So you think you can breathe a little easier now that the IRS has announced efforts to slow down its pace of auditing tax returns? Dont get too comfortable. The state of Ohio and many local municipalities plan to step up their pace of auditing business tax returns, warns Al Taddeo, senior manager with the Tax Services Group of Cleveland-based Meaden & Moore. Thats because federal spending cuts continue to impact state and local governments, and as the cash squeeze increases, those groups are becoming more aggressive with audits as a way to claim revenue without imposing new taxes.
Why worry? Explains Taddeo, Typically, companies focus a lot of time and effort on planning for and filing federal tax returns because they want to minimize their tax liability and ensure they are in compliance. That usually means state and local tax returns get less attention.
Investing in arts
Nearly half the owners at more than 100 Northeast Ohio arts and culture facilities say theyre planning to upgrade their facilities to keep pace with growing consumer demands. Those owners expect to invest more than $500 million for those improvements, according to a study conducted by van Dijk Pace Westlake Architects and released by the Community Partnership for Arts and Culture.
This is the first comprehensive inventory of the regions arts and cultural facilities, explains Andy Randall, partnership chairman and president and CEO or Firstar Bank.
Among other findings:
-- 39 percent of the facilities are located in census traces with median incomes below $20,000;
-- Areas of fastest population growth are within the 20-mile radius of existing Northeast Ohio arts and cultural facilities.
When Greg Muzzillo said last October that he intended to shift his focus from current business venture ProForma to an Internet-based version of the printing and promotional products industry, few doubted his word. And why should they? Muzzillo founded ProForma in the mid-1970s, and despite being told it would never work, built the business into a $150 million-plus franchising powerhouse.
Last December, Muzzillo, true to his word, founded inaQuest.com, which puts buyers in direct contact with manufacturers of promotional products and printed materials. InaQuest was financed with $3 million of start-up capital, supplied by Muzzillo and Pro Ventures Inc., an investment vehicle of Fred Deluca, owner and founder of Subway Restaurants. The company has already forged a partnership with Microsoft.
The duck is expanding.
Manco Inc., a Henkel Group company best known for its Duck Tape products, broke ground for a new 150,000-square-foot manufacturing and distribution facility in north Oklahoma City to accommodate major north/south commercial traffic from Mexico to Canada.
Manco President John Kahl says the new plant will serve as a western logistics center and help the Avon Lake-based company meet customer demands for its burgeoning home center and office superstore retail business. Kahl expects operations at the new plant to begin by July 1.
By now, youve probably used the Web to research medical facts, but finding the most up-to-date reports can be 10 times as difficult as figuring out which online brokerage firm to link up with.
But with the proliferation of e-books, it should come as no surprise that the medical community has jumped on board with an e-strategy of its own. Enter eMedicine (www.emedicine.com), an online service dedicated to health professional and public medical education. An editorial board of medical professionals from more than 1,000 of the worlds top institutions, including representatives from University Hospitals, Case Western Reserve Universitys School of Medicine and Akron City Hospital, work on the site in some capacity. The sites goal is to make the most current information available as quickly as possible.
It didnt take long for Faber-Castell Co., the new owners of Cleveland-based Creativity for Kids, to make good on its promise to keep investing heavily in R&D. The specialty toy manufacturer recently announced 32 new products for the first quarter of 2000, just in time for Toy Fair 2000, held in February in New York City. The company has also made upgrades in its Web site, www.creativityforkids.com, which incorporates Faber-Castells childrens art projects lines as well.
If you thought Disney World had cornered the market on 3-D movie technology, think again. EDR Systems has taken the medium beyond the realm of simple entertainment as part of a project for The Cleveland Clinics Cole Eye Institute. Instead of watching two-dimensional films of eye surgeries in the Clinics new theater, medical students, interns, residents and physicians now don polarized glasses and get a three-dimensional view of the procedure.
Impressed? It gets better. EDR Systems programmers also developed software that allows instructors to flash questions on the screen for audience members to answer from a console at each seat. The results are instantly tabulated and displayed on the screen via computer-generated bar graphs so viewers can see how they measured up to their colleagues.
Clevelands Media Design Imaging Inc. recently completed a documentary about the resettlement of Japanese American families in Cleveland after their release from internment camps following World War II. The film, titled An American History: The Resettlement of Japanese Americans in Cleveland, was made possible through a collaboration with MDI Vice President Johnny Wu and the national and local chapters of the Japanese American Citizens League, which partially funded the film.
MDI donated its production services for the project. Watch a trailer for the documentary at www.mdifilm.com.
Not so lonely road
If communicating with your family via answering machine messages and random e-mails during those days on the road isnt cutting it, theres a solution brewing at www.egreetings.com. The idea of the electronic greeting card is not exactly revolutionary, but the new San Francisco-based entrant to the virtual greeting card game is banking on the fact that you want variety.
The Egreetings site offers more than 5,000 digital cards, all loaded with graphics, animations and music. So the next time youre spending another restless night in another hotel, fire up the laptop and win some points at the homestead.
The federal governments premier business Web site has undergone a facelift and now provides more information at faster speeds. The refurbished U.S. Business Advisor, www.business.gov, allows business owners direct access to commerce services, including loan information, trademark registration, payroll benefits and tax filing. The site is the result of an extensive 18-month review period of private and public sector designers, with the support and feedback of the business community and more than a dozen federal agencies. So much for getting rid of government bureaucracy.
Good times, good cause
What does one do to motivate employees during those dreary winter days? John Di Julius, owner of John Roberts Hair Studio and Salon, created a two-day company meeting to fire up staff members, who, in the process, raised $2,200 for Rainbow Babies and Childrens Hospital.
Di Julius, a 1999 Entrepreneur Of The Year and Pillar Award winner, pulled in salon industry icons to inspire his staff and arranged an auction for employees during the two-day event. Items on the bidding block ranged from cordless phones to airline tickets. Money raised from the auction will be used to buy toys for the playrooms at Rainbow Babies and Childrens Hospital.
About that raise . . .
Employers will dole out larger-than-expected raises during 2000 on the expectation of a continued strong economy and an ever-tightening labor force, according to a recent study. William M. Mercer surveyed business owners and executives during mid-1999 about what kind of raises they expected to give employees during 2000. More recent surveys show those raises will be slightly larger than survey respondents originally thought.
The uptick in salary increases especially at lower pay levels reflects the tightening labor market and growing shortage of workers, as well as general optimism about the economy, explains Steven E. Gross, a principal Mercers Philadelphia office.
Despite the bigger payroll bite, the survey shows that 42 percent of business owners and executives expect to increase their number of employees during 2000, compared to the 15 percent who expect to trim staffing levels.
Will eat for food
The three-part Taste of the Nation All Star Chefs Culinary Series created by Clevelands top food and wine professionals to benefit local hunger groups, will wrap up this month on April 9 at the Baricelli Inn in Little Italy. The series kicked off Feb. 27 with a Mardi Gras Brunch at The Inn at Turners Mill in Hudson before moving to John Qs Steakhouse on Public Square in March.
Proceeds from the events, which ranged from $60 to $150 a plate, go to local hunger organizations, including Cleveland Foodbank, Food Rescue of Northeast Ohio and the Hunger Network of Greater Cleveland. Since 1988, the annual Taste of the Nation event has raised more than $440,000 for local organizations.