Local real estate brokerage firm HomeSmart is continuing to grow by opening franchises in California. The nationwide company based in Phoenix recently began making its way to other cities across the United States offering one of the most attractive business models in the real estate industry.
Since opening in January 2000, HomeSmart has had tremendous success by growing to over 4,300 agents in Arizona. Such unparalleled growth has catapulted HomeSmart to rank as the largest real estate brokerage in the southwestern United States and among the top ten brokerages in the country.
This month, HomeSmart has launched franchises in California including Santa Rosa, Modesto, and Palm Springs, as well as local offices in Ahwatukee and Green Valley. The real estate brokerage also has international operations in Beijing, China. Their goal is to open franchises in the top metropolitan cities in the U.S.
“We are excited to grow nationwide and for the future of HomeSmart,” said Founder Matt Widdows, who ranks in the Top Five National Independent Companies. “Our strong growth has driven us to begin franchising a year ago and we have seen our model and technology work in both small and large markets. We have built our reputation on exceptional customer service with our unique franchise package that gives our real estate brokers and agents a competitive advantage in this industry.”
HomeSmart’s proprietary software puts its franchise partners ahead of the curve. Developed by Widdows and his development team, the reputable systems are proven to save business owners huge costs attributed to web hosting, lead generation and back office systems. This allows the franchise owners to provide the technology to their agents for free while allowing them to keep 100 percent of their commissions. Other advantages to HomeSmart’s franchise program include a virtual receptionist, generous fee structure, and a full suite of branding and marketing products.
HomeSmart prides itself on successfully blending technology with a personal touch, something that is often lost in the industry. They continue to implement new technologies that empower its agents to provide outstanding service to their clients. This summer, HomeSmart will launch a new mobile application allowing residents to access market information at their fingertips. Users can take notes, rank properties, and share properties they like on social networking sites with friends.
The local brokerage donates time and money to many local charities, including Phoenix Children’s Hospital, Ronald McDonald House Charities, Back to School 4 Kids, American Diabetes, Make a Wish Foundation and more.
The St. Mary’s (Phoenix) high school girls basketball team has accomplished a first in the history of girls basketball in Arizona.
After closing out the 2011-2012 season undefeated at 30-0, the St. Mary’s Knights is ranked the No. 1 team in the nation, according to ESPN’s Powerade Fab 50 rankings. They repeated as Arizona state champions with a 65-40 win over Chandler Hamilton.
With less than five victories by less than 10 points, the Knights practically breezed through the season. The closest game was against Windward High School (Los Angeles), who is ranked No. 6 nationally, and the Knights won by four points.
Led by Coach Curtis Ekmark, this team is poised to make another run at being one of the nation’s elite again in the 2012-2013 season — despite the team’s graduating seniors Shilpa Tummala, No. 68 prospect signed to Harvard, and Courtnee Walton, No. 58 prospect signed to Louisville.
With returning players to the AAU U9 National Championship team — Chantel Osahor and twin sisters Danielle and Dominique Williams, plus Courtney Ekmark, one of the top prospects in the nation for the 2014 class — the Knights are in good shape.
On top of that, the core of this basketball team has been playing together since they were nine to 11 years old; and the on-court chemistry is proof.
The Knights started the 2012 season by winning the biggest high school girls basketball tournament in the nation, the Nike Tournament of Champions, hosted in Phoenix, Ariz.
Recently, National Geographic ran a feature on the world population. Specifically, the fact that by the end of 2011 there will be 7 billion people in the world. To put that in perspective, you could walk around the world 133 times in 7 billion steps. And if 7 billion people isn’t daunting enough, it is projected that by 2045 there will be 9 billion people on the planet. Check out the infographic below to see some facts and figures on the world population.
According to CITA, an International Wireless nonprofit organization, 91% of Americans carry a cell phone as of 2009, and those numbers have continued to expand. Now more than ever, with the growing popularity of the iPhone and Droid, cell phones have become both a necessity and an addiction.
In past decades, landlines were an essential part of the home, but with cell phone giants like Apple, wireless communication is quickly eliminating the need for both a home phone and cell. Now, phones do much more than dial, and let’s be honest — landlines don’t have Angry Birds or Restaurant Finder Apps.
“Snail” Mail vs. Email
Electronic tablets, such as Apple’s iPad, Samsung’s Galaxy Pad, Amazon’s Kindle or the BlackBerry Playbook, have been 2010’s newest toy. According to the Washington Post, “average daily circulation of all U.S. newspapers has been in decline since 1987″ and “has hit its lowest level in seven decades.”
Newspapers have been undoubtedly hit hard — as major stations are reporting record losses, cuts and even closures across the country. Despite the change in the medium which news is delivered, there will always be a desire and need for the public to be informed and educated on current events. It’s just that now news is viewed on a 9 x 5 LED screen — not paper.
Video Rental Stores
Some of my fondest childhood memories include “Power Rangers: The Movie” and the newest Nintendo 64 game — both of which were rented from the local Blockbuster. Video rental stores, like Blockbuster, have been slowly declining in business over the past 6 years as online sites such as Netflix and RedBox have stolen much of the business which these stores once had.
Having closed over 600 stores in just the past three years and reported record losses in the hundreds of millions, it’s no wonder Blockbuster is struggling to stay afloat. According to an article by MSNBC.com, “Blockbuster Inc. may close as many as 960 stores by the end of next year,” primarily in response to appeal and ease of online streaming — in a society glued to their computer screens.
As a current student at ASU, I recognize that most classes still meet in a physical room with a paper syllabus and wooden desks from the Jimmy Carter administration. However, as technology of educational tools increases, so does the medium with which it is taught.
Arizona State University offered over 700 online classes this spring, which range from Managerial Economics to History of Hip Hop. It’s not just ASU, but virtually all major universities across the country offer online classes and degrees, and sites like Blackboard allow professors to post assignments and readings for the week online.
Lori Singleton, Salt River Project (SRP)
Lori Singleton is the manager of sustainability initiatives and technologies at Salt River Project. She is a 29-year employee of SRP and 40-year resident of Arizona. She is responsible for design and implementation of SRP’s environmental outreach programs with special focus on renewable energy.
Lori’s responsibilities at SRP include development and implementation of renewable energy projects to meet SRP’s sustainable resource goals. Singleton oversees research and development projects to support company-wide initiatives for SRP including gasoline lawn mower recycling, tree planting, clean school bus initiative, travel reduction and other internal environmental programs.
She works on development and implementation of the “green” energy pricing program, solar incentive program for residential and commercial customers and renewable energy education programs for implementation in middle school and high school curricula.
In addition, she does promotion and public relations for all new renewable energy projects and purchases (solar, wind, geothermal, landfill gas, low head hydro, fuel cells) while serving as the environmental issues media spokesperson for SRP and being a constant representative of SRP on numerous environmental committees, boards and commissions.
She was appointed by Governor Janet Napolitano to serve on the Solar Energy Advisory Council and also has several other current affiliations including: Valley Forward Association, Board of Directors; Audubon Society, chair, Board of Directors; Maricopa County Regional Travel Reduction Task Force, chair; Association for Commuter Transportation, Valley of the Sun, President & National Board Director; Southwest Center for Education; and the Natural Environment (ASU), Board of Directors.
Solar Energy Advisory Council, appointment by Governor Janet Napolitano
Valley Forward Association, Chair, Board of Directors
Topic: How people & organizations can get involved in the green movement from an energy perspective.
BIG Green Expo
Mark Kranz, SmithGroup
Mark Kranz, AIA, LEED AP, is the design principal and lead designer for the Phoenix office of SmithGroup’s Higher Education and Science and Technology Studios. Mark’s work has been published locally, regionally and nationally.
He speaks publicly about sustainable design strategies for laboratory and academic facilities, and his work is consistently recognized by the design and construction industries. Kranz works regionally within the Western United States with research institutions and institutions of higher education creating laboratory and instructional facilities that elegantly reflect their specific context and function.
He has spent the past 11 years with SmithGroup, creating the vision for some of the most significant architectural contributions for some of the most prominent institutions and public entities in the Southwestern United States including Arizona State University, the University of Arizona, the City of Phoenix, the State of Utah, The City and County of Denver, and the Maricopa County Community College District.
He is currently behind the design visions for numerous landmark projects for clients including the National Renewable Energy Laboratories in Golden Colorado, The University of Hawaii at Hilo, the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command in Honolulu, Hawaii, as well as Gateway Community College in Phoenix, Arizona.
Topic: Sustainable Strategies for Higher Educational Facilities: A case study of four sustainable educational facilities in four unique settings.
BIG Green Expo
Kevin Woodhurst, Dolphin Pools and Spas
Kevin Woodhurst has been building and promoting energy efficient pools since 1996.
The companies that he has owned or worked with utilize the latest technologies and standards in order to deliver consumer and environmentally projects that save or conserve natural resources. Kevin has been a student to the pool industry for many years and as such has held or holds more certifications than nearly anyone in the country.
In Kevin’s words he says, “It is still not enough, you must go out every day and try to be better and learn something new”. Kevin is a well known industry expert and participates nationally and internationally in many industry forums.
He has won multiple local, state and national awards but still enjoys the smile on the face of a satisfied client more than anything.
Topic: Energy-Efficient Pools
BIG Green Expo
TEDxPhoenix is bringing together Arizona’s thinkers and doers on Nov. 6 in the hopes of finding solutions to our local and global community’s problems.
The TEDx program aims to provide communities with an experience similar to the international TED conference.
TED began as a “Technology, Entertainment and Design” conference but has since become a forum for people to discover new ideas and possibilities and receive inspiration. The TED conference has been bringing together scientists, educators, adventurers, entrepreneurs, social activists and business leaders since 1984. TED has drawn such big-name speakers as Bill Gates, Al Gore, Sir Richard Branson and Jane Goodall.
A staff of local volunteers, speakers and sponsors organized the nonprofit TEDxPhoenix event. Like the international TED conference, the second annual TEDxPhoenix lineup of speakers includes educators, innovators and community activists.
The list of speakers includes Lawrence M. Krauss, director and founder of Arizona State University’s Origins Initiative; Jany Deng, program manager of the Arizona Lost Boys Center; Kimber Lanning, community activist and Local First AZ founder; and Dry River Yacht Club, an acoustic symphony indie rock band; among others.
SB 1070. It has been a few months since it passed, making Arizona the focus of so much national attention. As I have listened to Arizona, the entire country, and even some international Latina singers debate the issue, I have found ironies on both sides.
First, on the pro-SB 1070 side: Republicans (especially Arizona Republicans in state government) hate federal mandates being imposed on states. It’s a fundamental belief in conservative circles that we should have fewer unfunded mandates and more local control. Republican-sponsored SB 1070 flies in the face of these principles. Here’s one way to look at it. The Arizona Legislature was so frustrated that the federal government wasn’t stepping up and dealing with illegal immigration that it passed a law MANDATING that local jurisdictions had to do it. The state didn’t offer cities and counties any money to accomplish this, nor did the state step forward and offer its own resources, such as the National Guard. Local governing bodies were not just told that they could enforce immigration laws but also that they had to, or they could be sued. By any definition, this is an unfunded mandate that supersedes local control. Chalk it up to the ends justifying the means.
On the anti-SB 1070 side, I was surprised at how out of touch opponents were with the average Arizonan’s view on the issue. Polls started reporting that 70 percent of Arizonans supported the new law even in the face of national criticism and boycotts. Most opponents to SB 1070 chalked this up to bad polling and inaccurate data. Everybody must have gotten it wrong though, because those numbers have pretty much held up for the last few months. In fact, a number of other states report similar support, and we can expect more states passing this type of legislation. People are frustrated.
I have to admit, I wasn’t too fond of SB 1070 when it passed. But one morning while watching CNN, President Obama helped me to become frustrated. In light of his opposition to Arizona’s new law and the understanding that the federal government was negligent in dealing with the issue, he claimed that U.S. immigration policy was not a pressing current national priority. This was just after SB 1070 passed! What I heard him saying was, “Ask not what your country can do for you. And don’t ask what you can do for your country either!”
Then there is the question of why the federal government has never protested when other local jurisdictions in America have declared themselves “safe-harbor” areas for illegal immigrants. It seems they are establishing national immigration policy in the opposite direction, and yet, the federal government has failed to protest these policies or voice any public opposition.
I don’t believe that SB 1070 is really worth the national hype it has received. The courts have struck down the portion that local jurisdictions opposed most. If the courts hadn’t, would this really have been the solution to the illegal immigration problem in our country? It seems we need to establish a stronger, more practical border policy before much of any immigration policy reform is going to help.
As some of you may be aware of, the historic United Nations Climate Change Conference is underway right now in Copenhagen. The conference began on December 7 and will continue till the 18th. It is the largest international political conference ever to be held in Denmark, with participants from 192 countries meeting to reach an agreement about how to combat global warming.
Despite some clashes with protesters that that essentially ceased all talks on Dec. 16, the conference pressed on. President Barack Obama is expected to appear on Friday, along with 100 other national leaders hoping to come to a historic agreement between nations.
On Thursday, Dec. 17 Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, announced that the United States would participate in a $100-billion-a-year fund that will help poor nations combat climate change through the end of the decade. Though Clinton did not specify how much the U.S. would be contributing, it is still a huge move for the country and sends a strong message about the nation’s stance on environmental issues.
However, U.S. participation was contingent on reaching an agreement this week, as well as a commitment from China about more transparency in its emissions reporting.
Clinton’s announcement is a high point in the conference, which has been plagued by delays and deadlocked over several issues. Hopefully, discussions will end on a good note and firm plans for progress will be put in place.