Tag Archives: July – August 2010

Common Cold Symptoms or Cancer?

Common Cold – Or Cancer?

Learn how to tell the difference between common cold symptoms and signs of cancer

You never miss your annual physical.

You check your breast regularly for lumps, and your skin for new moles.

You don’t smoke; you eat well and exercise regularly.

You’re in great health, so you would know if something was wrong, wouldn’t you?

Unfortunately, cancer’s many forms manifest themselves through many symptoms. Therefore, it is imperative to recognize that some small, otherwise unexplained changes in health can be the early signs of cancer.

Provided below are some seemingly innocent symptoms that, if persistent, may signal deeper issues, such as cancer:

Breathing problems such as wheezing, shortness of breath and chronic cough

Lung cancer can be difficult to diagnose early, so recognizing early symptoms is essential.  Coughing up blood is a potential symptom of lung cancer that people rarely ignore, but other subtle signs like wheezing or shortness of breath are often attributed to other causes, such as asthma or allergies. Even people who are not smokers should not ignore persistent and unexplained breathing problems, as thousands of non-smokers are diagnosed with lung cancer each year, as well as other types of cancers such as lymphomas present with similar signs.

Frequent fevers and infections

Having fevers and infections that don’t go away or occur frequently is an indicator of many cancers, including leukemia, as abnormal white blood cells begin to outnumber infection fighting normal, white blood cells. It is understandable to think it’s the flu. And it might be. But it never hurts to be sure.

Difficulty swallowing or swollen lymph nodes on the neck, underarm or groin

Many cancers can spread to lymph nodes, which are located throughout the body. If this happens, these swollen glands can increase in size and be easily felt as growing lumps.  The most common areas which people can feel these lumps (which may start as small as a pea) is in the neck, arm pit or groin. Enlarged lymph nodes under the arm are a common indicator of breast cancer and should be checked immediately by your doctor. Growing lymph nodes which can’t be felt inside your chest (which may be a result of lung cancer, lymphoma or esophageal cancer) may result in difficulty swallowing or breathing.

Excessive bruising or bleeding

Everyone has a few bumps and bruises, especially those who are accident-prone. However, it can also be a sign of leukemia or other cancers, which have spread to the bone marrow resulting in a decrease in blood products necessary for clotting. Look for frequent and unexplained bruises in strange places or bleeding gums.

Weakness or fatigue

Unexplained fatigue and weakness that doesn’t respond to sleep may be a symptom of many different kinds of cancer and other diseases, so it is important to look for additional accompanying symptoms. Let your doctor know so he or she can determine if further tests are needed.

Pelvic or abdominal pain or recurring upset stomach

Abdominal pain alone can mean a number of things, including fibroids, ovarian cysts and other disorders; so doctors don’t always think of cancer as the source. Many gastrointestinal cancers can present as abdominal pain. An enlarged spleen from leukemia can cause the same feeling of pelvic pain.

Bloating or weight gain

Of course, this could be attributed to snacking on salty treats or the normal holiday bloating. However, unexplained abdominal bloating that continues on and off for a long time is a common symptom of ovarian and colon cancer.

Unexplained weight loss or loss of appetite

While it may seem like your prayers have been answered, unexplained weight loss is NOT something to be desired. Weight loss and loss of appetite may be a sign of many cancers, including colon and lung cancer. Other cancers affecting the digestive system, such as esophageal and gastric cancer, can affect a person’s ability to eat and digest food.

Swelling of facial features or extremities

Lung tumors and cancers that have spread to lymph nodes can block blood and lymphatic vessels in the chest, neck, arms and legs. This can cause puffiness, swelling or redness in the face, or swelling in the arms or legs.

Pain involving the back, ribs or other bones

The list of cancers that may spread to the bone is long, including prostate and breast cancer, making this a frequent problem for cancer patients. However, there are plenty of other causes of these symptoms unrelated to cancer because arthritis and chronic low back pain is so common.  Still, unexplained pain, which is worsening or persistent, justifies a visit to your doctor.

Almost all cancers are easier to treat and have a higher cure rate if detected early, so being aware of changes in your general health over time is important. Fortunately, most of the 10 signs described above can usually be explained by medical conditions unrelated to cancer.  But seeing your doctor early to make sure that this is true will help you sleep easier at night — and who couldn’t use that!

For more information, please visit canceraz.com.

Managing Downstream and Upstream Risks

Managing Downstream And Upstream Risks

Examine your company’s cash flow needs and managing downstream and upstream risks

Even the strongest, most sophisticated contractor has probably taken a lump or two over the past year as a result of one of the worst stretches the construction industry has seen in decades. Because of these challenges, there are many ways that you should be examining your own company, your cash flow needs, profit estimate and balance sheet projections.

Managing both your upstream risks and downstream risks will be critical to your success in the coming years. Ask the following questions:

  • How much bad debt can my company absorb before having a critical impact on my balance sheet and cash flows?
  • How long should I perform work without being paid? What does my contract allow for in terms of work stoppages for non-payment?
  • Who bears the risk of non-payment by the ultimate project owner? Do I have any “Pay If Paid” contracts?
  • How is this private project being financed? Has anyone seen a bank commitment letter?
  • What would happen if my receivables were stretched another 30-45 days on average?
  • How would this job be impacted if one of my subcontractors could no longer perform their work (due to bankruptcy or otherwise)? How much would it cost me to replace them?
  • What is my added exposure when I bond a job?
  • How do I address onerous contract terms with my owner/GC/client?
  • How do I know if my subcontractors are still financially viable?

There are landmines at every turn so be sure to not discount the value of doing your homework before signing a contract. What are some specific areas of risk to pay close attention to?

Upstream Risks

We all understand the inherent risks with subcontracting a portion of “your work” to another contractor for whom you will be responsible. How many of us though give a lot of thought to upstream risk? Are you a sub to a general contractor? Sub to another sub? Vendor, supplier? Or a general contractor doing work for a private company? All of these scenarios carry several risks.

The most obvious upstream risk is no pay/slow pay from your client. As a general contractor doing work for a private owner, you will typically have the ability prior to starting the work to inquire about project financing. Do not dismiss this right and take full advantage of this opportunity as you will likely have difficulty getting anything else from the owner once the project has begun. Useful tools here include a “set aside” letter from their bank, loan commitment letter for project specific funding or a bank reference letter stating that the owner has sufficient cash on hand to pay for the project.

Even if you are not prime to an owner, all of these risk factors affect you. Unfortunately, you will not likely have access to your upstream contractor’s financials and will be somewhat dependent on their due diligence with the owner. Even so, don’t be afraid to ask your prime contractor (or upstream contractor) if they have done their homework. Also, check with your peers or any subs/suppliers who are working for your general contractor to see how timely they are currently making payments.

Downstream Risk

If you are a general contractor, part of your normal operating procedure is to monitor subcontractor bids and hopefully that includes a formal prequalification process for the majority of your subs. The amount of data you request is up to you, but the following is a key list of things you should know about your potential subcontractors:

  • What is their reputation? Do they have reference letters? How many jobs of similar size and scope have they performed in the past?
  • What is their safety history? Do they have a dedicated safety director?
  • What is their financial status? Have they ever failed to complete a job? Will they share financials?
  • Do they have a bond company and/or a bond line? If so, what are their single and aggregate limits? Can you obtain a letter from their surety stating these limits and current capacity?
  • Do they have all the required insurance currently in place? How do you monitor and track expiring certificates throughout the year?
  • Do you know how many subs or suppliers they will engage to fulfill the contract? If you are providing a bond as a prime contractor, these parties will all be covered by your Payment Bond and add to your potential exposure for non-payment claims.

This economy has certainly taken its toll on a large number of contractors. Often the smaller, trade contractors are hit the hardest as they did not carry large backlogs of work or large balance sheets into this downturn. They could be dependent on their next job for their very survival so it is critical that all parties are aware of potential risk factors with key subs and suppliers and employ as many additional tools as possible to mitigate those risks and prevent another contractor’s problem from being your problem.

[stextbox id=”grey”]For more information about downstream and upstream risks, visit www.mjinsurance.com.[/stextbox]


It appears the Chicago Cubs’ spring training facility will remain in Mesa - AZ Business Magazine Jul/Aug 2010

A Threat By The Cubs To Leave Arizona Has Cactus League Sites Scrambling

It appears the Chicago Cubs’ spring training facility will remain in Mesa. Team officials recently notified a group from Naples, Fla., attempting to lure the Cubs to the Grapefruit League that they plan to continue to negotiate exclusively with the city of Mesa. Mesa, meanwhile, reportedly is looking at four sites for the new facility: Recker Road and the Loop 202; the Riverview area; a downtown site; and near the Gaylord resort, planned for the GM Proving Grounds site. According to published reports, the Riverview area appears to be the leading contender for the facility.Spring training baseball in Arizona, a cash cow for Valley communities, is in need of another source of revenue to build new stadiums and refurbish existing facilities. The estimated 1.47 million fans who attended games played by the 15 teams that trained in Arizona this year contributed more than $300 million to the state’s economy, according to Cactus League Association estimates.

That’s the good news. The not-so-good news is that owners of the Chicago Cubs, the biggest draw in the Cactus League, have threatened to move their spring home from Mesa to Naples, Fla., if they don’t get a new stadium and training facility.

Adding to the financial dilemma is that funding from the Arizona Sports and Tourism Authority, which among other things supports spring training baseball, has virtually dried up, due in some measure to the economic downturn. The agency receives most of its money from tourism-related taxes on hotels and car rentals.

A legislative proposal to add a surcharge to all Cactus League tickets to help pay for a new Cubs stadium was as welcome as a blazing fastball from Randy Johnson in his prime. Efforts to push House Bill 2736, sponsored by House Majority Leader John McComish, basically struck out.

“We need to find ways to not only keep the Cubs in Maricopa County, but use those creative funding mechanisms to preserve and expand other spring training facilities in the entire West Valley,” says Jack Lunsford, president and CEO of WESTMARC. “Keeping the Cubs is important, as well as making sure a funding mechanism for the Cubs can be applied, as necessary, in the West Valley.”

Stepping to the plate, Peoria officials proposed a possible solution — the creation of special bonding districts. John Schell, intergovernmental affairs director for Peoria, explains his city’s interest.

“Without much discussion with the other teams or other affected entities, they (key legislators) added a surcharge to tickets and rental cars,” he says. “The ticket surcharge got us more involved because of the adverse impact it would have to our revenue-sharing agreement with the two teams that train in Peoria, the Seattle Mariners and the San Diego Padres. It was not feasible for us.”

The Peoria agreement, not unlike those of other Valley cities that host spring training teams, including Goodyear and Surprise, provides that if the state or some other entity puts a surcharge on tickets, Peoria would have to make up the difference.

“That would have cost us close to $300,000 a year to build a stadium in Mesa — with no ownership,” Schell says. “Imagine how the taxpayers in Peoria would have felt about that. So we were drawn into the discussion to try to identify some sort of funding solution.”

Schell notes correctly that the Arizona Legislature doesn’t have much of an appetite for new taxation, especially in the current economy. He and Peoria City Attorney Steve Kemp met with other host cities throughout the Valley and representatives of Major League Baseball to discuss options.

“It’s not a complete solution and it doesn’t involve any public funds,” Schell says. “We worked closely with the bond counsel for Major League Baseball and came up with a concept we called the revenue allocation authority.”

It was too late to be introduced at the Legislature this year, but Schell says there likely will be discussions on the topic even before lawmakers reconvene next January. It calls for the establishment of a district to issue bonds to pay for improvements or new construction of spring training facilities. Each district would have to be approved by voters living in the district and would not have taxing authority, Schell says.

“It’s a very strong tool,” Schell says. “It would use increment financing. It would capture the growth in the district. It would not become a general obligation of the city, and it won’t affect property taxes. People won’t feel the impact. It’s a unique way of financing.”

Schell says Major League Baseball, which helped prepare the proposal, is supportive.

Baseball insiders say they don’t think the Cubs will follow through with their threat and move to Florida. Although relocating to an Indian reservation, which is what the Arizona Diamondbacks and Colorado Rockies will do next spring, is an option, the Cubs have not expressed an outward interest in going that route. Others say if a deal with Mesa falls through, other Valley cities will make their pitch for the popular Chicago team.

Peoria Mayor Bob Barrett bluntly says the ticket surcharge proposal was a disaster and that he is adamantly opposed to such a scheme. On the possibility of the Cubs leaving Arizona, Barrett says he hopes they remain.

“They ought to talk to the tribes,” he says. “But, if they do leave, the world will continue to turn and the Cactus League will not disappear. The 14 other teams will survive.”

www.cactusleague.com | www.peoriaaz.com

Arizona Business Magazine Jul/Aug 2010

Luke’s Future In The West Valley Is Assured - AZ Business Magazine Jul/Aug 2010

Ready For Take Off: Luke’s Future In The West Valley Is Assured

Luke Air Force Base has landed the coveted mission of training pilots for the next generation F-35 fighter jets.

Luke was on the Defense Department’s short list, competing with Holloman Air Force Base in New Mexico, and Eglin Air Force Base in Florida, for the F-35. Actually, Luke was shooting for becoming a secondary site for the F-35s that exceed the number of jets already allotted to Eglin.

Luke, which annually pumps $2.17 billion into the Arizona economy, is considered recession-proof and a lifeline for the West Valley. It has been training U.S. fighter pilots since March 1941.

Yet, Luke’s unparalleled record of success — in preserving the nation’s security and enhancing Arizona’s economy — has faced challenges. Most recently, it weathered an encroachment issue that threatened its viability and its very existence.

Luke’s 8,000 active-duty personnel and their 6,700 family members are an important part of the West Valley, plus some 120,000 military retirees in the area who rely on various services provided at Luke. Their value to the area is not lost on Glendale Mayor Elaine Scruggs.

“We know many of them as residents, neighbors, volunteers and active members in our community, schools and churches,” she says. “Luke personnel and their families buy homes, cars and other big-tickets items, as well as shop in our stores and eat in our restaurants.”

F-35 JetIn stressing Luke’s importance to the West Valley, Scruggs adds, “The new F-35 mission will bring with it decades of sustainable economic benefits and an immediate infusion of $150 million in construction-related projects. In addition, the F-35 will generate additional employment, wages, consumer spending and investments that our region and state desperately need.”

Likewise, Peoria Mayor Bob Barrett recognizes the importance of Luke to the West Valley and the importance of the F-35 to Luke. Barrett and Scruggs were among several local elected officials who made trips to Washington, D.C. to plead Luke’s case with military officials.

Before the announcement that the F-35 training center had been awarded to Luke, Barrett was blunt about the base’s future without it.

“The Air Force doesn’t like me saying this,” Barrett says, “but I believe if we don’t acquire the F-35 for Luke Air Force Base, I believe they will close Luke. In five to eight years, the F-16 is gone. So, if we don’t have the F-35, Luke will follow. There is no reason to keep a base as large as Luke and maintain it if it doesn’t continue to be the world’s largest fighter training base — not just in the U.S., the world’s largest.”

Jack Lunsford, president and CEO of WESTMARC, says his organization strongly supports Luke and for several years has worked to preserve its mission. Lunsford sees Arizona Sen. John McCain, the ranking Republican on the Senate Armed Services Committee, as a key advocate for Luke and other military bases throughout the state.

On the issue of residential encroachment, Lunsford says, “We’ve been an advocate of protecting the base from encroachment for many years.”

James “Rusty” Mitchell, director of the Luke Community Initiatives Team, shies away from the term “encroachment.” Mitchell, who retired from the Air Force in 1998 as a lieutenant colonel, prefers “managed growth.” A representative of the Community Initiatives Team attends various city council meetings seeking win-win solutions.

“It’s more a process of managing development in the area so we can continue our flying mission and the cities can continue to be economically viable,” Mitchell says.

Under the terms of a 2004 Arizona law, and accepted earlier this year by the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors, local governmental entities are required to ensure adequate buffer zones around the state’s military bases.

Steve Yamamori, executive director/CEO of Fighter Country Partnership, a support group for programs and services at Luke, says the F-35 means “sustainability for Luke Air Force Base for the next 50 years — and that’s worth trillions of dollars.”

Arizona Business Magazine Jul/Aug 2010

Steve Jobs Takes On The World - AZ Business Magazine Jul/Aug 2010

Steve Jobs Takes On The World … Again

Steve Jobs — the guy who famously flew a pirate flag over the building where the Macintosh was being invented, thus rescuing Apple from oblivion — is at it again. This time the fight is with Adobe, makers of the Flash platform that is currently the dominant software for playing interactive and video Web content.

Some truths about Steve Jobs are undeniable. He’s obviously brilliant, an iconoclast, and supremely successful. He’s so successful that Apple recently passed Microsoft in terms of market value. That’s right, Apple, the company Jobs rescued several times, keepers of “cool,” has passed stodgy Microsoft. Sure, Microsoft owns more than 90 percent of the desktop computer operating systems market with Windows, and an estimated 80 percent of enterprises use some form of Microsoft Office. But the market is betting that “cool” is more valuable than “foundational.” It’s betting that Microsoft won’t be able to innovate fast enough, even as Apple has become synonymous with innovation.

So it’s no wonder that when Apple — meaning Jobs — refused to support Flash first on iPhones and then on iPads, the tech community paid notice. The guessing began. What’s Jobs up to? Will Apple launch a competitor to Flash? What’s Jobs really trying to achieve at the cost of ignoring such a dominant standard? Is it all about controlling the App Store?

In the past few weeks the fight became more public, with both Jobs and Adobe stating their cases. On April 29, Jobs released a statement saying that Apple wouldn’t support Flash because a) it’s not an open standard; b) Flash is unreliable, has security flaws, and lacks performance on mobile devices; c) when playing video on mobile devices like the iPhone and iPad it drains the battery too quickly; and d) it didn’t originally support touch screens, though it now does. Finally, Job’s stated “the most important reason” — Apple insists on controlling the hardware and software platform all the way up to the developer. In other words, the developer must use the software tools and development libraries that Apple provides. Period.

Adobe’s official response came in the form of a statement from Adobe’s founders Chuck Geschke and John Warnock entitled, Our Thoughts on Open Markets. In it they said, “As the founders of Adobe, we believe open markets are in the best interest of developers, content owners, and consumers. Freedom of choice on the Web has unleashed an explosion of content and transformed how we work, learn, communicate, and, ultimately, express ourselves.” And, “No company — no matter how big or how creative — should dictate what you can create, how you create it, or what you can experience on the Web.”

It’s not a completely black and white situation of course, but I think that it’s pretty close. The first several reasons cited by Jobs are simply misdirection. For the most part, they don’t hold up under scrutiny. The real reason is the one that Jobs called the most important: control. And while Flash isn’t a completely open standard, my company, Flypaper, exists because it’s close enough. So the real battle here IS really “open” vs. “closed.” And I’m surprised that Jobs has taken the position he has. I’m old enough to remember a time when Jobs was at a similar fork in the road and made a similar choice — and nearly lost his company as a result. Most people don’t remember that the Mac, with its graphical user interface, preceded Windows into the marketplace. For some time it had a larger market share than Windows. But Apple chose to pursue a closed, proprietary strategy that limited the number of software titles available for the Mac. In contrast, Microsoft chose an open approach; software titles proliferated, and soon Microsoft’s market share was in the 90 percent range. Microsoft came to dominate the corporate space, while Apple’s market share hovered around 10 percent, much of it in the educational space. In the marketplace, “open” dominated “closed,” and Apple suffered through nearly a decade of tough times as a result.

It’s a situation rich with irony. Decades ago Apple and Microsoft faced off on this very issue and Microsoft won. Now Apple, having finally passed Microsoft in terms of value and faced with the same choice, is making the same decision. Will it work this time? I don’t think so. But the winner this time won’t be Microsoft. It won’t even be Adobe. At least not directly. The real winner will be Google. Google is the new champion of “open”’ And most people don’t know that sales for mobile devices based on Google’s open Android operating system recently passed sales of Apple’s iPhone. Right now Apple’s market value of about $227 billion is about $70 billion more than Google’s. As always, the market will ultimately decide who’s right. I’m betting on Google.

Arizona Business Magazine Jul/Aug 2010

AZ TechCelerator - AZ Business Magazine Jul/Aug 2010

Business Incubator AZ TechCelerator Works To Create Viable Companies In The West Valley

In an effort to boost its economy and shake its reputation as a bedroom community, the city of Surprise has launched AZ TechCelerator, a business incubator for budding entrepreneurs. The incubator offers well-below market rent, administrative support and access to experts who can help the entreprenuers “graduate” in three to five years, and thus bring their products and services to the marketplace.

The incubator comes in handy, especially in dire economic times. There are always entrepreneurs hoping to develop products or services. But in a slow economy, when people have been laid off and are unable to find gainful employment, Az TechCelerator gives those people an opportunity to test their ideas and innovations.

Of course, Surprise officials hope these startups will set up shop in their city once they emerge from AZ TechCelerator. A rule of thumb among business incubators is that 60 percent to 75 percent of these entrepreneurs do graduate, and about 75 percent of those will indeed remain in Surprise.

Jack Lunsford, president and CEO of WESTMARC, applauds Surprise’s effort.

“It’s an approach that our communities need to take as they seek and advance a knowledge-based economy,” he says. “I commend them for their innovation. We need more of these incubators. The high-paying jobs that come from spin-offs of these entrepreneurships is great.”

Mike Hoover, economic development coordinator for Surprise, gives the initial group of businesses high marks.

“They are exceeding our own expectations on quality and the amount of business going on in there, especially the anticipated growth and success of some of the businesses,” he says.

The AZ TechCelerator is located at 12425 W. Bell Road, in a four-building complex that formerly served as the Surprise City Hall. It totals nearly 60,000 square feet, which is four times the size of a typical incubator. Hoover says it can accommodate up to 15 businesses, depending on their size.

Three types of businesses are considered likely participants — those that deal in sustainability, such as solar technologies; life sciences and/or health care; and information technology.

One of the businesses in the incubator is MD 24, a medical service company that developed advanced software for home health care. It enables doctors to receive lab results, for example, while seeing patients in facilities that provide care for the elderly. Another company, Solar Jump AC, is developing more efficient cooling systems using solar thermal heat; and Athena Wireless Communications offers software for banking, telemedicine and other industries.

“These businesses are not yet commercially viable, needing assistance through a collegial supportive atmosphere that the city provides,” Hoover says.

In addition to offering space at a below-market rental rate, the city also provides an array of support services, including mail, copying and other administrative functions that each business needs.

The city’s most important service, Hoover says, is being able to link incubator businesses with various associations and support groups that can provide assistance with their specific needs.

“Whether they need help on putting together a marketing brochure, protecting intellectual property, or understanding how to put together a business plan for the company covering the next three to five years, they are able to get help,” Hoover says. “Anything that is identified inside of a strong and stable business, the city helps these businesses reach out to groups that can help them.”

Another way the city prepares businesses for graduation is by ratcheting up the low rents the longer the company remains in the incubator.

“It prepares them for the commercial world,” Hoover says. “There’s no sticker shock. At the end of their stay here, they are closer to commercial viability because they are paying closer to a commercial rent.”

Surprise started preparation work for the incubator in June 2009, began marketing it in September, and accepted its first tenants around the start of November.

One of the side benefits of the AZ TechCelerator is that it occupies the former City Hall complex that otherwise might have remained vacant. When the city moved to its new municipal facility at 8401 W. Monroe St., several hundred people left the old site on Bell Road.

“Restaurants and other businesses in the area were suffering,” Hoover says. “The choices were to leave that space dormant, or reprogram it into an economic engine. We turned a nonperforming asset into an economic starter.”

Surprise hopes to keep the expense of running the incubator as close to break-even as possible, supported by rent and common area fees, Hoover says.

“Our purpose is for business and job creation,” he says. “There are no retail projects inside. They are all some type of service or product development. They’re not competing with retail outlets on the outside.”


Arizona Business Magazine Jul/Aug 2010

Greater Maricopa Foreign Trade Zone - AZ Business Magazine Jul/Aug 2010

The Greater Maricopa Foreign Trade Zone Opens Up Business Possibilities In The West Valley

At a time when the West Valley could use an economic boost, officials have put the finishing touches on the proposed Greater Maricopa Foreign Trade Zone. Under the administration of WESTMARC, an acronym for Western Maricopa Coalition, this new Foreign Trade Zone (FTZ) is seen as a welcome economic development tool that will spawn jobs and millions of dollars in new investment.

Participating cities are Avondale, Buckeye, El Mirage, Gila Bend, Goodyear, Peoria and Surprise. Initially, four sites in three of the cities have applied for FTZ status: two in Goodyear at Interstate 10 and Loop 303, one in Surprise near Bell Road, and one west of Buckeye in an unincorporated area. The Greater Maricopa Foreign Trade Zone is actually a series of trade zones, with each city acting independently but represented by WESTMARC.

Federal approval of WESTMARC’s application of the overall trade zone by the U.S. Department of Commerce and the Department of Homeland Security is expected before the end of the year. Launched in 1934, the federal Foreign Trade Zone program provides for reduced or eliminated federal taxes and fees in connection with imports and exports. For customs purposes, an FTZ is considered outside the United States.

Consultant Curtis Spencer, president of Houston-based IMS Worldwide, says there has been quite a bit of interest in West Valley sites from brokers looking for build-to-suit opportunities, particularly for solar and other manufacturers.

Spencer says developers generally pay the initial fee of about $50,000 to be in the FTZ depending on proposed use. Companies locating in an FTZ also pay an annual fee, but Spencer estimates the savings to a company can range from $300,000 to $1 million a year.

A typical business in an FTZ pays wages 7 percent to 8 percent more than a similar company not involved in exporting and importing, and employs 10 percent to 20 percent more workers, Spencer says.

“Foreign Trade Zone activities now exceed the statistical equivalent of imports and exports carried by truck into and out of Canada and Mexico,” Spencer says. “It’s a significant portion of our economy.”

A company in the West Valley area that decides to seek FTZ status puts in an application that will go through WESTMARC, which holds the federal permit, and on to the federal Foreign Trade Zone board. Zones are not limited to the four that have been selected. Likely candidate businesses for an FTZ range from high-tech manufacturers to distributors.

“It should give a major boost in investment and job creation,” Spencer says. “In the next 10 years we should have added hundreds of jobs and tens of millions of new investment.”

Basically, FTZs speed up the supply chain, reduce importing costs and provide better security, Spencer says.

“It’s faster, cheaper and better,” he adds.

Regarding security, companies that have been certified for FTZ status by federal authorities undergo extreme scrutiny, and therefore are not likely to be dealing with unfriendly countries or terrorist organizations. Concern over the importation of contraband has heightened since the attacks of 9/11.

Harry Paxton, economic development director for the city of Goodyear, says participating cities can use the FTZ as a marketing tool.

“It says that these communities are ready to accept businesses involved in international commerce,” he says.

Goodyear, which was among the first to express an interest in establishing an FTZ three years ago, hopes to fill some existing buildings by offering significant property tax breaks. Personal and real property taxes in an Arizona FTZ are cut by 75 percent.

But the perception that such tax reductions will have a negative impact on a city is incorrect, Paxton says. The assessed valuation of an activated FTZ reduces to 5 percent from 20 percent, but still generates additional revenue when compared to agricultural-use sites that collect $300 per 10 acres. What’s more, Paxton says, the FTZ becomes a catalyst for other development not requiring FTZ tax benefits, resulting in a full tax rate on those businesses.

“It’s a win-win,” he says. “It helps us become more competitive.”

Mitch Rosen, director of office and industrial development for SunCor Development Company, says his company owns 250 acres that will be part of the FTZ.

“The reason we’re interested is that we believe it to be an exceptional tool to stimulate the economic development of the West Valley,” he says. “It’s a good way to stimulate quality employment and it creates a competitive advantage for Arizona and the West Valley. It encourages businesses throughout the country to elect to locate in the West Valley.”

Jack Lunsford, president and CEO of WESTMARC, expects FTZs to spring up throughout the sprawling West Valley as cities become more aware of the benefits.

“We are thrilled,” he says, “to help bring this economic development tool to our West Valley communities that will assist them, especially at a time like this.”

www.imsw.com | www.suncoraz.com | www.ci.goodyear.az.us

Arizona Business Magazine Jul/Aug 2010

Jim Todd in a helicopter - AZ Business Magazine Jul/Aug 2010

Jim Todd Never Dreamed He Would Be The Valley’s Main Aerial Photographer

Jim Todd
Todd Photographic Services
Title: President
Est: 1990  |  www.toddphoto.com

“We’re the only aerial photographer in town that can shoot it, process it, print it, mount it, frame it and get it out the door same day — and that’s huge.” – Jim Todd

When Jim Todd began Todd Photographic Services 20 years ago out of his home, he never dreamed that one day he’d be the main aerial photographer in the Valley. When the economy collapsed as soon as he bought his current 9,000-square-foot building, that accomplishment seemed even less likely.

“Everyone struggled with the recession, but we had this extra burden,” Todd says. “Just the little things, like new business cards and letterheads, add up. The cost really increased and yet the revenue was decreasing. It was a real struggle.”

But Todd found ways to get by. He cut back from 12 employees to three. He rents out the 3,000 square feet upstairs in his building. And, most significantly, he increased the number of services available.

“We thought, ‘let’s bump it up,’” he says. “Let’s create a unique solution to everyone’s photographic needs.”

Today, in addition to aerial photography, Todd Photographic Services provides custom framing, custom photo finishing, mounting and laminating, architectural photography, graphic design, portraits, and custom wall murals. Plus, the building houses an art gallery. Now that things are starting to turn around, Todd hopes to start hiring back some of the employees he had to let go.

“It breaks my heart that I had to do it, and now I want to start bringing people back one at a time because we’re picking up,” he says.

Despite all of the new services the company now offers, Todd’s favorite part is still taking the aerial photographs.

“I just find it tranquil,” he acknowledges. “It’s just beautiful, and it’s the biggest part of our income. The biggest part of our income is the thing I like to do the most — how lucky am I?”

Very lucky indeed to have survived so many challenges in only the last two years. In fact, Todd considers the simple fact that the company is still standing to be one of its greatest achievements.

“Two years ago, our greatest achievement would have been different,” he states. “But becoming king of the hill and keeping our doors open is enormous. The other thing is having a good reputation. A reputation’s a hard thing to get.”

Todd attributes a lot of his success to being located in Arizona, with its weather being perfectly conducive to aerial photography. Another bonus is the rate at which Arizona is growing and houses are being built, even with the recession, which leads to more architectural photography opportunities.

“We build more homes than anywhere else in the country,” he notes. “People want to live here.”

With all that Todd Photographic Services accomplished during the recession, the possibilities for the company are endless now that things are starting to look up.

Arizona Business Magazine Jul/Aug 2010

employee perks are often the first thing to go. - AZ Business Magazine Jul/Aug 2010

Employees And Employers Are Reaping The Benefits Of Low-Cost Health And Wellness Perks

We’re in a time when it seems the only job benefit that matters is actually having a job. As employers look for ways to cut costs, employee perks are often the first thing to go. As a result, stress increases and morale declines.

However, many local employers are taking advantage of low or no-cost simple wellness programs and finding that they go a long way toward creating a positive culture within their companies. Allowing employees time during their day to escape and rejuvenate leads to a higher level of productivity, a less-stressed work force and improved overall morale in the workplace.

In a time when many people are now wearing more hats than ever — and putting in extra hours — wellness programs offer a very high return on investment. A healthier staff means fewer sick days, lower health insurance costs and increased productivity.

At Shea Homes, on-site yoga is just one of the many low-cost ways the company uses to engage employees and encourage healthy behaviors. Mike McCormack, vice president of human resources for Shea Homes Active Lifestyles Communities, says some of the other programs the company offers include lunch-and-learn sessions, companywide 10,000-step contests, wellness teleseminars and holiday potlucks.

“It’s no secret that our industry has been particularly affected by the economy,” he says. “The little things we’re still able to offer have gone a long way in helping our employees feel appreciated. The positive feedback has been overwhelming and attendance has remained strong among both women and men. We see our wellness programs as having a lasting benefit at Shea Homes.”

At Henkel’s headquarters for Consumer Goods in Scottsdale, employee health and wellness seems to be engineered into the building. A roof garden provides employees a getaway from their work area where they can take in some fresh air, eat lunch, visit with co-workers, or even work. The building also features an on-site fitness center. The yoga room at the Henkel facility is the former IT training room, a conversion made by CEO Brad Casper in response to greater demand for the classes. Henkel also offers weekly hip-hop dance fitness classes and on-site chair massages, both of which are a big hit among the employees.

“The wellness classes also provide a way for people to interact and foster friendships with colleagues that they may have not otherwise connected with and in a different way,” says Natalie Violi, director of corporate communications at Henkel. “We are seeing people in different functions and varied levels of the organization take the classes.”

Nicole Nelson, human resources recruiting manager at Henkel, says, “Henkel fully embraces employee wellness programs as they provide ongoing benefits from an employee and employer standpoint. These programs continue to strengthen employee morale and help bring balance to everyday work-life.”

Now more than ever, employees are thankful for the little things their employers are doing to keep them motivated and offer an outlet for stress. It’s a win-win for everyone. A healthier, happier staff equals a healthier, happier organization.

Arizona Business Magazine Jul/Aug 2010

Continuing Education Vital In The Health Field - AZ Business Magazine Jul/Aug 2010

Continuing Education Is Proving Vital In The Health Field

From nurses to doctors to health care executives — and everyone in between — the job market in the medical field has tightened since 2007.

“For the first time in a decade, our undergraduate nursing graduates have had difficulty in finding positions or in obtaining a position in a specialty area in which they prefer to work, such as pediatrics, oncology or cardiovascular,” says Terry Olbrysh, director of marketing and communications at the Arizona State University College of Nursing and Health Innovation. “As the recession continues, nursing graduates’ job searches have taken longer. However, there is currently, and will always be, the need for health care, and our job market is still very strong compared to other industries in Phoenix.”

And the need for educational programs for both new and veteran health care employees continues to reach new heights.

In fact, according to Olbrysh, enrollment in ASU’s health care and health promotion graduate and doctoral programs has reached record levels at more than 400. And Sanford-Brown College, which provides education in allied health care and related fields designed to prepare its graduates for related employment opportunities, just launched its first campus in the Western United States in Phoenix due to the continuing opportunities for health care graduates.

“When we launched our Phoenix campus in October 2009 with our medical assistant and pharmacy technician programs, the response was overwhelmingly positive,” says George F. Fitzpatrick, president of Sanford-Brown’s Phoenix campus. “In fact, we quickly knew there would be a need for associate programs, as well as Spanish-language offerings, to better arm our growing student population and to better serve the community at large.”

In fact, in January, after just a few months in the market, Sanford-Brown expanded its offerings to include a medical assistant program in Spanish, as well as a specialized associate degree program in cardiovascular sonography. Offered during day and night sessions, and completed in as little as 70 weeks, these programs are designed to help those who are still working in other industries or at other full-time positions.

The College of Nursing and Health Innovation at ASU echoes Sanford-Brown’s success and opportunity. With one of the broadest nursing and health curriculums in the nation, the college is seeing record enrollment in multiple career track opportunities.

“We offer nursing, health promotion (i.e., nutrition, exercise and wellness, and health sciences) and interdisciplinary programs, such as the master’s of clinical research management and (master’s) of healthcare innovation, and all are seeing success,” says Linda Mottle, director of the center for Healthcare Innovation & Clinical Trials. “And we are also developing a new tri-university clinical and translational graduate certificate online, a new MS in regulatory science and health safety, and some online continuing education, self-learning modules for community clinical professionals who want to learn how to conduct clinical research in their practices.”

Those already in health care related fields also are finding new opportunities with several programs. Some of the most popular programs offered through ASU include:

Master of Science degree in clinical research management — an online program that prepares graduates to lead complex global clinical research operations at multiple types of employer settings in the rapidly growing clinical research industry.

Master of Legal Studies — a one-year graduate program that can provide health care professionals with interdisciplinary study in law and medicine. By choosing law classes that are of particular interest, an individual can develop substantive knowledge of law, as well as analytical and problem-solving skills necessary to understand both the underlying theory and practical applications of law in the ever-evolving health care industry.

Juris Doctorate — where health care professionals can focus their legal studies on health care. In addition, candidates can pursue simultaneously a joint MD degree through the Mayo Medical School, a Ph.D. in psychology in conjunction with ASU’s College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, or a master’s in health sector management with the W.P. Carey School of Health Management and Policy.

“We also have a significant number of attorneys who would like to specialize in the emerging field of biotechnology and genomics, so we now offer a Master of Law degree in biotechnology and genomics — the first-ever degree program focused on the growing intersection of law and genetic applications, such as pharmacogenomics and personalized medicine, genetically modified organisms, forensic evidence, gene testing, gene therapy, cloning, stem cells, and behavioral genetics,” says Gary Marchant, executive director and faculty fellow at the Center for Law, Science & Innovation at ASU’s Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law.

The Center for Law, Science & Innovation bridges law and science by fostering the development of legal frameworks for new technologies, and advancing the informed use of science in legal decision-making. The center facilitates transdisciplinary study and dialogue among policy makers, academics, students, professionals and industry.

In addition, the center houses the Public Health Law and Policy Program (PHLPP), which brings together scholars, practitioners and other partners to focus on critical issues concerning law, ethics and public health.

“Profound issues of law and policy arise from the exploration, development and implementation of public health goals and objectives in society,” says James G. Hodge Jr., director of PHLPP.

Topical areas of interest for the program include:

  • Legal preparedness in response to H1N1 and other public health emergencies.
  • Public health implications of national health care reforms.
  • Vaccination laws and policy.
  • Child and adolescent health in schools.
  • National and state obesity laws and policies.
  • Expedited partner therapies in response to sexually transmitted infections.
  • Volunteer health professionals and emergency legal preparedness.
  • Mental and behavioral health legal and ethical preparedness.

www.asu.edu | www.sbphoenix.com

Arizona Business Magazine Jul/Aug 2010

David Birzon, President Of Paradise Bakery & Café - AZ Business Magazine Jul/Aug 2010

First Job: David Birzon, President Of Paradise Bakery & Café

David Birzon
President, Paradise Bakery & Café

Describe your very first job and the lessons you learned from it.
My first job was at a neighborhood grocery when I was 15. My job was to come in after school and clean the meat room where the butchers worked all day cutting and grinding meat. Talk about a dirty job! After my first week, the manager took me aside and told me that my work was sloppy and slow. From that day on, I was always the fastest and meticulous about everything I did. I soon became head stock boy, and on my 18th birthday, the youngest assistant manager in the history of the chain.

Describe your first job in your industry and what you learned from it.
Believe it or not, my first job in this industry was at Paradise Bakery. I started after college and have been here 21 years. I learned that this business is about people — the people who work for you and the people they serve. Do everything in your power to do right by the first group and they’ll take care of the second group. I’ve never made a wrong decision when I’ve put our associates and our guests first. I usually make the wrong decision if I put finances first.

What were your salaries at both of these jobs?
At the grocery store I made $3.35 an hour, and as an assistant manager for Paradise Bakery I made $24,000 a year.

Who is your biggest mentor and what role did they play?
My biggest mentor has been Dan Patterson, the founder of Paradise Bakery and Café. Dan played volleyball in the ’68 Olympics and was captain of the U.S. Men’s National team. He was also a tremendous leader and people person. He was telling me to “just do it” years before Nike ever used that slogan. He taught me that without commitment and discipline, success would always be just another word, not something real. Most importantly, he taught me to always do the right thing, even when it’s often the hardest thing to do.

What advice would you give a person just entering this industry?

Set your sights high and then take the time to learn your craft. This industry is like any other — you have to go deep and understand every detail. There is no substitute for a strong foundation of knowledge. True leaders aren’t born or made overnight. They’ve put in the time to understand the nuances that make their business successful, and more importantly, they’ve put in the time to make mistakes (lots of them!) and to learn from them. Although I might not have thought it when I was 22, the three years I spent managing a Paradise Bakery were my most formative, and I draw from those experiences every single day.

If you weren’t doing this, what would you be doing instead?
I’d be teaching. My dad was a law school professor for more than 40 years and I’ve always had a passion to teach. I believe that in any community, it’s not the political or business leaders who matter the most, it’s our school teachers. Our future is in their hands.

Arizona Business Magazine Jul/Aug 2010

The State’s Economic Forecast For The Rest Of The Year - AZ Business Magazine Jul/Aug 2010

The State’s Economic Forecast For The Rest Of The Year Calls For An Agonizingly Slow Recovery

Ready to heave a sigh of relief over Arizona’s economy? Go ahead — but don’t get carried away. Some observers expect the second half of this year will bring positive signs that the economy is recovering, turning the dial toward even stronger growth in 2011 and 2012. Others aren’t so sure the state’s recession is in the rear-view mirror yet, and that a quick rebound is in the cards. Two of Arizona’s leading economists, Marshall Vest and Lee McPheters, disagree on how this year will shake out and how quickly a full recovery will be reached.

Half full

Vest, an economist at the University of Arizona’s Eller College of Management, believes Arizona’s economy hit bottom at the end of 2009. He forecasts retail sales will increase 5 percent this year and 10 percent in 2011. Home builders are buying back land they sold a few years ago and preparing for new construction. The housing market is improving “fairly rapidly,” with sales of existing homes up and housing prices stabilizing.

“Housing prices will continue to move up because they are well-below trend,” Vest says. “New-home permits are off the bottom, but I don’t see a whole lot of upward potential until we have absorbed all the vacant houses.”

He estimates inventory at 120,000 homes statewide.

As for that other troublesome spot in the economy, jobs, unemployment dropped to 9.5 percent in April, and may already have peaked.

“I think we’ll see slow improvement in the number of unemployed,” Vest says. “But it probably will be two or three years before we get the (unemployment) rate below 6 percent.”

He expects the hospitality industry, wholesale trade, and the professional and business services sector to show employment gains the second half of this year. New jobs will attract more people to Arizona and Vest predicts the state’s population will grow by 2.5 percent in 2012.

“I don’t expect to see the 4 and 4.5 percent growth from the last expansion because the population base is so large now,” Vest says. “But a 2.5 percent increase is a lot of people.”

Although he says it will take years to repair the damage, Vest sees better days ahead, with the economy in full recovery by 2013.

“This year simply sets the stage for much stronger and broad-based growth in 2011,” he notes. “We should see some significant growth in most sectors of the economy in 2011 and 2012. The areas growing fastest likely will be professional and business services, trade, hospitality, health care and residential construction.”

However, commercial real estate and the public sector will continue to be a drag on the economy, according to Vest.

“Tax revenues lag at least a year behind an economy that is recovering,” he says. “It will be at least a year, maybe two or three, before state and local government regains its footing.”

Half empty

McPheters, research professor of economics at the W.P. Carey School of Business at Arizona State University, thinks Arizona’s recession is still in play as measured by employment. Reaching 2.7 million jobs, the peak of employment in 2007, indicates a full recovery, McPheters says. More jobs may be lost this year — perhaps 24,000 — and 2010 could close out with 2.4 million people employed.

“So 2010 is another recession year,” he notes.

McPheters sees recovery in three to four years. Full recovery could come in 2013 if Arizona averages 3.7 percent job growth between now and then, McPheters says. Three percent job growth means recovery in 2014.

Arizona’s economy likely will creak along at its trough through the second half of the year but “2011 should be a year when home prices, population and jobs show modest improvement,” McPheters says.

He forecasts a gain of 48,000 jobs next year, a 2 percent increase over 2010. Population should grow 1.8 percent, a nudge of 0.3 percent. Homebuilders will take out 17,800 single-family housing permits this year and 28,480 next year, but “you would expect Arizona to generate 40,000 to 50,000 permits in a ‘normal year,’ ” McPheters says. “The housing recovery really hasn’t unfolded the way I thought it would.”

He won’t forecast retail sales until he has more data in hand.

A labor shortage?

Dennis Hoffman, professor of economics at the W.P. Carey School of Business, sees more questions than answers in Arizona’s immediate future.

“If you look at any kind of model about Arizona, you see significant growth coming in 2011 and 2012,” Hoffman says. “But that is nothing more than a reflection of history. The question is, are the dynamics that drove (economic) bounces in the past in place this time? This one may be different.”

Arizona’s rapid-paced recoveries from prior recessions “were fueled by the immediate availability of an abundant supply of undocumented cheap labor,” Hoffman says. “With Arizona’s attitude toward undocumented laborers, it’s pretty clear that abundant undocumented workers may be a headwind for us.”

With much of their assets tied up in real estate, Arizonans suffered “wealth erosion of massive proportions” as home prices slid 40 percent to 60 percent, Hoffman adds. Personal spending cratered and tax revenues plunged. Hoffman says the country’s household wealth fell 3 percent from December 1928 to December 1929 during the Great Depression. National wealth deteriorated 17 percent from December 2007 to December 2008 during the current recession, and Arizona was at least twice that bad, he notes.

“If we could regain consumer confidence and begin consuming close to historical norms, you’re talking between $14 billion and $16 billion in taxable spending,” Hoffman says. “That would do a lot to cure the ills of our very wounded economy.”

Arizona must become a magnet for new residents again, according to Hoffman, because in-migration fuels tax receipts as new arrivals buy homes, cars, furniture and other goods and services.

Residents needed

Indeed, economist Elliott Pollack, CEO of Elliott D. Pollack & Company, says Arizona will recover only if more people relocate to the state.

“We won’t need another square foot of housing, we won’t need another square foot of office space if people don’t move here,” Pollack says. “I expected population inflows to slow, but I never dreamed it would come to a screeching halt.”

Arizona’s total population growth (in-migration, plus births, minus deaths) was 3.1 percent in 2007 and 0.8 percent in 2009, Pollack says, noting that population will pick up slowly over the next four or five years.

He adds that Arizona’s recovery will be gradual and painful because the national recovery will be sluggish.

“Consumers are not nearly as able to spend as they have coming out of past recessions because they have to pay down debt and increase savings,” Pollack says. “That is not something they had to do in past recoveries.”

Becoming business friendly

Don Cardon, director of the Arizona Department of Commerce, sees “significant things happening in invisible areas.” He is bullish on the re-emergence of investment capital in Arizona this year.

“I am sincerely positive about what’s anticipated for the third and fourth quarters,” Cardon says. “I think we will see a re-engagement of capital streams, a softening of the ability of large investors to be interested in Arizona industry.”

Large investors will “beta test” the state and then secondary investors will decide they “have been out of the water way too long,” Cardon says. He sees Arizona businesses gaining traction over the next year. He also believes new capital will flow to energy-related industries, particularly renewable energy, the technology sector, small business and entrepreneurial ventures.

Last year, Gov. Jan Brewer appointed a commerce advisory council to identify an economic development model for the state and, following the group’s recommendations, has proposed scrapping the Commerce Department and replacing it with a so-called public-private commerce authority. Cardon says the authority would give Arizona a vital ingredient for improving the economy — focus.

“(The authority) has received unparalleled favor across party lines and in all sectors of business because it represents a sense of focus,” Cardon says. “We’re saying that at the state level, we haven’t been focused and we lost our connection with legislative support and confidence.”

Once necessary laws are passed to establish the authority, it “will create a tool for the private sector to say, ‘I understand this. We can count on them.’ We will go from an intangible entity to something that is specific and highly energized,” Cardon says.

The authority will emphasize energy and business attraction, retention and expansion, he says.

A boost to Arizona’s competitive position is critical to an economic recovery, and a statewide economic development program backed by a supportive tax policy is overdue, says Barry Broome, president and CEO of the Greater Phoenix Economic Council. In the meantime, he believes Arizona’s economy will bounce back “quicker than people realize, that it will be strong and that it will result in a faster rate of job recovery than economists are projecting for Phoenix and Arizona.”

Over the next year and a half, Broome says, Arizona will develop a full-fledged, renewable-energy cluster and transform itself into a solar energy hub; health care will experience a strong expansion with emphasis on information technology and telemedicine; and the aerospace market will hold its own. In addition, Broome expects an uptick in regional headquarter activity.

www.azcommerce.com | www.ebr.eller.arizona.edu |www.elliottpollack.com | www.gpec.org | www.wpcarey.asu.edu

Arizona Business Magazine Jul/Aug 2010

Reduce Carbon Emissions - AZ Business Magazine Jul/Aug 2010

Data Centers Are Doing Their Part To Reduce Carbon Emissions

Anytime a business owner goes online to bank, shop for equipment or place a classified ad for a new employee, chances are they are navigating what’s become known as the cloud — a metaphor for the Internet where business transactions are more and more commonplace and economically sensible.

And Phoenix, interestingly, has its own slice of this cloud with large data centers operating in the desert, free from natural disasters and other forces that could impact the vital necessity of data being available and uninterrupted in a 24/7/365 environment.

While data centers use a significant amount of energy — think of the thousands of computer servers housing banking operations, business software and more — data centers are being recognized for their positive impact on the environment.

The reason is simple: Data centers move business into the digital age. Processes that are digitized produce less carbon emissions than their analog counterparts, and data centers provide the infrastructure enabling this digitization to occur. Both serve as the foundation for an energy-efficient enterprise.

The transition from physical, “offline” processes to digital, online processes is referred to as digitization or dematerialization. Research has shown that by digitizing or “dematerializing” processes there is a significant decrease in carbon dioxide emissions. Large, modern, commercial-grade data centers utilize the latest technologies and provide energy savings through economies of scale.

With the advent of the commercial Internet in the 1990s, companies have improved how they interact with their customers, partners and employees. Prior to the World Wide Web and e-mail, businesses and government transacted in mostly inefficient and unconnected ways. For example, in order to pay a bill, the customer would send a paper-based check by mail, which would be delivered to the recipient by way of a network of carbon-emitting postal vehicles.

Today, bills can be paid online in a matter of minutes. By digitizing this offline process, the need for material (i.e. paper) to be created and transported has been eliminated. This in turn has resulted in a significant reduction in CO2 emissions.

Over the past 20 years there have been hundreds, if not thousands, of offline processes that have been digitized — everything from software distribution to financial transactions to medical record keeping. The combined effect of all of these digital processes is a macro-scale reduction in the overall use of materials and a more efficient distribution of the materials.

The impact of dematerialization has been quantified by a number of prominent corporations and research institutions, including Microsoft, Intel, Lawrence Berkley Labs and Stanford University.

A recent paper by Dr. Jonathan Koomey, senior researcher for Lawrence Berkley Labs, studied the impact on CO2 emissions resulting from the purchase of music online as compared to the purchase of a compact disc at a music store. Their research shows that the process of purchasing music online can reduce CO2 emissions, on a conservative basis, between 40 percent and 80 percent.

A comparative carbon footprint study of Microsoft’s Office 2007 product suite found that the digital delivery of their product to customers reduced carbon emissions by 88 percent.

According to NPG Group, Apple leads the U.S. with 25 percent of all music sold, surpassing both Wal-Mart and Amazon.com. Apple’s iTunes music service has materially changed the way music is purchased and in so doing has eliminated a substantial portion of the carbon footprint related to the offline distribution of music.

iTunes, software distribution, online bill payment and many other digital services are delivered by a complex array of IT systems, including servers and telecommunications networks. These servers and networks are located in data centers. Data centers provide the infrastructure (i.e. power, cooling, network access) required by these digital services to function.

Most corporate data centers are built to accommodate the IT needs of a single business unit or department. Large, commercial-grade data centers leverage the economies of scale to reduce energy consumption. Instead of operating 10 smaller data centers, an organization could consolidate its IT infrastructure into one or two large data centers and reduce the costs and energy associated with operating separate cooling, UPS, backup power and network access systems.

Modern data centers use the latest technologies and engineering best practices including variable frequency drives, light-emitting diodes (LED) fixtures, thermal energy storage, photovoltaic (PV) solar arrays, ultrasonic humidification and sealed cabinets. Collectively, these systems contribute to a significant reduction in energy consumption — especially during peak load periods.

By combining digitized processes with the economies of scale recognized at large, modern, commercial-grade data centers, today’s enterprise can materially reduce the energy it consumes and greatly improve its efficiency. As consumers, businesses and government look for more efficient ways to communicate and transact, dematerialization and data centers will provide the foundation for a more energy efficient enterprise.

Arizona Business Magazine Jul/Aug 2010

Asset Managers Who Know The Lay Of The Land - AZ Business Magazine Jul/Aug 2010

Today’s Fragmented Market Requires Asset Managers Who Know The Lay Of The Land

During turbulent economic environments, many institutions and individual property investors lack the local market knowledge, vendor relationships, licensing, staff, experience or operational knowledge to effectively manage and/or reposition distressed real estate assets. As such, the day-to-day management oversight and short- to midterm turnaround planning has been assigned to local market asset managers.

Role of an asset manager

The necessity of a local market asset manager has proliferated over the years as real estate has gone from individual to institutional ownership, and from the management of a few properties in a single market to large portfolios located in dispersed geographical areas. The focus of an asset manager is on the decisions that impact the property’s financial performance and, ultimately, ownership’s investment returns. An asset manager generally oversees property managers, leasing and investment sales brokers, architects, engineers, contractors, attorneys and other related vendors. Duties of an asset manager include devising and implementing turnaround plans; insurance and real estate tax reviews; negotiating leases and tenant relations; procuring and managing contractors and suppliers; budgeting and contracting for tenant build-outs and capital improvements; financial analysis and reporting; and positioning assets for sale.

Advantages of an asset manager

Having a local market asset manager who provides leadership and guidance to an investment group’s real estate assets is imperative to be able to react to and anticipate market changes and implement solutions when positioning assets for sale. Asset managers have extensive market expertise, know the dealmakers in their respective markets and have the ability to think strategically and execute tactfully. As such, engaging a local market asset manager will yield better investment operating performance, quicker lease-up of vacant space and more timely execution of sale.

Disadvantages of an asset manager

The main disadvantage is that property owners may lose some control to the asset manager. Depending on the investment structure of the ownership entity, property level decision-making would shift from the owner to the local asset manager. Contrary to some, this hierarchical structure streamlines property level decision making and allows asset managers to react quickly to local market dynamics and tenant and buyer needs. Due to the dislocation in the commercial real estate market, national groups have delegated property-level decision making to regional and local market asset managers.

Financial institutions, special servicers, investors, developers and owners of real estate holdings should strongly consider engaging a local market asset manager to reposition their underperforming assets. An asset manager has extensive market expertise, knows the dealmakers in their respective market, and has the ability to think strategically and execute value preservation or enhancement plans.

The real estate market is extremely competitive. In an environment with negative net absorption, declining effective lease rates and expanding cap rates, owners are jockeying over the same tenants and buyers. A local market asset manager will be the difference in reacting to local market changes and maximizing investment returns and/or loan recovery.

Arizona Business Magazine Jul/Aug 2010

Mark Wilhelm Lifetime Achievement Az Business Magazine Jul/Aug 2010

BIG Green Awards: Lifetime Achievement

Twelve categories, hundreds of nominations — but only one will take home the green. It’s the first annual Southwest Build-it-Green Awards, where BIG teamed up with the USGBC to bring you the leanest sustainable leaders and projects in Arizona.

Recipient: Mark Wilhelm, LEED AP
Co-founder, Green Ideas Sustainability Consultants

Mark Wilhelm has a long-standing commitment to the green movement, and over the years he has given countless hours toward improving the earth.

Wilhelm realized in 1973 that he wanted to create ways to make the U.S. a sustainable place to live. He focused on solar energy technology, building energy simulation, and designing energy-efficient buildings. After earning his master’s in environmental planning from Arizona State University, Wilhelm worked for APS for 13 years, where he headed the development of the APS Environmental Showcase Home (ESH). The home is designed to use 60 percent less water and 85 percent less energy than a regular home and displayed new sustainable technologies, materials and procedures.

In 1994, Wilhelm created the firm Green Ideas Sustainability Consultants with his colleague, Charlie Popeck, to promote green building. He also volunteers to teach sustainability to ASU students and community organizations throughout the Valley.

Wilhelm is a founding member of the U.S. Green Building Council’s Arizona Chapter, and served as chapter chairman in 2006. In 2007, Wilhelm successfully lobbied to have the Arizona chapter host the 2009 Greenbuild International Conference and Expo. He also helped to choose the LEED Silver certified Phoenix Convention Center as the site of the conference. To recognize Wilhelm for his hard work and passion, he was named chairman of the Greenbuild Host Committee. The 2009 Greenbuild International Conference and Expo truly engaged the greater Phoenix community and attracted more than 27,000 attendees from around the world.


Finalist: Edwards Design Group

The Edwards Design Group is the pioneer of building environmentally sound, energy efficient homes in Scottsdale, Ariz. Brothers Kevin Edwards and Doug Edwards have been creating environmentally friendly homes for customers for thirty years. The company’s green approach protects the earth, conserves energy and saves homeowners money.

The Edwards Design Group was the first construction group to create and build a house using straw bale and autoclave aerated concrete, an insulated building block that doesn’t need to be as replaced as often as regular concrete. The Edwards Design Group also set up recycling processes on site during construction, saving one owner over $25,000.

The Edwards Design Group helped the City of Scottsdale increase its awareness on environmentally friendly and safe building techniques and materials. The company works closely with the City of Scottsdale’s Green Building Program, and has participated in the annual “Green Building Expo.” Kevin and Doug both host a TV show called “Sustainable Scottsdale.”

Finalist: Richard Franz-Under, RA, LEED AP
Pima County Development Services

Richard Franz-Under made history in Arizona when he received the first LEED certification for a building in the state. The Desert Vista Campus Plaza Building at Pima Community College was also the 31st building in the world to achieve LEED certification. In 1997, while working at Pima Community College, he developed the first green building program and is the state’s leading expert in designing buildings to meet LEED certification.

His dedication to sustainability doesn’t end there. Franz-Under commutes 20 miles round trip to work on a bicycle and provides community outreach for sustainable construction practices and affordable housing. He also manages a LEED for Homes Provider program — the only one in the nation — and is currently supervising the certification process of one remodel, 94 multifamily units and 62 new homes.

Franz-Under has served as a consultant for several different LEED projects in Arizona and speaks to the community throughout the year, educating people about the importance of green building practices.

Arizona Business Magazine Jul/Aug 2010

Green Innovation SRP Earthwise - AZ Business Magazine Jul/Aug 2010

BIG Green Awards: Green Innovation

Twelve categories, hundreds of nominations — but only one will take home the green. It’s the first annual Southwest Build-it-Green Awards, where BIG teamed up with the USGBC to bring you the leanest sustainable leaders and projects in Arizona.

Recipient: SRP EarthWise

SRP has a wide variety of sustainable solutions that allow customers to reduce their carbon footprint and do their part to help save the environment. The SRP EarthWise programs are the first step in this process.

One program, EarthWise Energy, produces electricity from renewable resources like the sun, wind and water. Once the electricity is produced, it is sent to the SRP electric system for all customers to use. By using renewable power, there is less need to use fossil fuels. This program is offered to customers for an extra $3 per month. So far, EarthWise Energy has about 5,300 people participating.

Another SRP EarthWise program, EarthWise Solar Energy, allows customers to install solar electric or solar water systems in their homes or businesses for a reduced price. Businesses also can offset electricity usage with natural sources by joining the EarthWise Renewable Energy Credits program. SRP customers also are given the option to support reforestation through Trees for Change.

SRP EarthWise has several other programs that help the community take an active part in the movement to save energy. These programs include: EarthWise Solar for Schools; EarthWise Renewable Energy Credits; EarthWise Trees for Change; EarthWise Mowing Down Pollution; and EarthWise Powering Our Future.


Finalist: Burgis Envirolutions

Burgis Envirolutions is redefining the traditional composting process, and allowing food operators to effectively manage food waste with innovative green technology.

The Organic Refuse Conversion Alternative is a technology that converts food into a water waste that can be discharged or treated and reused in irrigation. The ORCA uses natural microorganisms and biochips to process and break down food on site.

The ORCA allows businesses to save time and money, while reducing their carbon footprint. Businesses will not have to pay for hauling fees or labor costs that come from disposing their food waste at compost locations. By making less trips hauling food, carbon emissions will be lowered.

The ORCA is offered in six sizes. It requires very little power and uses only a small amount of water, from 40 to 200 gallons depending on the machine size.

Burgis Envirolutions was awarded the 2009 Valley Forward/SRP Crescordia Award in Green Technology.

Finalist: Phoenix Children’s Hospital

Phoenix Children’s Hospital is changing the way hospitals approach their responsibilities to the environment and their patients.

The Hospital recently spent $588 million to build an additional 11-story tower for patients. During construction the hospital was conscious of the design, construction and operations practices it used, and as a result the new building will use 20 percent less energy.

Phoenix Children’s most recognizable sustainability effort is the Central Energy Plant (CEP) that powers the hospital’s 34 acres. The CEP uses an 800-ton water-to-water heat pump chiller that saves 5.6 million gallons of water each year, and over the next 15 years the CEP is expected to save the hospital $11 million in energy and operating costs.

The hospital maintains a paperless policy, and sends materials to subcontractors through online distribution. Recycling is heavily emphasized and throughout the construction process more than 70 percent of the construction waste was recycled.

Arizona Business Magazine Jul/Aug 2010

Corporate Green Programs & Practices - city-of-peoria - AZ Business Magazine Jul/Aug 2010

BIG Green Awards: Corporate Green Programs & Practices

Twelve categories, hundreds of nominations — but only one will take home the green. It’s the first annual Southwest Build-it-Green Awards, where BIG teamed up with the USGBC to bring you the leanest sustainable leaders and projects in Arizona.

Recipient: City of Peoria

Green initiatives have gone from paper and thoughts to parks and neighborhoods in the city of Peoria. City employees at every level, from the mayor to the custodial staff, have supported Peoria’s push for a more sustainable and environmentally friendly community.

City leaders added a sustainability policy to Peoria’s general plan, and a Sustainability Action Plan sets goals and measures progress in eight green areas. The Sustainability Action Plan includes goals in the areas of rethinking energy use, managing water resources, and promoting sustainable development and green-collar jobs. The city also created the “Sustain & Gain” motto as a central message to help promote these goals.

In addition, the city created a sustainability matrix to maintain goals and action plans for cost-effective green practices. As a living document, the matrix sets timelines for the completion of goals, keeps an inventory of accomplished goals and designates project leaders.

Along with setting goals and creating plans, Peoria also ceased distributing paper pay stubs to employees who are paid electronically, and the city only posts job openings online. City employees are encouraged to use green forms of transportation, be environmentally aware, present major progress made in areas of the Sustainability Action Plan at forums, and participate in green programs. For the public, Peoria’s Building Community Speakers Series hosts presentations by experts in fields related to sustainability at city council meetings.


Adolfson & Peterson Construction’s “Green Fists of Fury”

Adolfson & Peterson Construction rules not with iron, but green fists.  The company’s green fists of fury, or Hulk hands, signify the company’s commitment to green practices.  Adolfson & Peterson encourages and pays for employees to become Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design (LEED) certified.  Once LEED certified, employees receive their own green fist to display with pride in their office.

The company also integrated a hybrid fleet of cars, recycling and carpooling or telecommuting programs into its daily operations.  Adolfson & Peterson established satellite offices in Buckeye and Tucson, Ariz., to cut down on employee commuting.  The company’s hybrid fleet of cars even boasts a Smart Car for employee use.  Through its recycling program, Adolfson & Peterson recycled more than 1,000 tons of construction waste in Arizona in 2009.

Adolfson & Peterson strives to reduce its own carbon footprint and the footprint of its clients.  The company built the first LEED Silver Certified high school in Arizona, currently has more than 30 LEED-certified or pending projects and has helped Arizona State University and Carl Hayden High School start green programs.

Arizona Business Magazine Jul/Aug 2010

Manage Foreign National Employees - AZ Business Magazine Jul/Aug 2010

State And Federal Laws Are Putting More Responsibility On Businesses To Manage Foreign National Employees

Arizona’s Support Our Law Enforcement and Safe Neighborhoods Act, better known as SB 1070, is due to be implemented this month, and will grant expanded investigation powers to police and enable arrest based on an officer’s reasonable suspicion that an individual is in Arizona illegally.

The difficulty for businesses is obvious – employers are the front line for determining work authorization status. They must be responsive to new layers of enforcement that are focused on immigration, and they must avoid discrimination based on national origin or citizenship status. The issues are complex, dynamic and controversial.

Arizona employers will need to protect the continuity of their work force and staffing levels by mitigating the chances that employees could become incarcerated under this new law. Consult with legal counsel and follow this advice:

Organize and audit your company’s I-9 and e-Verify processes to ensure that your employment verification process is well managed. Employers who are found to employ undocumented individuals could face criminal and civil liabilities.

Properly train your company’s first-line receptionist on how to respond to calls and visits from Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) or local law enforcement asking immigration-related questions.

No employee should be interviewed alone by ICE or by a police officer. Any enforcement visit should include a warrant or ICE Notice of Inspection, which should be immediately and carefully reviewed by an attorney.

Advise employees to carry proper government identification with them at all times, such as a valid driver’s license or a Social Security card.

Employees who are in the U.S. on work status should have on them at all times their immigration document evidencing status and work authorization. The law requires that the original documents, not copies, be presented upon request.

What is the risk to employers?

Employers may be prosecuted for violations of state and federal statutes unrelated to the employer sanctions provisions. For example, the deliberate hire of persons illegally in the U.S. may violate federal employment statutes, criminal anti-smuggling or harboring provisions, and trigger investigation for non-payment of employment taxes and criminal fraud. State statutes like Arizona’s Employer Sanctions Law are the most fearsome, with penalties including the loss of business licenses.

The system for verification of employment eligibility is far from perfect, but the penalties for non-compliance by employers can be substantial. Immigration Reform Control Act (IRCA) penalties include fines ranging from $250 to $10,000 per unauthorized employee, and imprisonment of up to six months or both.

Tools for employers

To better ensure that employees are IRCA work authorized, there are some well-recognized tools. The best is the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services’ e-Verify program. Required in Arizona by the Legal Arizona Workers Act, e-Verify is simple and reliable. It requires that the user sign a memorandum of understanding with the USCIS, and it may be used only for new hires, with a few exceptions for designated federal contractors.

The Social Security Administration’s (SSA) Enumeration Verification Service can be used to verify Social Security numbers (SSN), another method to ensure, at a minimum, that the employee’s SSN matches with his or her name and gender. Information on verification of SSNs is available at 800-772-6270 or online at www.ssa.gov/employer/ssnv.htm. This is a simple, free method not requiring a memorandum of understanding, and can be used to check small numbers of names, or if registered with SSA, groups of more than 50 names.

Congress may speak

As Congress debates comprehensive immigration reform and SB 1070 is tested in court, one thing is clear – federal and state governments are making employers the gatekeepers of legal status. Businesses that thoroughly educate all employees about the implications for each individual, their department and the workplace as a whole will remain a step ahead.

Arizona Business Magazine Jul/Aug 2010

Omaha Steakhouse Offers Its Signature Steak - AZ Business Magazine Jul/Aug 2010

Omaha Steakhouse Offers Its Signature Steaks And A Little Extra

Tucked away inside the Embassy Suites Phoenix – Biltmore, Omaha Steakhouse is a great place to sit down and enjoy a mid-town steak in a comfortable atmosphere.

Omaha Steaks is known for the finest beef available. Since 1917, people have turned to the family-owned business for meat that they could trust. In 1966, the company took the name Omaha Steaks International. The company experienced explosive growth in the 1980s and 1990s that led it to an important decision that changed dining. In 2000, Omaha Steaks opened the doors to its first restaurant, the Omaha Steakhouse.

The Omaha Steakhouse offers a comfortable setting that allows for a pleasant dining experience. The décor, soft lighting and friendly service communicate authenticity, and create a memorable dining experience. The bar has an extensive wine selection, and the traditional dining area offers an enjoyable view of the hotel’s pool.

When my dining companions and I glanced at the menu, we knew we were going to be enjoying a great meal. Omaha Steakhouse offers a variety of seafood and steak platters.

Omaha Steakhouse serves the well-known Omaha steaks that people have mail-ordered for decades. The restaurant takes pride in the steaks it serves, offering its own private reserve selection, which includes top sirloin, filet mignon, bone-in rib eye and New York strip steak.

For starters you can order the jumbo shrimp cocktail or scampi with bruschetta. Of the appetizers we decided to sample, the table favorite was the crispy blue cheese potato chips. Topped with finely chopped tomatoes and drizzled with blue cheese, the chips were quite a treat, and the plate quickly emptied.

Our attention was soon diverted when our server brought us Omaha’s signature onion bread topped with garlic sauce and onions. Shortly after, our shrimp bisque arrived along with a steakhouse wedge salad made of iceberg lettuce and topped with blue cheese, bacon bits, cucumbers, red tomatoes and blue cheese dressing. If you’re trying to save room for the main entrée, a good choice is the tomato, red onion and mozzarella platter. The dish is just enough to hold you over until the entrée arrives.

For entrees you can pick the traditional choice of steak, or you can venture out and try one of Omaha’s various seafood selections or house specialties. Seafood selections range from salmon fillets to stuffed shrimp.

The house specialties consist of roasted Maryland crab cakes and double cut pork chops topped with a glistening maple mustard glaze and served with Fuji apples, among others.

The entrée Omaha is best known for is the fillet and stuffed shrimp grilled combination platter. The fillet was excellent, grilled with butter and Omaha Steak seasoning. For an enhanced steak experience, make sure to “Oscar” your fillet and have it topped with asparagus, crab cakes and a creamy béarnaise sauce.

Each entrée is accompanied by delicious Yukon gold mashed potatoes. For additional taste bud pleasures, be sure to order the asparagus topped in béarnaise sauce, sautéed mushrooms and a mac & cheese dish that has a little extra kick to it.

Finally, it was time to dive into dessert. Although Omaha’s crowning glory is steak, Omaha doesn’t skimp on the desserts. The must-haves include a sweet and tart Key Lime pie, a crème brulee served with strawberries and a chocolate cake that lives up to its name – Obscenely Chocolate Cake. Layers of chocolate and fudge made up the rich creation, which easily became the favorite treat of the night.

So next time you’re shopping at Biltmore Fashion Park and searching for a quiet, relaxed place to enjoy a delicious meal, stop by Omaha Steakhouse. You won’t leave disappointed.

    If You Go:

  • Omaha Steakhouse
  • 2630 E. Camelback Road, Phoenix
  • (602) 956-6626
  • www.omahasteakhouse.com

Arizona Business Magazine Jul/Aug 2010

Bonnie Richardson - Green Advocate - AZ Business Magazine Jul/Aug 2010

BIG Green Awards: Green Advocate

Twelve categories, hundreds of nominations — but only one will take home the green. It’s the first annual Southwest Build-it-Green Awards, where BIG teamed up with the USGBC to bring you the leanest sustainable leaders and projects in Arizona.

Recipient: Bonnie Richardson, LEED AP, Architect & Principal Planner· City of Tempe

A passion for sustainable design and an enthusiasm for sharing her knowledge with others are not the only attributes Bonnie Richardson brings to the table.

After graduating from Arizona State University’s College of Architecture and Environmental Design in 1983, Richardson established her own architectural firm and became a visiting professor of architecture at her alma mater. Since then, Richardson has continued to share her knowledge of design, not only with the ASU community, but also with the Phoenix-metro area.

As an architect and principal planner for Tempe’s transportation department, Richardson has put her mark on many of the city’s green building endeavors, including Phoenix’s METRO light rail system and the Tempe Transportation Center.

Richardson is a Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design (LEED) professional, and an advocate for environmentally friendly development. She is committed to creating facilities and buildings that area residents will find aesthetically pleasing, and prove to be a valuable investment of their tax dollars.

She is a member of the American Institute of Architects, Valley Forward and the Arizona Technology Council, and has served with the U.S. Green Building Council’s Arizona Chapter.

Her commitment to the future of Tempe and Arizona is manifested in her desire to encourage and promote sustainable designing and building in her community.


Finalist: Lori Singleton, Manager, Sustainability Initiatives & Technologies

Although Lori Singleton is Salt River Project’s manager of sustainability initiatives and technology, she also uses her knowledge of environmentally friendly and sustainable practices to help others in her private life.  Singleton’s passion for sustainability has been demonstrated through her association with the Arizona chapter of the Audubon Society and Valley Forward.

Both Singleton’s personal and professional lives are dedicated to improving the quality of life in Arizona, advocating for sustainable practices and bringing attention to new, more efficient conservation techniques.  Her personal and professional philosophy — “Reduce, Reuse, Recycle” — exemplifies her enthusiasm for sustainability.

Singleton had a regular column in The Arizona Republic, which she used to educate readers on daily ways to help preserve the environment.  She also aided the Audubon Society in its early stages by leading Audubon Arizona’s Business Advisory Committee.  Her involvement with Audubon gave the society the resources to spread its Healthy Planet/Healthy Home message to its 10,000 statewide members.

Finalist: Mara DeFilippis, Founder & CEO
Phoenix Green Chamber of Commerce

Striving to fill Phoenix’s need for green information and resources, Mara DeFilippis established the Phoenix Green Chamber of Commerce in 2008.

DeFilippis once asked, “If we were to have a lifespan of 500 years, how would we be living differently?”  This sentiment reflects DeFilippis’ passion for environmentally responsible practices.  It also demonstrates the Green Chamber’s mission to promote businesses committed to environmental and social responsibility.

The Green Chamber serves more than 140 businesses, holds monthly educational forums and distributes a monthly newsletter, which reaches more than 5,500 Phoenix businesses, agencies and people.  It is also compiling an “Eco-Standards” handbook, estimated for a mid-2010 release, which features a tiered system to rate members’ sustainable business practices.  These ratings will be visible online through the Green Chamber’s directory.

DeFilippis and the Green Chamber strive to provide clear education on which green ideas and businesses are most effective for the environment and the bottom line.

Arizona Business Magazine Jul/Aug 2010

Amy Stephens Volunteer Of The Year - AZ Business Magazine Jul/Aug 2010

BIG Green Awards: Volunteer Of The Year

Twelve categories, hundreds of nominations — but only one will take home the green. It’s the first annual Southwest Build-it-Green Awards, where BIG teamed up with the USGBC to bring you the leanest sustainable leaders and projects in Arizona.

Recipient: Amy Stephens, Co-Founder · Stephens ID & Associates

Amy Stephens volunteers her time, creativity and energy to the advancement of the sustainability movement across the state. She also has played an integral role in the growth of the Arizona Chapter of the U.S. Green Building Council.

Stephens joined the Arizona chapter in 2006, when she also became a member of the national USGBC. She has dedicated countless hours and effort to the local chapter. She has been a member of the education committee since 2006, and has been the co-chair of that committee since 2008. In 2009, she sat on the host committee and the greening committee for the national USGBC’s Greenbuild International Conference and Expo when it was held in Phoenix.

Stephens shows the same passion she has for the USGBC in her own design company, Stephens ID & Associates. Stephens graduated from William Woods University in Fulton, Mo., in 1997 with a BFA in interior design, and has been designing balanced environments for people to live in ever since.

Her company focuses on interior design, interior repurposing, feng shui and green design. She assists her clients in going green by repurposing existing furniture with a goal toward creating healthier living spaces.
Stephens also teaches green building education classes, and is the vice president and a founding board member of the Green Meeting Industry Council Arizona chapter.

Among her future goals is to work with local elementary schools to teach students how to plant and grow food, so they will understand the importance of the Earth and where their food comes from. These plans are just several of many as Stephens forges ahead with her various sustainability endeavors.

Arizona Business Magazine Jul/Aug 2010


First annual Southwest Build-it-Green Awards - AZ Business Magazine Jul/Aug 2010

BIG Green Awards: Alternative Mobility

Twelve categories, hundreds of nominations — but only one will take home the green. It’s the first annual Southwest Build-it-Green Awards, where BIG teamed up with the USGBC to bring you the leanest sustainable leaders and projects in Arizona.

Recipient: ECOtality

For more than 20 years, ECOtality has been designing revolutionary, fast-charge products that reduce greenhouse gas emissions and pollution, making alternative transportation easier and more accessible to the public.

Since 1989, ECOtality has had the opportunity to become involved in important North American electric vehicle (EV) initiatives, thanks to its subsidiary eTec (Electric Engineering Transportation Engineering Corporation). ECOtality also has been leading the way in the EV industry.

ECOtality was named lead grantee in August 2009 by the U.S. Department of Energy, and was awarded a $99.8 million grant for the EV Project, which will create and produce several thousand electric cars.

ECOtality’s EV Project will reach 11 major cities in Arizona, Oregon, Washington, California and Tennessee. There will be approximately 4,700 of Nissan’s electric cars, LEAFS, in the five states. There also will be 11,000 charge stations across the country to allow drivers to recharge their zero-emission battery electric cars.

Each LEAF is expected to save approximately 436 gallons of gasoline per year. Combined, that’s a savings of more than 2 million gallons of gasoline for all LEAFS. The EV Project is projected to generate more than 750 new jobs by 2012; and by 2017, ECOtality expects to have more than 5,500 new positions across the country.

ECOtality also has created the Minit-Charger, a battery-charge system that works as quickly and efficiently as possible by using proprietary algorithms to charge a battery. This system eliminates the potential for batteries to overcharge or overheat, and prolongs battery life.

Clean Air Cab

Clean Air Cab is Arizona’s first completely green taxicab service that gives people the opportunity to go green just by riding with them.  The company offers green cabs at an affordable rate.

Clean Air Cab is composed of 26 Toyota Priuses, which are currently the most fuel-efficient cars available. The Toyota Prius saves 33 miles per gallon of gas, which saves about 1,000 miles per gallon among all of the company’s cars combined.

Aside from driving green cars, the company supports global reforestation by planting 10 rainforest trees each month for each cab that is in service. In the first quarter of operations, Clean Air Cab planted 780 trees.

“We believe that going green isn’t something you do- it is something you are,” said Steve Lopez, founder of Clean Air Cab. “Our intention is to take the trendy out of ‘going green’ and deliver a product that allows consumers to be green just by participating.”

Valley Metro RPTA

The Valley Metro Regional Public Transportation Authority is already helping thousands commute in a sustainable way. With the introduction of a new program called “ShareTheRide” Valley Metro RPTA is furthering their efforts by helping commuters choose the best transit options based on their time and route. The program’s goal is to educate the public about alternative methods of transportation, while reducing cost and pollution.

ShareTheRide is a free service accessible through Valley Metro’s website. When commuters enter alternative transportation information into the Commute Tracker they can earn points for incentives around the Valley. To support businesses, the program also includes customizable sub sites, where employers could promote the program and offer special incentives to their employees when they login to sub sites with a company e-mail address.

From data collected between April 22, 2009 and January 13, 2010, ShareTheRide resulted in 3,485,069 pounds of greenhouse gas savings and 34,706 pounds of carbon monoxide savings from a grand total of 178,842 round-trip commutes. The RPTA successfully created a service that Valley commuters needed to make traveling to work easier on the commuter and the environment.

Arizona Business Magazine Jul/Aug 2010

General Dynamics Green Processes - AZ Business Magazine Jul/Aug 2010

BIG Green Awards: Green Processes

Twelve categories, hundreds of nominations — but only one will take home the green. It’s the first annual Southwest Build-it-Green Awards, where BIG teamed up with the USGBC to bring you the leanest sustainable leaders and projects in Arizona.

Recipient: General Dynamics C4 Systems

Scottsdale-based General Dynamics C4 Systems is cutting costs and its environmental impact at the same time. The company has applied various sustainable practices to its Scottsdale facility and achieved almost $750,000 in cost savings annually.

General Dynamics C4 Systems develops and integrates secure communication and information systems and technology for businesses and governments. Although the company does not directly focus on green products, it is committed to becoming environmentally friendly. The company’s Environment, Health and Safety Policy states that it strives to reduce its impact on the environment and continues to pursue improvement.

General Dynamics C4 Systems certainly found a way to shrink its environmental impact at its research-focused, 1.5 million square foot Scottsdale campus, which houses more than 5,000 employees, visitors and contractors.
The site utilized sustainable ideas and practices on the road to becoming a Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design (LEED) certified facility. Through the certification process, General Dynamics C4 Systems replaced or reconditioned the existing structures to lessen the site’s environmental impact. Also, the Scottsdale campus has saved more than 1.4 megawatts of power simply by turning off thousands of devices when they are not in use.

General Dynamics C4 Systems also integrated green cleaning and maintenance practices into its operations. The company utilizes reusable cleaning materials and cleaning chemicals that are non-obtrusive. It also extensively re-uses construction materials, equipment and components. Plus, the campus has upgraded the lighting system at its LEED-certified site and converted completely to locally manufactured recycled paper products.

The company also integrated its Computerized Aided Facilities Management system into its construction and maintenance processes. This system tracks sustainable data such as materials, infrastructure capacity, energy impacts and indoor air quality at its Scottsdale campus.

Additionally, General Dynamics C4 Systems produces the maximum energy savings and extends the life of equipment by integrating building operations procedures with systems commissioning.

Not only is General Dynamics C4 Systems’ own site lessening its impact on the environment, the company strives to meet environmental and safety requirements as it designs and manufactures products and services for its customers.


Arizona Business Magazine Jul/Aug 2010

Alternative Energy Leaders Award - AZ Business Magazine Jul/Aug 2010

BIG Green Awards: Alternative Energy Leaders Award

Twelve categories, hundreds of nominations — but only one will take home the green. It’s the first annual Southwest Build-it-Green Awards, where BIG teamed up with the USGBC to bring you the leanest sustainable leaders and projects in Arizona.

Recipient: CarbonFree Technology

CarbonFree Technology campaigns for the use of green energy solutions throughout the United States and North America. The company, which was founded in 2006 and is headquartered in Ontario, Canada, is a solar power project developer. It helps businesses and institutional customers develop solar power solutions for their energy needs.

CarbonFree Technology’s 2009 merger with SolEquity allowed it to increase its potential. The company negotiated the first successful implementation of a solar power purchase agreement in Arizona. This deal allowed Arizona State University to create a leadership position in its sustainability programs through the financing of two solar rooftop top installation and one rooftop. These installations create more than 1.5 megawatts of solar power. The ASU solar installations also are a visual reminder of the power of creativity and environmental responsibility that CarbonFree Technology champions.

CarbonFree Technology recommends appropriate solar solutions and securs available government incentives based upon each individual project. The company’s other duties include managing project construction, arranging financing, finding contractors to build the system and arranging monitoring and maintenance for the life of the system.

CarbonFree Technology’s work has a beneficial impact on the environment and the economies of the communities in which it works. In addition to creating solar power, CarbonFree Technology also creates jobs with each solar power installation. Every installation requires workers for everything from installation and arranging permits to painting and maintenance.


Finalist: Green Fuel Technologies

Green Fuel Technologies combined its original vision and market-savvy timing to become a leader in technology development and implementation.

At its inception in 1999, Green Fuel Technologies’ goal was to provide economically and environmentally conscious alternative energy sources to Arizonans.  In 2006, CEO John Casey and president Dustin Hamby decided to explore the green building industry.
Now, not only does the company consult on developing technologies like bio fuel, wind and solar thermal, but it also develops unique green power systems for its clients. Green Fuel Technologies works with existing structures as well as conceptual designs to integrate alternative energy sources.

The company is currently partnering with Coulomb Technologies to create a network of 4,000 electric vehicle charging stations throughout the Southwestern United States by the end of 2010.  This partnership exemplifies Green Fuel Technologies’ key to long-term growth — bringing new energy technologies to the marketplace.

Finalist: Republic Services, Inc.

Republic Services not only provides trash collection services, it also derives useable energy from its landfills. Headquartered in Phoenix with 34,000 employees in 40 states and Puerto Rico, Republic Services has continually striven to be an industry leader since its founding in 1998.

The company has 74 landfill gas-to-energy projects nationwide, in more than one-third of its landfills.  Landfill gas is methane produced by organic materials as it decomposes in landfills.  After it is captured, the gas can be converted to an alternative fuel source for cars or to generate heat, steam, and electricity, among other things.  These landfill gas-to-energy projects combine to produce the equivalent of removing four million cars from the road.

Landfill gas-to-energy projects have economic impacts as well as beneficial environmental impacts.  These projects create jobs for professionals from engineers to equipment vendors.  Along with the landfill gas conversion, the company continues to research, develop and implement environmentally friendly technologies.

Arizona Business Magazine Jul/Aug 2010