The government has increased tax rates and implemented other changes for 2013. However, companies may be able to employ tax-saving options — deductions, depreciation provisions or deferrals — prior to Dec. 31.
If companies review before year-end, they are better able to maximize potential savings, and it may even spur thoughts for future tax planning, says Sean Muller, partner-in-charge, Houston Tax and Strategic Business Services at Weaver.
Smart Business spoke with Muller about the opportunities to save on your 2013 taxes.
How can businesses utilize enhanced Section 179 deduction limits in 2013?
Enhanced Section 179 deduction limits were enacted for 2013, which allow companies to immediately deduct up to $500,000 of equipment purchases made, rather than depreciating over a number of years.
The deduction applies to 2013 equipment purchases of up to $2 million. The deduction is slowly phased out for taxpayers with $2.5 million or more in purchases. Section 179 deductions can be applied toward tangible property purchases, but real property doesn’t qualify.
In 2014, the Section 179 limitation will decrease to $25,000. Companies that plan to make large capital expenditures in 2014 may wish to purchase in 2013 instead. The deduction can be used to reduce tax liability to zero, but it cannot put you in a net loss position.
How does bonus depreciation differ?
Taxpayers in some states may be able to utilize a 50 percent bonus depreciation rate for qualified property placed in service during 2013. Unlike the Section 179 deduction, bonus depreciation is not limited to net income and does not limit the deduction amount.
Bonus depreciation applies to new, original use U.S.-based property with a recovery period of 20 years or less.
The 50 percent bonus depreciation and Section 179 deduction can be used together.
What savings are available through like-kind exchanges?
Another tax-saving opportunity to consider is like-kind exchanges. IRS Code Section 1031 enables a taxpayer to defer capital gains tax if the property sale proceeds are reinvested in similar property within a relatively short time. The exchange may be a simultaneous swap of properties or a deferred exchange. With a deferred exchange, one property is disposed of and the proceeds are then used to buy one or more like-kind properties.
Section 1031 exchanges exclude inventory, stocks, bonds and partnership interests.
Who can take domestic production activity deductions (Section 199)?
In 2013, businesses with qualified domestic production activities may be able to receive a 9 percent tax deduction. Qualifying activities include the manufacture, production, growth or extraction of qualifying production property within the U.S., as well as real property construction, oil and gas drilling, and engineering and architectural services related to real property construction.
Generally, a taxpayer is allowed a deduction equal to the lesser of:
- Qualified production activity income (QPAI), which is a modified calculation of income related to qualifying production activities.
- Taxable income.
- 50 percent of the form W-2 wages deducted in arriving at QPAI.
The level of complexity in calculating the appropriate deduction depends on the nature and structure of the business.
What are other year-end tax strategies?
Companies also should consider potential residual tax-saving activities, such as:
- Deferring income to 2014 if cash flow and current income permit.
- Making additional charitable donations.
- Writing off and disposing of damaged or obsolete inventory to reduce carrying costs and garner tax deductions.
- Writing off bad debt that cannot be collected. Companies should keep supporting material like phone logs, correspondence, collection agency contracts, etc., to prove a reasonable effort was made to collect.
Invest the time now to plan for your 2013 taxes and reap the benefits later. ●
Insights Accounting is brought to you by Weaver
Women continue to impact the business world in growing numbers — 30 percent of all businesses are owned by women, according to the 2012 annual report of the National Women’s Business Council. Those firms have 7.5 million employees and a combined payroll of $217.6 billion.
But even as they assume more leadership roles in business, women are still counted on to manage households.
“Women face different circumstances than men in the world of business because of the demands placed on them in their personal lives,” says Camille Ussery, senior vice president and manager of Small Business Banking at ViewPoint Bank. “Women’s lives are typically spread thinner, and the pressure is greater because of it.”
Smart Business spoke with Ussery about the time-crunch challenge and how to make sure business opportunities don’t fall through the cracks.
What are some of the unique challenges women face when starting up and running a business?
Women are making decisions in the boardroom and then making decisions about what’s for dinner, child care and who will pick up their child from the track meet.
Granted, there have been many changes in the way men are helping out with household responsibilities. But often the bulk of these responsibilities still fall squarely on women’s shoulders.
As a result, many women feel they are barely able to keep their heads above water. While they tend to do a great job in multitasking, the result may be that business opportunities fall by the wayside. Then there is the added challenge of competing in a male-dominated business world.
What is the solution to the unique challenges that women business owners face?
Because women are making a huge economic impact in the marketplace, many outstanding organizations have formed to provide education and resources for women in business. These organizations — from the local chamber of commerce to the Office of Women’s Business Ownership at the U.S. Small Business Administration — offer special courses, workshops and programs just for women who are either starting their own business or already own a business.
How can women make sure that they are doing all they can to help their business succeed?
One thing that many successful business owners do — male or female — is to create and maintain business relationships. Consider organizations and clubs that can help develop business relationships. Because of the time factor, this is one business opportunity that is often overlooked.
However, it’s important for women to stay visible in their industry and in the community. Adding networking to the to-do list could be as simple as attending one chamber event per month.
Also, continually take advantage of educational opportunities that are available in the community. There are a host of seminars, workshops and courses that a woman can take to not only learn but also to fulfill the goal of networking. Many of these workshops are provided as a community service and are useful in developing marketing techniques, effective sales strategy and time management.
Many times business owners only consider a banking relationship as a source for working capital. However, business bankers who specialize in meeting the unique needs of a business can provide much more. With ever-changing technology, your business banker can provide resources and ideas to help manage the day-to-day transactional needs to maximize the flow of cash within a business. They work directly with business owners in many industries and can often provide financial solutions to meet diverse needs as well as networking opportunities for increased business.
How else can women improve the way they conduct business?
Businesses frequently have limited working capital. Women need to have all the right financial components of a business and to learn about cash flow and contingency plans — without money, the business will fail.
The best thing a woman can do is to educate herself, learn as much as she can about the elements of a successful business, and reach out to people in her industry and community for help and advice. ●
Insights Banking & Finance is brought to you by ViewPoint Bank
By ruling that part of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) was unconstitutional, the U.S. Supreme Court also set in motion some changes regarding federal income taxes.
The June decision struck down Section 3, holding that same-sex individuals who are married under state law also must be treated as married for income and estate tax purposes.
“The court’s decision will have an impact on many tax laws in states that recognize same-sex marriage,” says Tom Tyler, a partner at Crowe Horwath LLP. “Though being treated as married for federal tax purposes might provide certain tax benefits, it might also result in increased tax liability.”
Smart Business spoke with Tyler about the tax implications of the DOMA ruling and what they mean for employers.
How many states have legalized same-sex marriage, and which ones recognize those marriages from other states?
In addition to the District of Columbia, 13 states allow same-sex marriage: California, Connecticut, Delaware, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New York, Rhode Island, Vermont and Washington. Thirty-five states, including Texas, have banned same-sex marriage, either through legislation or constitutional provisions. New Jersey and New Mexico have no laws either banning or allowing same-sex marriage. Five states — Colorado, Hawaii, Illinois, New Jersey and Oregon — allow civil unions or domestic partnership between same-sex couples, but not marriage.
What affect does the ruling have on federal income tax returns?
Joint returns can be filed for federal income taxes in states that recognize same-sex marriage. If not filing jointly, each spouse will need to file using married filing separately status. Affected taxpayers should review their 2013 filing status and adjust withholding and estimated payments as necessary, keeping in mind the marriage penalty for joint filers.
Generally, the statute of limitations for federal income taxes is three years, so the 2010, 2011 and 2012 tax years are open and returns can be amended. The IRS is expected to issue guidance regarding amending returns under the court’s decision. Taxpayers should wait for this guidance before amending returns.
How have strategies regarding estate and gift taxes changed?
The estate tax exclusion was increased earlier this year to $5.25 million, meaning an estate equal to that amount will not pay any estate taxes provided the decedent has the full $5.25 million exclusion remaining. In addition, the exclusion was made portable such that a deceased spouse’s unused exclusion amount carries over to the surviving spouse upon his or her death for use by the survivor. Therefore, a married couple could shelter up to $10.5 million by simply leaving everything to a surviving spouse. Same-sex couples can now take advantage of these rules as a result of the DOMA ruling. Before the ruling, they couldn’t.
For gift tax purposes, same-sex couples will be able to elect gift splitting, which treats gifts as made half by each spouse. Splitting gifts often allows each spouse to claim the full annual exclusion for gifts made to each recipient, currently $13,000 per person. This allows a spouse to gift up to $26,000 to a recipient without paying gift tax.
What should employers do in response to the DOMA ruling? How does it differ in relation to their state’s legal position on same-sex marriages?
Employers should review the decision with legal counsel to determine its impact. For example, employer-provided medical insurance is now available to same-sex couples on a tax-free basis. Prior to the court’s decision, these benefits were taxable to the nonemployee spouse. Employers might be able to claim a refund of payroll taxes paid on these benefits on a taxable basis, and individuals might be able to claim a refund of income taxes paid on these amounts.
As stated previously, Texas is one of the states that bans same-sex marriage. However, if a Texas business has employees in any of the 13 states or District of Columbia that recognizes same-sex marriage, it could be affected. ●
Insights Accounting is brought to you by Crowe Horwath LLP
In July, the 5th U.S. Court of Appeals ruled in Asadi v. G.E. Energy (USA) LLC that whistle-blowers aren’t entitled to protection under the Dodd-Frank Act’s anti-retaliation provision unless they report directly to the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).
This ruling — currently limited to Texas, Louisiana and Mississippi — may provide incentive to bypass the internal process for reporting suspected fraud or misconduct.
When going directly to the SEC, employees not only get monetary awards for information that leads to successful enforcement actions but also have the assurance of protection against retaliation, says Carolyn Bremer, senior manager in Forensic and Litigation Services at Weaver.
“Already, many companies are struggling to keep internal compliance programs strong, actively looking for ways to encourage employees to utilize their internal reporting processes,” she says.
Smart Business spoke with Bremer about how to instill trust in your internal compliance program in the Dodd-Frank era.
What has been the impact of Dodd-Frank on whistle-blower reporting to the SEC?
According to its annual report on the Dodd-Frank Whistleblower Program for fiscal 2012, the SEC received 3,001 whistle-blower tips and awarded a second whistle-blower award this past June. There may be an uptick in tips because of the announcement of these recent monetary awards, the expected increase in future awards and the court ruling.
Why do employees hesitate to internally report fraud or suspected misconduct?
Employees often hesitate because of bad experiences either personally or from co-workers’ stories. Reasons for not reporting potential fraud or misconduct include the fear of not remaining anonymous, fear that no one will believe them, or fear of retaliation such as losing their job, not receiving a raise or being demoted. They also fear discrimination or isolation from co-workers, or sense that the tone at the top doesn’t support the policies.
What can be done to alleviate hesitation?
A company can instill trust in reporting internally by focusing on strengthening its hotline process and whistle-blower policy.
Your hotline must provide a way to report in confidence, while being monitored by an appropriate party. Avoid having tips go directly to human resources or management. Employees should see the monitor as more independent — such as in-house counsel, head of internal audit or a compliance officer — especially if they fear retaliation.
Ensure there are clearly defined timelines or checkpoints for follow up, which include communicating back to the whistle-blower that the tip is being handled discreetly and the issue is being addressed appropriately.
Have a documented whistle-blower policy that addresses retaliation protection. What is considered retaliation and the penalties for it should be clearly outlined. For example, ‘harassment or victimization for reporting concerns under this policy will not be tolerated’ is insufficient. A better statement is: ‘No employee who in good faith reports a violation of the code of conduct or potential fraud or misconduct shall suffer harassment, retaliation or adverse employment consequences. An employee who retaliates against someone who reported in good faith is subject to discipline up to and including termination of employment.’
By voluntarily extending the whistle-blower protections afforded under Dodd-Frank to all employees who report internally, companies introduce additional trust.
Why is it important that employees feel comfortable reporting matters internally?
In bypassing internal compliance, employees deprive the company of the opportunity to investigate and remedy a wrongdoing before regulators get involved. Many tips don’t warrant the SEC’s attention but do warrant corrective action or communication within the company. However, management can’t address a problem they don’t know about.
Nevertheless, there are obvious instances that warrant direct reporting to the SEC, and it’s always advisable for employees to seek legal advice when deciding whether to report internally or externally.
Strengthening your hotline process and whistle-blower policy, and educating your employees, can be key to instilling trust in internal whistle-blower reporting.
Carolyn Bremer is senior manager of Forensic and Litigation Services at Weaver. Reach her at (972) 448-6951 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Insights Accounting is brought to you by Weaver
Nothing attracts investors more than a company’s future earnings potential. But predicting growth isn’t a foolproof science.
“Investors look at historical financial statements and calculate earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA). That’s easy to do, but doesn’t provide the entire picture, and certain expenses associated with internal capital projects and leases might not be apparent,” says Tom Vande Berg, a partner with Crowe Horwath LLP in the Transaction Services Group.
Smart Business spoke with Vande Berg about these hidden expenses and how they can affect growth potential.
Why are capital leases an area of concern?
If a lease is capitalized, the associated expense is recognized on the income statement as depreciation and interest rather than rent. Therefore, EBITDA would not include an expense for the lease even though the company has ongoing monthly payments. If a similar piece of equipment were treated as an operating lease, it would incur a profit and loss expense.
When are leases capitalized?
The Financial Accounting Standards Board Accounting Standards Codification (FASB ASC) Topic 840 states that leases must be capitalized if they meet one of four criteria:
- Ownership automatically transfers to the lessee at the end of the lease term.
- The lease includes a bargain purchase option.
- The term of the lease is 75 percent or more of the asset’s useful life.
- Present value of minimum lease payments is 90 percent or more of the fair value of the asset.
Companies might have several pieces of similar machinery or equipment for which some leases are considered capital and others are categorized as operating.
What are other examples of hidden expenses?
- Nonlevel rent — If a company has periods of free rent or rent escalations, its rent expense might not equal its cash rent payments. For example, a company could have a 10-year operating lease that increases annually by 3 percent. An investor analyzing rent expense after year five of the lease would see an expense less than actual future cash expenditures.
- Machinery constructed in-house — In these cases, labor and overhead is typically capitalized in relation to the project. If the capitalized labor and overhead relate to salaried employees, the costs should be considered ongoing expenses in an EBITDA calculation.
- Capitalized repairs and maintenance — Companies without a formal capitalization policy might improperly capitalize normal repair and maintenance into fixed assets. These expenditures should be included as part of the normal operating expenditures.
- Capitalized internal-use software — Costs incurred creating new computer software for internal use can be divided into two stages: preliminary project phase and development phase. All costs of the preliminary project phase should be expensed. Development stage activities can be capitalized, but if capitalized payroll and related costs are for salaried employees who would be paid regardless of the current project, the costs should be considered ongoing expenses.
- Capitalized software to be leased or sold — According to FASB ASC 985-20, internal costs in creating computer software are expensed until feasibility is established. Then, the costs of coding, testing and other activities associated with producing product masters are capitalized, which may include allocated indirect costs. As a result, certain ongoing operating expenses such as payroll and rent may be capitalized and excluded from the initial calculation of EBITDA.
So an investor just looking at EBITDA would only be getting part of the picture?
While the EBITDA calculation is a valuable tool for analyzing future earning potential, it might not reflect all recurring expenses. Investors also must consider what expenses are lurking below the surface, as capitalized or lease costs could significantly affect future cash flow.
Tom Vande Berg is a partner in the Transaction Services Group at Crowe Horwath LLP. Reach him at (214) 777-5253 or email@example.com.
Insights Accounting is brought to you by Crowe Horwath LLP
Banking is all about relationships, and the right partner can carry a business from inception through growth and into an industry leader.
“Growing a business is really about having a team of professionals working together. From a banker’s perspective, the most important thing is building a relationship with the business owner,” says Olie Williams, senior vice president and director of Business Banking at ViewPoint Bank.
Smart Business spoke with Williams about how banks work with businesses throughout various phases of their development.
How can start-ups secure bank financing?
It is important to come prepared to discuss four key elements related to financing. The first critical element is a good, solid business plan. This is important for all business owners, but especially small businesses that are just getting started. At a minimum, the plan should be a road map for the first three to five years of your business. What does your company plan to sell, and what is your anticipated annual net profit from those goods or services? It is also important to show how you plan to market your company. Banks love to see the thought and planning that has been put into the business.
The second critical element is to define your capital needs. What capital resources do you have presently to build the business, and what are your projected needs as the business grows? There needs to be some capital investment on the owner’s part. One mistake small business owners frequently make is underestimating capital needs when starting a business. Many times, they don’t account for money they’ll need to support their family’s day-to-day living expenses.
The third critical element is a strong personal credit history.
Finally, you will want to consider what assets you own that could support the loan request in the form of collateral.
Is bank financing the right route for start-ups?
It depends on the answers regarding those four key areas — business plan, capital needs, personal credit and collateral. If you have no capital to invest in your business, it’s going to be a challenge to get bank financing. That’s why many small business owners finance with credit cards or home equity lines of credit.
Of course, start-up businesses also can be financed through banks using U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) loans. An SBA loan is a good vehicle to use when a company doesn’t have the necessary financial history.
How can banks help companies once they reach the growth phase?
When a business is growing, it’s very important to assemble a ‘go-to’ team of experts that includes an accountant, attorney, insurance agent and banker. These four professionals will get to know and understand the business and work together to support the company.
The more your banker gets involved in your company’s strategic conversations, the better he or she can provide products and services to build on your plans.
Businesses often grow too fast, without the capital base to support the growth. Banks want to see growth, but in a balanced way. Best practices would suggest that your outside team of professionals meet quarterly, or at least annually, and review the business plan and future needs with you.
Does that relationship translate into financial support that might not otherwise have been provided?
Absolutely. When a bank has a relationship and understands the business, there is a comfort level that helps when things don’t go exactly as planned. The banker has confidence in the owner’s ability to operate the business in good and bad times.
The time to get to know your banker is not necessarily when you have a need. If you have a good relationship, your banker understands your business and can address needs that arise, which could be treasury management or other aspects of banking — it’s not just lending.
Growing a business is all about having a good team behind you. An owner needs to make sure he or she has bankers and other key professionals who communicate with each other and understand the business.
Olie Williams is senior vice president and director of Business Banking at ViewPoint Bank. Reach him at (972) 801-5889 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Insights Banking & Finance is brought to you by ViewPoint Bank
Say the word “innovation,” and immediately you think about business legends like Steve Jobs and Jeff Bezos, as well as the companies they created – Apple and Amazon. Too often, however, we focus on the people who have been tabbed as innovators and the companies that develop those breakthrough products, services and solutions, such as Apple’s iPod and iTunes, or Amazon’s marketplace and unique ecosystem.
True innovation goes much deeper than a single leader’s vision. It is an all-encompassing philosophy that permeates an organization and defines its purpose for being. For me, at least, I prefer to think about innovation in its broadest terms, extending its definition to include corporate cultures and innovative management styles. Think about how Facebook and Microsoft are run, and how at both organizations employees are a key factor in the idea creation, or ideation, process.
Now, think about the breakthrough products that eventually went bust. Hopefully, you don’t have a basement full of Beanie Babies, boxes of Silly Bandz, or a home library filled with laser discs. It is more common to land on a singular breakthrough product that temporarily revolutionizes your industry rather than develop a product through a process that’s repeatable or scalable. And, just as true, no matter how innovative and creative your management team’s style may be, without the proper processes in place to push ideas through a system that takes them from mind to market, you’ll eventually have trouble keeping the lights on.
It all comes down to developing a culture imbued with innovation at its core. But this also requires having a servant culture in place where every person who works for the organization thinks about the customer first.
Consider San Francisco-based Kimpton Hotels, where employees strive to create “Kimpton Moments” by going above and beyond with guests and delivering memorable experiences.
Kimpton overcomes the inherent limitations for creating new innovative products that being a boutique hotel chain includes by approaching innovation through its employee interaction – and then rewarding employees for their creativity. For example, when team members put in the extra hours to ensure world-class service delivery, the hotel chain has sent flowers and gift baskets to their loved ones. And when they create an innovative service experience, the company rewards staff members with such things as spa days, extra paid time off and other goodies.
And then there’s the Boston Consulting Group, a management consulting firm that’s known for developing innovative business processes and systems for its high-end clientele. Part of BCG’s internal process is a focus on team members maintaining a healthy work-life balance. When individuals are caught working too many long weeks, the company’s management team issues a “red zone report” to flag the overwork.
Talk about innovation! And no product, service or solution was developed, marketed or sold.
And finally, few organizations are more innovative than DreamWorks Animation. But beyond plugging out groundbreaking animated movies, the studio’s culture embraces empowerment and innovation. Employees are given stipends to personalize their workstations so that they create whatever inspirational atmosphere they need to succeed. And, as the story goes, after completing Madagascar 3, the crew presented a Banana Splats party, where artists showed the outtakes.
Not only are these three companies known for being innovative in their respective industry spaces, they also share the honor of being members of Fortune’s 2013 “Great Places to Work” list.
So how do you take the first steps toward transformation or put those initial building blocks in place to begin the journey? There’s no magic formula, but there are some common traits – and they revolve around empowerment and establishing a culture that cares.
- Are open-minded and ask “What if?”
- Teach team members how to see what is not there and identify opportunities in the marketplace to take advantage of those gaps.
- Develop cultures where innovation thrives through open and honest communication.
- Flatten the organizational structure and recognize that innovation can come from anyone and anywhere.
- Make innovation, itself, a cyclical and continuous process.
Stop and take an internal assessment of your organization, your team and of yourself. If you can’t check a box next to each of these five traits, stop and ask yourself why. Then begin your own journey to greatness.
Sir Tim Berners-Lee recalls a time when computer users around the world were quite nervous about the power of Netscape.
“A lot of people thought, ‘Oh, wow, a clingy and controlling Web company. What do we do about it?’” says Berners-Lee, director of the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) and inventor of the World Wide Web. “Then they weren’t worried about Netscape anymore. They were worried about Microsoft, and they worried about Microsoft for a long time. Then they woke up one day and said, ‘Wait, the browser is not the issue. It’s the search engines.’”
Today, it’s the social network that has people worried, says Berners-Lee. But whichever medium is in society’s crosshairs, he says the fear is very similar in each case.
“When you have a monopoly, it slows innovation,” Berners-Lee says. “It reduces competition, and it’s generally not good for the market. One of the most important things about the Web is it being an open platform. The ’Net is a neutral medium. I can connect and you can connect, and we can talk. That is really important to an open market and democracy.”
One of Berners-Lee’s primary missions with the W3C is to ensure the Web is being used to its full potential. But it is also to make sure it remains an independent entity so that everyone who wants to has the opportunity to tap into that potential.
“If you can start tweaking what people say or you can start intercepting their communications, it’s very powerful,” Berners-Lee says. “It’s the sort of power that if you give it to a corrupt government, you can give them the ability to stay in power forever. It’s healthy for us to not put the Internet directly under the control of the government, but to have a set of multi-secular organizations at arm’s length from government acting responsibly and taking many views.”
Still plenty of room to grow
Berners-Lee helped launch the World Wide Web Foundation in 2009 to bring the power of the Web to more people.
“Maybe now 25 or 30 percent of the world uses the Web,” Berners-Lee says. “That’s still a massive gap and a massive number of languages where there still isn’t a lot on the Web. There’s a lot of culture that isn’t represented and a lot of countries where they haven’t the backbone for a good Internet base.”
The foundation has designed and produced the Web Index, the world’s first multi-dimensional measure of the world’s growth, utility and impact on people and nations. It covers 61 developed and developing countries, incorporating indicators that assess the political, economic and social impact of the Web in that country.
“The higher level of the Web Index is looking at impact,” Berners-Lee says. “Is it really affecting the way people do politics? Is it really affecting the way you do education? Is it affecting health?”
The recent turmoil in Egypt was a wake-up call to many who are connected to the Internet, but have started to take its power for granted.
“They thought the Internet was like the air, that it would always be there,” Berners-Lee says. “And people started asking the question, ‘Who could turn off my Internet?’”
Fortunately, there are countless efforts underway from those in the technology industry not to restrict access, but to take the Web to even greater heights.
“The art is designing it to work with all kinds of devices because different customer segments are going to use different devices in different countries,” Berners-Lee says. “If you’re designing something new on the Web, you need to make sure it works on all devices.”
How to reach: World Wide Web Consortium, www.w3.org
The greatest challenge of opportunity is said to be the ability to take the next step and understand what it will take to maximize that opportunity and achieve growth. Amy Rosen knows the importance of that comprehension.
“The skill set of an entrepreneur involves understanding how to create a business,” says Rosen, president and CEO for the Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship (NFTE).
Andres Cardona, who grew up in a rough neighborhood in Miami, is one of the best examples of this entrepreneurial spirit.
“He was on the verge of dropping out of school because his mom had lost her job, and he had to help contribute to the household,” Rosen says.
Fortunately, Cardona had become involved with NFTE. His natural leadership skills, along with the knowledge he was gaining from NFTE, empowered him to do something that would not only help his family, but also other youngsters in Miami.
Cardona founded the Elite Basketball Academy, an organization that would help kids hone both their basketball and leadership skills. He began with one kid and was making 70 cents an hour. Now, he’s a CEO with more than 150 kids, a staff of employees and he’s making money. He’s enrolled at Florida International University studying finance while he runs his business and supports his mom.
“I’m sure it will be the first of many businesses he runs,” Rosen says. “This is just a kid who needed to have his eyes opened to opportunity and learn some basics about business.”
A great place to start
The mission of NFTE is to work with young people from low-income communities, such as Cardona, and engage them in a different vision of opportunity and success.
“It’s basically an entrepreneurship class where they actually go through the whole business-creation process,” Rosen says. “At the end, which really gets to our mission, we want kids to actually connect school with opportunity so they stay in school. Kids start learning how to multiply fractions because they are figuring out their personal return on investments in their new company. We want them to start much earlier thinking about their future.”
Rosen points to Cardona as an example of a youngster with a great gift. But in too many cases, with too many young people, those gifts go unrealized and the child becomes an adult with nowhere to go.
“We want them to have a vision of success and whether they become entrepreneurs and create their own businesses or bring to their jobs and their employers an entrepreneurial mindset. That’s going to give them a much better chance at success,” Rosen says.
The work being done by NFTE fits like a glove with EY’s mission to drive entrepreneurialism in the business sector.
“Our cultures are so aligned around entrepreneurialism in general and we are all running competitions and promoting the notion that we need more entrepreneurs to solve problems,” Rosen says. “Now we have partners on every single one of our boards worldwide. They don’t have to be asked to do it. They really like doing it.”
Cardona was featured at the recent EY World Entrepreneur of the Year Award program in Monte Carlo. Other budding young leaders who have risen through NFTE also have been honored by EY.
“In every city where we have an operation, they feature our winning entrepreneurs,” Rosen says. “So the kids get an opportunity to network and see what success looks like and to go to the kinds of places they’ve never been and participate that way. And they get a sense of recognition for their work.”
Rosen says there’s nothing better than working with young people to prepare them for what lies ahead.
“If you’re going to give back, why not work with kids who need it the most and actually teach them and help them to be entrepreneurs,” Rosen says. “That’s what is going to grow our economy and create stability.”
How to reach: Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship, (212) 232-3333 or www.nfte.com
Although manufacturers can expect modest 2 percent growth through the remainder of 2013, the brief lull gives opportunistic executives a chance to prepare for an uptick in business next year.
Gus Faucher, senior economist for The PNC Financial Services Group, attributes his optimistic forecast to a rise in business investments, fueled by the resolution of murky tax and sequestration issues, and the continuation of record-low interest rates.
“I think the U.S. will maintain an edge in high value-add manufacturing because we have highly skilled, productive labor,” Faucher says. “Maintaining our competitive advantage requires ongoing development of our manufacturing workforce.”
As the economic recovery proceeds, in what areas will spending accelerate most? Manufacturers of home building products and materials, furnishings, appliances and so forth should have a strong 2014, thanks to the rebound in the residential real estate market. In turn, those manufacturers will purchase more production equipment, raw materials, parts and other items. The wealth effect in real estate will stimulate growth throughout the supply chain.
Will rising global demand for U.S. made products including semiconductors, medical devices and specialized materials manufacturing propel employment gains over the next few years? Post-recession hiring will wane next year as manufacturers look for productivity gains from workers added since employment levels bottomed out in early 2010. Although manufacturing is back up to 12 million workers, that’s still well below the 2006 peak of 14.2 million. The mantra continues to be: Do more with less.
How could the expansion of the shale oil industry affect manufacturing? Shale oil exploration and extraction will be a boon to ancillary industries and all U.S. manufacturers that rely on natural gas for production, since it will lower energy costs over the long-term. Moreover, it will give America a much-needed competitive advantage in today’s spirited global marketplace.
Augustine (Gus) Faucher is a senior economist for The PNC Financial Services Group. He is responsible for contributing to the preparation of PNC’s U.S. economic forecast and alternative economic scenarios.