Tag Archives: arizona

same.sex

How Does Arizona Same Sex Marriage Impact HR?

On Friday October 17, same sex marriages became legal in Arizona. What are the changes that Arizona employers and their HR professionals need to be aware of?

1. The definition of spouse in employee manuals and handbooks. If a generic definition, such as “spouse” is used, there should not be a need to update. However, if a specific definition was used such as “wife” or “husband” the employee manual may need to be revised.

2. Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) now covers same sex spouses. Accordingly, FMLA policy and notices may require modification. For private employers, FMLA still does not cover domestic partners, only married couples, and FMLA only applies to employers with 50 or more employees.

3. Insurance coverage needs to be offered to all qualifying employees and dependents.This includes all legally married couples.The marriage will be a qualifying life event and will trigger an open enrollment.  Insurance carriers may require proof of marriage.

4. Federal and state tax forms may be updated to reflect the same sex couple’s new filing status.

5. Beneficiary forms for pension plans and life insurance may need to be changed to note “spouse” designation rather than “other”. Pension plan records need to be updated to show status as married and any authorization that require spousal consent will need the new spouse’s signature.

6. Any benefit that the company extends to heterosexual married couples should be extended to same-sex married couples.

In summary, with the advent of lawful same sex marriages, every person involved in HR should take a careful look at how this change affects your policies. If legal assistance is needed to review policies, our employment lawyers would be glad to help.

 

Kraig J. Marton heads the employment law department at the Phoenix law firm of Jaburg & Wilk.  He assists employers and employees in complying with the many laws affecting employers. He also assists health professionals and others with issues related to medical marijuana.  He can be reached at 602 248 1017 or kjm@jaburgwilk.com.

phoenix

Arizona economy rising, report shows

Phoenix and the broader Arizona economy are expanding again after an extremely difficult recession, although growth will be more modest than the boom times of a decade ago, according to a report released today by BMO Economics.

The labor market is a bright spot, with the city remaining consistent in its job growth performance.  “The city has been a consistent job growth outperformer so far during the recovery and, after a soft patch earlier in the year, growth has accelerated again,” said Robert Kavcic, Senior Economist, BMO Capital Markets.  “If the recent growth clip persists – and we believe that it should – the Phoenix economy should be able to add roughly 85,000 new jobs by the end of 2016.”

“It’s encouraging that the economic health of Arizona, and Phoenix in particular, continues to improve,” said Steve Zandpour, newly-appointed Arizona Regional President, BMO Harris Bank. “It’s nice to see construction activity again. Projects that had been on hold for quite a while have broken ground, adding another positive stimulus to the community.”

The Valley’s economic diversity will help it continue to recover at a solid pace.  “Phoenix boasts a diverse economy with exposure to a wide range of industries in high-tech manufacturing, construction, finance and professional services,” stated Kavcic. “Of the 250,000 jobs lost during the recession, nearly three-quarters of them have recovered.”

The finance and insurance sector employs more than 125,000 people – a record high, in the city.  The fast-growing biotechnology sector also has a strong presence in the region, with two new structures recently approved at the Phoenix Biomedical Campus, including a $136 million investment by the University of Arizona.

On the housing side, the foreclosure rate across Arizona has tumbled to below 1 percent – now among the lowest in America – while higher home prices have reduced the share of mortgages in a negative equity position.  “Fundamentals support a continued, albeit more modest, housing market recovery in the city,” said Mr. Kavcic.

To view a full copy of the report, visit www.bmocm.com/economics.

downtown Gilbert AZ

Money Ranks Gilbert 22nd Most Livable City

Gilbert has received yet another recognition as one of the best places to live in the country.  Time’s Money Magazine has ranked Gilbert as the 22nd Most Livable Small City in America. The study reviewed 781 cities with populations between 50,000 to 300,000, comparing factors ranging from the local economy and housing market to schools and healthcare.

Gilbert was the only Arizona city to make the list. The average population of the 50 cities recognized is 87,500, with only two cities, including Gilbert, with populations over 200,000. The study also shows that, of the top 50 cities, Gilbert holds the 4th lowest average property taxes.

“We are honored to receive this recognition from Money Magazine,” says Gilbert Mayor John Lewis. “For a community of Gilbert’s size to be recognized as one of the most livable is an incredible achievement and is a reflection of our great residents, businesses, and schools.”

To see the full article, and the reasons behind Gilbert making this list, visit https://time.com/money/3312332/gilbert-az-best-places-to-live/.

Trucks CrossingBorderat Nogales

4 big ideas shaking up Arizona-Mexico trade

While all of us have no doubt been busy getting enlightened by the endless stream of political TV ads, there have been lots of exciting things happening to grow Arizona’s cross-border trade profile with our neighbor Mexico.

Matchmaker, matchmaker, make me a match Dennis Smith and the team at the Maricopa Association of Governments deserve applause for the launch of the new website, BIEN, which not only means “good” or “right” in Spanish and French, but is an acronym for Building an International Economic Network.

Via BIEN, businesses in Arizona can set up an online profile that can connect them with buyers and sellers beyond our borders. Users can search for a business by distance, industry type or name.

As MAG Chair and Youngtown Mayor Michael LeVault said, the site “allows companies in Arizona, Mexico and Canada to directly connect with each other using technology instead of travel to broaden their customer base.”

BIEN is a great new tool in Arizona’s trade toolbox. Kudos to MAG for making it happen.

Down Mexico way Years since it was shuttered, Arizona once again has an official presence in Mexico’s political and economic capital city.

I was proud to join recently a delegation of about 70 business, academic and political leaders led by Arizona Commerce Authority CEO Sandra Watson, Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton and House Speaker Andy Tobin, for the official ribbon-cutting in Mexico City of the state’s new trade office, a joint project with the city of Phoenix. U.S. Ambassador to Mexico Tony Wayne, the consummate diplomat and an outstanding representative our country’s interests, was on hand to mark the special occasion.

Before the new office’s opening, not only was Arizona falling behind border state competitors like Texas and California, but even states like Iowa maintained a presence in Mexico City. Meanwhile, Arizona was nowhere to be found in Mexico’s largest city, despite Mexico being our state’s largest export market.

Re-opening the office is the right move at the right time. We have seized on this unique moment in Mexico’s history. Reform-minded President Enrique Peña Nieto has positioned his country to grow rapidly by opening Mexico’s energy sector to foreign investment. With a new trade office, Arizona and Mexico businesses alike now have a one-stop shop to start making the connections that will remind folks on both sides of the border of what an incredible asset our international border is to our economy.

As Gov. Brewer said, “As long as we continue to pursue and capitalize on important business and investment opportunities, we will enjoy a strong, continually thriving and mutually-beneficial partnership with Mexico long into the future.”

A port of opportunity The newly redesigned Mariposa Port of Entry in Nogales is open for business just as the busy produce season is ready to kick into high gear.

The Chamber’s Garrick Taylor blogged about the new port last week, but the big takeaway is that while a redesigned Mariposa is great for Arizona-Mexico trade, its value will be diminished if the feds don’t adequately staff the inspection booths. Even the most modern port of entry can’t efficiently move cargo if there’s not enough personnel to carry out the inspections.

Kudos to the entire Arizona congressional delegation, which last week sent a letter to Department of Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson making clear that Arizona’s land border ports have real staffing needs that need to be addressed.

Expand the travel zone When former Mexico President Vicente Fox was in town a few weeks ago, the MAG team touted the effort it’s leading to expand Arizona’s travel zone statewide to Mexico visitors. The idea makes a lot of sense, and it’s something the Chamber supports.

Under current law, Mexican nationals with a valid Border Crossing Card (BCC) entering Arizona at certain land border ports can travel only as far north as Tucson before being required to secure further documentation and pay an extra fee. Traveling to places like Phoenix or Flagstaff requires an extra step and increased hassle in what should be a more seamless process. After all, the travelers who have valid BCCs have already been vetted at a U.S. consulate in Mexico, they still undergo inspection at the port of entry and, if the inspecting officer desires, the traveler can still be referred for more involved secondary screening or even be denied entry.

Doing paperwork with travelers who want to visit the Grand Canyon or go shopping in Scottsdale is not a good use of limited Customs and Border Protection personnel resources. Arizona’s travel zone has been expanded once before. It’s time to open up the whole state to Mexican tourism.

Glenn Hamer is the president and CEO of the Arizona Chamber of Commerce and Industry, which is committed to advancing Arizona’s competitive position in the global economy by advocating free-market policies that stimulate economic growth and prosperity for all Arizonans.

Silencing The Impact Fee

Silencing The Impact Fee

Richard Hubbard President & CEO Valley Partnership

Richard Hubbard
President & CEO
Valley Partnership


In 2011, the legislature modified the development “impact” fee laws. First, a little “Impact Fees 101.”

Arizona has the policy “new growth pays for itself.” When a developer wants to build a project, the city requires that the developer pay fees for the municipal infrastructure to service the project. Infrastructure includes “hard costs,” sewer lines, water lines, streets and sidewalks. It also includes “soft costs,” infrastructure maintenance and public safety services.

The law requires a “nexus” between the fee and the project. Developer pay fees directly related to the “impact” of the project to municipality. Impact fees have been a constant issue between municipalities and developers. Valley Partnership has been very diligent in protecting commercial developers from unreasonable impact fees.

Commercial projects have generally not been charged fees for residential amenities. These are “Parks and Library Fees.” If you build an office or retail center, the workers and guests will not use parks or libraries. There is no “nexus” between the fee and the commercial project.

In 2011, despite opposition, laws were revised to require municipalities charge impact fees in all categories to all projects. Commercial developers were now responsible to pay parks and library fees. However, the “nexus” requirement still exists.

On behalf of the commercial development industry, as each city revises their impact fee program, Valley Partnership has been arguing that, if commercial projects must pay a parks and library fee, the lack of “nexus” requires that the amount of the fee would be little or nothing at all. People that use commercial projects do not visit parks and libraries. Developers should not have to pay for those amenities.

Working in partnership with municipalities, Valley Partnership has been successful with several cities to keep parks and library fees extremely low or at zero. This permits cities to comply with the law, but not charge an inappropriate fee to commercial projects. The collaborative effort between Valley Partnership and our municipal partners is a great example of fulfilling our mission as “The Valley of the Sun’s Premier Advocacy Group for Responsible Development.

T Mobile IPhone

Deal between Apple, glass maker will stay secret

Apple Inc. has reached a deal with a synthetic sapphire glass maker that will allow details of contracts between the companies and the business problems that led GT Advanced Technologies to a financial crisis to remain secret.

A Tuesday filing in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in New Hampshire shows a settlement that will allow sealed documents filed by GT’s chief operating officer and Apple last week to be withdrawn and all copies destroyed.

Apple hasn’t commented beyond saying it was surprised by the bankruptcy filings and was working to retain jobs at the plant.

GT is shutting down a new sapphire plant in Mesa and laying off 724 workers.

Apple advanced GT $429 million to outfit the plant under a contract announced last November.

insurance

Lovitt & Touché Rebrands After 100 Years in Arizona

Lovitt & Touché, an Arizona-based insurance brokerage and benefits solutions provider, announced today a rebranding of the agency that emphasizes its local roots and commitment to the community.

“Business Focused, Community Minded” will now serve as the slogan, which Chief Operating Officer Charlie Touché says speaks to the heart of the company’s history and values. “We have roots that reach back more than a century in Arizona, and we have become fixtures in the Phoenix and Tucson communities. Despite our growth, however, we have always considered our business to be family-run and community-focused. We pride ourselves on these traits, and we want to be known for them.”

Founded in 1911, Lovitt & Touché is one of the largest insurance agencies in the United States with nearly 200 employees and more than $300 million in total annual premiums. It offers comprehensive employee benefits solutions, property and casualty insurance, bonds and surety, specialty insurance and risk solutions for businesses along with personal insurance for key individuals of those companies. It has offices in Tempe, Tucson and Las Vegas, and primarily serves businesses and individuals in Arizona and throughout the Southwest.

Lovitt & Touché is a major contributor to community causes and initiatives statewide, donating hundreds of thousands to local charities annually.

“Arizona is our home, and we are committed to making it a better place for our team, our clients and our neighbors. The next phase of our branding efforts will better reflect this,” said Dave Wilder, executive vice president of Lovitt & Touché.

Along with the slogan, Lovitt & Touché is set to launch an updated logo and advertising campaign with a fresh and modern look. They will be officially unveiled at a rebrand launch party on Oct. 23, held at US Airways Center from 4 to 7 p.m.

To learn more about Lovitt & Touché, visit www.lovitt-touche.com.

A Guide to Applying for a Bank Loan

BMO Private Bank Boosts AZ Senior Staff

BMO Private Bank announced new senior staff additions and promotions at the wealth management firm’s Arizona offices, which serve high-net-worth individuals, family-owned businesses, endowments and foundations throughout the Western United States.

• Ashley Ober is now serving as managing director of the greater Phoenix market, overseeing strategic development and delivery of wealth management services provided by a team of financial professionals. He was previously the firm’s regional director of private banking.
• Paul Tees was hired as the Tucson managing director. He will be responsible for the overall growth and management of the Private Bank for all of Southern Arizona, with a team of bankers reporting to him.
• Jason Miller, CFP®, was promoted to market manager for Greater Phoenix. In addition to his responsibilities as Director, Financial Planning – Western U.S., he will now have management responsibilities for the Arizona team of financial planners.
• Lindsey Jackson, an estate planning attorney, joined the firm as senior trust administrator. She will oversee trust administration for high-net-worth clientele.
• Tony Tanner was hired as a senior client advisor. This newly created position is designed to assist clients who have more complex financial planning and advising needs.
• Craig Shelley has been hired as a wealth advisor. He will serve as an advisor to high-net-worth individuals, families and organizations, including closely-held and family-owned business, endowments and foundations. He will assemble the appropriate team of professionals to provide a full range of wealth services as part of an overall personal wealth management strategy.

“The caliber of our team is second to none,” said BMO Private Bank Western U.S. President Matt Miller. “As we continue to expand our presence in the U.S., we are adding top-notch professionals who are truly committed to our clients and possess the skills necessary to help high-net-worth individuals and families navigate complex financial decisions to achieve their goals.”

New business in the Western U.S. region has increased significantly over the past year. To further support the influx, Miller says BMO Private Bank is increasing staffing to focus on positions that enhance the client experience.

For more information about services and operations, visit www.bmoprivatebank.com.

From left: Steve Atlas, Alice Atlas, Cox President Pat Esser, Allison Atlas and Jenna Atlas. The Atlas family is the first to sign up for the company’s coming gigabit Internet service.

Valley’s 1st Gigabit Internet home revealed

Cox Communications senior executives visited the first Arizona home to sign up for gigabit Internet service. Cox Communications President Pat Esser, Cox Communications Senior Vice President and Southwest Region Manager John Wolfe and Cox Enterprises (parent company of Cox Communications) CEO John Dyer met the Atlas family and thanked them for signing up for Cox’s new gigabit Internet, the first single family home in the state to embrace the nation’s fastest speed.

We’ve committed to rolling out gigabit speeds in all our markets as a broadband choice for all customers. The Atlas family is the first of many homes to embrace this ultra-fast Internet and the ‘Gig Life’ it brings,” said Pat Esser, president, Cox Communications. “Our pace of investment and innovation will only increase to continue to help business and residential customers connect to the things they care about most.”

Later this month, Cox Communications will activate its new ultra-fast gigabit Internet (100 times faster than the average speed today), known as G1GABLASTSM, to the first single family homes in Arizona, part of its plan to provide gigabit speed options to all its customers nationwide. The Atlas family was the first to sign up for the ultra-fast broadband service and will begin enjoying the new speeds by the end of October.

Cox has been delivering gigabit speeds to business customers for more than 10 years. In April this year, the company announced plans to deliver gigabit Internet speeds to all residential customers, starting with new residential developments this year. In Phoenix, Las Vegas and Omaha, Cox will also begin to deploy gigabit service to existing neighborhoods, starting with Phoenix in October.

In all Cox locations, the company will begin market deployment of gigabit speeds by end of 2016 to give more customers the choice of the ultra-fast service.

G1GABLAST from Cox – offering speeds as fast as 1,000 megabits per second – will deliver more speed, a powerful home network and rich broadband enabled services to customers. The service also includes the latest high-speed Wi-Fi router, one terabyte of cloud storage, Cox Security Suite and Family Protection and 10 email boxes each with 15 gigabytes of storage. G1GABLAST is available in the Phoenix market for $69.99 per month when combined with Cox’s most popular service bundles.

Cox has consistently and aggressively increased broadband speeds for years – 1000% over the last 13 years alone – boosted by network investments of $15 billion in the last decade. This year the company has doubled speeds in its most popular tiers (25 Mbps increasing to 50 Mbps; 50 Mbps increasing to 100 Mbps).

same.sex

Marriage Equality Coming to Arizona

Today U.S. District Court Judge John Sedwick ruled against Arizona’s constitutional amendment banning marriage equality, making Arizona the latest state to see such a ban struck down in court since the U.S. Supreme Court handed down its historic marriage rulings last June.

“This is a wonderful day for Arizona,” said Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton. “Today’s ruling confirms what we have known for so long: that same-sex couples have a right to equal protection under the law.  This did not happen on its own — many people across our country have worked tirelessly to demand justice for all, and we owe a debt of gratitude to those in Arizona who have fought to overturn Arizona’s ban.  Now that a federal court has ruled Arizona’s ban unconstitutional, there is no justifiable reason for the state Attorney General and county clerks to delay issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples who want to marry.”

In Connolly v. Jeanes, brought by private counsel, and Majors v. Horne, brought by Lambda Legal, on behalf of same-sex couples, Judge Sedwick rejected Arizona’s ban on marriage equality saying it violated the U.S. Constitution. Judge Sedwick was nominated by President George H.W. Bush.

“Yet again, today’s court rulings affirm there is no justifiable reason to keep these discriminatory marriage bans on the books,” said Human Rights Campaign (HRC) Legal Director Sarah Warbelow. “Laws prohibiting same-sex couples from marrying serve no purpose other than to harm Americans who simply want to protect and provide for themselves and their families. Ultimately the U.S. Constitution does not allow states to continue discriminating against committed and loving gay and lesbian couples.”

Judge Sedwick declined to issue stays in the rulings pending appeal.

A full feature map on the current state of marriage equality can be found here.

On Monday, October 6th, the nine justices of the Supreme Court announced they had declined to hear any of the cases pending before them challenging state bans on marriage for same-sex couples.  This allowed the circuit court decisions striking down the bans to stand, meaning same-sex couples in Utah, Oklahoma, Virginia, Wisconsin and Indiana could legally marry.  In addition, it left in place the circuit court rulings striking down same-sex marriage bans from the Fourth, Seventh and Tenth Circuits.

On Tuesday, October 7th, a three-judge panel for the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit (which covers Arizona) unanimously ruled that state bans on marriage for same-sex couples are unconstitutional in Idaho and Nevada. That same day, the stay on the court ruling in Colorado was lifted, allowing same-sex marriage to proceed. On Thursday, October 9th, West Virginia’s Attorney General agreed to stop defending the state’s ban, bringing the total number of states with marriage equality to 28, plus Washington, DC.

On Friday, October 10th, a federal district judge ruled against North Carolina’s constitutional amendment banning marriage equality, and on Sunday, October 12th, a federal district judge ruled Alaska’s same-sex marriage ban as unconstitutional. The Ninth Circuit’s temporary stay of Alaska’s marriage equality decision is due to expire later today. These decisions bring the total number of states with marriage equality to 31, plus Washington, DC.

With today’s decision, same-sex couples are now able to marry in 31 states and Washington, DC, including: Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Carolina, New York, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin.

Gallup puts support for marriage equality at 55 percent – an astonishing 15 point increase from just 5 years ago – with other polls showing support at even higher margins.  And support for same-sex marriage rights continues to grow in virtually every demographic group.  According to ABC News / Washington Post, 77 percent of adults under age 30 favor marriage equality.  40 percent of Republicans – an all-time high and jump of 16 points in under two years – now support marriage for gay and lesbian couples, while the number of Catholics supporting marriage has grown to 62 percent,according to the New York Times.  These numbers continue to grow, with no indication that support will slow down.

Frank Lect 08

Arizona Humanities Announces 2014 Humanities Awards

Arizona Humanities has announced the recipients of the 2014 Humanities Awards. The public is invited to attend the awards reception on Thursday, November 13, 2014 from 4:30 – 7:30 p.m. at the Cutler-Plotkin Jewish Heritage Center in downtown Phoenix, Arizona.

Arizona Humanities Board Member and host of PBS’ “History Detectives,” Dr. Eduardo Pagán, will present the awards to the recipients. There will also be a special poetry performance by last year’s Rising Star awardee, Myrlin Hepworth. Guests can enjoy appetizers, drinks, a silent auction and live music. Tickets are $40 and available here or by calling 602-257-0335.

For more than 20 years, the Arizona Humanities Awards have recognized community members and organizations that have made significant contributions to Arizona’s civic and cultural vitality through the humanities. Carrie Gustavson, Director of the Bisbee Mining & Historical Museum and Vice-Chair of the Board of Directors of Arizona Humanities announced, “We are thrilled to introduce the winners for the 2014 Arizona Humanities Award, and we couldn’t be more proud of David William Foster, ASU’s Project Humanities, and Tyler Wayne Vertrees for their achievements as humanities champions. We invite the public to join us and celebrate these fantastic individuals and organizations who have provided scholarship and research, enhanced public knowledge, and cultivated the humanities in their communities. They have reached people from all walks of life, and taught us to appreciate the richness of arts and culture in our state.”

The recipients of this year’s Humanities Awards are:

Dan Shilling Public Humanities Scholar Award
David William Foster Ph.D.

David William Foster (Ph.D., University of Washington, 1964 [BA, 1961; MA, 1963 University of Washington]) Regents’ Professor of Spanish, Humanities, and Women’s Studies at Arizona State University. He served as Chair of the Department of Languages and Literatures from 1997-2001. In Spring 2009, he served as the Ednagene and Jordan Davidson Eminent Scholar in the Humanities at Florida International University. His research interests focus on urban culture in Latin America, with emphasis on issues of gender construction and sexual identity, as well as Jewish culture. He has written extensively on Argentine narrative and theater, and he has held Fulbright teaching appointments in Argentina, Brazil, and Uruguay. He has also served as an Inter-American Development Bank Professor in Chile.

Juliana Yoder Friend Of The Humanities Award
Project Humanities

Project Humanities is an award-winning initiative at Arizona State University that promotes and showcases the range, relevance, and diversity of faculty and student humanities programming and community outreach. With both a national and international presence in conversations about the role, impact, and importance of humanities study and humanist thinking through multidisciplinary collaboration, Project Humanities highlights the value of humanist perspectives through talking, listening, and connecting.

Humanities Rising Star Award
Tyler Wayne Vertrees  

Tyler Vertrees was born and raised in Bisbee Arizona. In high school he was a top ten student that participated in numerous extracurricular activities including Student Council, National Honors Society, Thespian Society, and Football. Tyler also volunteered much of his time at the local radio station KBRP where he produced a number of original pieces, including the national award winning radio drama “Fallen Angels.” He is currently studying at the University of Arizona where he is majoring in Film and Television with a minor in Creative Writing. Afterwards he hopes to pursue a career in film.

The recipients were chosen by the Awards Committee from amongst a competitive field of nominees showcasing the best and brightest of the humanities in Arizona.

Dan Shilling Public Humanities Scholar Award Nominees: Paul Espinosa, James Garcia, Ann-Mary Lutzick, Brooks Simpson, Michelle Tellez

Juliana Yoder Friend of the Humanities Award Nominees: Karen Applewhite, Confluencenter for Creative Inquiry, Frontdoors, Bjorn Krondorfer, Flagstaff Library

Humanities Rising Star Nominee: Johnny Martin

Jennica E. Maes | aMaes photography

Alcoholic’s recovery sparks Arizona fashion line

Stephen and Nick Polando were in a parking garage on Mill Avenue one night in 2009. They decided to race each other, displaying their competitiveness as brothers. Nick, the younger of the two at 22 years old, won the race. Stephen, 25, was devastated and immediately blamed it on his struggles with alcoholism.

“It hits you hard when you start losing athletic activities to your younger brother. I was always dominant,” said Stephen.

Nick realized how much alcohol was affecting Stephen’s life, but turned a blind eye until that night in the parking garage.

“I had him by the shoulders and I was like, ‘Look, dude. You’re 25. What are you doing? Seriously, what are you doing?’” Nick recalled. “I couldn’t fathom the idea of having a 25-year-old brother who was an alcoholic.”

Both of them knew Stephen needed something to occupy his time and help him on the road through recovery. That’s when a simple idea turned into a life-changer.

Mike Spangenberg, Stephen’s roommate and boss at the time, was heavily into fashion. Stephen says that Spangenberg’s favorite activity growing up was back-to-school shopping. He loved it. So when Stephen was inspired with an idea to make an Arizona-themed clothing line, Spangenberg was all ears.

“Me and Mike, since we were 16, had Cardinals season tickets together … I know he is so passionate about Arizona. I’m passionate about Arizona. I knew Nick was even more passionate than I was,” said Stephen.

Stephen came up with the name StateFortyEight and they looked to Nick, the artist in the group, to make the logo. After those essential pieces were put together, however, things weren’t so easy for the three entrepreneurs.

“We went through six really, really painful months of disagreeing about all kinds of stuff about how we’re going to run this company,” Stephen said.

The close bond that the three have with each other allows them to compromise and get through any disagreements that they may encounter.

“All three of us are very different. We still have very different minds … it always allows us to show very different perspectives,” Nick said.

One of the first hurdles they had to work through was when Spangenberg began spreading the word about the shirts to anyone that would listen before they even discussed what the marketing strategy was going to be.

“My vision of the whole thing going down was we were going to get the shirts and then talk about how we were going to distribute them and market them and all that kind of stuff, but apparently Mike had been telling everybody that he knew,” said Nick.

Not one of the three business partners regret Spangenberg’s actions. In fact, they continue to believe his fast pace is a great quality to bring to the business.

“My natural instinct is pushing and getting the most out of everybody, including myself,” Spangenberg said.

Although there are personality conflicts, one thing they all have in common is being alumnus of Chandler High School. In fact, one of the original StateFortyEight shirts featured the school colors of royal blue and white. The connection runs deep and attracted the attention of fellow Chandler High alum and 2013 Miss Arizona Jennifer Smestad, who models for the company.

“It’s just an awesome company. We did a photo shoot at the Grand Canyon and some other cool Arizona landmarks … I love that they make a state that a lot of people view as old and boring actually new and cool,” said Smestad.

During his Chandler High days, Spangenberg was in a marketing club called DECA. He continues to help the club any way he can and is still in touch with the program’s instructor, Kim Frahm.

“Mike is such a great guy and has shared his new-found marketing and business experience with the kids here at Chandler DECA. It is so awesome to see former students take what they learn in here and be successful with it in the real world,” Frahm proudly said.

StateFortyEight has taken off and the brand has produced a line of popular products for those who love the Grand Canyon State. It was not an easy journey to get the business where it is now, but the group takes immense pride in how far it has gotten them in their personal lives.

“Four years ago, I couldn’t stop drinking vodka. Now people talk to me like I’m a freakin’ celebrity,” Stephen said with a satisfactory grin.

iphone

iPhone glass manufacturer wants to close Mesa plant

A manufacturer of sapphire glass that Apple Inc. uses in iPhones told a bankruptcy court Friday that it wants to shut down a Mesa factory that was once touted as a big job creator for Arizona.

GT Advanced Technologies filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection this week. In a bankruptcy court filing Friday, the company outlined its plans to wind down operations at the Mesa factory by the end of the year along with a second facility in Salem, Massachusetts — a move that would leave hundreds of people out of work.

“This drastic step is necessitated by GTAT’s liquidity crisis and the ongoing cash burn from its operations at these locations,” the company said in a court filing.

The request to wind down operations at the locations is contingent on the court’s approval. GT Advanced Technologies’ stock was down about 35 percent Friday, trading at 84 cents. The stock’s 52-week high is $20.54.

The bankruptcy and ensuing effort to shut down the factory mark surprising turn after state, local and business leaders previously bragged that the plant would be a major boost to the Arizona economy.

Gov. Jan Brewer had hailed Apple’s decision to open the plant in Mesa, calling it a sign that the Arizona’s efforts to provide a pro-business climate were paying off. The state has cut business taxes and created several incentives designed to lure new manufacturing businesses in the past several years.

At full production the companies expected 700 workers to run the plant.

Now, GT wants to begin winding down operations. In a statement, GT said it realizes the difficulties caused by a plant closing but needs to make the right financial decisions following the bankruptcy action.

“While we continue to explore all options with regards to our Mesa and Salem facilities, we recognize and regret the impact that the actions outlined in our bankruptcy court filings of this morning may have on valued GT employees,” the company said.

latte

Independent shops create Coffee Culture in Phoenix

It doesn’t take an investigative panel to notice the smattering of new coffee shops in Phoenix. In the past few years, vacant lots and empty buildings have transformed into Cartel Coffee Lab, Songbird Tea and Coffeehouse, JoBot Coffee and Nami.

The culture of local shops have more to offer to Phoenix than a just a latte. The journey from coffee bean to customer tells a story of sustainability and community. These ideas merged together to form Coffee Culture, a downtown Phoenix collective of local coffee shops.

A green coffee bean travels from a plantation in Costa Rica to a roaster in Tempe to a coffee shop in Phoenix to a shared moment between two strangers to in the story of Coffee Culture.

Coffee

Ron Cortez began roasting coffee in the mid-1990s. The backroom of his store front in Tempe, Arizona, smelled of freshly roasted coffee beans. His two young daughters played hide-and-seek as he poured two samples of highly-caffeinated cold brew coffee.

Cortez grew up among the coffee plantations of Costa Rica. He left his career as a banker to found Cortez Coffee Company.

“I remember seeing an 80 kilogram bag of coffee and thinking, ‘How are we going to sell all of this?’” he said. “Now we sell over 120,000 pounds of coffee a year.”

After researching sustainability, Cortez decided he wanted to go beyond Fair Trade and organic. He joined More Than Fair, an organization that buys directly from farmers for a fair price.

Thirty cafes across the valley brew Cortez Coffee. Online sales and social media are revolutionary to the local movement.

“You can now reach out to customers directly,” he said. “People care about the story behind their coffee.”

Cafe

Songbird Coffee and Tea is one of the valley businesses that brews Cortez Coffee. A rotating board lists two roasts with details about the coffee’s origin and roast. The skilled baristas serve the coffee pour over style and swirl steamed milk into latte art. The cafe also offers loose leaf tea and iced espresso-based drinks.

“Songbird is one of the strongest coffee houses in the area,” Cortez said. “They are a true success story.”

Husband and wife team, Jonathan and Erin Carroll, started Songbird in July 2012.

“If we didn’t have a loyal customer base, we wouldn’t be here,” Jonathan Carroll said. “We wouldn’t be thriving.”

A few months ago, he decided to create a community of downtown cafes. He said wanted to create a group where coffee shops could promote not just themselves but also other small businesses and the local movement.

“If you’re going to spend your hard earned money, keep it local,” he said. “Small businesses care about the customers more and listen to their feedback.”

Each coffee shop has something different to offer, he said. Jobot Coffee keeps late night hours and whips up crepes and burritos. Nami serves vegan pastries and brunch. Lola Coffee offers fresh roasted beans and a lively ambiance. Coffee lovers tend to support several different shops.

Community

Quinn Whissen and Ryan Tempest, cofounders of This Could Be PHX, helped Carroll mobilize his mission. Together they formed Coffee Culture

“Jonathan approached us with the idea of promoting all the coffee shops around downtown,” Whissen said. “Even though he’s a coffee shop owner, he doesn’t see them as competitors. He sees them as part of a culture.”

The project consists of a graphic art poster by Whissen highlighting 13 uptown and downtown coffee shops. An interactive map on Coffee Culture’s website lists unique features of each shop and includes biking, walking, driving and light rail directions.

Also included is a collection of people’s story on how the coffee community has transformed their lives “one coffee and one conversation at a time.”

“You go into a coffee shop and you see people working, reading, studying and meeting friends,” Tempest said. “It’s a great way to make connections.”

Those connections has proven to be pivotal in Whissen’s and Tempest’s lives. The pair met at a Phoenix coffee shop, and Whissen, a marketing and design consultant, works and meet clients at cafes.

“Coffee Culture highlights all the great local coffee shops in downtown, the community they create and the culture they foster,” Tempest said.

The movement fell in line with This Could Be PHX’s philosophy of urban revival and sustainability.

Downtown Phoenix has had a bad reputation for such a longtime, Whissen said. People think it’s dangerous or there’s no local business or nightlife. Coffee Culture seeks to change that, latte by latte.

autism

Valley autism treatment centers open Oct. 18

Center for Autism and Related Disorders (CARD) announced the opening of its new treatment centers in Phoenix and Chandler with Family Fun Days scheduled on Saturday, Oct. 18.  CARD provides a variety of services using the evidence-based principles of applied behavior analysis (ABA) to treat the delays and challenges commonly associated with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) at over 28 centers worldwide.  ABA is the only scientifically validated treatment for ASD, and research shows that it is most effective when delivered early and at a high level of intensity.  The events will feature a presentation by leading autism expert, Dr. Doreen Granpeesheh, PhD, BCBA-D, child-friendly games and activities, food and refreshments.  The events are free and childcare will be provided.  To RSVP, contact s.price@centerforautism.com or call 818-345-2345 x322.

“We invite the community to join us for a fun-filled and informational day,” said Dr. Doreen Granpeesheh, founder and executive director of CARD.  “CARD’s goal is to ensure that every individual diagnosed with autism has access to top quality treatment for a brighter future.”

The first Family Fun Day will take place at the CARD office in Phoenix from 10:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.  The address is 2400 W. Dunlap Ave., Suite 100 in Phoenix, Ariz. 85021.  The next event will take place from 2:00 to 5:00 p.m. at the CARD office in Chandler at 290 S. Alma School Rd., Suite 01, Chandler, Ariz. 85224.

CARD services include center-based treatment, home-based services and supervision, integrated services for adults, parent training, and school shadowing.  Clients receive CARD’s cutting edge curriculum while receiving care from top quality ABA therapists and Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA) supervisors.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), estimates that one in every 68 children in America is diagnosed with ASD, with one in 42 boys and one in 189 girls diagnosed.  This is more than a 30 percent increase since the 2008 report.  As the prevalence of ASD has increased, services for children with ASD have not always kept pace with demand. As a result, families affected by ASD may encounter challenges when trying to access quality treatment. The increase in autism diagnoses and the lack of resources available to families in many communities leave parents struggling to access the services that are crucial to their child’s development.

law

Tyler Joins Watton at NewLAWu.s.

KarenNewLAWu.s., an innovative, national law firm with a high quality, cost-effective business model, announced that Karen E. Tyler has joined the firm as an attorney to practice in Arizona among attorneys such as Brooke K. A. Watton.

Tyler has extensive experience in environmental, water and utility law, representing both business clients and governmental agencies. She is licensed to practice law in Arizona, California and Illinois.   Prior to joining NewLAWu.s., Tyler practiced with Fennemore Craig P.C. and the Arizona Attorney General’s Office, Environmental Enforcement Section.

Tyler shares, “I am excited to work with a talented group of attorneys that recognize that the clients’ needs are best met through a flexible model fostering greater productively and efficiency.” In addition to her practice, Tyler will assist in the onboarding of new lawyers.

Tyler joins Watton, who has practiced with NewLAWu.s. since its inception within the areas of commercial litigation and general business law. In addition to her practice, Watton plays a significant role in the firm’s recruitment efforts. “Law firms are only as good as their lawyers,” shares Watton. “NewLAWu.s. is committed to recruiting and retaining some of the best talent in the country. What we are finding is that there is an abundance of seasoned, top-notch attorneys who are not practicing because the traditional model does not fit with their life priorities. NewLAWu.s., however, allows those attorneys to practice and to do so on their own terms.”

Prior to NewLAWu.s., Watton was an attorney at Gallagher & Kennedy, P.A. She also completed a judicial internship for the Honorable Catherine A. Lemon of the Colorado Second Judicial District Court and became a certified mediator under the Nebraska Dispute Resolution Act. Watton earned her J.D./M.B.A. with honors from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, and her B.S. with distinction from the University of Colorado, Boulder as a Boettcher Scholar and member of the President’s Leadership Class.

Watton is currently a member of the State Bar of Arizona, the American Bar Association and the Maricopa County Bar Association, where she serves on the Board of Directors for the Litigation Section. She is passionate about improving the law, access to the legal system, and the quality of service rendered by the legal profession and enjoys giving back to her community through myriad noteworthy charitable and community organizations.

Trucks CrossingBorderat Nogales

Arizona Opens Mexico City Trade Office

The State of Arizona today announced the strategic expansion of its presence and investment in Mexico with the launch of the Arizona State Trade and Investment Office.

The grand opening of the Arizona office located in Mexico City was the culminating event of an Arizona-led trade mission conducted this week to strengthen the state’s relationship with its number one trading partner. During the mission, Arizona’s delegation met with Mexican government officials at the federal and state levels as well as private sector business leaders to discuss bi-lateral collaborations in key areas including: Economic Development, Trade and Innovation; Infrastructure and Corridor Competitiveness; and international Tourism.

The Arizona State Trade and Investment Office in Mexico will be led by the Arizona Commerce Authority (ACA), in partnership with the City of Phoenix, and additional funding partners including Maricopa Association of Governments, the City of Tucson and Visit Phoenix. With the support of Governor Jan Brewer and the state legislature, Arizona has made a commitment of $300,000 to the ACA to establish and manage the office, which will create a platform for businesses in both countries to expand their international trade and foreign direct investment opportunities.

“Since becoming governor, I have made it my mission to enhance Arizona’s global competitiveness, support job growth and secure our economic vitality long into the future,” said Governor Brewer. “Our continued success in this mission will depend greatly on our ability to seize business and investment opportunities on an international scale. Expanding our presence in Mexico – by far our largest trading partner – will strengthen crucial economic ties, promoting economic development and contributing to high-paying jobs for Arizonans.”

Mexico is a growing world market, as well as Arizona’s most important trading partner. In 2013, trade generated between Arizona and Mexico exceeded $14 billion. Mexico is the world’s 14th-largest economy, and is projected by Goldman Sachs to be the fifth-largest by 2050.

Arizona’s trade office in Mexico will assist Arizona companies in successfully entering the Mexican market and attract new companies and investments that will contribute to the state’s economy to create high-wage jobs. The office will have a keen focus on targeted sectors that include aerospace & defense, medical devices, biosciences and innovation.

“This represents a significant milestone in building and strengthening a prosperous relationship between two trading partners that share a great deal of synergy, resources and geographical proximity,” said Sandra Watson, President and CEO, Arizona Commerce Authority. “We look forward to working with our partners in Arizona and Mexico to execute a unified strategy to advance a sustainable trade ecosystem that drives innovation, job creation and international commerce for both countries.”

“It’s time that we fundamentally change our relationship with Mexico to one of shared economic opportunities,” said City of Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton. “Our trade office is a tremendous step in the right direction.”

“Tucson is fully committed to increasing trade relations with Mexico and our having a presence in Mexico City can only further that goal,” said Tucson Mayor Jonathan Rothschild.

“The Maricopa Association of Governments (MAG) has been working on a number of initiatives to help foster economic opportunities with Mexico,” said MAG Chair Michael LeVault, Mayor of Youngtown. “Arizona’s trade and investment office gives us a physical reality that extends beyond our 400-mile border. We believe this move will help us attract a larger share of the growing Mexican middle class and help us take advantage of new opportunities to enhance trade.”

Arizona’s new trade office builds upon the state’s current engagement in Mexico by complementing Arizona’s existing office in Hermosillo, Sonora, which is a collaboration between the ACA and the Arizona-Mexico Commission.

The ACA has secured Marketing One to assist the ACA with its economic development activities in Mexico. The Mexico City-based consulting firm has detailed knowledge of the Mexican market including more than 30 years total of international trade development experience. Victor Aguilar, Managing Director and President of Marketing One, and his team serve as Arizona’s representatives in the Arizona State Trade and Investment Office. The office will have a dedicated staff of international trade experts that will include an office director, trade consultants and specialists responsible for enhancing trade and foreign direct investment, as well as generating quality business leads and creating strategic outreach to key stakeholders throughout Mexico.

The Arizona State Trade and Investment Office is located in the Colonia Juárez neighborhood of Mexico City near the Paseo de la Reforma. The address is Hamburgo 231, Col. Juárez, C.P. 06600, México, D.F., México.

Avnet - Fortune Global 500

Phoenix MBDA Hosts Global Business Conference

The Phoenix Minority Business Development Agency (MBDA) Business Center, in partnership with the Thunderbird School of Global Management, is hosting Phoenix MBDA’s 2nd Annual Global Business Conference and the concurrent Global Business to Business Trade Expo on Thursday, October 23 and Friday, October 24 at the Sheraton Phoenix Downtown Hotel. The expo will focus on topical business opportunities and will provide information on how to conduct business with local, domestic, and international companies.

The two-day event is expected to bring in 150 local, national, and international attendees, including foreign consulates, Arizona Mayors, businesses looking to expand their services and product offerings in international markets, and interested individuals who are looking to start and/or grow a business to support global initiatives.

In support of the conference, Penny Pritzker, the U.S. Secretary of Commerce said, “We know that when U.S. firms sell their goods overseas, the U.S. economy stands to benefit. U.S. exports reached a record $2.3 trillion in 2013, and exports now support 11.3 million jobs, up 1.6 million since 2009.”

Alika Kumar, Executive Director of Phoenix MBDA also emphasized the importance of the conference and said, “Understanding the simplified processes of how to do business in international markets is vital to all U.S. based businesses and all individuals looking to do business abroad. This conference will lay the framework and foundation for those looking to succeed abroad.” Panelists include Tucson Mayor Jonathan Rothschild and Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton, as well as Barry Broome representing the Greater Phoenix Economic Council (GPEC). They will provide information about opportunities, including how to network, connect, do business, and succeed in international markets.

For information about registering or sponsorship opportunities, contact Kaaren-Lyn Morton at (602) 248-0007 or e-mail kaaren@phoenixmbdacenter.com.

SALT

OliverMcMillan breaks ground on SALT apartments

OliverMcMillan, a boutique real estate developer known for creating artistic, enduring destinations, has broken ground on SALT – a four-story, 265-unit, Class A apartment community in Tempe, Ariz.

The development will feature studio, 1, 2, and 3 bedroom living spaces.  Residents will enjoy boutique resort style amenities with two pools, spa, yoga lawn, poolside cabanas, multiple outdoor barbeque areas, lush landscaping, and direct frontage on Tempe Town Lake.   The community also includes a large gym complete with cardio equipment, free weights and resistance training equipment, a media room, and a spacious social room.  SALT (formerly the Lofts@Hayden Ferry) is slated to open in early 2016.

“We created  a modern, multi-family community that offers easy transition between indoor and outdoor living, drawing inspiration and vital energy from both environments,” said Morgan Dene Oliver, CEO of OliverMcMillan. “The location near Mill Avenue and Tempe Town Lake inspired the multi-faceted idea of SALT – our take on contemporary elemental living that we think will be very enjoyable for residents.”

The 3.7 acre project site is part of the Hayden Ferry Lakeside mixed-use Master Plan which includes residential, retail, hotel and office uses.  The site is nearby to Arizona State University Campus and the Mill Avenue Entertainment District.  It is next door to the new State Farm campus currently under construction.

“We brought together a fantastic team to make SALT stand out for its contemporary design and livability,” said Eric Buchanan, Managing Director of Acquisitions and Development for OliverMcMillan.

OliverMcMillan’s development team members include Amstar as equity partner, Comerica serving as the construction lender, and Adolfson & Peterson Construction serving as general contractor.

starbucks

More than 1,000 enrolled for Starbucks tuition program

Starbucks says more than 1,000 of its workers have enrolled for an upcoming fall semester at Arizona State University to take advantage of a program that helps pay for their tuition.

That’s from about 4,000 workers who started the application process, 2,000 who completed it, and 1,800 who were accepted by the school, according to Starbucks. The Seattle-based company said the most popular degree programs being pursued are psychology, organizational leadership, health sciences, mass communications and media studies and English.

Starbucks said it is too early to tell how much the company will end up paying in tuition reimbursement for the first batch of students. Reimbursements to workers will vary, with many employees expected to qualify for financial aid such as federal Pell grants because of their limited incomes. Over time, however, Starbucks said it expects to spend “tens of millions of dollars” a year on the tuition reimbursement as more workers take advantage of it.

The company is partnering exclusively with Arizona State University’s online school to offer the benefit.

The program was greeted with fanfare this summer because tuition reimbursement is a rare benefit for low-wage retail and food workers. Starbucks also isn’t requiring workers to stay with the company once they finish their degrees. Some of the program’s terms also drew criticisms, however, such as its requirement that students complete 21 credits before being reimbursed.

The program’s terms also vary depending on the student’s year.

For freshmen and sophomores, Arizona State University is giving workers an upfront discount of about $6,500 to cover the estimated $30,000 in tuition for two years, according to Starbucks. To cover the remainder of the costs, workers would apply for financial aid, such as Pell grants, and pay for the rest either out of pocket or by taking out loans.

Students will not be reimbursed for those first two years, meaning Starbucks won’t incur any costs.

For the junior and senior years, ASU is giving a discount of about $12,600 of the $30,000. Starbucks would reimburse whatever tuition workers have to pay for after the financial aid they receive.

On Tuesday, Starbucks was set to announce that 70 percent of the workers who enrolled in the program this fall are juniors or seniors, meaning they will get full reimbursement. About half the workers are baristas and 35 percent are shift supervisors. The rest have positions of assistant store manager or above, the company said.

The company said the most applications came from California, Washington, Arizona, Texas, Florida and Illinois.

Human trafficking - Concept Photo

Grant Helps Arizona Combat Domestic Human Trafficking

The Arizona Partnership to End Domestic Trafficking will receive a $500,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The funding will help provide services and comprehensive case management for victims of severe forms of human trafficking in Maricopa and Pima counties.

“This is a serious issue that is growing,” said Cynthia Schuler, CEO of Tumbleweed, a non-profit that serves homeless and at-risk youth in the Phoenix area. “We have a lot of work and research ahead of us, but this grant is a tremendous boost and provides us the funds to move forward in combating domestic human trafficking in Arizona.”

Tumbleweed is one of five organizations that make up the partnership and is the lead agency. The Arizona Partnership to End Domestic Trafficking includes TRUST, Arizona Legal Women And Youth Services (ALWAYS), Phoenix Dream Center and Our Family Services. The Arizona State University School of Social Work’s Office of Sex Trafficking Intervention Research will provide research and evaluate the effectiveness of the effort.

The new funding will help the Arizona Partnership to End Domestic Trafficking in several ways:
• Assess needs and develop community-driven action plans to strengthen services in Maricopa and Pima counties
• Identify and provide case management and comprehensive victim assistance
• Coordinate needed medical and mental health care
• Collaborate with ongoing efforts in international trafficking, law enforcement, domestic violence and sexual assault, runaway and homeless youth
• Integrate child welfare services and juvenile justice systems
• Evaluate project performance and inform local and national strategies on how to improve the availability of service, integration, and collaboration for trafficking victims.

“With this grant, the Arizona Partnership to End Domestic Trafficking can start to effectively evaluate the landscape in Arizona and, more importantly, service and help the victims of human trafficking in our state,” Schuler said.

Only three U.S. social service agencies were awarded grants in 2014 through the Family and Youth Services Bureau of the U.S. Administration of Children and Families, including Edwin Gould Services for Children and Families (New York) and the Asian Association of Utah (Salt Lake City). Of the three grant recipients, Tumbleweed and the Arizona Partnership to End Domestic Trafficking are the largest beneficiaries. Funding is expected to be fully received by the end of 2014.

classroom-update

Experts say quality education equals quality jobs for Arizona

The formula is simple: W = $. A well-qualified, educated workforce equals high-paying, deeply entrenched Arizona jobs and statewide economic growth.

“There are too many buzzwords and not enough solutions,” muses Rick Heumann, Chandler’s vice-mayor and a passionate education advocate. “If we don’t do something now, we’re going to lose an entire generation. The legislature cannot continue to starve schools and colleges and expect the economy to grow. Incentives will not overcome lack of qualified workforce.”

Heumann, and other business leaders also say that the solutions are more than just funding. It’s a challenge through the whole system to create opportunities and relevance for today’s students to become tomorrow’s well-qualified workforce.

“Arizona education has to produce the talent needed to find a job and fill the gaps in the workplace,” says Steve Zylstra, president and CEO of the Arizona Technology Council. “We need to create more robust opportunities to inform students about career opportunities and the need for education.”

The Arizona business community is finding opportunities and step-by-step trying to bring change to the state’s education system. This is a marked contrast from political attacks on Common Core that one business leader confided are demonstrations that the legislature just doesn’t understand education or economic development.”

“There’s too much rote and not enough reason,” sighs Joan Koerber-Walker, president and CEO of the Arizona Bioindustry Association, Inc. “America is a world power because we know how to think. We’re losing our edge. Not only does STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) need to be at the core of what’s being taught, students must see relevancy to real life and learn to be creative and critical thinkers. It amounts to a needed change in the way we teach.”

Student retention through high school

“Ensuring that all our students are graduating from high school is simply the biggest priority,” sums Cathleen Barton, Arizona education manager for Intel. “We need students to graduate and be career- or college-ready,” she adds.

Study-after-study shows that students need education to get ahead. Barry Broome, CEO of Greater Phoenix Economic Council says that education is part of good economic development. “Improving education is a long-term investment for Arizona. Right now, only a small percentage of high schools generate half our college enrollment. That needs to change,” he says.

“We’re losing students at an unacceptable rate,” worries Bob Enderle, director of community relations at Medtronic. “About a quarter of our students don’t graduate high school, and that rate is higher in ethnically diverse populations.”

“Making education connect; making it more relevant will help keep students in school,” echoes Dave Cano, the company’s senior manager for continuous improvement and a member of Grand Canyon University’s STEM External Advisory Board. “When students don’t graduate, they earn less, the spend less and the add more costs to the system.”

Heumann adds that workers in minimum wage jobs do not earn enough to cover the costs of their services. “We need to help our students qualify for better jobs and then we need to make sure we have the jobs in the market,” he says. “With a high-paying job, a worker adds more value to the Arizona economy.”

Better education means a better economy

Eve Ross, W.L. Gore & Associates, Inc., director of public policy and strategic initiatives Ross about the vicious cycle, “Students are not getting a connection between what’s being learned and how it applies to careers. There are many well-paying careers that require some college, but not necessarily a four-year or graduate degree,” she says. “We need a whole class of student understanding and interested in manufacturing. We’re not talking about a worker tightening bolts on a parade of black Fords. We’re talking about workers who can see how things are made, and come up with ideas to make it better.”

“It’s a simple formula for economic growth. If we can’t attract well-paying careers, Arizona is not going to collect tax revenue for basic services,” she says. “We need a workforce who can read and understand a workplace; students who can do the math and innovate.”

Arizona does education well, but in pockets, says Koerber-Walker, “Schools are short on resources and there are many gaps creating ‘haves’ and ‘have-nots.’ We’re at the bottom of the barrel in too many ways with education. Business will not come if kids are prepared for the jobs.”

The investment in education for tomorrow’s economy comes at a crucial time. Arizona has invested millions of dollars to ready the education system for Common Core standards. “Common Core came out of the business sector,” explains Broome. “Industry needs a uniform standard by which is can compare education achievement to the same standards in every state. This is going to create some concern in Arizona when the results start coming in.”

Building passion for learning

“The world is rapidly changing. Tomorrow’s workforce needs to be able to adapt to a rapidly changing world.” Hal Halladay is the chief people officer for Infusionsoft, “The system needs to focus on training and teaching students to love learning. Education does not end at graduation. Students must be able to continue to learn in order to be able to handle global change.”

Medtronic has jumped into the partnering role with education. It’s been incredibly rewarding and equally frustrating. “We tried to bring students to demonstrate relevancy between what they’re learning and career opportunities, but the process was filled with road blocks,” says Ederle. “We ended up bringing in teachers as interns. One of the science instructors going through the program said it would change the way he taught physics. That’s a success, as we see it.”

Connecting science and technology to something students understand is the key of generating a passion for education. Zylstra talks about the Arizona SciTech Festival, “We had a physics professor talk about the science of baseball. All of the sudden, the kids were seeing how math and physics are in the world relevant to their interests. It’s this type of change we need in education to connect students to learning.”

“We have a mismatch between skills and opportunity,” Barton emphasizes. “Jobs are changing too fast, and education is not changing rapidly enough to keep up. We need to take schools to the next level of teaching.”

Koerber-Walker is concerned that there has been so much focus on what needed to be learned to pass the standardized tests, students weren’t given an opportunity to understand how to use the learning. “There needs to be improvement in outcomes,” she explains. “Students are lacking in soft skills. They need to learn critical thinking, problem solving and an ability to write and communicate.”

“We’re getting good workers coming out of college,” comments Halladay. “The problem is that while the students have the technical skills, they are not getting training on how to function in a face-to-face environment. They need an ability to adapt to changes and creatively solve challenges.”

Partnership part of a solid solution

“This is not going to be resolved by just giving schools more money,” Zylstra says. “It start with motivating parents to be participants in their child’s education. It requires business to partner with schools.” Enderle and Cano at Medtronic, agree. Barton and Heumann cited examples in their conversation.

Heumann doesn’t mince words. “We’re not competing with Alabama, Louisiana and Mississippi for jobs. We’re competing with Texas, California, Washington and New York. Our education investment needs to be at their levels, not the bottom of the heap.”

“We need to re-fund education. The way education is funded does not reflect the needs of business in Arizona,” suggests Koerber-Walker. “Teachers are spending major portions of their own incomes supplying classrooms. That has to stop. We need to invest some dollars to provide schools with the tools to teach the workers we want to offer new business.”

“We have a lot of thoughtful people involved in the process of bettering our schools and workforce. In business, we know that if you don’t invest in training, you start losing ground to competition.” Barton is listing off the solutions she’d like to see for schools. “We want teachers to have the resources to make the curriculum relevant to keep students engaged.”

“Charter schools need to have the same public accountability as public schools,” insists Heumann. “If we have a well-balanced education with pay encouraging bright and effective teachers into the profession, we’re going to do a lot better with students coming out.”

Halladay sums up what a good education system means, “When I try to recruit top-level knowledge workers for my company, the quality of schools is a big reason they will accept or walk away from the job offer. The inconsistency of education quality across the Valley is a major recruiting challenge.”

Heumann sighs, “We can spend millions on cutting taxes and offering incentives. If we don’t have good workers, we’re not going to get good companies locating here. It’s simple economics.”
A well-educated workforce equals strong economic development.

Not making the grade
Personal finance social network WalletHub conducted an in-depth analysis of 2014’s states with the best and worst school systems. WalletHub used 12 key metrics, including dropout rates, test scores and bullying incident rates to assess the quality of education in each state. According to the analysis, Arizona has the 9th worst school system. Here is where Arizona schools rank in individual categories (1=best):
35th – Dropout rate
8th – Champlain University High School Financial Literacy Grade
36th – Math test score
46th – Reading test score
49th – Student-to-teacher ratio

Executive Education
Here are the colleges and universities in Arizona that offer post-graduate programs:

Argosy University
602-216-3118
Website
Number of campuses: 1
Online classes: Yes
Highest degree offered: Doctorate
Leadership: Norma Patterson, associate vice president of academic compliance

Arizona State University
480-965-7788
Website
Number of campuses: 4
Online classes: Yes
Highest degree offered: Doctorate
Leadership: Michael Crow, president

A.T. Still University
480-219-6000
Website
Number of campuses: 1
Online classes: Yes
Highest degree offered: Doctorate
Leadership: Craig M. Phelps, president

Communiversity @ Surprise
480-384-9000
Website
Number of campuses: 1
Online classes: Yes
Highest degree offered: Master’s
Leadership: Todd Aakhus, Ph.D., director

DeVry University
602-870-9222
Website
Number of campuses: 4
Online classes: Yes
Highest degree offered: Master’s
Leadership: Craig Jacobs, metro president

Grand Canyon University
800-800-9776
Website
Number of campuses: 1
Online classes: Yes
Highest degree offered: Doctorate
Leadership: Brian Mueller, CEO

Midwestern University
623-572-3200
Website
Number of campuses: 1
Online classes: No
Highest degree offered: Doctorate
Leadership: Kathleen Goeppinger, president and CEO

Northern Arizona University
928-523-9011
Website
Number of campuses: 34
Online classes: Yes
Highest degree offered: Doctorate
Leadership: Rita Cheng, president

Ottawa University
800-235-9586
Website
Number of campuses: 3
Online classes: Yes
Highest degree offered: Master’s
Leadership: Dr. Kirk Wessel, dean of Angell Snyder School of Business

Thunderbird School of Global Management
602-978-7000
Website
Number of campuses: 1
Online classes: Yes
Highest degree offered: MBA
Leadership: Larry Edward Penley, Ph.D., president

University of Arizona
520-621-1162
Website
Number of campuses: 2
Online classes: Yes
Highest degree offered: Doctorate
Leadership: Ann Weaver Hart, president

University of Phoenix
480-557-2000
Website
Number of campuses: 5
Online classes: Yes
Highest degree offered: Doctorate
Leadership: Timothy P. Slottow, president

ONEHOPE Wine

Arizona Vineyard Expands, Releases New Wine

After being in business for five years and with multiple award-winning wines in their portfolio, Willcox-based Carlson Creek Vineyard just recently released their first-ever Merlot varietal.

A 2012 vintage, aged in French and Hungarian oak barrels, this robust Merlot is highlighted by flavors of plum and cracked peppers with a lasting finish; a perfect pairing for ribs and a wine that both serious oenophiles and the newly initiated can enjoy.

In addition to releasing a new varietal, the Arizona vineyard has also undergone a recent expansion, from 120 to 160 acres. This new 40-acre lot of land includes two blocks of Riesling, with plans to add two 10-acre sections of Cabernet Sauvignon and Grenache during plantings in 2015 and 2016 respectively.

What’s next for Arizona’s premier family-owned vineyard? “We’re currently working with BAR Architects out of Napa, California to design a 10,000-case winery and tasting room in the middle of the property,” said co-owner Bob Carlson. “It’s been a long time coming and we hope to have it open for business in late 2015.”

For more information or to purchase any of the available wines from Carlson Creek Vineyard online, visit CarlsonCreek.com or visit their Where To Buy page for a list of available locations throughout
Arizona.

DSC_0221

Valley dining spots welcome patio season

It’s fall which means the desert is starting to cool down! Restaurant and bar goers all over the Valley begin to seek out the best spots to indulge in the beautiful Arizona weather. But look no further— these local restaurants have Valley residents covered with killer patios throughout Metro Phoenix.

TEMPE

Thirsty Lion Pub & Grill: Located in Tempe Marketplace, Thirsty Lion Pub and Grill has a great wrap around patio. With a southwestern exposure, the Thirsty Lion patio is perfect for watching the fall sunset. At this hip gastropub, you’ll find great food, more than a dozen big screen TVs, two bars and 52 beers on tap. Enjoy happy hour, seven days a week from 3:00 p.m.—6:00 p.m. & again from 9:30 p.m. to close. For more information, visit www.thirstylionpub.com.

SCOTTSDALE

TapHouse Kitchen: Located at The Hilton Village in Scottsdale, this neighborhood kitchen features a seasonal menu of “Modern American Cuisine” prepared in a “Scratch” kitchen. The 3,500 square foot location accommodates 144 guests and features a rustic and woody décor. The restaurant has a fully air-conditioned patio, with a large garage door that creates an indoor- outdoor atmosphere. Take advantage of their happy hour seven days a week from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. Enjoy $2 off House Wine (Cupcake Chardonnay & Cabernet), $2 off all draft beer, spirits & wine on tap, $2 off all beer flights, $2 off all TapHouse Kitchen custom cocktails, $2 off Tap”House” Margaritas and $1 off all well drinks. TapHouse Kitchen is located at 6137 N. Scottsdale Rd, #108 in Scottsdale. To find out more visit them at TapHouseKitchen.com or visit their Facebook page at facebook.com/TapHouseKitchen.

Kelly’s at SouthBridge: To both enjoy the cool weather and feel the awesome Old Town atmosphere, hit Kelly’s at SouthBridge this fall. Their spacious outdoor patio, adorned with bright red umbrellas, is hard to miss—it’s the perfect place for lunch, dinner, happy hour or late night festivities. There’s also plenty of room for big groups or parties too! Located on Sixth Avenue in downtown Scottsdale, the 8,000 square foot upscale restaurant offers traditional pub classics mixed with exceptional modern cuisine and the perfect laid back atmosphere. Enjoy ½ price bottles of wine (with purchase of food) 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. every day and all day Sunday. For more information, visit www.kellysatsouthbridge.com.

NORTH SCOTTSDALE

SOL Mexican Cocina: Located at the Scottsdale Quarter, SOL Mexican Cocina’s patio is the ideal place to sit back, relax and sip on margarita after a day of shopping or before a night out. The perfectly shaded patio features plush seating, an outdoor bar and a view overlooking the vibrant heart of Scottsdale. The restaurant’s menu features Executive Chef Deborah Schneider’s bold, modern interpretations of traditional Coastal Mexican cuisine with a focus on fresh, sustainable ingredients. Designed to echo the expansive sea, sky, and desert of the Baja peninsula, SOL features old world charm juxtaposed with an urban comfort. For more information, visit www.solcocina.com.

DOWNTOWN PHOENIX

Tilted Kilt: Overlooking downtown Phoenix at Cityscape is where this patio is located. At this Celtic-themed pub and eatery, you will always find five things: ice cold beer and plenty of it, a mouthwatering menu full of traditional and contemporary pub fare, large TV screens showcasing sporting events, a festive atmosphere full of fun and friends, and attractive cast members eager to put a smile on your face and make you feel right at home. Enjoy specials on their “Hoppy Hour” menu throughout the week. www.tiltedkilt.com.

WEST VALLEY:

Grimaldi’s Pizzeria: Enjoy your favorite pizza while you soak up the beautiful fall season. Each of Grimaldi’s eight Arizona locations has a distinct patio. The Peoria location has one of the largest—lining the entire north side of the building with seating for about 50 people. So if you’re in the mood for pizza and cannoli or just want to enjoy a glass of vino or beer, Grimaldi’s in Peoria is a perfect place to unwind. For more information, visit www.grimaldispizzeria.com.

Uptown Alley: Uptown Alley, located in Surprise, is a 60,000 square foot family entertainment venue featuring bowling, an arcade, two-level laser tag, an ultra-lounge and more. Check out their great patio during this fall at their full-service restaurant, Red Embers Bar and Grill. Indulge in six-hundred calorie selections, gluten free dishes, craft sandwiches, new signature burgers and a custom Burger Bar. Guests can also take advantage of the special Tailgate Menu that’s available every Monday, Thursday, Saturday and Sunday throughout football season. The menu includes items such as Smoked Turkey Legs, Chili Cheese Franks and Stadium Nachos. During the regular season every Sunday guests can enjoy the Touchdown Special that includes one game of bowling, shoe rental and a $5 game card all for just $7. Visit www.uptownalleysurprise.com for more information.