Archive for September, 2011

Where to Go During an Earthquake

Monday, September 12th, 2011
In light of the recent earthquake in Japan AND HERE this information is a must read! Please read and spread the word. NOTE: The author is very experienced in Rescue Teams and his claims of finding survivors made him conclude that this is the best way to survive an EARTHQUAKE…not crawling, hiding under the table BUT to look for the “Triangle of LIFE”..Please READ and share with your loved ones and friend and families.
Folks, please SHARE, SHARE, SHARE this with your loved ones:

Where to Go During an Earthquake

Remember that stuff about hiding under a table or standing in a doorway? Well, forget it! This is a real eye opener. It could save your life someday.

EXTRACT FROM DOUG COPP’S ARTICLE ON ‘THE TRIANGLE OF LIFE’

My name is Doug Copp. I am the Rescue Chief and Disaster Manager of the American Rescue Team International (ARTI ), the world’s most experienced rescue team. The information in this article will save lives in an earthquake.

I have crawled inside 875 collapsed buildings, worked with rescue teams from 60 countries, founded rescue teams in several countries, and I am a member of many rescue teams from many countries. I was the United Nations expert in Disaster Mitigation for two years, and have worked at every major disaster in the world since 1985, except for simultaneous disasters.

The first building I ever crawled inside of was a school in Mexico City during the 1985 earthquake. Every child was under its desk. Every child was crushed to the thickness of their bones. They could have survived by lying down next to their desks in the aisles. It was obscene — unnecessary.

Simply stated, when buildings collapse, the weight of the ceilings falling upon the objects or furniture inside crushes these objects, leaving a space or void next to them – NOT under them. This space is what I call the ‘triangle of life’. The larger the object, the stronger, the less it will compact. The less the object compacts, the larger the void, the greater the probability that the person who is using this void for safety will not be injured. The next time you watch collapsed buildings, on television, count the ‘triangles’ you see formed. They are everywhere. It is the most common shape, you will see, in a collapsed building.

TIPS FOR EARTHQUAKE SAFETY

1) Most everyone who simply ‘ducks and covers’ when building collapse are crushed to death. People who get under objects, like desks or cars, are crushed.

2) Cats, dogs and babies often naturally curl up in the fetal position. You should too in an earthquake. It is a natural safety/survival instinct. You can survive in a smaller void. Get next to an object, next to a sofa, next to a bed, next to a large bulky object that will compress slightly but leave a void next to it.

3) Wooden buildings are the safest type of construction to be in during an earthquake Wood is flexible and moves with the force of the earthquake. If the wooden building does collapse, large survival voids are created. Also, the wooden building has less concentrated, crushing weight. Brick buildings will break into individual bricks. Bricks will cause many injuries but less squashed bodies than concrete slabs.

4) If you are in bed during the night and an earthquake occurs, simply roll off the bed. A safe void will exist around the bed. Hotels can achieve a much greater survival rate in earthquakes, simply by posting a sign on the back of the door of every room telling occupants to lie down on the floor, next to the bottom of the bed during an earthquake.

5) If an earthquake happens and you cannot easily escape by getting out the door or window, then lie down and curl up in the fetal position next to a sofa, or large chair.

6) Most everyone who gets under a doorway when buildings collapse is killed. How? If you stand under a doorway and the doorjamb falls forward or backward you will be crushed by the ceiling above. If the door jam falls sideways you will be cut in half by the doorway. In either case, you will be killed!

7) Never go to the stairs. The stairs have a different ‘moment of frequency’ (they swing separately from the main part of the building). The stairs and remainder of the building continuously bump into each other until structural failure of the stairs takes place. The people who get on stairs before they fail are chopped up by the stair treads – horribly mutilated. Even if the building doesn’t collapse, stay away from the stairs. The stairs are a likely part of the building to be damaged. Even if the stairs are not collapsed by the earthquake, they may collapse later when overloaded by fleeing people. They should always be checked for safety, even when the rest of the building is not damaged.

8) Get near the outer walls of buildings or outside of them if possible – It is much better to be near the outside of the building rather than the interior. The farther inside you are from the outside perimeter of the building the greater the probability that your escape route will be blocked.

9) People inside of their vehicles are crushed when the road above falls in an earthquake and crushes their vehicles; which is exactly what happened with the slabs between the decks of the Nimitz Freeway. The victims of the San Francisco earthquake all stayed inside of their vehicles. They were all killed. They could have easily survived by getting out and sitting or lying next to their vehicles. Everyone killed would have survived if they had been able to get out of their cars and sit or lie next to them. All the crushed cars had voids 3 feet high next to them, except for the cars that had columns fall directly across them.

10) I discovered, while crawling inside of collapsed newspaper offices and other offices with a lot of paper, that paper does not compact. Large voids are found surrounding stacks of paper.

Spread the word and save someone’s life…

The entire world is experiencing natural calamities so be prepared!

‘We are but angels with one wing, it takes two to fly’

In 1996 we made a film, which proved my survival methodology to be correct. The Turkish Federal Government, City of Istanbul, University of Istanbul Case Productions and ARTI cooperated to film this practical, scientific test. We collapsed a school and a home with 20 mannequins inside. Ten mannequins did ‘duck and cover,’ and ten mannequins I used in my ‘triangle of life’ survival method. After the simulated earthquake collapse we crawled through the rubble and entered the building to film and document the results. The film, in which I practiced my survival techniques under directly observable, scientific conditions , relevant to building collapse, showed there would have been zero percent survival for those doing duck and cover.

There would likely have been 100 percent survivability for people using my method of the ‘triangle of life.’ This film has been seen by millions of viewers on television in Turkey and the rest of Europe, and it was seen in the USA , Canada and Latin America on the TV program Real TV.

Subject: Save your life with “The Triangle of Life”

“Triangle of Life”:

Without listening or reading, simply by looking at the following self-explanatory photos, you can learn more than in a thousand words about how to protect yourself during a major earthquake…cid:2.713338598@web162020.mail.bf1.yahoo.comcid:3.713338598@web162020.mail.bf1.yahoo.comcid:4.713338598@web162020.mail.bf1.yahoo.comcid:5.713338598@web162020.mail.bf1.yahoo.com

If you are inside a vehicle, come out and sit or lie down next to it. If something falls on the vehicle, it will leave an empty space along the sides. See below:cid:6.713338598@web162020.mail.bf1.yahoo.comcid:7.713338598@web162020.mail.bf1.yahoo.comcid:8.713338598@web162020.mail.bf1.yahoo.comcid:9.713338598@web162020.mail.bf1.yahoo.comcid:10.713338598@web162020.mail.bf1.yahoo.comcid:11.713338598@web162020.mail.bf1.yahoo.comcid:12.713338598@web162020.mail.bf1.yahoo.com

Thank You,
Bob Caudell
Fredericksburg Travel Consultant
Cruises, Vacations, World Tours, We Do All
2636 Peach Grove Rd. Louisa, VA 23093

Hiring Employees for Small Business

Monday, September 12th, 2011

Click here to find out more!

Hiring Employees for Small Business

While small business hiring is slowing, it’s still happening. The method for getting new hires may be shifting, thanks to social media, but small business owners still want the same thing: qualified employees who will stick around. Here’s your guide to hiring for your business.

Who to Hire

What employers look for is changing, and rightfully so. With budget cuts and a shrinking pool of available jobs, employees need to be able to take on more and bring their own ideas to the table. That’s why you should, says Jennifer Prosek, hire an army of entrepreneurs. Entrepreneurial-minded employees tend to be more proactive and willing to take on more responsibility, which can help in a small business’ success. MSN

Hiring an intern? Don’t grill them about their experience…since they likely have none. Instead, focus on their hobbies and interests. Asking what they hope to get out of this internship can help you craft the program, if you don’t have a set system in place, and it can be customized based on what your final pick is interested in learning. Your goal is to understand more about what kind of person this is, and what her dedication to the role will be, rather than what she already knows. Glass Door

Interns

While having free or cheap labor around to take care of small tasks sounds good to you, keep in mind that hiring an intern requires time and money on your part. You’re expected to provide job training for the college student or recent grad, so it’s up to you to develop an intern program that has structure and on-the-job training. The bonus? You’re training a future employee at a fraction of the cost. OPEN Forum

Not all internships are created equal, it seems. Many companies are booting out costly employees and replacing them with unpaid interns, at the detriment of their brand’s reputation. Slave labor indeed. But, as Small Business Trends’ Ivana Taylor points out in the comments, times have changed. Once upon a time, a college grad would be happy to get an internship period, paid or otherwise. Just play fair, and give your intern skills to walk away with. Bloggertone

How to Hire

Did you know it can cost as much as $14,000 to replace a single employee? That’s why working with a recruiter might be beneficial for small businesses. Recruiters have a Rolodex of qualified candidates and know your market – maybe even better than you do. And since many professionals don’t actively look for jobs, recruiters may be able to entice them to change roles if they know what you’re looking for. Insperity

If you’re ready to hire, take time to do it right, otherwise you risk hiring the wrong person (a costly mistake). Outline what you want in an employee, as well as what his responsibilities will include, then carefully craft the job description. Get your interview panel together, including people who will work directly with the person you hire, and interview as many qualified candidates as you have. You’ll be working with this employee for the foreseeable future, so give gravity enough to the decision making process. Online Jobs Information

Posting a job in the newspaper is so passé. Social media’s where it’s at these days. Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter are proving to be more affordable recruiting tools than traditional methods, and can help employers target in on exactly who they’re looking for skillwise. Twitter provides employers a tool to list job openings that its followers can share with others, while Facebook helps recruit passive applicants, who might not otherwise apply for a given job. LinkedIn tends to be more professional in nature, though its users tend to skew 40+. Talent Management

Mistakes to Avoid

As an employer, you risk bumbling the hiring process right from the interview. Beware asking questions that don’t really help you understand a candidate’s skill level and work ethic, and don’t do all the talking. And while sure, there are less exciting components to working for you (like those 12 hour work weekends), don’t downplay them to try to win over the candidate. Be candid about the good and the bad, and you’ll be more likely to hire the right person…and keep her. US News Money

The last thing you want when starting a business is to violate employment laws. Bone up on what you’re responsible for, such as paying minimum wage or greater, paying for overtime, and not deferring wages, otherwise you could face hefty fines or worse. Make sure your agreements are airtight, and that, if you use a noncompete agreement, it’s enforceable. Computerworld

The Government’s Role

Will President Obama help the job situation? We’ll see next week when he announces his plan to increase employment in the US. He will likely extend a one-year payroll cut on taxes for workers and unemployment benefits, and many speculate that he hopes to create more jobs through public works. While Obama’s plan may not be quite as dramatic as his 2009 stimulus, here’s to hoping it does create more jobs now.

News Analysis: Gen Y travel trends

Monday, September 12th, 2011

News Analysis: Gen Y travel trends

News Analysis: Gen Y travel trends

As the age-old Spanish proverb goes — the belly rules the mind. That truism is certainly borne out in Contiki Holidays’ 2011 Style Miles report, which shows food dictates the travel habits of most young Australians.

It appears that fast food is losing its appeal at the expense of local cuisine and restaurants, with the report finding 97% of 18 to 35-year olds agree food is the most important element of travel. They’re also keen to let the taste linger a little, with 57% replicating local dishes at home, and a quarter of travellers even changing their dietary habits to incorporate foods they ate while on holidays.

Music and art also ranked as high priorities while on holiday. Most respondents said they had visited local museums and galleries while holidaying in the past three to four years, while 88% went to see local bands or music. Fashion was less popular, however, with about half of travellers having seen a fashion show, and buying souvenirs fell off the radar altogether.

THE TREND SHIFT

The findings came as a surprise to Contiki’s managing director, Fiona Hunt, who said the report confirmed that the profile of 18 to 35-year old travellers was changing. “Young travellers are no longer happy to sit and watch their holiday go by from the traditional tourist hotspots,” she said. “They want to get involved, get immersed in local culture, and they want their holiday to be based on what they find interesting in their daily life.” Labelling overseas travel before the 1990s a “predictable venture” where travellers stuck to popular spots to avoid nasty surprises, Hunt said today’s 18 to 35s want to get a taste of the unknown. “They want to get their hands dirty, get off the beaten track and bring a little bit of their experience home with them,” she said.

Hunt point ed to the internet as the force driving the change in attitudes, but admitted that there could be other factors involved. She can’t be far off the mark though, with the findings also showing Australian globetrotters send an average of 10.8 emails, as well as making 7.9 Facebook updates each holiday. “We’re not entirely sure what’s driving the change, but technology has revolutionised how people are travelling,” she said. “People are researching their holidays more, they know where they want to go, and more than ever, they know what they want.”

WHERE TO NEXT?

Young Australians are also visiting new places. While Europe has been Contiki’s flagship destination in the past, 18 to 35s are increasingly fascinated by Asia, with 53% of the survey’s 1005 respondents visiting Asia in the last three to four years. Almost one third visited Europe, 26% holidayed in the Pacific and 23% travelled to the US.

Excited by the growth in Asia, Hunt revealed plans to launch into the China market. Breaking into the South American market later this year is also on the cards.

Although tight-lipped on the exact details, Hunt said that there will be a “string of announcements” in the coming months. “We’re taking this research under our belt so we can respond to our customer base, but I can say there will be more to come as we continue to engage with the youth market,” she said.

Some Travel Problems in Need of Solutions

Monday, September 12th, 2011

Some Travel Problems in Need of Solutions

By
Published: August 22, 2011

DENVER

Chris Gash

 

“SOLUTIONS” seems to be the buzzword here at the annual convention of the Global Business Travel Association.

People are talking about new technological solutions to problems like rising prices for business travel and the complications inherent in efficient booking of airfares and hotels.

Before we get into that, though, there are a few basic solutions I’d like to see. First, convention hotels. I’m at the Hyatt Regency, one of about 20 hotels designated for the roughly 6,000 corporate travel managers and suppliers in attendance.

The nightly room rate is $245, not counting various local taxes that are added at checkout. After the convention leaves town, the same hotel room goes for $144. Meanwhile, the price for Internet service, which is remarkably sluggish, is $12.95 a day. (After I complained about the slow speed, the hotel manager said he would have the charge dropped.)

At a news conference to announce new mobile technology solutions on Monday morning, Hervé Sedky, the senior vice president for the American Express business travel division, mentioned Wi-Fi service because that is often prenegotiated with hotels by meeting planners. Those who attend big conventions that bring in tons of money “should not be paying extra for Wi-Fi,” he said.

So solve that one, please, business travel managers.

And now we move to the sharply rising cost of business travel, which accounts for about $240 billion a year in domestic spending.

American Express said on Monday that the average domestic one-way airfare increased 8 percent, to $260, in the second quarter compared with the price in the quarter a year earlier. The average international one-way fare increased 9 percent, to $1,810. Domestic hotel rates were up 3 percent, to an average of $156, and international hotel rates rose 11 percent, to $258.

Business travel has been rebounding since 2008, especially international business travel. But those rising costs are worrisome to those who need to manage those budgets.

One area of talk about travel solutions that has caught my attention here came from John S. Pistole, the administrator of the Transportation Security Administration.

Mr. Pistole gave a well-received speech Sunday night in which he expounded on an agency initiative to “transform how aviation security works in the U.S.” That’s being done through greater reliance on multiple layers of security — and not just some blue-uniformed screener intimately patting down an elderly woman tottering next to her wheelchair, which was the last sight I had of aviation security before departing from the Tucson airport for Denver early Sunday.

I recently wrote here about a initiative being tested at Boston Logan International Airport. It involves a greater use of what the agency calls behavioral detection officers, who will engage some passengers, many randomly selected, in conversation to determine who might be acting oddly enough to warrant a more thorough look at the checkpoint. This is based in part on the Israeli system of passenger interrogation, though of course the Israelis screen far fewer passengers than the 1.8 million people a day the T.S.A. puts through its checkpoints.

Another solution, which I also wrote about here recently, involves tests to start next month at two airports of a so-called trusted traveler program, in which frequent travelers who agree to provide extra personal information for background checks can qualify for “enhanced” security clearance, based on the idea that “travelers we know the best and trust the most” don’t need as much scrutiny as others who have not qualified for the program, Mr. Pistole said. But even the trusted travelers would go through basic security and would also be subject to random full-bore inspection.

The agency had not discussed what, exactly, an enhanced security process would entail. However, Mr. Pistole did say that it would most likely involve “a dedicated lane, the ability to keep shoes on, and possibly keeping laptops in carry-on bags.”

Now, that would be an actual solution, from my point of view. For example, as a trusted traveler, I could then wear my cowboy boots to the airport, which I can’t do now because it’s such a production to tug them off in a line of impatient fellow-travelers.

The convention continues through Wednesday, so I’ll catch up on developments in another column. Meanwhile, I have to go find lunch. I had a bite of a dry bagel at the convention center this morning, and it was so bad that I had to toss it in the trash.

Now there’s a travel solution someone could work on: making a decent bagel outside of the Northeast and Los Angeles. How hard could that be?

E-mail: jsharkey@nytimes.com

Are You Ready to Take Advantage of New Green Tax Incentives?

Monday, September 12th, 2011

Are You Ready to Take Advantage of New Green Tax Incentives?

Learn more about deductions for energy efficient construction or improvement projects.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Capital Review Group

The Energy Policy Act of 2005 includes a tax deduction for investments in “energy-efficient commercial building property” designed to significantly reduce the heating, cooling, water heating, and interior lighting energy cost of new or existing commercial buildings. This energy-efficient commercial building property must be placed into service between January 1, 2006, and December 31, 2013.

If you own your hotel or are a tenant/lessee who has paid for energy efficient construction or improvement projects, you may be eligible for a tax deduction of up to $1.80 per square foot for improving the energy efficiency of your existing commercial buildings or designing high efficiency into new buildings.

To qualify for the full deduction, a building owner or tenant must make investments designed to reduce energy costs by 50 percent or more. A partial deduction of $0.60 per square foot is available for investments in one of three subsystems – lighting, heating and cooling; or building envelope – designed to reduce energy costs by 16.67 percent (one third of the 50 percent requirement).

It is important to remember that tax deductions reduce your overall taxable income with the value of the deduction dependent upon your tax bracket. Tax credits, such as the ones provided for consumers in the 2005 Energy Policy Act, reduce the amount of tax you owe dollar for dollar.

The first step in many effective energy savings programs is to establish the energy use of your building and determine a reasonable energy savings goal. The EPA’s national energy performance rating system (www.energystar.gov/benchmark) is a free online tool that provides many types of buildings with a score on a simple 1 to 100 scale (1 being the least efficient and 100 the most). Assess the current use of your building to establish a reference to assist in identifying the best opportunities to qualify for the tax deduction.

A third-party certificate is required in order to claim the deduction for energy efficient commercial buildings under §179D of the Internal Revenue Code for proposed or newly installed: lighting upgrades, HVAC, hot water and building envelope. Capital Review Group will provide an approved Certification and assure that the process is conducted in accordance to the Energy Policy Act of 2005.

The Energy Policy Act of 2005 provides for and allows a deduction for energy efficient commercial buildings that reduce annual energy and power consumption by 50 percent compared to the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating, and Air Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) standard. The deduction equals the cost of energy efficient property installed during construction, with a maximum deduction of $1.80 per square foot of the building. Additionally, a partial deduction of $0.60 per square foot is provided for building subsystems such as lighting, HVAC, hot water and building envelope.

Owners of new and existing buildings may earn a partial deduction of $.60 per square foot per “system” for upgrading one or two major building subsystems. These deductions apply to new buildings placed in service between the date of enactment and December 31, 2008, or retrofits to existing buildings during the same time period.

The current rules established a deduction of $0.30 per square foot for buildings – or portion of buildings – that achieve at least 25 percent lighting savings relative to the ASHRAE lighting power density requirements (but excluding ASHRAE’s “additional lighting power allowances”) and that also use bi-level switching. This deduction increases progressively to $.60 per square foot for using bi-level switching and achieving 40 percent lighting savings.

Energy efficient heating, cooling, ventilation and hot water property is partially qualifying property, provided that satisfies both of the following conditions:

1. The property is installed as part of the heating, cooling, ventilation and hot water systems of a building; and

2. It is certified that the heating, cooling, ventilation and hot water systems that have been incorporated into the building, or that the taxpayer plans to incorporate into the building subsequent to the installation of such property, will reduce the total annual energy and power costs with respect to combined usage of the building’s heating, cooling, ventilation, hot water and interior lighting systems by 16.67 percent or more – meeting the minimum requirements. The 16.67 percent reduction must be accomplished solely through energy and power cost reductions for the heating, cooling, ventilation and hot water systems. Reductions in any other energy uses, such as receptacles, process loads, refrigeration, cooking, and elevators, are not taken into account in determining the required deduction.

CRG can conduct a physical inspection and perform an Energy Efficiency Study to calculate, determine and certify the allowable deductions for part or all of the cost of the Energy Efficient Lighting, HVAC, hot water, and building envelope – or any one of these sub-systems that have been placed in service after December 31, 2005, and before January 1, 2014.

For more information, contact M.A. Moore at markym@capitalreviewgroup.com or at (602) 741-7776.

Commentary about Groupon and LivingSocial sites

Friday, September 2nd, 2011
The following is a guest post by Michael Koploy, ERP Analyst at Software Advice. Software Advice provides reviews and comparisons of <a href=”http://www.softwareadvice.com/retail/“>POS software systems. Michael also writes about business software and retail trends for the Software Advice blog.
Whether it’s a hot new local eatery or a up-and-coming massage parlor, chances are small businesses in your area have jumped onto the social daily deals bandwagon. Groupon, along with Living Social and other popular deal sites have launched a new wave of deep discounting and social marketing for local retailers. But is a Groupon promotion right for everyone?
Groupon has received a decent amount of bad press over the past few months. Horror stories have cropped up on the Internet of retailers being unable to meet the demand of their voucher purchasers. Some have had to take out loans just to make up for the lost revenue after a Groupon promotion. While Groupon could possibly do more to help retailers that have a hard time understanding the model, it’s up to retailers to know their limits when it comes to using Groupon.
So what should retailers know about Groupon before deciding if a daily deal is right for them? Here’s a rundown of how Groupon works for retailer:

A voucher for a 50-90 percent off promotion is placed on Groupon’s website, app, and email marketing list. Groupon will promote the voucher to members of your local community.

Two things can happen at this point:
 a) The deal does not reach “critical mass,” resulting in the few that purchased the
voucher to be reimbursed, and your retail business receiving free online advertising.
 b) Enough vouchers are purchased, and then… “the deal is on.”
At this point, Groupon will receive a cut of around 30-60 percent, depending on the preset conditions of the negotiation between Groupon and you. Groupon pays out your cut of the deal – minus credit card processing fees – in three installments over 90 days.
So what do you receive in return for selling your inventory for approximately 75 percent off? Repeat customers and local promotion, says Groupon. But simply participating in a deal doesn’t do either of these things. To encourage customer retention and spread the work about your business, retailers must go beyond the minimum of the Groupon promotion and provide additional return incentives for their voucher redeemers, as well as taking down contact information for future promotion.
So should you Groupon, or not? Having a firm grasp of your business’s finances and current marketing initiatives will answer that question. Here are the main types of retail software solutions that can help:
Retail customer relationship management (CRM) software</strong>. Are your current marketing efforts enough? Will a Groupon promotion actually improve your website and brand’s social standing in your community? Having CRM software automate and measure your online marketing efforts is the best way to manage these operations. <a href=”http://www.salesforce.com/“>Salesforce.com</a> is a great choice for smaller retailers. Larger retailers that want an integrated solution can use a system like <a href=”http://www.softwareadvice.com/retail/radiant-systems-counterpoint-profile/“>CounterPoint POS.
Retail inventory software</strong>. Groupon is great at selling of your inventory if it’s perishable. An example of this is in the food service industry, or other industries that sell large amounts of inventory at high profit margins. If you’re looking for new retail software, be sure to look at systems that have advanced inventory management functionality to help predict demand and manage inventory stock levels.
<li><strong>Retail accounting software</strong>. Most retailers’ software experience begins with accounting software like <a href=”http://quickbooks.intuit.com/“>QuickBooks</a> or <a href=”http://www.softwareadvice.com/accounting/sage-peachtree-profile/“>Sage Peachtree</a>. These are great systems for many small retailers. For retailers that need more advanced accounting features, many retail point of sale solutions include advanced accounting features. For some great numbers to crunch on this topic, be sure to read <a href=”http://techcrunch.com/2011/07/02/groupon-small-businesses/“>this</a> Techcrunch article.
For more on this topic, check out <a href=”http://www.softwareadvice.com/articles/retail/retail-software-your-groupon-advisor-1072911/“>Retail Software: Your Groupon Advisor
____________________________
Michael Koploy
ERP Analyst
Software Advice
 
(512) 364-0129
michael@softwareadvice.com

By the way, we’re hiring

Are You Ready to Take Advantage of New Green Tax Incentives?

Friday, September 2nd, 2011

Are You Ready to Take Advantage of New Green Tax Incentives?

Learn more about deductions for energy efficient construction or improvement projects.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Capital Review Group

The Energy Policy Act of 2005 includes a tax deduction for investments in “energy-efficient commercial building property” designed to significantly reduce the heating, cooling, water heating, and interior lighting energy cost of new or existing commercial buildings. This energy-efficient commercial building property must be placed into service between January 1, 2006, and December 31, 2013.

If you own your hotel or are a tenant/lessee who has paid for energy efficient construction or improvement projects, you may be eligible for a tax deduction of up to $1.80 per square foot for improving the energy efficiency of your existing commercial buildings or designing high efficiency into new buildings.

To qualify for the full deduction, a building owner or tenant must make investments designed to reduce energy costs by 50 percent or more. A partial deduction of $0.60 per square foot is available for investments in one of three subsystems – lighting, heating and cooling; or building envelope – designed to reduce energy costs by 16.67 percent (one third of the 50 percent requirement).

It is important to remember that tax deductions reduce your overall taxable income with the value of the deduction dependent upon your tax bracket. Tax credits, such as the ones provided for consumers in the 2005 Energy Policy Act, reduce the amount of tax you owe dollar for dollar.

The first step in many effective energy savings programs is to establish the energy use of your building and determine a reasonable energy savings goal. The EPA’s national energy performance rating system (www.energystar.gov/benchmark) is a free online tool that provides many types of buildings with a score on a simple 1 to 100 scale (1 being the least efficient and 100 the most). Assess the current use of your building to establish a reference to assist in identifying the best opportunities to qualify for the tax deduction.

A third-party certificate is required in order to claim the deduction for energy efficient commercial buildings under §179D of the Internal Revenue Code for proposed or newly installed: lighting upgrades, HVAC, hot water and building envelope. Capital Review Group will provide an approved Certification and assure that the process is conducted in accordance to the Energy Policy Act of 2005.

The Energy Policy Act of 2005 provides for and allows a deduction for energy efficient commercial buildings that reduce annual energy and power consumption by 50 percent compared to the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating, and Air Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) standard. The deduction equals the cost of energy efficient property installed during construction, with a maximum deduction of $1.80 per square foot of the building. Additionally, a partial deduction of $0.60 per square foot is provided for building subsystems such as lighting, HVAC, hot water and building envelope.

Owners of new and existing buildings may earn a partial deduction of $.60 per square foot per “system” for upgrading one or two major building subsystems. These deductions apply to new buildings placed in service between the date of enactment and December 31, 2008, or retrofits to existing buildings during the same time period.

The current rules established a deduction of $0.30 per square foot for buildings – or portion of buildings – that achieve at least 25 percent lighting savings relative to the ASHRAE lighting power density requirements (but excluding ASHRAE’s “additional lighting power allowances”) and that also use bi-level switching. This deduction increases progressively to $.60 per square foot for using bi-level switching and achieving 40 percent lighting savings.

Energy efficient heating, cooling, ventilation and hot water property is partially qualifying property, provided that satisfies both of the following conditions:

1. The property is installed as part of the heating, cooling, ventilation and hot water systems of a building; and

2. It is certified that the heating, cooling, ventilation and hot water systems that have been incorporated into the building, or that the taxpayer plans to incorporate into the building subsequent to the installation of such property, will reduce the total annual energy and power costs with respect to combined usage of the building’s heating, cooling, ventilation, hot water and interior lighting systems by 16.67 percent or more – meeting the minimum requirements. The 16.67 percent reduction must be accomplished solely through energy and power cost reductions for the heating, cooling, ventilation and hot water systems. Reductions in any other energy uses, such as receptacles, process loads, refrigeration, cooking, and elevators, are not taken into account in determining the required deduction.

CRG can conduct a physical inspection and perform an Energy Efficiency Study to calculate, determine and certify the allowable deductions for part or all of the cost of the Energy Efficient Lighting, HVAC, hot water, and building envelope – or any one of these sub-systems that have been placed in service after December 31, 2005, and before January 1, 2014.

For more information, contact M.A. Moore at markym@capitalreviewgroup.com or at (602) 741-7776.

Protecting the Female Traveler

Friday, September 2nd, 2011
TOURISM & MORE’S “TOURISM TIDBITS”
For September 2011
Protecting the Female Traveler


Since the inception of modern tourism women have played a significant role in the development of the world’s largest composite industry.  The tourism industry is proud of the fact that as one of the world’s newest industries, women have played a profound role in tourism success. One only needs to attend almost any tourism or travel industry conference and to quickly note that women not only form a significant proportion of those in attendance, but also often are in the majority.  Women hold top CEO positions throughout the industry to the point that no one in the travel and tourism industry gives a second choice to a person’s gender.   In the world of travel agencies, the great majority are women and at least in the United States women are often not merely travel agents but also the agencies’ owners.

That is not to say that women have not been exploited in such roles as sexual professionals.  Furthermore, women in at least some of the developing world often do not have the same gender-bias free opportunities as they do in the more developed nations.  Gender equality, however is not equally distributed.  Thus, while in some countries women have not moved beyond menial tasks in other nations such as Guatemala, Belize, and Tanzania women have made significant progress and are on par with their sisters in the more developed world. 

In many nations around the world women hold cabinet level positions in tourism and head their nation’s tourism industry.  Women not only play a significant role in the tourism and travel industry but as more and more women have entered into the work-force, women have an important segment of the traveling public.  The term “single woman traveler” does not refer to a woman’s marital status but rather to the fact that she is traveling alone, be that trip for reasons of pleasure or business.  Because women are now such an important part of the tourism and travel industry, they demand and receive specific travel amenities.  Successful travel and tourism businesses, for example, take into account specific female security needs.  Here are some ideas to consider for improving the security of your tourism entity or community for the “single ” female traveler.

The world is not always fair to women.  Although blatantly sexist and unfair in many parts of the world, a woman traveling by herself is considered to be “fair game.”  The first rule of thumb then is to know the culture to which you are traveling.  If the culture tolerates “sexual harassment” then do everything possible to avoid single travel.  Even in highly sensitized countries women should use extra precautions.

-Know your security strengths and weaknesses.  Never begin to think of any form of security without first doing a clear analysis.  Go through your locale and develop lists of what might be a special danger to female guests.  While many women are good at spotting danger, it is not their responsibility to know each and every danger spot; instead it is the host community or business that needs to pay extra attention to female security needs.

-Educate your staff and then educate some more!  Your security is only as good as the people who work not only in security but on the front lines. Take the time to speak with all front line personnel about women’s security issues. Make sure they are sensitive to the special needs of women traveling alone and know how to give good and correct advice.

-Use social networks.  Seek out networks that serve the traveling woman.  Many of these networks can provide up to the minute advice.  A quick search of the web provides a wealth of information regarding women’s travel networks.
When educating your staff and/or yourself about women’s travel safety consider some of the following points:

*At hotels, whenever possible help female guests to avoid a first-floor rooms. These are the rooms that are easiest for a potential attacker to gain access. Instead seek the third or fourth floor, and in sight of the elevator.

*Always carry a flashlight. It is amazing how a flashlight may scare off a potential assailant.

* If you car breaks down do not stay in it alone.  You are safer on foot than locked in a car that cannot move. If you are in a car you have become a virtual prisoner of someone coming along.  Being outside on foot is not pleasant but does allow for mobility

* A woman should never walk alone on poorly lit paths, close to bushes or in places where you cannot be seen, this rule of security is as valid in the day as it is in the night.

* Remember that while all women may be subjected to rape drugs this is especially true of any woman traveling in a country that is not her own.  Be careful of whom you drink with, what you drink and into whose vehicle you enter.

* Make sure that someone knows who you are and never forget that there are those who see a single woman as a prime candidate for sexual assault.

* When traveling abroad, even for purposes of business, dress according to the dictates of the host culture.  While it is not fair to victimize a woman due to the way she may choose to dress, the fact is that in some cultures a woman is blamed for being assaulted simply due to the dress code that she choices to follow

* Watch your purse at all times.  Purse-snatchers and other crimes of distraction artists often seek out single women travelers and assume that women are easier targets then are men. Often purse-snatchers prefer crowded areas. Always stay alert in places like bus stations and during street celebrations, where you are likely to be jostled — thieves use these circumstances to grab your purses, handbags and briefcases from women travelers.

* If someone does snatch your purse, let it go. If it is not a matter of life or death, then you are probably better off simply losing the item. If it is a matter of life and death, scream, run and hit the attacker where it will hurt the most.

The bottom line: while all travelers need to practice safe and secure travel habits and no matter who the person is there is always risk, single women travelers have a higher rate of possibly becoming victims.  To avoid this problem always use an extra dose of common sense.

Jefferson County considers legalizing short-term home rentals

Friday, September 2nd, 2011

Jefferson County considers legalizing short-term home rentals

Posted: 08/24/2011 01:00:00 AM MDT
Updated: 08/24/2011 08:21:38 AM MDT

 

When Cheryl LoVecchio looks out her living room window, all she can see are the “no parking” and “no trespassing” signs she says she has put up around her Evergreen home to fend off intrusions from the house next door.

LoVecchio says the house is illegally used for short-term vacation rentals — and invariably a few vehicles end up parked on her property. The absentee owner tells her that the strangers are just friends staying at his house.

Jefferson County doesn’t permit homeowners in residential zones to rent their homes out for less than a month.

However, of the 200 complaints that the county has received about short-term rentals since the first complaint in 2004, officials have prosecuted 10 cases, staffers reported.

And complaints have heated up since 2008.

At a hearing Tuesday morning, county commissioners reconsidered permitting short-term rentals but delayed a decision. The question is whether allowing, but better regulating, short-term rentals would lessen the impact on neighborhoods.

More than a dozen of those affected neighbors, mostly from unincorporated areas around Evergreen, Golden and Littleton, testified against legitimizing such vacation rentals.

They said a steady stream of strangers in and out next door is noisy, disruptive and unsafe. And it turns area residents into police because the county doesn’t enforce its rules about short-term rentals.

“They seem innocuous to people,” said Evergreen resident Cleo Boyd. “Then one pops up next to them, and they get it. It’s a mini-hotel next door.”

Short-term rental supporters argued for homeowners’ property rights and for visitors to be able to choose a home as a lodging option.

The commission sent the matter back to the Planning Commission for further work. That advisory body voted 6-1 on Aug. 3 to reject permitting short-term rentals. It will take up the measure again in October.

“The rights of neighbors don’t supersede the rights of property owners,” said Commissioner Donald Rosier.

Short-term vacation rental websites list 30 to 70 opportunities in Jefferson County or near it, zoning administrator Mike Chadwick said.

Cheri Rubin said the Summit Ranch area has two “ongoing vacation rental nightmares” where as many as 20 people bunk nightly and fires are left burning unattended.

“We can’t prove money changes hands,” Rubin said. But if tenants’ fires destroy homes, she said, residents would hold the commissioners personally responsible.

Larry Beski said he favors short- term rentals because his elderly in-laws, now in a retirement home, need to earn income to pay property taxes on a home they’ve owned since the 1940s but have been unable to sell.

Operators of inns, bed-and-breakfast sites, motels and hotels called short-term rentals unfair competitors because they don’t pay lodging taxes or meet commercial licensing, safety or liability requirements.

Legitimizing such arrangements will make the impacts on neighborhoods worse because more homes will be rented, said Kathy Krysiak, general manager of Quality Suites on Evergreen Parkway.

Electa Draper: 303-954-1276 or edraper@denverpost.com

USDA Gives $73,824 Grant To Connect Food With Bed And Breakfasts

Friday, September 2nd, 2011
USDA Gives $73,824 Grant To Connect Food With Bed And Breakfasts

Friday, August 26, 2011
By Eric Scheiner

(CNSNews.com) – The federal government is working to ensure that some can enjoy the fruits of someone else’s labor, literally, as the U.S. Department of Agriculture gives grants focused on improving federal-state marketing.

(AP Photo/Matthew Mead)

Among the 19 states receiving these funds is New York, which recently announced that it was awarded a $73,824 grant. This grant will be used to encourage bed and breakfast operators to use locally produced food and agricultural products.

“This continues our efforts to boost locally produced food products in New York and to encourage agri-tourism,” said Commissioner Darrel Aubertine according to a New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets press release. “This is another market channel for our local producers that will help them build their business.”

 

Program administrator Steve Miller of Cornell University told CNSNews.com the project will connect local producers of food and produce with bed and breakfast establishments they may have not been in contact with. This is to be achieved through the internet, seminars, advertising and other means.



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