognized for our ongoing efforts.”

According to Leapfrog, the Hospital Safety Score uses 28 measures of publicly available hospital safety data to produce a single “A,” “B,” “C,” “D,” or “F” score representing a hospital’s overall capacity to keep patients safe from preventable harm. More than 2,500 U.S. general hospitals were assigned scores in fall 2014, with about 31 percent receiving an “A” grade. The Hospital Safety Score is fully transparent, with a full analysis of the data and methodology used in determining grades available online.
Banner Health hospitals and their top Hospital Safety Scores:

Banner Boswell Medical Center (Sun City): A
Banner Churchill Medical Center (Fallon, Nev.): B
Banner Del E. Webb Medical Center (Sun City): A
Banner Desert Medical Center (Mesa): B
Banner Estrella Medical Center (Phoenix): B
McKee Medical Center (Loveland, Colo.): A
North Colorado Medical Center (Greeley, Colo.): A
Banner Thunderbird Medical Center (Glendale): B

Headquartered in Phoenix, Banner Health is one of the largest, nonprofit health care systems in the country. The system manages 25 acute-care hospitals, the Banner Health Network and Banner Medical Group, long-term care centers, outpatient surgery centers and an array of other services including family clinics, home care and hospice services, and a nursing registry. Banner Health is in seven states: Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Nebraska, Nevada and Wyoming.

health,informatics

Abrazo helps Arizonans with healthcare enrollment

Abrazo Health on Nov. 20 is launching its Path to Health education series aimed at helping Arizonans get affordable insurance coverage.

The new enrollment period for the Affordable Care Act’s Health Insurance Marketplace, a one-stop shop to more affordable and accessible health care, is Nov. 15-Feb. 15.

Abrazo Health will hold free Path to Health seminars this month through February to present information about the potential benefits to individuals and families regarding the Affordable Care Act, Health Insurance Marketplace and Medicaid Expansion.  Sessions are scheduled for Arrowhead, Arizona Heart, Maryvale, Paradise Valley, Phoenix Baptist and West Valley hospitals.

“We want to help individuals and their families understand the Affordable Care Act. We want to make sure our community members are well informed in order to make the best decisions for themselves and their families.’’ said Dr. William Ellert, Abrazo Health’s Chief Medical Officer.

In Arizona, about 8 out of 10 people qualified for financial assistance and cost reductions for 2014 coverage through the Health Insurance Marketplace.  The Marketplace’s health insurance plans offer lower costs on out-of-pocket expenses and premiums based on income while private plans do not. Federal tax credits, which can be used to lower premiums, are available to those who qualify.

Abrazo Health’s Path to Health sessions include:
·       Arizona Heart Hospital, 1930 E. Thomas Road: 6-7 p.m. Dec. 2 and Jan. 27.
·       Arrowhead Hospital, 18701 N. 67th Ave., 6-7 p.m. Nov. 20 and Jan. 8.
·       Maryvale Hospital, 5102 W. Campbell Ave., 6-7 p.m. Dec. 4, Jan. 10, Jan. 22 and Feb. 7 in Spanish; 7-8 p.m. Dec. 4, Jan. 22 and Feb. 7 in English.
·       Paradise Valley Hospital, 6-7 p.m. Jan. 13 and Feb. 5.
·       Phoenix Baptist Hospital, 2000 W. Bethany Home Road, 6-7 p.m. Dec. 6 and Feb. 3.
·       West Valley Hospital, 6-7 p.m. Nov. 22 and Jan. 24.

Individual appointments also can be made with Certified Application Counselors at Abrazo Health’s six hospitals to receive help in signing up for health insurance on the Health Insurance Marketplace.  Coverage can begin Jan. 1 if enrollment is completed by Dec. 15.

Under the Affordable Care Act, people who do not enroll in health insurance by Feb. 15, 2015 will have to pay a penalty fee of $325 per adult and $162.50 per child or 2 percent of their annual income, whichever is higher, and it will be collected when they file income taxes.

Some of the important health benefits covered under Marketplace plans include emergency services, maternity and newborn care, lab tests, preventive services and pediatric services. Free preventative services include screenings for blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, cholesterol and colon cancer.

For a schedule and more information, visit AbrazoHealth.com/PathToHealth. To register for a Path to Health seminar, call 866-893-8446.

foodbank

BCBSAZ donates 6,250 meals to the hungry

Arizonans across the state struggle with hunger. According to the Association of Arizona Food Banks (AAFB), almost one in five adults, and one in four children, struggle with hunger and poverty in rural and metro communities alike.

Because food insecurity rates in Arizona are higher than the national average, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Arizona (BCBSAZ) selected three organizations to receive support as part of its 75th anniversary, “Arizonans First.  Always” campaign.

“Hunger is a disheartening and undeniable issue in Arizona,” said Rich Boals, president and CEO of BCBSAZ. “We will do what we can to help fight hunger with the hope our contributions encourage others to do the same.”

The three programs supported include:

1.     The Association of Arizona Food Banks (AAFB) through a donation of 7,500 lbs. of canned food. The 7,500 lbs. is equivalent to 6,250 meals.“Items like canned chicken and similar canned foods are greatly needed,” said Angie Rodgers, president and CEO of the AAFB. “They are healthy and full of protein, which is always in short supply and necessary for a balanced diet. The Association of Arizona Food Banks could not accomplish our goals without these kinds of generous donations.”

2.     The Valley of the Sun United Way’s World Record to End Hunger project was supported by BCBSAZ volunteers lending time to assembling food bags for those in need. As it turned out, the volunteers broke the Guinness World Record by assembling more than 2,000 food bags in just three minutes.

3.     A contribution was also made to the Yavapai Food Council (YFC) which administers the Yavapai Food Neighbors Project and the National School Lunch Program countywide. The food that is collected through the Yavapai Food Neighbors Project will be donated to community food banks, pantries, and child-hunger programs. The National School Lunch Program provides free or reduced meals to students at rural and charter schools, comprised of more than 60 percent low-income families based on the U.S. Governments poverty guidelines.  A study conducted by YFC shows that one out of four adults and one out of three children in Yavapai County face food insecurity. Program funding is critical in helping these children grow up healthy and strong.

The “Arizonans First. Always.” campaign has already visited Pima, Maricopa, Santa Cruz, Cochise, Greenlee, Graham, Apache, Navajo, Mohave and La Paz counties. Following the World Record to End Hunger project, BCBSAZ will visit Coconino County. To learn more about BCBSAZ and its 75 years in Arizona, visit azblue.com/birthday.

veterans

Want to Honor Veterans? Help Them Start Careers

It’s Veteran’s Day. It’s a day for parades, for speeches, and for thanking those who put their lives on the line to protect us and our way of life.

It’s also a day with a history of contradictions. What we celebrate as Veteran’s Day began in 1919 as Armistice Day. It marked the cease fire in 1918 on the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month between Germany and the Allied nations that paved the way for the end of World War I, the “War to End All Wars”. But wars were not ended and on May 13, 1938, after World War II had required the greatest mobilization of military personnel in our Nation’s history and after American forces had fought aggression in Korea, Congress revised the law and renamed the holiday to what we know it as today, Veteran’s Day.

We have yet to truly see a war to end all wars. Americans still answer the call to serve and the men and women of our armed forces serve to both keep the peace and when necessary battle to restore it.

When their work is done, our veterans come home and face the challenge of answering a life changing question. “What’s next?”

During the years that they serve, members of our armed forces have the opportunity to develop and hone the very skills that we so often hear are in short supply: leadership, decision making, team work, technical expertise and people skills. Our veterans are bringing home skills and experience that we can help them to reapply through training and development into roles that help to develop and to deliver the life changing innovations that will benefit people today and for generations to come.

This Veteran’s Day, AZBio is pleased to announce its partnership with MVPvets. With a mission to assist with re-careering for the thousands of transitioning military veterans in order to help prepare them for meaningful employment in the life sciences, MVPvets brings veterans, mentors, and companies together in a live and virtual collaborative learning environment.

MVP itself is a collaboration supported by AdvaMed, Life Collaborative and medtech and biotech corporate sponsors. The program is offered free of charge to veterans of all ranks who have been honorably discharged from the military or are currently active military with plans to transition out of the service within the next 24 months. To kick of this partnership, AZBio will host an information session and free after hours event on Thursday, November 13, 2014 featuring a presentation by Mike Grice, COO of MVPvets. All members of our life science, healthcare and business community are welcome to attend. (To learn more visit http://www.azbio.org/events/mvp-vets-11-2014)

While we were at home building our careers, our veterans were serving to ensure we have the freedom to do so. This Veteran’s Day, let’s do more than wave flags and give speeches. Let’s commit to helping them find new opportunities and answers to the question “What’s next?”

 

Joan Koerber-Walker is President and CEO of the Arizona Bioindustry Association. AZBio is committed to building a top-tier life science industry in Arizona. She also serves as Chairman of the State Medical Technology Alliance (SMTA) a consortium of state and regional trade associations representing their local medical technology companies. SMTA’s mission is to collectively support the medical technology industry on the local, state and national levels by fostering a collaborative environment through sharing of best practices, promoting the industry, and advocating for public policies that support innovation.

diversity

Wells Fargo Arizona team members donate $3.4M to nonprofits

Wells Fargo & Company announced that its Arizona team members donated more than $3.4 million to nonprofit organizations and schools in Arizona as part of the company’s annual Community Support and United Way Campaign.  All donations were funded personally by team members. In addition to a 14 percent year-over-year increase in donations, the one-month campaign also resulted in 7,349 volunteer hours contributed by team members to 638 nonprofits and other causes in local communities across the country.

“Each year, our Arizona team members dig deeper to give more to their community.” said Pam Conboy, Arizona lead regional president and state campaign co-chair. “This annual campaign highlights the compassion of our great team members and reinforces that Wells Fargo truly is Arizona’s Community Bank.  Our team members’ deep commitment to our community explains why Wells Fargo has been United Way’s No. 1 largest corporate campaign over the past five years nationally.”

The annual Community Support and United Way Campaign encourages team members to give in ways that mean the most to them, whether by going out into the community to volunteer for their favorite nonprofit, or through financial contributions to any nonprofit, school, or religious institution of their choice. One hundred percent of team member donations go to the organizations they choose. Wells Fargo pays all processing costs and matches gifts, up to $5,000 per team member, to qualifying schools.

This year’s campaign theme, Small is Huge. It all adds up to make a difference, was all about how small efforts that help to lift up communities can add up to huge results.  In addition to the funds that Wells Fargo Arizona team members personally contributed, they also coordinated activities to raise money for their favorite nonprofits, including Valley of the Sun United way, Homes for our Troops, Back to School Clothing Drive, St. Mary’s Food Bank, Habitat for Humanity, Soldier’s Best Friend, and many more.  Fundraising activities included a basketball tournament, a car wash, a Walking Tacos luncheon, craft sales, yard sales, a bake-off, a salsa challenge, and raffles.

Nationally, team members pledged a record $70.5 million to community nonprofits and schools during the campaign. Wells Fargo team members invest in nonprofits throughout the year.  To date, including the Campaign, team members have donated $97.7 million of their own dollars to nonprofits, a nearly 10 percent increase over 2013, and the twelfth straight year of year-over-year double-digit increases in pledge totals.

Diane Brossart -Describes Her First Step In The Industry, 2008

Arizona Forward, Univ. of Phoenix offer teachers scholarships

Diane Brossart, Valley Forward, BIG Green Conference 2011 Speaker

Diane Brossart, president and CEO of Arizona Forward.

In an effort to strengthen and expand environmental education opportunities for Arizona teachers, Arizona Forward has joined with University of Phoenix to offer three full-tuition scholarships to deserving Arizona K-12 teachers. The scholarship program will grant three teachers from across the state the opportunity to complete either an undergraduate or master’s degree program at University of Phoenix.

The scholarship program provides educational opportunities to local educators who have demonstrated sustainable practices in their classrooms and want to continue to make a difference in their communities.

“Educating and mentoring the youth of today — leaders of tomorrow — on becoming stewards of our unique desert environment and conserving natural resources is critically important,” said Diane Brossart, president and CEO of Arizona Forward. “It’s through the support of University of Phoenix that we are able to present educational opportunities of this magnitude.”

The scholarship program was announced in conjunction with Arizona Forward’s tenth annual EarthFest Educators Night on Oct. 28 at the Desert Botanical Garden in Phoenix. Nearly 400 Arizona teachers attended EarthFest to enjoy nearly 50 exhibits, activities and environmental education resources to aid them in mentoring the next generation of environmental stewards.

“Arizona Forward and University of Phoenix share a commitment to teacher education and sustainability,” said Dan Litteral, incoming chair of the board for Arizona Forward, and vice president and deputy general counsel for Apollo Education Group, parent company of University of Phoenix. “University of Phoenix College of Education has been educating teachers for more than 30 years, and is proud to once again partner with Arizona Forward to empower teachers with environmental education to bring to the next generation of students.”

University of Phoenix is dedicated to addressing education and workforce needs in the communities it serves. The University’s College of Education provides associate, bachelor’s and master’s degree programs for individuals who want to become teachers or current educators and administrators seeking advanced degrees. For more information about University of Phoenix® College of Education degree programs, visit www.phoenix.edu/education.

Educators across Arizona are encouraged to apply for the University of Phoenix Arizona Forward Scholarship by December 9, 2014, and recipients will be selected by January 19, 2015. Arizona teachers can visit www.phoenix.edu/azforwardscholar for the scholarship application.

Teachers who want to bring environmental and sustainable education opportunities into the classroom can find additional resources in the Arizona Forward’s online Environmental Education Directory. It features a comprehensive list of field trip opportunities, curriculum, classroom speakers and related materials.

sick

What is the chance of an Ebola outbreak in Arizona?

With every response to the threat of Ebola outbreak sending shockwaves of fear, confusion, and disapproval among skeptics and concerned citizens alike, the University of Arizona has begun to equip itself to handle a potential Ebola crisis.

Dr. Andy Theodorou, a chief medical officer with the University of Arizona Medical Center, addressed an auditorium packed with medical staff: “This is a big deal. We’re going to be prepared.”

“We’re not going to get caught by surprise,” he concluded.

This plan incorporates a screening process which examines a given subject’s past travel history within the last 21 days. Further, education on the proper protocol for preventing the spread of the disease, along with how to appropriately treat a patient once they’ve been confirmed to have Ebola, will be essential steps in controlling any potential outbreaks.

Despite these precautions, Dr. Sean Elliot confirms that the risk of Ebola in Arizona, particularly the southwestern region, is especially low due to the area’s extremely low population of those from West Africa along with the low number of travelers and tourists in the area. However, he emphasized the point that “we want to reassure the public… (that) our threat assessment is zero.”

Cause for concern

One of the most worrying aspects about the possible Ebola outbreak that stands before the United States, and one which no doubt has in some part resulted in the University of Arizona’s swift response, is the precedence of outbreaks which have afflicted American society – most of which offering fewer warning signs than Ebola.

“We have to work now so (that Ebola) is not the world’s next AIDS,” announced Dr. Tom Frieden, director of the CDC, during a recent meeting of the World Bank in Washington D.C. . Many have drawn parallels between the Ebola threat with that of the AIDS epidemic which threatens millions of people worldwide today, mostly due to some similarities such as their spread through bodily fluids and latency periods.

Comfortingly, the latency period in Ebola is much shorter and contagion is only possible when those who are infected are symptomatic. Disturbingly, the range of bodily fluids which contain the Ebola virus is much broader, including congestion, saliva, sweat, vomit, and bodily waste.

In a worst case scenario, Ebola has a significantly higher chance of causing an uncontrolled outbreak situation than HIV could. But with relatively small amounts of travel through Arizona, Ebola is far more likely to impact states with dense metropolitan regions if a widespread outbreak were to occur. In fact, the Arizona Department of Health has been in the process of selecting a hospital to aid Ebola patients rather than limiting travel to those who might carry the virus.

Looking forward

While the American public is heavily divided on where the United States should stand in assistance to those who are afflicted with Ebola, as well as whether travel sanctions or quarantines should be applied or avoided, President Barack Obama has stated that mandatory quarantines for healthcare workers should be avoided at all costs.

This is motivated, in large part, to avoid discouraging organizations like the Arizona Department of Health as well as individual health workers / volunteers from aiding those who desperately need assistance. However, there is concern among skeptics that this could leave the U.S. more vulnerable to an outbreak scenario.

Given that the nation’s healthcare system will require in excess of one million new and replacement nurses by 2016 to sustain our healthcare needs (illustrated in an infographic provided by University of Arizona’s College of Nursing), the nation could be particularly vulnerable if an outbreak situation were to occur.

While a crisis may be unlikely in Arizona now, the debate between those who want to aid in the Ebola crises around the world and those who believe that the U.S. should remain isolated grows more heated in the state along with the rest of the nation.

 

Brett Chesney is an avid proponent of fitness and questionably healthy amounts of video games. Connect with Chesney on his Twitter @DammitChesney

stk150362rke

84% of Phoenix buyers settle for ‘less than perfect’ home

According to a survey released by BMO Harris Bank, Arizona house hunters visit an average of 11 homes before they buy, with the majority (84 percent) of buyers spending up to six months searching the market.

The report, conducted by Pollara, also revealed:
• Slightly less than half (48 percent) of home buyers currently on the market believe they will find their dream home in their price range, while 52 percent say it’s impossible
• 77 percent are willing to settle for a less than perfect home. In Metro Phoenix, that numbers rises to 84 percent
• Most (79 percent) of home buyers say they’ll know immediately when they’ve found their ideal house

“Typically the purchase of a home is one of the most important financial commitments we make,” said Tony Cesarano, Arizona Mortgage Manager, BMO Harris Bank. “For many people it is also a long-term commitment and is therefore, worth taking your time to find a home that both ‘feels right’ and fits within your budget.”

While overall stress levels about the home buying process are moderate, Arizonans still have some concerns.  Their biggest worry is that they will find something wrong with the house once they move in (73 percent). In addition, 69 percent fear that housing prices will drop after they move in, and 57 percent fear the possibility of not being able to afford their mortgage.

“The housing market lost some of its forward momentum earlier this year, in the wake of higher mortgage rates and as the availability of credit was constrained by uncertainty over new regulations. The latter, as anticipated, proved to be temporary,” said Michael Gregory, Head U.S. Economics, BMO Capital Markets.

“In the third quarter of this year, mortgage lending standards were being relaxed more prolifically than at any other point since the Federal Reserve’s new survey began in 2007,” added Mr. Gregory. “Meanwhile, 30-year fixed mortgage rates have dipped back below the 4 percent level in recent weeks, for the first time since the spring of 2013. Both of these developments point to a pickup in housing market activity, in terms of turnover and homes — yes, even ‘dream homes’— available for sale.”

At the national level, the survey found:
• 77 percent of home buyers thought they will know their dream home as soon as they see it
• First time home buyers are more likely to feel stressed, but they are also more likely to be excited (47 percent), hopeful (43 percent) and happy (37 percent)
• 42 percent of homeowners spend 4 or more months actively looking at homes before buying
• 33 percent of homeowners visited 10 or more homes before buying

“Working with a qualified mortgage professional can help alleviate some of the stress connected with buying a home. I’d recommend getting pre-qualified so you will know exactly how much you can afford when you find the perfect home,” Cesarano added.

For more trends, tips and tools to help you plan for your financial future, including buying a home, click here.

abl

AZ Big Media honors Az Business Leaders

The are the deal makers. They are the innovators. They are the movers and shakers. And on Thursday, AZ Big Media recognized almost 500 of the most influential business leaders in Arizona during a reception at the Omni Scottsdale Resort & Spa at Montelucia.

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Az Business Leaders reception.
Az Business Leaders reception.
Az Business Leaders reception.
Greg and Nicole Stanton
Greg and Nicole Stanton
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Az Business Leaders reception.
Az Business Leaders reception.
Az Business Leaders reception.
Az Business Leaders reception.
Az Business Leaders reception.
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Az Business Leaders reception.
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Az Business Leaders reception.
Az Business Leaders reception.
Angela Vaughn and Cheryl Green
Angela Vaughn and Cheryl Green
Az Business Leaders reception.
Az Business Leaders reception.
Cheryl Green, Greg Stanton and Michael Gossie
Cheryl Green, Greg Stanton and Michael Gossie
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Az Business Leaders reception.
Az Business Leaders reception.
Az Business Leaders reception.
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Az Business Leaders reception.
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AZ Big Media Publisher Cheryl Green
AZ Big Media Publisher Cheryl Green
Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton
Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton
Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton
Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton
Robert Milligan, CFO of Healthcare Trust of America, Inc.
Robert Milligan, CFO of Healthcare Trust of America, Inc.
Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton
Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton
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Robert Milligan, CFO of Healthcare Trust of America, Inc.
Robert Milligan, CFO of Healthcare Trust of America, Inc.
Robert Milligan, CFO of Healthcare Trust of America, Inc.
Robert Milligan, CFO of Healthcare Trust of America, Inc.
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Cheryl Green and Kathleen Goeppinger
Cheryl Green and Kathleen Goeppinger
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Midwestern University CEO Kathleen Goeppinger
Midwestern University CEO Kathleen Goeppinger
Midwestern University CEO Kathleen Goeppinger
Midwestern University CEO Kathleen Goeppinger
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Cheryl Green and Kathleen Goeppinger
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AZ Big Media Publisher Cheryl Green
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AZ Big Media Publisher Cheryl Green and Editor in Chief Michael Gossie
AZ Big Media Publisher Cheryl Green and Editor in Chief Michael Gossie
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The men and women recognized at the event were all featured in Az Business Leaders magazine, which profiles the state’s most influential and dynamic business leaders in Arizona. The magazine is published by AZ Big Media, which also publishes Az Business, Ranking Arizona, AZRE, Experience AZ and several other Arizona-based publications.

“When we came up with the concept of Az Business Leaders magazine, we wanted to create a publication that was a guide to the people with whom you want to do business,” said Mike Atkinson, president and CEO of AZ Big Media. “Each year, over the course of about two dozen meetings, we sort through more than 5,000 contenders to find those women and men who have the biggest impact on Arizona’s economy and that’s who we profile in the magazine.”

Fittingly, the welcoming remarks were delivered by Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton, who was also one of the leaders featured in the magazine.

Earning the distinction of Arizona Business Leader of the Year was Kathleen Goeppinger, president and CEO of Midwestern University.

“The business leader of the year has done what some may say is the impossible: she has built and grown a medical school from the ground up during a time when the healthcare industry has been in turmoil,” said Robert Milligan, CFO of Healthcare Trust of America, Inc., who presented the award to Goeppinger. “Her efforts have helped feed an educated workforce to an industry that has been exploding in Arizona. And the school that she started from scratch has more than 3,000 students and has an annual economic impact of more than $300 million a year, which boosts all our bottom lines.”

cybercrime

Quarles & Brady Launches Privacy and Security Blog

The national law firm of Quarles & Brady LLP, which has three offices across Arizona in Phoenix, Scottsdale and Tucson, today announced that the firm’s Data Privacy & Security Team has launched Safe & Sound, a blog that provides a practical, business-focused discussion of the legal issues relating to the privacy and security of a company’s data. This blog will keep businesses aware of current events, news, and legislation in this area.

Margaret Utterback, chair of the firm’s Madison Business Law Group, said Safe & Sound will discuss current news about U.S. and international regulations associated with privacy. It will keep businesses abreast of what they need to know to protect their electronic information.

“Our clients are facing new concerns about how safe their data is in a changing privacy landscape. They want to know how best to protect their customers from a breach,” said John Barlament, chair of the Data Privacy & Security Team. “Our Quarles & Brady lawyers often step in to help companies stay on top of changing regulations and get up-to-speed on what they need to know to be prepared. This blog will offer a place for them to get a greater understanding of what the conversation in this area is focusing on and what they need to consider.”

There are so many unknowns right now about what is required since the regulations vary from state to state and from country to country, said Heather Buchta, chair of the firm’s Phoenix Intellectual Property Group. This blog, housed on LexBlog, will allow clients to get a quick snapshot of what they need to know and what questions they should ask their legal counsel.

To subscribe to the blog and get the latest information, visit http://safeandsound.quarles.com/.

haunted

The 5 most haunted places in Arizona

Just in time for Halloween, we thought you might like to consider a ghostly visit to one of the five most haunted places in Arizona.

Hotel San Carlos, 202 N. Central Ave. Phoenix

Blood splattered on Leone Jensen’s white gown as she hit the pavement from the rooftop of the seven-story hotel. Heartbroken and lonely, 22-year-old Jensen committed suicide in 1928 at the Hotel San Carlos. Guests said they have witnessed a woman dressed in a white shear gown blown by the wind from nearby windows. Screaming children have also been heard running the halls late at night from the multiple drownings that occurred in a water well in the late 1890’s. The well remains on the first floor of the hotel and is the main water supply for the residents. Book a night in the San Carlos hotel to see what you might wake up to.

North Morton Hall at Northern Arizona University, 601 S. Knoles Drive, Flagstaff

Built in 1914, North Morton Hall on the NAU campus is a women’s residence hall and home to a girl who committed suicide in the dormitory. Her ghost has not left the premises as students have seen flickering lights, girls being locked in the bathrooms, blankets flying off beds, and even the sight of the ghost lurking the halls.

Jerome Grand Hotel, 200 Hill St., Jerome

A former hospital, a plethora of ghosts walk the halls and visit the rooms in this hotel in “Ghost City.” Many deaths have occurred in the hotel, such as Claude Harvey who was crushed by a self-serviced elevator and two suicides by hanging. Most of the ghosts are allegedly the patients who died in the United Verde Hospital. Flowers, cigar smoke, and whiskey are just some of the smells guests have said to be coming from the rooms. In the heart of the haunted city itself, witness the sights and smells of this five-story hotel.

Fox Theatre, 17 W. Congress St., Tucson

Built in 1930, the Fox Theatre was used as vaudeville and movie house. During the Great Depression, a man would linger outside of the theatre asking for money to feed his family. Watch your wallets, there has been sight of male ghosts walking about outside of the theatre and might just snatch a couple bucks. Suspicious movement of objects in the theatre have some visitors questioning the eerie environment.

Luana’s Canyon southeast of Kingman

A miner and his family lived in a wooden shack in the opening of the canyon. The husband would leave his family for days to find food and mine for gold in the mountains. One day Luana’s husband did not return from his expedition and her family began to starve. Luana began to go insane as the children begged for food and were slowly dying. Impulsive actions took over and Luana chopped up her kids in the wooden house. The remains of her children were tossed into the nearby river, where she wept and screamed in remorse for her murdered children. Her screams are said to still be heard within the canyon and the blood-splattered house is called the “Slaughter House.” Check out this landmark to see if the blood remains on the walls and Luana’s scream can still be heard bouncing off the mountains.

urias

Super Bowl Committee aims to reach Hispanics

Urias Communications, a full service multicultural advertising and public relations agency was named Hispanic agency of record for the Arizona Super Bowl Host Committee. Urias Communications will be responsible for advertising, public relations and community engagement within Hispanic and other multicultural markets leading up to Super Bowl XLIX – 2015 in Arizona on February 1, 2015.

“More than 65 percent of Hispanics are NFL fans and more than 20 percent cite the NFL as their favorite sport,” says Jay Parry, CEO of the Arizona Super Bowl Host Committee. “It is critical, with more than 30 percent of Arizona’s population, to have the entire community engaged and participating with us during this dynamic time in Arizona. We’re pleased to be working with an agency that is specifically focused on these efforts.” The Arizona Super Bowl Host Committee has been committed to reaching Hispanics and building strong ties with Mexico. The committee participates in cross border relations and earlier this year, partnered with the Arizona Cardinals and USA Football to host a series of clinics for young athletes, coaches and mothers in Mexico City.

“This is a time to brand Arizona on the international stage,” says Lisa Urias, CEO of Urias Communications. “We look forward to creating opportunities for the local, national and international media to see Arizona as a young, vibrant and multicultural state with key ties to Mexico and the Americas.”

phoenix

Arizona drops from Top 10 for job growth

We’re still slowly recovering from the staggering loss of jobs during the Great Recession, but some cities and states are rebounding faster than others. The job-growth numbers for the first three quarters of 2014 are now out. Research Professor Lee McPheters of the W. P. Carey School of Business at Arizona State University provides rankings and analysis of the winners and losers, based on the latest figures from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Top 10 cities and surrounding metro areas (1 million or more workers), for non-agricultural job growth — comparing January through September of this year to the same nine months last year:

Orlando, Fla. – up 3.7 percent
Houston – up 3.5 percent
Dallas – up 3.4 percent
Miami – up 3 percent
Portland, Ore. – up 2.9 percent
Riverside, Calif. – up 2.8 percent (tie)
Denver – up 2.8 percent
San Francisco – up 2.6 percent (tie)
Seattle – up 2.6 percent
10.  San Diego – up 2.4 percent

Top 10 states for non-agricultural job growth – comparing January through September of this year to the same nine months last year:

North Dakota – up 4.6 percent
Nevada – up 3.6 percent
Texas  – up 3.3 percent
Utah – up 3.1 percent
Florida – up 2.9 percent
Oregon – up 2.8 percent
Colorado – up 2.7 percent
Delaware – up 2.5 percent
California – up 2.2 percent (tie)
Washington – up 2.2 percent

Analysis:

The United States has added about 2.4 million jobs so far this year. The monthly average from January through September was 1.8-percent job growth nationwide. That pace is only slightly better than last year’s, when we saw an overall annual increase of 1.7 percent, so the recovery remains relatively slow.

On the state list, North Dakota has held the No. 1 spot every year since 2009, largely thanks to its oil and gas production. Nevada, Texas and Utah also topped 3-percent job growth this time, with Nevada’s economy receiving a big boost from building activity and impressive construction gains of more than 10 percent.

“Seven of the top 10 job-growth states so far this year are in the West,” says McPheters, director of the JPMorgan Chase Economic Outlook Center at the W. P. Carey School of Business. “Oregon and Delaware are new on the list this time, replacing Idaho and Arizona.”

Arizona actually fell out of the top 10 for the first time in two years. Even though it ranked No. 3 in health-care job growth and No. 5 in financial-activities job growth, the state has now dropped to No. 14 overall. Manufacturing, government and construction contributed to the decline.
The bottom 10 states so far this year are Michigan, Pennsylvania, Connecticut, Maryland, Illinois, Vermont, Virginia, New Jersey, New Mexico and last-place Alaska.  Five of these states were also on the bottom in 2013: Pennsylvania, Vermont, Virginia, New Mexico and Alaska.

McPheters notes very high interest in state economic performance right now because 30 governors are up for reelection, including those in top-10 states Nevada, Florida, Oregon, Colorado and California, as well as bottom-10 states Michigan, Pennsylvania, Connecticut, Illinois, Vermont, New Mexico and Alaska.

On the top 10 cities list, Orlando holds the No. 1 position with 3.7-percent job growth, double the national pace.

“Eight of the top large cities for job creation are in the West,” explains McPheters, “However, Florida also did well, with two cities on the list.”

Seven of the top 10 cities are clustered in Florida, Texas and California. They include Orlando, Miami, Houston, Dallas, San Francisco, San Diego and Riverside, Calif.

The greater Phoenix labor market dropped out of the top 10, as its rate of job growth slipped from 2.7 percent in 2013 to a more modest 2.2 percent during the first three quarters of this year. Phoenix is currently No. 12 among labor markets with 1 million or more workers.

Still, seven large labor markets have job creation below 1 percent: Chicago, Cleveland, Philadelphia, Kansas City, Pittsburgh, northern Virginia and lastly, Detroit.

The full rankings and other job-growth data from McPheters can be found at the W. P. Carey School of Business “Job Growth USA” website: www.wpcarey.asu.edu/jobgrowth. Use the “year to date” function for the current 2014 numbers.

same sex

How Does Arizona Same Sex Marriage Impact HR?

On Friday October 17, same sex marriages became legal in Arizona. What are the changes that Arizona employers and their HR professionals need to be aware of?

1. The definition of spouse in employee manuals and handbooks. If a generic definition, such as “spouse” is used, there should not be a need to update. However, if a specific definition was used such as “wife” or “husband” the employee manual may need to be revised.

2. Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) now covers same sex spouses. Accordingly, FMLA policy and notices may require modification. For private employers, FMLA still does not cover domestic partners, only married couples, and FMLA only applies to employers with 50 or more employees.

3. Insurance coverage needs to be offered to all qualifying employees and dependents.This includes all legally married couples.The marriage will be a qualifying life event and will trigger an open enrollment.  Insurance carriers may require proof of marriage.

4. Federal and state tax forms may be updated to reflect the same sex couple’s new filing status.

5. Beneficiary forms for pension plans and life insurance may need to be changed to note “spouse” designation rather than “other”. Pension plan records need to be updated to show status as married and any authorization that require spousal consent will need the new spouse’s signature.

6. Any benefit that the company extends to heterosexual married couples should be extended to same-sex married couples.

In summary, with the advent of lawful same sex marriages, every person involved in HR should take a careful look at how this change affects your policies. If legal assistance is needed to review policies, our employment lawyers would be glad to help.

 

Kraig J. Marton heads the employment law department at the Phoenix law firm of Jaburg & Wilk.  He assists employers and employees in complying with the many laws affecting employers. He also assists health professionals and others with issues related to medical marijuana.  He can be reached at 602 248 1017 or kjm@jaburgwilk.com.

phoenix

Arizona economy rising, report shows

Phoenix and the broader Arizona economy are expanding again after an extremely difficult recession, although growth will be more modest than the boom times of a decade ago, according to a report released today by BMO Economics.

The labor market is a bright spot, with the city remaining consistent in its job growth performance.  “The city has been a consistent job growth outperformer so far during the recovery and, after a soft patch earlier in the year, growth has accelerated again,” said Robert Kavcic, Senior Economist, BMO Capital Markets.  “If the recent growth clip persists – and we believe that it should – the Phoenix economy should be able to add roughly 85,000 new jobs by the end of 2016.”

“It’s encouraging that the economic health of Arizona, and Phoenix in particular, continues to improve,” said Steve Zandpour, newly-appointed Arizona Regional President, BMO Harris Bank. “It’s nice to see construction activity again. Projects that had been on hold for quite a while have broken ground, adding another positive stimulus to the community.”

The Valley’s economic diversity will help it continue to recover at a solid pace.  “Phoenix boasts a diverse economy with exposure to a wide range of industries in high-tech manufacturing, construction, finance and professional services,” stated Kavcic. “Of the 250,000 jobs lost during the recession, nearly three-quarters of them have recovered.”

The finance and insurance sector employs more than 125,000 people – a record high, in the city.  The fast-growing biotechnology sector also has a strong presence in the region, with two new structures recently approved at the Phoenix Biomedical Campus, including a $136 million investment by the University of Arizona.

On the housing side, the foreclosure rate across Arizona has tumbled to below 1 percent – now among the lowest in America – while higher home prices have reduced the share of mortgages in a negative equity position.  “Fundamentals support a continued, albeit more modest, housing market recovery in the city,” said Mr. Kavcic.

To view a full copy of the report, visit www.bmocm.com/economics.

downtown Gilbert AZ

Money Ranks Gilbert 22nd Most Livable City

Gilbert has received yet another recognition as one of the best places to live in the country.  Time’s Money Magazine has ranked Gilbert as the 22nd Most Livable Small City in America. The study reviewed 781 cities with populations between 50,000 to 300,000, comparing factors ranging from the local economy and housing market to schools and healthcare.

Gilbert was the only Arizona city to make the list. The average population of the 50 cities recognized is 87,500, with only two cities, including Gilbert, with populations over 200,000. The study also shows that, of the top 50 cities, Gilbert holds the 4th lowest average property taxes.

“We are honored to receive this recognition from Money Magazine,” says Gilbert Mayor John Lewis. “For a community of Gilbert’s size to be recognized as one of the most livable is an incredible achievement and is a reflection of our great residents, businesses, and schools.”

To see the full article, and the reasons behind Gilbert making this list, visit https://time.com/money/3312332/gilbert-az-best-places-to-live/.

Trucks CrossingBorderat Nogales

4 big ideas shaking up Arizona-Mexico trade

While all of us have no doubt been busy getting enlightened by the endless stream of political TV ads, there have been lots of exciting things happening to grow Arizona’s cross-border trade profile with our neighbor Mexico.

Matchmaker, matchmaker, make me a match Dennis Smith and the team at the Maricopa Association of Governments deserve applause for the launch of the new website, BIEN, which not only means “good” or “right” in Spanish and French, but is an acronym for Building an International Economic Network.

Via BIEN, businesses in Arizona can set up an online profile that can connect them with buyers and sellers beyond our borders. Users can search for a business by distance, industry type or name.

As MAG Chair and Youngtown Mayor Michael LeVault said, the site “allows companies in Arizona, Mexico and Canada to directly connect with each other using technology instead of travel to broaden their customer base.”

BIEN is a great new tool in Arizona’s trade toolbox. Kudos to MAG for making it happen.

Down Mexico way Years since it was shuttered, Arizona once again has an official presence in Mexico’s political and economic capital city.

I was proud to join recently a delegation of about 70 business, academic and political leaders led by Arizona Commerce Authority CEO Sandra Watson, Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton and House Speaker Andy Tobin, for the official ribbon-cutting in Mexico City of the state’s new trade office, a joint project with the city of Phoenix. U.S. Ambassador to Mexico Tony Wayne, the consummate diplomat and an outstanding representative our country’s interests, was on hand to mark the special occasion.

Before the new office’s opening, not only was Arizona falling behind border state competitors like Texas and California, but even states like Iowa maintained a presence in Mexico City. Meanwhile, Arizona was nowhere to be found in Mexico’s largest city, despite Mexico being our state’s largest export market.

Re-opening the office is the right move at the right time. We have seized on this unique moment in Mexico’s history. Reform-minded President Enrique Peña Nieto has positioned his country to grow rapidly by opening Mexico’s energy sector to foreign investment. With a new trade office, Arizona and Mexico businesses alike now have a one-stop shop to start making the connections that will remind folks on both sides of the border of what an incredible asset our international border is to our economy.

As Gov. Brewer said, “As long as we continue to pursue and capitalize on important business and investment opportunities, we will enjoy a strong, continually thriving and mutually-beneficial partnership with Mexico long into the future.”

A port of opportunity The newly redesigned Mariposa Port of Entry in Nogales is open for business just as the busy produce season is ready to kick into high gear.

The Chamber’s Garrick Taylor blogged about the new port last week, but the big takeaway is that while a redesigned Mariposa is great for Arizona-Mexico trade, its value will be diminished if the feds don’t adequately staff the inspection booths. Even the most modern port of entry can’t efficiently move cargo if there’s not enough personnel to carry out the inspections.

Kudos to the entire Arizona congressional delegation, which last week sent a letter to Department of Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson making clear that Arizona’s land border ports have real staffing needs that need to be addressed.

Expand the travel zone When former Mexico President Vicente Fox was in town a few weeks ago, the MAG team touted the effort it’s leading to expand Arizona’s travel zone statewide to Mexico visitors. The idea makes a lot of sense, and it’s something the Chamber supports.

Under current law, Mexican nationals with a valid Border Crossing Card (BCC) entering Arizona at certain land border ports can travel only as far north as Tucson before being required to secure further documentation and pay an extra fee. Traveling to places like Phoenix or Flagstaff requires an extra step and increased hassle in what should be a more seamless process. After all, the travelers who have valid BCCs have already been vetted at a U.S. consulate in Mexico, they still undergo inspection at the port of entry and, if the inspecting officer desires, the traveler can still be referred for more involved secondary screening or even be denied entry.

Doing paperwork with travelers who want to visit the Grand Canyon or go shopping in Scottsdale is not a good use of limited Customs and Border Protection personnel resources. Arizona’s travel zone has been expanded once before. It’s time to open up the whole state to Mexican tourism.

Glenn Hamer is the president and CEO of the Arizona Chamber of Commerce and Industry, which is committed to advancing Arizona’s competitive position in the global economy by advocating free-market policies that stimulate economic growth and prosperity for all Arizonans.

2ed6d22b-d336-4265-8517-8392b6b5e674

Silencing The Impact Fee

Richard Hubbard President & CEO Valley Partnership

Richard Hubbard
President & CEO
Valley Partnership


In 2011, the legislature modified the development “impact” fee laws. First, a little “Impact Fees 101.”

Arizona has the policy “new growth pays for itself.” When a developer wants to build a project, the city requires that the developer pay fees for the municipal infrastructure to service the project. Infrastructure includes “hard costs,” sewer lines, water lines, streets and sidewalks. It also includes “soft costs,” infrastructure maintenance and public safety services.

The law requires a “nexus” between the fee and the project. Developer pay fees directly related to the “impact” of the project to municipality. Impact fees have been a constant issue between municipalities and developers. Valley Partnership has been very diligent in protecting commercial developers from unreasonable impact fees.

Commercial projects have generally not been charged fees for residential amenities. These are “Parks and Library Fees.” If you build an office or retail center, the workers and guests will not use parks or libraries. There is no “nexus” between the fee and the commercial project.

In 2011, despite opposition, laws were revised to require municipalities charge impact fees in all categories to all projects. Commercial developers were now responsible to pay parks and library fees. However, the “nexus” requirement still exists.

On behalf of the commercial development industry, as each city revises their impact fee program, Valley Partnership has been arguing that, if commercial projects must pay a parks and library fee, the lack of “nexus” requires that the amount of the fee would be little or nothing at all. People that use commercial projects do not visit parks and libraries. Developers should not have to pay for those amenities.

Working in partnership with municipalities, Valley Partnership has been successful with several cities to keep parks and library fees extremely low or at zero. This permits cities to comply with the law, but not charge an inappropriate fee to commercial projects. The collaborative effort between Valley Partnership and our municipal partners is a great example of fulfilling our mission as “The Valley of the Sun’s Premier Advocacy Group for Responsible Development.

T Mobile IPhone

Deal between Apple, glass maker will stay secret

Apple Inc. has reached a deal with a synthetic sapphire glass maker that will allow details of contracts between the companies and the business problems that led GT Advanced Technologies to a financial crisis to remain secret.

A Tuesday filing in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in New Hampshire shows a settlement that will allow sealed documents filed by GT’s chief operating officer and Apple last week to be withdrawn and all copies destroyed.

Apple hasn’t commented beyond saying it was surprised by the bankruptcy filings and was working to retain jobs at the plant.

GT is shutting down a new sapphire plant in Mesa and laying off 724 workers.

Apple advanced GT $429 million to outfit the plant under a contract announced last November.

insurance

Lovitt & Touché Rebrands After 100 Years in Arizona

Lovitt & Touché, an Arizona-based insurance brokerage and benefits solutions provider, announced today a rebranding of the agency that emphasizes its local roots and commitment to the community.

“Business Focused, Community Minded” will now serve as the slogan, which Chief Operating Officer Charlie Touché says speaks to the heart of the company’s history and values. “We have roots that reach back more than a century in Arizona, and we have become fixtures in the Phoenix and Tucson communities. Despite our growth, however, we have always considered our business to be family-run and community-focused. We pride ourselves on these traits, and we want to be known for them.”

Founded in 1911, Lovitt & Touché is one of the largest insurance agencies in the United States with nearly 200 employees and more than $300 million in total annual premiums. It offers comprehensive employee benefits solutions, property and casualty insurance, bonds and surety, specialty insurance and risk solutions for businesses along with personal insurance for key individuals of those companies. It has offices in Tempe, Tucson and Las Vegas, and primarily serves businesses and individuals in Arizona and throughout the Southwest.

Lovitt & Touché is a major contributor to community causes and initiatives statewide, donating hundreds of thousands to local charities annually.

“Arizona is our home, and we are committed to making it a better place for our team, our clients and our neighbors. The next phase of our branding efforts will better reflect this,” said Dave Wilder, executive vice president of Lovitt & Touché.

Along with the slogan, Lovitt & Touché is set to launch an updated logo and advertising campaign with a fresh and modern look. They will be officially unveiled at a rebrand launch party on Oct. 23, held at US Airways Center from 4 to 7 p.m.

To learn more about Lovitt & Touché, visit www.lovitt-touche.com.

A Guide to Applying for a Bank Loan

BMO Private Bank Boosts AZ Senior Staff

BMO Private Bank announced new senior staff additions and promotions at the wealth management firm’s Arizona offices, which serve high-net-worth individuals, family-owned businesses, endowments and foundations throughout the Western United States.

• Ashley Ober is now serving as managing director of the greater Phoenix market, overseeing strategic development and delivery of wealth management services provided by a team of financial professionals. He was previously the firm’s regional director of private banking.
• Paul Tees was hired as the Tucson managing director. He will be responsible for the overall growth and management of the Private Bank for all of Southern Arizona, with a team of bankers reporting to him.
• Jason Miller, CFP®, was promoted to market manager for Greater Phoenix. In addition to his responsibilities as Director, Financial Planning – Western U.S., he will now have management responsibilities for the Arizona team of financial planners.
• Lindsey Jackson, an estate planning attorney, joined the firm as senior trust administrator. She will oversee trust administration for high-net-worth clientele.
• Tony Tanner was hired as a senior client advisor. This newly created position is designed to assist clients who have more complex financial planning and advising needs.
• Craig Shelley has been hired as a wealth advisor. He will serve as an advisor to high-net-worth individuals, families and organizations, including closely-held and family-owned business, endowments and foundations. He will assemble the appropriate team of professionals to provide a full range of wealth services as part of an overall personal wealth management strategy.

“The caliber of our team is second to none,” said BMO Private Bank Western U.S. President Matt Miller. “As we continue to expand our presence in the U.S., we are adding top-notch professionals who are truly committed to our clients and possess the skills necessary to help high-net-worth individuals and families navigate complex financial decisions to achieve their goals.”

New business in the Western U.S. region has increased significantly over the past year. To further support the influx, Miller says BMO Private Bank is increasing staffing to focus on positions that enhance the client experience.

For more information about services and operations, visit www.bmoprivatebank.com.

From left: Steve Atlas, Alice Atlas, Cox President Pat Esser, Allison Atlas and Jenna Atlas. The Atlas family is the first to sign up for the company’s coming gigabit Internet service.

Valley’s 1st Gigabit Internet home revealed

Cox Communications senior executives visited the first Arizona home to sign up for gigabit Internet service. Cox Communications President Pat Esser, Cox Communications Senior Vice President and Southwest Region Manager John Wolfe and Cox Enterprises (parent company of Cox Communications) CEO John Dyer met the Atlas family and thanked them for signing up for Cox’s new gigabit Internet, the first single family home in the state to embrace the nation’s fastest speed.

We’ve committed to rolling out gigabit speeds in all our markets as a broadband choice for all customers. The Atlas family is the first of many homes to embrace this ultra-fast Internet and the ‘Gig Life’ it brings,” said Pat Esser, president, Cox Communications. “Our pace of investment and innovation will only increase to continue to help business and residential customers connect to the things they care about most.”

Later this month, Cox Communications will activate its new ultra-fast gigabit Internet (100 times faster than the average speed today), known as G1GABLASTSM, to the first single family homes in Arizona, part of its plan to provide gigabit speed options to all its customers nationwide. The Atlas family was the first to sign up for the ultra-fast broadband service and will begin enjoying the new speeds by the end of October.

Cox has been delivering gigabit speeds to business customers for more than 10 years. In April this year, the company announced plans to deliver gigabit Internet speeds to all residential customers, starting with new residential developments this year. In Phoenix, Las Vegas and Omaha, Cox will also begin to deploy gigabit service to existing neighborhoods, starting with Phoenix in October.

In all Cox locations, the company will begin market deployment of gigabit speeds by end of 2016 to give more customers the choice of the ultra-fast service.

G1GABLAST from Cox – offering speeds as fast as 1,000 megabits per second – will deliver more speed, a powerful home network and rich broadband enabled services to customers. The service also includes the latest high-speed Wi-Fi router, one terabyte of cloud storage, Cox Security Suite and Family Protection and 10 email boxes each with 15 gigabytes of storage. G1GABLAST is available in the Phoenix market for $69.99 per month when combined with Cox’s most popular service bundles.

Cox has consistently and aggressively increased broadband speeds for years – 1000% over the last 13 years alone – boosted by network investments of $15 billion in the last decade. This year the company has doubled speeds in its most popular tiers (25 Mbps increasing to 50 Mbps; 50 Mbps increasing to 100 Mbps).

same sex

Marriage Equality Coming to Arizona

Today U.S. District Court Judge John Sedwick ruled against Arizona’s constitutional amendment banning marriage equality, making Arizona the latest state to see such a ban struck down in court since the U.S. Supreme Court handed down its historic marriage rulings last June.

“This is a wonderful day for Arizona,” said Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton. “Today’s ruling confirms what we have known for so long: that same-sex couples have a right to equal protection under the law.  This did not happen on its own — many people across our country have worked tirelessly to demand justice for all, and we owe a debt of gratitude to those in Arizona who have fought to overturn Arizona’s ban.  Now that a federal court has ruled Arizona’s ban unconstitutional, there is no justifiable reason for the state Attorney General and county clerks to delay issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples who want to marry.”

In Connolly v. Jeanes, brought by private counsel, and Majors v. Horne, brought by Lambda Legal, on behalf of same-sex couples, Judge Sedwick rejected Arizona’s ban on marriage equality saying it violated the U.S. Constitution. Judge Sedwick was nominated by President George H.W. Bush.

“Yet again, today’s court rulings affirm there is no justifiable reason to keep these discriminatory marriage bans on the books,” said Human Rights Campaign (HRC) Legal Director Sarah Warbelow. “Laws prohibiting same-sex couples from marrying serve no purpose other than to harm Americans who simply want to protect and provide for themselves and their families. Ultimately the U.S. Constitution does not allow states to continue discriminating against committed and loving gay and lesbian couples.”

Judge Sedwick declined to issue stays in the rulings pending appeal.

A full feature map on the current state of marriage equality can be found here.

On Monday, October 6th, the nine justices of the Supreme Court announced they had declined to hear any of the cases pending before them challenging state bans on marriage for same-sex couples.  This allowed the circuit court decisions striking down the bans to stand, meaning same-sex couples in Utah, Oklahoma, Virginia, Wisconsin and Indiana could legally marry.  In addition, it left in place the circuit court rulings striking down same-sex marriage bans from the Fourth, Seventh and Tenth Circuits.

On Tuesday, October 7th, a three-judge panel for the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit (which covers Arizona) unanimously ruled that state bans on marriage for same-sex couples are unconstitutional in Idaho and Nevada. That same day, the stay on the court ruling in Colorado was lifted, allowing same-sex marriage to proceed. On Thursday, October 9th, West Virginia’s Attorney General agreed to stop defending the state’s ban, bringing the total number of states with marriage equality to 28, plus Washington, DC.

On Friday, October 10th, a federal district judge ruled against North Carolina’s constitutional amendment banning marriage equality, and on Sunday, October 12th, a federal district judge ruled Alaska’s same-sex marriage ban as unconstitutional. The Ninth Circuit’s temporary stay of Alaska’s marriage equality decision is due to expire later today. These decisions bring the total number of states with marriage equality to 31, plus Washington, DC.

With today’s decision, same-sex couples are now able to marry in 31 states and Washington, DC, including: Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Carolina, New York, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin.

Gallup puts support for marriage equality at 55 percent – an astonishing 15 point increase from just 5 years ago – with other polls showing support at even higher margins.  And support for same-sex marriage rights continues to grow in virtually every demographic group.  According to ABC News / Washington Post, 77 percent of adults under age 30 favor marriage equality.  40 percent of Republicans – an all-time high and jump of 16 points in under two years – now support marriage for gay and lesbian couples, while the number of Catholics supporting marriage has grown to 62 percent,according to the New York Times.  These numbers continue to grow, with no indication that support will slow down.