La Frontera

“I have missed so much of life, my face like a doormat, has so often seen the undersoles of travelers’ shoes and boots, smelled the greens and dirts in their cleats, and I have spent a life imagining their travels.” — ‘Influences’ by Jimmy Santiago Baca

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Shadow Play

‘When one man dies, one chapter is not torn out of the book, but translated into a better language.’ — John Donne

Local company transforming stroke, brain cancer treatment

The art of developing innovative medical treatments can simply consist of reassigning how a compound is being used. 

Just ask Dr. Evan Unger, who co-founded NuvOx Pharma, a Tucson-based research and development company. 

Since 2008, NuvOx Pharma has focused on treating life-threatening diseases involving hypoxia, where oxygen is prevented from traveling to body tissue which disrupts metabolic functioning.

The company’s journey began when Unger licensed the rights to dodecafluoropentane emulsion, or DDFPe, which was originally developed for ultrasound technology. The company repurposed the compound for oxygen delivery therapies for patients who suffer from stroke, traumatic brain injury and hemorrhagic shock.

The company’s flagship program is for stroke treatment, Unger said, because of the size of the market. They believe the effectiveness of their therapy could make it the next standard of care. Approximately 795,000 Americans suffer from strokes each year.  

Read the entire Tucson Local Media story here. Originally published April 24, 2019.

Street Whispers

I wandered the barrio tonight. Camera. Click, click. I heard your voice pierce through the night sounds. So I whispered, ‘I love you too.’

Las calles always have the message I need; wait until midnight, patently, I thought. Then, go visit your hermano.

Arizona restaurateurs adapt as hourly workers see pay raise, benefits improvement

After 15 years of working in the food industry, Hub Restaurant and Ice Creamery General Manager Alex Zepeda knows just how hard the job can be. And she said that while restaurants across the state have had to adjust to the recent increases in Arizona’s minimum wage, the change was long overdue.

“It is something that I think needed to happen,” Zepeda said. “And I’m glad that we’re paying people what they should be paid—a livable wage.”

Zepeda, 29, said that while Tucson’s cost of living is comparatively affordable, local folks may be supporting a family on a 40-hour weekly salary, so they need to make a living, she said.

In November 2016, Arizona voters approved Proposition 206, which increases the statewide minimum wage during a four-year period. In January, Arizona’s minimum wage rose to $11 per hour; and in 2020 the statewide hourly rate of pay will reach $12 per hour.

The ballot initiative also guarantees that workers accrue paid sick time off. Arizona businesses with 15 or more employees must now offer 40 hours of paid sick time annually, while businesses with less than 15 workers must allow for 24 hours of paid sick leave.

Under Prop. 206, employees earn one hour of paid sick time for every 30 hours they work. If an employee doesn’t use their sick pay, those hours will roll over from year-to-year.

When voters OK’d the ballot measure, Arizona’s minimum wage was set at $8.05. The current federal minimum wage is $7.25, which hasn’t budged in a decade.

Read the entire Tucson Local Media article here. Originally published on March 27, 2019.

Chamber leaders roll out new healthcare plan for small businesses

Many small businesses face a tough choice: Do you push to grow your company, or do you offer health benefits in order to retain your employees?

In an attempt to address the latter, the Southern Arizona Chamber of Commerce Association launched a new health insurance plan this month for self-employed workers and those operating modest proprietorships.

“For small businesses that don’t have access to healthcare right now, hopefully this will give them an option to acquire insurance and offer it to their employees,” said Robert Medler, vice president of public affairs at the Tucson Metro Chamber.

And if a qualifying company already provides benefits, the new association health plan could give employers a more cost-effective option, he added.

In June, the U.S. Department of Labor implemented new regulations that make it easier for small businesses to coalesce and purchase an association health plan.

The Southern Arizona Chamber Benefits plan, which is managed by UnitedHealthcare, is one of the many new AHPs to hit the market nationally.

Read the entire Tucson Local Media article here. Originally published on Feb. 20, 2019.

GOP tax overhaul includes some big changes for business tax filers

If you haven’t met your maker by April 15, Uncle Sam will be expecting his annual tax settlement.

But small business owners throughout Arizona may appreciate some of the changes to the federal tax code, which was ratified by Congress in December 2017.

The federal Tax Cuts and Jobs Act aimed to simplify individual filings, slash the federal corporate tax rate and offer temporary tax deductions for comparatively small proprietors.

By 2027, the federal tax overhaul will also add more than $1.4 trillion to the national deficit, according to the Congressional Budget Office.

While local tax preparers are waiting to see if Arizona will conform to the new federal law, here’s what some professionals had to say about the changes.

Small businesses eligible for 20 percent deduction

Under the new federal tax law, pass-through entities—which include sole proprietorships, partnerships, LLCs and S corporations—will be eligible for a 20 percent tax deduction on qualified income.

Even though owners of pass-through entities may get a significant savings from the new 199A deduction, it’s a more complex and time-consuming calculation, said Marshele Scherrer, marketing manager at R&A CPAs.

Read the entire Inside Tucson Business article here. Originally published Jan. 18, 2019.