Monthly Archives: June 2015

NBA Logo Revamp

Thomas Wilson
June 26, 2015 by

Since the NBA season recently concluded with the crowning of the Golden State Warriors as the new champions, we’ve officially moved into the off-season. The off-season is a time when teams look to change and improve their organizations, whether it be from a personnel standpoint or simply by tweaking the look of their franchise. With the draft now upon us, some teams will be unveiling updated logos when their picks are announced – and others have already begun doing so.

The L.A. Clippers unveiled their new logo with a humorous video which may have raised expectations too high. To leave behind their history of underachieving, the Clippers wanted this rebranding to invigorate the fan base. But frankly this new logo is a step backward… it would seem that the new owner brought with him his questionable aesthetic taste that besmirched many Microsoft products. I prefer the look of the older Clippers logo – it is a classic and difficult to replace. If you must rebrand, you need to do better than what they settled with, in my opinion.

Another team hoping to reestablish themselves in the league after a prolonged malaise is the Milwaukee Bucks, who gave a preview of their look for next season all the way back in April. Now this is a look that I can get behind. It tweaks what they had to give it a more retro feel, and simplifies the overall image for easier reproduction and use. Plus, the subtle basketball in the antlers is a solid touch.

Finally we have the Atlanta Hawks, who enjoyed a successful season on the court (a surprise to many) attaining the best record in the Eastern Conference before being upended in the playoffs by the Cavs. The Hawks decided to rebrand anyway, introducing something that harkens back to the Dominique era. The new logo is a modification of the “pacman” logo that dominated their look for most the eighties, and I am glad it is back. According to message boards, so are most longtime fans of the franchise, if not the whole league(Uh oh – a great logo can be poorly applied).

Whether you have an established look and feel or have yet to make your mark, let MasterPlans help you improve your logo or begin anew with our professional logo services. Just ask for Thomas!

Changes are Afoot for the EB-5 Program

Marisa Marconi
June 24, 2015 by

We here at MasterPlans are not immigration lawyers, but we do specialize in writing business plans for L-1, E-2, and EB-5 immigration visa petitions. As such, we try to stay abreast of any new developments related to visa programs, as changes to legislation and policy sometimes affect how we approach plan development. This is especially true in the ever-evolving landscape of the EB-5 Visa Program for immigrant investors.

My news feed was abuzz at the beginning of June with updates about the American Job Creation and Investment Promotion Reform Act. Introduced by Senators Grassley (R-Iowa) and Leahy (D-Vermont) earlier this month, the bill is intended to strengthen and reform the EB-5 Regional Center Program.
Much controversy has surrounded the EB-5 program recently, as allegations of fraud, misconduct, and national security issues related to a few projects approved through the Program have been publicized through national media outlets. In response to calls for reform and in the face of the Regional Center Program’s pending expiration in September of this year, Senators Leahy (an avid supporter of EB-5) and Grassley (a critic of the program) co-authored the bill, which has bipartisan support in the Senate.
The changes proposed in the bill are extensive, and many represent significant departures from the EB-5 program as it functions today. The bill extends the Regional Center Program and introduces a host of regulatory requirements for Regional Centers while at the same time redefining and modifying some of the fundamental components of the EB-5 program as a whole.

The table below provides an at-a-glance summary of some (but certainly not all) of the key changes proposed:

MarisaTables

Notable are the changes to indirect job creation, a more restrictive definition of TEAs (Target Employment Areas), and an increase in the minimum investment amount. Currently, the ability to count indirect jobs is a major advantage of the Regional Center Program and makes the program a perfect source of capital for large-scale construction projects. The requirement that 10% of the total be direct jobs could make some funding models obsolete and automatically exclude many potential projects from the Program. It is unclear whether the 10% of direct jobs must be backed by a W-2 or can be considered direct from an economic modeling standpoint. The former will have a much greater impact on the Program than the latter.

Similarly, the revised definition of a TEA is much more restrictive than current guidelines. This severely limits where a project can be located. Many urban centers that have heretofore had many projects supported by EB-5 investment will no longer be eligible for the lower investment amount. This not only limits the number of potential projects that can be supported by EB-5, but one could argue that it significantly impacts the potential for job creation. Projects in urban centers have been historically successful and easily marketed to foreign investors, resulting in the creation of thousands of jobs in census tracts that suffer from high unemployment. On the other hand, promoting rural development and development in economically distressed areas was the original intended purpose of the reduced investment amount and – in this sense – the proposed bill strengthens the program’s intent to meet that objective.

Not as controversial is the increase in the minimum investment amount, as it has been largely expected as an item of reform for the EB-5 Program.

Heralded as a major boon to the Program by EB-5 stakeholders is the mandated processing times. Extensively long processing times (12 months or longer) have hampered the program in recent years.

The new legislation proposes significant reforms and sweeping changes to much of the EB-5 Program as it currently stands. The bill is still to be debated and amended before (and if) it is passed in time for the looming September expiration of the Regional Center. If passed, the impact of these changes on the EB-5 program, the types and number of projects funded by EB-5 investment, and the implications from a marketing perspective to potential EB-5 investors will only be known as they play out.

Perhaps the most definitive point of the bill is that exemplar projects that are filed and pending NOW will be grandfathered in if the new legislation takes effect. All the more reason for projects that are ready to go to market (or investors who are ready to directly invest) to prepare the necessary paperwork – including a Matter of Ho-compliant business plan – and file sooner rather than later.

Get Inspired

Margarett Waterbury
June 23, 2015 by

Need a little inspiration? This month marks the 17th anniversary of the Wharton Business Plan Competition, where teams of University of Pennsylvania MBA students present their business ideas for a chance to win cash prizes.

There were some good ones this year, from a new way to monitor body temperature to agricultural systems for supermarket rooftops. The eight finalists’ concepts touched on virtually all the major trends going on in the startup world right now, things like:

  • Customizability
  • Big Data and quantification
  • Wearables
  • Mature industry disruption
  • Meeting Millenial’s grown-up needs
  • Medical innovations
  • AgTech

What’s your world-changing idea?

I Scream, You Scream, Most of Us Scream for Ice Cream

Margarett Waterbury
June 10, 2015 by

It’s been an unseasonably warm spring here in Portland. Today, the high is 83, down from almost 90 yesterday. I know, I know, it’s not exactly scorching, but here in the Northwest we’re accustomed to Juneuary and June Gloom, not shorts and flip flops before the 4th of July.

Climate change might be bad news for the nation’s grain farmers and homeowners’ insurance underwriters, but I bet the International Dairy Foods Association’s Ice Cream division is feeling pretty optimistic. Our office is just a few blocks from Salt and Straw, and sunshine like this seems to send my browser to their specials menu with alarming regularity. It doesn’t help that I just worked on a project for another company that sells ice cream, which gave me the opportunity to be completely delighted by goofy statistics like these:

  • Nearly 10% of the nation’s milk production finds its way into ice cream
  • The average American eats ice cream almost 30 times a year. Sounds like a lot, but that’s down – way down – from its peak in 1989: 41.3 times annually.
  • Thanks to Ronald Reagan, July is National Ice Cream Month. He encourages us to observe the national holiday with “appropriate ceremonies and activities.”
  • U.S. consumers spent $13.7 billion on ice cream last year
  • The most popular five flavors, in order: vanilla, chocolate, cookies n’ cream, strawberry, and chocolate chip mint
  • The official industry name for “a frozen novelty such as a water ice novelty on a stick” (what you or I might call a popsicle) is a “Quiescently Frozen Confection.” Try asking your kid if he wants one of those.

In the spirit of summer, I took a poll.

SummertimeIceCream-MargarettBlogPost

It turns out we are pretty average when it comes to frozen dessert preferences: 58% of us chose ice cream as our summertime dessert-of-choice (66% if you count gelato.) 16% of us like Quiescently Frozen Confections, and a couple of outliers claim they don’t eat frozen sweets at all. I have to say, I have a hard time imagining a nice frosty hot dog cone catching on, but maybe I’m just old fashioned: my favorite? plain old vanilla soft serve.

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