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UNLV’s School of Dental Medicine offers clinical experience

A recent American Dental Education Association study showed the average dental school student graduates with more than $247,000 in student debt. That figure has risen by nearly 40 percent since 2010.

Part of the reason for the dental student’s high debt is that she must complete a four-year science degree before entering the four-year dental program. The student must also purchase several thousands dollars worth of special training aids, equipment and books.

With the cost of dental school so high, students are taking a very close look at which school they want to attend. And, the competition for acceptance is fierce. UNLV’s School of Dental Medicine has more than 1,000 applicants that compete for one of the 75 to 80 student positions that are available each year, according to Dr. Philip Devore, DDS, the school’s associate professor.

Kristine San Diego, who came to UNLV from her home in Hawaii, is a third-year student at the School of Dental Medicine.

“I chose UNLV because of the early hands-on clinical experience that UNLV offers.”

In addition, after her first year at UNLV, San Diego was able to claim residency and lower her tuition from $89,987 to $54,677 per year, according to the school’s tuition website, www.unlv.edu/dental/tuition. UNLV’s Dental School tuitions are about 9.5 percent less than the average for all dental schools, according to StartClass.com, a website that tracks U.S. professional schools.

At UNLV, students begin working in the clinic environment during their second year, and by their third year are performing most of the technical procedures. Devore said most dental schools have students entering the clinic stage of their education in the later part of their third year or into their fourth year. In addition, UNLV does not break its program down into specialties, so the students gain experience on a wider variety of procedures.

This year, StartClass.com ranked UNLV School of Dental Medicine 48 out of the top 65 university schools, not including private schools. UNLV School of Dental Medicine is one of the newest on the list, having graduated its first class in 2006.

In December, the school will receive its latest piece of equipment — an inter oral scanner, which is priced at nearly $12,000. This is a sophisticated optical scanner that takes digital images and converts them to a CAD file that is read by different types of machines. One of the uses will be in conjunction with a milling machine that can build a customized crown for a patient’s tooth. Another future use will be to connect the scanner to a 3-D printer that could build dental bridges and false teeth.

Devore moved from California, where he had a 17-year dental practice, to Las Vegas in 1997. He started a local private practice in 2002. He said he is well aware of the advancements made in modern dentistry. “I’m not doing the same thing that I did 35 years ago when I graduated from dental school; it’s not the same. I have to stay current with all of the literature, materials, and methods that we have today.”

The school, at 1700 W. Charleston Blvd. in the UMC medical corridor, has 165 dental treatment rooms along with emergency care, oral pathology, and oral surgery units. The clinic is open to the public and hosts more than 60,000 patient visits each year through its academic, community outreach and Faculty Dental Practice clinic, according to Kevin Dunegan, director of communications for the UNLV School of Dental Medicine, the university’s School of Allied Health Services and its School of Nursing.

One of the unique things about the UNLV School of Dental Medicine is that because of the clinic program, the school is more than 85 percent self-sufficient based upon the fees paid by the patients and their insurance, according to Devore. The school charges a flat fee for services, which are not income-qualified.

According to Devore, the clinic is equipped to accept absolutely everybody that enters the doors, regardless of the severity of their dental problems.

“If a patient is not suitable for a student due to the complexity of their dental needs — too many crowns or bridges or a complex medical issue — they are referred to the General Practice Residency Program,” he said.

In this program, graduate dentists come for additional training in general dentistry, orthodontics or pediatrics.

“If a case is extremely complicated, the patient is referred to the faculty practice, which encompasses all of the dental specialties.”

The school has an operating room on campus and staff privileges at University Medical Center Hospital.

“What I really enjoy about practicing in this environment is that it allows me to offer what I think is the very best to our patients, both in the faculty practice and in the student clinic with the students,” Devore said.

Because the School of Dental Medicine does not have an overhead that a private practice does, it is allowed to practice what Devore called “ideal dentistry.” As such, the staff and students make recommendations to the patients that they consider to be ideal, then depending on the patient’s needs and desires they will tailor the treatment.

When patients go to the clinic, they are put through a battery of preliminary examinations during the record-taking process before any work is performed. As a result, a complete mold of their teeth along with x-rays and photographs are available for the students to look at and analyze with their instructors. Based on their analysis, along with the instructor’s examination, a course of treatment is decided and proposed to the patient.

“You can train most anyone to do the technical side,” Devore said. “However, it is the critical-thinking skills that are crucial to becoming an effective dental practitioner, and that is what we try to teach.”

“We try to give evidence-based criteria to all of our clinical decision makings. We don’t do stuff just because we think it is a good idea. We recommend treatment based on the literature, the curriculum that we have and evidence-based standards that are well-documented,” Devore said.

In addition to the technical and critical thinking, the dental school also has a unique two-semester practice administration course, which all students must pass in order to graduate. The course was developed by Devore in 2005 and is based on his prior years of experience as a consultant to dental practices around the world. In this course, Devore teaches the students how to manage an office, marketing, patient management and how to communicate with patients by explaining their dental needs and the procedures in layman terms.

“Creating value and urgency so that a patient does not put off something that in the future can cause bigger problems both medically and financially is the goal,” Devore said.

San Diego, whose mother is a dentist with a successful practice in Hawaii, worked with her mother on the administrative side before entering dental school.

“After graduation, I would like to work with some other dentists to see how they do things before going back to Hawaii and working with my mother,” she said.

Like San Diego, many of the graduating dentists are weighing their work options. Devore said the average income for a dentist just starting out is about $120,000 a year. The school debt might cause a graduate to take a job with a large dental corporation and a guaranteed salary rather than open an independent practice and incurring the risk associated with entrepreneurship. Regardless of their choice, finding employment should not be a problem. Currently, there is a shortage of 7,300 dentists in the United States, according to the American Dental Association.

Part of the dentist shortage can be solved by importing dentists from other countries. UNLV has a proposal to the Board of Regents to begin offering a foreign dentist curriculum where an accredited dentist from a foreign country can study for two years and graduate with a degree that will enable them to practice in the U.S.

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U.S. travel industry stagnate but going in the right direction

About 80 marketing executives, many from the major Las Vegas casinos, met Sept. 29 to consider potential growth for and obstacles to the city’s ability to draw international tourism.

“The U.S. travel industry generates $2.1 trillion in economic output and supports 15 million jobs. Tourism is Southern Nevada’s No. 1 industry, supporting 368,900 jobs (41.4 percent of the workforce) and generating $51.8 billion in aggregate economic output.”

That was the opening statement of Roger Dow during a breakfast presentation to the Las Vegas chapter of the Hospitality Sales and Marketing Association International. Dow is the president and CEO of the U.S. Travel Association, an organization that represents all segments of travel in America.

“I keep saying that hospitality, lodging and the travel industry is the front door to economic development. No one ever decided to buy a second home or condo here (Las Vegas) until they first came here for a meeting, event or a vacation. Then they realize wow, pretty cool, lots to do, great restaurants, all these things,” Dow said.

In his talk, Dow outlined how international travel has improved for the hospitality industry and listed some hurdles to be overcome.

On the positive side was the improvement of visa wait times. In the past, the waiting period for a three-minute visa interview was 120 days. That has been shrunk to fewer than five days, and, as a result, the number of international visitors went from 53 million in 2009 to 77 million in 2015. That number is expected to climb to 100 million by 2021.

In addition to improving the visa wait times, the U.S. also expanded the number of countries enrolled in the Visa Waiver Program from 27 to 38. This program enables most citizens or nationals of participating countries to travel to the United States for tourism or business for stays of up to 90 days without first obtaining a visa when they meet all requirements.

One of the best examples is South Korea. When it was added to the Visa Waiver Program, visitation went up 46 percent in 18 months. An additional 400,000 South Koreans visited the U.S., making an average of 850,000 to 900,000 visitors each year.

One of the most important business and tourist countries in the world is China. In 2009, there were 500,000 Chinese visitors to the U.S. By 2015. that number was 2.2 million, and it is expected to grow to 5 or 6 million visitors each year. China is not one of the countries in the Visa Waiver Program, but the five-day visa processing program has helped to bring more tourists. In addition, a Memorandum of Understanding was signed with China to allow for 10-year business visas. This means that a Chinese businessman that comes to Las Vegas each year for the CES only needs to apply for a visa every 10 years, making it easier for China to do business in the U.S.

Recently, the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority recognized how important the Chinese visitors will be to the lcoal economy and launched a campaign asking local businesses if they are “China ready.” The program talks about the need for improved signage, menus and guest relations personnel that speak Chinese languages.

Challenges that the travel industry faces include:

■ Infrastructure: This must grow to be able to move people throughout destinations. “The problem is the government keeps ‘kicking the can down the road,’ which stifles cities’ ability to grow and properly accommodate incoming travelers,” Dow said.

■ Ability to process people through airports: More travelers should utilize TSA precheck programs.

■ Customs and border protection: The U.S. needs to continue advancing technology including automated passport control and facial recognition.

■ Airplane capacity: In 2006, 11 airlines controlled 85 percent of air traffic in America. Now, there are four legacy carriers: Delta, American, United, and Southwest. “I want them to grow, but we can’t have four airlines controlling our destiny,” Dow said.

■ Improve load factors: Legacy carriers are projecting only 2 percent growth, yet international visitation is predicted to grow by 4 to 6 percent per year. The numbers don’t match, and carriers will stifle visitor growth.

■ Pandemics: The government and the media need to do a better job of identifying the exact areas affected by an epidemic and not make it sound like an entire state, region or country is affected.

The good news for the hotel industry is that, nationwide and in Las Vegas, the number of visitor days has not declined, but the amount of money spent during those stays has. Dow notes that “people are spending less on a hotel room. Instead of purchasing two Gucci bags, they are buying one. Instead of going to a 4-star restaurant, they are going 3-star.”

While nationwide the travel industry is flat, only growing at about 2 to 3 percent at this time, projections are for improved growth.

While business travel is very important to the economy, two-thirds of the travel and hospitality industry is for leisure activity.

One of the main reasons for the stagnated growth is the fact that Americans are not taking vacations. Americans have become what Dow calls “a nation of work martyrs.” In 2000, Americans took 23 days of vacation time. In 2015, that figure dropped to 16.2 days. Millennials, according to Dow, are the “worst offenders.” Because of the challenging work market, “they’re terrified of losing their jobs and want to look good.”

Furthermore, the USTA surveyed children, ages 6 and 7:

■ 75 percent say their parents never disconnect from the office when they come home.

■ 61 percent say the best time they spend with their parents is when they’re on vacation.

■ The surveyed children said, at least three days per week, their parents promised they would be home but were not.

To encourage Americans to take more leisure time, the travel and hospitality industries have teamed up to build a campaign called “Project Time Off,” producing a series of public service announcements touting the social and health benefits, physical and mental, of leisure activities.

MasterCard has committed $80 million to its television campaign where children ask their parents to take a vacation.


Cyberattack can’t spoil Kangamoo’s debut

 

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The Wachters–Shawn, Mimi, and daughter MaiLee –and mascot Kangamoo all got through a tough opening day at their playland marred by a cyber attack. Photo by Craig A. Ruark/Special to the Las Vegas Business Press

 

With apologies to Dickens, this is a tale of two Las Vegas couples, starting their own separate small businesses, and of childhood innocence combined with cybertheft.

Entrepreneurs Shawn and Mimi Wachter recently opened Kangamoo, a 10,000-square-foot indoor playground that has become an instant success. But this is not just an ordinary children’s playground; it is also a place where parents can relax and play and, since this is the information age, do business using Kangamoo’s free WiFi.

For the Wachter’s, Kangamoo is the result of part inspiration, part aspiration, and much perspiration. But, as it turns out, it is partly the result of luck as well.

The opening day of Kangamoo, while filled with excitement, could have been their closing day if the Wachter’s daughter had not gone to the same daycare as Troy and Shannon Wilkinson’s daughter.

The Wilkinson’s had just opened Axiom Cyber Solutions, and the Wachters had contracted with Axiom to guard Kangamoo’s computer system against hackers.

The Wilkinson’s, seeing a great place for their daughter to play, had signed up as members of Kangamoo, filling out a form that gave their names, address, daughter’s birthday and other information such as credit card account, to be stored in the Kangamoo computer system.

Come opening day, while children were frolicking at Kangamoo, hackers were busy trying to gain access to the Kangamoo computer system. However, the Axiom-installed fire wall held and all of the information remained safe and secure.

“We’re a small, independent indoor playground—we didn’t expect to face an attempted data breach ever, let alone just hours after opening our doors to the public,” said Mimi Wachter. “You hear about this kind of thing happening to large corporations with millions of customers; it was really off our radar that a tiny, new business like ours would be targeted.”

A series of coincidences are responsible for this tale of fortunate events. Both the Wachter’s and the Wilkinson’s met through their work, both couples married in 2010, had daughters that attended the same daycare, joined the Las Vegas Metro Chamber of Commerce around the same time, and both couples were opening new businesses in Las Vegas.

The story of Axiom can be found in the Jan. 18 edition of the Las Vegas Business Press (http://businesspress.vegas/technology/local-firm-takes-online-demons).

The Wachter’s met while working in Los Angeles for Gensler Architecture, one of the world’s largest architecture firms. Shawn, a designer, and Mimi, a project manager, were both on the ladder to success when in 2007, at age 33, Shawn was hit with cancer. In 2008, the economy crashed and with Shawn on leave for chemotherapy treatments, Mimi was struggling to stay employed.

In 2010, the pair married and decided to move to Las Vegas where they could find more affordable housing. And in June of 2011, their daughter MaiLee was born.

Like all good parents, the Wachter’s took MaiLee to the zoo to see the animals, and it was an early visit that became the inspiration for their future endeavor. While at the zoo, MaiLee fell in love with what she called a “Kangamoo.” The Wachter’s were so inspired by MaiLee’s fascination and mispronunciation of this adorable animal that they filed for a trademark on the name.

Having survived cancer and the recession, the Wachters aspired to work for themselves and spend more time with their growing daughter. The idea for an indoor playground came out of necessity. Las Vegas is too hot in the summer, often very windy, and the winters are cold, at least compared to Southern California). The answer was a climate controlled year round facility, and Kangamoo Indoor Playground was born.

Although the Wachters were familiar with the process of designing and renovating commercial businesses, they were taken by surprise by the amount of work that it would take to design, permit, and build their own business. The planning took six months and for the next six months, the couple practically lived in the warehouse facility, electing to do all of the renovation work themselves.

Shawn’s 20-year background in retail allowed him to create a polished franchise brand look to the business.

Incorporated into their concept is an adult area with a bank of massage chairs, Wi-Fi, laptop and phone charging stations, a jogging track, do-it-yourself beauty stations, and work space that is free for the parents, who must remain in the building with their children.

Due to Clark County Health Department regulations, no outside food can be brought into the facility by parents or children. However, there is a health food bar stocked with water, juice drinks and healthy snacks such as fruit, yogurts, and vegetables.

Enabling the parents to relax is a staff of eight employees who monitor the playground to make sure each child is safe and having fun. After only a week of operation, the Wachters decided to hire an additional eight employees. Each employee undergoes a thorough background check, and there are instructions given for basic first aid.

The playground consists of a giant treehouse type maze of tunnels, rope crossings, ladders, and a giant slide. There is also a corner which is Mimi’s pride and joy, where children are given the opportunity to draw and color using old fashion Crayons or play with building blocks.

When the six-foot Kangamoo character walks into the play area, the children rush to its side and wrap their arms around the snuggly icon.

The playground is located at 1525 E. Sunset Road, Suite 7, with windows that overlook McCarran Airport so parents and children alike can watch the takeoff and landing of airplanes.

The facility is open to children ages 1-10 and the cost for three hours of play is $10. An annual membership for unlimited free play is $225. The facility is also available for private parties.


SBA names restaurateur state’s Small Business Person of Year

Even before Brad Burdsall graduated from the UNLV School of Hotel Administration in 1993, he knew that one day he would own a restaurant.

Fast forward 23 years and Burdsall owns not one restaurant, but a chain of six successful Egg Works and Egg &I Family Restaurants, a commercial kitchen and corporate headquarters. His company employs more than 300 employees.

“It was the perfect storm of a businessman with a passion for cooking,” Burdsall said of the success that this year earned him the federal Small Business Administration’s designation as Small Business Person of the Year in Nevada.

Not only did Burdsall pay attention in class, he kept learning and fine-tuning his business knowledge after receiving his college degree. While waiting tables at the Olive Garden and the Mirage coffee shop, Burdsall began developing his idea for the Egg Works brand. Later as a chef and manager at Macaroni Grill, he was working on a business plan for his own restaurant.

In 1998, with funds borrowed from his parents and uncle, Burdsall and his one-time partner purchased the Egg &I restaurant on West Sahara Avenue between Arville and Decatur.

By 2005, Burdsall was ready to expand. He took an SBA loan to purchase the land and build his third location on Rainbow and the 215 Beltway. “To me, from a business sense, using the real estate analogy, the SBA loan allowed me to move from being a renter to buying a home,” he said.

Burdsall said the key feature of an SBA loan is the borrower needing only a 10 percent down payment as opposed to a 30 percent with a conventional loan.

Ann Santiago of TMC Financing agrees. Santiago’s company is an SBA-certified development company that puts together SBA commercial real estate loans.

“If you have a $1 million loan and only need to put 10 percent down, then you can save $200,000 in cash for working capital that does not have to go into the ground,” Santiago said.

Burdsall feels most budding businesses go about small business loans the wrong way. Going to the bank before the SBA often ends in the loan being rejected, ending the process, he said. Burdsall suggests using TMC Financing or another SBA-certified company to become prequalified, then letting that company pitch the package to the banks.

Burdsall had been working with Eric Colvin at Meadows Bank for his business account, so it was only natural that Meadows also processed his SBA loan. “We are one of the few banks in Las Vegas that specializes in SBA financing,” Colvin said. “Because we are a community bank without a lot of branch locations, we don’t require that a business bank with us to process an SBA loan.”

Burdsall has four SBA loans that helped him expand his business to three restaurant locations and purchase a 20,000-square-foot building on the corner of Cameron and Hacienda, which serves as a warehouse, commercial kitchen and corporate headquarters.

On April 30, Burdsall joined winners from all 50 states and U.S. territories in Washington, D.C. for the announcement of SBA’s National Small Businessperson of the Year. The applicants are judged based on the history of the company, their business plans, analysis of growth, and how they have overcome adversity.

The Egg Works chain, known for its homemade banana nut muffins, produces 2,500 muffins a day at its commercial kitchen. Along with the enormous number of eggs they purchase and store in a 1,500-square-foot refrigerator, pallets full of bananas are also ripening to perfect sweetness. In addition, Egg Works makes bulk batches of chili, corned beef hash, and other products that are distributed to the individual restaurants. This mass production allows for a consistent taste as well as highly discounted purchasing power.

To make his restaurants stand out from the competition, Burdsall also has developed his own brand of hot sauce, called “Habla Diablo,” along with a Bloody Mary mix, Hollandaise sauce, and 17 different spice blends that fill the dry storage area with a strong aroma.

The beauty of the business is that the restaurants are open from 6 a.m. to 3 p.m. which “gives me time to spend with my family.” Burdsall has been married to wife Catherine for 17 years, and together they have a 15-year-old daughter, Olivia, who is active in theater as an actress and singer, and 12-year-old son, Tyler, who is a level eight gymnast.

In addition to cooking, Burdsall’s passion is the collection of pinball machines – he has more than 40 — and riding quad bikes in the mountains with his family.


SBA to recognize PrideStaff owner

Bob Daniel speaks casually and in a positive, upbeat fashion about what it takes to be successful. His rich baritone voice makes it clear he’s an authority.

As the owner and strategic partner of PrideStaff Las Vegas, Daniel shares his knowledge with every staffing applicant who walks through his door, mentoring them to make sure his clients receive quality, motivated, part- and full-time employees who will enhance their business.

It is this trademark of personalized quality and service that has earned Daniel the Small Business Administration’s award as Nevada Veteran-Owned Business of the Year.

He will be among more than a dozen to be honored Wednesday during an SBA luncheon at the Gold Coast.

Graduating high school during the Vietnam war era, Daniel realized that he didn’t have the grades or money for college, so he enlisted in the Air Force to learn a skill and perhaps take advantage of the GI Bill to continue his education. He parlayed skills he learned in a high school typing class to an assignment handling administrative duties. He was stationed in Texas, the Philippines, Vietnam, and then back to Texas during his four years of service.

Daniel spent the next 32 years in the private sector hiring, training and managing cross-functional teams. These teams consisted of sales, supply chain, marketing and Web development at IBM, Micron, and Fujifilm. He was a staff instructor at IBM’s Management Development Center.

In addition to working a full-time job, Daniel completed his education by first using the GI Bill to finance his associate’s degree in business management, and then continuing on his own to receive a bachelor’s degree in professional studies, and a master’s in business administration.

Despite all of the higher education studies, Daniel credits his time in the Air Force as his major learning experience and the foundation for his success in business. “It helped me and prepared me in a couple of ways. One is just being able to listen and communicate in terms of understanding the other person’s perspective without being judgmental. I also learned how to research and where to look to find the answers to questions.”

MOVING TO LAS VEGAS

In 2004, after years of success in the corporate world and as an empty nester living in New Jersey, Daniel and Mini, his wife of 47 years, decided to escape the cold winters and moved to Las Vegas.

“I liken Las Vegas to the new melting pot, a forward-thinking community with tremendous opportunities for individuals that are willing to work hard, play fair, but compete vigorously. There is also a Wild West kind of mentality where everything is fair game, and you just need to figure out how to get your share of it,” said Daniel.

Daniel purchased a PrideStaff franchise rather than reinvent the wheel, and in 2006, the couple opened the Las Vegas office.

He was nominated for ‘Nevada Veteran Owned Business of the Year’ award by Kenyatta Lewis, executive director of supplier diversity for MGM Resorts International.

Lewis complimented Daniel for his ethics and perseverance. “He patiently pursued a business relationship with us for five years before we worked together. The initial order was a small one — just a single limousine driver—but Bob treated that placement, and every one since, as his top priority.”

With a staff of just four full-time and two part-time administrative employees, PrideStaff Las Vegas has more than 100 employees working on assignment at client locations each week. The company provides both white- and blue-collar staff for hospitality, gaming, finance, manufacturing, distribution, construction, information technology, transportation utilities, architecture, government, and professional services.

However, Daniel said he is selective when it comes to the number and type of companies that he will take on as a client.

“I don’t want to be all things to all people. And I don’t want a large client count because it becomes unmanageable and I would end up alienating people. So I am very specific as to who we do business with, and I really want it to be a partnership,” said Daniel.

That fits with Lewis’ experience.

STRESSING THE VALUE OF HIS SERVICES

“Bob has never tried to ‘sell us staffing.’ He’s educated us about the strategic value of his services, developed innovative solutions to our business problems, and shown us how to use PrideStaff’s resources to thrive in any market conditions. PrideStaff is more than a vendor; they’re a partner in our success,” said Lewis.

As a minority- and veteran-owned business serving Las Vegas, North Las Vegas, and Henderson, PrideStaff is one of Clark County’s leading employment and staffing agencies. The firm provides a full complement of administrative and light industrial temporary, temp-to-hire and direct placement solutions to help employers overcome their biggest workforce challenges while helping area job seekers find meaningful employment.

In addition to running a business, Daniel still finds time to give back to the community. He is actively involved with the Las Vegas Metro Chamber of Commerce, 100 Black Men of Las Vegas, Las Vegas Minority Supplier Development Council as well as the Southern Nevada Human Resources Association.


Corporate philanthropy grows, targets education

“Nevada’s path of recovery in the past few years has been nothing short of remarkable,” says Jeremy Aguero, principal of Applied Analysis and co-author of a report on Corporate Philanthropy in Nevada 2015.

In short, Nevada’s corporate generosity of 0.21 percent of total revenue, or $100.9 million, exceeds the national average of 0.13 percent.

That equates to roughly $441 per employee per year for the average Nevada company compared to a national average of $88 per employee.

The report, released on April 5, contains an intense 15 pages of facts and figures about Nevada’s corporate giving and how the state compares to others in the U.S.

Many of the details and statistics contained in the report were released earlier this year and reported in the Feb. 15 issue of the Las Vegas Business Press. The survey found 100 percent of the companies cited education as a key priority for Nevada’s corporate philanthropy.

The chief reason is that better education brings more economic diversity, one of the state’s priority needs.

One of the companies highlighted in the report, City National Bank, said it believes education is the key to economic diversity and focused its philanthropic efforts on “providing the best possible return on investments.” Seeing Nevada’s youth as future leaders, City National created the “Reading is the way up” program to develop childhood literacy.

Through the program, the company invests in school libraries, teacher grants for K-12 schools and community partnerships to enhance literacy. Employees of City National also receive up to three hours of paid time off per month to read to students.

The program has been responsible for donating 115,000 books, over $500,000 in grants and reaching more than 100,000 children in the areas that the bank serves.

Overall giving to Nevada’s educational programs grew to a total of 44 percent of all spending, a notable increase from 12 percent last year and well above the 13 percent national average. Recent events in Nevada have called attention to the vast amount of land in Nevada that is under environmental protection.

Barrick Gold, a major employer and mining company that makes its living from Nevada’s natural resources, also recognizes how important it is to protect the environment.

The company has teamed up with the Nature Conservancy to implement a conservation plan on 582,000 acres of the unique sage-grouse habitat. The goal of the joint venture is to measurably improve the habitat population over the next three years.

In Nevada, giving to environmental preservation reached 7 percent of the total, which again tops the national average of 4 percent.

Volunteerism is a critical part of corporate philanthropy programs. More than 71 percent of the companies surveyed offered a volunteer program, with just over 445,000 volunteer hours reported by employees in the past year, an average of 2.8 hours per employee. The report highlighted several companies that value their employee participation.

The Caesars Foundation has for more than a decade supported the Meals on Wheels program which provides regular meals, friendly visits, safety checks and other services. Caesars “HERO” volunteers ensure that no senior citizen is hungry or alone.

NV Energy also concentrates its philanthropic efforts on the large senior citizen community through the Senior Energy Assistance Expo that helps to manage energy bills.

During the expo, 130 employee volunteers help to find programs that manage energy and save money. In addition, they identify seniors who are eligible for “Project Reach” energy assistance. More than $344,000 in assistance has been given to 1,210 households.

While most companies surveyed agree that corporate philanthropy benefits the bottom line by projecting a positive company image, it must also serve a purpose within the community.

Giving without a plan or strategy to maximize benefits will lead to short-term, half-hearted campaigns that are ineffective for both the companies and the recipients.

The main beneficial motivations for corporate giving are:

■ Providing opportunities to engage with the company’s employees

■ Increasing customer loyalty

■ Protecting and enhancing the company’s reputation among consumers

■ Creating opportunities for business innovation or growth

The Corporate Philanthropy in Nevada 2015 report is a collaboration between the Moonridge Group, which serves as a catalyst between individuals, foundations and corporations, and the Nevada Corporate Giving Council.

A printed copy of the report is available by calling 702-570-7693 or sending an email toconnect@moonridgegroup.com.


‘Giant Gray’ tracks anomalies to spot danger

When it comes to fighting physical and cyber-type crimes, the recent International Security Conference &Exposition (ISC West), Las Vegas had more technology and knowledge concentrated in one location than any other place in the world.

And while there have been some minor improvements in security camera resolutions, cloud-based file storage and system connectivity, there were only a few novel ideas displayed by the nearly 920 vendors at the event.

One of the biggest advances comes in the form of “multi-sensor fusion technology,” developed by Giant Gray Inc. The product is the first for Behavioral Recognition Systems Inc., the successor to BRS Labs in Houston. Giant Gray builds on 10 years of innovation funded by more than $100 million in venture capital.

The company, which has contracts with nearly a dozen mass transit authorities, waste water treatment facilities and the five major oil and gas producers, is looking to expand into theft prevention for big box retail.

This technology could make the Strip, McCarran Airport and other major gathering spaces within our community, a lot safer in the future.

In simple terms, Giant Gray has developed software that attaches to the back end of any monitoring system. The software then spends a short period of time learning what is normal for the environment that it is monitoring and then identifies abnormal incidences, tags the anomaly and sends a clip of the incidence to someone who is assigned to take care of the problem.

The technology behind the ability to learn is called “artificial cognitive neurolinguistics.” The key is adaptive and self-learning software based on algorithms that enable the computer to see anomalies that are perhaps very visible but hidden behind oceans of data.

The system is not only designed to identify visual anomalies that are picked up by security cameras but also works well with computer monitoring systems that you might find in a large processing or manufacturing environment.

In a real world application such as Las Vegas, the Giant Gray system has the capability to monitor thousands of cameras at once. It can recognize instances such as altercations between people, packages that are dropped and left and loitering behavior. Where humans in monitoring stations would miss many of these types of behaviors, the computer does not blink, take a sip of coffee, take calls or otherwise become distracted.

Once an instance is identified, a screen shot is captured and sent by email or text message to a designated person. That person can look at the photo to immediately determine the action needed in nearly real-time response.

“The system was designed from the ground up to detect the unexpected — and do so at an extreme scale,” said Steve Sulgrove, president and CEO of Giant Gray.

The system is also capable of monitoring the systems controls in a large building or at a utility plant such as a casino, Southwest Gas, Southern Nevada Water Authority or NV Energy. In this type of application, the computer software analyzes subtle anomalies that could be precursors to events such as power outages or line breaks. The system can also detect cyber-intrusion.

While this type of advanced technology may not be right for every business, it could be the next advancement in the world of homeland security.

On a large scale, the system can be integrated into traffic cameras and other surveillance systems for around $150,000, plus an additional per camera fee.

On a smaller scale such as a retail store, the system will monitor a dozen cameras and the computer system for cyber-theft starting at around $25,000.