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December 2012

Volume 2, Number 12

Chamber

Insider A Publication of The Clovis Chamber of Commerce

Thank You to our Sponsors

Take a Deep Breath and Look Around You I’m not going to sugar coat it. I am disappointed in the election results but they are what they are. Although social issues played a major part for many voters, my concern lies mainly about our economy and businesses. Without a strong economy, social issues become irrelevant. I still do not believe that the current administration respects or understands the private sector in our country. And that worries me. But what can I do about it? On the national level, not a whole lot. I did my duty by voting for pro-business people. Some won, some lost. Right now they’re arguing over the Fiscal Cliff. I’m going to wait until a deal is done before tuning into the discussions. The state has a super majority of representatives whose understanding of business is that it should be regulated and taxed. This year’s 1,900 submitted bills will probably pale in comparison to what they’ll come up with next year. Of course the Chamber will continue to monitor and oppose onerous legislation that will hurt our members and the community. But it will be a harder task thanks to the new make up of Sacramento. We won’t give up. Once again, I remind myself that the greatest impact I can have is to focus locally on my family, Chamber members and the community. That’s what we all have to do – concentrate on what is really the most important thing in our lives. Our family of four moved to Clovis in 1989 and has never looked back. Top priority for us was the schools for our kids. We knew that one of our greatest obligations to society was to raise responsible kids who would become productive adults. Thanks to the assistance from Clovis Unified, we

have accomplished that goal. Although neither our son or daughter lives here in Clovis, they are contributing to their own communities. I consider the work that my wife, Fran, and I are doing through the Clovis Chamber to be of equal importance to the community. We, and the entire staff, take our jobs seriously and understand the impact of our work with local businesses. We break down our agenda into four areas – membership, advocacy, promotion and community. Working with our members is our number one priority. They are the movers and shakers in the business community and need our support. We offer many ways to assist them from networking events like our monthly mixers, speed networking and leads clubs to social media exposure and workshops, our directory and educational seminars. Our monthly newsletter, the Chamber Insider, is distributed to tens of thousands of readers throughout Fresno and Clovis that gives our members advertising opportunities. The Clovis Chamber is known for our advocacy both on the local and state levels. We take seriously our candidate endorsements through ClovisPAC, the Chamber’s political action committee, and actively campaign for their election. Our Legislative Issues Committee reviews both proposed legislation and ballot propositions before taking stands in support or opposition. Over the years we have had a major impact on ADA lawsuits, state wide health care proposals, worker compensation reform and fighting tax hikes. Chamber representatives are often contacted by the media for comments about legislation and political activities. Many of you know of the Clovis

Mark Blackney CEO/President Clovis Chamber of Commerce

Message from CEO/President Chamber through our events that promote the city. Between BIG Hat Days in April and ClovisFest in September, over $6 million is created throughout the city. In addition, promotion for the events both through Chamber media outreach and through visiting vendors, gives the city wide exposure throughout the country. Many times we have heard from people who first hear of or visit Clovis thanks to our events. I’m sure that many have either continued to visit or possibly moved here after seeing what how great Clovis is as a city. In addition, our web site, www. clovischamber.com, is a go-to site for people wanting more information about Clovis. The fourth component of our Chamber program is work in the community. First and foremost is our support and participation in the efforts of our award winning school district. Chamber members serve on boards and actively take part in district programs. Every March, a Chamber representative does mock business interviews with students from CART that leads to internships at the Chamber. We have also proudly supported every school bond measure that has a 100% passage rate. Deep Breath, continued on page 2

Leadership Clovis, 2013 The Clovis Chamber is proud to announce signups for the fourteenth year of Leadership Clovis. Started in 2000, the program has created many strong leaders who have taken their skills into the workplace and the community. The program is an instructional and handson leadership learning experience that includes networking, field observation and community involvement.

Clovis Chamber of Commerce 325 Pollasky Avenue Clovis CA, 93612

The program calls for a two year commitment. The first year is instructionled learning (ILT) followed by community project involvement. The ILT will be held at the Willow International Community College Center and is led by the facilitator with various guest speakers from business, government and the community. The focus of the sessions will include Communication, Coaching, Conflict Resolution, Corrective Action, Managing and Appraising Performance, Interviewing, Human Resources and the Law, Business Communication, Time Management, Diversity and Change Management. The class will also make a collaborative

decision on the second year project. Recently, the class of 2007 completed its project of obtaining contributions and commissioning a bronze statue of Floyd “Doc” Bucahanan, founder of the current Clovis Unified School District. Other projects have included creating the Clovis Way of Life logo and definition, establishing a scholarship fund for the Willow International Community College and donating to the Clovis Boys and Girls Club. The Chamber welcomes its new facilitator, Kurt Stinson, Principal of Stinson & Associates. A 30 year resident of the Fresno/Clovis area, Kurt has focused his professional energy into training, instructional design, leadership development and middle-management executive coaching. He has facilitated conference/meetingaudiences from 25 to 2500. “In ten years with the Clovis Chamber, I have enjoyed seeing Leadership Clovis continue as a worthwhile program that has helped create successful leaders

throughout our community,” stated Chamber President/CEO Mark Blackney. “For 2012, I am excited about the program’s new direction under the guidance of Kurt Stinson of Stinson & Associates and look forward to seeing the program grow.” Discounts apply for Clovis Chamber members and their employees. For information or to obtain the brochure, call Fran at the Clovis Chamber at 299-7363.


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Deep Breath

Continued from page 1

Clovis Chamber of Commerce 325 Pollasky Clovis, CA 93612 299-7363 · Fax 299-2969

www.clovischamber.com

EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE Rick Snow · Board Chair Snowflake Designs Rod Geist · Past Chair Central Valley Community Bank Ken May · Chair Elect ClovisPAC Randy Baer · Vice Chair Facilities Schneider Electric Shelly D’Arcy Vice Chair, Chamber Gives Back Kaiser Permanente Gina Estrada Vice Chair, Fundraising AXA Equitable Ellie Huston Vice Chair, Membership Nick Maxwell Vice Chair, Finance Edward Jones Investments Jay Peterson Vice Chair, Marketing The Geeks Computer Service Thom Richardson Vice Chair, Legislative Issues Sunrise Displays

BOARD OF DIRECTORS

Ron Barsamian Barsamain & Moody Professional Corp. Alex Contreras Donaghy Sales­ Karena Dillon Baker Dillon Group Ed Flores Century 21/M&M & Associates Bob Hall Harlan Consulting & Marketing Nykole Hibbs Dinner MyWay Paul Hinkle Kellner Properties Gary Honeycutt BJ’s Kountry Kitchen Cynthia Jones Hilton Garden Inn Claudia Moorefield See’s Candies, Inc. G­­reg Newman Land Value/Sierra Vista Mall Paul Spraetz, Sr. ­Farmers Insurance Group

STAFF

Mark Blackney · President CEO Beth Bridges · Membership Director Fran Blackney · Business Advocate, Communications Director, Newsletter Editor Tammi Walton · Events Director Susana Peckinpah · Office Manager Shirley Bundros · Membership

About this publication... Chamber Insider is the official monthly publication of the Clovis Chamber of Commerce, 325 Pollasky, Clovis, CA 93612, (559) 299-7363. Reproduction by any means of the entire contents or any portion of this publication without written permission is prohibited. The appearance of any advertisements in this publication does not constitute support or endorsement for any product, person, cause, business or organization named therein, unless specifically noted otherwise in the advertisement.

This year, the Chamber stepped up to the plate by creating the Hooked on Books program through the newly formed The Chamber Gives Back committee. Through corporate and individual donations, hundreds of books have been purchased to be given to elementary school children. So far two distributions have been done with a third scheduled for December. For many of these students, these are the first books they have ever really owned. Seeing the excitement in their eyes makes the effort well worth it. The Leadership Clovis program is in its 14th year and has produced many trained leaders serving in the community. This year we have reformatted the

curriculum and are excited to present Kurt Stinson, Principal of Stinson & Associates, as the facilitator. He brings many fresh and new ideas and will greatly enhance this exciting program. Please see the article below for more details. One of our greatest tasks in the coming months is to buoy up our members as the economy continues to stutter along. We still don’t know about tax hikes, but we do know there are a myriad of new regulations just waiting to be imposed. For many businesses, Obamacare will have an impact so they have to prepare to pay more for new mandates or to cut back on expenses while trying to create a profit. Meanwhile, the unemployment rate is staying stubbornly high.

Despite my angst, I remain confident in our small businesses and the community. The city makes it easier for us by having a responsible government, award winning police and fire departments, an active religious community and, of course, our outstanding school district. The next few months, and perhaps years, are going to be tough but we have the foundations here locally to make the adventure a little more palatable. The next time you get frustrated with the national news, turn off the TV or the internet and step outside to look at your neighborhood and commit your energies to our community. It is well worth the price.

Marketing Deal of the Month There is a whole new category of membership benefits coming to members of the Clovis Chamber in 2013. Each month there will be at least one valuable, exclusive marketing offer for Clovis Chamber members from the Chamber or from other members. It could be free advertising, buy one get one, discounted consulting, bonus offers or other marketing benefits. These deals will be designed to help you stretch your budget and get more exposure, more promotion and more bang for your buck. We’re looking for members who want to offer a Marketing Deal of the Month. If you are in advertising, branding, business development, customer service training, internet marketing, marketing

consulting, networking, public relations , sales training, social media, or other business product or service that serves to help a business market and promote themselves, please get in touch with Beth Bridges, our Membership Director right away. If your “Marketing Deal of the Month” is accepted, you’ll get your business name and marketing expert status in front of the entire Clovis Chamber membership and the business community at large. We’ll promote your offer through: *a direct email to the members *an article in the print email newsletter (30,000 copies are distributed throughout Clovis and Fresno)

*an article in the email newsletter *postings on our Facebook page (1,500+ fans) *tweets on our Twitter account (3,100+ followers) Does that sound like a good deal for everyone involved? We think so! If you’re interested in offering a Marketing Deal of the Month, contact Beth Bridges, Membership Director, at beth@ clovischamber.com If you’re interested in taking advantage of the Marketing Deal of the Month, keep your membership up to date, watch your email inbox, “like” us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter so you don’t miss a single offer.

Clovis Area Brokers Christmas Breakfast The annual Clovis Area Brokers Traditional Christmas Breakfast will be held on Thursday, December 13th at the Classic Catering Banquet Hall in Old Town. This holiday gathering is filled with lots of fun, music, inspiration and most importantly, networking. Guest Speaker is once again Pastor Steve Davidson of Clovis Hills Community Church.

Donate a holiday center piece and bring money for the raffle. All proceeds benefit the Clovis Boys & Girls Club. Admission is only $10 each. If you’re already working in the realty industry or are interested in joining it, you’re encouraged to attend.

advance from the Clovis Chamber or the breakfast sponsors – Century 21, M&M Associates; SendOut Cards; Jimenez Construction; Ken Garcia Property Inspections; Kellner Properties; Keller Williams Realty; Mission Hills Mortgage Bankers; Primary Residential Mortgage, Inc; and W.J. Bradley. Call 299-7363 for more information.

All tickets must be purchased in

A Holiday Mixer at Sam’s Club One of the Chamber’s favorite annual mixers is coming up on December 12 from 5 – 7 pm. Join us at Sam’s Club on Blackstone Ave near RiverPark.

at one of our biggest mixers of the year.

Sample delicious food and drink that you can buy at Sam’s! Win a nice door prize suitable for keeping or gifting! Take Advantage of a special membership offer from Sam’s. And of course, enjoy GREAT networking with the best networkers in the Central Valley

This event is FREE to Clovis Chamber members who are encouraged to bring potential members as guests.

You do NOT need to be a member of Sam’s Club to attend.

Host a 2013 Mixer Clovis Chamber mixers are a huge success with our members. Every month over 100 visit a fellow member’s location to enjoy great food, great networking and to see the great things the host member is doing. There are still openings for the 2013 mixer schedule if you, as a member, would like to host one. We are looking for: • Enough room for 100-125 people, plus parking

• A location that is easy to get to and will enhance attendance • Fresno businesses are accepted, although location will be even more important: proximity to a freeway helps • You are willing to provide food, beverages and at least one door prize In return, you will have 100+ people in your business. The Chamber will promote your mixer on our website, in our newsletter, via e-mail and on our Facebook and Twitter pages

Open dates are Jan 16, Feb 20, April 17, May 15, June 19, July 17, August 21 and Nov 20 Applying approval.

does

NOT

guarantee

If interested, submit a proposal to Beth Bridges, Membership Director via e-mail at beth@clovischamber.com or fax to 2992969 Call 299-7363 for more information.


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More Good News from Clovis Chamber Members Despite the bleak economic news, Clovis Chamber members shine. Kaiser Permanente Fresno received yet another honor. The Hospital Council of Northern and Central California recently recognized Kaiser as a top performer for significantly reducing hospital acquired infections (HAIs), an accomplishment that meant people had better health outcomes and millions of dollars in health care costs were avoided. Details: 448-4138 Valley Public Radio is pleased to announce it is one of the 31 statewide James Irvine Foundation grantees. The station received a $225,000 grant under the Foundation’s California Democracy program that will increase news coverage of governance and public policy issues in the San Joaquin Valley. Details: 800 2750764, ext. 20 M & M Screen Printing & Embroidery received the 2012 Best of Clovis award in the Best Screen Printing Services category The Clovis Award Program recognizes outstanding local businesses throughout the Clovis area. Details: 325-3400 Karkazian Jewelers is happy to announce that this will be their 33rd Christmas serving the San Joaquin Valley. They are excited to introduce two new affordable Silver and 18K lines from the Panther collection by G Panther and Colore by Lorenzo. They have two locations to serve you. Details: 297-0201 Celebrate the holidays and give back to homeless animals at the annual Kitty Christmas & Merry Mutts event held at the Valley Animal Center on December 7th from 4 to 8 pm. The entire community is invited to partake in wine sampling, tasty treats and a great raffle. Admission to the event is a monetary donation or a gift for the animals from the shelter’s Wish List at www.valleyanimal.org. Details: 233-8690 The Perfect Vacation in Old Town tells

us about two new hires. Kim King brings over 20 years of corporate and leisure travel industry experience. She has worked for four other local agencies. Linda Blanks is a new travel adviser who is looking forward to working in Old Town. She will specialize in Adventure Travel. Details: 324-8150 Thanks to wonderful community support, Dr. Treva D. Lee’s office at 2630 N Fresno St #101 collected over 170 lbs of candy during the Halloween Candy Buyback event. Our men and women in the Armed Forces overseas really appreciate the candy and other items that are included in the care packages sent by Operation Gratitude. Details: 226-3010 The Aflac District Office represented the Central Valley in the New York Macy’s Parade accompanying the Aflac Children’s Cancer Center float on Thanksgiving. Agent Patty Arriaga and her spouse Gustavo Arriaga Sr. were balloon handlers along the 3 mile route. The Clovis Aflac District office is a strong supporter of the children’s cancer center. Details: 326-7269 As a member of the Clovis Chamber and a valued sponsor, Table Mountain Rancheria feels blessed this holiday season by being able to hand out over 3,000 turkeys to their employees and local charities. In the spirit of the Holiday season, they would welcome their fellow Chamber members and others to follow their lead in giving thanks to employees and charities. Details: 822-7015 Sierra Relief Chiropractic has opened its doors and started serving the community and of course, has joined the Clovis Chamber of Commerce. They are excited to be in Clovis and are grateful for the response of patients in the area who have benefited from short term back and neck care. Details: 297-0030 Cen Cal Business Finance Group congratulates its annual award recipients:

Bank of the Year: Premier Valley Bank. Banker of the Year: Dorothy Thomas, Sr. Vice President at Premier Valley Bank. Business of the Year: Sakura Chaya. Realtor of the Year: Buk Wagner, Vice President, Colliers International. Details: 227-1158, ext. 203. Habitat for Humanity Restore would like to recognize Chris Marquez as the “Making the Difference Award” winner for October. They also welcome Blake Dunkin to the team as the new Lead Driver. San Joaquin College of Law congratulates July Bar Passers: Ashley Allred, Timothy Bartell, Nicea Bates, Satnam Brar, William Buttry, Gary Caine, Elizabeth Durbin, My-Linh Huang, Timothy Jolly, Joshua Kruger, Tomas Kunder, David Litman, Jeremiah Paul, Kendall Reynolds, Kyle Roberson, Nicole Rothford, Stephanie Smittle, Daren Stemwedel, Rajinder Sungu, Chester Walls, Philip Walsky, Derek Walzber, Christina Widner, Allie Wieland and Ian Wieland. Details: 323-2100 Chris Bundros, CPA, tells us his business is growing so fast he is calling in his wife, Shirley, to assist him. Unfortunately, Shirley will have to leave the Chamber staff where she has been the membership assistant for two years. Details: 765-0313 Don Watnick is pleased to announce that he has received an In-lieu appointment to the Board of the Clovis Veterans Memorial District for a four year term. He is honored by this opportunity and looks forward to the responsibility of continuing CVMD’s outstanding work of supporting and honoring our veterans. A Bed of Roses bed and breakfast had their ribbon cutting ceremony with the Oakhurst Chamber, a shared open house with Evergreen Haus B&B for the Coarsegold Chamber and has an open house scheduled for May of next year to kick off their spring season. They were delighted to have their rooms completely booked for the Thanksgiving holidays. Details: 692-2100 The Fresno Women’s Network 2013 board is looking forward to a fabulous 2013. The Hampton Inn & Suites Fresno is

hosting a holiday mixer on December 13th from 5 to 7 to show off their recent remodel. Enjoy complimentary holiday drinks and appetizers, a raffle, networking and gift drive for Be s Santa to a Senior Central Valley. Please bring a lap blanket, fuzzy socks, scarf, or snuggie to help this great cause. Details: 447-5900 Artco is pleased to announce the completion of the Thin Mint 5k web site. (thinmint5k.com) where runners of all levels can get information and register for a great event supporting the Girl Scouts of Central California South. Details: 3220996 There was a great turnout on October 20th for the 14th annual Komen Central Valley Race for the Cure with 4759 participants gathering at Fresno State to support Breast Cancer Awareness in the Central Valley. They are excited to report that so far over $300,000 has been raised and they are accepting tax deductible Race donations until the end of the year. 75% of the funds raised go directly to funding the following projects for 1000’s of women here in Fresno County. Low/cost-No/ cost mammograms, financial assistance to breast cancer survivors, lymphedema treatment and culturally diverse education programs. Details: 229-4255 Central Valley Business Incubator – Small Business Development Center recognizes two new Water, Energy & Technogy (WET) Center members: OnFarm Systems and H2O Optimizer. The BlueTechValley Initiative is gaining momentum. Designed as an initiative to globally recognize the Central Valley for water and energy innovation and technology commercialization, it will host a conference in 2013. In August, the WET Center was awarded the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s 2012 Environmental Achievement Award in the Pacific Southwest Region for its Efficient Water Infrastructure. Details: 292-9033 Butler Web and Design has hired a new designer, Anthony Baker, to take care of accounts. They finally have a sign erected on their building.

How to Make More Sales by Going to Networking Events

by Beth Bridges

If I could give every new networker in the world one piece of networking advice, it would be “Networking is not selling!” If you’ve been to any of my Chamber networking trainings or new member orientations, you’ve heard me say this. You’ve heard me emphasize more than one time that you will not be successful if you go to networking events to make more sales. So how in the world could I write an article about making more sales by attending Clovis Chamber networking events? Because there is a big difference between networking and selling but they can go hand in hand. Selling is a process where two people agree in advance that they are going to make an exchange of goods or services for something of roughly equal value. If you have a store, you provide clothes, food, tools, etc. for a set dollar amount. That’s obviously selling. They give you money, you give them the product. Networking is a series of activities where we are making the effort to build positive relationships with other business people because as Zig Ziglar said “We can get everything we want in life, if we help other people get what they want.” The line gets blurry when we are at a business networking event because the eventual result that we want from all

of our marketing efforts, including our networking, is to reinforce our current business relationships, find new prospects and make more sales to grow our businesses. Networking is not selling, but it certainly can lead to more prospects, more referrals, and easier closing of the sale. But there is a very important middle ground between the networking efforts and making more sales. Networking helps you to: *get ideas on how to reach out in your marketing *learn more about your market and your potential clients *build a reputation as an honest and helpful business *prove your value to others before you ever ask for a sales meeting If you focus your networking on these results, you will get more sales and you’ll make them more easily. If you skip the above and just use networking events to qualify prospects and give them your sales pitch, you will be discouraged and frustrated. Attend Clovis Chamber events with the intention to meet great people, learn more about them and to find a way to provide them with value. They’ll get what they want, and you’ll get what you want.


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Chamber Sponsors and Volunteers Make It Happen It’s time to reflect on the many businesses and organizations that have assisted the Chamber throughout the year. From stuffing envelopes with the monthly member statements to working at and/or contributing towards BIG Hat Days and ClovisFest, the largest two day events in the Central Valley, the Chamber is grateful for their assistance. • Table Mountain Casino has been a mainstay for Chamber events for more than 20 years. It is the title sponsor for Big Hat Days and ClovisFest and supports other events. Their booth at the events is one of the most popular. More importantly, it is very active in promoting Chamber activities at the Casino • Donaghy Sales, Budweiser has been the longest supporter of Clovis Chamber events. For over 28 years they have provided liquid refreshment and entertainment at Big Hat Days and ClovisFest. They work tirelessly to make sure our visitors have an enjoyable

experience in the Budweiser Beer Garden. • Pepsi Cola has supported the Chamber for over 22 years. You will find only Pepsi products for sale at our events. They sponsor all the youth and family activities. • The Chamber is enjoying its partnership with Clear Channel Radio home of The Wolf 102.7, Soft Rock 98.9, Fox Sports 1340, KRZR 103.7, KBOS B95, KFSO La Preciosa 92.9 and Alice 96.7. Promotions for Chamber events are now highlighted on 7 top rated radio stations. • If you enjoy the hot air balloons at ClovisFest in September, you can thank Kaiser Permanente for its sponsorship and AmeriGas for providing the fuel. Both companies are great chamber supporters. • CVES has been a longtime sponsor of Big Hat Days and ClovisFest. You can find their booth at the corner of Fifth and Pollasky at both events.

Social Network with the Clovis Chamber! Follow us on: Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn www.facebook.com/ClovisChamber twitter.com/clovischamber www.linkedin.com/in/bethbridges

• Alert-O-Lite that provides all the barricades at our events has generously come on board as a sponsor. Brad Hunsaker is out there at 4 a.m. to close the streets and ensure the safety of Clovis residents driving through. • Our thanks to Fresno Equipment for providing the bright green and yellow “gators” that are invaluable in maintaining trash pick ups and set up during our events. We couldn’t do it without them. • BIG Hat Days and ClovisFest are known for their clean streets and emptied trash cans. For that we can thank the tireless efforts of the Work By the Sea Scout Troop 63, sponsored by the American Legion. These young men and their parents arrive early and stay late into the evening to make sure our events are clean. • Thr Fresno Bee has formed a partnership with the Chamber to promote our events. Besides regular ads, they are generous with articles and lots of photos to bring the crowds to Clovis. • The Clovis Chamber has a staff of only 6 people who put on some of the largest events in the Central Valley. We couldn’t do that without our selfless volunteers. Many show up at 4 a.m. to help the vendors set up and many more run the Budweiser Beer Garden under the direction of volunteer extraordinaire, Ellie Huston. They always have smiles on their faces as they serve the noisy crowds. Thanks so much. •

The Chamber hosts two trade

shows each year. Our thanks to Business Street for promoting the events and running a live feed from the venue. Also, PGE and ADT Security Systems were gold sponsors and of course, Sees Candies always provides their wonderful chocolates for the crowds. I’d be remiss not to thank the folks from the Clovis Senior Center who have assisted whenever called. For many years they stuffed our monthly newsletters and flyers into 1,000 envelopes for our members. Lately they have come every month to send out our member invoices. They are a great group of people and we enjoy having them here. Sponsorships assist the Clovis Chamber to help build a healthy economy, promote the city of Clovis and enhance the Clovis Way of Life. It is also a great way for businesses to promote themselves. At Clovis Chamber events, sponsors are showcased with their logos highlighted and are introduced at Chamber functions. If you are interested in becoming a Clovis Chamber supporter, please contact Mark at 299-7363 or mark@ clovischamber.com


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Year-End Tax Planning Moves for Individuals Uncertainty dominates year-end tax planning this year. Unless Congress acts, the Bush-era tax cuts will expire and bring higher tax rates and the loss of many deductions and credits starting in 2013. More individuals will be snared by the alternative minimum tax, which has not been patched for 2012 as it has for many years in the past. Even with the uncertainty, there are actions you can still take before the end of the year that can save a considerable amount of tax. Not all actions recommended in this article will apply to your particular situation, but you will likely benefit from many of them. Maximize Education Tax Credits – If you qualify for either the American Opportunity or Lifetime Learning education credits, check to see how much you will have paid in qualified tuition and related expenses in 2012. If it is not the maximum allowed for computing the credits, you can prepay 2013 tuition as long as it is for an academic period beginning in the first three months of 2013. That will allow you to increase the credit for 2012. Employer Health Flexible Spending Accounts – If you contributed too little to cover expenses this year, you may wish to increase the amount you set aside for next year. As a reminder, you can no longer set aside amounts to get tax-free reimbursements for over-the-counter drugs, and the maximum contribution for 2013 is $2,500. Maximize Health Savings Account Contributions – If you become eligible to make health savings account (HSA) contributions late this year, you can make a full year’s worth of deductible HSA contributions even if you were not eligible to make HSA contributions for the entire year. This opportunity applies even if you first become eligible in December. In brief, if you qualify for an HSA, contributions to the account are deductible (within IRSprescribed limits), earnings on the account are tax-deferred, and distributions are tax-free if made for qualifying medical expenses. Roth IRA Conversions – If your income is unusually low this year, you may wish to consider converting your traditional IRA into a Roth IRA. The lower income results in a lower tax rate, which provides you an opportunity to convert to a Roth IRA at a lower tax amount. State Income Taxes – State income taxes paid during the year are deductible as an itemized deduction on your federal return. As long as pre-paying the state taxes does not create an AMT problem and you expect to owe state and local income taxes when you file your 2012 return next year, it may be appropriate to increase your withholding at your place of employment or make an estimated tax payment before the close of 2012, thereby advancing the deduction into this year. Advance Charitable Deductions – If you regularly tithe at a house of worship, you might consider pre-paying part or all of your 2013 tithing, thus advancing the deduction into 2012. This can be especially helpful to individuals who marginally itemize their deductions, allowing them to itemize in one year and then take the standard deduction in the next. Pay Tax-deductible Medical Expenses – For example, if you have outstanding medical or dental bills, paying the balance before year-end may be beneficial, but only if you already meet the 7.5% of the AGI floor for deducting medical expenses, or if adding the payments would put you over the 7.5% threshold. You can even use a credit card to pay the expenses, but you would only want to do so if the interest expense you’d incur is less than the tax savings. You might also wish to consider scheduling and paying for medical expenses, such as glasses, dental work, etc., before the end of 2012, since the medical floor is slated to increase to 10% of the AGI in 2013 for taxpayers under the age of 65. Don’t Forget Your Minimum Required Distribution – If you have reached age 701/2, you are required to make minimum distributions (RMDs) from your IRA,

401(k) plan, and other employer-sponsored retirement plans. Failure to take a required withdrawal can result in a penalty of 50% of the amount of the RMD not withdrawn. If you turned age 70-1/2 in 2012, you can delay the first required distribution to the first quarter of 2013, but if you do, you will have to take a double distribution in 2013. Consider carefully the tax impact of a double distribution in 2013 versus a distribution in both this year and next. Take Advantage of the Annual Gift Tax Exemption – You can give $13,000 in 2012 (increases to $14,000 in 2013) to each of an unlimited number of individuals, but you can’t carry over unused exclusions from one year to the next. The transfers also may save family income taxes when income-earning property is given to family members in lower income tax brackets who are not subject to the kiddie tax. Avoid Underpayment Penalties – If you are going to owe taxes for 2012, you can take steps before year-end to avoid or minimize the underpayment penalty. The penalty is applied quarterly, so making a fourth-quarter estimated payment only reduces the fourth-quarter penalty. However, withholding is treated as paid ratably throughout the year, so increasing withholding at the end of the year can reduce the penalties for the earlier quarters. This can be accomplished with cooperative employers or by taking a non-qualified distribution from a pension plan, which will be subject to a 20% withholding, and then returning the gross amount of the distribution to the plan within the 60day statutory limit. Please consult this office to determine if you will be subject to underpayment penalties (there are exceptions), and if so, the best strategy to avoid or minimize them. Be Aware of Two New Health Care Taxes in 2013 – Both can have unexpected consequences. If you expect your 2013 income to exceed the thresholds at which one or both of the new taxes applies, and you are able to accelerate some of the income you anticipate for 2013 into 2012, it may be beneficial to do so. • Additional Hospital Insurance Tax – This additional 0.9% tax is imposed upon wage earners and self-employed taxpayers starting in 2013 whose wages and selfemployment income exceeds a threshold amount. The threshold is $250,000 for married taxpayers filing jointly ($125,000 if filing separately) and $200,000 for all others. Although each employer will withhold the additional tax, the employer is not required to account for other employment or both spouses working. Thus, in these situations where the total earned income exceeds the threshold amounts, the unpaid tax will have to be included on the 2013 tax return. Employees may want to adjust their 2013 withholding amounts or make estimated tax payments to account for the additional tax. Selfemployed taxpayers subject to the tax will need to increase their 2013 estimated tax payments to cover the additional amount. • Unearned Income Medicare Contribution Tax – Obviously, our politicians came up with the name. This is not a “contribution”; this is actually a 3.8% surtax on the lessor of a taxpayer’s net investment income or the excess of the taxpayer’s modified adjusted gross income in excess of the threshold amount, which is the same amount as for the additional hospital insurance tax explained above. This surtax would apply to home sale gain where the long-term gain substantially exceeds the $250,000 home-sale exclusion amount ($500,000 for joint filers). Withholding and estimated taxes should be increased as necessary to cover this “contribution.” Caution – There are additional factors to consider for a number of the strategies suggested above, and you are encouraged to contact this office prior to acting on any of the advice to ensure that your specific tax circumstances will benefit. If you have questions relating to your year-end taxes, please give this office a call at (559) 326-2029 or email to tmstevenscpa@sbcglobal.net.


6 - www.clovischamber.com

To Party or Not to Party?

By, Mr. Fred Mora, III, MA, Human Resources Consortium, Inc.

To party or not to party? That is the question faced by many employers as the Christmas holiday approaches. Many organizations take this time to hold special events and functions centered on the spreading of good holiday cheer together. So, what is the harm with that? If your plans are to serve alcohol at the event and/or sponsor department “happy hours” at the local pub, your business could be at serious risk for potential legal liability if an employee harms themselves or others. For example, an intoxicated employee driving home without a responsible, designated driver may experience a tragic accident that may result in their death or the death of another. An intoxicated employee may engage in a form of unlawful sexual harassment with a fellow coworker or member of the establishment where the party is being hosted resulting in a lawsuit. These are just a couple of examples of what potentially could happen. However, most holiday gatherings do not result in such serious circumstances. In anticipation of your decision to host a holiday event, here are a few safe holiday party ideas. They are not in any particular order. Please note that the following ideas are meant to help employers minimize overall risk for their business and employees. 1. If your holiday party is being held on the worksite or off-site while on company time, consider not serving any form of alcoholic beverages. Reiterate your company’s policy concerning the use of alcohol and illegal drugs while at work. 2. Emphasize that attendance is voluntary and that the function is a social event. This may help reduce risk associated with the function being considered directly related to work. 3. Remind employees that work rules regarding appropriate behavior and conduct, including unlawful harassment apply to employer-sponsored events. 4. Put limits on the availability and consumption of alcohol by stipulating that it may be served only for a set period of time. 5. Do not allow supervisors/ managers to purchase alcoholic drinks for employees. 6. Serve substantial food that may

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays from the Clovis Chamber By Fran Blackney Communications Director

offset the effects of alcohol. 7. When possible, hold events at restaurants or other sites not operated or staffed by the employer. 8. Have a designated monitor to make sure that intoxicated or impaired employees do not drive themselves home. 9. If alcohol will be served, then strongly emphasize accountability, help minimize consumption and limit your exposure. Employers have a responsibility to safeguard the overall safety of their employees and take necessary, reasonable precautions to help minimize risk on both sides. Alcohol, business entertaining, and employee functions can be a volatile mix. Always exercise caution, focus on safety, and communicate effectively your rules and expectations associated with company sponsored events.

It’s hard to believe that this year is almost over. It seems like yesterday that we were ringing in the New Year and what a year it’s been. Between the economy, the never ending heat of the summer and the election, it seems like we’ve been on a roller coaster ride.

Clovis Unified contributes to the economy by producing highly educated students who go on to great things. Of course, we still have a lot of work to do to convince them to stay in the Central Valley. Again, a healthy economy with good jobs will fill the bill.

I describe the effects of the economy as “holding our breath”. Everyday I search for encouraging news and companies that are expanding. They are few and far between. Of course, I realize that being an election year, much of the “news” is skewed toward either side.

Our weather this year has been a challenge. I didn’t think the heat would ever go away. The worst part was our PGE bills both here at the Chamber and at home. I dreaded opening that blue and orange envelope every month. On the bright side, retail stores that sell hot weather clothing, equipment and pool supplies, thrived.

But we do have empirical evidence right here in Clovis that things are still moving along. Every month dozens of members report their good news and many are adding new staff. Maybe not hundreds or thousands new employees, but at least some, and that’s a good sign. Our membership has remained pretty steady from last year but we know it’s tenuous. That’s why we are placing such importance on assisting our member businesses. One indication of the future of the Clovis economy is the Clovis Crossing Shopping Center rising up on Herndon Avenue. It’s exciting to see the giant stores getting close to completion. Dick’s Sporting Goods is already open with WalMart and Home Goods coming soon. Just think, I no longer will have to drive to RiverPark to shop and my tax dollars will be supporting Clovis. The best part is that a whole new group of customers will come into town. Besides the new center they will find our charming Old Town, Sierra Vista Mall and the Willow and Herndon Center. It’s a winwin for everyone. The local economy can continue to grow thanks to the responsible way our government is run. Kudos to the entire council and staff for acting on the recession in 2007 before it really hit. We have weathered the storm quite well and should be proud to live here.

And then there was the election. Right now we’re suffering over Washington’s posturing on the “Fiscal Cliff” – will they raise taxes or won’t they? Who will win the macho contest back there? Of course, the common sense approach is to leave businesses alone, let us keep as much of our hard earned money as we can and quit the class, gender and race division talk. (Don’t hold your breath). Once this disaster is solved, they’ll come up with something new. I must say, the Cartoon Channel on TV is looking awfully good lately. Despite your opinions of the election, our lives will go on. We’re fast approaching the beginning of 2013 with all its mysteries and events. Who knows what it will bring? We all have to be prepared, smart and pay attention to what’s going on around us. Most importantly, we have to stay “local” by taking care of our families and communities. One more thing, please keep our servicemen and women, many of whom won’t be home for the holidays, in your thoughts and prayers. The Clovis Chamber of Commerce staff wishes you a very Merry Christmas and the Happiest of Holidays and look forward to working with all of you in 2013.

I hope you found this article helpful. The Human Resources Consortium is a professional outsource HR Company which offers valuable, cost-effective HR training, consultation, and services to local businesses. Please let us know if we can be of assistance to your business.

Thank You to these renewing members - December 2012 21 - 30 Years Warner Financial Services...............................1/5/85 Enterprise Rent-A-Car....................................4/18/88 Whitcomm Electroics...................................12/26/89 Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 3225..............11/5/90 11 - 20 Years Clovis Exchange Club......................................1/1/96 Merit Manor Apartments................................11/1/96 Douglas M. Smith & Co. CPA......................10/31/97 State Farm - Dave Shivers..............................10/17/00

Derrel’s Mini Storage, Inc............................10/24/00 6 - 10 Years Sierra HR Partners.........................................12/12/03 Hinds Hospice................................................10/1/04 Optimal Hospice Foundation.........................12/1/04 Kenneth May................................................12/13/04 ZJ’s Auto Body.............................................12/29/05 2 - 5 Years

Valley Vista Inc............................................11/17/08 Payroll People Inc..........................................8/17/09 KDG HR Solutions.........................................10/2/09 The Advance Group........................................6/13/08 U.S. Small BusinessAdministration...............11/18/09 Rio Mesa Insurance Agency...........................12/1/10 1 Year Bott Radio Network - KCIV...........................11/8/11

Holiday Inn Express & Suites - Clovis.............11/10/08

Welcome our Newest Members! Sierra Relief Chiropractic (559) 297-0030 2147 Herndon Ave Suite 104 Clovis, CA 93611 www.sierrarelief.com

Truth Skin Care (559) 287-0470 755 N. Peach Ave. Suite E9 Clovis, CA 93611

Valhalla Health Coaching (559) 790-3270 8831 N Cedar Ave Fresno, CA 93720 www.ValhallaHealthCoaching.com


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Are You Kidding Me? By Fran Blackney Business Advocate

As you watch every cent you spend and cut back on expenses, I’m going to tell you some of the ways your government spends the hard earned dollars it confiscates from you. You may want to sit in a comfy chair and take a deep breath – it’s really going to upset you. The numbers come from The Waste Book that is published each year by Senator Tom Coburn, (R-OK) where he reports on the expenditures from the previous year. Be prepared to be amazed but probably not surprised. Much attention has been given to the crony capitalistic money thrown at “green energy” firms, most of which have gone bankrupt. However, just wait until you see where other money has been frittered away into the private sector. Starting small - $40,000 from the National Endowment for the Arts was given to USC to support production costs of a video game based on the writings of Henry David Thoreau at Walden Pond in Massachusetts. Creators of the game said that players will “walk in his virtual footsteps and discover the virtual landscape.” The game designer envisions thousands sold to people who will “discover” Thoreau. I’m sure you’ll all rush out to purchase it for under the tree. $10,000 was used in Michigan to purchase talking urinal cakes. Using a motion sensor, it reminds people not to drink and drive. Interesting that they’re only used in the men’s restrooms. A cartoon school in Vermont received $255,000 to support a program for graduates of the Center for Cartoon Studies that will allow them to produce “comics, graphic novels and other visual narratives for print and digital industries.”

The Center accepts 24 applicants per year. Pity poor Sergeant’s Pet Care Products, Inc. Their revenues are only $140 million a year and yet they needed $505,000 of your money to develop new pet shampoo and toothpaste. After all, Fido desperately needs tea tree oil, mild baby shampoo, brightening shampoo and a deep cleansing herbal blend for tougher coats. Another firm, Espree, maker of canine products such as volumnizing spray, hair spray, styling gel, sparkle spray and facial cleansers also received funds from the Department of Agriculture. Hey, golfers. Did you know that if you imagine that the hole is bigger than it is you have a better chance of sinking that putt? How do we know that? Why YOU paid $350,000 to Purdue University researchers to determine that. Results of the research might help “an athlete get out of a slump” Well worth the money. So you paid Syracuse University $67,926 from the EPA to run “Students Against Trash”, a poster contest getting students in New Jersey, New York and Puerto Rico to “compete to create the most fresh and engaging poster campaign” which will encourage people not to litter. I wonder how many of these posters ended up on the streets? Here’s a good one. Science research dollars, $697,177, went to a musical about biodiversity and climate change. It’s an intriguing plot line – a woman is looking for her lost sister who disappeared from a Panamanian jungle research station. The disappearance has something to do with an upcoming international climate change conference set to take place in New Zealand. Doesn’t that sound like the next Tony award winner? Needless to say, the audience fought off sleep.

Okay. Those are just chump change. Now, here are the expensive ones. Hold onto your hat. In St Louis, $35.6 million was spent on a trolley that will run on a 2.2 mile line from the Missouri History Museum to the University City Library. The owner of the Trolley company that got the loot is also the president of the History Museum. Hmmmm. Never mind that there is already a Metrolink light-rail and bus service in the area. The project’s supporters are vague about funds for operating costs if they fall short. They have suggested that “the difference could be made up by increasing revenues from the sales tax.” I guess another state is taking its cues from California. As you know, the fastest growing demographic is food stamp recipients – a stunning 46 million, thanks to the Obama economy, that costs billions each year. It is estimated that over $2.5 billion is made in improper payments. In the old days, food stamps could only used for certain foods but nowadays, they can be used for just about anything from junk and sugary foods to gourmet coffee and fast food. And if you live in Maine, New Mexico or Oregon and use medical marijuana, you get to deduct those costs when reporting your income to determine how much you’ll receive in stamps. Gotta pay for those munchies. Of course, the government has to promote the program to hook more people onto dependency. Spending more then $3 million, it encourages local offices to throw parties, host social events with activities, games, food and entertainment. The USDA has produced several two-minute Spanish public service announcements, some that are heard in Mexico, to promote the program in California, Texas and other states. Did you know that you spent $27 million in Morocco to teach pottery classes? Never mind that Moroccans have been producing pottery since at least the fifth century B.C. We had to swoop in and teach them how to do it better. Only problem was that the translators were not fluent in English and the materials they used in class were not available for purchase in Morocco. Whoosh. More money down the drain. If you as an individual taxpayer owe income taxes, you don’t receive refunds and you are hounded by the IRS that usually ruins your life. But, if you’re certain business people, you not only get away without paying, you get to receive Medicaid payments worth millions. Almost 7,700 Medicaid providers in just three states owed $791 million in unpaid federal taxes but received $6.6 billion in Medicaid payments in one year. A social services company owes over $1 million in unpaid taxes yet received $4 million in Medicaid payments. A nursing business has received over $2 million in funds

while owing over $200,000 in unpaid taxes from the late 2000’s. The problem lies in an IRS loophole that doesn’t allow continuous liens like wage garnishments on funds provided by the states. Perhaps Congress should include this in their Fiscal Cliff negotiations. A lot of people own smartphones sold by private companies. But that’s not good enough for the government. It had to spend $1.3 million to test “the user experience, WiFi, 3G, and 4G performance, and even the performance of the operating system.” 200 students will be given Android phones with a year’s worth of free service. They are to use the phones as their primary phones and use all the features. The poor babies will have to do a few hours of experiments monthly. After the year is up, they get to keep the phones at a discounted rate of $44 per month. Speaking of phones and the government. Remember the Obamaphone woman who loved her free phone courtesy of you and me? Well, she’s definitely not alone. In the last year alone, enrollment grew by 43% to 16.5 million participants. They not only get free phones but free minutes that are replenished monthly. You and I pay for these through the universal service charge on our phone bills. The charge is increasing because more people are taking advantage of the offer and us. The private companies that provide the phones are reimbursed with government funds. One company, TracFone, is owned by one of the world’s richest men, Carlos Slim, who is worth about $70 billion, with a B. Of course there is fraud. People can phone shop at different carriers and have multiple phones. One woman wanted one for her 16 year old daughter because “she deserves it.” When will the insanity stop? With tax time coming up, I end on this note. Over $3.9 billion is fraudulently refunded to scofflaws who use identity theft to file phony tax returns. The criminals use social security numbers of deceased or low income people and make up phony W-2’s. Of course, the IRS has this idea that refunds must be expedited, so nothing is checked before the money is sent out. It’s not caught until years later, then it’s too late. Now the IRS claims they have anti-fraud measures in place but they don’t seem to be working. One Michigan address had 2,137 refunds sent to it and one bank account received 590 direct deposits totaling $909,000. Typical government. They don’t care because it’s not their money – it’s ours and they’re wasting it everyday. As Washington tries to avoid the Fiscal Cliff with tax hikes and regulations, it’s really unfortunate that they don’t look at all this wasteful spending. But then again that’s about par for the course. Nothing is going to change.


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Clovis Insider 12.6.12