According to CITA, an International Wireless nonprofit organization, 91% of Americans carry a cell phone as of 2009, and those numbers have continued to expand. Now more than ever, with the growing popularity of the iPhone and Droid, cell phones have become both a necessity and an addiction.
In past decades, landlines were an essential part of the home, but with cell phone giants like Apple, wireless communication is quickly eliminating the need for both a home phone and cell. Now, phones do much more than dial, and let’s be honest — landlines don’t have Angry Birds or Restaurant Finder Apps.
“Snail” Mail vs. Email
Electronic tablets, such as Apple’s iPad, Samsung’s Galaxy Pad, Amazon’s Kindle or the BlackBerry Playbook, have been 2010’s newest toy. According to the Washington Post, “average daily circulation of all U.S. newspapers has been in decline since 1987″ and “has hit its lowest level in seven decades.”
Newspapers have been undoubtedly hit hard — as major stations are reporting record losses, cuts and even closures across the country. Despite the change in the medium which news is delivered, there will always be a desire and need for the public to be informed and educated on current events. It’s just that now news is viewed on a 9 x 5 LED screen — not paper.
Video Rental Stores
Some of my fondest childhood memories include “Power Rangers: The Movie” and the newest Nintendo 64 game — both of which were rented from the local Blockbuster. Video rental stores, like Blockbuster, have been slowly declining in business over the past 6 years as online sites such as Netflix and RedBox have stolen much of the business which these stores once had.
Having closed over 600 stores in just the past three years and reported record losses in the hundreds of millions, it’s no wonder Blockbuster is struggling to stay afloat. According to an article by MSNBC.com, “Blockbuster Inc. may close as many as 960 stores by the end of next year,” primarily in response to appeal and ease of online streaming — in a society glued to their computer screens.
As a current student at ASU, I recognize that most classes still meet in a physical room with a paper syllabus and wooden desks from the Jimmy Carter administration. However, as technology of educational tools increases, so does the medium with which it is taught.
Arizona State University offered over 700 online classes this spring, which range from Managerial Economics to History of Hip Hop. It’s not just ASU, but virtually all major universities across the country offer online classes and degrees, and sites like Blackboard allow professors to post assignments and readings for the week online.
As we kick off Black History Month, Arizona companies devote time for sharing, caring and supporting ethnic communities. Employers understand the importance of spreading the love and have done so with educational scholarships, funding for schools and free entertainment.
United Services Automobile Association (USAA), an investment and insurance company, offers specific educational opportunities during this month. Classes on leadership skills, how to take control of finances and programs that support growth and opportunity are provided.
Payless ShoeSource, a national shoe distribution company, offers the Inspiring Possibilities Scholarship Program, which supports the future of African American and other minority youth. Beginning Feb. 1, Payless will sell a limited-edition I believe accessory for $3. This accessory will be available online at Payless’ website and in 800 stores nationwide. The store will donate a minimum of $35,000 to the scholarship program. The program is designed to distribute about a dozen scholarships to African American and other minority youth for the 2011-2012 seasons.
Barnes and Noble
Barnes and Noble, the world’s largest bookseller, is honoring Black History Month with special events and promotions. They will have story-telling events, various speakers, tables with books for all ages, including picture books and autobiographies. An April Harrison tote bag will be sold; proceeds will go back into ethnic communities. Special pricing will be in place this month to support the learning, economic, social and political growth of African Americans.
Quicken Loans, the largest online loan servicing company, is giving away more than $20,000 in scholarships. Five years ago, Quicken Loans started giving away one of six scholarships ranging from $1,000 to $10,000 to each winner. The money goes to the child’s school of choice to help promote education and spread Black History. Joined with Fathead, a leading brand in sports and entertainment graphic products, they allow children to go online and register for the scholarships by stating why Black History Month is important.
Arizona State University
Arizona State University (ASU) celebrates Black History Month many ways, but the big talk is John Legend coming to ASU’s Tempe campus Feb. 8 for a free concert to anyone with a SunCard. Legend will have a brief discussion on what Black History means to him before signing some of his songs. Two free tickets are available to ASU students, faculty and staff.
AP and Associates/Phoenix International Raceway
AP and Associates, creator of the Checkered Flag Run in Arizona, will have celebrity appearances, NASCAR race, activities and major sponsors for inaugural event hosted by Second II None Motorcycle Club at the Talking Stick Resort and Casino and Phoenix International Raceway (PIR). There will be over $50,000 in prizes and a chance to accompany PIR President Bryan Sperber to the trophy winner. They will be highlighting the diversity that motorcycle enthusiasts have along with supporting organizations that work to benefit local African American communities in both Phoenix and Scottsdale.
Northern Arizona University
Northern Arizona University (NAU) features a list of Black History events throughout the month. Men’s Basketball vs. Montana State will have Black Student Union students sitting together to show their support for NAU’s men and women basketball teams. Step Afrika is a step show, an art form born at African American fraternities, at the university for free. Apollo Night with Keedar Whittle, a reenactment of the historic Apollo Theatre, will show famous Black historic moments. And month-end closing barbecue, sponsored by Coconino County African American Advisory Council, will have free food.
Black History Month is a time for everyone to get together and enjoy a piece of history that leads to a brighter future. For more information on Black History, visit http://www.infoplease.com/black-history-month/.
Mark Kranz, SmithGroup
Mark Kranz, AIA, LEED AP, is the design principal and lead designer for the Phoenix office of SmithGroup’s Higher Education and Science and Technology Studios. Mark’s work has been published locally, regionally and nationally.
He speaks publicly about sustainable design strategies for laboratory and academic facilities, and his work is consistently recognized by the design and construction industries. Kranz works regionally within the Western United States with research institutions and institutions of higher education creating laboratory and instructional facilities that elegantly reflect their specific context and function.
He has spent the past 11 years with SmithGroup, creating the vision for some of the most significant architectural contributions for some of the most prominent institutions and public entities in the Southwestern United States including Arizona State University, the University of Arizona, the City of Phoenix, the State of Utah, The City and County of Denver, and the Maricopa County Community College District.
He is currently behind the design visions for numerous landmark projects for clients including the National Renewable Energy Laboratories in Golden Colorado, The University of Hawaii at Hilo, the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command in Honolulu, Hawaii, as well as Gateway Community College in Phoenix, Arizona.
Topic: Sustainable Strategies for Higher Educational Facilities: A case study of four sustainable educational facilities in four unique settings.
BIG Green Expo
While we all expect quality health care to be available when it’s needed, our future could be flat lining. According to the Association of American Medical Colleges, meager graduation and physician training rates in our country could cause a shortage of up to 150,000 doctors within the next 15 years. As many of us are aware, Arizona already is battling an on-going primary care physician shortage, which will cause wait times and delays in care to grow in the coming years. Because of this, no-appointment convenience care clinics have become an important and growing part of our healthcare landscape.
The Rand Corp. recently performed a survey which showed that convenience care clinics staffed by nurse practitioners or physicians assistants can treat acute, everyday illnesses in a way that is quick, convenient and significantly more affordable for the patient, without sacrificing quality. Convenience care clinics have shorter wait times than emergency rooms, help people avoid lengthy physician appointment scheduling delays, and in some cases, require a payment that is less than an office visit co-pay or co-insurance. In short, convenience care clinics help people with minor illnesses return to good health and get back to their daily routine, and are efficient in doing so.
There are now 1,200 quick-care clinics operating in 32 states, according to the Convenient Care Association. In Arizona, Cigna Medical Group has opened nine CMG CareToday clinics since 2007, with at least two more planned this year and a newly opened facility off of the Metro Light Rail in down town Phoenix. Other health care organizations – including some Arizona hospitals – are recognizing that this facility model can help direct people to the right health resource based on the severity or simplicity of their symptoms.
According to the National Center for Health Statistics, seven of the 10 most common reasons people go to the doctor are for minor needs that can be successfully treated by a physician’s assistant or nurse practitioner. Yet to function optimally, the providers in convenience care clinics should be integrated into a large medical group or health system in two ways. First, they should be programmatically linked with supporting primary care physicians in order to make the treatment of patients more effective. Secondly, they should share electronic health records with these same primary care physicians to have direct access to the detailed patient records prior to providing the acute care and to communicate back to the physician who is providing ongoing care. If a system like this were in place at more neighborhood walk-in clinics, it would become easier for patients to go to a convenience care clinic for quick treatment, and still be sure that their primary care physician will be updated about any important changes in their health.
Not only is this critical in our personal lives, but access to healthcare (or delays to it) also has deep implications in the workplace. During this time where businesses are facing a great deal of economic stress, many offices are operating as leanly as possible and the absence of just one sick co-worker disturbs an entire department. Because of this fact, employees are trying to be fully productive.
According to a 2008 survey conducted by Yankelovich for CIGNA, about 61 percent of U.S. workers said they reported for duty while they were sick or coping with family and personal matters. On average, they did this more than twice as often as they missed work. Employees who are ill at work are not fully “at work.” Their productivity, morale and concentration drops. Employees realize that presenteeism affects the workplace. In the same survey, 62 percent said they were less productive on those days they came to work too distracted to perform at their fullest potential. Yet, convenience care clinics – especially when located near dense, urban employment hubs – make it possible for employees to receive medical care near the office and return to work that same hour, or return home with medicine in hand to assist a speedy recovery.
This convenience care clinic model is proving to be effective and under demand in Arizona because more than ever before, greater health care access is crucial. Arizona continues to experience a shortage of primary care doctors, with a physician-to-population ratio that is below the national average, according to the American Medical Association.
It is our hope that more healthcare organizations, employers and individuals will help advance a new, stratified level of service: convenience care clinics for minor ailments, physician offices for more complex or specialty needs, urgent care centers for serious wounds or injuries, and quality emergency rooms for life-threatening needs.
A cooperative effort toward better public education and understanding as to which type of facility to seek for the appropriate level of care would be a valuable step towards preventing over-crowding at emergency rooms and physician offices. Such an effort would assure that each type of facility provides the right care at the right time when patients come through the door. This adaptability, along with innovation, can give the customer quality care every time.
On December 5 Facebook introduced another change to their ever-rotating lineup of profile options. The latest update establishes a new layout for user profiles and more options for displaying work and education information. While the new profile is currently on an opt-in basis only, Facebook will be gradually rolling out the change and plans to have all Facebook users switched by early 2011.
What to Expect:
While current profiles push basic user information such as career, education and hometown off to the side, the new profiles will feature this information at the top of the page directly under the user’s name. This move bumps off the most recent status update that was usually displayed in this spot.
The new profiles also feature 5 recently tagged photos in addition to the main profile picture and users can choose to display featured friend groups (family, coworkers, etc.). Facebook users can expect more than just a new profile page though. The photo display page has undergone a transformation as well, featuring an “infinite scroll” rather than the page-by-page layout of before.
Along with the aesthetic changes come increased options for connecting with other users. The new Facebook profile offers the option of tagging your coworkers in career information and listing projects you have worked on with them. As for education, you can list classes you have taken and connect with old classmates.
How to Opt-In:
If you can’t wait for the new profile to be implemented for all of Facebook you can opt-in to the change by visiting www.facebook.com/about/profile and clicking the green “Get the New Profile” button.
Yuma Regional Medical Center (YRMC) is proud of having a diverse work force that represents the community and the patients it serves. That work force diversity includes ethnicity, cultural background, gender, age, economic means, physical and mental ability, family settings, educational levels, and religious beliefs.
By valuing diversity, YRMC seeks to achieve an environment where the total spectrum of differences is valued and integrated into every aspect of the hospital. YRMC classifies its various dimensions of diversity as human, cultural and systemic. Human diversity refers to the physical characteristics or life experience of an individual. Cultural diversity is characterized by fundamental beliefs, attitudes, assumptions, values and personal characteristics. System diversity is characterized by the integration of organizational structures and management operating systems where differences are involved or implicit.
YRMC strives not only for diversity within its walls, but also outside of them. The YRMC Community Outreach Team allows employees to connect with Yuma’s many diverse cultures. The program focuses on meeting the needs of winter visitors, migrant workers, military personnel, as well as the elderly, uninsured and Spanish-speaking population.
Lee A. Barnett’s dedication to diversity and Valley youth already is bearing fruit.
Barnett, the director of technology at American Express’ Valley operations, has been a member of the Diversity Leadership Alliance’s (DLA) board since 2007. He has been key in developing the DLA Youth Council, which assists high school sophomores, juniors and seniors to transition to higher education and work force readiness. The council also develops leadership skills among youth that are aimed at building an inclusive community.
Under Barnett’s guidance, the three-year-old DLA Youth Council has grown from 24 students to 120 students participating in monthly workshops. At this year’s DLA Youth Council ceremony, 12 students from several Phoenix-area high schools received recognition. They in turn expressed their gratitude for the confidence, support, and diversity awareness and training that DLA provides.
One student stated: “I went into the DLA being someone who preferred their own ideas and thoughts over others. I am extremely proud to say I am leaving the DLA being a person who now respects, accepts and is grateful for different ideas.”
Barnett’s dedication to the Youth Council is opening new horizons for many diverse high school students throughout the Valley.
Serving 10 Native American tribes, the Northern Arizona Regional Behavioral Health Authority (NARBHA) has made a commitment to upholding diversity and cultural sensitivity in order to provide high-quality care to its patients.
NARBHA is the Regional Behavioral Health Authority for Coconino, Navajo, Yavapai, Apache and Mohave counties, serving more than 700,000 people throughout 62,000 square miles of Northern Arizona.
In 2001, NARBHA established a cultural competency plan as required by the Arizona Department of Health. The following year, NARBHA developed the Cultural Awareness and Diversity Committee, which uses community input to annually update the cultural competency plan. In 2003, the co-chair of the committee saw a gap in communications between NARBHA and the 10 tribes NARBHA serves. To improve coordination with the tribes, NARBHA created a new position called the Tribal Liaison.
The development of the cultural diversity committee, the cultural diversity plan, and employees devoted to cultural inclusion has improved NARBHA’s ability to provide services to diverse populations. The initiative has broken down barriers to tribal members’ access to care, created culturally responsive behavioral health programs in treatment clinics, and increased awareness statewide of the unique needs of diverse, rural communities. In addition, NARBHA focuses its hiring efforts on developing a work force that reflects the diversity and language needs of the community.
The Spanish word for “leader” is “lider.” It’s no surprise that LIDER is the name of Cox Arizona’s 12-week Leadership Development Program. The program was created to introduce the company’s frontline bilingual (Spanish/English) employees to leadership, and to develop future leaders that will help Cox grow its Hispanic customer base.
LIDER provides education on the leadership roles at Cox and Cox’s core competencies (influencing others, producing results, communication skills). The program is structured to address the uniqueness of Hispanic culture, and the combination of multiple cultures and languages in a business environment.
The four-year-old LIDER program is facilitated by the Cox Internacional leadership team and was developed through a collaborative effort of the company’s Arizona care, field training and human resources. Candidates are provided extensive development plans, participate in presentations by the local executive leadership team, review core leadership competencies, book reviews, and are given a final project that is presented in front of the Cox Arizona executive team. The program is cross-departmental and has seen a 33 percent promotion rate.
Development programs such as LIDER help to grow Cox’s diverse employee base. The company’s leadership team, from executives, VPs, directors and managers, participates and actively promotes self-development and growth.
Veolia Transportation is committed to creating an environment of diversity and inclusion. Through its Diversity and Inclusion Program, Veolia’s overall human resource strategy includes recruiting, hiring, promoting, engaging and retaining the company’s diverse talent.
Veolia’s Diversity and Inclusion Program began with revamping the entire recruiting process to ensure Veolia became an Equal Opportunity Employer. Once on board, Veolia provides an employee orientation program that includes diversity training. In addition, all existing employees completed a diversity training class in 2008. Awareness and education regarding diversity have continued with the production of a monthly diversity newsletter. Also, an internal Mentoring Program was created to provide opportunities for new hires to be partnered with seasoned employees.
The need for a culture change was imminent at Veolia Transportation of Tempe. Due to a poorly run operation, new leadership was sought. A new, diverse team was brought together in 2007 to help transform the performance of the operation and improve the overall morale of employees. The diversity training initiative helped “create an environment of respect for our differences and inclusion.” Soon, Veolia’s slogan of “Together We CARE” became real. CARE stands for commitment, accountability, respect and empowerment. These are four values that are consistent with Veolia’s everyday operations in Tempe.
Arizona Entrepreneurs Hold Fifth Annual Meeting Of The Minds
Join in for an exciting opportunity to connect, share ideas and be inspired at the fifth annual Arizona Entrepreneurship Conference.
This year’s conference, which will take place Wednesday Nov. 17, 2010 at the Desert Willow Conference Center, will feature tips and ideas from expert CEOs while also providing allotted time for networking with fellow entrepreneurs.
Over the course of the day several topics will be discussed including everything from effectively using social media and creating an eco-edge to conquering the chaos of entrepreneurship and engaging in top-notch customer service.
Attendees will not only get the chance to learn from local leaders on what it takes to get funded in Arizona, but will also see a showcase exhibit of Arizona companies and organizations that provide services that support entrepreneurs.
Additionally, this year AZEC will be addressing five of the most important needs to consider when reaching out to Arizona communities: collaboration, civics, education and training, arts and culture, and investment capital.
A variety of keynote speakers will accentuate the conference by providing their knowledge and expertise of the entrepreneurship field.
Debra Johnson, founder and CEO of EcoEdge will share how her passion for reducing environmental impact and being frugal created her award-winning company.
Jeremiah Owyang, a web strategist for Altimeter Group will discuss useful approaches to entering the digital world.
Dr. Paul Bendheim, founder and CEO of BrainSavers, a company that provides assistance in reducing the risk of memory disorders by incorporating healthy lifestyle habits, will speak about his entrepreneurial experience.
For those who are just starting out or who have been lifelong entrepreneurs, this year’s conference will provide abundant opportunities to foster new ideas and learn how the experts first got started.
To register and for more information, visit azentrepreneurship.com.
For government and business, providers and patients, the U.S. health care reform legislation promises a new world of costs and care.
Most individuals without insurance will be able to get it. Those who have insurance already probably will have to pay more for it. Hospitals, doctors and others in the front lines of health care will begin to change long-established ways of doing business. State governments and many businesses, already battered by recession, will face new costs and possibly some benefits.
But beyond these generalizations, little is certain about what health care reform will mean in Arizona and across the country. The bill is vague in many areas and leaves important details of implementation to be determined by federal regulators and other officials in the weeks and months ahead.
“Quite frankly, we won’t know the financial impacts until we move through the process and see what the federal government and insurance companies do,” says Donna Davis, chief executive officer of the Arizona Small Business Association (ASBA).
Barry Broome, president and chief executive officer of the Greater Phoenix Economic Council (GPEC), says it is too early know what the bill will mean.
“It sounds very good to be able to cover the uninsured, but what the costs are and how they are going to be distributed are still not clear,” he says.
Marjorie Baldwin, director of the School of Health Management and Policy and assistant dean at Arizona State University’s W. P. Carey School of Business, says it is important to note that the law’s primary purpose is to cover the uninsured.
“This bill is about access,” Baldwin says. “It’s designed to cover the uninsured. There is much less in it about quality of care and little about cost controls.”
On what the price tag for health care reform will be, Baldwin says, “The one safe prediction is that it is going to cost much more than anticipated.”
Hospitals and doctors
Whether the health care overhaul is ultimately deemed a success will be determined to a large extent by what happens inside the nation’s hospitals, clinics and doctors’ offices.
Peter Pavarini, a health care lawyer for Squire, Sanders and Dempsey and an adviser to health care organizations, believes hospitals are actually well-positioned to adapt to the new law.
“Hospitals have been anticipating something happening for some time,” Pavarini says. “Hospitals have the resources to prepare better than some of the other players in the health care system.”
Several provisions in the law are expected to lead to a dramatic shift in the way hospitals are paid by insurance. Under the existing system, providers receive set rates for specific medical procedures. The new law moves toward a system in which hospitals receive a set amount for treating an overall condition or a so-called “bundled payment.” This shift is expected to require more detailed treatment plans, coordinated care and closer cooperation among hospitals and physicians.
“With the bundled payments, you have to have a more integrated approach and an approach that aligns physicians and hospitals,” says Suzanne Pfister, vice president of external affairs at St. Joseph’s Hospital and Medical Center in Phoenix.
The hospital already has been moving in this direction, according to Pfister. St. Joseph’s has forged a series of partnerships with area health care organizations, including outpatient and short-stay providers United Surgical Partners and SimonMed Imaging
“We are continuing to look at moving from acute care to a continuum of care,” Pfister says.
Pavarini believes the new payment systems for Medicaid and Medicare will bring big changes to care at hospitals. When the system is in place, hospitals will get a set payment for delivering all of the care a patient receives from 72 hours before admission to 30 days after discharge, he notes.
“That’s a whole different model from what we have now,” Pavarini says. “This means it’s not good enough just to get the patient in and out of the hospital. It means testing can’t be duplicative. And it means patients better be ready for discharge when they’re released.”
Pavarini says doctors and hospitals will need to cooperate more closely as the law is implemented. He sees hospitals forging formal alliances with physician groups and appointing more practicing physicians to their boards of directors.
A more basic concern for hospitals is how much they will be paid. Because expansion of Medicaid is a key feature of the law, hospitals are concerned about long-term revenue.
“Payments are going to shift more to the level of Medicaid, and Medicaid has not been a particularly good payer,” Pfister says.
Officials at Phoenix-based Banner Health, one of the largest nonprofit health care systems in the country, are still examining the legislation to assess its consequences.
“This reform is primarily about health insurance, not health care reform,” the organization said in a statement. “It will result in expanded AHCCCS (Medicaid) coverage in Arizona and access to insurance, but the need remains to address reducing the cost of health care.”
The bill includes a number of provisions that will increase the role of primary-care physicians. Medicaid fees will go up for primary-care doctors, who also will be eligible for bonuses from Medicare.
St. Joseph’s is concerned about being able to find enough physicians as health care reform is implemented in the coming years, according to Pfister.
“Arizona has fewer physicians per capita than the national average, so we face that already. Arizona does not have enough primary-care physicians and even some specialists,” she says.
The larger hospitals that have formal ties to physicians and other providers probably will fare best under health care reform, according to Pavarini. But he believes smaller, more isolated hospitals will struggle and some will close.
“Arizona has a number of smaller hospitals in less populated areas,” he says. “I think the outlying hospitals in rural communities could have difficulty.”
While all businesses will be affected by the health care reform law, some will feel it more than others. Probably least affected will be firms that already provide health insurance now and have a pool of employees large enough to allow the companies to self-insure.
“For most large businesses, fundamentally there’s not a lot of change,” says Keith Maio, president and chief executive officer of National Bank of Arizona. “For us, we’ll have to be a little more paperwork conscious.”
ASU’s Baldwin says the principal effect on large employers will be slightly higher expenses, as they absorb some of the cost of the system’s expanded coverage.
“For larger employers, the law is not going to mean a big difference, but they are going to see their costs go up,” she says.
Smaller businesses though will face new uncertainties, and, for some, significant new costs.
“I would say that there is a cloud of concern generally for small businesses,” says Maio, whose bank has many small business customers. “People who have been through the recession and are still slugging it out have learned to survive. But they still have trouble seeing how they can get back to where they were . That’s why something like the health care bill can have such an impact.”
The law offers a complex mix of incentives and penalties designed to spur employers to offer health insurance. In 2014, employers with 50 or more workers who do not provide coverage will face penalties of $2,000 or $3,000 per employee. Some employers who provide insurance and have fewer than 50 workers will be eligible for tax credits.
“In a sense there is both a carrot and a stick,” says Bradford Kirkman-Liff, professor in the School of Health Management and Policy at W. P Carey. “The idea is to create a very strong incentive to provide insurance.”
The tax credits could offset as much as half of the insurance costs for some employers, Kirkman-Liff notes.
“Arizona has a high number of small employers. Many of them don’t provide health insurance, but some do. This would give them a reason not to drop it,” he says.
The law also instructs states to establish insurance exchanges, where small employers and individuals can purchase policies from insurance companies. The exchanges are designed to bring down the cost of insurance by combining groups of buyers into large pools.
But even with government subsidies and insurance exchanges, some businesses will find the burden too large, according Maio.
“The greatest impact will be on those that employ entry-level employees,” he says. “Arizona has a lot of lower-wage businesses who won’t be able to afford to provide insurance. I think some will opt to pay the fine. Then what have you accomplished?”
Another problem that Maio sees is the 50-employee threshold for the coverage requirement. Employers with fewer than 50 can escape penalties for not providing insurance.
“Have you given them a disincentive to adding people?” he asks.
Davis at ASBA says most business owners are focused on short-term challenges and do not have a clear picture of how the law will affect them.
“For some small businesses who fit the prescribed requirements, it will help offset some of their costs,” Davis says. “For others, it simply won’t.”
Convention Group Sales Manager
Jill Longfellow is grateful for her membership in the Arizona Sunbelt Chapter of Meeting Professionals International, and now she is helping others see the benefits as well.
As the chapter’s director of Membership Retention and Global Community Challenge, Longfellow spends time speaking to members who want to cancel their memberships because of downturns in the economy and the tourism industry. The decline in membership is why the chapter created a global community challenge that encourages members to learn about each other’s businesses in order to create referrals, she says.
“(The global community challenge) has been a terrific way for our members to truly see the ROI from their MPI membership above and beyond the education we receive at our monthly meeting,” says Longfellow, the convention group sales manager for Enterprise Holdings Inc.
A referral is also what piqued her interest in MPI. She joined in 2000, after a former Enterprise employee explained to her that MPI is a “terrific association.”
In her time with the Arizona Sunbelt Chapter, the group has created a return on investment receipt program. This program allows members to see what their MPI membership has done for them in the past.
“It is a goal of our chapter this year to make sure that every member sees the ROIs from their local involvement with our local chapter,” Longfellow says.
“My MPI membership has allowed me the opportunity to meet with hoteliers and meeting planners that I would not have been able to meet with in the past without the exposure I receive from my involvement with my local chapter.”
The exposure Longfellow has created for Enterprise through MPI is “critical” to her job, she adds.
“My involvement and membership with MPI helps to ensure that the meeting planner committee understands Enterprise’s commitment to community service and customer service,” Longfellow says.
MPI also has allowed the business and meeting planning community to better understand all that the rental car industry can do for companies holding gatherings in Arizona, she says.
Just as MPI has had a big impact on her career, Longfellow says the Arizona Sunbelt Chapter of MPI has a major role to play in the business community in the years to come, especially in this current economic climate.
“I believe it’s very important that our board and our members get the word out to the public and to our elected officials about the large effect that group conventions, meetings have on Arizona as a whole,” she says. “As a destination state, we need to keep our local hotels and resorts and convention centers full with meetings, so we can keep our Arizona residents employed through these businesses — and to keep meetings happening in our beautiful state, from the northern pinecap areas of Northern Arizona to the Valley here in Phoenix, and south all the way through to Tucson.”
Teachers are desperately in need of assistance, especially during these tough economic times with budget cuts, fewer resources and larger class sizes. That’s why it’s important to get the word out about some exciting opportunities to assist educators, both personally and in the classroom.
Arizona teachers can apply for one of two full-tuition scholarships being offered by University of Phoenix and/or $5,000 in funding for environmental programs in their school, classroom or community through an EarthFest Education Grant made possible by STMicroelectronics.
Valley Forward Association has partnered with University of Phoenix to offer two full-tuition scholarships to Arizona K-12 teachers in an effort to expand its environmental education outreach. Each scholarship will allow a prospective student the opportunity to obtain a Master of Arts in Education (MAED) degree.
The purpose of the scholarship program is to provide educational opportunities to local teachers who have demonstrated sustainable practices in their classroom and want to continue to make a difference in their community. The scholarship application deadline is Oct. 22 and recipients will be announced by Nov. 12. To obtain a copy of University of Phoenix’s Valley Forward Scholarship application, teachers can visit valleyforward.org or phoenix.edu/scholarships.
In addition, Valley Forward recently announced $5,000 in grant funding for teachers in the 2010-11 school year to support projects that enhance awareness of and interest in environmental sustainability. It is the fourth consecutive year STMicroelectronics has funded this program.
Projects should focus on such topics as: energy, water, air quality, transportation, land planning, plants and animals or waste management. The deadline for submitting applications is Dec. 10. Applications may be mailed or emailed to email@example.com and projects must be completed by May 1, 2011.
These and other opportunities were offered in conjunction with the sixth annual EarthFest Educators Night, presented in partnership with Intel Corporation and the Helios Education Foundation. To learn more about what resources are available, visit: Environmental Education Directory.
Why does it matter? Because if we expose kids of all ages to ways they can contribute to a healthier environment, it helps ensure a more sustainable future for generations to come.
Despite some gains in the governmental sector, the state’s unemployment rate for August rose one-tenth of a percent to 9.7 percent as private sector hiring was flat, according to the Arizona Department of Commerce. Usually, Arizona’s economy generates jobs in August, but last month only 28,000 jobs were created. That was still better than August of 2009.
Most of the seasonal job gains were the result of local schools bringing on 26,000 positions for the start of the academic year. State education added 7,000 jobs, with losses in other government agencies offsetting some of the gains.
The private sector posted gains in five sectors and losses in five sectors for a net decline of 800 jobs. Of the state’s 11 industry sectors, government posted the largest job gains at 29,000. Educational and health services followed government, adding 3,000 jobs. Construction continued to add jobs in August, generating 1,900 and giving the industry a net gain through the first eight months of the year.
The Commerce Department reports that, “Construction employment trends in 2010 indicate stabilization in the industry after 28 months of continuous losses.”
Other sectors creating jobs in August were: professional and business services (1,800); trade, transportation and utilities (1,100); and natural resources and mining (100). The sectors that lost jobs last month were: information (500); financial activities (800); manufacturing (1,400); and other services (2,000).
Leisure and hospitality lost 4,000 jobs last month, which the Commerce Department called “unusual.” With the winter tourism season generally starting after Labor Day, hotels and resorts in the state traditionally tend to ramp up hiring in August.
Year-over-year, the jobless situation in Arizona continues to show improvement. Total nonfarm employment last month was down 0.1 percent. In August 2009, it was down 8.3 percent. Compared to August of last year, four sectors registered year-over-year job gains last month. The professional and business services sector was up 8,200 jobs; trade, transportation and utilities was up 7,700 jobs; educational and health services had a gain of 7,100 jobs: and natural resources and mining posted gains of 1,000.
Around the state, only the Phoenix and Tucson metro areas held steady with their unemployment rates. Other major metro areas in the state posted increases in joblessness. Here’s a look at unemployment around the state:
Phoenix Metro: 8.8%
Tucson Metro: 8.7%
Yuma Metro: 23.7%
Flagstaff Metro: 8.0%
Prescott Metro: 10.2%
LHC-Kingman Metro: 10.9%
The Leadership Excellence category recognizes that great companies have great leaders who share knowledge and inspire employees and the community.
Winner: Sundt Construction
Category: Leadership Excellence
Year Est.: 1890
No. of Employees in AZ: 850
Recent Award: Associated General Contractors of America’s Excellence in Education Award – 2009
video by Sonoran Studios
The leadership of Sundt Construction is familiar and long standing. Sundt is 100 percent employee owned, its board has just three outside directors, and Chairman and CEO, J. Doug Pruitt, has been with the company since 1966.
Within the past decade, Sundt has developed two leadership development programs for employees. Started in 2000, LEAP, or Leadership Excellence Accelerates Performance, has graduated more than 150 employees. Most of the graduates of the LEAP program are now in middle- or senior-management positions at Sundt. START, or Sundt Talent Recognition and Training, began in 2004. Since then, it has provided leadership development for almost 80 “early career” employees.
Sundt’s Strategic Management Committee includes representatives from all operating divisions and support departments. This committee has several important tasks, including the annual development of a tactical plan for each department and operating unit, and quarterly progress reporting on each unit’s tactical plan. The committee involves employees from all over the company in the decision-making process for all units and departments.
Sundt has won the Association for Strategic Planning’s Richard Goodman Strategic Planning Award for large, for-profit companies. The company won for its efforts in strengthening the importance and performance of strategic planning, and for fostering continuing excellence in the field.
In addition to its in-house leadership, Sundt employees give their time and energy to several local and national organizations, including the Associated Minority Contractors of America, the Society of American Military Engineers and the American Institute of Contractors.
Finalist: SCF Arizona
Category: Leadership Excellence
Year Est.: 1925
No. of Employees in AZ: 531
Recent Award: Equality Arizona’s Corporate Citizen of the Year – 2008
The leadership at SCF Arizona has stood up to the tough economic times, which has proven be a powerful asset to SCF’s employees. SCF has made budget cuts to ensure that the company wasn’t forced to lay off a single employee.
SCF’s President and CEO, Don Smith, is a major part of this leadership. Smith joined SCF Arizona 10 years ago, and has been the driving force behind changing SCF’s workplace culture for the better. Smith stresses to employees that SCF is a vital economic engine to Arizona, and its employees are vital contributors to the quality of customer service SCF provides. Smith tells employees that being active members of their community is important professionally — and he leads by example. Smith has served on the boards of several Valley organizations, including the Greater Phoenix Economic Council and the Grand Canyon Chapter of the American Red Cross.
Category: Leadership Excellence
Year Est.: 1984
No. of Employees in AZ: 103
Recent Award: Great Place to Work Institute and Society for Human Resource Management’s Best Small Company to Work for in America award – 2009
McMurry’s leadership excellence started with Preston McMurry Jr., founder of McMurry, but it hasn’t ended there. Preston McMurry’s dedication to the values he started the company with is evident in his position as “Corporate Values Shepherd.” He speaks to employees four times a year about the values-based system the company runs on, so all employees can understand the importance of McMurry’s values.
Preston’s son, Chris McMurry, is now CEO and takes his leadership role just as seriously as his father did. Chris has taken the company from custom publishing to a full-service marketing communications firm. He also makes sure that his employees are satisfied with the company. He surveys the staff with the Best/Worst and Teamwork surveys. He also solicits staff opinions through his blog, “Conversations with Chris.” Through McMurry’s leadership, employees are invited to be innovative and are rewarded for their efforts.
To buy a print version of the 2010 Arizona’s Most Admired Companies
go to MagCloud.com
The catastrophic events that have stricken the people of Haiti demonstrate — quite lamentably — that in a world of nanotechnology, Google-enabled mobile phones, double tall soy lattes, and proposed universal healthcare, there remain societies on the brink of social, economic, and environmental collapse. For comparison sake, recall the 1989 earthquake that struck the San Francisco Bay Area; a 7.0 geological shift took the lives of 63 people. The same magnitude befell the people of Haiti on Jan. 12; while estimates vary, 100,000 could be dead. That is half of the population of the City of Tempe.
International aid organizations have begun to alleviate immediate suffering; there has been a nationally televised charity concert where people could “text-message” help from the comfort of their own home; myriad countries have sent physical and monetary support. However, there remains a normative question that should be on our minds:
What should we do to ensure a more sustainable Haiti, in the future?
Expand education efforts:
In a nation where 38 percent of the population is under the age of 14, developing intellectual capital will allow good ideas to originate, blossom, and be implemented in a country that is in dire need of them.
Economic development and investment:
Haiti is the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere. By advancing an equitable combination of foreign direct investment, NGO/nonprofit work, and domestic revenue producing opportunities we can ensure that Haitians are placed on a path of economic self sufficiency;
Further micro-lending networks and opportunities to allow access to entrepreneurial capital and development. Jobs starting from bottom up will empower individuals and reduce the economic stratification that is rampant in the country.
Establish legitimate governance systems:
Haiti’s government has utilized 8,000 U.N. peacekeepers to maintain some semblance of order and control since 2004. While a future government does not have to be a veritable paragon of representative democracy and efficiency, the people of Haiti deserve a government that will work — vigorously and in earnest — to advance their well-being. Imagine there were a comprehensive and enforced modern building code prior to the earthquake; would Haiti have fared more like San Francisco?
The world is not a mutually exclusive place anymore. We, a global people, are connected to one another in innumerable ways. As such, we need to demonstrate our solidarity and resolute commitment to creating a more sustainable Haiti. I challenge you to ask what else you, your business, organization, or nonprofit can contribute towards the economic, social, and environmental revitalization of Haiti.
Let’s start a thoughtful and innovative conversation about how businesses, organizations, and nonprofits can move beyond status-quo assistance and be truly entrepreneurial and ground-breaking in their aid. I look forward to making positive change happen, together.
For those of you involved in the green/sustainability arena, you are probably still decompressing from the impressive event that was the Greenbuild 2009 Conference and Expo that was held last week. With over 27,000 attendees, the Phoenix Convention Center, Chase Field, local businesses, and the entire community were host to a remarkable event.
Produced by the United States Green Building Council (USGBC), the conference aimed to bring leading minds, businesses, and the community together around the premise of green building, education, and professional networking.
During my time visiting the impressive conference, some of the following thoughts came to me:
- The Gargantuan Expo: The expo (which was an exhausting feat to see all of it in detail) was filled with an incredible array of vendors showcasing their particular products that contribute to green buildings and lifestyles. There are – it is not a stretch to say – innumerable creative manners in which a business or individual may contribute towards a “greener” building, property, and subsequent environment.
- Intellectual Development and Discussion: There were several intriguing presentations by industry experts, academic researchers, community members, and perspicacious interdisciplinary practitioners. The presentations that blended elements of “green” building/design with a social cohesion element had particular merit.
- Keynote Speeches: Nobel prize laureate Al Gore gave the keynote address on Wednesday evening at Chase field. While much of Mr. Gore’s speech was information that many of the participants may have already heard via self subscription to the “green” lifestyle, he did offer a particularly compelling charge to the audience. It was a call to arms advocating that the audience move beyond discussing green tactics and immediately work to make a substantive difference, now.
Given the participation of the conference, I would challenge each individual to consider some of the following points:
- How do we, as individuals who have a particular interest in this field (and its success), bring the tenants of green building to those who need it most? What are the ways in which we are enabling and setting up our communities – of all socioeconomic and demographic representation – for success? Are the technologies and methods we recommend commensurate with a practical application to those who need it most?
- What are the implications of the commoditization of green building ideals? While there are too many integrated issues to list here, how could the exhibitors at the Greenbuild expo make a difference in areas of abject poverty and subsistence-level construction (i.e. the applicability and practicality of technology towards the greater good)?
- Given the awesome level of experience and mental aptitude that accompanies these conferences, what type of demonstrable impact can they have on the community in which they are held?
I’d love your thoughts, reactions, and recommendations on what you thought of Greenbuild and how to make conferences, like this one, better in the future.
The time has come! Greenbuild 2009 has officially begun. For those unfamiliar with Greenbuild here’s some background information listed on the Web site for the event.
“Greenbuild is the world’s largest conference and expo dedicated to green building. Thousands of building professionals from all over the world come together at Greenbuild for three days of outstanding educational sessions, renowned speakers, green building tours, special seminars, and networking events.
Greenbuild 2009 is heading to the American Southwest, a region with unique environmental and social challenges and opportunities, and the imperative is clear: Green building can and must come home to all people, boosting the quality of life on main streets across the country and around the world. Join us at Greenbuild 2009 in Phoenix, Nov. 11-13, 2009 and engage in the conversation we must have to bring green to everyone, and bring everyone to green.”
Gov. Jan Brewer and Mayor Phil Gordon have proclaimed the week of Nov. 9-13 as U.S. Greenbuilding Council (USGBC) and Greenbuild International Week. In separate statements, the governor and mayor cited the work of the Arizona Chapter of the U.S. Greenbuilding Council (USGBC) in hosting the conference and expo as well as the mission of the USBGC which is to alter the built environment.
Greenbuild is bringing 25,000 people from 90 countries to Arizona to attend this exciting conference and expo. The expo will showcase more than 1,000 vendors while the conference will offer 125 educational sessions on various green topics taught by local and national industry leaders. Sometimes referred to as the “Super Bowl of building green” Greenbuild is bringing some famous faces to town. Former vice president Al Gore is this year’s opening keynote speaker and singer Sheryl Crow is set to perform at Chase Field as part of the Greenbuild Opening Keynote & Celebration.
In recognition of this significant event hitting the Valley, the Arizona Greenbuild Host Committee and the Arizona Chapter of the USGBC have organized outdoor activities, off site education programs and 18 tours that showcase the best of the sustainable built environment in Arizona.
Several events will also be going on in the Valley throughout the week. From Tempe to Flagstaff, the entire state will be bringing sustainability into the spotlight with fun festivals and events for the public.
Arthur Andrew Medical
Title: Founder and CEO
Est: 1999 | www.arthurandrew.com
Justin Marsh, co-founder and CEO of Arthur Andrew Medical, is shining a light on an unconventional approach to improving health. But it all started far from the world of medicine.
Marsh left college with an electronics engineering degree and began his career working as a subcontractor for Motorola, Intel and AMD, developing and installing software.
“Ultimately, it wasn’t my education that allowed me to get into my current industry, it was more by chance and some key contacts that pointed me in this direction,” Marsh says.
Marsh switched careers when he joined the medical field as an investor, eventually buying out all of his partners to become the CEO of Arthur Andrew Medical. The company’s name derives from the middle names of the two founders, Thomas Arthur Aldrich and Justin Andrew Marsh.
The Scottsdale-based company began in 1999 as an international broker and distributor of enzymes and probiotics. To launch the line, Marsh took out a portion of equity from his house and relied on revolving credit. In 2003, Arthur Andrew Medical had a breakthrough when it found enzymes in Japan that it claimed surpassed any available in North America. Enzymes — along with several other benefits — convert our food to energy, eliminate viruses, and purify our blood. When they are formulated with materials found in nature, their beneficial uses can increase. These formulations are known as nutraceuticals or dietary supplements.
Arthur Andrew Medical teamed up with specialized doctors to formulate these enzymes and create nutraceuticals as a natural and alternative way to heal and help patients. The company’s line now consists of seven products that perform several different functions.
The business originally began with the intent of selling only to health care professionals. But Marsh says that as customers wanted more availability of the product, the company decided to open up the line to distribution across the U.S., and one day it plans to expand internationally.
The company has a staff of 10 and a sales force that includes more than 20 contractors and distributors. Besides the office in Scottsdale, Arthur Andrew Medical has a satellite office in San Diego. With four competitors worldwide, including three right here in Arizona, the company must work hard to earn consumers’ trust. One challenge the company struggles with is creative marketing.
“We are not permitted to say that we can diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease without first spending millions of dollars on FDA approval,” Marsh says, adding that as a result, the company relies on patient and doctor referrals.
With a claimed 70 percent rate of returning customers, this hurdle hasn’t stopped Arthur Andrew Medical from achieving success.
“Unlike pharmaceuticals, our products are effective without any concern of becoming habit-forming or causing damaging side effects,” Marsh says. “We have had success with patients that were considered untreatable with conventional methods.”
Marsh says his main goal is for people to know that, depending on the product, the FDA does not always have the final say.He adds there are options that can help when conventional medicine can’t.
“We approach medicine in an entirely different manner,” Marsh says. “We know our products work and we know there are no risks.”
Today, despite the poor economy, the company continues to grow. Marsh says Arthur Andrew Medical is on track to exceed its growth expectations for this year, with record-breaking sales logged in March.
“It seems the public eye is beginning to see the value of nutraceuticals as the cost of maintaining good health is much less expensive than recovering from poor health,” Marsh says.
In the 75 years since the formation of the Arizona Credit Union League & Affiliates, the organization’s role has changed markedly as its membership soared. Actually, the first credit union law in Arizona was introduced, passed by the Legislature and signed by the governor in 1929. Thus, Arizona became the 29th state to enact a credit union bill.
Even before credit unions were officially recognized and regulated by the state, a mutual investment group known as Pyramid was launched in Tucson in 1925. Once the Arizona law was passed in 1929, Pyramid Credit Union received one of the first — some say the first — charter to formally operate as a credit union.
Five years later in November 1934, the Arizona Credit Union League, as it was then called, was formed. By 1948, there were 25 credit unions in the state with 3,000 members and almost half a million dollars in assets. Today, 56 Arizona credit unions represent about 1.6 million members, with assets in excess of $11 billion.
Initially, the league focused on organizing new credit unions throughout the state. In the early years, there were just a few state-chartered credit unions. Scott Earl, president and CEO of the Arizona Credit Union League & Affiliates, tells how the league’s efforts fostered growth.
“Field reps would arrange meetings with employer groups,” Earl says. “They’d be driving down the road looking for parking lots outside of businesses. If a lot of cars were parked there, they’d put credit union charter applications on the hoods of the cars. I don’t know how many organizations were created as a result during those years, but I’m sure many were.”
Gary Plank, who retired as president and CEO of the league in 2007, recalls being an organizer when he entered the credit union profession in Iowa in 1966.
“We felt the best way was to talk to the management of the company to see if we could generate interest in a credit union for the good of their employees,” Plank says.
The largest Iowa credit union back then had assets of about $7 million. Today, the assets of that same credit union exceed $1 billion, Plank says.
Plank says two factors triggered the phenomenal growth of credit unions: the addition of share-draft checking so direct deposits, including Social Security benefits, could be accepted; and a decision by the federal government to insure savings accounts.
Indeed, as credit unions grew, officials saw the need to offer more products and services, such as debit and credit cards, individual retirement accounts and first and second mortgages.
“The league was the incubator for a lot of these products and services, helping individual credit unions along the way,” Earl says. “An outgrowth of that cooperation is shared branching.”
Under shared branching, credit unions join networks that enable their members to transact business from virtually anywhere in the country where a joint operating logo is displayed.
“Shared branching addresses one of the competitive disadvantages credit unions had, which was a lack of convenient locations,” Earl says.
In the 1990s, the league’s role shifted dramatically, becoming more of an advocate for credit union legislation at the state and federal levels. In other words — lobbying.
“We put a great deal of resources into that today,” Earl says.
Services the league provides include consulting, governmental affairs activities, regulatory compliance, legal, human resources, education, communications, publications and public relations. The league works in cooperation with Credit Union National Association (CUNA), U.S. Central Credit Union, the World Council of Credit Unions and the CUNA Mutual Group.
Having the support of the league and national and international credit union organizations is helping Arizona credit unions cope with the current recession. Though a few mergers have taken place, Earl says they are not the result of the economic downturn.
“Almost always when a merger occurs it’s to provide better service to the members,” he says.
Yet, the economy is having an impact on credit unions. Many of its members — average Arizonans — have defaulted on loans or gone into bankruptcy. The good news, Earl says, is that credit unions have been reworking those loans to help their members get through difficult times.
“The challenge for the league,” says Earl, “is to find new efficiencies for credit unions to collaborate so they can provide better products and services to their members. We have to keep looking for ways for credit unions to work together.”
Credit unions, which are not-for-profit operations, have good capital and strong reserves, Earl says.
“We built those reserves for a rainy day,” he adds. “And for a lot of consumers, it’s pouring rain. But we will be around. We’ll be just fine and will continue to be of greater service to citizens.”
Robert E. Mittelstaedt Jr.
Dean, W.P. Carey School of Business at Arizona State University
How is W.P. Carey’s curriculum changing due to the economic crisis?
The curriculum in any business school has to involve some fundamental, timeless subjects that never change. So accounting and some aspects of finance and people management and other things will go on forever, but in every case we have to find a way to adapt to the changes in the external environment, whether it’s societal or specific kinds of business issues. I think that most business schools now are re-thinking seriously their curriculums in light of what has happened in the last couple of years, in particular issues in the areas of risk management, ethics in decision making and globalization … It doesn’t mean that the entire curriculum will change, but we have to find a way to weave those things more into almost everything we teach.
Could business schools have done more to create an ethical climate among corporate executives that could have averted this crisis? Does that argument have any merit?
My experience over many years now tells me that parents have to do more to teach ethical values to their children, and society has to take responsibility for holding people accountable for ethical behavior. Sadly, I have found that in most people, when they cross ethical lines, you find out it’s not the first time and they started doing it early in their life. By the time we get them as undergraduate business students, that’s about the end of the time when you can influence it.
We push hard on ethics from day one, and the students who come into our program hear about ethics on day one from me, and throughout the time that they’re here and they are required to take ethics courses. … This is something that’s a broad societal problem that we have to deal with, and we’re are doing as much as we can in business schools and will continue to put even more emphasis on it, but it’s not something that can be solved just in a business school or just in a university alone.
What are some of the future trends you see for business schools?
I expect to see all business schools more concerned with some of the things that we have been thinking about here at ASU. For instance, whether you believe in global warming or not, it is indisputable that we have to worry about sustainability, simply because of the number of people on the planet. … There are all sorts of things that become different issues where we have society and business interacting, whether we like it or not, in a much more integrated fashion than we have had in the past. … Issues of instant communications, doing business differently than our predecessors did, are very real and have to be part of a curriculum. … All those things find their way into a curriculum, both in terms of changing the way we teach, the kinds of things we teach, the impact they have on individuals.
How would you assess the relationship between W.P. Carey and the Valley business community?
I believe that our relationship with the business community at the W.P. Carey School is quite strong. We have many business leaders that are on our advisory councils, advisory boards to departments, to the whole school; we have many businesses that support us by sending students here to work on their MBAs or even their undergraduate degrees. And we have many business leaders who are not graduates of our school but who believe we have to have a strong business school to help Phoenix grow, and so they support us.
Describe the education industry in Arizona in terms of employment.
Education is a big sector of our society and I don’t believe there are very many people today that would deny that education needs to be there. … (T)here’s more to learn today and a child today needs to learn more and get to a higher level of knowledge just to be competitive in the work force than they did a generation or two generations or three generations ago. You have to have an education sector that is strong and employs a fair number of people if you’re going to be competitive.The fact that we have gone through a financial crisis and budget cutbacks and furloughs and layoffs means that it’s not different than any other business, and it is in fact a business. It may be state supported, partially in the case of our university, but it is nonetheless a business that is subject to the same kinds of economic whipsaws as other sectors. The difference here is that our students don’t just go away because the economy got worse. In a retail establishment the customers may not show up and you may not have to have as many (establishments) open. We still have 52,000 students showing up on this campus in the fall …
- Dean at W.P. Carey since 2004.
- Between 1973 and 2004, he served in numerous leadership positions at The Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania.
- Author of “Will Your Next Mistake Be Fatal? Avoiding the Mistake Chain That Can Destroy Your Organization.”
- Earned his bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from Tulane University.
- Served five years as a U.S. Naval officer.
- Received an MBA from the Wharton School.
Good schools are good for business. It’s that simple. Contrary to popular belief, incentives and tax breaks aren’t necessarily the only things businesses take into account when considering a move to Arizona or an expansion of a local operation. Sure, they want to make money, but the quality of the education system, from K-12 through colleges and universities, also is a key element in the decision-making process.
In early July, $3.2 billion in budget funding for the K-12 public education system was restored after initially being cut by Gov. Jan Brewer in a line-item veto. The education budget was also increased by $500 million, which now qualifies the state for $2.3 billion in federal stimulus money. Despite dodging that bullet, schools remain under the threat of future budget cuts, and that has caught the attention of business leaders. But paying attention isn’t enough. They need to be more involved in the process, insiders say, establishing and maintaining working relationships with state legislators who control the purse strings.
The business community has a stake in education on two fronts, says Chuck Essigs of the Arizona Association of School Business Officials (AASBO), which provides professional development opportunities for individuals working in all jobs in the education field.
“One,” he says, “is the ability of the education system, both elementary and secondary and the universities, to prepare an adequate work force, and to make sure schools are adequately funded so they can carry forth their mission of having an educated population. So when the business community hires people, they’re hiring people who have the skills and training to be productive workers.”
The second aspect involves Arizona businesses that are recruiting workers from out-of-state or businesses that are considering an expansion to Arizona from elsewhere.
“If those workers have school-age children, they want to know what the school system is like,” says Essigs, AASBO’s director of government affairs. “If they feel that their kids are not going to get a quality education, it might make them hesitant to leave where they are. They might think twice about taking a promotion and putting their kids at a disadvantage in a school that’s not up to the standards they want.”
Robert E. Mittelstaedt Jr., dean of the W.P. Carey School of Business at Arizona State University, says most businesses are far more concerned about the general education environment.
“I remember a bank official in Philadelphia 25 years ago saying he couldn’t find a receptionist who could read and write,” Mittelstaedt says. “You still hear that. Companies expect to have an education system that graduates students who are qualified to enter the work force in some minimally accepted level.”
If the public schools fall short, perhaps because of inadequate funding, the option of sending children to private schools becomes a cost factor for employees.
Javier Rey, vice president-operations for State Farm Insurance’s Tempe operations center, says it’s critical that Arizona’s youth are better prepared for higher education, so they can contribute to the nation’s and state’s civic, economic and social advancement.
“The quality of schools is a factor that businesses look at when considering relocating or expanding,” Rey says.
Christopher Smith, manager of government and regulatory affairs for Cox Communications, calls education “critical to economic development.”
“It is an essential ingredient in the lifeblood of our economy, both nourishing the supply of talented workers and attracting and retaining the customers they serve,” Smith adds. “Education ranks high on the various lists of important factors in location/relocation decisions, not only due to the increasingly critical competition for knowledge workers, but also because executives making these decisions care deeply about the education of their own children.”
Smith gives Arizona’s education system reasonably satisfactory grades, but says the status quo is not good enough to meet today’s challenges.
“We need to break the mold a bit and unleash more of what made America so great — liberty, bold innovation, inspired risk-taking, creativity, robust competition and an unflagging entrepreneurial spirit,” he says.
Susan Carlson, executive director of the Arizona Business & Education Coalition (ABEC), a nonprofit K-12 education policy advocacy organization, says the business community needs to be more involved in the school-funding process.
“Business needs to be engaged in the conversation,” she says. “They need to watch what the Legislature is doing. We can’t keep saying ‘no’ around tax reform and ‘yes’ around increased skills for students. It may take more money, if money is allocated to the right things. It’s going to take being focused on research-based strategies. Educators are willing and committed to support research-based strategies, and redirecting some of the funding that exists.”
What started as an initiative from the city of Surprise Economic Development Department quickly turned into an unprecedented work force study on the entire West Valley spearheaded by WESTMARC. The study came about through a collaboration of communities, corporations, government entities and educational institutions that contributed more than $150,000 to fund the report.
“West Valley communities have experienced tremendous growth since the 2000 Census. They were having difficulty addressing questions from business prospects concerning the size and skill levels of the regional work force,” says Surprise Economic Development Coordinator Megan Griego, who sits on WESTMARC’s economic development committee and was chair of the Workforce Labor Study of the West Valley. “The communities of the West Valley formed a consortium to better understand their region’s work force and to better promote its growth and development.”
Russ Ullinger, senior project manager of economic development for SRP, and WESTMARC co-chair and member of the economic development committee, adds that the concept for the study developed out of necessity.
“Numerous surveys and studies have identified work force as one of the most important assets when national site selection consultants consider different regions and locations for businesses,” he says.
“This is relevant in good economic times, as well as poor economic times. This study truly drills and provides specific labor information unique to the West Valley.”
Harry Paxton, economic development director for the city of Goodyear, who also acted as co-chair of the study, credits WESTMARC’s partnerships with the Maricopa Work Force Connection, as well as Maricopa Community College in the development and funding of the study. He also praises WESTMARC for bringing together work force professionals to get their input on what the study should entail.
In May 2008, WESTMARC enlisted California-based ERISS Corporation to prepare the comprehensive labor market analysis.
“That analysis involved a survey of all businesses in the West Valley with 20 or more employees — all such businesses were contracted and 1,100 completed the survey — and a detailed review of newly available government information,” Griego says.
The detailed data developed by the survey and the analysis of various government data sources is also available through www.usworks.com/westmarc, which presents the comprehensive information and data relevant to businesses, site selectors, economic development professionals, work force development professionals and educators into convenient and customizable reports.
In general, the study found there are more than 450,000 workers available to fill jobs for the right offer. In addition, there are growth and expansion opportunities in the industries of transportation, wholesale trade, traditional and non-store retail, as well as education. Regarding industry growth, health care leads the trend with a 6 percent growth rate. Construction and transportation/utilities follow closely with a 5 percent growth rate each, and retail in the West Valley has a 4 percent growth rate.
As part of the study, businesses were asked to rate their own work forces on a scale of one to seven, one representing the lowest productivity rating and seven the highest.Sixty-six percent of the area’s employers ranked their employees in one of the two highest categories.
“We found that we have in the West Valley, even in this economy, a very large and qualified labor supply, and we still have some industries that are currently growing and that anticipate growth,” he says, adding that results also show West Valley communities need to implement a live/work/play strategy to avoid the problems with transportation issues.
Landis Elliott, business development director for House of Elliott, says the benefits of the study are numerous. “The study is a tool that the West Valley cities can use while working with potential locates to validate the high-quality employees we have in this region,” she says.
Despite the sluggish economy and rising unemployment, a growing number of health care professionals are headed back to school to get an MBA and increase their value in the job market.
A recent survey by the Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Management Education showed an 18 percent increase in applications to graduate programs across the country for 2009-2010. More than 5,500 applications were submitted to the commission’s 83 accredited programs in 72 colleges and universities, and close to 2,100 were new students. The health care workers who signed up for MBA programs are from organizations such as long-term care facilities, hospitals, consulting firms, health insurers, government agencies and pharmaceutical firms. Doctors, nurses and health care specialists are also going back to school for their MBAs.
“We encourage all physicians to go back to school and get an MBA,” says Amanda Weaver, executive director of the Arizona Osteopathic Medical Association. “They need the education as a survival mechanism because of the managed-care environment and the reduction in Medicare fees. In the 1980s and 1990s, doctors did well in business. Now it takes a concerted effort.”
Marjorie Baldwin, director of Arizona State University’s School of Health Management and Policy in the W.P. Carey School of Business, said about 60 percent of students in the MHMS program at W. P. Carey are health professionals seeking to move into leadership positions; the remaining 40 percent have other backgrounds, but want to move into the health care field.
“Health care is a growing sector with opportunities for leadership and many people know that,” Baldwin says. “MBAs bring a lot to the table like knowledge of accounting and financial practices. They also think analytically about the way health care is provided and the way resources are utilized. They understand strategy, how to lead an organization and how to communicate with various constituencies. They bring a keen interest to the core product of the health care industry, which is patient care.”
The health care industry will generate 3 million new wage and salary jobs between 2006 and 2016, more than any other industry.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, health care continued to add jobs in February, with a gain of 27,000. Job growth occurred in ambulatory health care and in hospitals.
The W.P. Carey School of Business graduates more than 1,000 MBAs annually. It offers two MBA health options: an MBA with a specialization in health care and a concurrent degree MBA/MHSM (Master of Health Sector Management). The MHSM also is offered as a stand-alone degree. The W.P. Carey MHSM is the only accredited program in health management in Arizona. Tuition for the MBA programs is roughly $35,000 for two years, but there is a payoff.
A survey conducted by ASU alumni in 2006 showed that 100 percent of MBA graduates landed a job within three months. The starting salary for MBA graduates is approximately $80,000 per year.
“There are many complexities and differences between the health care and business sectors,” Baldwin says. “Our students at ASU take economics with an MBA business core. Economics is built around supply, demand and competition. But health care doesn’t work that way. We don’t decide what we’re going to buy and sell. Health care providers decide what we need. We also don’t pay for it, the insurer does. People going into the health care industry need to understand this.”
Michael Abeles of Banner Estrella Hospital earned his MBA in 2005 from the University of Phoenix. He left the trucking industry to go back to school and now works alongside senior leadership at the hospital on employee development, talent mapping and employee relations.
“In today’s market a bachelor’s degree helps you get ahead, but it’s the MBA that provides you with better opportunities,” he says. “Companies need well-rounded leaders that can read and understand financial statements, work force planning and legal risks. So going back to school and increasing your education can only help your journey and assist you in becoming more competitive in the job market.”
Paul Binsfeld, founder and CEO of Company Nurse, worked for years before going back to college for his MBA. As a result, he was able to share practical business experiences with classmates and learn from them.
“I acquired a wealth of business information when I went back to school for my MBA and it gave me enough confidence to start my business,” he says. “It also permitted me to raise funds, tackle administrative and hiring issues, market my business and assess my capital needs. And I’ve been building my business, clientele and success ever since.”
Binsfeld started Company Nurse in 1997. The Scottsdale-based firm provides nurse medical triage and injury-management programs for thousands of employers across the country. Company Nurse has grown 400 percent in the last four years. Starting this year, growth will be 20 to 30 percent annually, Binsfeld says.
“Health care spending is not going down and there are lots of inefficiencies in the delivery of health care in this country, so everyone from physicians to administrators to nurses could benefit from more business acumen,” he says. “With an emphasis on cost savings and efficiencies today, an MBA is a logical step.”
Philip L. Francis
Chairman and CEO, Petsmart
Describe your very first job and what lessons you learned from it.
I’m going to give you two. I grew up on a farm, so the first thing I remember is cleaning up barns and building fences and bailing hay, and I worked for room and board. What I learned is to get a good job and get a good education. And straight out of college, I was an assistant nature director at a 4-H camp. I controlled the 10-year-olds and smart 12-year-olds who knew more about nature than I did.
Describe your first job in your industry and what you learned from it.
In terms of a real job, I was a trainee out of college in a grocery store, and what I learned is it’s all about the customer.
What were your salaries at both of these jobs?
Assistant nature director was room, board and $200 a month. And my first full-time job (in 1971), was $13,500 a year, and I thought I was rich.
Who is your biggest mentor and what role did he or she play?
The guy’s name was Winslow Smith, now deceased. He was president of the small grocery business that I had gone into. And, he let me go as fast as I could, as long as I performed. I am (now) willing to put young people in at or over their heads … if they’re good performers, they can go.
What advice would you give to a person just entering your industry?
Get a varied, rather than a narrow set of experiences early, and if you’re in a business where there are operations, make sure you include operations early in your career. If you can be in a good finance job early, but never learn the operations of the business, you’re going to top-out quicker than somebody who understands what really goes on in the business. That’s why I said get a varied set of experiences.
If you weren’t doing this, what would you be doing instead?
Well, I like what I’m doing. I think at my age and stage I would be doing something in the give-back mode. So, I’d probably be working for a social service agency or group of some sort helping other people, old or young, who can benefit from help.
If ever there was a time for a Master in Business Administration to pay dividends, this is it. In a troubled economic climate, experts say businesses are more careful about who they hire. Having an MBA opens doors to jobs and salary levels otherwise out of reach, and it provides a layer of protection against downsizing.
When the economy is in a downturn, the employees businesses let go first are the least valuable. People who are investing in themselves, gaining new skills through an MBA, send a signal to the marketplace that they are the one a business wants to keep.
Gerry Keim, associate dean for the W. P. Carey MBA in the W. P. Carey School of Business at Arizona State University, says MBAs are better off in the job market under any circumstances.
“They’re more likely to get hired in today’s environment than people without an MBA, and when the economy is booming and everybody is getting hired, these are the people who tend to move up,” Keim says.
Craig Bartholomew, MBA, vice president/director of the Phoenix Campus of the University of Phoenix, says economic downturn, slow market and rising prices are terms being used to describe the current economic landscape.
“The word recession is looming over everyone’s heads, employers are hesitant to add staff, and one’s climb up the career ladder may look like it is coming to a sudden halt,” Bartholomew says.
Earning an advanced degree goes a long way toward enhancing one’s economic future.
“Initially, it might seem like a risky investment, but trends traditionally indicate that now is the time to gain a competitive career advantage through a higher-education degree,” Bartholomew says. “A slow economy is temporary, but higher education is a long-term investment that can make a professional more valuable today and in the future.”
But Keim doesn’t necessarily believe that having an MBA in and of itself makes a difference.
“The market is very discriminating,” he says. “Having a degree is not enough. Having an MBA from a school with a very strong program is a good investment. You have to have skill sets and mind-sets that enhance your ability to manage in today’s business world.”
Last year, 97 percent of ASU’s MBAs landed jobs within three months of graduation, and the program was on target to match that mark in 2008. In what Keim calls “a very down economy,” salaries and bonuses are in the upper $90,000 area, perhaps even six figures. MBAs are making almost double what they were before entering the program, he says.
One of the key elements of the MBA field involves competition. Schools compete for the best students and the students compete against one another for the best jobs. Competition among students gets especially tense. Earning an MBA from an elite, private university can cost upwards of $120,000, compared to $32,000 for a full-time student at ASU, Keim says.
Some students from elite schools, such as Harvard, wind up owing $100,000 when they graduate.
“Our students graduate with virtually no debt,” Keim says. “They get to take home their entire salary. I’d say that’s a pretty good investment.”
Richard Bowman, area chair for graduate business at the University of Phoenix, a faculty member for 16 years and a financial planner, sums up the value of an MBA, telling his students: “You will run into a point in your career that to move up to the next level, a master’s degree is required or desired. If you want to be promoted to operations manager, director, vice president or general manager, you will not be competitive without an MBA degree or a master’s in general.”
Pursuing an MBA online has the advantage of flexibility. Bowman says he has taught students online who were in such places as Iraq, Kosovo, Japan, Great Britain and China. It’s convenient for mid-level managers who travel a lot, he says, but there is little opportunity for interaction with other students and the instructor.
He tells of working mothers who are full-time employees.
“After they put the kids to bed, they can do their master’s degree,” Bowman says.