Paradise Grove Avacados

History of the Hass

The story of the Hass avocado begins in the early 1900s when Mr. A.R. Rideout, a Southern California maverick and pioneer in avocados, planted some seeds that were from an unknown or undetermined Persea americana (avocado) subspecies. (He obtained seeds anywhere he could, even from restaurant food scraps and on the streets.)

City of Fallon

Stories

The Centennial Quilt


To commemorate Fallon's 100-year anniversary, about 30 local women crafted a vibrant quilt that provides snapshot glimpses into the City's past. The Centennial Quilt depicts more than 30 historic images, including the Overland Hotel, the Fallon Creamery and the Draper Women's Culture Club.
 This distinctive, approximately 530-square-foot piece of art was crafted in fewer than two months, with most of the women stitching one block apiece. The quilters included members of the Churchill County Museum staff and participants of two local quilting groups -- the Hearts of Gold Quilters and the Patchwork Piggies.
 The Centennial Quilt is on display at the Churchill County Museum in Fallon and will remain in the museum's collection. 
"We hope in 50 years the City will bring it out and for the 200-year anniversary it will come out again," says Jane Pieplow, the museum director.

Lattin Farms


Each year, locals and visitors both anticipate the opening of Lattin Farms' old-fashioned, roadside produce stand where they may choose from the great array of fresh produce, gourmet jams, handmade baked goods (from cinnamon rolls to brownies) and dill pickles. Rick and B.Ann Lattin, the current owners, initially set up the stand in 1989 right on the farm. It's remained in operation and popular ever since. The Lattin family has been farming in the Lahontan Valley for five generations. The high-quality fruits and vegetables they grow are: watermelon, cantaloupe, raspberries, summer squash, tomatoes, pumpkins, cucumbers, sweet corn, peppers, garlic, onions, beans, eggplant and more. Since 1977, the family has pioneered raspberry production in Nevada. 


Stories (Count'd)

Sibling Spellers


For two Fallon siblings -- Shankari and Shiva Rajagopal -- spelling ability must be in their genes. Each spelled their way to victory at the Nevada State Spelling Bee, three years apart. 


Shankari was first to win the honor, in 2004 at 13 years of age. Her winning word at the five-hour battle was "ichthyology" (the study of fish).

Three years later, her brother, Shiva, in eighth grade, became the state champion with the word "amanuensis" (someone who's employed to take dictation or to copy manuscripts).

The two went on to make impressive appearances at the subsequent and ultimate contest --the Scripps National Spelling Bee -- where competition is fierce.

Fallen Soldiers


In November 2008, Fallon lost 28-year-old Christian P. Humphreys. A Chief Warrant Officer for the U.S. Army, Christian was supporting Operation Iraq Freedom when killed in a helicopter crash while on a mission over Mosul.


Other locals have perished while serving in recent wars. Fallon respects, honors and remembers all of its remarkable and selfless military men and women who have died while serving our country during war. A memorial outside of City Hall pays homage to Fallon's veterans of World Wars I and II, the Korean War and the Vietnam War.


Savingsaccounts.com

How To Find Your Missing Money

Is there money out there that's yours, just waiting for you to claim it? It's possible.

When you hear about unclaimed money, you probably think there's no way you have any, but until you actually check, you can't be sure. I recently searched, for myself and 10 immediate family members, and found five who had money being held for them (unfortunately, I wasn't one of them), from an electric company, a home décor store and a health insurer. All quantities were under $100, but who doesn't want no-strings-attached money in any amount?

About $32 billion are being held by states as unclaimed property in the U.S., according to the National Association of Unclaimed Property Administrators (NAUPA), an association of the state unclaimed property programs.

What Is Unclaimed Property?


When companies that owe you money can't find you, they turn the funds over to the state, which then safeguards them until you retrieve them. This could happen for several reasons, like if you marry or divorce without notifying organizations of your name change or if you move without collecting a refundable utility or rent deposit.


Unclaimed money could be in the forms of forgotten bank accounts, uncashed checks, an inheritance, and old paycheck, dividends, child support payments and more. Unclaimed.org, NAUPA's website, is a legitimate place to find more information and even begin a search for money that's yours.

How To Find, Claim Missing Money


You can search online for free to determine whether you have unclaimed money. The options are:


Individual state unclaimed office websites

Your best bet is to search each of the websites for the unclaimed offices in every state you've lived. To find the correct website for them, either Google "unclaimed money" and the state name or use the link provided at unclaimed.org (be careful not to enter unclaimed.com).

Once you're at the first state website, click on the appropriate link or links to start a search. When the search screen pops up, enter your name. The more general the search criteria, the better your chances of finding something. Try name variations, like only your last name, your first initial and last name, and your full name. You might even try entering your first name as your last and vice versa (a friend was in a database with his first and last names reversed). If unclaimed property exists for the name you entered, the results most often will include the address the person had at the time. The address tells you whether the property is your or someone else's with your name.

If you prefer, you can call any state unclaimed property office and ask if you have any unclaimed property.


MissingMoney.com


Another option is to search MissingMoney.com, which allows you to search all states at once. This NAUPA-endorsed site contains the official collective records from most state unclaimed property programs, however, it isn't complete. So although you may not find anything through your search on MissingMoney.com, you might on an individual state website (this was the case with a family member).

If your search is successful, follow the instructions, provided on the website, for submitting a claim. Typically, all it takes is filling out and submitting a form.



If you are an heir, trustee or personal representative, executor or administrator of or for someone who's deceased, you may claim their unclaimed property. You'll need to provide official proof, however, such as a will, trust or other legal documents.

Property Locators, Scams


Companies, oftentimes called property finders or locators, exist that will conduct a search on your behalf for a fee and/or a percentage of any money found (sometimes up to 40 percent of it!). You don't need to use them, as all unclaimed property information is available to the public for free. Also, it's free to claim your money.


While many of these companies are legitimate, some aren't and operate unclaimed property scams. To avoid becoming a victim, don't pay anyone to conduct a search. Instead, do it yourself or have a trusted family member do it for you. And don't pay anyone to claim the money for you.

It only takes a few minutes to search the state databases. A positive result just might make your day and boost yours saving account or checking account. If you don't find anything, knowing nothing's there will keep you from wondering about it.

4 Reasons to Avoid Layaway

This winter holiday season, retailers are bringing back a popular payment option of times past -- layaway. Is it as good an idea today as it was then?

While on the surface it sounds beneficial, with deeper analysis, it proves not to be in your best interest. Other options are more financially sound and will save you money.

How Modern In-Store Layaway Works


Stores offering layaway from October through December this year include Toys 'R' Us, Best Buy, Sears, Walmart, Marshalls, Kmart and TJ Maxx. Typically, when you put an item on layaway in a brick-and-mortar store, it require you put down a deposit of 10 to 15 percent its cost and pay an "initiation" or "service" fee, usually $5 or $10. When you pay off the balance, the item becomes yours. If you breach the contract by not paying or canceling, you likely pay another fee of $5 or $10. Any non-fee payments you made are returned to you either in cash or store credit.

Proponents argue the benefits of layaway are: you don't have to pay for an item all at once, you don't have to pay interest and you don't spend money you don't have. Here, however, are reasons to avoid layaway:

1 The financing is unfavorable


Because you don't pay interest, layaway sounds attractive. But, in reality, the initial fee you pay acts as interest. When you calculate the interest rate on a layaway loan, you discover it's quite high. Say you want to put a $200 item on layaway, and you're required to put 10 percent down ($20), pay a $10 initiation fee and pay the balance in 60 days. Essentially, the store is loaning you $180 for two months.

2 The fees equal lost money


A $5 fee here and there doesn't sound like a lot, but together, they add up. If you put multiple items on layaway, the amount you pay in fees could've covered the cost of an additional product. With five items on layaway, for instance, you pay $25 to $50 in fees, and that's assuming you pay off all five balances in time. If you don't, you pay more. If you simply purchase the items later in the season when you have the money, you won't pay any fees. So each fee you pay with layaway is money lost.

3 You forego sale prices


When you put an item on layaway, you're locked into its price at that time, oftentimes full price. Even if the item goes on sale, you're stuck paying the full cost. The odds of sales taking place during the winter holidays, particularly in a sour economy, are pretty good. During those sales, the original prices could be discounted by 20 to as much as 70 percent, offering you significant savings. Some stores prohibit you from placing clearance items on layaway.

4 Too many rules and restrictions

Each store has its own layaway policy, rules and fees. Some have a layaway minimum. Some dictate what percentage of the cost your second payment must be. Some mandate you pay the second installment by a certain date. Some require you pay the balance within 30 or 60 days. Some have restrictions on what merchandise you can lay away. With so many parameters, you need an organizer just to keep all the details straight.

Alternatives To Layaway



With those downsides, you're better off paying for holiday gifts a different way. You might sock away a bit of money at a time in a saving account to later spend on holiday purchases. You might consider opening a Christmas Club account at your bank or credit union. With those, your financial institution each month automatically transfers into it a certain amount, like $20, from a checking account or other account. By the time the winter holidays roll around, you've accumulated funds for gifts. You might use a credit card. There are all different types out there, even ones for people with no credit or bad credit.

Be smart about holiday shopping, and avoid layaway. Every $5 you save counts.

Prepaid Cards: A Checking Account Alternative

With a prepaid card, you can pay for goods and services like with a credit card, withdraw money from ATMs and pay bills online. Increasing numbers of people are using them to conduct their basic banking needs. Like many checking accounts, they bear various fees. So which one, a prepaid card or a checking account, is a more cost-effective alternative?

Prepaid Card Vs. Checking Account


If you have a truly free checking account, then the checking account wins. But if it has fees, then a prepaid card likely is the ideal alternative.

The use of prepaid cards was found to be cheaper than that of a checking account in a recent study that compared an identical usage pattern (number of ATM withdrawals, bill payments, deposits, etc.) of each.

The Network Branded Prepaid Card Association, a trade association for companies involved in providing prepaid cards that carry a brand network logo (American Express, Discover, MasterCard or Visa) to consumers, businesses and government, conducted the study. In it, the organization compared the pricing of four major banks -- Bank of America, Citibank, JP Morgan Chase and Wells Fargo, which represent 32 percent of all deposits in the U.S. -- to that of pre-loadable prepaid card providers -- AccountNow, Green Dot Visa/MasterCard, NetSpend Visa, ReadyCard, RUSHCARD and Walmart MoneyCard Visa.


General purpose, reloadable prepaid card users' costs range from $76 to $380 annually whereas bank customers pay from $218 to $314 annually with a basic checking account, the study showed.


The study also found checking account costs are rising. In contrast, prepaid card fees are decreasing and features are being added, such as savings accounts, electronic statements, credit-building tools and online, text and e-mail payment and balance alerts. Some cards even offer extras, like one-time cash back rewards for signing up for direct deposit or online statements.

With a prepaid card, you're typically charged one or more these fees: activation/setup, transaction, monthly, annual, ATM withdrawal, reload and service/maintenance. For example, the one-time activation fee might be $5, and a monthly service fee, $3.95 or $4.95.

You can limit the fees you pay with a prepaid card, however, by employing these strategies:


Reuse the same card over and over to avoid activation fees

--Have your wages deposited directly to your card to avoid load fees

--Obtain cash at retailers at the time of purchase to avoid ATM withdrawal fee

--Obtain account information via text messages and vendor websites to avoid customer service fees

Prepaid Card Advantages


Today, millions of Americans use prepaid cards as a non-credit payment option. More than 80 percent are satisfied with their experiences, NBPCA research showed. Many even said they'd recommend them to others.

If you're 18 or older, prepaid cards are easy to obtain. Unlike a credit card, you don't have to provide personal information like income or have your credit checked. Because you only spend money you've put on the card, you won't ever pay interest, amass debt or pay penalties like late payment and overdraft fees. Cards co-branded with major credit card issuers are good anywhere their credit cards are accepted. You don't need a bank account to load the card; you can load it with cash. The cards are a safe tool for teaching youth how to spend money with set limits. They also help people with poor or bad credit boost their credit performance.

Prepaid cards are safer than carrying cash and credit cards. If your prepaid card is stolen, the thief won't have access to your Social Security number or bank information, as none is linked to a prepaid card.

Prepaid Card Downsides


In addition to fees, prepaid cards have another drawback. Most often, the card issuer doesn't offer protection if your card is fraudulently used. If some form of protection is offered, the requirements for notifying your card issuer are stricter than those with credit cards or checking accounts that most often are protected through FDIC or NCUA insurance. Disclosures of fee schedules and fraud protection coverage aren't always found easily or understood, and this needs improving, according to the NBPCA.

Ultimately, the decision of which option -- checking account or prepaid card -- is best for you and your banking needs, but at a minimum, comparing the costs of the two is worth your time. After all, increasing your savings is the ultimate goal.

Nevada Business

Gaming: Betting On A Comeback

Nevada's gaming industry today continues to recover, with some regions faring better than others.


"Both Southern and Northern Nevada markets are struggling right now," said John Farahi, CEO of Monarch Casino & Resort Inc., which owns Atlantis Casino Resort Spa, in Reno.

State gaming revenue has been picking up slowly since it took about a $2.4 billion hit when the national economy headed south, data from the Nevada Gaming Commission show. Yet, it still has a way to go to reach its decade high.

At its most recent peak, in fiscal year 2006-2007, the Silver State's casinos took in about $12.7 billion. The statewide gaming win dropped 19 percent the next few years to roughly $10.3 billion. Subsequently, it turned around and has risen since. At the end of fiscal year 2011-2012, on June 30, 2012, it stood at $10.7 billion. 


The story of Southern Nevada's gaming is similar -- one of a big drop between 2007 and 2010, then a slow climb -- but that of Northern Nevada's isn't. Washoe County's gaming revenue has decreased annually since its past 10-year high in fiscal year 2005-2006.

Stable In The south


Gaming in Southern Nevada is stable but not thriving. Its revenue in Clark County has increased year over year since the start of fiscal year (July) 2010. For the fiscal year 2011-2012, it was $9.2 billion.

"The industry is improved over last year, and we are confident we will continue to see improvement," said Rossi Ralenkotter, president and CEO of the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority, the destination marketing organization of Las Vegas.

More people are visiting Southern Nevada and about 70 percent gamble while there, but they're spending less on the activity than previously. The average gaming budget of those who played in Las Vegas in 2011 was $447.63, down from $555.64 in 2007, according to the LSCVA's 2011 Visitor Profile.

"It's really nothing more than a reflection of the broader instability in the economy," says Jan Jones, executive vice president, communications and government relations, Caesars Entertainment Corp. "People aren't sure what's going to happen. Their gambling budgets are more conservative."

Caesars Entertainment Corp. (formerly Harrah's Entertainment Inc.) has fared well since 2007, purchasing Planet Hollywood Las Vegas in 2010, but its margins have declined about 10 percent since 2007, Jones said. The corporation owns or operates 12 Nevada casinos, nine in Las Vegas, one in Reno and two in Stateline.

"We've not only positioned ourselves where we can operate in an uncertain economy going forward to the far future, but we're also developing an expansion pipeline," Jones said.


South Point Hotel Casino & Spa, a single-owner (Michael Gaughan) property located off the Strip, also has done well since the recession, expanding every year since opening in 2005, but has been affected, says Tom Mikovits, director of marketing at South Point Hotel Casino & Spa, in Las Vegas. Its core business is locals who aren't spending as much as they used to. The visitors it caters to tend to drive in from Southern California, but Native American gaming in that region has decreased that crowd.

"Michael has always believed that when times are tough, you loosen the purse strings, not tighten them," Mikovits said. "He's looking at the customer and what they want."

Trouble Up North


The gaming industry is Northern Nevada is bleaker, with revenues on the decline since 2005-2006. The Washoe County gaming win for fiscal year 2011-2012 was about $739,000. Visitor counts were up in 2010 but fell in 2011, and totals for the first half of 2012 aren't as high as they were for the comparable period last year.

The region faces a huge challenge in trying to turn the industry around in this depressed market, Jones said. 



"How are you going to invest in infrastructure or even new entertainment amenities," she asked, "because it's too difficult to get a return on those investments?"

About 60 percent of the lost gaming revenue is due to a combination of the weakened local, regional and national economies, Farahi said. 


The other 40 percent can be attributed to the spread of Native American gaming in the area's major feeder markets, including Northern California, Oregon and Washington, which accounts for about three-quarters of Northern Nevada's gaming business.

"When like products became available, it was just more difficult to compete because it never had really evolved as a destination," said Jones.

Unlike Las Vegas, which is an international destination, Washoe County is a regional one and one that hasn't devised and worked a plan for growing different segments of the tourism market, Farahi said. This in part is due to past poor and revolving management at the Reno-Sparks Convention and Visitors Authority, the marketing organization promoting convention and tourism business in Washoe County.


In Northern Nevada, unfortunately, there has always been talk of what we need to do, but action has been lacking," he added. "We're hoping that the new [RSCVA] CEO Chris Baum and his team will be able to turn the corner and have a mid and long-term plan that they implement."

Since the recession, there has been excess capacity in the number of rooms and gaming space, Farahi said. This has caused fierce competition among casino properties and, therefore, lowering of rates and even giving away rooms for free. Properties that were marginal at the outset have lost money. Two, distinct classes of properties have emerged -- those that have reinvested and improved and are capturing increasing market share and those that have and are not.

The parent company of the Atlantis Hotel Spa Casino has continued to reinvest in the resort since 2007, even completing a major expansion. Last month, the Atlantis received the Four Diamond award from the American Automobile Association, making it the third property in Northern Nevada with the honor. Having Four Diamond-rated properties in the region indicates to the traveling public they have the option of a fine resort to stay in should they visit.

"We feel that being the only Four Diamond property connected to the convention center is going to help the RSCVA attract more conventions to our destination and help us book more meetings for the more discriminating or demanding traveler," Farahi said.

Virtual Gaming Emerges


Online gaming, in which money is transacted, is entering Nevada's economic picture, with the first such offering slated to go live by year's end.

"It's here now, and it's the future of gaming," Mikovits said. "Nevada will hopefully set the blueprint for the rest of the country."

How is this possible? Last year, the U.S. Department of Justice reversed its interpretation of the 1961 federal Wire Act, now saying it only applies to sports betting, not all online gaming. On the heels of that opinion, Gov. Brian Sandoval signed into law Assembly Bill 258, which mandated the Nevada Gaming Commission adopt by Jan. 1, 2012 regulations for Internet poker and its derivatives.

Per those initial rules, manufacturers and operators of interactive gaming systems must be licensed, along with service providers, who act on behalf of operators (i.e., software providers, gaming system developers and marketing firms).


Finally, certain interactive gaming systems and their components must be approved by the Nevada Gaming Commission.

Only Nevada residents and visitors while in the state can participate in Nevada's online gaming offerings.
Last month, the Nevada Gaming Control Board recommended approval of the first two interactive gaming operators licenses, one for South Point Poker (affiliated with South Point Hotel Casino & Spa) and one for Monarch Interactive Inc. (affiliated with the Atlantis Hotel Casino Spa).

South Point, which also received approval for a manufacturing interactive gaming license, has developed, with a local entrepreneur, an online poker gaming system, which currently is undergoing mandatory testing.

"We're excited to release this, and hopefully it's soon."


Monarch plans to investigate all possible Internet gaming opportunities, Farahi said. 


A second, large Reno hotel casino, in a joint venture with 3G Studios Inc., also plans to launch an online poker site, said James Kosta, CEO of 3G Studios. 3G Studios is a Reno-based developer of gambling games, casual social/mobile games and console-based video games. Those companies are pursuing interactive gaming licenses currently.

A handful of game makers, including Bally Technologies Inc., International Game Technology and Shuffle Master Inc., also have applied for interactive gaming licenses.

"We think the next thing to get legalized is statewide sports betting." Kosta said. "Bingo will be right up there. Then you'll start to see the chance-based games."

Experts disagree on whether the future of online gaming threatens the brick-and-mortar kind. Some consider it different and, therefore, complementary to what already exists.

"I do not see that you can get the same kind of entertainment value, excitement and amenities that you will find in a resort with what you can achieve on the Internet," Farahi said.

Others believe it could have a negative impact. 


"I'm somewhat concerned about Internet gaming," said Caesars' Jones. "If people have an option to gamble online, it could change the number of visits they make. I think that poses a real threat to our entire economic base, our job base."

Future Of Nevada Gaming


Clark County gaming revenue is on the rise. Will it continue?


It will, Jones said, once people feel more comfortable spending their discretionary cash. 


"I think you'll see Las Vegas and other family markets come right back," she added. "People like to gamble as entertainment. I just don't expect it in 2013 or 2014."

The industry in Clark County could get back to its $10.7 billion high in 2006-2007, but right now, it will settle for consecutive-quarter growth in gaming revenue.


"That's what we're all looking for," she added. "I think that we are very well positioned for the future."
Northern Nevada, on the other hand, most likely already has seen the highest gaming revenue ($1 million) it will, said Chris Baum, president and CEO of the RSCVA.

"With gaming available in 48 states, we'll never have an industry like we did in years past," he added. 
Farahi agreed.

"The more realistic scenario is going to be that we have excess capacity, and frankly, some of the struggling marginal properties are going to go by the wayside. The stronger ones are going to do that much better."


Since Baum joined the RSCVA earlier this year, the organization has been promoting Reno-Tahoe as a four-season destination resort that features gaming as opposed to a gaming destination."

"That's a rather large mental shift for people to make here because gaming has been so dominant for so many decades," Baum said.

As for the online component, Mikovits said he thinks short- and long-term revenue are both in Internet gaming.

"We have to be forward thinking," he said. "Nevada has to lead the national charge in online gaming."

Business Financing: An Economic Bright Spot

The business financing picture in Nevada today is brighter than it was during the two years following the country's Great Recession. Capital is available. Businesses are seeking financing, and lenders are closing loans.

"Things are definitely looking up," said Bob Francl, executive vice president and regional manager of First Independent Bank, which serves clients primarily in Northern and Eastern Nevada. "Banks are making plenty of loans. The competition right now among the banks is incredible. We're all trying to lend money."

It's a misconception that businesses can't get funding, said Debra Alexandre, president of the Las Vegas-headquartered Nevada State Development Corp., a nonprofit organization that makes SBA 504 loans.

"While that may have been the case during the recession, it no longer is," she added. "I think the rumor has frightened some people away from even trying."

The major difference today is that more companies qualify for loans not that the requirements for borrowers have changed. Generally, loan applicants need a solid business plan, expertise to carry out whatever it is their business does, some type of collateral and, most importantly, adequate cash flow to be able to repay the debt. 


Even in the improved environment, some types of loans remain more challenging to obtain than others. One example is financing for new construction of certain commercial projects, like office space, due to inventory oversupply. At the same time, however, loans in other areas of real estate -- commercial industrial and single-family residential, for instance -- are seeing growth.

"Even though there is not a lot of construction activity, we are lending if the economics make sense," said John Guedry, president and chief operating officer of the Bank of Nevada.

Last year, the bank financed construction of a permanent zipline for The Fremont Street Experience Co., a new corporate headquarters for Eglet Wall law firm, a 45,000-square-foot facility for Bon Breads Baking Co. Inc. and a new community center and corporate office for Legal Aid Center of Southern Nevada -- all in Las Vegas.

With respect to most other types of business loans, lenders report increased activity in 2012 over the previous two years and a solid start to 2013.

"We are absolutely in the position to lend money and are doing all that we possibly can to lend today," said Shannon Petersen, executive vice president of corporate banking at Nevada State Bank. "At end of day, our liquidity position is strong. The way a bank makes money is by lending money."

Small Business Loans


The number of small business loans being closed for existing enterprises is on the rise. Between October 1, 2012 and April 1, 2013, banks in Nevada made 150 U.S. Small Business Administration 7A and 504 loans for a total of $52.5 million, an increase over the previous year, said Ed Cadena, director of the Nevada district office of the U.S. Small Business Administration (www.sba.gov/about-offices-content/2/313). Available SBA loans range from $1 to $5 million, but most given are about $50,000.

"The trend is going up because we were down so long," he added. "Lenders are looking big time to find borrowers that are good."

The Nevada State Development Corp. (www.nsdc-loans.com), a nonprofit organization that provides mostly small- and medium-size Nevada businesses but some startups, too, with SBA 504 loans, long-term, fixed-rate financing to acquire major fixed assets for expansion or modernization, experienced an uptick in the number of its finalized loans, Alexandre said. In 2012, it did 75 for a total of about $45 million, which is close to pre-recession levels. This compares to 57 loans for about $40 million it made in 2011 and 28 loans for about $14 million in 2010.

Recent clients include The Bootlegger Bistro, an Italian restaurant on the South Strip; 3G Productions, a Las Vegas audio company; and Sierra Packaging & Converting LLC, a Sparks manufacturer of printed flexible packaging for the food and snack industries.

"Our volume has increased significantly," she added. 


Alexandre attributes the rise to increased business activity in general and the temporary, two-year SBA 504 Loan Refinancing Program for Eligible Small Business Assets Under the Jobs Act, which ended in September 2012. The program allowed small businesses to refinance eligible fixed assets in without having to expand, to lock in long-term, stable financing and finance eligible business expenses.

In fact, Senator Mary Landrieu (D-La.) introduced in February the Commercial Real Estate and Economic Development Act of 2013, or CREED Act of 2013, which calls for reinstating the loan refinancing program for five years.

While more lending is taking place, a small business loan still is hard to obtain a loan, Cadena said. Applying businesses must meet all or most of the required criteria. 


Borrowers should be upfront about their circumstances, any specific credit issues or problems, because eventually the lender will discover them anyway.

"Because of short sales, foreclosures and the fact most businesses suffered decreased revenue during the Great Recession, bankers are being more careful and doing more due diligence," Cadena said.

For startup businesses, obtaining a loan is more difficult. Not all lenders work with them. Some banks, for instance, take into account the personal cash flow and assets of the startup's owner, but others don't. The keys to getting a startup loan, Cadena said, are: having a solid business plan and clarity on how much money is needed, what the capital will be used for and how the debt will be repaid.

Nevada's SBA hopes this year at least to double the total amount of last year's loans, which Cadena said he thinks is possible.

"We are very excited that we think that we've turned the corner," he added. "I think this year is going to be a good year for small business and the next two years are going to be very good."

Loans For Income-Producing Real Estate


A strong area of financing currently in Nevada is loans for income-producing properties. Last year, CommCap Advisors (www.commcapnv.com), a Henderson-based mortgage banking firm that arranges such loans, closed in excess of $50 million worth, an amount that's doubled year over year since 2010, said Founder/Director Kyle Nagy.

Its loans, anywhere from $1 to $50 million, primarily go to developers and owners who need to refinance or reposition their real estate. Today, most of CommCap Advisors' borrowers are in the industrial office, retail, self-storage, multifamily housing and mobile home park sectors, each of which constitutes about 10 to 20 percent of company's total loan production, Nagy said. Clients served include Santoli Realty Inc., Stable Development and EJM Development Co., all real estate developers.

"More properties are financeable today because they're generating enough cash flow," Nagy said. "Financing for more stabilized properties has picked up quite well versus new construction and development."

This in large part is due to general improvement in the commercial real estate market -- increased leasing activity and valuations.

Various Bank-Offered Loans


Many Nevada banks say financing activity last year surpassed that of 2011 and, today, they're seeking opportunities to lend.

Bank of Nevada (www.bankofnevada.com) is one. In 2012, it did about 430 commercial and industrial loans totaling about $620 million, for businesses in The Silver State, Guedry said. This represents an 11 to 12 percent increase over 2011. The bank offers an array of loans, including commercial-industrial, small and large business, SBA, medical and professional practice, equipment finance, commercial construction and residential construction (primarily multifamily), along with lines of credit and leasing.

"It's been busy, surprisingly," Guedry said. "The market is starting to become more active, and the economy is getting healthier. We're working harder to find loan opportunities."

Out of 24 banks, Bank of Nevada was the top lender in volume amount of SBA 504 loans in the administration's fiscal year, Oct. 1, 2011 through Sept. 30, 2012, making 10 loans totaling about $19 million.

"The SBA and the U.S. Department of Agriculture have provided more capital and more flexibility in their existing programs to encourage more lending to businesses that qualify," Guedry said.

Nevada State Bank (www.nsbank.com) last year did about 500 new, non-SBA business loans for $230 million, assisting a full range of Nevada companies from boat dealerships to dentists, Petersen said. This represents a year-over-year improvement in the number of loans and total lent. Small business financing was up about 9 percent in 2012 versus 2011.

Among others, the lender provides term, commercial and residential real estate, agriculture and SBA loans. Currently, the most popular term loans are for equipment and expansions as well as owner-occupied real estate.


"Though not through the roof, business confidence is returning to stable or is slightly more optimistic," she said.

Nevada State Bank anticipates a 3 to 5 percent net loan growth in each of the next couple of years, Petersen added.

First Independent Bank (www.firstindependentnv.com) made about 250, non-SBA loans last year for about $85 to $90 million and another $10 million in SBA loans, Francl said. The total amount of loans closed in 2012 was about 150 percent those done in 2011.

The financial institution provided working capital financing to Bradley, Drendel & Jeanney Law Offices in Reno; equipment financing to Spanish Springs Construction in Sparks; and construction and term financing to Golden Gate Petroleum, a petroleum distributor in Reno; and more.

Along with SBA loans, the bank offers businesses equipment financing, working capital loans, lines of credit, leasing, owner-occupied commercial real estate and investor real estate loans along with construction loans for both individuals and developers. This year it has done more commercial real estate loans in terms of amount but more equipment and lines of credit for businesses in terms of number of financings.


"We have seen improving market conditions and underlying borrower performance," Francl said. "There has been more loan demand. It's encouraging that we're returning back to what seems to be banking as usual, which is highly competitive."

Moving, Looking Forward


Any business owner who's contemplating applying for a loan should go to their local business development center, bank branch or other lender to learn how to start working toward qualifying. Many will advise customers about their options and how to proceed as well as help them develop an adequate business plan.

"Even if you're not ready now, we can help you with what you need to do to get ready," Alexandre said. "A lot of business owners would be surprised that we may think they're ready now."

This year already is shaping up to be at least on par with, if not better than, 2012 in terms of lending activity, experts said.

"As consumer and business confidence continue to improve, I'll think we'll see a gradual increase in loans throughout the state," Petersen said.

Hairtransplantcosts.com

A Look At Hair Loss In Men


Hair loss is a problem for many American men. By age 35, two-thirds of men in the U.S. have some degree of hair loss. By age 50, about 85 percent of men have significant balding, according to the American Hair Loss Association. The start, rate and degree of hair loss are unpredictable, the International Society for Hair Restoration Surgery pointed out.

Causes Of Hair Loss


Hair loss in men happens for several reasons, the most common of which is a genetic sensitivity to the androgen hormone, dihydrotestosterone, or DHT. Prolonged exposure to DHT shrinks hair follicles and hair then no longer grows, resulting in baldness. DHT hair loss is called either male pattern hair loss or androgenetic alopecia. It accounts for more than 95 percent of all hair loss in men, and about 35 million American men have it. For a quarter of them, it starts before the age of 25.

Hair loss also can result from serious diseases, a reaction to certain medications, scarring, persistent tension on the hair like with corn rows and, in rare cases, stressful events, per the American Hair Loss Council. Before physicians can recommend treatment, they need to determine the cause of the hair loss.

Norwood Scale


The progression of male pattern baldness can be measured using the Norwood scale, sometimes referred to as the Hamilton-Norwood scale, noted the ISHRS. (It was introduced by Dr. James Hamilton in the 1950s and later modified by Dr. O'Tar Norwood in the 1970s.) The scale ranges from stage I, a full head of hair, to stage VII, a horseshoe-shaped ring of hair around the scalp base. The scale depicts each stage of hair loss, allowing men to self-diagnose their classification. Hair restoration professionals use a patient's Norwood result to determine their possible treatments.

Hair Loss Complications


Hair loss, particularly male pattern, is distressing for many men. Many are unhappy with it and say they'd do anything to change it, the AHLA explained. It can damage their self-image and lower their self-esteem. Some men are embarrassed about it, the ISHRS reported. Others feel it makes them less attractive and makes them look older than they are, which they'd rather not be the case. These feelings can negatively affect a man's social and professional relationships. According to the AHLA, sometimes, men will even switch careers because of their hair loss.

Treatments


Treatments for hair loss are available but vary from person to person depending on their age; the cause, pattern and degree of their hair loss; and how their hairline fits with their other facial features, per the ISHRS. The options include medications, hairpieces and hair transplants, and a physician may use one alone or two, either concurrently or consecutively.

Two drugs are on the market today and approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for hair loss. One is minoxidil, which is sold under the brand name Rogaine and as several generics. It's a topical solution or foam that's applied to the scalp twice a day. How minoxidil works exactly with respect to hair follicles is unknown.

The other drug is finasteride (brand name Propecia), which is taken in tablet form, 1 mg per day. It inhibits the enzyme, type I 5-alpha reductase that helps create DHT, protecting the hair follicles from it. Both of these drugs have been shown to stop hair loss and promote hair regrowth, but results vary from man to man. Men who achieve results with one of them need to continue taking it indefinitely.

A hairpiece, which is either temporarily or semi-permanently attached to the scalp, can effectively cover a balding spot and look natural. Also sometimes called hair systems and hair additions, hairpieces are the most frequently used hair loss treatment, per the AHLA. They're either off-the-shelf or custom made, and quality runs the gamut. The hair used in them is either human, animal, synthetic or some combination.

Hair restoration surgery is a permanent solution in which genetically pure hair is taken from the back of the head and transplanted into the balding area. It's a lengthy procedure that's done while the patient remains awake. Recovery takes about a week, and new hair starts to be noticeable about three to six months later. Hair transplants have advanced to the point where today, when done by a skilled, experienced surgeon, the results look natural and patients are pleased with the aesthetic outcome.

Hair Transplants: What You Want To Know


Hair transplants have become increasingly popular as a solution for certain types of hair loss. A hair transplant, or restoration, is a surgical procedure where a dermatological surgeon first extracts hair, from the patient's head, or donor site, to be transplanted, according to WebMD. Then, the surgeon relocates those hairs in the balding area.

Primary candidates for hair restoration surgery are individuals who have a sufficient amount of genetically pure hair for a transplant to their hair loss region, the International Society for Hair Restoration Surgery indicated. These typically include men who've suffered from male pattern baldness for five or more years or whose hair loss has progressed to a Norwood class 3, the earliest stage of balding where hair is receding at the front and corners, or progressed to a higher level, the American Hair Loss Association noted. Others are men and women who've had hair loss as a result of trauma, burns or cosmetic procedures like facelifts.

Evolution Of Hair Transplants


The first hair restoration procedures were done on burn victims by a Japanese dermatologist, Dr. Okuda, in the late 1930s, WebMD reported. In 1943, Dr. Tamura, another Japanese dermatologist, used a revised version of Dr. Okuda's technique and transplanted scalp hair to replace lost pubic hair in women. Information about these procedures, however, didn't reach the Western world until decades later.

In 1952, Dr. Norman Orentreich performed the first U.S. hair transplant for male pattern baldness, yet the medical community criticized and rejected the notion, Bernstein Medical explained. Orentreich introduced the concept of "donor dominance" to explain that healthy hair taken from the back or sides of the scalp and 
transplanted to the balding area on the top of the head would grow as it if hadn't been moved. In 1959, Oreintreich successfully published a paper on his technique, which involved taking large grafts, about 4 mm in diameter, or about the size of a pencil eraser (versus today's 1 mm, or half the size of a matchstick head). The outcomes tended to look unnatural and many times were tragic, per the AHLA. Consequently, hair transplants earned a poor reputation.

His large-graft technique, known as plugs, was used throughout the 1970s, according to Bernstein Medical. In 1982, mini-grafts, or smaller grafts taken from a strip of donor tissue, were introduced. This evolved to micro-grafts, the use of very small grafts of one to two hairs. A combination of the two -- mini grafts used on the mid-scalp and micro grafts around the hairline -- then became the norm, as it provided a more natural appearance. This procedure dominated the field until the mid-1990s when the technique became further refined.

Today's gold standard of hair transplants emerged after Drs. Robert Bernstein (of Bernstein Medical in New York) and William Rassman (of New Hair Institute, in Los Angeles) introduced the Follicular Unit Transplant (FUT) technique in 1995. Finally, the medical community could provide a surgical hair loss solution that produced natural-looking results with which patients were thrilled. In 2002, Bernstein and Rassman took hair transplants to yet another level with another technique for harvesting donor hair, Follicular Unit Extraction (FUE).

Hair restoration surgeons perform both FUT and FUE today, although FUT is most common, the ISHRS noted. Why one is chosen over the over depends on various factors, including the patient's cause and type of hair loss, likelihood of progression, chosen hair length, scarring considerations, cost and more. Not all hair restoration surgeons offer both FUT and FUE.

The Transplant Procedure


The first part of a hair transplant plant is procuring the follicular units (each one contains one to four hairs, nerves, muscles, oil glands, blood vessels and connective tissue), or grafts, to be moved to the balding areas. One of the two modern techniques, FUT and FUE, is used.

The original method, FUT, involves cutting out a strip of skin, typically from ear to ear, from the donor site and then harvesting the follicular units (FUs) to be relocated from that swath. The surgeon then sutures or staples the excised area closed. With FUE, the newer, more time-intensive, expensive technique, the surgeon removes each FU from the donor area individually. They make numerous, tiny holes across the donor area and extract one FU through each of those holes.

As for how many grafts are needed, about a 3-inch-square area requires about 500 to 600 standard grafts, noted the American Hair Loss Council.

Regardless of which grafting procedure a patient chooses, the subsequent transplant process of the harvested FUs is the same. With the FUs selected and ready for transfer, the surgeon prepares the recipient site for the final step -- placing the hair grafts in the balding scalp region, according to WebMD. The surgeon cleans and injects the area with local anesthetic to numb it. With the patient awake, they create tiny slits or holes in the scalp with a needle or scalpel, then gingerly insert the hair grafts into them.

Procedure Length, Recovery


The procedure length depends on the extent of the individual's hair loss and, therefore, the number of grafts needed, along with the FU extraction technique chosen. FUTs take anywhere from four to eight hours, about five to six on average, WebMD indicated. FUEs take about one to two hours more, and longer procedures may be done in two sessions on consecutive days, Bernstein Medical noted.

Patients don't feel pain during the procedure, only a little discomfort during the local anesthetic shots, per the ISHRS. Typically, they spend the procedure time chatting, watching television or movies or listening to music.

After the surgery, patients typically wear a dressing on their head for two days, WebMD explained. During that time, they may have mild scalp soreness or tenderness, which could require pain medications for a short time. Subsequently, the scalp becomes tender to the touch for about seven to 10 more days. Other side effects include swelling that may extend down to the eyes. Scabs, or crusting, forms throughout the donor area and takes about four to 10 days to clear up. According to Bernstein Medical, scalp tightness eases over the ensuing eight months and even more so after. Patients rarely have permanent tightness.

A baseball-type cap can be worn any time after the surgery. Most patients can return to work within two to five days after their transplant, although a realistic recovery period is about a week, according to the AHLA.

Potential Complications


Bleeding and infection can occur, but are rare. Scarring at the donor site may be minimal or more significant, depending on a patient's genetic predisposition. A temporary numbness can happen due to the routine cutting of nerves during the procedure, however, feeling usually returns within a few months. Permanent numbness could result if a surgeon accidentally transects the main nerve branches.


Temporary loss of the surrounding hair -- shock loss -- also is possible. This normal bodily reaction to the surgery occurs in about 10 to 15 percent of male patients, per the ISHRS, and almost all female patients, the AHLA explained. If the hair remains undamaged from the procedure, it will begin to grow again a few months afterward. If damaged from the transplant, the hair may not regrow. Transplanted FUs could die, resulting in no hair growth. Also, the final outcome could appear unnatural if the procedure was performed badly.


To achieve their desired results, hair transplant patients may require more than one restoration surgery, especially those wanting great fullness (usually women) and those who continue to experience hair loss and want to maintain coverage. Sometimes, the hairline needs to be adjusted forward or back to appear age appropriate. People with thinner hair may need more sessions for their transplanted area to look denser. Other considerations for additional transplants are the scalp area treated, the number and thickness of grafts originally used, the projected hair loss rate and the amount of donor hair available. Men oftentimes can achieve the result they want in one session whereas women oftentimes require two or more, said Dr. Sara Wasserbauer, a Walnut Creek, Calif.-based, hair restoration surgeon.


When To Expect New Hair


New hair starts growing in the transplanted area between three and six months after the procedure, per Wasserbauer. When exactly depends on the patient's health and hair. Fine-haired people, for instance, will see growth later than earlier. In slow-healing diabetics, for example, it could take closer to six months. According to the ISHRS, the new hair will grow about one-inch per month.

How The Results Look


Once a patient's hair grows in the transplanted area, the appearance looks natural, if the procedure was performed by a skilled, experienced and qualified surgeon, Wasserbauer emphasized. Such a surgeon can even recreate or eliminate hair characteristics that existed before hair loss and surgery. These include cowlicks, widow's peaks, hair whorls and a natural part. How a patient's hairs grow out depends on how the surgeon made the scalp slits for the FUs.

Can People Tell?


Wasserbauer explained that immediately following the hair transplant, patients may or may not look like they've had something done to their head. It all depends on how their body responds. Fair-skinned people may appear slightly pink. Swelling might be obvious on some people, not on others. Scabs over the grafts may be visible or not (existing hair may or may not cover them). Patients who undergo FUE can, for some days, look like they have road rash on their scalp from all the extraction holes -- about 10 days' worth of hair growth covers that.

After those initial transplant side effects disappear, people won't suspect a patient's had anything done if they were a good surgical candidate and, again, if an expert hair restoration surgeon did the procedure.

The Results Are Permanent


Except in a few, odd cases, the results of hair transplant surgery are permanent, Wasserbauer explained. This is because the harvested hair is genetically resistant to male and female pattern baldness. Just as a patient won't lose the genetically pristine hair from the back of their head, they won't lose the new genetically perfect hair in their transplanted areas. The transplant won't ever need any maintenance by the patient or their surgeon over time.

Hair Transplant Costs


The cost of a hair transplant depends on several factors, including the technique used, the surgeon's skill level, the patient's needs and goals, and the geographical region and type of facility where the procedure is done, according to the DermHair Clinic. Hair type, hair loss type and extent of balding also influence price. Because FUE is much more labor intensive and time consuming, it costs quite a bit more than FUT, oftentimes double, per the ISHRS.


Surgeons typically charge in one of three ways: by the graft (one rate across the board), by the graft (on a sliding scale) and by the session.

By-the-graft rates typically range from $3 to $8, with $4 to $5 being the average, according to Dr. Gregory Pistone, a Pennsylvania and New Jersey hair restoration surgeon.

For example, DermHair Clinic, in Beverly Hills and Redondo Beach, Calif., charges $8 per graft.


Bernstein Medical charges $7 per graft for FUTs and $11 per graft for FUEs.


Sliding scale fee schedules may vary per physician. The cost per graft tends to decrease as the number of needed grafts increases. Hasson & Wong, in Seattle, Wash., for instance, charge $5 per graft up to 2,000 grafts and then $3 per graft thereafter.

Dr. Shapiro's Hair Institute, in Delray Beach, Fla., charges $3 per graft up to 1,000; $2.75 per graft from 1,200 to 1,500; $2.50 per graft for 1,600 to 1,900; and $2 per graft for 2,200 to 2,800 -- all for FUT grafts. FUE grafts cost between $5 and $6 apiece.

New Hair Institute charges different rates per surgeon: for FUT, Dr. Pak's fees are $6 per graft for the first 2,500, then $2.50; Dr. Rassman's fees are $8 per graft for the first 2,500, then $2.50.

Dr. Bradley Wolf, in Cincinnati, Ohio, charges between $3.83 (for 3,001-plus grafts) and $25 (for only 100 grafts) per FUT graft and between $7 and $12 per FUE graft. Within the ranges are several levels.

In the flat-fee scenario, a hair restoration clinic might charge, for instance, a straight $5,000 for 1,800 grafts, according to DermHair Clinic.

These charges translate into a total procedure cost that can run anywhere from $2,500 to $4,000 for less extensive hair loss and between $15,000 and $20,000 for much greater hair loss.

Using the statistic that a 3-inch-square area of hair loss needs about 600 standard grafts and assuming a patient's bald spot is twice that size, they'd need about 1,200 grafts. A transplant using FUT would cost roughly $3,600 at the low end ($3 per graft) and $9,500 at the high end ($8 per graft). Again, FUE would cost more.

 

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