Tag Archives: california

grocery

Expect to Pay More for Certain Groceries

With California experiencing one of its worst droughts on record, grocery shoppers across the country can expect to see a short supply of certain fruits and vegetables in stores and to pay higher prices for those items. Professor Timothy Richards of the W. P. Carey School of Business at Arizona State University recently completed some research on which crops will likely be most affected and what the price boosts might be.

“You’re probably going to see the biggest produce price increases on avocados, berries, broccoli, grapes, lettuce, melons, peppers, tomatoes and packaged salads,” says Richards, the Morrison Chair at the Morrison School of Agribusiness within the W. P. Carey School of Business. “We can expect to see the biggest percentage jumps in prices for avocados and lettuce – 28 percent and 34 percent, respectively. People are the least price-sensitive when it comes to those items, and they’re more willing to pay what it takes to get them.”

Industry estimates range from a half-million to 1 million acres of agricultural land likely to be affected by the current California drought. Richards believes between 10 and 20 percent of the supply of certain crops could be lost, and California is the biggest national supplier of several of those crops. For avocados, the state is the only major domestic source.

Richards used retail-sales data from the Nielsen Perishables Group, an industry analytics and consulting firm, to estimate price elasticities – how much the prices might vary – for the fruit and vegetable crops most likely to be affected by the drought. Those most vulnerable are the crops that use the most water and simply won’t be grown, or those sensitive to reductions in irrigation.

He estimates the following possible price increases due to the drought:

* Avocados likely to go up 17 to 35 cents to as much as $1.60 each.
* Berries likely to rise 21 to 43 cents to as much as $3.46 per clamshell container.
* Broccoli likely to go up 20 to 40 cents to a possible $2.18 per pound.
* Grapes likely to rise 26 to 50 cents to a possible $2.93 per pound.
* Lettuce likely to rise 31 to 62 cents to as much as $2.44 per head.
* Packaged salad likely to go up 17 to 34 cents to a possible $3.03 per bag.
* Peppers likely to go up 18 to 35 cents to a possible $2.48 per pound.
* Tomatoes likely to rise 22 to 45 cents to a possible $2.84 per pound.

“We predict the increased prices will change consumer purchasing behavior,” says Sherry Frey, vice president of Nielsen Perishables Group. “We’ve identified certain consumers who will be more heavily affected by the price increases — for example, younger consumers of avocados. In addition, there is a larger department and store impact retailers will need to manage. While some consumers will pay the increased prices, others will substitute or leave the category completely. And, for a category like avocados, there are non-produce snacking categories, such as chips, crackers and ethnic grocery items, that will be negatively impacted.”

Richards adds, “One other thing for shoppers to understand — Because prices are going to go up so much, retailers will start looking elsewhere for produce. This means we’ll see a lot more imports from places like Chile and Mexico, which may be an issue for certain grocery customers who want domestic fruit and vegetables.”

juice

Fox Enters Juice Market with Launch of Juby True

Fox Restaurant Concepts has expanded its presence in the thriving health-conscious restaurant market with the opening of Juby True, which stands for “Juice by True,” a juice bar poised to become a multi-unit concept by the end of 2014.

FRC, which has 40 restaurants under 13 brands in six states, opened Juby True in October as an extension to the restaurant group’s Scottsdale, Ariz. location of True Food Kitchen. The globally influenced restaurant debuted in Phoenix in 2008 and was developed in partnership with world-renowned leader in integrative medicine and best-selling author, Dr. Andrew Weil. It has since expanded into California, Colorado and Texas and has plans to open locations in Georgia, Virginia and Massachusetts.  New units of Juby True will be both stand alone locations and extensions of True Food Kitchen locations.

The launch of the walk-up juice bar is in response to the increasing demand for more healthful food options, said Sam Fox, CEO and founder of Fox Restaurant Concepts, based in Phoenix.

“When we first opened True Food Kitchen, we recognized the need for restaurants that offer nutritious food that also tastes good,” Fox said. “We instilled the same philosophy in Juby True, but this time in a portable, convenient cup.”

National Restaurant Association studies confirm the increasing interest in health and nutrition among today’s restaurant guests. In fact, 71 percent of adults said they are trying to eat healthier at restaurants than they did two years ago.

Juby True serves cold-pressed juices for $9, made in house and bottled for on-the-go convenience. The menu also features protein blends and smoothies for $8, water-based “hydrators” for $7, “juice boosts” for $4, coffees and teas ranging from $2-$6, and a variety of gluten-free, vegan and paleo-friendly snacks priced between $3 and $4. Additionally Juby True offers one- and two-day cleanse packages for $50 and $99, respectively.

Fruits and vegetables are sourced from local and regional organic farms in relation to “The Dirty Dozen” list. The foundation of Juby True was built with strong influences from True Food Kitchen’s anti-inflammatory philosophy.

SONY DSC

Binkley Opening Bink's Scottsdale in Late December

Chef Kevin Binkley announces plans for the opening of his fourth restaurant, Bink’s Scottsdale, at the Shops at Hilton Village, 6107 N. Scottsdale Road, Building C, Suite 110, in Scottsdale.

Chef Binkley looks forward to the opportunities of a central Scottsdale location, “I love that so many of our regular customers live in this area. We also have over 2,400 square feet of space, which allowed us to create a larger bar space to accommodate our customers. ”

Bink’s Scottsdale promises a fresh, organic look with a casual atmosphere. It will open its doors late 2013.

Bink’s Scottsdale will be open every day with brunch, lunch, happy hour, and dinner selections. Dishes will focus primarily on locally grown and harvested meats, fruits and vegetables. The restaurant will also provide a full bar with a regular wine list, as well as a reserve wine list.

Kevin, along with his wife, Amy Binkley, own and operate three award-winning restaurants including Binkley’s Restaurant in Cave Creek, Café Bink in Carefree, and Bink’s Midtown in Central Phoenix. Each restaurant sources and promotes seasonal fare in their menus.

A Valley food pioneer, Chef Kevin Binkley has received numerous accolades. Chef Binkley has been nominated every year since 2005 for the James Beard Award Best Chef of the Southwest. In 2013, the Arizona Culinary Hall of Fame awarded him the Lifetime Achievement award for his long-term excellence in the culinary industry.

Chef Kevin Binkley previously worked at the Inn at Little Washington, and with Chef Thomas Keller at the renowned French Laundry in Napa, California. His creative culinary process has earned national distinction since opening his own restaurants in Arizona.

Established in 2004, his first restaurant, Binkley’s, was named Best Restaurant by the Arizona Republic. Bink’s Midtown, established in 2013, was recently named Best New Restaurant by both Phoenix Magazine and Phoenix New Times. Bink’s Midtown also received the Best Happy Hour Award in Central Phoenix, for the 2013 Phoenix New Times awards.

SONY DSC

Binkley Opening Bink’s Scottsdale in Late December

Chef Kevin Binkley announces plans for the opening of his fourth restaurant, Bink’s Scottsdale, at the Shops at Hilton Village, 6107 N. Scottsdale Road, Building C, Suite 110, in Scottsdale.

Chef Binkley looks forward to the opportunities of a central Scottsdale location, “I love that so many of our regular customers live in this area. We also have over 2,400 square feet of space, which allowed us to create a larger bar space to accommodate our customers.”

Bink’s Scottsdale promises a fresh, organic look with a casual atmosphere. It will open its doors late 2013.

Bink’s Scottsdale will be open every day with brunch, lunch, happy hour, and dinner selections. Dishes will focus primarily on locally grown and harvested meats, fruits and vegetables. The restaurant will also provide a full bar with a regular wine list, as well as a reserve wine list.

Kevin, along with his wife, Amy Binkley, own and operate three award-winning restaurants including Binkley’s Restaurant in Cave Creek, Café Bink in Carefree, and Bink’s Midtown in Central Phoenix. Each restaurant sources and promotes seasonal fare in their menus.

A Valley food pioneer, Chef Kevin Binkley has received numerous accolades. Chef Binkley has been nominated every year since 2005 for the James Beard Award Best Chef of the Southwest. In 2013, the Arizona Culinary Hall of Fame awarded him the Lifetime Achievement award for his long-term excellence in the culinary industry.

Chef Kevin Binkley previously worked at the Inn at Little Washington, and with Chef Thomas Keller at the renowned French Laundry in Napa, California. His creative culinary process has earned national distinction since opening his own restaurants in Arizona.

Established in 2004, his first restaurant, Binkley’s, was named Best Restaurant by the Arizona Republic. Bink’s Midtown, established in 2013, was recently named Best New Restaurant by both Phoenix Magazine and Phoenix New Times. Bink’s Midtown also received the Best Happy Hour Award in Central Phoenix, for the 2013 Phoenix New Times awards.

SONY DSC

Binkley Opening Bink's Scottsdale in Late December

Chef Kevin Binkley announces plans for the opening of his fourth restaurant, Bink’s Scottsdale, at the Shops at Hilton Village, 6107 N. Scottsdale Road, Building C, Suite 110, in Scottsdale.

Chef Binkley looks forward to the opportunities of a central Scottsdale location, “I love that so many of our regular customers live in this area. We also have over 2,400 square feet of space, which allowed us to create a larger bar space to accommodate our customers.”

Bink’s Scottsdale promises a fresh, organic look with a casual atmosphere. It will open its doors late 2013.

Bink’s Scottsdale will be open every day with brunch, lunch, happy hour, and dinner selections. Dishes will focus primarily on locally grown and harvested meats, fruits and vegetables. The restaurant will also provide a full bar with a regular wine list, as well as a reserve wine list.

Kevin, along with his wife, Amy Binkley, own and operate three award-winning restaurants including Binkley’s Restaurant in Cave Creek, Café Bink in Carefree, and Bink’s Midtown in Central Phoenix. Each restaurant sources and promotes seasonal fare in their menus.

A Valley food pioneer, Chef Kevin Binkley has received numerous accolades. Chef Binkley has been nominated every year since 2005 for the James Beard Award Best Chef of the Southwest. In 2013, the Arizona Culinary Hall of Fame awarded him the Lifetime Achievement award for his long-term excellence in the culinary industry.

Chef Kevin Binkley previously worked at the Inn at Little Washington, and with Chef Thomas Keller at the renowned French Laundry in Napa, California. His creative culinary process has earned national distinction since opening his own restaurants in Arizona.

Established in 2004, his first restaurant, Binkley’s, was named Best Restaurant by the Arizona Republic. Bink’s Midtown, established in 2013, was recently named Best New Restaurant by both Phoenix Magazine and Phoenix New Times. Bink’s Midtown also received the Best Happy Hour Award in Central Phoenix, for the 2013 Phoenix New Times awards.

geothermal

SRP Taps into Super-Hot Renewable Energy Resource

Salt River Project has signed an agreement with CalEnergy, LLC for the purchase of 50 megawatts (MW) of geothermal energy from a number of plants located in the Imperial Valley of southern California. CalEnergy, LLC and its affiliates, subsidiaries of MidAmerican Energy Holdings Company and TransAlta Corporation, own and operate the geothermal facilities located near the Salton Sea.

The Salton Sea Known Geothermal Resource Area is one of the world’s most prolific regions for the production of renewable energy.  SRP’s purchase will begin with 18MW in 2016 and grow to the full 50 megawatts in 2019.  The agreement will allow SRP to continue providing its customers with sustainable energy from these facilities until 2039.  The geothermal power generated by the project will offset approximately 460 million pounds of carbon dioxide emissions each year – the equivalent of taking about 40,000 cars off the road.

A geothermal plant produces electricity from naturally occurring geothermal fluid.  Steam is formed when production wells tap into superheated water reservoirs thousands of feet beneath the Earth’s surface.  Unlike other forms of renewable energy such as solar or wind, geothermal power plants are highly reliable as they produce energy continuously, irrespective of the time of the day or weather conditions.

Geothermal is one of the cleanest sources of baseload generation because, instead of burning fossil fuel to heat water into steam as seen in most conventional forms of generation, heat from the Earth is used to create steam that powers a turbine generator.  Geothermal energy is considered renewable energy because no fuel is consumed and the energy is from naturally occurring sources.

SRP also has agreements to purchase geothermal energy from the Hudson Ranch facility in southern California which began operating in 2012, and the Cove Fort plant currently under construction in Utah.

Under SRP’s Sustainable Portfolio goals, SRP must meet 20 percent of its retail electricity requirements through sustainable resources by the year 2020.  SRP’s sustainable portfolio is currently providing more than 10 percent of retail energy needs with sustainable resources such as solar, wind, landfill gas, geothermal, biomass, hydro and energy-efficiency measures.

SRP is the largest provider of electricity to the greater Phoenix area, serving nearly 970,000 electric customers.

electricity

Customers Rank SRP Highest in West, U.S.

Salt River Project’s electric customers continue to give SRP high marks for customer satisfaction.  In a report issued today by J.D. Power and Associates, SRP received the top score for residential electric service in the Large Utilities segment in the western United States for the 12th consecutive year and the highest total among the nation’s largest utilities for the fifth year in a row.

SRP’s ranking was bolstered by sweeping the No. 1 spot in the survey’s Large Utilities segment in the West region for all six survey components, Power Quality and Reliability, Billing and Payment, Corporate Citizenship, Price, Communications and Customer Service. Among all large utilities across the nation, SRP scored highest in customer satisfaction for the eighth time in the 15 years J.D. Power and Associates has conducted its study of residential customers.  With a Customer Satisfaction Index score of 709 on a 1,000-point scale in this year’s ranking, SRP is the only electric utility that has been ranked among the top 10 in the U.S. in all 15 years.

It is the 14th time in the last 15 years that SRP scored the highest in the West among large electric utilities (500,000 or more residential customers). The average score in the West large region, which covers utilities in Arizona, California, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Utah, Washington and Wyoming, was 654.

The 2013 Electric Utility Residential Customer Satisfaction Study was based on responses from about 103,000 online interviews conducted from July 2012 through May 2013 among residential customers of the 126 largest electric utility brands across the nation, which collectively represent more than 94 million households.  More information on the J.D. Power and Associates’ study can be found at www.jdpower.com/library/index.htm.

SRP is the largest provider of electricity to the greater Phoenix metropolitan area, providing electric service to more than 970,000 customers.  SRP also is the metropolitan area’s largest supplier of water, delivering about 1 million acre-feet to agricultural, urban and municipal water users.

law.courts

Major victories for same-sex marriage

In a historic victory for gay rights, the Supreme Court on Wednesday struck down a provision of a federal law denying federal benefits to married gay couples and cleared the way for the resumption of same-sex marriage in California.

“Today’s significant ruling will likely spur further expansion of protections for LGBT individuals,” said Nonnie Shivers, a shareholder in the Phoenix office of Ogletree Deakins. “Employers must keep abreast of these rapidly expanding protections under federal, state, and local laws for not only gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender individuals, but also covering gender identity and gender expression. Employers should expect changes to federal laws impacting the workplace based on today’s rulings, in particular the inclusion of same-sex partners in leave considerations under the Family and Medical Leave Act and potentially sponsorship of same-sex partners for immigration purposes, as well as expanded state and local protections.”

The justices issued two 5-4 rulings in their final session of the term. One decision wiped away part of a federal anti-gay marriage law that has kept legally married same-sex couples from receiving tax, health and pension benefits.

The other was a technical ruling that said nothing at all about same-sex marriage, but left in place a trial court’s declaration that California’s Proposition 8 is unconstitutional. Gov. Jerry Brown quickly ordered that marriage licenses be issued to gay couples as soon as a federal appeals court lifts its hold on the lower court ruling, possibly next month.

In neither case did the court make a sweeping statement, either in favor of or against same-sex marriage. And in a sign that neither victory was complete for gay rights, the high court said nothing about the validity of gay marriage bans in California and roughly three dozen other states. A separate provision of the federal marriage law that allows a state to not recognize a same-sex union from elsewhere remains in place.

President Barack Obama praised the court’s ruling on the federal marriage act, which he labeled “discrimination enshrined in law.”

“It treated loving, committed gay and lesbian couples as a separate and lesser class of people,” Obama said in a statement. “The Supreme Court has righted that wrong, and our country is better off for it.”

House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, said he was disappointed in the outcome of the federal marriage case and hoped states continue to define marriage as the union of a man and a woman.

The ruling in the California case was not along ideological lines. Chief Justice John Roberts wrote the majority opinion, joined by Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen Breyer, Elena Kagan and Antonin Scalia.

“We have no authority to decide this case on the merits, and neither did the 9th Circuit,” Roberts said, referring to the federal appeals court that also struck down Proposition 8.

Phoenix Sky Harbor, Photo: Flickr, flavouz

Volaris will fly out of Sky Harbor

Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport is welcoming a new airline that will operate direct flights to two cities in Mexico.

Officials say Volaris, the largest Mexican low-cost airline, will fly nonstop, three times a week from Phoenix to Mexico City and Phoenix to Guadalajara beginning later this year.

Details on exact days and times have not yet been released.

Volaris CEO Enrique Beltranena and Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton say the new flights will strengthen economic ties and bolster tourism.

Sky Harbor currently offers nonstop flights to 20 international cities, including several daily flights to Guadalajara and Mexico City.

Volaris also serves airports in California, Colorado, Nevada, Illinois and Florida.

Grant Thornton Business Optimism Index

Comerica Bank’s Arizona Index Up in April

Comerica  Bank’s Arizona Economic Activity Index climbed slightly in April, rising 0.2 percentage points to a level of 95.0. The  April  index  reading  is  23.7 points, or 33 percent, above the index cyclical  low  of 71.3. The index averaged 87.2 points for all of 2012, 8.7 points above the average for full-year 2011.

“Our  Arizona  Index  increased  in  April  reflecting  the  turnaround  in residential  real  estate conditions in the Phoenix area,” said Robert Dye, Chief  Economist  at  Comerica  Bank.  “Home  prices  have  increased  on a month-to-month  basis for 20 consecutive months through this past April. On a  year-ago  basis,  Phoenix  area home prices are up 21.5 percent. That is providing  positive  incentive  for  home  buyers  and builders. It is also increasing  homeowners’  wealth,  which  translates  into  stronger overall consumer  activity.  We  expect  to  see further improvement to the Arizona economy in the months ahead.”

The  Arizona  Economic  Activity  Index  consists  of  seven  variables, as follows:  nonfarm  payrolls,  exports,  sales tax revenues, hotel occupancy rates,  continuing claims for unemployment insurance, building permits, and the  Case-Shiller  home  price index.  All data are seasonally adjusted, as necessary,  and  indexed  to  a base year of 2008. Nominal values have been converted to constant dollar values. Index levels are expressed in terms of three-month moving averages.

Comerica   operates   18   full-service   banking  centers  throughout  the Phoenix/Scottsdale area.  In addition to Arizona, Comerica locations can be found in its headquarters state of Texas, as well as in California, Florida and  Michigan, with select businesses operating in several other states, as well  as  in  Canada and Mexico.

law

Frutkin Law Firm Continues to Grow

The Frutkin Law Firm has added James Arrowood to its growing roster of attorneys. This is the third attorney hired by the firm in the past year. Arrowood brings extensive experience in business law, dispute resolution, and business negotiations to the firm.

As a Senior Counsel Attorney at The Frutkin Law Firm, Arrowood focuses his practice in the areas of conflict resolution and litigation, real estate, strategic financial and tax planning, and business law. He has also developed an emerging practice related to the special legal and financial needs of successful medical professionals and groups.

Before joining the firm, Arrowood served as counsel at one of the largest law firms in the world and as in-house counsel at several companies. As a result of his experience, he gained a wide breadth of business and legal knowledge, including an appreciation for business considerations in light of legal issues. Arrowood also spent a year living in London, England where he studied international law and interned in the House of Lords (England’s equivalent of our Supreme Court/Senate at the time). After law school, Arrowood worked as a litigator for a large firm in Philadelphia and then continued on to Washington D.C., New York, and Los Angeles before making Arizona his home base in 2010.

Arrowood graduated from the law school at University of Notre Dame in 2002 after he earned dual Bachelor of Arts degrees from University of California, Irvine in 1999. He has bar admissions in Arizona, California, and New Jersey, as well as affiliations with the 9th Circuit, California District Courts, District Court for Arizona, Eastern District Court for Pennsylvania, and United States Tax Court.

The Frutkin Law Firm now consists of ten attorneys with decades of experience in the core areas of business law, bankruptcy, estate and tax planning, and civil litigation. For more information on The Frutkin Law Firm and practices areas, visit www.frutkinlaw.com.

Banner Goldfield Medical Center is newest Banner hospital

Banner Health has selected Banner Goldfield Medical Center as the name for its newest facility, reflecting the community’s top naming choice, as well as the natural and majestic environment provided by the Goldfield Mountains, located near the medical center.

The Banner Goldfield name replaces the name of Arizona Regional Medical Center, which will join Banner Health on May 15. The 30-bed hospital will serve as a gateway to Banner’s array of specialized services in the East Valley.

“The Banner Goldfield name was chosen for many factors including community preference, meaning and distinctiveness,” said Julie Nunley, CEO of Banner Ironwood (and Banner Goldfield, beginning May 15). “The Goldfield Mountains are a beautiful backdrop to the newest addition to the Banner family.”

To ensure the smoothest transition possible, Banner Goldfield will temporarily close beginning May 15, but will begin providing patient care again Friday, June 14.

This transition period will provide the time necessary to implement the many systems and practices that are the foundation of Banner Health’s standing as a top health system in the nation for clinical care. The time will also be used to install new technology and equipment and train staff.

Headquartered in Phoenix, Banner Health is one of the largest, nonprofit health care systems in the country. The system manages 23 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. For more information, visit www.BannerHealth.com.

118315706

Stanton pitches Phoenix to Silicon Valley businesses

Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton wants businesses in Silicon Valley to relocate to Arizona.

Stanton traveled to California this week to sell Phoenix as a prime location for technology and manufacturing jobs.

Stanton says Phoenix needs to proactively attract employers.

Stanton’s office would not say what companies he is approaching in California because the meetings are confidential.

Stanton has traveled to Silicon Valley in the past to persuade companies there to relocate or open new branches in Phoenix.

He also has made several recent trips to Mexico to promote international trade.

Stanton was elected mayor in 2011.

gaia

Biltmore Bank Sponsors Start-Up Competition

Biltmore Bank of Arizona, a premier community bank headquartered in Arcadia along the Camelback Corridor that is focused on the needs of the small and medium-sized business, announced that it has joined Tallwave, a lean business accelerator and venture management firm also located in Scottsdale, for the first-ever “High Tide” Start-Up Competition.  High Tide is focused on commercializing new sustainable ventures in Arizona by bringing validated companies to willing and motivated capital sources.

“High Tide is the only startup competition in the Southwest, applying lean business and design validation principles to identify, develop and commercialize rapid-growth startups,” said Jeff Gaia, CEO and president of the Biltmore Bank of Arizona. “Through our sponsorship of this innovative program, we believe we can help connect the entrepreneurial ecosystem in Arizona as well as assist startups in becoming become viable, scalable and sustainable growth companies.”

Thus far in the competition, High Tide has selected and celebrated 20 companies throughout the Southwest to participate in its “Phase One: Validation” program, which examines viability of each venture. Six of these 20 companies have since been announced as finalists and have now moved to the “Phase Two: Acceleration” program, which assesses product-market fit and go-to-market commercialization.

The finalists – four of whom are from Arizona – are:
Convrrt from Chandler
Creative Allies from Santa Monica, California
GreenRx from Denver, Colorado
HiringSolved from Chandler
LocalWork.com from Phoenix
SaveOnCouriers.com from Phoenix

Each High Tide finalist will receive a cash grant of $15,000 for use in company operational expenses and an additional $35,000 in scholarships for either “Product Market Fit” or “Go To Market” services from Tallwave. There is no cost to entrepreneurs selected to participate in the High Tide program. For more information, visit www.TallwaveHighTide.com.

“As a High Tide sponsor, Biltmore Bank has visibility into Arizona’s most exciting and promising startup and early-stage ventures,” said Jeffrey Pruitt, Tallwave chairman and CEO. “Entrepreneurs need the help of community leaders such as Biltmore Bank and we applaud their support of the next captains of industry.”

real estate - expanding to california

Shine coming off the Golden State

The Tax Foundation in its 2013 State Business Tax Climate Index tells us something most of already know: California has high taxes. Really high.

In its state-by-state rankings, California checks in at 48, duking it out with New Jersey and New York at the bottom of the barrel. Breaking out the ranking in its component parts, California comes in at 45 for corporate taxes and 49 for individual tax rate.

The hits keep on coming. The California Taxpayers Association reports that California has the highest statewide sales tax in the nation and the country’s second-highest gasoline tax.

So it doesn’t take an economic development wizard to figure out that California’s pain could be Arizona’s gain. After all, while our governor and Legislature have been reforming Arizona’s tax code to make it friendlier to business, California has been going in the opposite direction.

As the Arizona Commerce Authority made clear last week in a presentation by ACA CEO Sandra Watson before the House Committee on Commerce, our state’s job creation authority is well aware that our proximity to California and our fertile jobs environment can drive job growth here at home.

But as Watson said in her testimony, “the opportunity in California goes way beyond a tax discussion.” The state’s California strategy is about opening doors to the world’s ninth largest economy and taking advantage of the opportunities our nearness to that market allows.

The ACA has set up offices in Santa Clara and Santa Monica where it has two executives working full-time as market representatives, spreading the word about what Arizona has to offer for firms exploring expansion, while also helping Arizona take advantage of the benefits our proximity to California has to offer, such as improved supply chain access.

As Chamber board member Pete Bolton of Newmark Grubb Knight Frank said at the same hearing, the tremendous growth in warehousing seen in the West Valley can be attributed to logistics. The area, according to Bolton is “zoned properly and that’s where the trucks come from. You get on I-8 and mostly I-10, it is a very serious line of trucks coming from the ports. The ports in Los Angeles distribute a huge amount of the products that we all consume.”

Sharing a border with California is advantageous to our other neighbors as well.  Currently, Texas and Mexico are tied for the 14th largest economies in the world and they, too, enjoy the access to California that Arizona provides. Arizona is well positioned to easily ship goods to market, while companies looking to hire California talent can set up shop in Arizona and have easy access to that talent pool.

As Watson pointed out, “Businesses generally don’t pay attention to a state border when they’re looking at access to markets. They’re going to ship their goods in and out, [and] they’re going to access the talent in those markets.”

Arizona is making tremendous strides in emerging technology and aerospace and defense. Having a flag planted in California, home to venture capital firms looking to invest in the next big thing, means opening doors for Arizona firms looking to be that next big thing. Beyond just access to capital, locating in Arizona means Arizona companies can enjoy the benefits of California without the high cost of doing business next door.

But the ACA’s strategy in California is more than just one state versus another or one region’s economic dynamism versus another’s. This is about global competition. By hanging a shingle in California, the ACA has access to the many multinational firms that call California home and is more easily able to interface with them to help Arizona companies reach customers around the world, especially since the world’s fastest-growing economies all have consulate offices in California.

Currently, the ACA has been in touch with over 200 potential leads and partners through their offices in California. Of those leads, more than 40 are truly qualified and are currently being pursued. The ACA is hopeful that more of those leads will become solid partnerships and that Arizona will continue to grow our presence within California. Greater Phoenix Economic Council President and CEO Barry Broome nailed it when he said, “California’s economy and Arizona’s economy are intertwined.”

But I close with a note of caution. For all that Arizona is doing right and California is doing wrong, let’s remember that the Golden State is our next door neighbor. While we’ve got the manicured lawn, our neighbor’s yard is overgrown with weeds and there’s a car up on blocks. It’s an eyesore and bringing down the value of the whole block.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce is so concerned about the direction California’s taken that it’s launched the California Comeback, a policy initiative designed to help advance California’s recovery. A state with as much to offer as California is too important not only to Arizona but to the entire country to allow it to fail.

Admittedly, Arizona has much to gain by California’s struggles; we’re an escape hatch from their high taxes and stiff regulations. But we have so much more to gain when California makes a full recovery.

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

Curis Resources - Florence Copper Project

MJ Insurance Expands Metals Group to Phoenix

MJ Insurance, a leading property-casualty and employee benefits agency headquartered in Indianapolis, is expanding its successful  Metals Group to its Phoenix office.

For more than 20 years, MJ Insurance has represented metals and metal-related companies including manufacturers, processors, scrap metal dealers and all other companies using metals with their risk management programs from its Indianapolis office. The private insurance agency is now expanding its reach by extending the service line in its Phoenix office for clients across the West.

“We are intrigued to see where this expansion takes MJ Insurance,” said Michael H. Bill, CEO of MJ Insurance. “Our Metals Group has seen significant growth in the last few years in line with new environmental policies and our team has remained on the front line of the risk inherent to the industry. We are excited to now expand these services and see how it benefits the industry in the West.”

MJ Insurance’s Metals Group helps clients identify and cover unique exposures by designing risk management programs specifically tailored to them. The team focuses exclusively on the metals industry, allowing them to offer the utmost individualized service and programs available while being resourceful to meet each specific company’s needs with safety and environmental consulting.

The metals group currently serves clients in the Midwest throughout Indiana, Ohio, Kentucky, Tennessee, Illinois and Missouri. With the expansion, the company looks to serve Nevada, Arizona, Utah, California and Colorado businesses, while expanding its reach in the already successful market in Mexico.

Specialty coverage and options include captive alternatives, ocean cargo, foreign travel, Mexico transit, environmental liability and trade credit, among others.

MJ Insurance also has an online Risk Management Center that enables clients to easily manage various insurance, risk management and OSHA compliance responsibilities while also offering access to online safety tools.

The company is an active member in several metals, manufacturing and recycling trade associations, further showcasing their commitment and knowledge of the industry.

phil-mickelson-masters-2006_t640

An open letter to Phil Mickelson

Dear Phil,

I read your recent comments about the crushing tax burden California has imposed on wage earners like yourself. You said that you might even move out of California. Allow me to suggest Arizona – your former home – as your next home.

Though my time playing golf is usually limited to courses where I try to hit the ball into a miniature windmill, you and I have a lot in common. We’re both left-handers. We’re both Arizona State grads, you with a Bachelor’s, me from the law school. You’re a member of the ASU athletics Hall of Fame. I enjoy watching ASU sports.

More importantly, though, we both understand the impact high taxes have on a state’s economy and its hard working residents. A high-tax environment drives capital and people out of state, which explains why California is currently experiencing an unprecedented exodus of wealth.

It’s apparent you’re not alone in your high-tax sentiments. Even your sometimes rival on the golf course, Tiger Woods, said California’s high-tax environment is why he left the state for Florida.

California’s current top income tax rate of 13.3 percent is a good enough reason to pack up one’s clubs and move on.

Sure, California has sandy beaches and sunshine, but that doesn’t dull the sting of paying out nearly half your income in total taxes. It’s hard to enjoy the ocean when you’re watching your hard earned money float out to sea.

Arizona has sunshine and sand (traps), too. And while California has been pursuing a flawed economic strategy, we’ve been making all the right moves.

Over the past two years, Gov. Jan Brewer and the Legislature have worked hard to make Arizona a state that is known for job growth and creation. They’ve decreased the corporate income tax rate, lowered the tax on business property and equipment, cut taxes on investment income and have made Arizona’s tax code more attractive to businesses selling goods and services outside our borders.  While California was raising its taxes (again), our voters rejected a massive permanent tax hike. We’ve also balanced our budget.

The per-capita income going to taxes in Arizona is just 8.7 percent, compared to the national average of 9.8 percent and California’s burden of 11.8 percent. That leaves more money for vacations to your favorite beaches (including those in California) or for purchasing a Major League Baseball team.

We’ve also cut back on unnecessary regulations, freeing up businesses to expand without the worry of frivolous government interference.  You can’t even go into a Starbucks in California without a Proposition 65 warning of the dangers of coffee.

All of these efforts have resulted in Arizona’s move up the leaderboard.  Arizona received the title of number one state for entrepreneurial activity in 2011 and was ranked a Top-10 state for business in 2012. We also ranked second – just behind North Dakota – for states with the best job-growth forecast.

I’ll put this all in terms you can appreciate:  If Arizona competed in The Masters of economic competitiveness, we’d end up with the coveted green jacket.

Phil, you know better than anyone that you can’t beat the golf here. You’re already a crowd favorite come Waste Management Phoenix Open time. So go pack your clubs and call the movers.

Just don’t take too long. I could really use some tips on my swing.

Sincerely,

Glenn

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

Untitled

Greater Phoenix CVB promotes 3 as part of reorganization effort

The Greater Phoenix Convention & Visitors Bureau, the nonprofit organization that markets metropolitan Phoenix as a visitor and meeting destination, has promoted Michael Mooney to the position of Executive Vice President.

Mooney, who previously held the title of Chief Operating Officer, will continue to serve in that role. He joined the Greater Phoenix CVB in 1997. In the 16 years since, he has risen in rank and responsibility, from Director of Information Technology to Chief Financial Officer to his new position as the CVB’s No. 2 executive.

Prior to joining the Greater Phoenix CVB, Mooney served as the senior financial and technology officer for a private enterprise that operated in the tourism-related realms of aviation, hotel lodging, restaurants, ground transportation and golf in Arizona, Washington, Hawaii, California and Nevada. Immediately preceding that career path, Mooney developed computer software for the casino industry, specializing in timekeeping, slot accounting and guest tracking.

Born in New Jersey, Mooney has called Phoenix home since his high school days.

Mooney’s promotion follows two other recent reorganization moves at the Greater Phoenix CVB: Melissa Gogel was promoted to Vice President of Marketing, Communications and Tourism; and Scott Dunn was elevated to Senior Director of Marketing and Communications.

Gogel, who has worked at the Greater Phoenix CVB since 2000, takes the supervisory reins of three departments: marketing (which is responsible for the CVB’s advertising, branding and website); communications (which coordinates media relations efforts); and tourism (which markets Phoenix to travel agencies and tour operators).

A native of Nashville, Gogel had previously served as Director of Marketing. She began her career at the CVB as an assistant in the Membership Department. Prior to coming to Phoenix she worked as a marketing analyst for Harold’s clothing stores in Norman, Okla.

Dunn, also a native Tennessean, has worked at the Greater Phoenix CVB for six years, serving as Communication Manager and Associate Director of Communication. Before coming to Phoenix he spent 14 years in the journalism industry, working as a reporter and editor at newspapers in Utah, New Mexico and South Carolina.

stk99406cor

Most Banner employees comply with ‘No Flu For You’ policy

A remarkable nearly 100 percent of Banner Health’s approximately 36,000 employees have complied with the company’s No Flu For You policy. This commitment by Banner employees, to decrease the risk of flu infections among fellow employees and patients, is especially timely as the Centers for Disease Control is predicting an early start to a potentially heavy and deadly flu season.

All employees and volunteers were required to receive the flu vaccine, which was offered at no cost. Those unable to receive the vaccination because of medical or religious reasons were able to receive an exemption but must wear masks during the flu season.

“Patients and families who turn to Banner Health can be assured that our employees have taken the necessary steps to ensure their safety and prevent the spread of the flu,” said Dr. Marjorie Bessel, M.D., chief medical officer for Banner’s Arizona East Region.

This policy is in place at all of Banner’s facilities including all of its acute-care hospitals and other healthcare facilities in Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Nebraska, Nevada and Wyoming. At least 11 states, including Colorado, have regulations enacted regarding influenza immunization of healthcare workers, either requiring immunization or signed declinations for medical, religious or philosophical reasons.

Banner continues to work with less than five employees who are not in compliance to ensure their return to the workplace. None of these employees are currently working at Banner facilities, so patients and their families can be assured Banner is doing its very best to protect everyone during the flu season.

The flu is a contagious and deadly disease, contributing to more than 36,000 preventable deaths annually in the U.S. Vaccination is a very effective way to prevent it. According for the Centers of Disease Control, flu vaccination of health care workers have been shown to help prevent death in patients, as well as reduce the influenza infection.

The flu shot that’s given to all health care workers and the general public this year protects against two strains of influenza A and influenza B virus. This year, shots became available in September since flu season typically begins in October with spikes in January and February. The vaccine protects for about one year.

About Banner Health
Headquartered in Phoenix, Banner Health is one of the largest, nonprofit health care systems in the country. The system owns or manages 23 acute-care hospitals, long-term care centers, outpatient surgery centers and an array of other services including physician clinics and home care and hospice services. Banner Health is in seven states: Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Nebraska, Nevada and Wyoming.

104234506

Federal plan to streamline solar development in Arizona OK’d

Federal officials on Friday approved a plan that sets aside 285,000 acres of public land for the development of large-scale solar power plants, cementing a new government approach to renewable energy development in the West after years of delays and false starts.

The government is establishing 17 new “solar energy zones” on 285,000 acres in six states: California, Nevada, Arizona, Utah, Colorado and New Mexico. Most of the land — 153,627 acres — is in Southern California.

At a news conference in Las Vegas, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar called the new plan a “roadmap … that will lead to faster, smarter utility-scale solar development on public lands.”

The plan replaces the department’s previous first-come, first-served system of approving solar projects, which let developers choose where they wanted to build utility-scale solar sites and allowed for land speculation.

The department no longer will decide projects on case-by-case basis as it had since 2005, when solar developers began filing applications. Instead, the department will direct development to land it has identified as having fewer wildlife and natural-resource obstacles.

The Obama administration has authorized 10,000 megawatts of solar, wind and geothermal projects that, when built, would provide enough energy to power more than 3.5 million homes, Salazar said.

Secretary of Energy Steven Chu said the effort will help the U.S. stay competitive.

“There is a global race to develop renewable energy technologies — and this effort will help us win this race by expanding solar energy production while reducing permitting costs,” Chu said in a statement.

The new solar energy zones were chosen because they are near existing power lines, allowing for quick delivery to energy-hungry cities. Also, the chosen sites have fewer of the environmental concerns — such as endangered desert tortoise habitat — that have plagued other projects.

Environmental groups like the Nature Conservancy who had been critical of the federal government’s previous approach to solar development in the desert applauded the new plan.

“We can develop the clean, renewable energy that is essential to our future while protecting our iconic desert landscapes by directing development to areas that are more degraded,” said Michael Powelson, the conservancy’s North American director of energy programs.

Some solar developers who already are building projects were complimentary of the new approach, saying it will help diversify the country’s energy portfolio more quickly.

Still, some cautioned that the new plan could still get mired in the same pattern of delay and inefficiency that hampered previous efforts, and urged the government to continue pushing solar projects forward.

“The Bureau of Land Management must ensure pending projects do not get bogged down in more bureaucratic processes,” said Rhone Resch, president of the Solar Energy Industries Association.

Salazar said the country four years ago was importing 60 percent of its oil, and that today that number has dropped to 45 percent.

“We can see the energy independence of the United States within our grasp,” he said.

real estate - expanding to california

Valley Real Estate Company Branches Out Of Arizona

Local real estate brokerage firm HomeSmart is continuing to grow by opening franchises in California. The nationwide company based in Phoenix recently began making its way to other cities across the United States offering one of the most attractive business models in the real estate industry.

Since opening in January 2000, HomeSmart has had tremendous success by growing to over 4,300 agents in Arizona. Such unparalleled growth has catapulted HomeSmart to rank as the largest real estate brokerage in the southwestern United States and among the top ten brokerages in the country.

This month, HomeSmart has launched franchises in California including Santa Rosa, Modesto, and Palm Springs, as well as local offices in Ahwatukee and Green Valley. The real estate brokerage also has international operations in Beijing, China. Their goal is to open franchises in the top metropolitan cities in the U.S.

“We are excited to grow nationwide and for the future of HomeSmart,” said Founder Matt Widdows, who ranks in the Top Five National Independent Companies. “Our strong growth has driven us to begin franchising a year ago and we have seen our model and technology work in both small and large markets. We have built our reputation on exceptional customer service with our unique franchise package that gives our real estate brokers and agents a competitive advantage in this industry.”

HomeSmart’s proprietary software puts its franchise partners ahead of the curve. Developed by Widdows and his development team, the reputable systems are proven to save business owners huge costs attributed to web hosting, lead generation and back office systems. This allows the franchise owners to provide the technology to their agents for free while allowing them to keep 100 percent of their commissions. Other advantages to HomeSmart’s franchise program include a virtual receptionist, generous fee structure, and a full suite of branding and marketing products.

HomeSmart prides itself on successfully blending technology with a personal touch, something that is often lost in the industry. They continue to implement new technologies that empower its agents to provide outstanding service to their clients. This summer, HomeSmart will launch a new mobile application allowing residents to access market information at their fingertips. Users can take notes, rank properties, and share properties they like on social networking sites with friends.

The local brokerage donates time and money to many local charities, including Phoenix Children’s Hospital, Ronald McDonald House Charities, Back to School 4 Kids, American Diabetes, Make a Wish Foundation and more.

For more information on HomeSmart, its franchise opportunities, and community outreach, please visit www.homesmartinternational.com. Follow HomeSmart on Facebook at www.facebook.com/homesmart.