Tag Archives: arizona

Credit Unions Big Boose to Small Business - AZ Business Magazine September/October 2011

BMO Harris Bank boosts credit to AZ business owners

BMO Harris Bank is making an additional $2 billion in credit available to businesses in Arizona over the next three years.

“We’re here to help, making more of our balance sheet available to businesses to support growth opportunities and help create new jobs,’ said Tim Bruckner, Arizona Commercial Banking Manager, BMO Harris Bank.

“We have heard from our customers who say they are upbeat on the economy. A BMO Harris report shows that more than 60 percent of Arizona business owners and CEOs plan to make at least one investment in their business this year,” added Mr. Bruckner.

“The Arizona economy is poised to accelerate in 2015, supported by an improved labor market and a recovery in the housing market,” said Michael Gregory, Head of U.S. Economics, BMO Capital Markets. “Real GDP is expected to grow 3.4 percent, slightly higher than the national average and improved from the 2.5 percent expected in 2014. 

Mr. Gregory noted that improved business confidence should maintain solid growth in investment and hiring. Gains are expected in job growth, coming from the service sector – led by professional and business services, education and health and tourism. “The state is on track to add about 55,000 new jobs in 2015.”

capital

How can companies increase chances of securing capital?

Silicon Valley Bank committed to lend or invest at least $100 million to technology and life science companies based in Arizona over the next five years, yet many experts say lack of money is preventing the state’s tech sector from exploding.

“One area we still need to improve is in the area of capital availability,” said Steven G. Zylstra, president and CEO of the Arizona Technology Council. “Arizona lags behind our competitors in terms of access to capital.”

So what are banks looking for in up-and-coming companies in order to decide if they are worth the risk?

“There is a misconception about business lending, particularly with start-ups, that the application — all of the factual data surrounding the request, the projections, financial statement of the owner and business plans — are the most important things,” said Tim Bruckner, managing director and regional manager of commercial banking for BMO Harris Bank. “Though these items are important in underwriting, we are really looking for entrepreneurs that also show the ability to adapt to a changing environment, demonstrate knowledge and passion for their business and show solid understanding of where their business fits in its competitive environment. Too often, business owners overlook a banker’s interest and understanding in these areas.”

With that said, it is very difficult for a traditional bank to finance a start-up or new business, according to Mike Brown, Arizona regional president at Washington Federal.

“However, the ones that make sense have a well-developed and thought-out business plan, coupled with a strong guarantor,” Brown said.

Ed Zito, president of Alliance Bank of Arizona, the largest locally headquartered bank in Arizona, said Alliance looks at a start-up’s firm capitalization, cash position, “cash burn” rate and cash flow margins.

“Start-up company financing is a risk to be borne by the equity investors,” Zito said. “That said, accounts receivable, support by the ownership or equity investors can mitigate start-up risk.”

So when can a start-up do to increase its chances of getting financed in today’s heavily regulated and competitive economic climate?

Before you get started, Bruckner said to seek counsel from someone who has done it successfully.

“It is always good to hear the success stories, but these individuals will also have great insight into the stumbling blocks and things they would have done differently if they knew then what they know now,” Bruckner said.

Bruckner said first-time borrowers should also demonstrate that they have planned for contingencies, such as a cash shortfall or potential loss of a key customer.

“A start-up’s best chances at securing a loan is having an experienced management team or ownership, knowledge of the industry, proprietary product, service, technology, a demonstrated marketplace acceptance of the product or service and the ability to sustain the start-up until the company is cash-flow positive are crucial factors to consider,” Zito said.

Brown said that it’s imperative for new companies to have well-crafted business plans with reasonable targets to achieve.

“Make sure all financing sources are covered, because everybody has their particular niche or focus and your plan might fit that focus,” Brown said. “Look at traditional sources like banks, but engage all non-traditional sources like independent finance companies.”

Green Job Opportunities for Women

Analysis shows costs of wage gap for Arizona women

An analysis released for Equal Pay Day shows just how much damage the gender-based wage gap is doing to Arizona’s families and economy. Women employed full time in Arizona are paid just 84 cents for every dollar paid to men, amounting to a yearly gap of $7,263. This means that, collectively, Arizona women lose nearly $6 billion every year that could pay for basic goods and services that strengthen the state’s economy and are essential for the more than 306,000 Arizona households headed by women.

The analysis was conducted by the National Partnership for Women & Families when the U.S. Census Bureau released its most recent data. It is being released for the first time today. The full set of findings for Arizona, which has the sixth smallest cents-on-the-dollar gap among the states, can be found here. The National Partnership also found that Latinas in Arizona are paid just 54 cents for every dollar paid to white, non-Hispanic men.

These state-based findings are included in a new national report also released today, An Unlevel Playing Field: America’s Gender-Based Wage Gap, Binds of Discrimination, And A Path Forward. The report features original analysis, never released before, about the country’s wage gap across states, among women of color, and by parental and marital status. It identifies a punishing and pervasive gap that disproportionately harms mothers, single mothers and mothers of color, who can suffer from double and triple binds of discrimination.

“At a time when women’s wages are essential to families and our economy, the persistence of the gender-based wage gap is doing real and lasting damage to women, families, communities and to our nation. It defies common sense that lawmakers are not doing more to stop gender discrimination in wages,” said Debra L. Ness, president of the National Partnership for Women & Families. “This analysis shows that women and families are losing thousands of dollars in critical income each year that could pay for significant amounts of food, rent, gas and other basic necessities. The effects ripple throughout our economy.”

According to the analysis of Arizona, if the gap between men’s and women’s wages were eliminated, a full-time working woman in Arizona could afford food for one more year, mortgage and utilities for six more months, rent for more than eight more months, or 2,100+ more gallons of gas. These basic necessities would be especially important for the 31 percent of Arizona’s women-headed households currently living below the poverty level.

Nationally, women working full time, year round are paid 78 cents for every dollar paid to men, with significant disparities for women of color. African American women and Latinas are paid 64 cents and Latinas are paid 56 cents for every dollar paid to white, non-Hispanic men. The country’s wage gap has been closing at a rate of less than half a cent per year since passage of the Equal Pay Act in 1963. At that rate, experts say America’s women will not be paid equally to men for another 43 years.

“It has been well documented that the wage gap spans geography, race, industry, education level and other factors, and that it is closing at a glacial pace,” Ness continued. “America’s women and families simply cannot afford to wait another four decades for fair pay. It is past time for fair and family friendly workplace policies that will level the playing field and give all women the fair shot they need to support themselves and their families while fully contributing to our economy.”

An Unlevel Playing Field outlines several measures that would help close the wage gap, including fair and family friendly workplace policies. Members of Congress have reintroduced three of the proposals so far this year: the Paycheck Fairness Act, which would help break harmful patterns of pay discrimination and establish stronger workplace protections for women; the Healthy Families Act, which would establish a national paid sick days standard; and the Family And Medical Insurance Leave (FAMILY) Act, which would create a national paid family and medical leave insurance program. Other measures discussed in the report include an increase in the minimum wage and protections for pregnant workers.

The National Partnership’s analysis of the wage gap was released the day before Equal Pay Day, which is April 14 this year. The day marks how far into the year women must work in order to catch up with what men were paid the year before. The state-by-state analysis uses data from the U.S. Census Bureau. The findings for each state, state rankings, analyses specific to women of color and An Unlevel Playing Field are all available at www.NationalPartnership.org/Gap.

Photo illustration of model Celina Maas taken at the Royal Palms Resort and Spa in Phoenix by Shavon Rose, AZ Big Media.

Valley surgeon develops alternative to traditional facelift

New research reveals that people in Arizona show signs of aging much faster than other parts of the country. After 20 years of research, renowned Valley-based plastic surgeon Dr. Daniel Shapiro has developed a new alternative to the face-lift tailored specifically to each where each individual falls on the aging spectrum. The GENXLIFT™ is a revolutionary new procedure developed by Shapiro that addresses the continuum of aging that begins in the 30’s and continues through the 50’s and the first minimally-invasive procedure of its kind that offers rapid-healing and a less invasive alternative for patients not ready for a ‘full facelift’ or want shorter downtime.  This procedure does not need to be performed in the operating room and can be done as an in office procedure with local anesthesia and oral sedation, making the GENXLIFT™ an ideal alternative to the traditional facelift for Generation X, or people whose birth date fall between 1961 and 1981 and are roughly 33 to 55 years old.

The GENXLIFT™ was created specifically with the Sunbelt population in mind. A board-certified plastic surgeon specializing in facial plastic surgery, Dr. Daniel Shapiro spent over two years researching and developing the procedure after studying how and when faces age in the desert climate over the course of two decades.

“Living in Arizona, people show significant signs of aging much earlier than in other parts of the country where sun exposure isn’t as prevalent,” said Dr. Daniel Shapiro,a plastic surgeon certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery with over 22 years of experience,  and creator of the GENXLIFT™. “It’s not uncommon for me to see a ‘Generation X’ patient in their 40’s or 50’s that could benefit from some aspects of a face lift, but not everyone who wants to look younger needs or wants a full face lift. Until now there hasn’t really been a procedure that specifically addresses just the intermittent signs of aging that are different for each person depending on their age, their genetics and other factors,” he said.  “For years, surgeons either turned people at this stage away from their practice entirely or overly plumped them up with Botox and fillers in hopes of bridging the gap yielding less than ideal results. For the first time ever, the  GENXLIFT™ offers a way to address each nuance of your facial aging, and not a one size fits all approach,” he said.

With the GENXLIFT™, Dr. Shapiro’s innovative multi-tiered procedural approach merges the latest anti-aging technology with the most advanced, minimal incision surgical techniques. 

GENXLIFT™ Stage I will focus on the skin changes that occur in the 30’s along with early fat reabsorption.  If needed, non-invasive or minimally invasive neck tightening with fat removal can be coupled. A four-day laser peel is applied to treat changes of sun damage including broken capillaries, enlarged pores and fine lines. Fat transfer to the face would be performed to achieve more youthful volume as needed beneath the eyes, along the cheekbones, around the mouth, along the chin, and into the lips.

GENXLIFT™  Stage II will typically involve a combination of Stage I treatments coupled would be non-invasive or minimally invasive treatment of neck laxity. In this more flexible stage, treatment possibilities can include different modalities involving Ultrasound, laser, or radiofrequency to induce tightening of the skin of the neck and the reduction of fat of the neck. All treatments of Stage II would  amount to approximately7 days of downtime, significantly less than a full facelift.

GENXLIFT™ Stage III will impact advanced signs of aging. Signs of significant cheek laxity, jowl formation and neck laxity are the focus of this stage. It will consist of Stage I treatments, a pro-fractional four-day peel with Fat Transfer plus a Limited Incision Facelift. The Short Scar Facelift would address the cheek, cheekbone, and neck laxity. This minimal incision facelift would result in a total of seven to ten days of downtime, an incredibly rapid-healing alternative to the traditional face lift.

For those who have always wanted to fight facial aging and had reservations regarding facelift surgery, GENXLIFT™ provides the perfect opportunity to get the desired results with minimally invasive procedures that fuse the best in technique and the latest in technology to restore the look of youth.

For more information about Dr. Daniel Shapiro and the GENXLIFT™ visit www.shapiroplasticsurgery.com or call 480.451.1700.

internet

Cox increases Internet speeds for Arizona residents

Cox Communications announced that it has increased the speeds on two packages of Internet service for all Arizona customers. Cox High Speed Internet Essential will triple its speed from five megabits per second to 15 megabits per second. Cox High Speed Internet Starter will be five times faster, increasing from one megabit per second to five megabits per second. The new speeds automatically went into effect on March 23, 2015 (no customer action was needed to obtain the speed increase).

With speeds as fast as 1 Gig in the Valley, Cox is continuing to provide its customers the fastest speeds available.

“This is yet another of the many speed increases that Cox has implemented for our Internet customers in Arizona,” stated John Wolfe, Regional General Manager, Cox Southwest region. “It is the result of our investment in our network and commitment to offer access and choice to meet the needs of all our customers. We know this is especially important in today’s world where more and more devices are connected in the home.”

In fact, the increased speeds come on the heels of a double speed increase on the two most popular packages late last year.

“We will continue to invest in our network to bring our customers the best online experience possible, enhancing the value of the bundle of video, Internet, phone and home security services,” said Wolfe.

Cox also offers the most compelling combinations of speeds and features, with all customers receiving free cloud storage; 24/7 live, online sports coverage from ESPN; and McAfee Family Protection and Cox Security Suite Plus, a comprehensive package of Internet security tools to help ensure online safety with anti-virus, anti-spyware, anti-phishing, parental controls and more. Cox customers with the Preferred or higher package also have access to more than 300,000 WiFi hotspots when they travel so they can stay connected on-the-go.

87665813

BestCompaniesAZ hosts Career Event for Women

BestCompaniesAZ is hosting its annual Career Event for Women Tuesday, April 28th, offering an array of positions to qualified candidates from more than a dozen of Arizona’s most progressive, award-winning companies. 

The career fair is being held from 2 to 5:30 p.m. at Western Spirit:  Scottsdale’s Museum of the West, 3830 N. Marshall Way, in Scottsdale, AZ 85251. The BestCompaniesAZ Women’s Career Event is free to attend but advance registration is required by signing up at http://bit.ly/BCAZWomensEvent415.

At the hiring event, job seekers will find a roster of award-winning companies offering hundreds of open positions, at all levels, in the fields of finance, IT, engineering, healthcare, customer service/client relations, sales and hospitality. Sponsoring companies must have earned at least one prestigious state and national workplace award to participate, and most have earned many,  such as Arizona’s Most Admired Companies, CareerBuilder’s Top Companies to Work for in Arizona, Arizona’s Best Companies to Watch, FORTUNE 100 Best Companies to Work For® in America, FORTUNE Most Admired Companies, Military Times Best for Vets Employers, US Veterans Magazine’s Best of the Best and other “military-friendly” company awards.

On Apr. 28th, registration and networking takes place from 2–3 p.m.  Speaker presentations are scheduled from 3–4 p.m.  Local author and banking executive Nicole Corning, and authority on women returning to the workplace, will be the featured speaker at 3 p.m. Additional networking takes place from 4–5:30 p.m.  Throughout the afternoon, company spokespersons will give short presentations on their workplaces, growth opportunities and corporate cultures. 

Featured companies include: Charles Schwab, Dignity Health Arizona, Synchrony Financial, USAA, GoDaddy, Hyatt Regency-Phoenix, Medtronic, Vanguard, ClearCall Solutions and Enterprise.  In advance of the event, the nonprofit Career Connectors has volunteered to offer free coaching and resume services to all registered career event candidates.

Denise Gredler, CEO of BestCompaniesAZ, says, “There is a huge demand for skilled customer service and sales personnel in Arizona.  If you’re feeling stalled in your career, looking to change direction or are returning after a leave, exploring starting positions at choice companies might be worth considering. These starting or lateral positions often evolve quickly into supervisory or management roles, particularly since most of these hiring companies are in strong growth industries and promote from within their own ranks first.  With time to learn the culture, develop new skills and build relationships, employees who choose this career path often enjoy the many perks that a top-notch company can provide while setting themselves up for management positions.”

Catrina LaDell is the creative force behind Pink Moon Prophecy, a Phoenix-based swimwear company. Photo of Catrina LaDell by Party Through It Photography.

Valley model creates sexy swimwear line for all body types

Call it cataclysmic creativity. In this case, define cataclysmic as something that “brings great changes.” In this case, a great change for the fashion industry.

Pink Moon Prophecy's Galaxy Suit is modeled Andria Schmit. Photo by Michael Luna.

Pink Moon Prophecy’s Galaxy Suit is modeled Andria Schmit. Photo by Michael Luna.

Pink Moon Prophecy, created by local model and swimwear designer Catrina LaDell, provides sexy, custom handmade swimwear for all body types. LaDell, using the name Cataclysm, helped hone her unique style as one of the most sought-after alternative models in Arizona.

Torn between whether to continue designing lingerie for the alternative scene or to pursue a career in jewelry design, LaDell chose to channel her creativity through swimwear instead. She launched Pink Moon Prophecy in March of 2014.

The inspiration behind the swimwear line’s name came from LaDell’s frustration of not knowing her family history or where she came from.

“I found out this year that I was born under April’s full moon, which is a pink moon,” LaDell said. “That really spoke to me because I have nothing else to say where I’m from.”

Many designers gain their ideas from previous trends or through inspiration from other designers, but LaDell takes on a different approach. She believes in following her intuition and often gains her ideas from meditation sessions or even dreams.

Each piece emulates concepts adapted from architecture, graffiti art, cathedrals and stained glass, while incorporating styles from both the past and present. LaDell’s fully reversible swimwear styles consist of high-waisted, pin-up style bottoms to triangle shaped bikini tops that can be transformed into bandeaus or tube tops, “scrunched butt” bottoms and one-piece “monokinis.” The dream inspired designs are given unique names — including “lavendora”, “meridian” and “pink stardust”.

By creating customizable pieces tailored to requests or selling individual pieces, LaDell allows buyers to mix and match sizes or colors and strives to satisfy her customers.

“I just make them fully customizable and fully adjustable. That’s my big thing,” LaDell said. “I’ve been reading about how women would rather have a root canal than buy a bikini, so I kind of want to make it easier for women.”

LaDell puts a great amount of love and work into her designs by sketching and hand making each swimwear piece herself. She aims to not only create beautiful and unique designs, but also ensure durability and quality. She tests fabrics for color bleeding and snagging prior to selling her products.

The Pink Moon Prophecy designer is not looking to build a name for herself or gain fame and fortune, but instead looks forward to working toward a career path she is most passionate about. She hopes to someday create swimwear for fitness competitions and eventually return to designing dance wear and lingerie.

“I’m hoping that by the end of the year, everything will blow up. I’m hoping that it will be so good that I can’t keep up,” LaDell said. “I want to get to the point where I have to hire seamstresses. I want to keep it local and small, but in a big way.”

Pink Moon Prophecy swimwear can be found locally at Missconstrued Boutique or online at pinkmoonprophecy.com.

image001

Greasewood Flat auction offers pieces of history

Greasewood Flat, an Arizona Icon, is riding off into the sunset. Their last day of operation was March 31st. Local auction company, Sam Auctions, is inviting the public down to own a piece of the wild west on Saturday, April 11th. Greasewood Flat will sell many of the rustic treasures from one of the “oldest, quirkiest and most classic bars” in America.

You will also have a chance to win money from the famed “money room”, which is rumored to have more than $5,000 in signed dollar bills hanging from the ceiling, by purchasing a raffle ticket. Raffle tickets are $1 each and proceeds for the raffle will benefit Phoenix Children’s Hospital.

The event on April 11th is from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. More information is below:

When: Saturday April 11, 2015, 10:00am – 6:00 pm

Where: 27375 N. Alma School Parkway, Scottsdale, AZ 85262

Organized by: SAM Auctions

Register to bid: samauctions.com

Greasewood Flat began life as an old bunkhouse building in the middle of the sprawling DC Ranch which ranged over thousands of acres of Sonoran Desert in the late 1800’s. Over the last century this desert has developed into one of the most affluent areas of Scottsdale, AZ. Since then Greasewood has grown into one of the last bastions of Old West Scottsdale, with its outdoor dance floor, corrals full of burros, rustic wagons, fire pits, and cast of characters all contributing to an atmosphere that compels you to kick up your heels and toss back a cold one.

research

Clinical trials change Arizona’s bioscience, business sectors

Last November, Arizona voters resoundingly passed Prop. 303 making it legal in Arizona for companies and physicians to provide terminally ill patients the “right to try” investigational drugs or therapies outside an FDA approved clinical trial.    While it sounded good in the short description provided to voters, in reality, it is unlikely to provide the outcomes one might expect since the manufacturers, physicians, pharmacists, and hospitals are required to follow the federal processes that govern these investigational treatments.  Proposition 303 did not change that.

What Are Clinical Trials?

The clinical trials process is an important step in the discovery, development and delivery pathway that leads to new life saving and live enhancing innovations.  Clinical trials are research studies that explore whether a medical strategy, treatment, or device is safe and effective for patients. These studies also may show which medical approaches work best for certain illnesses or groups of people. Clinical trials produce the best data available for health care decision making and the studies follow strict scientific standards. These standards protect patients and help produce reliable study results.

Today, in Arizona, there are 1,380 ongoing clinical trials according to ClincialTrials.gov which is the national database provided by the U.S. National Institutes of Health.  These studies cover a wide range of therapies and conditions.  Through the dedicated work of innovators, healthcare professionals, and patients, we are learning more about the safety and effectiveness of future treatments.

ClinicalTrials.gov  is a registry and results database of publicly and privately supported clinical studies of human participants conducted around the world and currently lists 187,600 studies with locations in all 50 states and in 189 countries.

How can we speed the path to innovation and give more patients access to life changing innovations?

On April 29th, members of Arizona’s life science industry and members of the community at large will gather the Sheraton Phoenix Downtown for the 2015 AZBio Expo which will focus on clinical trials in Arizona. Event details and ticket information for the 2015 AZBio Expo on April 29, 2015 at the Sheraton Phoenix Downtown are available at AZBioExpo.com.

Thanks to the support of leaders in Arizona’s life science community, practicing physicians, patients, and caregivers are invited to register for the full day conference free of charge with discount code “AZBusiness.”

The program is designed to provide an update on what Arizona’s clinical trial landscape looks like today and what is could grow to be in the future.  The program includes:

• An Introduction to The Clinical Trials Process by Mark Slater, PhD, Vice President, Research at HonorHealth Research Institute

• A keynote presentation by Matthew Huentelman, PhD, Associate Professor, Neurogenomics Division and Head of the Neurobehavioral Research Unit at the Translational Genomics Research Institute (TGen)

• A keynote presentation by Glen Weiss, MD, MBA, Director of Clinical Research & Medical Oncologist, Western Regional Medical Center, Cancer Treatment Centers of America

• A View of Arizona’s Clinical Trials Landscape by Joan Koerber-Walker, President and CEO of the Arizona Bioindustry Association and Chairman of the AdvaMed State Medical Technology Alliance in Washington, DC.

• A Discussion on Funding Clinical Trials led by Joan Koerber-Walker with Terry Urbine, PhD of the  UA College of Pharmacy, Jeremy Shefner, MD, PhD of the Barrow Neurological Institute, and Teresa Bartels from Gateway for Cancer Research.

• A Discussion on Engaging Patients in the Process led by Greg Vigdor, President & CEO, Arizona Hospital and Healthcare Association with  Brian Browne of Banner Research, Barbara Kavanaugh of the Arizona Myeloma Network, and Marcia K. Horn of the International Cancer Advocacy Network

• A Discussion on Growing Arizona’s Clinical Trials Base led by Nazneen Aziz, PhD,  Chief Research Officer and Senior Vice President, Phoenix Children’s Hospital with  Joan Rankin Shapiro, PhD of the UA College of Medicine Phoenix), and Linda Vocila, BSN, RN of TD2.

• Rapid Fire Presentations featuring Arizona companies with active clinical trials here in Arizona and around the world including:  Cancer Prevention Pharmaceuticals, Inc.,  Capstone Therapeutics,  the Center For Sustainable Health at the Biodesign Institute at Arizona State University,  Cord Blood Registry,  Insys Therapeutics, Inc., and  NuvOx Pharma.

By focusing on clinical trials together, we can help find answers for the people who matter most, the patients.

RankingAZ-BestoftheBest2015-51

Ranking Arizona party celebrates state’s top companies

Hundreds of Arizona’s top business leaders descended onto The Venue Scottsdale Thursday for Ranking Arizona’s Best of the Best Bash.

This party tonight is to celebrate the nearly 2,000 companies that are featured in Ranking Arizona,” said Michael Gossie, editor in chief of AZ Big Media, which publishes Ranking Arizona. “You are the innovators. You are the risk takers. You are the drivers of Arizona’s economy. And you are the best at what you do.”

Te see photos from the event, click here.

Special recognition was given to the sponsors — Newmark Grubb Knight Frank and The CORE Institute — and a video that showcased the companies’ affiliation with Ranking Arizona was shown.

Five companies were also honored as 2015 Ranking Arizona Hall of Fame inductees. To earn Hall of Fame status, a company has to be ranked No. 1 for 10 years. Joining that elite group of Hall of Fame companies that consistently deliver great services to the state of Arizona are Celebrity Theatre, Chandler Regional Medical Center, Cox Communications Arizona, Form Design Studio Ltd. and Royal Palms Resort & Spa.

Ranking Arizona is the outcome of the largest business opinion poll in Arizona. Rankings are based purely on voters’ opinion. Participants vote based on quality of product, service and who they would recommend doing business with. The responses are then assembled and ranked according to their total number of votes.

To vote for your favorite companies, click here.

Pieceful Solutions - Chandler

Arizona schools ‘Go Blue’ for World Autism Awareness Day

Pieceful Solutions, a K-12 school for children with autism spectrum disorders, commemorated Autism Awareness Month with a celebratory sunrise event today at its Chandler campus, Thursday, April 2 (World Autism Awareness Day), starting at 6 a.m.

Faculty members, families, students and community supporters gathered to increase awareness about the increasing number of children in Arizona with autism. They formed a human-ribbon on the outdoor field of the school’s Chandler campus, with everyone dressed in blue, a symbolic color used by the international autism community to commemorate the United Nations-sanctioned World Autism Day.

“The number of children with autism continues to rise, and Arizona is at the top of the list,” said Kami Cothrun, Founder of Pieceful Solutions. “Parents deserve to know about the many different school solutions available to them, especially when one out of every 50 children born today has autism.”

Bashas’ Family of Stores donated coffee, blueberry yogurt and custom-made blue donuts for everyone to enjoy during the sunrise festivities. Pieceful Solutions Music Therapist Ryan Olmstead and his garage band of students also held a special performance.

Sparkle Magic, a local company that has mastered the art of innovative laser-lighting, donated lighting to turn Pieceful Solutions’ three school campuses (in Chandler, Mesa and Gilbert) blue during the entire month of April.

Pieceful Solutions Culinary Instructor Colleen Poiani has also encouraged students to participate in fun, hands-on food activities including how to make blueberry banana smoothies, gluten-free vanilla cupcakes and gluten-free sugar cookies. The cookies are made in the shape of a puzzle piece, a symbol that reflects the mystery and complexity of Autism Spectrum Disorder.

Chef Colleen at Pieceful Solutions enjoys teaching students and their parents about how to use better-for-you ingredients to help maximize health and reduce allergies. “Children with autism often excel in the culinary arts, as they enjoy following exact instructions on a recipe, and can apply their math skills to measure ingredients,” she said.

woman performing yoga pose on wood floor

New fitness studio opens with free yoga

PowerTrainYoga opened its first Arizona location in Scottsdale on Monday, March 30.

The modern 10,000 square foot studio will open its doors to the public with a free month of unlimited access to more than 130 group fitness classes offered each week from March 30 until April 29.

PowerTrain features a mix of workouts including heated and unheated Yoga, Hot Pilates, TRX suspension training, Kettlebells, Barre, Battleropes, Bootcamp, High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) and more. In an effort to make group fitness more affordable and accessible to people, they will offer unlimited memberships at a competitive rate.

The wide variety of class offerings are geared toward all ages and fitness levels. Aspects of yoga including flexibility and balance are incorporated into every class to promote good health and reduce the risk of injury. This gives members a well-rounded, safe workout with ultimate results.

The facility features a sophisticated environmental control system which monitors the heat, humidity and carbon dioxide levels in each training room. To give members the optimal workout environment, fresh air is pumped into training rooms when needed to increase comfort while reducing fatigue.

“Our goal is to bring group fitness to the community at an affordable price,” said Steve Gregory, PowerTrainYoga CEO. “We want everyone to experience our wide variety of classes, try something new and most importantly, see results.”

With so many classes being offered daily, busy schedules won’t compete with getting in or staying in shape. Members have access to many different class types, giving them a total fitness experience in one location.

PowerTrainYoga is located just north of Thunderbird Rd. on the west side of Scottsdale Road at 14202 N Scottsdale Road #114 Scottsdale, AZ 85254.

For more information, class schedules and details, visit www.powertrainyoga.com or call 805.440.8761.

121277693

Experts share ‘wins and losses’ on Arizona state budget

Alberta Charney said she hasn’t heard much outrage from the business community over Arizona’s latest budget.

“Maybe we are used to it,” said the research economist at the Eller College of Management at the University of Arizona. “We have seen so many cuts over the years.”

The fiscal 2016 budget is no different. Gov. Doug Ducey in March signed a $9.1 billion budget that adds some funding, but also trims millions from higher education and social service programs.

Business and economic experts said although they’re concerned about long-term implications on the state’s economy and job market, they also found some bright spots for the business community.

Cronkite News spoke to five experts to get their take on the highs and lows of the state budget. Here are their insights:

Win: Mexico trade office
In 2014, the Arizona State Trade and Investment Office in Mexico opened to expand the state’s business presence across the border.

State lawmakers included $300,000 to open the office in this year’s budget. And the state allocated the same amount to operate it for fiscal 2016, according to the Arizona Commerce Authority.

Mexico is a growing world market and Arizona’s most important trading partner, according to the authority. In 2013, trade generated between Arizona and Mexico exceeded $14 billion, the group said.

Allocating funds to keep this office during this budgetary time is a win, said Glenn Hamer, president and CEO of the Arizona Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

However, Jim Rounds, a senior economist with consulting firm Elliott D. Pollack and Co., said it’s only a “win” if they’re successful in expanding business to Mexico.

Win: Tax reforms
Members of the business community said they were happy to see the tax reform competitiveness package, signed into law in 2011, remain on schedule.

This package includes phased-in reductions of the state’s corporate income tax down to 4.9 percent, among other reforms. The latest budget maintains the tax reforms the business community advocated for a few years ago, Hamer said.

“Businesses want to know with certainty that the environment will continue every year,” Hamer said, “providing the predictability in our tax environment that is necessary for economic growth.”

Rounds agreed it’s a win that lawmakers kept the tax reform. However, he said lawmakers need to “research first and put in the time to figure out where to get good return on investment.”

He said other investments may yield more than tax reform.

For business to remain competitive, the state needs to reduce the tax burden, said Dennis Hoffman, an economic expert at the W. P. Carey School of Business at Arizona State University.

Additionally, Ducey added indexing to income-tax brackets to account for inflation. Small business will benefit from millions in income that’s protected from being taxed at higher rates, Hamer said.

Win: Tourism
The state halted initial plans to cut $4.5 million from the Arizona Office of Tourism. Tourism is the state’s third-largest export industry and one of the largest state revenue generators, according to the Arizona Office Of Tourism.

“It’s a win, in this budgetary environment, to be able to preserve the budget of an agency so integral to the success of one of Arizona’s base industries is a very positive outcome,” Hamer said.

But, officials said, the budget still leaves the state short changed compared to neighboring states. Arizona has a $13.5 million tourism budget for fiscal 2016, while California’s is $100 million.

Loss: Higher education
The budget includes deep cuts for the state’s three universities: $99 million, a 13 percent cut.

“Some states are well endowed with college-educated people in the workforce and may not need to invest as much in their universities. That is not true of Arizona,” Hoffman said.

Experts agree that the larger share of college graduates in the labor force, the more prosperous the economy. As the world becomes more technologically advanced, skilled workers are imperative and it is “important to maintain a world class university system,” Hamer said.

Arizona business may have to look out of state to find skilled workers, which could increase search costs to find quality workers, said Daniel Herder, an Arizona State University student and president of the student economics association.

“It could, in fact, cause a bit of flight,” Herder said about people who must move out of state to find opportunities.

Rounds agreed that higher education funding is an important business concern. However, he said that in this current economy, lawmakers needed to make cuts.

He said he does not believe cuts to universities are permanent.

Hamer said that going forward, there is a consensus among experts that Arizona needs to put more resources into universities to keep Arizona businesses competitive.

Loss: Health care
Lawmakers voted to cut reimbursement by 5 percent to health care providers and ambulance services that serve Medicaid patients.

“We didn’t see wins in this budget at all,” said Greg Vigdor, president and CEO of the Arizona Hospital and Healthcare Association.

Critics said the cut could cause long-term damage to the health care industry, one of the state’s more vibrant economic sectors.

The major factor for these losses is underpayment by government payers, particularly the state’s Medicaid program, the Arizona Health Care Containment System, according to the association.

The association predicts the repercussions in the health care industry are much larger than the savings.

“We are finally reaching the point with hospitals that it is too much of a hit,” Vigdor said.

Vigdor said cuts to the health care industry threaten hospitals’ ability to provide certain services and keep their doors open.

Since 2012, two rural hospitals in Arizona have shut down, according to the association.

BIZ-bees4_fullsize

Arizona beekeepers adjust as honey production slows

Locally produced honey is flying off the shelves – so much so that many honey producers cannot meet the production demands.

“I’m not having problems selling my honey,” beekeeper Dennis Arp said. “I’m having problems with producing enough.”

Fifteen years ago, Arp’s Mountain Top Honey Co. in Flagstaff produced 126,000 pounds of honey a year. Now the farm only produces 70,000 pounds, he said.

The farm has several hundred more hives than it did 15 years ago, but with fewer foraging options for nectar, wet winter weather conditions and unhealthy hives, the bees don’t produce as much honey.

Nationally, beekeepers did better last year. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, honey production was up 19 percent compared to 2013, totaling 178 million pounds of honey from keepers with five or more hives.

But local experts said Arizona hasn’t necessarily followed that trend, which can hurt consumers.

People with seasonal allergies have struggled this season as pollen floats freely through the air. Some consumers look to local honey as a natural remedy.

Customer demand is so high now, Arp has relied on buying honey from other beekeeper friends to sell to his customers.

Prices have soared, too.

Arp said retail prices range from $20 for a quart to $80 for a gallon.

Arp said he estimates the state has 30 to 35 commercial beekeepers.

Though some bee farmers are doing brisk business, they have had to change the way they operate.

Many beekeepers loan out their bees to make up for less honey production.

Osman Kaftanoglu, project manager of the Honey Bee Research Lab at Arizona State University, said many beekeepers transport bees to almond orchards in California to make extra money.

Arp said he easily makes $150 every time he sends one hive to cross pollinate almond trees. Transporting eight hives turns into $1,200.

Nearly half of Arp’s income comes from almond tree pollination, he said.

“The almond industry is keeping the bee industry alive,” Arp said.

Beekeepers face major challenges in keeping beehives healthy and productive.

It’s difficult to find the right location to raise bees.

Orange groves, where bees depend on orange blossoms, are either dying of disease or being replaced by urban development, according to the city of Mesa.

In 1970, the state produced steady amounts of citrus across 80,000 acres, but as of 2012, the state grows just over 17,000 acres of citrus, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Tim Moore, owner and beekeeper of Honey Hive Farms in Peoria, said he only keeps his hives on organic farms because there aren’t any pesticides that could harm the bees.

Farms do more than just use pesticides. Killing weeds that grow along farmland hurts bees that depend on the nectar-bearing plants like milkweed, Arp said.

There are other concerns as well.

One of the farms Moore uses is Blue Sky Organic Farms in Litchfield Park, where he keeps his hives in a secluded area.

On a recent day, he examined a group of about 10 hives, checking on the honey combs for signs of trouble. The noise from leaf blowers and tractors competed with the buzz from the bees. Moore said if the noise became too loud, the bees would get “agitated” and could swarm.

Arp said that relationship between bees and humans ¬¬– making sure people are safe – is another business concern.

Ultimately, researchers and beekeepers said bee education is necessary for better bee business.

Moore started the Phoenix Beekeepers Club, which offers beekeeping classes as well as beginner beekeeper support.

While Honey Hive Farms has been successful, Moore said he wants to scale back from owning 400 hives to something more manageable. He said that having fewer hives allow him to take better care of the colonies.

Beekeepers who stay on top of managing its queen bees and growing bee-friendly plants can make twice as much honey on half as many hives, Arp said.

Sherman & Howard's Hope Leibsohn was selected to Southwest Super Lawyers.

4 from Sherman & Howard make Southwest Super Lawyers

Sherman & Howard announced that four of its Arizona attorneys have been named 2015 Southwest Super Lawyers: John Alan Doran in Labor and Employment Law, Bob Hackett in Business Litigation, Hope Leibsohn in Estate & Probate and Brian Mueller in Business Litigation. John Alan Doran was also selected for a special recognition by the publication: Southwest Super Lawyers’ “Top 50.”

“Super Lawyers” are selected following a rigorous, multiphase process that combines peer nominations and evaluations with third-party research. Each year, no more than five percent of the lawyers in the state are selected by the research team at Super Lawyers to receive this honor.

John Alan Doran represents employers in all facets of labor and employment law, including mass employment, wage/hour, employment discrimination and trade secret matters in state and federal courts. John counsels clients on prevention strategies, executive employment contracts, downsizing, personnel policies, and merger/acquisition employment issues. John is a noted speaker and author and presents regularly at conferences and trade association events throughout the country. He has been recognized for his work by Best Lawyers in America, Chambers USA, Southwest Super Lawyers and he has recently been featured as one of Arizona’s Top 50 attorneys by AZ Business magazine.

Robert Hackett is a member of Sherman & Howard’s Litigation Department and has more than 45 years of trial experience. His practice focuses on complex multi-party litigation, with emphasis on trials in securities and business fraud, antitrust, real estate, contract, intellectual property, business dissolutions, corporate governance/director and officer liability and other fiduciary duty disputes.

Hope Leibsohn is a member in Sherman & Howard’s estate and tax planning department. She has experience in all aspects of estate planning involving wills, trusts, charitable techniques, estate freezes, and other sophisticated wealth transfer strategies. Hope specializes in customized legacy plans based on tax planning strategies and on incorporating each client’s unique family dynamics and core life values. In addition to her recognition in Southwest Super Lawyers, Hope has been named to Best Lawyers in America and Top Lawyers by AZ Business magazine.

Brian Mueller has more than30 years of experience handling litigation matters for a variety of clients ranging from individuals and small businesses to multi-million dollar corporations throughout Arizona, and the U.S. He counsels clients on litigation matters regarding contract disputes, real estate and valuations, estate planning and probate; banking and financial services, corporate control and shareholder rights, construction, intellectual property, commercial torts, professional liability, transaction privilege and use tax, and telecommunications matters. In addition, Brian has extensive experience representing various Arizona municipalities, and has served as a Judge Pro Tem for the Maricopa County Superior Court for 11 years. He has been named a “Top Arizona Attorney” and “Southwest Super Lawyer” for the last four years.

diversity

Arizona Summit Law School among best for diversity

Arizona  Summit Law School was named one of the “2015 Most Diverse Law Schools” in the United States by PreLaw Magazine.

The private law school, located in downtown Phoenix, earned an A+ rating and was named among the top ten law schools for diversity by the publication, which regularly evaluates law schools across the country accredited by the American Bar Association.

The PreLaw Magazine’s diversity rating is based upon ethnic diversity in comparison to the national average for students and faculty. The study was conducted to identify law schools in the United States that do the best job at including all races, rather than focusing on only one or select races. The publication, which is a law school journal published by National Jurist, recognizes the best law schools in the country for diversity accomplishments, and for putting diverse voices and backgrounds in the classroom.

“As we enter our tenth year, Summit Law is reflecting on the impact we are having in the legal community and on the communities we serve,” said Dean Shirley Mays. “Earning this top-tier ranking and significant national recognition is rewarding and reinforces our commitment to diversifying the legal profession and providing legal career opportunities to individuals of diverse backgrounds.”

 

winter wine

Page Springs brings back Tilted Earth Wine & Music Festival

Page Springs Cellars and celebrated Arizona Winemaker Eric Glomski announced the release of tickets for the second annual Tilted Earth Wine & Music Festival on June 19 and 20 at Riverfront Park in Cottonwood. Tickets will go on sale Thursday, March 26 through the Page Springs website.

The vibrant festival returns this year with an expanded two-day line up of well-known folk and acoustic rock entertainment like Rusted Root, Robert Earl Keen and The Lone Bellow. Wine lovers can enjoy vino from 17 Northern Arizona wineries, along with cuisine from eight gourmet food trucks from the Phoenix Street Food Coalition, including The Rocket Woodfired Pizza, The Affogato Truck, Sandra Dee’s Creole Kitchen and Burgers Amore. Additional vendors like Backstage Gastropub, Chocolita exotic raw chocolate and Local Juicery will sell a variety of other fare.

The event will also include an expanded selection of kids and family activities including a rock climbing wall, bounce house, teen gaming tent and a simulated archaeological dig hosted by Verde Valley Archaeology all at no charge. Kids crafting supplies will be provided by Verde River Valley Nature Organization for a small charge.

Attendees will also enjoy a change in event hours from 4 p.m. to midnight with music running between 5-11 p.m., which will allow event goers to enjoy the festival among the trees in the cooler evening hours.

“We’re excited to bring back the Tilted Earth Wine and Music Festival for the second year,” said Eric Glomski, winemaker and founder of Page Springs Cellars. “Last year was incredibly successful and we were able to gather some good feedback on how to make this year even better. The expansion of the festival across two days and the adjustment in hours will allow those coming from the Valley to plan an extended, more enjoyable weekend. We look forward to sharing our craft and showcasing some of the best names in Arizona wine at this year’s event.”

Northern Arizona wineries exhibiting at this year’s Tilted Earth Wine and Music Festival include: 

Alcantara Vineyards

Arizona Stronghold Vineyards

Burning Tree Cellars

Cellar 433

Chateau Tumbleweed

DA Ranch Wineries

Dektown Cellars

Fire Mountain

Freitas Vineyard

Gallifant Cellars

Grand Canyon Winery

Javelina Leap

Oak Creek Vineyards and Winery

Page Springs Cellars

Painted Lady Vineyards

Passion Cellars

Pillsbury Wine Company

Last year the event raised $10,000 for a local children’s non-profit with a silent auction. This year, the festival hopes to double that amount, with 100% of the proceeds from this year’s auction benefitting Yavapai Big Brothers Big Sisters, Prescott Creeks and the Verde Valley Humane Society.

Adult admission can be purchased online at TiltedEarthFestival.com for $45. Youth tickets (13-20) are $20 and children 12 and under are free. Adult admission includes a reusable Govino wine glass and five free tastings. Additional tastings will be available for purchase, as will bottles from all wineries. Those who wish to take home their purchases may also store their wines in a state-of-the-art refrigeration truck, courtesy of the Tilted Earth Festival.

As a precursor to the event, eight of the wineries pouring at the festival will host separate wine pairing dinners and brunches throughout the Verde Valley. For more information on these ancillary events, along with the music line up and to buy tickets, please visit TiltedEarthFestival.com. Complimentary shuttle services for Tilted Earth will be provided courtesy of the Verde Valley Lynx and Cottonwood Area Transit systems with presentation of festival ticket.

ScoWhiten Your Teeth - Scottsdale Living Magazine Fall 2011

Tralongo signs deal to expand in Phoenix

Tralongo LLC, an Atlanta-based firm specializing in dental practice acquisitions, announced an all-new development agreement with Phoenix dentist, Dr. Isaac LaVant. Under the terms of agreement, Tralongo will assist LaVant in obtaining up to 10 Arizona dental practices within the next decade, marking the firm’s first partnership in the state.

“We are very excited to begin work with Dr. LaVant and help him acquire dental offices throughout Arizona,” said Dr. Ken Tralongo, founder and CEO, Tralongo LLC. “With multiple statewide oral health programs and initiatives, Arizona is a prime arena for expanding within the dental industry and we know we can grow as a company with help from Dr. LaVant.”

A native of Phoenix, LaVant graduated from Meharry Medical College in 2012 with a concentration in dentistry. His experience in the McNair Scholars Program shadowing a dentist led him to work in a Texas dental office shortly after. In early 2014, LaVant found himself looking to expand on his own and after following an online advertisement, he met with Dr. Tralongo and company member, David Lopez, to discuss the possibility of dental management.

“After just a year of working in a dental office, I was sore, tired and just worn out and couldn’t imagine my entire career being spent in the chair five days a week,” said Dr. LaVant. “When I met with Tralongo, I realized my love of dentistry could be supported through management – a field where I could make a difference and have an impact on multiple practices. Partnering with Tralongo will support me in the process of entering the management realm through the exceptional support they offer.”

Comprised of a team of dental, marketing, financial and business professionals, Tralongo LLC holds more than 90 years of combined experience in dental management and acquisitions. Launched in 2013, the firm partners with entrepreneurial dentists who are looking to grow their businesses by acquiring and operating multiple practices. Taking professionals out of the chair and into management and ownership, Tralongo operates via a five-step process that trains partners, helps them find the right dental practices to acquire, assists in obtaining the appropriate financing, works with them during the transition from old to new ownership and helps maintain operational support throughout to maximize profits. Tralongo also provides partners with access to methods, support systems and economies of scale.

Great American Barbeque & Beer Festival returns

Arizona’s largest BBQ event is set to return to downtown Chandler on March 21, 2015 from noon – 10 p.m. Winner of Outstanding Event of the Year in 2012 and 2013 at the APS AzTEC Awards, the 2015 Great American Barbeque & Beer Festival will be bigger and better than ever with a newly expanded stage, more BBQ pitmasters and the eating competition zone for finger lickin’ good times.

Headlining this year’s entertainment will be the Eli Young Band, best known for their double platinum single, “Crazy Girl” which earned them the ACM Award in 2011 for Song of the Year.  Other popular hits include “Even If It Breaks Your Heart” and “Drunk Last Night.”  Supporting acts include local country performers, Laura Walsh and Georgia Chrome as well as Adley Stump.

“I’m thrilled to have Eli Young Band as our headlining act for this year’s festival. The entertainment bill continues to grow each year with A-list talent. I couldn’t be happier with our amazing country lineup for 2015,” said Landon Evans, event coordinator.

The sixth annual Great American Barbeque & Beer Festival will be held in downtown Chandler, spanning the entire east and west Dr. AJ Chandler Park – as well as the connecting Arizona Ave., which will be closed from Buffalo St. to Boston St. on Saturday, March 21, 2015.

Beginning on February 9, 2015, all valley-wide Bashas’ locations will have $10 each presale general admission tickets available for purchase. General admission tickets are also available online for $12 each atwww.chandlerbbq.com and tickets will be $15 each at the gate day of. Food and beverages are sold separately. Children 12 years of age and younger are admitted for free.

More than 60 of the best BBQ pitmasters from across Arizona and the southwest will converge in downtown Chandler for a day filled with the sweet aroma of smoked meats and delicious craft beer from SanTan Brewing Company. The Chandler based brewery will pour their popular seasonal,  Mr. Pineapple Wheat Beer; HopShock IPA and Devil’s Ale. Plus, festival goers will enjoy a brand new brew called LimeLeaf Cream Ale.

Some of the BBQ pitmasters joining us this year include Famous Dave’s Legendary Pit BBQ, Honey Bear’s BBQ, JJ’s Louisiana BBQ, McLaws BBQ, Phil The Grill, Porkopolis, Raging Cajun Smoking BBQ, Sally’s BBQ, SanTan Brewing Company, Smoke Haus, Sweet Magnolia Smokehouse, Tom’s BBQ Pig Rig and many more.

Other festival highlights include the March Madness lounge, Chester’s Harley Davidson pavilion, Ride Now off road zone, kid’s playland, eating competitions and over 100 exhibitors.

Be sure to “like” this event on Facebook at www.facebook.com/bbq.beer.music and follow on Twitter @BBQBEERFESTIVAL for entertainment announcements, a chance to win free tickets and more event details as they roll out.

The Great American Barbeque & Beer Festival official sponsors include; Bashas’, SanTan Brewing, Ak-Chin Indian Communities, Downtown Chandler Community Partnership, Jack Daniels Whiskey, Little Black Dress, Alliance Beverage, Crescent Crown Distributing, 102.5 KNIX, Poore Brothers, Clean Air Cab, Phoenix New Times, Local First AZ, Yelp, Von Hanson’s Meats & Spirits, Pinnacle Peak Pie Company, One Community, Phoenix Bites, and Local Lily who all remind you to enjoy BBQ and beer responsibly.

A portion of the event proceeds will benefit the Boot Campaign, a 501(c)(3) dedicated to providing assistance to wounded military and their families with job placement and securing mortgage free homes, post traumatic stress disorder counseling, adaptive clothing and much more. For more information about the Boot Campaign, visit www.bootcampaign.com.

doctor-ipad

Cox funds Phoenix Children’s Hospital tech project

Phoenix Children’s Hospital received a $200,000 grant from the James M. Cox Foundation. The grant will support the hospital’s “Connected Patient Project,” which provides customized patient care information on tablets.

Phoenix Children’s Hospital uses Journey Boards as tools to help families of a sick child identify what they need to know before taking their child home from the hospital. Parts of the Journey Board may also be applied to a clinic or emergency room visit.

The hospital is currently using print versions of the Journey Board. Through the grant, this information will be delivered utilizing technology, with 200 tablets being installed in patient rooms with interactive, customized content. The project will benefit 13,000 patients annually. In addition to the James M. Cox Foundation grant, Cox Communications is also funding the creation of 21 Journey Board apps, available in English and Spanish.

“For families, hospital stays can be a very intense and stressful time and it can be hard to retain information under those conditions,” said Teresa Boeger, director, Division of Family Centered Care at Phoenix Children’s Hospital. “Journey Boards help us ensure that comprehension is taking place and helps us identify gaps in understanding. We’re excited about the success we’ve experienced with the Journey Boards and are looking forward to taking it to the next level with the use of technology. Cox has truly been a friend of Phoenix Children’s as we continue to incorporate technology into patient care.”

Phoenix Children’s Hospital is Arizona’s only licensed children’s hospital and among the largest freestanding facilities of its kind in the country, with 385 licensed beds. The hospital operates satellite centers in the East Valley, Scottsdale, the Northwest Valley, Southwest Valley, Yuma and Flagstaff.

“Cox Communications continues to invest in Arizona’s technology infrastructure and communities by offering the fastest speeds available in the state,” said John Wolfe, Cox Communications senior vice president and southwest region manager. “Cox and Phoenix Children’s Hospital have been partners for more than a decade and Cox is pleased to be the hospital’s Internet provider. This grant will help the hospital deliver customized content to educate and comfort their patients’ families.”

The James M. Cox Foundation was named after Cox Enterprises’ founder and provides funding for capital campaigns and special projects in communities where Cox Communications, Cox Automotive and Cox Media Group operate.

“As a technology company, we are transforming our world with new products and services,” said Alex Taylor, Cox Enterprises executive vice president and great-grandson of James M. Cox, the company’s founder. “But this one in particular feels good because it helps children and their families at a time when they need it most.”

Cox Enterprises operates Cox Communications, Go Auto Exchange, Ready Auto Transport and Manheim in Arizona.

95770266

FirstBank fund helps qualified homebuyers buy new homes

FirstBank Holding Company, a holding company with 15 banking locations throughout Arizona, announced a $1 million community development investment with Trellis (formerly Neighborhood Housing Services of Phoenix), an organization dedicated to making financially stable homes, neighborhoods and communities possible in Maricopa County. FirstBank’s contribution will provide qualified homebuyers up to $25,000 to be used as a down payment toward the purchase of a new home.

Trellis was founded in 1975 with the help of the City of Phoenix and Neighborhood Works America, a national nonprofit organization that provides financial support, technical assistance and training for community-based revitalization efforts. The organization focuses on lending, learning and building by offering mortgages with little to no down payment, providing financial literacy classes and acquiring and renovating distressed properties, respectively.

“We made this contribution to Trellis because we believe in helping people who are pursuing the American Dream of home ownership,” said Angelo Chin Foo, banking officer at FirstBank and Trellis board member. “Trellis is a multi-service organization that has made a significant impact on the community over its 40-year history. With this investment, we hope to play a small role in helping Trellis deliver its mission of providing more affordable housing to Arizonians.”

Structured as an “equivalent equity investment,” FirstBank’s $1 million contribution allows qualified homebuyers to borrow up to $25,000 towards the purchase of a new home. Homebuyers repay the loan to Trellis over a 15-year period, and Trellis will use the repaid funds to provide assistance to homebuyers across Maricopa County, in perpetuity.

“Access to affordable housing benefits everyone. Individuals and families become stable and more economically secure, neighborhoods become more active and cities gain jobs and tax revenues,” said Patricia Garcia-Duarte, president and CEO of Trellis. “We rely on generous partners like FirstBank to help us strengthen our local communities and empower homebuyers, and we couldn’t be more grateful for this generous support.”

FirstBank opened its first location in Arizona in 2007 and has since expanded to 15 locations. All Arizona branches offer a full range of services, including Free Checking, Free Business Checking, mortgages, home equity loans and commercial loans. The bank is the main sponsor of Arizona Give Day, a 24-hour online giving initiative aimed at increasing individual giving throughout the state.

For more information, visit TrellisAZ.org.

climate denialism

Arizona’s hospitality industry embraces global market

Arizona has the Grand Canyon, Monument Valley and Sedona, but to promote these natural wonders to international travelers is no walk in the park.

To showcase Arizona around the globe, it takes detailed research, strategic planning, effective branding and marketing, a global network of industry professionals — and the power to erase any lingering negativity associated with the state.

Despite several years of bad publicity surrounding controversial immigration policies and other proposed legislation that darkened the state’s reputation, Arizona is experiencing an increase in tourism.

“We definitely try and share with everyone we come into contact with that we are a more progressive community than the state is known as being,” says Joanne Hudson, public relations specialist for the Flagstaff Convention and Visitors Bureau.

“Certain markets, especially the Mexico visitor, have been negatively affected the last few years from the state laws and policies that have come out,” Hudson says. “We share that we are a very welcoming and open community and try to get them here to experience it. Once they get here, they really do sense and feel that. They realize it isn’t what they see and hear in the news.”

Rachel Pearson, vice president of community and government affairs at the Scottsdale Convention & Visitors Bureau, says, “We are traveling around the world connecting with customers and clients, trying to reinforce who we are as a destination, who we are as a state and ensuring that people understand that we are a very welcoming destination. We offer some unique, rich experiences that you can’t have anywhere else.”

Beyond the state’s scenic beauty, Arizona’s diversity, especially the Native American and Hispanic cultural influences, appeals to international travelers, explains Sherry Henry, director of the Arizona Office of Tourism.

The rich multi-cultural experiences and gorgeous scenery, combined with outdoor activities, vibrant cities, fine dining and shopping, attracts millions of visitors and brings in billions of dollars.

Industry leaders are looking toward the future with optimism as they strategize how to attract even more world travelers.

“Arizona Office of Tourism has been active in the international market for years starting with Mexico and Canada, and overseas with partners in the United Kingdom, Germany and France,” Henry says, “and just three years ago we launched into emerging markets of China and Brazil.”

MEXICAN INFLUENCE

Currently, Mexico tops the charts for international travel into Arizona. At the height of the controversy surrounding Arizona’s immigration policies, the influx of Mexican travelers decreased. But statistics from 2013 show a rebound with a total number of Mexican visitors to Arizona at more than 3.6 million. Other countries that rank high on the list are Canada, Germany, United Kingdom and France with 1.1 million visitors collectively. Total international travelers in 2013 reached roughly 5.3 million.

The Arizona tourism industry has been proactive in reaching out south of the border and developing programs to promote and facilitate travel in Arizona.

Jessica Stephens, director of public relations at Visit Tucson, says travelers from Mexico bring in close to $1 billion a year in southern Arizona alone. Visit Tucson has two visitors centers in Mexico that help with hotel reservations and other concierge services. They also help expedite border crossings with a program developed with customs and border patrol that allows pre-approved travelers to obtain a fast pass. This makes traveling to Arizona a 12-minute trip instead of waiting in a car for hours.

Other Arizona cities and convention and visitors bureaus have pooled resources to fund trade offices in Mexico. Today, Henry says, the discussions no longer reflect the challenges of the past, but instead focus on the future. “It’s all about how we can be better partners and how can we develop that area that has such great potential.”

FOCUS ON CHINA

Arizona is now setting sights on China, the number one traveling country in the world. Henry explains that there is so much potential for growth in the emerging markets of China and Brazil, which is also topping the international travel charts. She pointed to a partnership with Brand USA, the marketing arm of the U.S. Department of Commerce designed to develop travel interest in the United States, as essential to increasing global awareness.

“We think Arizona has such appeal,” Henry says. “International journalists are amazed at what they see when they are here, and they bring the stories back to their countries.”

Barry Nakano, director of business development with PacRim Marketing Group and a board member of the Hospitality, Sales and Marketing Association International Arizona Chapter, knows the Asian markets. He recognizes the potential of the China market and points out that other Asian markets also impact our economy. According to the Arizona Office of Tourism statistics, Japan and the Republic of Korea brought in more visitors than China in 2013.

“There’s definitely a lot of interest today in the China market and understandably so. Their 1.3 billion population presents enormous potential and the recent decision by the U.S. government to extend Visa validity for visitors from China should accelerate the growth of that market. We shouldn’t overlook however, that Japan is still the second largest overseas feeder market to the U.S., and South Korea and Taiwan markets continue to grow. Japanese, in particular, have been traveling overseas a long time so tend to be more independent and willing to explore new destinations.”

INDUSTRY PREPARES

Nakano offers practical advice for those in the hospitality industry as they prepare for the influx of international travelers.

“The most efficient and cost effective way to reach Asian travelers is online and providing information in the language of the traveler is important,” he says, adding that websites should be an essential part of any marketing toolkit. “When creating an international language website, make sure the content is developed by professionals, not by translation software that has difficulty conveying intangibles we promote in travel like experience and atmosphere.

“For hotels, it’s also important the online booking engine is in the target language to make it easy for travelers to complete reservations, which is the ultimate goal.”

One thing to note when targeting travelers from China is their spoken language is Mandarin and their written language is called Simplified Chinese so any written information should be in that form.

He continued to offer tips for hotels. “To attract Asian travelers, it’s important to show cultural sensitivity and make them feel welcome. Including small touches in guest rooms like slippers and Chinese tea, along with coffee, will be appreciated and can go a long way. Offering other amenities like Asian-language TV channels, newspapers, area maps and dining menus will make guests feel comfortable after they arrive and can also be used as selling points to show you care.

Henry is already seeing changes at the Office of Tourism and in the state. “We’re finding that Arizona is becoming more globally aware. On our staff we have staff members who speak Spanish, Mandarin, and Portuguese for the folks coming in from Brazil. We are in a global environment now. The whole world has changed and everybody is beginning to think globally.”

Michelle Oden-Huebner, CMP, president of Hospitality Sales and Marketing Association International Arizona Chapter, says the hospitality industry has always been one that supports diversity and inclusion.

As Arizona increases its global visibility, it needs to continue to show that the state is inclusive and promotes diversity in the workplace and marketplace, Oden-Huebner says.

“Tourism is one of the largest export industries in the State of Arizona, providing funding for education and vital services in local communities,” she says.  “This makes Arizona more attractive for new businesses to relocate to the area, thus creating more job opportunities.  The more business we bring into our state, the more money we have to support the greater community improving and increasing services for residents in Arizona.”

Reviving the Construction Industry

Shea Homes announces partnership with GE

Shea Homes, the country’s largest privately held builder of new homes, announced its national partnership with GE Appliances.

This partnership means Shea Homes design centers in communities across California, Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Nevada, North Carolina, South Carolina, Texas, Virginia, and Washington will now offer a selection of GE appliances to new home buyers.

“At Shea Homes, we’re dedicated to offering innovative, fresh new design options,” said Ken Peterson, vice president of sales and marketing. “We chose GE as our national appliance partner because of the company’s design aesthetic as well as our shared commitment to quality, value, and customer service.”

housing.prices

Berkshire Hathaway recognizes top sales executives

Leaders and representatives from Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Arizona Properties gathered at the Westin Kierland Resort & Spa to recognize the company’s top sales executives for 2014.

Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Arizona Properties and its sister company, Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Nevada Properties, together comprise the third largest Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices franchise in the world. Combined, the companies sold $2.7 billion in Arizona and Nevada real estate in 2014.

Three Arizona teams were named among Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices’ Top 100 and will be recognized next month at the national Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices sales convention among the top 100 teams in the country. The Alan Levanson Team, The Joffe Group and John Turco will be recognized in the Top 100 out of 54,000 sales executives in the company’s global network.

“2014 was an exciting year for our company and for our nearly 800 real estate executives in Arizona,” said Mark Stark, CEO of Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Arizona Properties. “Aligning our company with Berkshire Hathaway in 2014 gave our executives increased brand recognition and even more technology, education and support to make their jobs easier and their clients’ experiences top notch.”

“Our sales executives do an amazing job, providing the best customer care in the business and exceeding growth expectations year-after-year,” said Gordon Miles, president and COO. “This annual event is a way for us to recognize and celebrate the achievements and contributions of some of the best real estate executives in Arizona.”

Berkshire Hathaways HomeServices Arizona Properties’ Top 10 Individual sales executives in 2014 were:

#1 – Katie Dabe

#2 – Linda Salkow

#3 – Olga Griffin

#4 – Kelly McLain

#5 – Joan Pike

#6 – Jeena Ronan

#7 – Sharon Helland

#8 – Beth Butner

#9 – Andrew Filipowicz

#10 – Holly Hoepfner

The company’s Top 10 Teams for 2014 were:

#1 – The Joffe Group

#2 – Sterling Elite Properties Group

#3 – Alan Levanson Team

#4 – Colleen Seymour & Associates

#5 – The Ray Group

#6 – The Murphy Team

#7 – Team Santistevan

#8 – John Turco Team

#9 – FHG-Fine Homes Group

#10 – The Berrett Team

Marlene Moore, branch transaction administrator, was named Employee of the Year and the team of Erin and Michael Hensel were named Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Arizona Properties’ Rookie of the Year for 2014.

“We welcomed approximately 250 new sales executives in our first year as a Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices franchise,” said Stark. Among them were nine individuals or teams that sold $7.1 million or more in Arizona real estate in 2014. These top individuals and teams were:

• Power of 4 team (Kathleen Benoit, Karen Baldwin, Anne Morrissey, Bee Francis)  – $76 million

• The Ocotillo-Chandler Team (Rebecca & James Raines and Janet & Mike Rogers) – $28 million

• Heather Maclean – $17 million

• Chris Meyer – $12 million

• Brian Kusmer – $9.5 million

• Kathy Kallner – $8.3 million

• Sylvester “Wojo” Wojtowicz – $8.3 million

• Eric Heil and Grett Hayes – $8.1 million

• Laura Dye and Heidi Felix – $7.1 million