Merit Matters   Fall 2011
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Merit Matters Fall 2011



Our quarterly magazine showcases several FirstMerit customers and a special employee highlight. In this issue: Natalie Hay\'s Personal Passion.

Our quarterly magazine showcases several FirstMerit customers and a special employee highlight. In this issue: Natalie Hay\'s Personal Passion.



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Merit Matters   Fall 2011 Merit Matters Fall 2011 Document Transcript

  • matters fall 2011 InsIghts for busIness & lIfe New Picture of HealtH Business: finding Columbus eyes solutions future in growing with working Partners industry technology: 5 must-haves for soCial Dr. Michael Miller, media PoliCies Director of the Department of Plastic Surgery, at the Ohio State university Medical centerplus: wellness learn more about healthy travel money CalCulate your retirement gap
  • Could your global banking needs use some local advice? Experience worldwide capabilities with hometown sensibilities. From advisory, trade, and payment services to working capital and foreign exchange, FirstMerit combines all the international banking products and services you’d expect from a larger institution, with the personalized service of a trusted neighborhood bank.F o r m o r e i n F o r m a t i o n , contact chris Pilkington at 614-429-7440 Persona l business commerci a l w e a lt hor chris.pilkington@firstmerit.commember FDic
  • matters fall 2011, volume 1, issue 3table of contents24CoverColumbus grows new picture of health 6Business Matters Working partners helps companies 14 Personal Finance home equity loans vs. home equitycare with the stefanie spielman address substance abuse problems lines of credit, plus calculating yourComprehensive breast Center and more and implement healthy programs retirement gapbriefs ................................................................. 5 strategy ............................................................20events, highlights and attractions mandated transparency for retirement account feesask the expert ..................................................10 Wellness ...........................................................22sba loans and commercial credit cards healthy travel, employee benefits talk and stress busterstechnology .......................................................12 Community ......................................................285 must-haves for your social media policy, ground level solutions sparks energy improvementcharge from your cell phone, connect on the cheap efforts for low-income homeownersinvestments .....................................................18 employee focus .............................................30income anxiety in a low-interest environment natalie hay gets personal with american siDs institute meritmatters • 3
  • first WorD >>> sue matters Z a Z on fall 2011, volume 1, issue 3 PuBlisher miChael marZeC Managing editor ann m. gynn ContriButing editor Danielle toth art direCtor staCy viCkroy ProduCtion Manager anDrea JagerLiving better in Columbus ProjeCt Manager angela vannuCCiColumbus’ star on the map got a little and firstmerit do to further its mission. Cover Photo: Jay lapretebrighter this year with the opening of the of course, our firstmerit expertsstefanie spielman Comprehensive breast continue to share their insight to help you if you WoulD like to reCeive futureCenter at the ohio state university’s James issues of meritmatters, email us at and your organization. on the businessCancer hospital and solove research fm.magaZine@firstmerit.Com. side, they explain what you need to knowinstitute. in this issue, we explore how about sba loans and how to get the most MeritMatters is publisheD four timesthis center was developed and how it has from your company’s credit card program. a year by sMart Business Contentelevated this city’s status in the midwest on the personal side, they explore a Marketing, 835 sharon Drive, suite 200,medical community and beyond. variety of topics, from home equity lines Westlake, oh 44145, (440) 250-7000. as the state’s capital, Columbus attracts and loans to retirement gap analysis andmany other health care-related businesses investment income anxiety in a low inter- meritmatters is solely intended for generaland organizations. We profile Working est rate environment. information purposes. it is not intended topartners®, which combines health and plus, get some tech insight with five provide – nor should it be used in lieu of –business – assisting companies in improv- things every social media policy should financial, accounting, legal or other pro-ing their employees’ quality of life by include and how to connect on the cheap fessional advice. it does not constitute aimplementing measures that also protect plus tips on wellness from how to make recommendation to buy or sell any security orproductivity and profitability. travel healthier to stress-busting at work. adopt any investment strategy. the publisher in our community section, we spotlight assumes no liability for readers’ use of the as you read on, we hope you’ll have information contained herein. the informa-ground level solutions – a nonprofit even more reasons to agree – living in tion was obtained from sources believedorganization created to help low- to- Columbus really is better. to be reliable, but such information is notmoderate-income families use available guaranteed as to its accuracy. readers shouldenergy resources wisely. its staff works seek professional assistance with regard towith individuals, energy providers, com- specific matters. all opinions expressed inmunities and other organizations to plan, meritmatters are those of the authors ordesign and implement energy-efficient sources and do not necessarily reflect theand affordable housing initiatives. in ad- sue Zazon views of firstmerit bank or firstmerit Corp.dition, one of our firstmerit employees president and Ceo,shares why she got involved in the ameri- Columbus region securities and insurance products are:can siDs institute and the work both she firstmerit bank not fDiC insured. may lose value. no bank guarantee. not a deposit. not insured by any federal or state government agency.4 • meritmatters
  • >>> briefsColumbus events, highlightsanD attraCtionsColuMbus InternatIonalfIlM & VIDeo festIValnov. 16 through 20screenings throughout Columbus, check website for details.nov. 19 is the Cif + vf awards Ceremony at the Candani Centerof the Columbus College of art and Design.(614) or www.columbusfilmcouncil.orgoperating since 1950, the six-day Cif+vf is the longest-runningfilm festival in the country and continues to support professional,educational and independent filmmaking from around the world.early-bird screenings run through october. find Cif+vf onfacebook and twitter. 56th ColuMbus InternatIonal festIVal nov. 5 and 6 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. nov. 5; 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. nov. 6 franklin County veterans memorial/300 W. broad st. (614) 735-2848 With more than 80 cultures represented, including a global art gallery and children’s crafts and games area, the Columbus international festival is spirited delight for all ages. visitors can peruse more than 200 booths offering international cuisine, culinary classes and health education services. lively cultural dances are performed on stages throughout the festival. DICKens of a ChrIstMas Dec. 9, 10, 16, 17 and 18 6 to 9 p.m. fridays and saturdays; ohIo statehouse noon to 5 p.m. sunday 150th bIrthDay ohio village/ohio history Center CelebratIon Columbus, ohio open house (800) 686-1541 nov. 15 10 a.m. - 6 p.m. experience the enchantment of Charles Dickens broad & high streets, as ohio village is transformed into a victorian Columbus holiday wonderland inspired by some of his greatest works. sip on hot cocoa and sample learn about the ohio goodies, enjoy cooking demonstrations, caroling statehouse’s history, and victorian decor in this spellbinding mix of snack on food samples history and fantasy. admission: $12/adult, $9/ and buy from ohio at youth (ages 6-12); $2 less for ohio historical soci- the birthday celebration ety members; free/child (5 and younger). and artists fair. meritmatters • 5
  • business matters >>>Working partners ®helps companies establish drug-free workplaces W hile companies have recognized the value in being a drug-free workplace for years, “unfortunately, programs from the Ohio Bureau of Work- those enterprises ers’ Compensation that allow businesses to receive workers’ comp premium discounts ranging from 3 to Without Drug-free 7 percent have spurred more active interest in the topic. To help companies take advantage of programs like the WorkplaCe programs state’s Drug Free Safety Program and promote an overall are being shoppeD by healthy workplace, Reynoldsburg-based Working Partners provides drug-free workplace consulting and training. those Who Want to Founder and CEO Dee Mason created the umbrella in 1997 to envelope the Business Against Substance Abuse use substanCes.” Coalition, a private, nonprofit organization established in 1991 that serves the Ohio community by executing preven- • An employee assistance plan of action. An em- tion projects funded by state and local agencies, and Work- ployer needs to identify a plan of action and the appli- ing Partners Systems, Inc., a private, for-profit company that cable resources for employees who seek help on their own, performs marketing, product development with execution are referred by management for a possible problem with and statewide/national expansion of drug-free workplace alcohol/drugs or have a positive alcohol/drug test. programs and services. • Drug and alcohol testing (as appropriate). An “The two organizations work cooperatively and symbi- employer has myriad decisions to make about its drug-free otically,” Mason explains. She founded the nonprofit then testing program. These include questions such as when it saw the benefits of creating a for-profit organization to work will test (there are 25 options, including pre-employment, in tandem. “And that’s how Working Partners was born.” random, after an accident, etc.), who will be tested, what Working Partners helps companies put together an ef- drugs will be tested for, what the appropriate cut-off levels fective drug-free workplace program that consists of five are, what protocols and laboratory will be used, etc. standard components: • A written summary or policy. This user-friendly Once a plan is in place and executed, the benefits are document sets the tone of the program, outlines the immense, Mason says. Besides the workers’ compensation responsibilities of employer and employee, references premium discounts the BWC provides, implementing a available help and explains the program, including pro- drug-free workplace program has been proven to increase hibited conduct, types and circumstances of testing and productivity and decrease absenteeism, medical costs and the consequences for violations. theft on the job, Mason says. • Employee awareness and education. Employees “It is important for employers to understand that a should be made aware of and receive education about drug-free workplace program is one of the most important the policy, responsibilities, consequences, their rights and programs a company can have,” Mason says. “Employers the resources available to them through the company and can’t afford to shut their eyes and hope the drug problem community if they (or one of their family members) need goes away because it’s not going away. Unfortunately, those help with a substance abuse problem. enterprises without drug-free workplace programs are being • Supervisor training. Supervisors are a vital component shopped by those who want to use substances. And as more of a company’s drug-free workplace program. They should and more industries and employers become drug-free work- receive training about the impact of alcohol and drugs on places, those substance abusers are going to trickle down into the workplace; how to recognize, document and confront the companies who don’t have those programs.” a possible drug-abuse problem; the company’s policy and Working Partners’ industry is constantly evolving and procedures; how to refer a troubled employee to available changing, Mason says. When she started in the industry in resources and/or testing; and how to support an employee the ’90s, crack cocaine was the main drug of choice. As the returning from treatment. continued on page 86 • meritmatters
  • working PartnersFounder and ceODee Mason photo by Jay laprete meritmatters • 7
  • business matters >>> continued from page 6 years passed, heroin became more prevalent, and now, by the numbers prescription drugs are a prime concern. To stay abreast of what’s current, Working Partners Substance abuse in the workplace is more prevalent constantly reviews the law and changes its base documents than many employers realize. take a look at these every six months to make sure any legal or judicial decisions statistics: have been considered in what an employer can or can’t do. It • 47 percent of serious workplace accidents and also keeps close tabs on the science industry as employees are 40 percent of workplace accidents resulting in constantly coming up with new ways to sabotage drug tests, fatalities have drug and/or alcohol involvement. Mason says. – Occupational Medicine “The responsibilities of an organization that wants to protect its workforce and its bottom line from substance- • 38 to 50 percent of all workers’ compensation abusing employees change all the time,” Mason explains. “I claims are related to the abuse of alcohol or am constantly monitoring the market and paying attention to drugs in the workplace. – National Council on Compensation Insurance every nuance and how it impacts our program.” But the responsibility doesn’t rest solely on Mason’s • More than 90 percent of alcoholics and shoulders. The company has a relationship with law firm 77 percent of drug addicts are employed. Porter Wright Morris & Arthur. Working Partners works in – National Institute on Drug Abuse, concert with the firm on everything it does, and the firm Department of Health & Human Services co-authors all Working Partners’ policies and documents. • 15 to 17 percent of employees in any average Working Partners’ close proximity to the state capital has u.S. company are substance abusers. also helped the company stay up-to-date on what is happen- – Bureau of Labor Statistics ing politically in its industry, Mason says. “This new administration has placed an enormous empha- • On average, each substance-abusing employee sis on the prescription drug problem,” Mason explains. “As costs his or her employer $7,000 to $25,000. an example, right now we sit on committees with the Ohio – Small Business Administration Department of Health, Ohio Attorney General’s Office and • An average of four Ohioans die every day from Ohio Department of Alcohol & Drug Addiction Services. We an unintentional drug overdose. are all forming task forces and trying to create methods and – Ohio Department of Health tactics to fight this problem. Our excellent proximity to the capital means we are a voice for business in these discussions.” In the future, Working Partners hopes to expand its base- line coursework and managerial support services to encom- pass more topics, including HR issues, working directly with CFOs, counseling on how to deal with difficult employees and advising on what banks are looking for when evaluating companies, Mason says. “We are very excited to report that drug-free workplaces have become more mainstream,” Mason says. “With that, we have the opportunity to evaluate what else we can bring to employers. We will continue to do our diligence and bring responsible programs that can help company managers assist their employees.” u for more information on Working partners or maintaining a drug-free workplace, visit or call (614) 337-8200.8 • meritmatters
  • Online payroll Online payroll that’s easy on that’s easy on your time your time and your and your bottom line. bottom line. Get Business Online Payroll Get Business Online Payroll for as low as $49.99 aamonth. for as low as $49.99 month. Take care of of payroll in justfew clicks with FirstMerit online Take care payroll in just a a few clicks with FirstMerit online payroll service. A full-service online payroll system with payroll service. A full-service online payroll system with 24/7 access and support. So you can use it wherever, whenever. 24/7 access and support. So you can use it wherever, whenever. And get back toto focusing on other things—like your business. And get back focusing on other things—like your business.F o r r m r e e n n o r m m t i o n n r r o o n n o l l ,l , Fo mo or i i F For a atio o o t t e er rol P eP e r s o n a l u su ni n e s s o m m e re r c i a l e ae a lt h r s o n a l b b i s e s s c c o m m c i a l w w lt hcall 1-866-311-1416, visit your local branch, call 1-866-311-1416, visit your local branch,oror go to go to FDic member FDic
  • ask the expert >>>sba loans offer opportunities, require proper evaluation find the right solution for each company.” past three years and interim financial state- Wiedmeyer and his colleague, Romona ments along with other items as determined Davis, Vice President, SBA Lending, share by the purpose of the loan request. their SBA loan expertise and discuss how Wiedmeyer: An established credit history Ra nd y businesses can benefit from the program. is helpful, , but it’s not a requirement by anyWi e d mey eR stretch. The bank will inevitably, as part of vice president, How does an SBA loan differ from its underwriting process, look at the busi- sba lending a traditional loan? ness’ credit history. But I would encourage Davis: The main difference is the U.S. businesses to evaluate their credit history government backs an SBA loan, which prior to making a loan request so they aren’t provides a guarantee to the bank. SBA loans surprised by any of the contents. are for borrowers that might not qualify for I would also encourage a business to conventional financing due to a variety of know and understand its present and future R om ona reasons (i.e., collateral shortfall, lower down financial needs so we can evaluate what type d avi s payment, longer term, etc.) They still have of loan is needed and for how much. vice president, to meet certain eligibility requirements and sba lending credit standards to qualify. What type of collateral is needed? Wiedmeyer: Among other requirements, Wiedmeyer: If the loan proceeds are be- businesses need to meet certain eligibility re- ing used to purchase some type of asset, the quirements for an SBA loan and fit the ap- bank is required to obtain a first lien posi- propriate parameters for being classified as tion on that asset. If the loan proceeds areU .S. Small Business Administration (SBA) loans can be a blessing for busi-ness owners whose enterprises might not a “small” business based on their industry. They also need to be in good character and can’t have a prior default on a federal loan. being used to refinance existing assets, the underlying SBA loan must be secured with at least the same security assets as the debtqualify for traditional financing because of The maximum loan amount is $5 million, that’s being refinanced. The SBA requiresinsufficient collateral, change of ownership, although there is no limitation on the num- that the business collateralize their loans tominimum down payment needs, inconsis- ber of loans a single borrower can have. the maximum extent possible.tent financing performance, etc. The SBAoffers a wide variety of loans, including 7(a), What type of business benefits most What are some of the misperceptions?CDC/504, microloans , and others. from an SBA loan? Wiedmeyer: Many people think the SBA “We want to help local businesses grow Davis: Any and all eligible for-profit loans are just for start-up businesses, but thatand prosper,” explains Randy Wiedmeyer, businesses that meet the SBA Eligibility couldn’t be further from the truth. There areVice President, SBA Lending, at First- Guidelines can benefit from an SBA loan. It so many different uses of the proceeds: ex-Merit. “SBA loans can make that possible. could be a start-up entity or a company that pansion, refinancing, acquisition, etc. There isWe’ll explore all of the loan options to help has been in existence for 20-plus years. If also a perception that SBA loans are for those a business wants a longer term on its loan, with less-than-desirable credit or for a poorly a lower down payment or has a reason it managed business. Having an SBA loan does wouldn’t qualify for traditional financing, it not mean you have a bad company; it’s just may benefit from this program. another loan option, and if you want to pre- serve capital, it’s a great alternative. There are How should businesses prepare also no balloon payments with an SBA loan. to seek an SBA loan? The loans are fully amortized. u Davis: It depends on the purpose of the loan request. If the business is a startup, looking Want to learn more about sba loans and to change ownership or expanding, we like how they can help your business? Contact to see a brief business plan with a three-year randy Wiedmeyer, vice president, sba projection included in their financing package lending, at randy.Wiedmeyer@firstmerit. that’s submitted to the bank. Also, for existing com, or romona Davis, vice president, sba businesses, we like to see tax returns from the lending, at • meritmatters
  • >>> ask the expert CommerCial CreDit CarDs How to get the most from your commercial credit card program designed for a small business and used as a payment tool by cardholders and a line of credit by the business. These cards are d ale fairly simple and don’t need extensive data F i tZ management. The second type is a corpo- vice president, rate card, often referred to as a travel-and- bankcard entertainment card. The T-and-E card is product manager usually more specialized to an executive sales person who travels frequently and would benefit directly from the card’s rewards. The last type of card is a pur- chasing or P card, which acts as a utility- Demystifying the best credit card programs type card for basic maintenance, repairs the benefits of the rewards program – the can be challenging. FirstMerit can help and operating purchases (MRO). These company or the cardholder. Companies you select the best commercial card for cards typically have uniquely designed using cards more for travel-and-entertain- you and your business, says Dale Fitz, Vice parameters for use – set by the customer. ment usually let the points accumulate President, Bankcard Product Manager, at Corporate and purchasing cards are typi- at the cardholder level as a small reward FirstMerit. cally used by larger companies and require for putting up with the inconvenience of more robust data management capabilities. travel. Purchasing cards tend to be aggre- What should a business consider gated at the company level. in a commercial card program? What should businesses consider The two most important things are really when giving cards to employees? What do people often overlook data management capability and customer The main purpose of a commercial card regarding corporate card programs? service. Customers need to consider the program is to provide utility to the end A lot of companies don’t fully maximize kind of data reporting available. At First- user. You want to let folks do their jobs in their card program; therefore, they don’t Merit, we have reporting for the smallest the best and most efficient way they can. realize the full potential cost savings. of companies to the largest of corpora- So you have to balance allowing employees Larger commercial programs, especially, tions. Reporting is a critical component to make purchases, with expense man- fail to continue adding users after ini- of expense management because you agement. That’s why many companies tial setup. There’s a misconception that can track at the individual card level or set parameters on the cards, to control commercial cards are simply a payment at an expense category level. The type of the places the card can be used, as well tool. Used correctly, however, they can customer service associated with the card as the purchase amounts. Our expertise be a huge cost savings to your company. program is also important. FirstMerit is and service come into play to help set the A typical purchase order can cost more unique because we have a local customer proper parameters to fit each individual than $30 per order when you consider the service team solely dedicated to our card company’s specific spending needs. At number of people and time that goes into customers. This team can quickly answer FirstMerit, we provide customers with it, whereas a credit card purchase aver- questions and make changes to your pro- daily files so they can monitor and manage ages less than $5 per order. Companies gram. Of course, you’re welcome to con- their program effectively. should analyze accounts payable records tact your banker or our Business Service to identify employees/departments making Center as well. We want to give a couple What about rewards? frequent low-dollar/non-critical purchases different options to make sure one of them First, businesses must decide whether then consider card use, as appropriate, tofitZ photo by Jim baron works for you. individual cardholders will be allowed to maximize the potential cost savings. u accumulate points or if the company will What should a business know aggregate and disburse them as they see Want to learn more corporate card about commercial cards? fit. There’s no right or wrong way to do programs? Contact Dale fitz, vice There are three main types of commercial it – it’s just a matter of preference. It’s up president, bankcard product manager, cards. The first is a business card, which is to management to decide who should reap at meritmatters • 11
  • >>>teChnology5 must-haves for yoursoCial meDia poliCy W ith the popularity ment, etc.) and the com- information, should not be development? Can they of social media pany’s overall position on disseminated online or else- discuss promotions and sites such as face- the use of social media on where without written per- other publicly disseminated book, twitter and linkedin behalf of the business. mission from the company. information? Consult with (and now the addition of your legal adviser to identify google+), it seems most MaIntenanCe. DIsClosure. your company’s rights everyone engages in some most social media Depending on the na- to restrict employee com- form of social networking. can be accessed via any ture of your business, your munication outside the of- While these sites are fun internet-connected com- employees may participate fice to ensure a policy that and can be a good way to puter or mobile phone. in online industry conver- doesn’t face first amend- market, employee social to avoid interference with sations through blogs, ment challenges. networking activity also can job performance, consider facebook pages, other present a risk to the busi- prohibiting employees from companies’ websites and ConsequenCes. ness. a good social media accessing or maintaining other avenues. your social it is important for policy identifies the priorities their social media while on media policy should specify employees to realize their for your company and gives the clock unless their activ- employees participating in actions could have reper- employees a heads up on ity relates directly to the these discussions should cussions. in most cases, it is what they can and can’t do. business. disclose themselves as a matter of the punishment here are the top five things members of your company fitting the crime. in the to include in any corporate ConfIDentIalIty. and include a disclaimer instance of an employee social media policy. update the confidenti- (i.e. these comments are using the company logo ality clause in the employee my own and do not reflect without permission, it may purpose. Clearly handbook and apply the the company’s opinions, just be a matter of asking outline the specific same principles in the online beliefs, etc.). you should him or her to remove the media the policy pertains to, world. a good social media also indicate what type of material. for more serious i.e. social media websites, policy should specify any information can be shared. offenses, such as blatantly blogs, wikis, personal knowledge obtained as a for example, can your bad-mouthing the company websites, etc. also identify result of employment, i.e. employees discuss your or a client, suspension whom the policy pertains to confidential or proprietary company’s financial informa- or termination may be (i.e. all employees, manage- company and/or client tion or product/service warranted.12 • meritmatters
  • go paysmartC ell phones already contain much of your most valuable information – phone numbers, text messages, emails, cal-endars, photos, etc. soon, they’ll add anothervaluable – your credit card information. google recently released google Wallet,a mobile app that will allow you to pay forproducts using your phones, and partnered with ConneCt on the CheapCiti, masterCard, first Data and sprint. anotherplatform, isis, is a partnership of at&t, t-mobileand verizon that will support payment from visa,masterCard and american express. F the technology that enables these trans- orego the airplane in favor of online communicationactions is called near field communication or technology. Connecting to your employees, clients andnfC. When your phone is equipped with this vendors no longer requires travel – now all you need is to gotechnology, you will be able to swipe your online. Here’s how to do it for at a terminal. however, this technology also comes with freeConferenCeCall.CoM – This popular conference-security risks. encryption and mobile device calling platform allows users to sign up for a free account to receive apasswords and pins are essential, but the mo- personal phone number, access code, subscriber PIN and instructionsbility makes it even easier for identity thieves to on how to use the service. Because it’s a dedicated personal line, nodo a lot of damage in a short time. coordinated scheduling is required. As many as 96 callers can dial in for merchants, the technology may help at any time. There are also no charges from,them come closer to the coveted one-on-onemarketing. When a customer scans his or her although long distance charges may apply, and you can record andphone to pay, he or she can also scan the play back calls. The same company also hosts,store’s customer loyalty card, earning points or a free online meeting service designed for screen sharing, web confer-rewards. the merchant, in turn, can track the encing, product demonstrations, webinars and more.consumer’s purchases and send coupons or ad- sKype – The free version of this well-known program allows you tovertisements that coincide with the consumer’spreferences. however, merchants will need to make Skype-to-Skype and one-to-one video calls and provides instantupgrade their terminals to accept nfC technol- messaging and screen-sharing services. Business plans vary dependingogy, which could be costly, and may not want on selected features but include all aspects of the free version plus fileto make the investment until they know the and screen sharing and conference calls. Extra features can includetechnology is safe, secure and sound. the ability to call and receive calls from landlines and mobile devices as well as group video calls. google talK – This downloadable chat application includes in- stant messaging, a status feature and file transfers. It also includes free long-distance PC-to-PC calls anywhere in the world, audio conferenc- ing with multiple people and Gmail integration. There is also a voice and video chat plug-in that allows for one-on-one chats. Google’s new social networking site, Google+, also offers a video chat feature called Hangout that can be used by up to 10 people. faCetIMe – The answer to video calls for Mac users, this software allows you to make calls over wireless Internet access using any Apple device, including iPhones, iPads and iPods. The app is 99 cents and downloadable from the Apple store. This is also a one-on-one chat but has a picture-in-picture view so you can view yourself during the conversation. As long as someone has FaceTime, even if it’s not up and running at the time, you can call them. u meritmatters • 13
  • personal finanCe >>>What’s the DifferenCe?Home equity loans vs. home equity lines of credit and interest. Loan terms usually vary from line using their FirstMerit Home Equity five to 30 years, depending on the loan MasterCard, checks or online banking. As amount and the borrower’s choice. Amounts the borrower makes payments, the credit generally range from $10,000 to $500,000. line is restored accordingly—just like a The borrower can borrow between 80 and consumer credit card. 100 percent of the home’s equity, determined by subtracting the existing mortgage balance businesses, heloCs from the home’s market value. anD equity loans Business owners can also use a home home equity line equity loan or line of credit to fund their of CreDit business, Lucci says. These loans or lines A home equity line of credit (HELOC) of credit can mean access to a low interest is a form of revolving credit, much like rate funding option. a credit card, Lucci explains. These lines “One of my friends who has a small of credit are generally used by those who business took out a home equity line of want a more flexible use of the money now credit and uses it for his business’ capital Eugene Lucci, and in the future. HELOCs also provide a needs,” he says. “Home equity lines of cred- Director of Product lower interest rate than many other types of it or loans are great for the business owner Management consumer credit, and borrowers can select a who might need to pay for a capital expense at FirstMerit monthly payment that best fits their budget. right away and then can turn around and “People generally use home equity lines pay the line off later.” u of credit for shorter-term expenses, like va-H ome equity loans and lines of cations, medical bills or tuition payments,” for more information on home equity credit, also often called second Lucci says. “It’s there if you need it, and lines of credit or home equity loans, mortgages, are used for a variety of you can draw on it anytime you want.” contact eugene lucci, Director of productfinancial needs, but they are distinctly differ- There are various ways to access your management at firstmerit, at product.ent financial tools. Eugene Lucci, Director of HELOC, depending on the financial Management at FirstMerit, discusses institution. With a FirstMerit HELOC, forthe differences and how both can be used for example, borrowers can access their credit All loans subject to credit approval.personal and business needs.home equity loansA home equity loan is the more traditionaloption for homeowners who have one-timeborrowing needs and prefer the security ofa fixed interest rate and fixed monthly pay-ment, Lucci says. “Usually, a home equity loan is usedfor a single, specific use that the borrowerhas, such as remodeling a kitchen,” he says.“The borrower normally knows how muchthey’ll need, how long they’ll take to pay itback and how much of a monthly paymentthey can afford.” With a home equity loan, borrowersreceive the loan at one time in a lump sum.They make fixed payments of the principal14 • meritmatters
  • retirement gap analysis Start calculating today for a manageable future food, clothing, entertainment and travel. A retirement gap is identified when a shortfall is predicted between income and expenses, DiGeronimo says. Knowing a gap is expected leads to the next step in the analysis – determining how to bridge that gap by looking at how big the difference is and identifying what steps can be taken on both the income and expense sides to lessen the gap, if possible. On the expense side, for example, Di- Geronimo says he looks at the individual’s mortgage to see if its impact in retirement could be minimized with a short-term re- finance or whether credit card debt can be be more comprehensive. consolidated and paid off timelier. “The financial advisor takes an in-depth Gregg On the income side, DiGeronimo looks look at income, expenses, cost of living and DiGeronimo, at what can be done with the individual’s the goals of your retirement lifestyle and President, investment portfolio to yield more money. interprets that data to make recommenda- FirstMerit Financial Services The analysis also takes into account tions that are personal to you,” he says. “We the different stages of retirement – from will also take into account things like your the “go-go” years when a retired person risk tolerance and the stock market. People W ith the current interest rate normally spends the most money on things who do this analysis themselves most likely environment, the recent eco- like trips to visit grandchildren and country don’t have the financial background to make nomic downturn and the influx club memberships, through the “slow-go” a recommendation for themselves.” of baby boomers moving into retirement, years in which their spending declines some It is also never too early to begin this more people will benefit from a personal because the person isn’t as active, and into analysis, DiGeronimo says. Retirement retirement gap analysis than ever, says the “no-go” years when personal expenses planning should begin in an individual’s Gregg DiGeronimo, President, FirstMerit are virtually non-existent but health care mid-20s or with his or her first job to avoid Financial Services. costs typically increase, DiGeronimo says. a future gap. “You don’t want to wait until Even those who don’t expect a gap “I joke around and say most people you’re at retirement age to have this conver- between their income and expenses in retire- spend more time planning their summer va- sation,” he says. u ment can gain from such an analysis. cation than they do planning for retirement, “You will feel better knowing you have a but it’s true,” he says. “You need to take a Want to learn more about retirement plan in place and can see what options you hard look at your financial plan annually to gap analysis? Contact gregg have down the road,” DiGeronimo says. “We make sure you are in a comfortable position. Digeronimo, president, take into account considerations you might “We can all benefit from a wide range firstmerit financial services at not have today, such as health care costs. of free retirement calculators that can A retirement gap analysis investigates be found online. Many of these types ofemployee photos by Jim baron an individual’s expected retirement income calculators take a high-level, broad look at Securities and insurance products are: Not FDIC insured streams, such as retirement accounts, re- how you are doing on your financial path to Not a deposit quired minimum distributions (RMDs) from retirement. Most, if not all calculators, use Not bank guaranteed Not insured by any federal or state government agency any retirement accounts, Social Security, cer- a questionnaire that models your existing May lose value tificates of deposit (CDs), savings accounts, investments and estimates what they might Securities are offered through FirstMerit Financial Services, Inc. annuities and pensions. It also reviews what yield over time,” adds DiGeronimo. Member FINRA, SIPC; Advisory Services offered through FirstMerit the individual expects to spend during retire- DiGeronimo stresses that a retirement Advisors, Inc.; Insurance products offered through FirstMerit Insurance Agency, Inc., Wholly owned subsidiary of FirstMerit Bank, N.A. ment on such things as health care, housing, gap analysis with a financial advisor will Not FDIC insured; May lose value; No bank guarantee meritmatters • 15
  • The effectiveness of all great partnerships isbased on the desire and drive to work together.
  • Let’s get to know each other.Creating custom solutions for your business and private banking needsbegins with a conversation. So before we become your resource for treasurymanagement, international trade, succession planning, wealth management andmore, we’d like to learn about your goals. Because we believe the best advice isbuilt around understanding you—and your l buSIneSS CoMMerCI a l w e a lT hTo l e a r n Mor e, contact Sue Zazon, Columbus region Ceo, at 614-545-2794.Member FDIC
  • >>>investmentsinCome anxiety:What to know about income in low-interest rate environment by Danielle toth Can we harbor hopes that the Fed will allow interest rates to increase soon? In a word: No. The Fed is 1) very worried about economic growth and the health of the banking system and 2) not worried about inflation, so they are holding their Fed funds rate around zero percent. They hope this “monetary ease” will stimulate lending and therefore economic growth. Recently, the Federal Open Market Committee stated that exceptionally low levels for the federal funds rate are war- ranted “at least through mid-2013.” Aren’t longer-term interest rates extremely low as well? How does that impact income-oriented investors? You are correct. The 10-year U.S. Treasury bond is the longer-term, risk-free rate, and it ranged from 4 to 5 percent for most of the economic expansion that ended in 2007. However, it was at or below 3 percent from March through July this year and then fell to just above 2 percent in August. This rate decline affects a common income- generating strategy known as “laddering” whereby a fixed income portfolio is built by purchasing individual bonds or Bob Leggett, Chief Investment Officer, CDs that mature over time. The investor uses the interest FirstMerit Wealth and rolls over (reinvests) the principal in a new five-year Management Services bond. The fact that interest rates peaked four years ago means most ladders have generated less and less income with every rollover in recent years. M any income-oriented investors are con- Can you give an example? cerned about the low interest rates on CDs Sure. Let’s assume three years ago, Mrs. Jones had a and money market funds. They want to $500,000 laddered bond portfolio consisting of 10 $50,000, know whether rates will improve and what five-year Treasury bonds with one maturing every six they can do to increase their investment income. Bob months for the subsequent five years. At each maturity Leggett, Chief Investment Officer for FirstMerit Wealth renewal since, she has had to invest at lower rates – on aver- Management Services, shares his insight on income anxiety age nearly 2 percent lower. That equates to a $1,000 decline and what today’s investors need to know. in income from each rollover. If that trend continues, she will eventually be receiving $10,000 per year less than she First, why are rates so low right now? was five years earlier. Well, interest rates on the shortest maturity risk-free finan- cial assets are beyond merely low – they’re almost non- What can an income-oriented investor do? existent. Most money market fund yields are currently less The choices aren’t great in the risk-free arena. If you decide leggett photo: bruCe forD than one-quarter percent, which means you earn less than to stay short term in money markets, Treasury obligations $25 annually for every $10,000 in the fund. CD rates are or FDIC-guaranteed CDs or savings accounts, rates will also extremely low. The ultimate risk-free asset, the 90-day range from virtually zero to maybe 1.5 percent on certain Treasury Bill, yielded less than 0.1 percent from March savings accounts. And even the so-called risk-free instru- through July. The reason rates are so low is the Federal ments have risks. As my example showed, a ladder has Reserve can pretty much target short-term interest rates at “reinvestment risk” or the risk that interest rates will be whatever level they believe appropriate. lower when matured bonds are reinvested. The upside of a18 • meritmatters
  • >>> investmentsladder is that it spreads out the reinvestment risk as opposedto investing all of Mrs. Jones’s bonds in one maturity. Thesecond risk is that these are “nominal” interest rates, so asurge of inflation could greatly dilute your buying power.People need to understand something called the risk/returntradeoff. In an environment of extremely low nominal rates,one must assume some risk of principal volatility to earn areturn that can equal or exceed the rate of inflation.What is the risk of these low “nominal” rates?If inflation averages 2 percent per year over the next twoyears and you own a CD with a rate of 1 percent, yournominal yield will be 1 percent, but you will be 1 percentbehind inflation, so your real (inflation-adjusted) rate will benegative 1 percent. The investor may believe he or she is nottaking a risk, but he or she is actually risking a loss of pur-chasing power. Investing and generating investment incomefor the longer term are all about maintaining (or better yet,increasing) the purchasing power of your assets.Are there safe, income-generating investments dividend stocks are numerous – these blue chip companiesthat can deliver positive real returns? are less volatile than non-dividend payers, common stockThe government does issue Treasury Inflation Protected Se- dividends are only taxed at a 15-percent rate and, unlikecurities (TIPS) that pay a fixed coupon and have an adjust- fixed-income securities, dividends can increase over time,ment to the par value based on the Consumer Price Index. which can reduce purchasing power risk.The coupon on these is below comparable Treasury bondmaturities, so unless inflation picks up significantly, TIPS Any other thoughts?will not resolve an investor’s nominal income problem. I’ll summarize our position on income generation as fol- lows: Attempting to completely avoid risk of loss currentlySo how does Mrs. Jones enhance her income? means very low income and leaves the investor vulnerableShe has to take some risk. She might go much further out to the risk of rising inflation. Some risk of loss (or at least in-the yield curve and buy bonds that mature in 10 or more creased volatility of account values) accompanies our otheryears, but even the 30-year bond yield has dropped below ideas. There’s no silver bullet for the income-oriented, risk-4 percent. Alternatively, she could invest in securities with averse investor, and in this interview, we have just scratchedsome default risk, such as corporate bonds or tax-exempt the surface of what can be done to enhance investmentbonds. Even though default rates for investment-grade income. We have helped many investors weigh these risk-corporates and municipals are quite low, there is some risk. versus-reward questions. uDiversification of issuers is an important way to reducethat risk, so we recommend working with an experienced have a question about investments? Contact bobinvestment advisor for advice on or using mutual funds or leggett, first merit Wealth management services Chiefexchange traded funds. Investors might also want to con- investment officer, at buying dividend-paying stocks. The opinions and information contained in this message have been derivedMany people are still very nervous about investing from sources believed to be accurate and reliable, but FirstMerit Bank,in the stock market. Isn’t this a risky idea? N.A. makes no representation as to their timeliness or completeness. This mes-As I noted earlier, some risk needs to be assumed, but stock sage does not constitute individual investment, legal or tax advice. All opinionsrisks may be reduced by carefully constructing a diversi- are reflective of judgments made on the original date of publication and do notfied portfolio of dividend-paying stocks. The benefits of constitute a guarantee of present or future financial market conditions. meritmatters • 19
  • >>>strategymanDateD transparenCyto retirement aCCount fees Currently, neither the plan participants nor the company providing the retirement plan are required by law to be in- formed of what fees the third-party plan administrator and investment manager charge and what that money covers. In fact, last year’s AARP survey revealed that 71 percent of 401(k) participants said they didn’t think they paid any fees. McDermott explains that the disclosure mandate was supposed to take effect last summer but the deadline was extended twice to give providers more time to prepare by implementing new software, creating new reporting plans or adjusting their administrative processes. The mandate now takes effect April 1, 2012. “For many other providers, it will be a dramatic change,” McDermott says. “But for FirstMerit, it’s not a significant change in terms of the way we currently charge for services and our level of disclosure. According to McDermott, FirstMerit already discloses the fees it charges for both its administrative and investment services and will now simply formalize the process to comply with specific aspects of the regulations. “We’re moving forward to meet the deadlines,” McDer- mott said. “In fact, our relationship managers are getting prepared to communicate the new regulations and what they mean to our clients and prospects.” What Does the Change mean to serviCe Greg McDermott, proviDers, sponsors anD partiCipants? Executive Vice Service providers of retirement plans need to make sure President, FirstMerit Retirement Plan their fees are reasonable, McDermott says. The Depart- Services ment of Labor has reported that the fees will need to meet industry benchmarks but has yet to define those benchmarks. FirstMerit, however, has already proactively R etirement plan participants and sponsors will gain compared its fees to available industry data that list average more information about their plans’ fees and ex- fees for different size retirement plans and found them to penses beginning next April when changes from the be both reasonable and competitive. U.S. Department of Labor require comprehensive disclosure McDermott anticipates that review of provider fee from service providers. information by plan sponsors will become a critical part “The outcome of this change is going to be a much of their compliance protocol. Although service provid- more level playing field of service providers and investment ers are tasked with developing the required disclosures, companies in terms of how and what they charge,” says plan sponsors face fiduciary liability for ensuring the Greg McDermott, Executive Vice President, FirstMerit disclosures are received, reviewing them and making photo by Jim baron Retirement Plan Services. certain their arrangements with providers are reason- About 72 million workers participate in 401(k)-type plans, able. McDermott recommends that plan sponsors begin representing about $3 trillion in investments, according to a dialogue now with service providers to understand what the U.S. Department of Labor. All will be affected by these assistance they will receive from their providers. disclosure changes. With the change, plan sponsors are responsible for seeing20 • meritmatters
  • What serviCe proviDers must DisClose While the retirement plan fee disclosure mandate has many nuances, firstmerit’s greg mcDermott offers“the neW regulations Will highlights of the information providers are required to outline for partiCipants share with plan sponsors:the investment fees they • Description of the services provided (e.g. record keeper or securities broker) pay in both perCentages • Description of designated investment alternativesanD Dollars,” mcDermott available to participants explains. “it Will give them • Consulting fees, actuarial fees, custodial fees and third-a piCture of their retire- party administrative fees ment plan in harD Dollars.” • all direct compensation earned by the provider as well as any indirect compensation that may be received. for example, a mutual fund company may pay the provider a small fee to provide its mutual funds.that plan participants will receive two categories of informa-tion—general information on plan restrictions and an expla- • Description of any compensation that will be paid tonation of any fees and expenses for plan administration such the service provider, whether it is charged against theas investment advisory, legal, accounting or recordkeeping plan’s assets or paid directlyservices. Additionally, the new regulation requires that partici- • any fees that will be paid upon the termination of thepants receive information about each designated investment arrangementoption in a comparative chart. According to McDermott,this may include items such as performance information over • information necessary for the plan to comply withone-, five- and 10-year periods, a description of any share- erisa reporting and disclosure requirementsholder-type fees, and the total annual operating expenses ofthe investment options. “This will outline for participants the investment feesthey pay in both percentages and dollars,” McDermottexplains. “It will give them a picture of their retirementplan in hard dollars.” Service providers, sponsors and participants also should beaware of the timing and impact of the impending regula-tion. Once the regulation takes effect in April 2012, expectchanges in the marketplace because, as McDermott explains,more plan sponsors will be inclined to compare their fees tobenchmarks, which will make the marketplace more competi-tive. As a result, some providers may need to align their feesmore closely with benchmark levels. “In the end,” says McDermott, “I think this trend towardtransparency will benefit plan sponsors and certainly theparticipants in the long run because fees and fund expenseswill be more competitive across the marketplace.” uWant to learn more about the changes or investmentaccounts in general? Contact greg mcDermott,executive vice president, firstmerit retirement planservices, at meritmatters • 21
  • >>>Wellnessmake travela healthy experienCe 2. researCh your loCatIon. See if your hotel offers mini fridges or microwaves in the room (some have them in all, while others offer them in select rooms.) Find gro- cery stores near your hotel and stock up. You can keep healthy snacks and easy meals like yogurt, fruit, veggies, nonfat milk and cheese, lean lunchmeat and whole grain bread in the fridge. You should also scout nearby res- taurants and review their online menus to evaluate any healthy options. 3. MaIntaIn exerCIse. Use the gym at your hotel or T take a walk around the city. If you don’t want to head to raveling is hectic enough without thinking about the gym, do exercises such as sit-ups, squats and pushups staying healthy while on the road. But using travel as in your room. If you’re taking a long road trip, take a an excuse to eat unhealthily and limit your physi- break every few hours and get out to do jumping jacks or cal activity can spell trouble. Frequent travelers will feel the take a brisk walk. If you’re on a plane, stand up and walk compounded effects, but even infrequent travelers can notice around every hour or so. Don’t forget to pack your workout a decrease in alertness, focus and energy. Start simple with clothes, sneakers, headphones and whatever else you need these four tips: to workout. It is also good to take a short walk or do some 1. paCK snaCKs. Bring healthy, portable snacks to physical activity between meetings to maintain alertness. munch on during your flight or car ride. Good options include fresh or dried fruit, vegetables, granola, health 4. stay hyDrateD. Resist the urge to grab sodas, alcohol- bars, popcorn, pretzels and trail mix. If you’re flying, ic beverages or sweetened fruit drinks. Pack bottled water check with the airline to make sure food can be brought or a portable, refillable bottle and drink it frequently. If on board. Also, avoid the tempting but unhealthy you’re traveling overseas, stick to only purified or bottled snacks often available at meetings. Brownies, cookies, water to avoid getting sick. Drinking water will not only pastries, etc. may give you a momentary energy burst, reduce the amount of calories you consume but also keep but the sugar will cause you to crash later. you attentive and refreshed. talk employee benefits—it’s a manDate Health care reform passed W-2. It’s optional for all in implement the W-2 reporting, opportunity to discuss employ- last year by congress remains 2011 and remains optional for make sure employees under- ee benefits as a whole. com- a heated debate, but what smaller employers after the stand the new mandate and municate the cost to both the isn’t up for discussion is the 2012 mandate. The inclusion that this new reporting feature company and the employee to mandate to list employer- on the W-2 is for information does not mean they will pay show the value of the benefits. provided health care benefit purposes only – the benefits any additional taxes. explain cost and benefit trends costs on every employee’s W-2 are still not taxed. to meet this new require- to show your company’s com- beginning in 2012. While it’s Your company can find it ment, some employers may mitment to employee benefits optional for 2011, it’s an idea beneficial to communicate need to update or implement and how that as been affected your company may want to the money you’re spending a new payroll system. check by the changing economy, consider now. directly to your staff. Many with your payroll department etc. eliminate jargon and use under the law, employers employees may be surprised or third-party service. If the simple, easy-to-understand that file more than 250 W-2 at the actual amount the com- payroll system is changed to terms. You can also use an forms annually must report pany spends on them versus accommodate the new report- employee section of your web- the cost of employer-provided the amount they spend when ing, make sure to inform your site to post benefits informa- health coverage on each they see the numbers side by employees of this as well. tion, FaQs and resources for corresponding employee’s side on their W-2. Before you You also can use this as an more information.22 • meritmatters
  • bust thatstressA re you tired, unfocused and stressed with a to-do list that means you won’t be getting any rest, relaxation or singular focus any time soon? Take a moment – stepback for a few minutes to read and implement these thoughts fora less stressful environment: Prioritize tasks. Create a daily list of tasks and tackle themin order of importance. Determine what needs to be done im-mediately and what can wait. Schedule your easiest tasks for thetime of day when you feel the most sluggish. If you have a time-consuming task, break it up into several smaller parts if possible.Plan to do the task you most dread first thing in the day. Balance your time. Schedule time, whether it’s betweenmeetings or steps in a project, to step away from your work area.Take a quick walk around the building (inside or outside). Bookthis time in between scheduled meetings and tasks so you won’tbe as stressed when those meetings or tasks run over, causing youto be late for the next scheduled event. Say no. If your plate is already overflowing, don’t be afraidto turn down additional responsibilities, albeit tactfully andpolitely. Or allow the person who wants to add to your plate toidentify what this request should replace. Instead of saying no toyour boss, ask a question to assess where this new task falls on thepriority list, such as “Sure, I can do that, but that means takinga couple things off my existing list. What would you like me tomove down on this list?” Don’t forget to delegate lesser tasksto other members of your team so you can focus on the moreimportant projects. Organize and personalize your workspace.De-clutter your workspace so it’s easier and quicker for you tolocate things. This organization also steers your attention awayfrom your mess so you can focus more on your work. Decorateyour workspace with calming colors (blues and greens are best)or photos of loved ones to promote comfort and relaxation. Eliminate distractions. Set specific times to check emailand return phone calls so you’re not interrupted every timea new email arrives in your inbox. You can set an alarm orschedule your email system to check for new mail only every fewhours. If you have a loud workplace, close your door, grab noise-reducing headsets or seek a quiet area in the office to work. u meritmatters • 23
  • Dr. Michael Miller,Director of theDepartment ofPlastic Surgery, atthe Ohio Stateuniversity Medicalcenter photo by Jay laprete
  • neW piCture of health osu Center integrates meDiCal Care by Danielle tothAt The Ohio State University stands a new The Stefanie Spielman Comprehensive Breast center that is putting Columbus at the Center now becomes the latest brush stroke in Co- center of breast cancer care. lumbus’ medical picture. “The breast center provides The JamesCare Comprehensive Breast Center real accessibility to the highest quality breast canceropened in January as part of “The James,” more treatment,” says Dr. Michael Miller, Director of theformally known as The Ohio State University Com- Department of Plastic Surgery at The Ohio Stateprehensive Cancer Center-Arthur G. James Cancer University Medical Center. “I think it’s an economicHospital and Richard J. Solove Research Institute. benefit to the city, and it supplies jobs. It also givesIn October, the center was renamed The Stefanie the city prominence. As the breast center continuesSpielman Comprehensive Breast Center in honor to grow, I’m confident it will become increasinglyof an OSU alum, philanthropist and activist. recognized nationwide as a destination for breast Its presence further invigorates Columbus’ active cancer care.”health care community, which spans a plethora ofhospitals and medical facilities. Columbus is home unDer Developmentto The Ohio State University Medical Center, While The Stefanie Spielman Comprehensive Breastas well as one of the largest pediatric hospitals in Center opened in January, Miller began his involve-the country – Nationwide Children’s Hospital. In ment four years earlier to help create the four-floor,addition, the region includes Mount Carmel, the 114,000-square-foot center.second-largest health care system in central Ohio, Miller, who performed his residency training atand Ohio Health, a network of nonprofit, faith- The Ohio State University, returned to Columbus tobased hospitals and health care organizations. help open the center after 17 years at The University In addition, medical associations call the state of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston,capital their home, including the Ohio Health Care where he specialized in all forms of cancer recon-Association, Ohio Veterinary Medical Association structive surgery, especially breast reconstruction forand Ohio Hospital Association. women affected by cancer. meritmatters • 25
  • The Stefanie Spielman Comprehensive Breast Center incorporates the latest in breast-related treatment and a unique gift shop, Hope’s Boutique. “It’s our view that with patients who have to bring new services to the region. Prior train at the Ohio State Medical Center.breast cancer and are considering surgery to his arrival, the most advanced forms of “We work regularly with students tothat would change the shape of the breast, breast reconstruction weren’t available in train them on all aspects of health carea discussion about the reconstructive aspects the region and are still not widely available and especially how to work in a centerof their care should be included right up outside of the OSUCCC-James. like ours,” Miller explains. “The benefitsfront with the discussion about planning for “When I first came here, there was very are enormous. Because we’re teaching thetheir cancer treatments,” Miller says. “The little available for breast reconstruction in medical professionals of tomorrow, ourWomen’s Health and Cancer Rights Act of the Midwest, particularly outside of Chi- center stays at the cutting edge of available1998 mandates insurance companies pay for cago,” he explains. “Now that is changing technology. It’s really a two-fold benefitreconstructive surgery.” rapidly. More and more centers are adding because the patient care is of the highest The Stefanie Spielman Comprehensive more types of reconstructive surgery.” quality and most advanced, and the stu-Breast Center offers many options for breast The center’s Columbus location has dents, of course, get the best training.”reconstruction. advantages due to its central position in the “One of my goals for the center was to state and excellent access to transportation. the futuredevelop a comprehensive program in breast “It’s an easy-to-navigate city, and eco- Some of that latest technology includesreconstruction,” he explains. “I helped select nomically, the city has been doing well,” cutting-edge modeling and therapy-planningthe members of the reconstructive surgery Miller says. “It is amazing that The James equipment in radiation oncology. Theteam and decided what components would is going through a significant expansion in Stefanie Spielman Comprehensive Breastbe included in the program.” these economic times.” Center also has the most modern imaging But while Miller specializes in reconstruc- equipment that studies the breast and identi-tive surgery, he was invited to play a role in osu benefits fies the location of cancer cells. photos Courtesy of the stefanie spielman Comprehensive breast Centerthe formation of the entire breast center by Ohio State’s College of Medicine is ranked Another critical technological tool is thethe center’s director, Dr. William Farrar. For 38th among all 146 accredited medical center’s 3-D photography system, whichyears, Farrar had envisioned designing a way schools and schools of osteopathic medicine takes images of a patient’s appearance beforeof providing care that would incorporate all in the United States. It was also 13th among and after surgery and helps predict and makeof a patient’s needs – breast imaging, che- public schools by U.S. News & World Report’s decisions about treatment.motherapy, radiation oncology, psychosocial Best Colleges issue for 2012. The center also houses the Varian True-services and more – under one roof. In addition, 11 of the university’s medical Beam linear accelerator, which is recognized “I was grateful to Dr. Farrar for the op- programs, including those that treat cancer for its fast, precise and accurate radiationportunity to work with him on developing the and heart disease, have been designated technology. The Stefanie Spielman Com-center. He included me on many design as- among the nation’s best programs within prehensive Breast Center is the only locationpects, ranging from layout of the floors to the their respective specialties, according to a in Ohio – and one of only 65 institutionsentry way and the meditation room,” Miller 2011 U.S. News & World Report survey. worldwide – using the accelerator, whichexplains. “We hosted patient discussion groups The Stefanie Spielman Comprehensive enables radiation oncologists to performto get their opinions on what they would like Breast Center is part of Ohio State’s medical image-guided radiotherapy and radiosurgeryto have in a comprehensive breast center.” network, which includes the College of Medi- treatments on breast cancer patients. cine, University Hospital, James Cancer Hos- The center is not limited to patient treat-Columbus DeCision pital and Solove Research Institute, University ment – it participates in ongoing researchMiller left his position at the M.D. An- Hospital East, OSU Harding, Ross Heart efforts, including clinical and drug trials, toderson Cancer Center for the OSUCCC- Hospital and a network of community care combat breast cancer. Some of this researchJames in part because of the opportunity sites. Nearly 850 students and 620 residents may lead to new therapies, Miller says.26 • meritmatters
  • THe COluMBuS HeAlTH CAre COMMunITyWhile the ohio state university’s stefanie spielman Compre- states and one of the five largest single gifts ever given tohensive breast Center certainly places Columbus on the map for a children’s hospital nationally or internationally, accordingbreast cancer care, the region is home to a wide array of other to care-related institutions, organizations and associations. family network of providersassociations in heart of state ohiohealth, a family of nonprofit, faith-based hospitals andthe ohio health Care association, for example, which represents health care organizations in central ohio, has been continually750 nursing facilities, intermediate care facilities for the mentally growing. responding to the increasing need, the organizationretarded and residential care facilities in the state of ohio, is recently opened a new hospice building, doubling the size of itslocated in lewis Center, just north of Columbus. previous hospice facility. the new building retained the original linda black-kurek, president of the organization, says the city name: the kobacker a good location for ohCa because it has members throughout “kobacker house helped pioneer hospice care in our commu-the state, and its position allows for convenient central access. nity, and this beautiful new facility – built entirely through dona- tions – demonstrates the commitment of our homereach hospicehospital and business philanthropy program and the community to provide the best and most com-Columbus is also home to nationwide Children’s hospital, one passionate support during a trying time for families,” says David p.of the largest and most comprehensive pediatric hospitals and blom, president and chief executive officer of ohiohealth.research institutes in the united states. With so many outstanding health care institutions, schools, nationwide mutual insurance Company, which is headquar- associations and organizations in the Columbus area, the city’stered in Columbus, offers substantial support to the hospital. role in health care is huge and multi-faceted, says michael Dalby,nationwide foundation, an independent nonprofit organization president and Ceo of the Columbus Chamber of Commerce.funded by contributions from nationwide companies, made a “i see the role of health care in Columbus expanding for the10-year, $50 million commitment to the hospital as part of its foreseeable future due to an aging population,” he says. “Co-capital fundraising campaign in 2006. it was one of the largest lumbus’ population has a lot of vitality and invigoration, and thatphilanthropic gifts ever from a corporate foundation in the united talent has really driven the growth of the area.”neW business moDel “Medicine has become so complicated However, despite the necessity of busi-However, the most unique and advanced as- that it’s really not realistic for any single ness planning, the most important aspectpect of the center has less to do with specific discipline or practitioner to fully master of The Stefanie Spielman Comprehensivetechniques or technologies and more with all aspects of what’s needed to care for a Breast Center is the patients, Miller the center is organized, Miller says. particular problem,” he says. “The more “We try to remember that when a “We have multiple specialists under one we get people working together and bring- person gets breast cancer, it involves moreroof coordinating and planning the delivery ing their particular expertise to the table, than a breast,” he says. “It involves an en-of care,” Miller says. “For the patient, this the better the planning and treatment tire life, including the person’s family, lovedtype of business model is one-stop shopping will be, and the quality of care will be ones, social connections, financial pres-and unique. Many places have yet to seri- more efficient. sure and spiritual questions. Breast cancerously commit to providing that type of care. “Plus, it’s a lot of fun for the practitioner. I affects every dimension of someone’s life.In most cases, the care is fragmented, where enjoy interacting with my colleagues in other And we try to have services that address alla patient sees an oncologist in one place, a areas. It’s stimulating and rewarding, and the those dimensions so nothing is overlooked.radiologist in another place and a surgeon patients are seeing the best outcomes. The The goal is to care for the patient fromsomewhere else. Here, our efforts to work team effort is very satisfying as a physician.” the day she finds out she has breast cancertogether ideally provide quick answers that The center’s business model also bal- until the day she is free of cancer, leav-enable the patient to make the best choices ances the need to have an effective busi- ing as few emotional and physical scars asfor themselves, which is our goal.” ness with a mission to care for people with possible so she can go back to really living This idea of a multidisciplinary center is a cancer, Miller says. her life.” unew trend in health care, Miller says. The in- When creating the center, all involveddustry is moving from individualized practices in the development process recognized the for more information on the stefanie spiel-and specialty-based centers that care only for need to consider the expense of building, man Comprehensive breast Center, visit http://one aspect of a disease to multidisciplinary staffing, equipping and running the center in which practitioners work together and evaluated the anticipated revenues. outpatient/james_care_comprehensive_to address health problems. This approach They then created a plan to ensure the breast_center or contact Dr. michael millerhas numerous benefits, Miller says. market could sustain the costs. at meritmatters • 27
  • Community >>>grounD level solutionshelps homeowners improve energy efficiency E nergy efficiency can help homeowners save signifi- cant dollars on their bills, enabling them to put thatJohn Johnson, Jr.,executive Director money toward other valuable uses. However, forof Ground level those living at 150 or even 200 percent of the U.S. povertySolutions level – those for whom these savings could have a greater impact – accessing the inspection services and making the necessary improvements to achieve them can be difficult. That’s where Ground Level Solutions comes in. The nonprofit, community-based organization provides energy-efficiency and conservation services, including inspec- tion, weatherization and quality assurance monitoring, to low-income homeowners, says John Johnson, Jr., Executive Director of Ground Level Solutions. He has been with the organization since shortly after its 1984 inception, climbing the ranks by starting as a home inspector and eventually lead- ing the organization about which he is passionate. “Sometimes a helping hand goes a long way to helping a household become more energy efficient and a better member of the community,” Johnson says. “We definitely feel like we make the lives of our customers a little better.” To do this, Ground Level Solutions, which works on about 1,500 homes annually, receives funding from utility compa- nies such as Columbia Gas of Ohio and American Electric Power and state and federal grants from agencies like the Ohio Department of Development and the U.S. Department of Energy. It considers these companies and organizations its partners and the households it serves its customers. Ground Level Solutions also occasionally partners with municipalities and community action agencies around the state. While Ground Level Solutions’ two main sources of funding are private contracts and grants, it also hopes to add to its bottom line with a new audience – homeown- ers who don’t quality for assistance but want the energy- efficient services the organization provides. “The challenge for organizations like ours is grant funding is subject to the decision-making of public officials,” John- son says. “It is all dictated by what kind of allocations and authorizations are made by our representatives. During the times the programs we operate are a priority, funding is pretty consistent. But in the years energy conservation and efficiency photo by Jay laprete aren’t a high agenda item, the funding becomes sort of er- ratic. And the peaks and valleys of funding give us peaks and valleys in our ability to provide this service. “It’s one of those unique situations where you’ve got to have the right people with the right credentials to get the service moving and programs funded,” Johnson explains.28 • meritmatters
  • “We Definitely feel like We “Normally when funding is down, a company’s biggest cost tips for saving make the lives is personnel, and they usually drop some of their staff. But energy in of our Customers a our personnel are critical. In Ohio, because our inspectors your home need extensive training classes the typical u.s. family spends about $1,900 a year on home little better.” and certification, there are a utility bills, according to the u.s. Department of energy.– John Johnson, Jr. limited number of individuals however, it also reports a large portion of that energy is wasted. who have the range of creden- here are some easy, low-cost energy- and cost-saving tips you tials necessary to perform the work.” can implement in your home today. Ground Level Solutions’ operating area includes much • install a programmable thermostat to keep your house of central and north central Ohio. It has a presence in comfortably warm in the winter and comfortably cool about 50 of Ohio’s counties. And while it has offices in Nor- in the summer. walk and Mansfield, its headquarters is in Columbus. “One of the things I like about the city is that it is a very • use compact fluorescent light bulbs with the dynamic and diverse place to be,” Johnson says. “Also, the energy star® label. statehouse is down the street and many of our funders are • air dry dishes instead of using your dishwasher’s primarily based in Columbus. Ohio is in the heartland of the drying cycle. country, and Columbus is the center of the state. It’s a very • turn off your computer and monitor when not in use. visible place. And from a business standpoint, it’s great to be able to reach out and within minutes be face-to-face with • plug home electronics, such as tvs and DvD players, into many of our prime contacts.” power strips; turn the power strips off when the equipment That proximity to funders and centralized location can help is not in use (tvs and DvD players in standby mode still use Ground Level Solutions achieve its goal of continuing to grow several watts of power). and expand its organization in the next few years. It currently • lower the thermostat on your hot water heater to 120°f. has 36 employees and an operating budget of about $8.2 • take short showers instead of baths. million. In the next few years, it hopes to hire four to five ad- ditional staff members, mainly certified home inspectors, and • Wash only full loads of dishes and clothes. maintain a $7 to $8.5 million budget, Johnson says. • Drive sensibly. aggressive driving (speeding, Ground Level Solutions also hopes to continue supple- rapid acceleration and braking) wastes gasoline. menting its budget and operations by creating new and • look for the energy star® label on home appliances and innovative services – like its plan to provide services to products. energy star® products meet stringent efficiency homeowners outside its demographic by charging a fee, guidelines set by the u.s. Department of energy Johnson says. It also hopes to form more partnerships with and the environmental protection agency. private groups, like utility companies and grant providers. “The steps we take may seem like small steps because we’re visit for more energy-saving ideas. dealing with one household or community at a time, but overall, source: u.s. Department of energy if our company is providing these services here in Ohio and others are doing it in other places, we will continue to reduce our dependency on energy,” Johnson says. “The things we do are targeted to reducing the energy footprint on our country.” ufor more information on ground level solutions orenergy efficiency, visit orcall (614) 861-7992. meritmatters • 29
  • employee foCus >>>personalpassion Volunteering to raise awareness f or natalie hay, vice president, business banking, at firstmerit bank in Columbus, becoming involved with the american siDs institute was a deeply personal choice. her grandson, brady, passed away from siDs, or sudden infant Death syndrome, when he was just 3 months old. “With childhood diseases and ailments, there are explanations as to what causes them,” hay explains. “but siDs is one of the few diseases that is truly a mystery. and that’s why it’s so important to raise awareness.” Natalie Hay In what aspects have you been involved with sIDs? with grandson, i’ve been involved since 2007, and the main thing i’ve Brady focused on is their annual fundraising and education campaign, spring-for-siDs Day. my family and i formed a team named team brady after my grandson. i’m the captain, but we have people participating all over the employees is so inspiring. team brady has raised more country. We now have about 150 participants, and about than $5,000 since 2009. 100 of those are firstmerit employees. my family and i this year, we further engaged the employees by wanted to do something to honor brady’s memory and having a hat-decorating contest, sort of like kentucky raise awareness. Derby hats, but we took it to the next level. We hope to expand the contest even more next year and offer a Why do you think the american sIDs Institute is an prize for the best hat. important organization to support? siDs touches so many lives. everybody’s life has been Why do you enjoy volunteering? touched by a baby at some point, and every baby is at i’ve been so blessed with my family and the relation- risk. siDs is the no. 1 cause of death for infants under ships that i’ve been able to build through my career, 1 year of age. While we don’t know the true cause, we and this is a way for me to give back to a cause i feel do know the things parents can do to minimize the risk. passionate about. parents should avoid secondhand smoke, place the baby on his or her back to sleep, place the baby in a bare crib When you’re not volunteering or working with no pillows or blankets, place the crib in their bed- at firstMerit, where will we find you? room for the first six months and put the baby to sleep our daughter lives in florida, so we enjoy visiting her with a pacifier. these are all very doable things. and hanging out on the beach. i love party planning and entertaining (in another life i’m sure i was a wedding how has firstMerit been involved? planner), and i love to cook, so catering for one of our firstmerit has participated in spring-for-siDs Day since parties is fun for me! i also have a wonderful group of 2009. the event raises both awareness and money for friends that i’ve known for 20-plus years, and we love the american siDs institute. employees who make a visiting one of our local wineries, listening to music donation receive a lapel sticker and the opportunity and laughing! u to dress casually for the day, rather than our normal business attire. the support from firstmerit and the for more information on siDs, visit • meritmatters
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