B3 Strategies Strives to Help Re-Open Eagar, AZ Mill

PHOENIX, Ariz. (October 6, 2014) – In late August, a mill in Eagar, AZ was forced to temporarily close its doors due to a lack of materials.  The mill, owned by Vaagen Brother’s Lumber headquartered in Colville, Washington, opened in 2012. Vaagen Brother’s Lumber owns a number of mills throughout Northeast Washington State and Canada. The mill in Eagar, AZ is their first location in the Southwest.

“We’ve worked with the Vaagen Brother’s Lumber for two years helping them develop a foundation in Arizona,” said Russell Smoldon, CEO of B3 Strategies. “Our goal is to help Vaagen Brother’s Lumber double the amount of product they are able to get through their mill. This would give them the opportunity to double the number of full-time positions and bring valuable economic growth to the Eagar area. The first step is getting the mill opened again.”

According to Vaagen Brother’s Lumber, the mill brought 18 full-time positions to Eagar. The mill closed due to an inability to get the logs that the mill needed to run.

“We’re sad to see the mill closed, even if it is only temporarily,” said Kurtis Vaagen. “Right now we have a few of our staff working in Colville, WA where our main mill is located. We want to send them home to Eagar as soon as we can.”

Operations like the Eagar mill work with the Forest Service to thin acres in the national forest. The act of thinning, which involves removing small diameter trees, allows for the healthy growth of larger trees.

“There is tremendous room for growth for mills like Vaagen Brother’s Lumber and the companies that use their product,” said Smoldon. “Our job at B3 Strategies is to help raise the awareness of the great things that these mills do.  By thinning trees in the national forest they reduce the risk of forest fire. The logs and chips they create in their mill are used for everything from biomass fuel to the lumber you can purchase for home improvement projects. If we can get that mill open again, the only thing limiting the creativity of this industry is the number of logs that go through their door.”

About B3 Strategies

“Building Public Policy Brick-By-Brick”

Positioned as “The Public Policy Architects,” B3 Strategies, an affiliate of Jennings, Strouss & Salmon law firm, provides clients with the knowledge and tools needed to present, support and implement public policy to address issues affecting their businesses. B3 Strategies leverages relationships with an extensive network of government officials, legislators and the business community to develop and implement public policy strategies at the local state, and federal levels for a wide-range of industries, including those focused on energy, water, taxation, environmental, health care and economic development issues.

For additional information please visit www.B3strategies.com, and follow us on LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter.

About Jennings, Strouss & Salmon

Jennings Strouss & Salmon is one of the Southwest’s leading law firms, providing business, litigation and regulatory legal counsel for over 70 years through its offices in Phoenix and Peoria, and Yuma, Arizona; and Washington, D.C. For additional information please visit www.jsslaw.com and follow us on LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter.

~JSS~

The Dying Gasp of the Forest Products Industry

In Eagar, AZ there is a mill. It’s a small mill, with 18 full time jobs. It is supported by around 30-40 logging jobs. About 25 truckloads of logs go through the mill each shift, creating 10 loads of lumber, 10 loads of chips, and 1.5 loads of bark. On Friday, August 26, 2014, this mill closed its doors – temporarily shutting down because of a lack of logs.

While 18 jobs may not sound like a lot, in a town like Eagar with a population of 5,000, those 18 jobs have the same economic impact as 2,500 jobs in the Greater Phoenix area.

The Eagar mill, and mills like it, help to sustain the health of Arizona’s forests through restoration in partnership with the Forest Service. However, they’ve run into a catch; the Forest Service hasn’t been able to deliver on their promise of logs.

Some things cannot be helped. The Wallow Fire, which tore through eastern Arizona in 2011, destroyed 56,000 NEPA ready acres, which the Forest Service did not replace. While 4FRI was intended to answer Arizona’s timber supply issue, the program has fallen far short of the promised supply, and much of what was produced is too far from Eagar to help its mill.

The Eagar mill was attempting to help the Forest Service by expanding the market for the logs the Forest Service needed to clear. However, the Forest Service caused the price of logs to triple, resulting in the closure of the Eager mill and creating a negative economic impact on this small Arizona town.

It takes between 18 months and 2 years for acres to become NEPA ready. Forests cannot be thinned until the acres are NEPA ready, but forest fires don’t seem to care whether or not they are ready. Every forest that is not thinned is at increased risk for destruction during the next fire season. Thinning from the White Mountain Stewardship saved Alpine, Nutrioso, Eagar and Springerville, while stopping the latest San Juan fire in its tracks. Will a long NEPA process protect these towns during the next forest fire?

Mills like the one in Eagar help sustain Forest Service thinning projects. They bring life to the forests and protect the towns in that area. The Eagar mill is a part of the delicate forest products industry. As soon as one branch fails, each of the other branches will struggle and wither. When the Eagar mill closes, the businesses that rely on its products will close. When those businesses close, the businesses that rely on their products will also close, and as that path continues, the forest products industry itself will struggle to regain its roots in Arizona’s forests.

What is potentially the most tragic is that if 4FRI could have delivered, the Eagar mill could have increased to a two shift operation, doubling the number of employees, doubling the amount of product produced, and rejuvenating the forest products industry. Better yet, a new mill could have created 130 new jobs directly and 400 additional jobs indirectly.

The Eagar mill and mills like it can be saved. 4FRI can be made to work and the mills can get the product that they need to grow. It will not work if people do not act. If you are interested in helping bring new life to the forest products industry, contact RSmoldon@B3stratgies.com.

Closure of Mill Threatens the Health of the Growing Forest Products Industry

PHOENIX, Ariz. (September 11, 2014) – In towns like Eagar, AZ every job counts. With the closure of the Four Corners Forest Products in mid-August, more members of the small community will be facing unemployment.

“It’s frustrating,” said Kurtis Vaagen, owner of the mill. “We’ve been working hard to help improve the health of Arizona’s forests. The bureaucracy of the Forest Service not only prevents us from helping the forests, but has put our hard working employees out of their jobs.”

The mill brought 18 full-time positions to Eagar, as well as between 30 and 40 logging jobs. For a town like Eagar, with a population of around 5,000, 18 jobs have the same economic impact as 2,500 new jobs in the Greater Phoenix area.

Operations like the Vaagen mill work with the Forest Service to thin acres in the national forest. The act of thinning, which involves removing small diameter trees, allows for the healthy growth of larger trees.  Thinning has helped dramatically reduce the damage of recent wildfires in Alpine, Nutrioso, Eagar and Springerville.

With the closure of Four Corners Forest Products in Eager, the Forest Service faces the dilemma of what to do with a collapsing forest products industry.

“The work of the forest products industry is crucial,” said Russell Smoldon, CEO of B3 Strategies, who for many years has worked to promote the healthy development of the forest products industry. “Thinning not only improves the health of our forests, but it also helps to prevent wildfires. Thinning also brings jobs into small communities and has a positive economic impact on them. The forest products industry puts food on the table for families in communities like Eagar, and the decay of the industry will be strongly felt there.”

The closure of Four Corners Forest Products comes in large part from an inability to get the logs that the mill needed to run. The Wallow Fire, which burnt 56,000 NEPA ready acres, the delay of 4FRI, and the failed promise of the Forest Service to “bridge the gap” in timber supply between the White Mountain Stewardship and 4FRI, culminated in a deprivation of logs that slowed the mill’s production to a crawl.

“There is a demand for the products we can create with small diameter logs,” said Vaagen. “If we could have gotten the logs we needed, we could have doubled production and brought twice as many jobs to Eagar. This industry is fragile. As soon as one of us fails, our entire infrastructure faces the threat of collapse. To prevent fires, the forests have to be thinned. If we aren’t doing it, the Forest Service will have to pay to treat the acres. I can’t imagine that’s what the Forest Service wants, and it’s certainly not what the people of Arizona want.”

 

About B3 Strategies

“Building Public Policy Brick-By-Brick”

Positioned as “The Public Policy Architects,” B3 Strategies, an affiliate of Jennings, Strouss & Salmon law firm, provides clients with the knowledge and tools needed to present, support and implement public policy to address issues affecting their businesses. B3 Strategies leverages relationships with an extensive network of government officials, legislators and the business community to develop and implement public policy strategies at the local state, and federal levels for a wide-range of industries, including those focused on energy, water, taxation, environmental, health care and economic development issues.

For additional information please visit www.B3strategies.com, and follow us on LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter.

 

About Jennings, Strouss & Salmon

Jennings Strouss & Salmon is one of the Southwest’s leading law firms, providing business, litigation and regulatory legal counsel for over 70 years through its offices in Phoenix and Peoria, and Yuma, Arizona; and Washington, D.C. For additional information please visit www.jsslaw.com and follow us on LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter.

~JSS~

The Power of PACs

Recently, Russell Smoldon was featured in an article in In Business discussing the power of political action committees (PACs).

“Being able to be involved in the political process through a political action committee is unbelievable when it comes to your ability to impact public policy,” said Russell Smoldon, CEO of B3 Strategies. Read the full article here.

PACs have many advantages, but probably the most important is access. They allow citizens to join together and become a bigger force in the political process. Since politics affect people’s everyday lives in a multitude of ways, it is important for people to be able to join together with other citizens that share the same interests, thereby maximizing their overall impact on the political process. “One voice unified is better than many voices disjointed,” says Smoldon.

To learn more about PACs, check out Smoldon’s videos:

What is a Political Action Committee (PAC)?

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bKzxIPklPe0]
Why Your Organization Should Consider Forming a Political Action Committee

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1kiNwtRW9Ug]

The Number One Way to Save Over $2 Million on an Arizona Data Center

By Russell Smoldon

In 2013, the Arizona Legislature established a tax incentive program directed towards Computer Data Centers. Owners, operators, and qualified co-location tenants of a CDC may be eligible to receive exemptions.

Only a few qualified candidates are taking advantage of this opportunity. If someone you know is an owner, operator or a co-location tenant of a CDC, please consider forwarding this information to them. The goal of this program is to encourage and expand high quality CDC development within the state of Arizona. We can only achieve this goal if members of our community commit to spreading the word about this opportunity and encourage candidates to apply.

For ten calendar years, qualified owners, operators, and qualified co-location tenants can be exempt from all Transaction Privilege Taxes (TPT) and Use Taxes at the state, county, and local levels of the purchase of Data Center Equipment. For a CDC that qualifies as a Sustainable Redevelopment Project, the exemptions are available for up to 20 full calendar years.

Data Center Equipment includes:

  • Equipment necessary for transformation, generation, distribution or management of electricity required to operate computer server equipment.
  • Equipment necessary to cool and maintain a controlled environment for the operation of the computer server and other Computer Data Center components.
  • Water conservation systems, including facilities or mechanisms that are designed to collect, conserve, and reuse water.
  • All enabling software, computer server equipment, chassis, networking equipment, switches, racks, cabling, trays and conduits.
  • All monitoring equipment and security systems.
  • Modular Data Centers and preassembled components of any item described in this paragraph, including components used in the manufacturing of Modular Data Centers.
  • Other tangible personal property that is essential to the operations of a Computer Data Center.

The exemptions do not cover Personal Property Taxes, Real Property Taxes, Taxes on Power or Telecommunications, or Prime Contracting TPT on Building Materials.

To qualify as a Sustainable Redevelopment Project, your CDC must either:

  • Have had a vacancy rate of at least fifty percent (50%) for six of the twelve months prior to the acquisition by purchase or long term lease,

OR

  • “Attain” a green building standard that they were not previously certified under, such as Green Globe, Energy Star, LEED, or other similar building standards.

More CDC facilities qualify for this tax exemption than are currently taking advantage of this opportunity. To certify your facility, qualified CDC owners or operators must satisfy the following:

  • Submit an Application for CDC Certification and receive a Letter of Certification from Commerce,
  • Satisfy the requisite Capital Investment Threshold in a timely manner and submit evidence of one of the following:

o   If the CDC Facility is located in either Maricopa or Pima County, a Capital Investment of at least $50 million is made within five years of the date of the Letter of Certification from Commerce,

o   If the CDC is located in any other county than Maricopa or Pima, a Capital Investment of at least $25 million is made within five years of the date of the Letter of Certification from Commerce,

o   In the case of an Existing CDC, regardless of location, a Capital Investment of at least $250 million was made during the period between September 1, 2007 and August 31, 2013,

  • Remit a non-refundable processing fee of $50.00 at the time of certification of the CDC,
  • Comply with the employer requirement set forth in A.R.S. §§ 23-214(B).

Once your facility is certified as a qualified CDC, the process to certify your qualified co-location Tenant is extremely straightforward.  Tenants in a qualified CDC are eligible for benefits if they have signed a lease of at least 500kW per month for a period of two or more years.  To certify your qualified co-location Tenant, they must submit the following:

  • Tax ID number for their certification letter.
  • Proof of filing with the Federal e-verify program.
  • $50.00 application fee made out to the Arizona Commerce Authority.

The goal of the program is to encourage business investment and the creation of high quality Data Center opportunities in the state.  Over the course of ten years, a 1 MW deployment in Chandler, AZ could save over $2.4 million.

If you are interested in more information, or believe you may qualify for this tax exemption but are unsure of what the next steps are, contact me at rsmoldon@b3stategies.com or Jim Grice with Lathrop & Gage, LLP at jgrice@lathropgage.com.  The application process may at first seem daunting, but with a little help navigating the application process your facility will be able to receive significant benefits.

For more information about the Computer Data Center Program visit http://www.azcommerce.com/incentives/computer-data-center-program, for detailed application guidelines visit http://www.azcommerce.com/media/107572/CDCinstructions.pdf, for the online application visit http://www.azcommerce.com/incentives/apply-now.

Smoldon Says Forest Health Management is Cheaper than Fighting Forest Fires

We payed tribute to the 19 brave Granite Mountain Hotshots this week, and firefighters are optimistic about the San Juan Fire. However, dry summer weather conditions and overgrown forests are still a concern this fire season.

In early May, Governor Brewer signed HB2343, now called forest health management, to drastically reduce Arizona’s forest fires and protect our firefighters and national forests.

Recently, B3 Strategies CEO Russell Smoldon spoke with KTAR reporter Cooper Rummell about how forest health management can help prevent forest fires.

Smoldon said trimming trees and treating forests could save Arizona homes and, more importantly, firefighter’s lives at a lower cost than fighting the fires. Therefore, it is necessary that Congress takes action to prevent another Yarnell tragedy.

Smoldon said he thought the federal government would help maintain Arizona’s national forests after the tragedy at Yarnell Hill. However, according to Smoldon, Congress has not taken any action since Yarnell, and fighting wildfires in Arizona is getting riskier every day.

“Forest thinning and maintenance is the only solution to avoiding another tragedy like Yarnell,” says Smoldon.

Read the full article

 

Smoldon discusses the benefits of forest health management

[youtube=http://youtu.be/TFVbdNU_vmc]

Client News: Phoenix Children’s Hospital adds inpatient unit in Mercy Gilbert Medical Center

“Phoenix Children’s Hospital plans to open a pediatric inpatient unit within Dignity Health’s Mercy Gilbert Medical Center in October.

The 22-bed unit will offer around-the-clock pediatric coverage staffed by PCH hospitalists for children requiring observation or inpatient care. More complex cases will be referred to PCH’s main Phoenix campus.”

Read the full article written by Angela Gonzales, Senior Reporter at the Phoenix Business Journal, here.

Russell D. Smoldon Honored By Greater Phoenix Urban League

Russell Smoldon

Smoldon to receive the Whitney M. Young, Jr. Award

PHOENIX, Ariz. (May 8, 2014) – Russell D. Smoldon, CEO of B3 Strategies, will be honored by the Greater Phoenix Urban League (GPUL) during its 50th Annual Whitney M. Young, Jr. Awards Dinner. The awards recognize individuals and corporations who have exhibited genuine concern for the community in promoting and celebrating diversity, racial harmony, and social and economic equality.

“We are proud to recognize Russell for his efforts to promote diversity and social equality within the community,” stated George Dean, President and CEO of the Greater Phoenix Urban League. “He has been a longtime supporter of the GPUL, and continues to work tirelessly to make equality for all a reality rather than a saying.”

Smoldon will be the recipient of the “Whitney M. Young, Jr. Award,” which is given to an individual who best exemplifies the principles and philosophies of the late Whitney M. Young, Jr., former Executive Director of the National Urban League.

“I am truly humbled by this award, and so grateful to the Greater Phoenix Urban League for the opportunity to be part of such an incredibly important organization,” stated Russell Smoldon, CEO of B3 Strategies. “Our Mission to help the disadvantaged achieve economic and social equality is so important to the betterment of our communities. When all are equal, all are free.”

Smoldon has been a member and supporter of the Greater Phoenix Urban League for over 20 years, and is the current Chairman of the Board. In addition to the GPUL, Smoldon serves on the board of the Arizona Tax Research Association (ATRA), the Western Business Roundtable, the American Legislative Exchange Council and the National Conference of State Legislators’ Advisory Council on Energy and National Tax Partnership. He also serves as a member of the Arizona Supreme Court’s Child Support Guidelines and Domestic Relations Committees and the Arizona Highway Users’ Association.

About B3 Strategies

“Building Public Policy Brick-By-Brick”

Positioned as “The Public Policy Architects,” B3 Strategies, an affiliate of Jennings, Strouss & Salmon law firm, provides clients with the knowledge and tools needed to present, support and implement public policy to address issues affecting their businesses. B3 Strategies leverages relationships with an extensive network of government officials, legislators and the business community to develop and implement public policy strategies at the local state, and federal levels for a wide-range of industries, including those focused on energy, water, taxation, environmental, health care and economic development issues.

For additional information please visit www.B3strategies.com, and follow us on LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter.

About Jennings, Strouss & Salmon

Jennings Strouss & Salmon is one of the Southwest’s leading law firms, providing business, litigation and regulatory legal counsel for over 70 years through its offices in Phoenix and Peoria, and Yuma, Arizona; and Washington, D.C. For additional information please visit www.jsslaw.comand follow us on LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter.

~JSS~

News Release – Arizona Governor Jan Brewer Signs HB2078, Fair Access to Cancer Treatment Bill

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

May 1, 2014

 

Arizona Governor Signs HB2078, Fair Access to Cancer Treatment Bill,
Enacting Cost-Parity for Oral Anticancer Treatments

PHOENIX, 5/1/14 – Arizona Governor Jan Brewer signed House Bill 2078 into law Wednesday, making Arizona the 32nd state in the United States to have cost-parity for oral anticancer drugs. Beginning January 1, 2016, HB2078, sponsored by Representative Heather Carter (LD15), requires health insurance companies with plans that cover intravenous (IV) anticancer treatments and oral anticancer treatments to not discriminate against oral treatments by way of higher co-payments, deductibles or coinsurance.

“With the passage and signing of HB2078, I’m very pleased that our elected officials did the right thing to stand up and represent all cancer patients,” said Carter. “By requiring insurance plans that already cover cancer treatments to treat all cancer drugs equally, it is now up to patients working with their doctors to decide what is the best available course of treatment for their condition. This also opens up a world of affordable options for rural cancer patients who don’t live near a treatment center.”

The way many health insurance plans are written today, IV anticancer treatments are covered under the medical benefits portion of the plan while self-administered oral anticancer treatments are covered as a prescription benefit and are subject to much higher out-of-pocket costs. Often, the newest and most effective cancer treatments are only available in oral form.

HB2078 received extensive support from the Fair Access to Cancer Treatment Coalition and from legislators as the bill sailed through both the Arizona House and Senate, in committees and on the floor, with unanimous votes every step of the way.

“We are proud of the hard work of our FACT Coalition and grateful for the bipartisan support that made the passage of this legislation possible,” said Jim Brewer, executive director of the Arizona Chapter of The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. “We did not have one single vote against this bill throughout the entire process, which is proof of this broad support and recognition of how important this issue is to Arizona cancer patients.”

Other legislators that were key players in the passage of HB2078 are: Sen. Adam Driggs (LD28), Sen. Nancy Barto (LD15) and Sen. Anna Tovar (LD19).

The FACT Coalition is made up of several patient advocacy groups and medical providers including: The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, International Myeloma Foundation, AZ Cancer Coalition, Scottsdale Healthcare, Ironwood Cancer and Research Centers, Latino Cancer Coalition, Banner Health, Oncology Nurses Society, ICAN – International Cancer Advocacy Network, TACOS – The Arizona Clinical Oncology Society, Arizona Oncology, ACCC, Komen (Central/Northern AZ Affiliate and Southern AZ Affiliate), North Country HealthCare, The National CML Society, Lymphoma Research Foundation, Phoenix Children’s Hospital, Arizona Myeloma Network, and AIM at Melanoma.

For more information, contact the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society Arizona Chapter Executive Director Jim Brewer at 602-567-7600.

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Forest Health Management

Russell D. Smoldon discusses forest health management and the work that needs to be done to clean the forests and prevent catastrophic forest fires. A clean forest is a healthy forest; a healthy forest is a healthy watershed. Everyone benefits from a healthy forest system.