Tag Archives: arizona

umb

UMB Bank opens Biltmore location

In the back of a large, architecturally beautiful, glass building on Camelback and 28th Street resides the newest bank to the Biltmore area, UMB Bank.

UMB Bank, a previous resident to the Biltmore area, has returned and brought with them hopes of improving their community.

“We want to become focused and help the community. Most of our team is involved in the community in one way or another, because we want to help Arizona grow,” said President of Arizona Region Robert Faver. “We are operating on what we call TUCE, and that stands for ‘the unparalleled customer experience’.”

After years of asking, customer’s requests have been fulfilled and UMB Bank is “proud to be a part of the prestigious financial district of the Camelback Corridor,” said Branden Zavala, transaction specialist II for the newly added branch.

“Our clientele here is great, we serve and target a lot of people here in this specific area, and so it’s a perfect location,” he said.

Vice President and Financial Center Manager Casey Seeger agreed with Zavala and added that while the Scottsdale community is important, they want to focus on the entire state.

“We didn’t, and don’t, want to be viewed as the Scottsdale bank,” she said. “We want to be an Arizona institution. So being at the center of the financial district really falls into our strategy.”

UMB Bank, while not excluding personal banking, focuses most on commercial and private wealth banking, said Faver.

“Our focus is to help commercial businesses. We want to help businesses grow and we want to grow with them,” he said.

Faver said the size of UMB and the service they provide is what makes them special.

“We have the backing of a large institution providing us the ability to handle large transactions, however we provide service from a community level.”

Both Zavala and Seeger agree with Faver on what makes their bank different than others, as well as holding their own beliefs.

Seeger points the finger of success at their provided customer experience and established history.

“Our company stands for a tradition of character and integrity. We are a 102-year-old bank and we have been able to sustain successfully for that long. We maintained when many in our industry did not, and that is a lot to be proud of,” she said. “We don’t have a bank on every corner so our business really is relationship based. Unlike big-box banks we are deeply rooted in the community because we want to serve the people and resident.”

Zavala, while discussing the banks uniqueness quoted UMB’s CEO, “We are the bank you used to have.”

He explains this quote by describing their principle to not make any empty promises.

“Let’s say you walked into another bank to sign up and they promise you all these things, like no fees and waived this and that, but when the problem actually arises, they throw policy at you. We don’t do that. We actually do what everyone else promises they can do,” he said. “UMB provides a commitment to a higher level of service and a truly unparalleled customer and employee experience. I know it sounds like a cliché, but it really is the heartbeat that we run off.”

technology

Cox Business wins technology leadership award

Cox Business recently won the Best Application of the Year from the Metro Ethernet Forum, a global alliance comprising more than 220 organizations including telecommunications service providers, cable companies and others for the company’s Mesa (AZ) Public School District implementation.

Ethernet is the preferred data networking technology among businesses and non-profit organizations that require efficient, reliable and secure routing of information.

The award, announced at the MEF Gen14 conference recognized the Mesa Public Schools’ recent Ethernet network implementation – a move necessary to support the school district’s real-time applications such as VoIP and video, as well as provide a technology platform on which to build education-enhancing applications.

Mesa Public Schools, Arizona’s largest district, includes approximately 80 schools ranging from Pre-K to 12th grades and nearly 64,000 students. The district has future plans to supply each student with a handheld device, enabling them to access assignments, communicate with teachers and receive a more personalized learning experience. In addition, the district needed a new technology infrastructure to address “bring your own device” demands for a trial program at selected high schools.

“Being able to execute these goals required a significant upgrade to our existing infrastructure and the need for faster speeds, manageable bandwidth and a scalable solution beyond what we had in place,” said David Sanders, Director of Information Systems for Mesa Public Schools. “With Cox Business’ Ethernet solution we have greater technology capabilities and our district has saved more than $1 million, which means more of our funds can go to back to supporting and growing other student programs.”

Another benefit was the fast implementation time – something Cox Business was able to accomplish in less than four months. This, in turn, meant Mesa Public Schools could focus on necessary software upgrades and deploy 3,600 laptops to its teachers.

Mesa’s middle and elementary schools’ remote locations, (including material distribution centers and non-educational facilities), are serviced by a 1 gigabit  Ethernet access ring with a UNI utilizing a 1000Base-SX port. Six high school locations are serviced by a 10 gigabit access ring. The administration building, which houses the district’s application servers, has a 20 gigabit handoff and diverse fiber paths for maximum resiliency.

“Cox Business takes the extra steps necessary to ensure we exceed customers’ expectations,” said Senior Vice President of Cox Business Steve Rowley. “More Mesa Public School District students now have the critical technology they need to excel at their fingertips, while teachers have the technological support and tools to improve collaboration and better engage with students.”

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Arizona is the 5th least charitable state, study says

America is obsessed with being No. 1. It dominates in military power, economic prosperity, high technology, even movie blockbusters. Recently, its glorious résumé was freshened up with yet another impressive credential: The world’s most benevolent country of 2014, a title it shares with Myanmar.

With 30 percent of annual giving taking place in December, the leading personal finance social network WalletHub conducted an in-depth analysis of 2014’s Most & Least Charitable States. Unfortunately, Arizona ranked No. 46 out of the 50 states. Utah was ranked as the most charitable state.

Here is how Arizona ranked among states in generosity:

40th – Volunteer Rate
23rd – Percentage of Donated Income
46th – Percentage of Population Who Claim to Have Donated Time
35th – Percentage of Population Who Claim to Have Donated Money
19th – Percentage of Taxpayers Who Donated to Charity
29th – Median Contribution to Charity
47th – Number of Charities per Capita

As the Charities Aid Foundation reported in this year’s World Giving Index, the U.S. was the only nation to rank in the top 10 for each of the three charitable giving behaviors that are measured. It leads in “helping strangers,” jointly ranks fifth with three other countries in “volunteering time” and places ninth in “donating money.”

Just how generous are Americans? According to the National Philanthropic Trust, 95.4 percent of households donate to charities, with each contributing an annual average of $2,974. In 2013 alone, Americans gave more than $335 billion, 72 percent of which came directly from individuals. Of course, being charitable isn’t all about donating money to the needy. Earlier this year, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that nearly 63 million people volunteered with an organization at least once between September 2012 and September 2013.

In the spirit of inspiring more Americans to increase their charitable giving this holiday season, WalletHub aimed the spotlight at the most generous of the 50 states. It analyzed a total of eight key metrics, among which are volunteer rate, the percentage of the population who donated time and money, and the median contribution to charity. The finding can be seen here.

Jackie.robinson

Lovitt & Touché hires Robinson as sales executive

Lovitt & Touché, an Arizona-based insurance brokerage and benefits solutions provider, has hired Jackie Robinson as a sales executive specializing in property/casualty risks and employee benefits within the human services and healthcare industries. She is based at the company’s Tempe office.

Robinson has more than 16 years of experience in the insurance industry, most recently serving as a sales executive in the senior healthcare industry. She has also worked for a global insurance provider in numerous roles, including risk management, claims, customer service and account management.

Robinson is licensed to sell Arizona property and casualty insurance, and Arizona life and health insurance. She is a member of the Arizona Assisted Living Federation of America, Smile On Seniors and the Phoenix Black Chamber of Commerce.

To learn more about Lovitt & Touché benefits and insurance options, visit www.lovitt-touche.com.

Deloitte Report Reveals Mid-Market Companies Expect U.S. Economic Growth

Experts: 2 more years until full economic recovery in Arizona

We can expect our economic recovery to take about another two years in Arizona. That’s what experts said today at the 51st annual Economic Forecast Luncheon co-sponsored by Arizona State University’s W. P. Carey School of Business and JPMorgan Chase.

About 750 people attended the event at the Phoenix Convention Center. Key experts delivered a comprehensive overview of what’s happening in the state and national economies, as well as the stock market and housing market. One main message was that Arizona is now growing at a faster rate than the nation, but we still have some distance to go.

“As of May, the United States finished gaining back 100 percent of its jobs lost in the recession, but in Arizona alone, we’re only 69 percent of the way there,” explained Research Professor Lee McPheters, director of the JPMorgan Chase Economic Outlook Center at the W. P. Carey School of Business. “We expect to regain that last 96,400 jobs in the next year and a half.”

So far this year, Arizona has experienced 2-percent job growth, while our state’s 30-year average is a much higher 4.2 percent. Still, this rate was good enough to rank Arizona as the No. 12 state for job growth as of October. Arizona ranked No. 13 in personal-income growth by midyear. McPheters believes the state will speed up from here.

Among his Arizona predictions for 2015:
• Employment growth could rise from an expected 2.2 percent this year to 2.5 percent next year.
• Personal-income growth could jump from 4 percent this year to 4.5 percent in 2015.
• Population growth could go up from 1.4 percent in 2014 to 1.5 percent next year.

McPheters added Arizona is doing particularly well in creating jobs in finance/insurance and health care. The state is lagging in manufacturing and construction. Arizona unemployment has dropped from 7.8 percent last year to 6.8 percent this year. However, we continue to recover much more slowly than from past economic downturns, and we continue to face risks from ineffective growth policies at the national level.

John Lonski, chief capital markets economist of Moody’s Analytics, addressed the national economy by saying that we can expect more subpar growth in 2015.

“We expect U.S. real GDP (gross domestic product) growth to rise from an expected 2.2 percent this year to about 2.8 percent next year,” said Lonski. “We also anticipate the national unemployment rate may drop from 5.8 percent this October to 5.4 percent by the end of 2015.”

In addition, Lonski predicts U.S. wage and salary income should grow by about 4.5 percent next year. He believes industrial capacity will be more fully utilized. He said the housing collapse, tightening of fiscal policy, and insufficient new product development have been contributing to America’s economic struggle. However, he expects the next major wave of technological innovation to supply stronger-than-expected growth, whether it’s self-driving autos or robotics.

“We’re also experiencing some big changes because of a population shift,” Lonski added. “Only about 1.5 percent of the jobs added post-recession have gone to those ages 16 to 54, while those ages 55 and older gained 20.9 percent. This shift has prompted less spending and more saving, especially by those closer to retirement.”

Lonski also expects the budget deficit to go up, after bottoming out at 2.6 percent of GDP in 2015. That’s because of increased spending on retiring baby boomers, as well as the still-unknown costs of the Affordable Care Act. Decreased defense spending should moderate some of the increases.

James Glassman, managing director and senior economist for JPMorgan Chase & Co., covered the financial markets. He said that, despite the recent rise in stock prices, they are still fairly valued. He added household net worth is back in record territory.

“Credit conditions are improving, and rising vehicle sales prove it,” said Glassman. “Also, we’re seeing some improvements in the housing industry, since builders addressed their previous speculative overbuilding by underbuilding in recent years. Rising home prices are helping to drain the number of ‘underwater’ mortgages.”

Glassman notes the energy sector is also humming along. He expects interest rates to go up next year as the economy continues to improve.

Elliott D. Pollack, chief executive officer of Scottsdale-based economic consulting firm Elliott D. Pollack and Company, covered the Arizona housing market. He repeated that the state has recently experienced a significant slowdown in population flows and only a modest recovery from the sharp downturn in our housing market.

Pollack said there are a few positives, such as slow acceleration of the local economy, decent home affordability, low mortgage rates, a slight loosening of lending standards, and the movement of many all-cash investors to other bargain areas of the country. These factors create more opportunity for local buyers who need financing.

“However, we still see several negatives that outweigh those positives, including relatively sluggish employment growth, fewer people moving, millennials delaying home purchases, many people still waiting out their required seven years in the credit ‘penalty box’ after foreclosures, and overall difficulty in getting home loans,” explained Pollack. “Full recovery is still years away.”

Pollack said more people who have been renting may jump back into the housing market over the next several years as conditions improve. Meantime, apartment construction is up. Pollack believes the Valley won’t see any significant office construction – except in select submarkets like Tempe – until at least 2017.

More details and analysis from the event, including the presentation slides, are available from the business school’s “Research and Ideas” website at research.wpcarey.asu.edu.

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.

ED ZITO: “We feel like we are all owners,” said the president of Alliance Bank of Arizona. “We like to preach to our newest members of the team, ‘run it like you own it.’ If you have than mentality from the get-go, that is the hallmark that has made us the largest headquartered bank in Arizona.” Photo by Shavon Rose, AZ Big Media

Alliance Bank boosts Valley development, bottom line

Ed Zito began his financial career with the United States Treasure Department. As president of Alliance Bank of Arizona, a subsidiary of Western Alliance Bancorporation, Zito helped the financial institution cross the $10 billion mark in June, obtain a $2 billion market cap for its stock and grow into the 67th-largest publicly traded bank-holding company in the country. Az Business sat down with Zito after Alliance celebrated record earnings in the second quarter to talk about the state of the banking industry.

Az Business: What is Alliance doing right?
Ed Zito: We had a record second quarter and we are very proud of that. We are just a commercial bank, so we focus on commercial business lending, commercial real estate, public finance and nonprofit organizations. As the largest headquartered bank in Arizona, we work very hard pitch local first, buy local and bank local. It’s a lot more blood, sweat and tears since the marketplace is much more competitive now, but we’re hitting on just about all eight cylinders. We’ve had great deposit growth, which in turn funds our loan growth, which has been strong, albeit competitive.

AB: What sectors are driving your loan growth?
EZ: Everybody knows the Great Recession is over. The economy may not have recovered as strongly as everyone had liked, so there is some owner fatigue out there that is driving some merger and acquisition activity. Virtually all asset types or product types and our commercial real estate sector are all very strong. RED Development is one of our biggest clients and we are fortunate to be financing their Town & Country Shopping Center overhaul. Two other notable projects we are working on is we are financing Building 3 at SkySong and we are financing the acquisition of MetroCenter by the Carlisle Group out of New York City. We feel that economic development is truly within our DNA, so the kinds of projects we are seeing in our commercial real estate area fit within our organization’s makeup.

AB: Both of those projects are revitalizing neighborhoods. How important is that to Alliance?
EZ: That is huge. Western Alliance has more than $10 billion in total assets. We see the importance or reinvesting the deposit dollars we take it back into our local communities to spur job growth, re-employment and economic development. A multitude of our executive team are involved in organizations across the state promoting economic growth and development. We look at it as investing forward, as opposed to giving back. We feel very strongly in taking a leadership role in economic development because that underscores our role as the largest headquartered bank in Arizona, but we also feel that it’s just the right thing to do.

AB: How has the commercial real estate space changed over the last four years?
EZ: It’s dramatically different. Everybody who was in commercial real estate back in 2007 got a cold shower in 2008 and 2009. We saw dramatic unemployment, basically no construction and negative absorption. Slowly, but surely, that’s coming back. The beauty of the difference now is that it was a fairly narrow commercial real estate environment before the Recession. The environment now is much more broad based. It’s underscoring the point that everyone’s economic development efforts are starting to pay off because we have a much more diversified economy. So we are seeing a lot of activity in hospitality, healthcare, education, industrial development, land acquisition for future homebuilding and construction, and multi-family.

AB: Does your record quarter signify anything regarding the economic recovery?
EZ: The banking industry in general has enjoyed the better part of three years of gradual recovery. Banking profitability is nearly at an all-time high. Bank capital is setting record level almost on a quarter-by-quarter basis because profitability is good and earnings are being retained. Fundamentally, the cooperation with the regulatory community in building a more stable and sustainable banking environment has been successful. I do think we are seeing banks marching to the beat of the regulatory drum, but also realizing that the capital base that is needed given the risks and challenges that we face daily are important to be sound, stable, prudent, enabling, but also mindful of the risks that are involved. So there is a good balance being struck right now and the earnings are reflective of that.

AB: Will the increase in the use of mobile banking mean the end for brick-and-mortar banks?
EZ: Not really. As a commercial bank, it’s important to be close to our customers. I have a saying: When someone asks, “Where is your office?” I answer, “Wherever my customer or prospect needs it to be.” We just opened a new office at Loop 101 and Ray Road to serve the rapidly growing Southeast Valley and we are hoping to purchase a piece of land in Gilbert to build more offices. We are trying to go where the business community is growing. We already have a number of offices in Phoenix and Tucson and we will always go where our customers need us.

AB: What are your goals for Alliance over the next five years?
EZ: We are a growth-oriented and goal-oriented organization. Alliance Bank of Arizona opened in 2003 and will celebrate our 12th anniversary in February. Western Alliance, currently a $10 billion bank, will likely grow into a $15 billion or $20 billion bank over the next five years because of organic growth and acquisitions.

liquor

Battle brews for Arizona microbreweries

Some of Arizona’s most successful microbreweries are brewing for a legislative battle to hang onto their business. Four Peaks and San Tan brewing companies are in danger of losing their restaurants that aren’t attached to brewing operations once they surpass a production cap, the Arizona Capitol Times reported. Both companies have been close to going above the state-mandated limit of 40,000 barrels per year. Once they pass that, the microbreweries would be considered beer producers and would not be able to run their stand-alone eateries. Four Peaks has four bar and restaurant locations but two of them do not actually brew beer. “Are they willing to close two restaurants and put 200 people out of work?” Four Peaks co-founder Andy Ingram said. The company, which began in 1996 out of a Tempe warehouse, relies on the restaurants as well as beer for its success, according to Ingram. San Tan Brewing only has one bar and restaurant but is close to the production limit. Microbrewers plan to propose a bill in next year’s legislative session that they say would be a compromise. The current 40,000 barrel limit would stay intact but microbreweries turned producers would be able to have seven microbrewery operations. Some beer distribution companies are behind the idea but not those who distribute wine and spirits. The Arizona Wine and Spirits Wholesale Association said it will draft a bill limiting the number of microbrewery licenses for a producer. In addition, any microbrewer that crosses the 40,000 barrel threshold couldn’t maintain non-brewery restaurants. Don Isaacson, an association spokesman, said these growing microbreweries cannot have the benefits of being both a restaurant and a brewing business. “What they want to do is take some of the special rights that are there for microbreweries with them to the producer level. When they cross the line, they have to shed the other rights,” Isaacson said.

A Guide to Applying for a Bank Loan

Wells Fargo No. 1 SBA lender for Arizona

Wells Fargo & Company announced it is the No. 1 Small Business Administration (SBA) 7 (a) lender in Arizona in amount of dollars and number of loans  approved for fiscal year 2014.  Wells Fargo approved $89,034,400 and 197 loans to Arizona businesses from Oct. 1, 2013 and Sept. 30, 2014.

“Working with small business owners is one of the most important things we do and is a key focus for our company,” said Greg DeJesus, SBA regional sales manager for Wells Fargo Arizona.  “Every SBA dollar we lend helps an Arizona business owner start, expand or invest in a business and helps keep the Arizona economy strong.  We believe that the flow of new loan dollars into our communities represents a very powerful statement for job creation and economic development.”

Nationally, Wells Fargo approved a record $1.6 billion in Small Business Administration (SBA) 7(a) loans in federal fiscal year 2014 (Oct. 1, 2013 – Sept. 30, 2014).  The company increased its dollar volume of SBA 7(a) loans by 10 percent from a year ago. An SBA preferred lender in all 50 states, Wells Fargo also is the second largest SBA lender by units, extending 4,036 SBA 7(a) loans in federal fiscal year 2014, a 16 percent increase in units from the prior year.

Wells Fargo is the No. 1 SBA 7(a) lender in dollars in 10 states: Arizona, California, Colorado, Minnesota, North Dakota, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, South Carolina and Texas  – and the No.1 SBA 7(a) lender in number of loans (units) in 8 states: Alaska, Arizona, California, Georgia, North Carolina, New Mexico, South Carolina and Virginia.

star.wars

New ‘Star Wars’ trailer premieres at Tempe Marketplace

May the force be with you on November 28, when Harkins Tempe Marketplace 16 exclusively premieres Disney’s new 88-second teaser trailer for “‘Star Wars: The Force Awakens.”

Be among the first to see the highly anticipated trailer as Harkins Tempe Marketplace is the only theatre in Arizona, and one of 30 theatres nationwide, to debut this exclusive trailer. The trailer will run before every movie playing at Harkins Tempe Marketplace.

WHERE: Harkins Tempe Marketplace 16, 2000 E. Rio Salado Parkway, Tempe, AZ 85281

WHEN: Beginning Friday, November 28, 2014 (Black Friday)

BLACK FRIDAY DEAL: Be sure to take advantage of Harkins Theatres’ Black Friday deal! Print a special voucher from www.harkinstheatres.com and redeem it between noon and 6:00 p.m. on Friday, November 28. The voucher is good for one FREE Harkins 2015 Loyalty Cup with the purchase of a $25 Harkins 2015 Loyalty T-shirt.

football

NB|AZ partners with Super Bowl Host Committee

The Arizona Super Bowl Host Committee announces a new partnership with National Bank of Arizona (NB|AZ). The partnership is a fully integrated program providing Official Sponsor designation, a custom media plan with traditional, digital and social elements, business development assets, as well as Presenting Partner status of the CEO Forum.

The recently announced CEO Forum is designed to directly foster Arizona economic growth, which correlates to the business and community goals of NB|AZ. The program leverages Super Bowl XLIX to host more than 50 business leaders from around the world and introduce them to the pro-business environment to encourage them to move or expand business operations in Arizona for a lasting economic impact.

“NB|AZ has a long tradition of supporting and leading economic development efforts across our state,” said CEO Keith Maio. “This partnership provides us with a platform to do what we do best, bring people together to talk about the great opportunities that exist in Arizona to grow business.”

The CEO Forum is unique to the Arizona Super Bowl Host Committee and started in 2008, which resulted in more than 1,000 jobs and over $400 million invested in the state.

“There has been tremendous interest and support in the CEO Forum by Arizona-based companies and CEOs. They see the value and recognize that hosting Super Bowl XLIX is about much more than football,” stated David Rousseau, chairman of the Arizona Super Bowl Host Committee. “As an Arizona-based company with storied leadership and community support, NB|AZ is a natural fit to support programs that accelerate economic development.”

NB|AZ is also a founding sponsor of the Arizona Leadership Forum. This year, Michael Bidwill, president of the Arizona Cardinals and Host Committee board member, along with Jay Parry, president and CEO of the Arizona Super Bowl Host Committee, spoke at the 2014 Arizona Leadership Forum regarding the overall economic impact of hosting Super Bowl XLIX and the 2015 Pro Bowl.

vaping

E-cigarette tax could generate $6M a year for Arizona

The Arizona Legislature’s budget analysts say a tax on electronic cigarettes could bring $6 million a year in new revenue into the state’s coffers.

The analysis released by the Joint Legislative Budget Committee bases that figure on taxing the nicotine vapor smokes at the same ratio as the current $2 per pack tax on regular cigarettes.

The analysts say the number could be as low as $284,000 a year or as high as $13.5 million a year if the Legislature adopts other rates.

Some lawmakers looking for ways to close a budget deficit estimated at $1 billion are floating a plan to tax the new products. But the proposal also faces opposition from lawmakers who believe a tax could discourage people from using e-cigarettes to quit smoking regular tobacco.

wildfire

How Arizona wildfires impact water supply, economy

Arizona is home to the largest contiguous ponderosa pine forest in North America, with a single stand stretching from near Flagstaff all the way to the White Mountains of the east.

And in the last 10 years, 25 percent of it burned, said Patrick Graham, Arizona state director for the Nature Conservancy.

Fire suppression and subsequent cleanup costs have risen far beyond estimated prevention costs, according to studies by the Nature Conservancy, Sierra Nevada Conservancy, the U.S. Forest Service and the Ecological Restoration Institute (ERI) at Northern Arizona University (NAU), among others.

The tourism industry in Arizona, an estimated 20 percent of the state’s economy, is largely dependent on the health of forested lands and other wildlife preserves, a 2007 report by the Governor’s Health Oversight Council stated.

But “wildfires affect the entire state — not just the north,” said Eric Marcus, executive director at the Northern Arizona Sustainable Economic Development Initiative.

A full-cost economic analysis of the 2010 Schultz fire outside of Flagstaff by the ERI revealed the deeper effect of forest fires. More than 15,000 acres of forest were burned, causing an estimated $147 million in economic damage, the report found. An investment of only $15 million could have prevented this catastrophe, said Marcus.

Fire and water

But most of the damage from these wildfires occurs after the fire has been extinguished.

When major wildfires remove the trees and grasses necessary for holding soil in place, a once standard rainstorm can now cause dangerous floods and massive erosion, filling up the reservoirs and ultimately decreasing the carrying capacity of our water supply, said Bruce Hallin, director of water rights and contracts with the Salt River Project.

“These catastrophic wildfires go in and the fire burns so hot that it burns everything,” said Hallin. “It turns it into this wasteland.”

But nothing can hold back sediment from flowing directly into the water supply if a fire were to ignite downstream from the reservoirs, such as the Sunflower fire in 2012. If ash-laden water were to be delivered to processing plants, treatment costs would increase dramatically, thus increasing the price of the water, said Marcus.

The 2002 Hayman fire in Colorado deposited more than 1 million cubic yards of sediment into Denver’s primary drinking water supply. To this day, cleanup is still underway to restore Strontia Springs Reservoir, with costs exceeding $150 million.

“Ultimately, through forest thinning, we don’t want to get to that point,” said Hallin.
One century ago, Arizona’s northern forests were more akin to open grasslands interspersed with towering ponderosas. Ignited by lightning, the grass beneath the trees would carry a smoldering fire along the ground, burning the young trees while only charring the thick bark of the older, more established ponderosas.

Need for thinning

But Arizona’s northern forests have “all departed from the way they were historically,” said Diane Vosick, director of policy and partnerships at ERI.

When grazing came through in the late 1800s and removed all of the grass, fires could no longer move through the forest naturally. Bare soil — which resulted from result over-grazing — allowed the pines to germinate seeds more easily. However, when fires did ignite, the U.S. Forest Service fire policy at the time required any and all fires to be extinguished. This fire policy went unchanged until 1995, allowing millions of young ponderosas and other vegetation to crowd the once-thin forest.

A study conducted by ERI Director Wally Covington found that historically, Arizona’s ponderosa forests contained roughly 25 trees per acre. But now, one acre of forest can contain more than a thousand trees.

“You’ve basically got a big wood pile out there waiting to burn,” said Vosick.

SRP, the water supplier for more than half of Phoenix and nearly all of Tempe, manages eight reservoirs deep within Arizona’s northern region.

“That’s the goal,” said Vosick. “You want fire to do its natural role and to help manage the forests.”

The Four Forest Restoration Initiative, or 4FRI, is a collaborative effort comprised of residents, industry, and the government to restore the Coconino, Kaibab, Apache-Sitgreaves and Tonto national forests through thinning and prescribed burning.

Vosick said that 4FRI hopes to have thinned at least 1 million acres of forested land within 20 years.

However, almost no thinning has taken place in nearly five years since the initiative began.

Seeking a solution

“Forest lands have been managed for the last 20 years through litigation and attorneys, not projects,” said Hallin. Because of these legal barriers, Northern Arizona’s timber industry has all but vanished. So even the lands that have been approved for thinning cannot receive the treatment prescribed because there is no longer any industry to do the work, he said.

“You can make money with big old trees, but we don’t want those trees taken out of the forest,” said Marcus. Private enterprise doesn’t want to invest because no money can be made from the small diameter trees, he said.

The only way to thin the forests in a timely manner is through convincing industry that their investment will not be inhibited by litigation because the federal government can’t do it by itself, Hallin said. “The fact of the matter is, without a successful forest products industry, that entire forest is going to burn.”

SRP, in conjunction with the National Forest Foundation, has created the Northern Arizona Forest Fund, enabling individuals and businesses to invest in restoring the lands that provide them water.

“We don’t need to do more research to know what our problem is; we need to generate public interest in fixing things,” said Marcus.

“You can pay me now, or you can pay me later. But if you pay me now, you pay me a fraction of what you’re going to pay me later and have nowhere near the devastating effects that you’re going to have down the road.”

Promoting Smart Growth in Down Economy

Super Bowl Host Committee announces CEO Forum

Today the Arizona Super Bowl Host Committee formally announces the CEO Forum, a cornerstone program that will directly foster Arizona economic growth. The CEO Forum will welcome more than fifty (50) business executives from around the world to participate in a premier policy discussion about opportunities and challenges that will shape our future communities and businesses. The program will take place the weekend of Super Bowl XLIX in Phoenix and highlight the unique opportunities and positive business climate in Arizona.

“We want to introduce corporate decision-makers to Arizona and show them what our state has to offer. Arizona is pro-business and there’s a great workforce here. Our goal is simple, to encourage participants to move or integrate business operations to Arizona,” said David Rousseau chairman of the Arizona Super Bowl Host Committee. “We want to plant the seeds during Super Bowl XLIX and see Arizona business grow in the future.”

Super Bowl XLIX will serve as a tremendous catalyst to boost the Arizona business environment. The game and surrounding events and activities are expected to draw more than 100,000 visitors, which will ideally foster future business relocations and expansions in Arizona as well as continuing strong tourism.

The Arizona Commerce Authority is leading Arizona’s various economic development organizations in a collaborative effort to identify a diverse group of companies to participate in the CEO Forum, from Fortune 500 corporations to emerging, high-growth businesses. The Host Committee has engaged with several presenting sponsors that are heavily invested in supporting Arizona growth to create a world-class program that capitalizes on the interest and prominence of the Super Bowl, including Apollo Education Group, First Solar, Inc. and National Bank of Arizona (NB|AZ).

A pillar of the CEO Forum will be the CEO Leadership Huddle, a multi-panel policy forum being conducted in partnership with The McCain Institute for International Leadership. The panels will focus on a range of topics with the common theme of global leadership and will be highlighted by discussions between prominent business leaders, international politicians and philanthropic visionaries. In addition, the CEO Forum will include many opportunities for attending CEOs to engage with Host Committee sponsors, Arizona’s business leaders, elected officials and other advocates. Additional program and panel details will be announced in January 2015.

The CEO Forum is unique to the Arizona Super Bowl Host Committee and was started in 2008 with Super Bowl XLII. The program brought more than 20 CEOs to Arizona for Super Bowl weekend and resulted in more than 1,000 jobs and over $400 million invested in the state.

One of the participants in the 2008 CEO Forum was Dr. Patrick Soon-Shiong, who led a sizeable business investment in Arizona after participating in the program. Dr. Soon-Shiong recently joined the Arizona Super Bowl Host Committee Board of Directors and continues to be an advocate for investment in Arizona. He also will play a key role in the CEO Forum curriculum.

Blue Hound Kitchen & Cocktails' Prime Flat Iron Steak, served with whipped potatoes, crispy frites and a garlic cherry glaze.

Blue Hound’s new menu is a culinary masterpiece

Blue Hound Kitchen & Cocktails Executive Chef Sean Currid's Deviled Fried Oysters.

Blue Hound Kitchen & Cocktails Executive Chef Sean Currid’s Deviled Fried Oysters.

If you really want to give yourself a gift this holiday season, check out the new menu at Blue Hound Kitchen & Cocktails at Hotel Palomar Phoenix.

Newly appointed Executive Chef Sean Currid, who joined the restaurant in September, has created a new winter dinner menu and the results are a culinary masterpiece like you’ve never experienced.

Currid came to Blue Hound from Elements at Sanctuary Resort & Spa, where he served as executive catering chef. He has also worked at Michael’s at the Citadel, Mary Elaine’s at The Phoenician and Cafe ZuZu at The Hotel Valley Ho.

But Currid’s new winter menu at Blue Hound distinguishes him as perhaps the Valley’s best chef.

While Currid has kept some old favorites — charred pork belly sliders, Hickman’s Farm deviled eggs, short ribs — on the menu, he has added some new additions that should not be missed.

During a recent visit, these are the dishes we sampled that will keep us going back time after time:

• Currid’s Deviled Fried Oysters are served with grits, Meyer lemon and pickled shallots. They come in servings of two or four, but if they came by the gross, we’d have ordered a gross. That’s how incredible the dish tastes. The oysters are breaded are cooked to a perfect crisp. Currid’s decision to serve them over the best grits you will ever taste is a stroke of genius. This goes down as this writer’s favorite appetizer in all of Phoenix. No contest.
• Currid’s Prime Flat Iron Steak is served with whipped potatoes and crispy frites, but his garlic cherry glaze is what what took this dish from “Wow!” to “Holy cow!” because each bite was a religious experience. If you can imagine a piece of steak that is exquisitely cooked, with a cherry glaze that complements it so perfectly that it melts in your mouth like cotton candy, you might be able to imagine the deliciousness of Blue Hound’s Prime Flat Iron Steak.

Some of Currid’s personal favorites, and we cannot disagree, are:

• Hamachi: Ginger, pomegranate, pickled fresno peppers, extra virgin olive oil.
• Corvina Sea Bass: White beans, kale, clams, smoked bacon.
• Prime Flat Iron Steak: Whipped potatoes, crispy frites, garlic cherry glaze.
• Kale Salad: Pomegranate, pine nuts, shaved apple, parmesan.
Roasted Beet Salad: Medjool dates, arugula, clementine.

Do yourself a favor and check out Blue Hound’s new menu before the college football bowl crowds and Super Bowl crowds descend on the Valley and realize we have a dining diamond at Hotel Palomar Phoenix and make it more difficult to get a table.

And I didn’t even mention the Foodist Award-winning mixologists who create signature drinks that are out of the world and the S’more in a cup that was served as dessert.

Does it get any better than a S’more in a cup? Currid’s Deviled Fried Oysters might give it a run for its money.

Managing Receivables and Increasing Cash Flow

Beacon Pointe Wealth Advisors expands in Arizona

Beacon Pointe Wealth Advisors (BPWA), a comprehensive wealth advisory firm and national enterprise building partnership, recently welcomed four experienced advisors to its Scottsdale office.

Brian Coughlan, MBA, Landen Lunsway, CFP®, Chris Palermo, CFA, CFP® and Andrew Reinhardt, CFP® officially joined the BPWA Arizona team as Partners and Managing Directors on Friday. The new team, which has over 60 years of combined investment experience, serves approximately 400 client households and manages more than $500 million in assets.

Coughlan, Lunsway, Palermo and Reinhardt were previously affiliated with Capital Investment Counsel, a wealth management firm based in Denver, Colorado.

“We are elated to have Brian, Landen, Chris and Andy join our BPWA team,” said Bruce Meyer, Founding Partner and Managing Director of BPWA Arizona. “Each individual brings a caliber of service and expertise in tailored investment solutions and financial planning that directly aligns with our mission to provide our clients with superb service across the board. They are all thoughtful, thorough and diligent thinkers and their relationships with clients are built on trust and mutual respect. We are extremely excited about this new partnership and further elevating our office in Arizona.”

In addition to Meyer, the foursome will be working alongside advisors Matt Armistead, CFP®, CIMA®, Eric Newby and Andrew Saltzman, CFP® in the BPWA Arizona office.

“We are extremely pleased to be partnering with these four talented individuals,” said Matt Cooper, President of Beacon Pointe Advisor’s Private Client Group and head of BPWA. “With Brian, Landen, Chris and Andy, we are adding four senior advisors in the prime of their careers, who also happen to represent a significant block of business. This merger will not only more than double our advisor count in Scottsdale, but also set the foundation for that location to become a multi-billion dollar office.”

Coughlan has 16 years of investment experience with major banks and private money management firms. In addition to his expertise in customized portfolio management, investment recommendations and financial planning, he has also underwritten municipal bond issues throughout the United States, and is a visiting Professor of Finance in the Keller Graduate School of Management’s MBA program.

Lunsway brings over 14 years of experience in the financial industry to the team and has extensive knowledge of investments, insurance, tax, estate and retirement planning. He was a portfolio manager with Capital Investment Counsel and has also worked with large investment advisory clients at Charles Schwab Advisor Services.

Palermo has over 15 years of investment experience and specializes in portfolio management with an emphasis on financial, retirement, estate, tax and insurance planning. Prior to his time at Capital Investment Counsel, he managed assets for high-net-worth individuals, foundations and non-profit organizations at Northern Trust in Phoenix. Palermo also worked for Charles Schwab, where his various roles included asset management, derivative trading and conducting investment seminars.

Reinhardt has spent over 15 years facilitating growth and creating asset protection strategies for both high-net-worth individuals and families. He has specific expertise in the financial planning areas of retirement analysis, investment management, insurance, and tax and estate planning. In addition to his time at Capital Investment Counsel, Reinhardt served as an investment consultant with Charles Schwab and worked for Hackett Investment Advisors as a portfolio manager.

Ice skaters at Fairmont Princess

There is still time to book a memorable holiday party

It’s the most wonderful time of the year for a party. With the economic downturn slowly starting to appear in the rearview mirror, the office holiday party might be something that slipped your mind because it hasn’t been in the budget in years past. So if you still need to place to host your happening, here are a variety of options to create a memorable holiday event for employees.

Bar North at the Kierland Commons
With a gorgeous view of the main Kierland Commons courtyard, Bar North can host up to 60 guests reception style. The inside dining area is perfect for cocktail parties or lavish business dinners for up to 50 people.
How to book: 480-905-3278 or email asomers@foxrc.net

Blanco Tacos + Tequila at The Biltmore Fashion Park
Blanco’s private dining has the perfect spot for your fiesta. The private dining space is a hacienda style and comes complete with its own bar. Guest can mingle reception style up to 75, or sit down family style for up to 60 guests.
How to book: 480-905-3278 or email asomers@foxrc.net

The Clubhouse at Tonto Verde
The Clubhouse is just minutes from North Scottsdale and offers both indoor and outdoor event venues. Its experienced staff and culinary team will customize and handle every detail of your holiday party to assure that it is worry free.
How to book: 480-471-2582 or tontoverde.org

Dierks Bentley’s Whiskey Row
You will enjoy a one-of-a-kind, high-energy experience in our warm and inviting space. Guests are welcomed to savor Whiskey Row’s award-winning, made from scratch menu. Features also include: live bands and DJs, karaoke, liquor and beer tasting, personal beer taps, decorations, games and more.
How to book: 928-710-8985 or email tinapeterson@riothg.com

Fairmont Scottsdale Princess
With two 23,000 square-foot ballrooms, outdoor courtyards and three distinctive restaurants (Michael Mina’s Bourbon  Steak, La Hacienda by Richard Sandoval and the new Toro Latin Restaurant opening at the TPC Scottsdale) plus The Plaza Bar in the main plaza, there are endless possibilities for holiday parties, from intimate gatherings to grand galas.
How to book: 480-585-4848 or scottsdaleprincess.com

Grimaldi’s Pizzeria Old Town
With Frank Sinatra crooning in the background and the tantalizing aromas of over 100 years of pizza-making tradition in the air, Grimaldi’s combines classic pizzeria charm with a modern, stylish, loft-like atmosphere. Grimaldi’s is an excellent cost effective way to feed large parties and intimate gatherings, alike.
How to book: 480-874-8209 or email events@grimaldispizzeria.com

The Henry   
From the large private room with industrial touches, to a private kitchen that feels like the best home chef’s kitchen, The Henry is set to accommodate 10 to 100 guests. Like any seasoned host, The Henry offers reception menus or limited coursed menus of its tried and true favorites.
How to book: 480-751-2934 or email lbyke@foxrc.net

Hotel Valley Ho
Downtown Scottsdale’s historic icon offers fabulous fare for holiday parties and hip venues like the panoramic Sky Line Rooftop, high-tech SoHo Ballroom, and Sands, a private indoor-outdoor event space. Hotel Valley Ho has you covered, whether you’re hosting 50 guests or 500.
How to book: 480-248-2017 or hotelvalleyho.com

Kelly’s at SouthBridge
Located on Sixth Avenue in downtown Scottsdale, the 8,000-square-foot swanky pub offers traditional pub classics mixed with exceptional modern cuisine. Their private and semi-private dining spaces and patios offer a variety of options for any event. They can accommodate groups between 10 and 300 people.
How to book: 480-393-3205 or email events@kellysatsouthbridge

Kimpton’s Hotel Palomar Phoenix
Savor holiday fare and craft cocktails at this Downtown Phoenix boutique hotel. Choose from three different party packages to create a custom event including a holiday mixer, a festive buffet or the fare with flair package. Invite your guests to take the elevator home and spend the night while enjoying 20 percent off the best available rate when you book an event.
How to book: 480-478-1730 or email catering@hotelpalomar-phoenix.com

North in Arcadia
North has turned a modern lens on Italian cooking. Transport your guests to what feels like a charming Italian side street culinary gem with a patio event that seats up to 55, or can accommodate 70 guests reception style. The warm glow of the fireplace with set the mood and heaters will keep guests warm throughout the winter months.
How to book: 480-905-3278 or email asomers@foxrc.net

Octane Raceway
Octane Raceway offers the 45 mph Sodi-RTX karts, a Segway obstacle course, rock wall, video games and billiards. Octane also offers state of the art conference rooms with full A/V hookups, as well as a full kitchen and bar.
How to book: 602-302-7223

Olive & Ivy
At Olive & Ivy, discover an enticing selection of unexpected and familiar dishes in a rich, elegant, laid-back atmosphere. For special occasions or business meetings, the restaurant offers two private dining areas and beautiful patio space accommodating a varying number of guests.
How to book: 480-905-3273 or email nlasker@foxrc.net

The Phoenician
From grand ballrooms to intimate salons to a variety of signature dining venues, The Phoenician designs elegant holiday events for gatherings of all sizes.
How to book: 480-423-2722

Rawhide Western Town & Steakhouse
Rawhide Western Town promises to deliver up a true western experience with 14 unique venues within town to host your private events perfectly along with multiple Wild West attractions and shops. Features include live action stunt shows, stagecoach rides and mechanical bull rides.
How to book: 480-705-2946 or email toni.mennuti@rawhide.com

Rick Bronson’s House of Comedy
Forget about Ho! Ho! Ho! and say Ha! Ha! Ha! Join Rick Bronson’s House of Comedy and make this holiday the merriest yet. They can accommodate groups of 10-300 and do it all — drink, dine and laughs. They will even pick on the boss for you!
How to book: 480-420-3553 or email az@houseofcomedy.net

The Rocket
Let the party come to you. The Rocket, the food truck brought to you by North Italia, is a 700-degree wood burning pizza oven on wheels. It’s built to turn fresh ingredients and hand-stretched dough into a piping hot pizza pie in less than eight minutes. With five different signature pizzas, fresh salads, charcuterie and bruschetta, you can proudly cater a private party or corporate event for up to 300 people.
How to book: 480-751-2202  or email kmahoney@foxrc.net

Royal Palms Resort & Spa
For 12-18 people, the historic resort offers a variety of venues including the Delos room at T. Cook’s, The Study at The Mix Up Bar or the architecturally rich Vernadero boardroom overlooking the lawn and reflecting pool. The resort, built in 1929 as a private mansion, has cobblestone pathways, tucked-away courtyards with fountains and an enchanting atmosphere.
How to book: 602-808-3206 or email wstark@destinationhotels.com

SOL Mexican Cocina
Add a little Baja flavor to your holiday festivities. From sit-down, coursed meals to family style sharing or the more informal cocktail style party, SOL Mexican Cocina in Scottsdale Quarter can cater any holiday event to your needs. Available for private events are the patio and the private dining rooms.
How to book: 480-245-6708 or email scottsdaleevents@solcocina.com

Stand Up Live
The downtown Phoenix comedy club offers all-inclusive holiday packages to fit any budget that include show ticket, plated three-course dinner or appetizer, one top-shelf cocktail, tax, and gratuity. Stand Up Live can accommodate groups ranging from 20-500 guests with no waiting in line, waived service fees and all-inclusive pricing.
How to book: 480-467-3162 or email justine@standuplive.com

Taco Guild
Taco Guild’s Key Room holds 24 people, offers full kitchen, bar and wait staff. The innovative tacos at the celebrated restaurant in North Central Phoenix were recently named by Travel + Leisure Magazine as among the best in the United States.
How to book: 602-264-4143 or tacoguild.com

Talking Stick Resort
Talking Stick Resort invites guests to end the year in style when it hosts its Fire and Ice New Year’s Eve Party on Dec. 31. Kicking off at 6:30 p.m. in the Salt River Grand Ballroom, the two-day celebration will feature an all-you-can-eat buffet, cocktail specials and live performances by the legendary Sam Moore and Boogie Knights.
How to book: 480-850-7734 or talkingstickresort.com.

Thirsty Lion Pub & Grill
Whether your group’s small or large, Thirsty Lion Pub & Grill can provide a great experience and value for any holiday event. They feature multiple options including a private event room and bar. Enjoy your choice of their 52 local, craft, import and domestic beers on draft or one of their unique specialty cocktails.
How to book: email ashelton@ceghospitality.com

Uptown Alley
Uptown Alley has 60,000 square feet of fun for everyone including 40 lanes of state-of-the-art bowling, an upscale, casual full service restaurant, two high-energy bars, a sports theater, billiards, laser tag, over 80 video and prize games, live entertainment, private party rooms and much more. Special packages that include game play, rock and bowl, holiday menu and laser tag are available.
How to book: email kjovic@uptownalleysurprise.com

Wrigley Mansion
The Wrigley Mansion Venue and Restaurant, a landmark building constructed between 1929 and 1931 by chewing-gum magnate William Wrigley, Jr., offers breathtaking views of the Valley and can accommodate private events ranging in size from 10 to 1,200.
How to book: 602-553-7295 or wrigleymansion.com

holiday.shopping

Arizonans spend more on Cyber Monday than Black Friday

Arizonans plan to spend more money shopping electronically on Cyber Monday ($556) than hitting the malls and super-stores on Black Friday, where they plan to spend $433, according to the BMO Harris Bank Holiday Report.

The survey examined the buying intentions of consumers ahead of Black Friday – the day after Thanksgiving; and Cyber Monday, one of the busiest online shopping days of the year. It marks the first in a series of reports from BMO Harris that will be released for holiday spending.

Fifty-five percent of Arizonans say they will shop on Black Friday, half plan to shop on Cyber Monday and 36 percent will do both. The results of the poll show 23 percent of Black Friday shoppers say they will spend more this year, and one-third percent of Cyber Monday shoppers say they expect their spending to go up. Two-thirds say they will spend about the same amount that they did last year during both shopping days.

“The U.S. holiday shopping season is expected to be moderately better this year due to stronger job growth, lower unemployment, improved confidence, record-high equity markets, and lower gasoline prices,” said Sal Guatieri, Senior Economist, BMO Capital Markets. “The only thing holding back sales is sluggish wage gains, though that is expected to change next year.  Price competition should remain fierce this season as a result.”

The commissioned survey, also found:

• Three quarters (77 percent) of shoppers are buying for themselves on Black Friday. On Cyber Monday, it will be slightly less (68 percent)
• Just over half (54 percent) plan to buy for parents and children on Black Friday, and 44 percent will shop for a partner or spouse
• Gifts for a pet will be bought by 21 percent on Black Friday and by 13 percent on Cyber Monday

Sixty-five percent say they have a budget, but may not stick to it. Only 12 percent say they will stay within their strict budget.

Debit cards are the payment method of choice for 71 percent of Black Friday shoppers, compared to 45 percent who will pay with credit card and one-third who will use cash.

Dennis Dahlen, senior vice president and CFO for Banner Health; Gary Dalke, CFO for Western Refining, Inc.; Lawrence Eisel, CFO of Total Transit; and Richard Skufza, executive vice president and CFO of LaneTerralever.

FEI Arizona honors CFO of the Year winners, finalists

The Arizona Chapter of Financial Executives International (FEI) handed out its annual CFO of the Year Awards Thursday during a ceremony at the Camelback Inn in Scottsdale.

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The CFO of the Year Awards are given to professionals for outstanding performance in their roles as corporate financial stewards. This program provides many benefits to the business community by highlighting the important roles that financial executives play within the region.

Earning 2014 awards were Dennis Dahlen, senior vice president and CFO for Banner Health in the nonprofit category; Gary Dalke, CFO for Western Refining, Inc. in the public company category; Lawrence Eisel, CFO of Total Transit in the private company category; and Richard Skufza, executive vice president and CFO of LaneTerralever in the private company category.

Here is a closer look at the winners:

Dennis Dahlen:  Dahlen oversees the financial operations of an organization with more than $5 billion in revenue, including all treasury functions related to investment management and capital development. Dahlen’s work with executives throughout the company ensures that realistic budgets are established and budget goals are met or exceeded.
Dahlen’s impact on Banner Health: Under Dahlen’s leadership, financial pro formas have been reliably solid foundations for Banner’s expansions in Arizona. They have included construction of Cardon Children’s Medical Center, Banner MD Anderson Cancer Center, Banner Ironwood Medical Center, new towers at Banner Baywood Medical Center, Banner Del E. Webb Medical Center, Banner MD Anderson Cancer Center and Banner Estrella Medical Center; the acquisition of Sun Health (two hospitals and a research center), Arizona Regional Medical Center and Casa Grande Regional Medical Center; and the development of the Banner Health Network.

Gary Dalke: Dalke is one of Western Refining’s founding executives and is responsible for all finance, treasury, tax, accounting, and information system activities throughout Western and its affiliates. Dalke is also a critical member of the executive committee, responsible for establishing company goals, performance metrics, and monitoring mechanisms.
Dalke’s impact on Western Refining: In the fall of 2013, Dalke guided Western through a spin-off of the company’s logistics assets via an initial public offering of a new entity — Western Refining Logistics, LP — and acquisition of the general partner and 38 percent of the limited partnership of Northern Tier Energy LP, both within a 31-day period. Dalke led by example, demonstrating a dedicated work ethic, calm demeanor, command of accounting principles and financial market prowess. Each of these attributes were critical to successful completion of these extraordinary accomplishments.

Lawrence Eisel: In his first five years, Total Transit’s revenue has nearly quadrupled. Eisel has been heavily involved in strategic planning, business planning, budgeting and working capital management to support this phenomenal growth.  In addition, Eisel has been successful in developing a strong relationship and credibility with the company’s banks to finance this growth.  He has also coordinated all risk management activities for the organization.
Eisel’s impact on Total Transit: Eisel has implemented several changes that define showcase his vision, including implementation of a balanced scorecard process, establishing an internal audit function and coordinating a significant estate planning project that will ultimately save millions in future tax liabilities. Most recently, to combat a tighter insurance market and increasing auto liability premiums, Eisel and his team successfully identified alternative insurance designs and created a captive insurance entity, which will control the costs of the company’s auto liability risk.

Richard Skufza: Skufza works closely with the CEO and other executive leadership to accomplish corporate strategic objectives. He is one of three key contributors to the development and execution of LaneTerralever’s’s corporate strategy while maintaining important external relationships with banks, clients, external auditors and suppliers.
Skufza’s impact on LaneTerralever: Over the last nine months, Skufza led the integration of the accounting, management information and telephone systems into one unified system and was instrumental in bringing the two cultures and two offices of E.B. Lane and Terralever into one office. Skufza’s prior initiatives include online recruiting and employee orientation process; an enhanced performance evaluation process in order to align corporate values, mission and vision throughout the organization; and employee training and staff development with the introduction of E.B. Lane University.

diversity

Wells Fargo gives $200K to Chicanos Por La Causa

Wells Fargo & Company announced it has donated $200,000 to Chicanos Por La Causa, Inc. (CPLC) through its 2014 Leading the Way Home® program Priority Markets Initiative to  help stabilize and revitalize neighborhoods impacted by the economy.   The Leading The Way Home® program Priority Markets Initiative provides grant support for neighborhood stabilization projects that are located in areas designated for revitalization to stimulate growth, stability and investment in distressed areas.  This grant was part of a $6 million grant initiative awarded to 54 nonprofits across the country.

“Wells Fargo is proud to provide support to enable Chicanos Por La Causa to continue its work to stabilize and revitalize our local communities,” said Pam Conboy, lead regional president for Wells Fargo Arizona. “Community support and neighborhood revitalization is a key focus for our company and we believe the work of the nonprofit community is a critical conduit to revitalize neighborhoods in cities that have been deeply affected by the challenging economy.”

CPLC is actively involved and experienced in community revitalization efforts and was identified by Wells Fargo as being in need of extra help with large-scale neighborhood revitalization projects. Priority Markets Initiative program grants can be used for any costs associated with the development or redevelopment of the project. Recipients must be an IRS 501c3 organizations with successful histories of building or renovating housing for low-to moderate-income homebuyers.

“We appreciate and thank Wells Fargo for their visionary work and investment in community revitalization,” said Edmundo Hidalgo, CPLC President and CEO. “We look forward to distributing the funding to ensure that quality affordable homes are available in our community; continue to help stabilize housing values and preserve neighborhoods; and empower potential homebuyers to make educated decisions when purchasing a home.”

CPLC will use the grant funds to rehabilitate 10 properties in three distressed Phoenix zip codes and provide down payment assistance to 10 homebuyers at or below 80 percent of the area median income.  The organization has a long-standing history of providing the tools necessary to empower individuals, families, and communities to achieve their aspirations and become self-sufficient. In fact, CPLC successfully led a national consortium to revitalize markets in eight states through the Neighborhood Stabilization Program 2. CPLC understands that having a safe and comfortable place to live is fundamental for families to live healthy and prosperous lives.

Since 2009, the Wells Fargo Housing Foundation Priority Markets Program has provided more than $30 million across 100 communities.

Since 1993, the Wells Fargo Housing Foundation has stewarded nearly $300 million to nonprofits in support of affordable housing and community revitalization programs. Wells Fargo Housing Foundation programs have also delivered 4.7 million volunteer hours to build or rehabilitate more than 5,000 homes during the past two decades.

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.