Tag Archives: arizona commerce authority

Staying Innovative as a One Man Operation

Innovators get boost from Arizona Commerce Authority

The Arizona Commerce Authority (ACA) has selected 18 recipients for AZ Fast Grant, a highly competitive grant program that provides qualified Arizona-based, early stage technology companies with intensive training and technical assistance to help them commercialize their innovations, grow their businesses and create quality jobs.

“Early stage companies play a key role in developing innovations that fuel our state’s economy,” said Sandra Watson, President and CEO, Arizona Commerce Authority. “The AZ Fast Grant program helps companies with critical training, technical expertise and the ‘know how’ to secure additional funding and commercialization opportunities to propel their businesses.”

Companies may use AZ Fast Grant awards for professional consulting services (that may include an expert review of technology under development); a commercialization feasibility study; or other commercialization assistance such as training to compete more effectively for federal Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) funding programs.

More than 50 Arizona small businesses applied for this round of the AZ Fast Grant program and awardees represent a variety of target industries.

AZ Fast Grant Recipients include (Total: $141,000, plus an additional $134,000 in leveraged funds):

* Arbsource, Tempe – Bio & Life Sciences
* Arizona Medical Systems, Peoria – Bio & Life Science
* Elliptical Mobile, Chandler – Advanced Manufacturing
* Engineering Science Analysis Corp., Tempe – Aerospace/Defense
* Grannus, Tucson – Cleantech/Renewable Energy
* Hildeez Enterprises, Peoria – Bio & Life Science
* MediCoventures, Peoria – Bio & Life Science
* Movement Interactive, Laveen – Bio & Life Science
* Kulira, Peoria – Bio & Life Science
* Prime Solutions Group, Goodyear – Aerospace/Defense
* QuantTera, Scottsdale – Advanced Materials
* Saccadous, Scottsdale – Bio & Life Science
* Score Algae, Scottsdale – Cleantech/Renewable Energy
* SiO2 Nanotech, Phoenix – Advanced Materials
* StatTransfers, Flagstaff – IT-Software
* Verve, Peoria – Bio & Life Sciences
* Vicinity Health, Chandler – Bio & Life Sciences
* YourLabs, Tucson – IT-Software

“I can honestly say the AZ Fast Grant really helped us get over the hump,” said Joe Marvin, Founder and President of Prime Solutions Group, a systems engineering and IT services company providing consulting expertise to government and defense contractors. Prime Solutions Group received AZ Fast Grant awards this year and in 2013.

With the help of AZ Fast Grant program support and technical expertise, the company recently secured $1 million in federal funding from the U.S. Department of Defense for its SBIR/STTR program submission this past fall. “We used our last AZ Fast Grant for commercialization strategy development, and that went directly into our federal proposal,” said Marvin.

global

Phoenix eyes Mexico City Trade Office

The Phoenix City Council on Tuesday unanimously voted to move forward with plans to partner with the Arizona Commerce Authority to open an Arizona Trade Office in Mexico City.

“Phoenix is taking the right steps to become a global city, and we’re ready to open our first trade office in Mexico City,” said Mayor Greg Stanton. “This partnership with the Arizona Commerce Authority demonstrates that we’re all committed to increasing exports, and that we know we can be more effective if we work together.”

The City, ACA and other regional partners plan to collaborate in the same office space in Mexico City. The partnership will better leverage the City’s investment and lower overall costs.

The City Council also voted to authorize the firm Molera Alvarez to represent and advance the City of Phoenix’s efforts with Mexico, specifically in the areas of trade, promotion, foreign direct investment and tourism.

Galleria Corporate Center 1, WEB

Weebly expands to Arizona, signs 25KSF Scottsdale lease

Weebly, a website creation service based in San Francisco, has signed a 25,000-square-foot office lease at the Galleria Corporate Centre, 4301 N. Scottsdale Rd. The office space will serve as the company’s North American customer operations headquarters to support its growing customer base.

Weebly’s expansion to Scottsdale will have a significant impact on the city’s economy. T The total economic impact over the course of the five-year lease term is estimated to be $256 million, according to an economic impact analysis provided by the City of Scottsdale. The company plans to bring more than 250 new positions to the city over the next three years, and will support more than two million customers from its Scottsdale office location.

“We’re extremely excited to open our new customer operations headquarters in Scottsdale. There is an amazing pool of quality talent in the area,” said David Rusenko, co-founder of Weebly. “With support from the city and the Arizona Commerce Authority, we’re looking forward to building a world-class team to support the success of our customers globally.”

The location, in the heart of Old Town Scottsdale, will allow Weebly to hire local talent to lead customer sales and support operations. Roles will include: customer sales and support specialists, team leaders, trainers, quality assurance and additional roles to be added in the future. Each new employee will become part of the company’s larger mission to help anyone start their something and easily build a business, website, blog or online store.

“The expansion of Weebly to Scottsdale was a collective effort by the city and our regional economic development partners to continue building Scottsdale’s software and technology sector,” said Scottsdale Mayor Jim Lane. “I am very pleased to welcome Weebly to Arizona and to Scottsdale.”

“It’s very fulfilling watching innovative clients like Weebly expand beyond their headquarters to new locations throughout the country,” said Cushman & Wakefield Senior Director Jon Dishotsky of San Francisco, who leads Weebly’s brokerage team along with Ryan Bartos and Matt Coxhead of Cushman & Wakefield of Arizona, Inc.
“After scouting several markets, including Denver and Austin, we were thrilled to partner with our Arizona colleagues to secure a great expansion location at Galleria Corporate Centre. The space is not only centrally located in Scottsdale, but also part of a bustling 24-7 lifestyle center, a feature important to Weebly’s unique culture,” Dishotsky said.

“This is a huge win for Scottsdale,” Bartos said. “It is exciting to see a company like Weebly expand into the Arizona market and bring some vibrancy to an already strong and growing technology tenant base. We believe this trend will continue and we look forward to witnessing their future success.”

Weebly was represented by Dishotsky and Cutter MacLeod of Cushman & Wakefield’s San Francisco office and Bartos and Coxhead of the Phoenix office. The landlord, Stockdale Capital Partners, was represented by Bryan Taute of CBRE.
“Weebly was also fortunate to have the support and guidance of the Arizona Commerce Authority (ACA), Greater Phoenix Economic Council (GPEC) and Scottsdale Economic Development Department to assist in this expansion,” Dishotsky said.

Each month, 175 million people visit more than 20 million Weebly sites worldwide. In the U.S., 33 percent of the total Internet population visits a Weebly site each month, up from 25 percent in 2013. As more people embrace the concept of the personal economy and starting a business of their own, Weebly is seeing tremendous demand for its technology which enables anyone to easily and affordably create a high-quality website, blog or online store to bring their unique idea to the world.

“Globally-focused companies continue to choose Arizona to achieve their goals for growth, and our highly skilled and available workforce is among our key advantages attracting corporate investment and expansions to the state,” said Sandra Watson, President and CEO, Arizona Commerce Authority. “We thank Weebly for selecting Scottsdale to expand its operations, and are excited to see the company help more businesses across the U.S. connect with their customers and grow through Weebly’s innovative web and e-commerce platform.”

ACA helps foster manufacturing matchmaking

“‘What is the overview of manufacturing in the U.S. and Arizona?’ That’s the question no one is asking. It’s a landscape of profound changes — especially for manufacturers who up their game and move up the value chain.”

Brian Sherman is filled with enthusiasm. As the senior vice president of business development for the Arizona Commerce Authority, he is the manufacturing “yenta” for the state’s official economic development agency; a “yenta” being a marriage broker hooking up couples perfect for each other.

“My No. 1 goal for 2014 is bringing together well-established manufacturers with business experience and an eye on growth with the young entrepreneurs who are building businesses from ideas and need prototypes and business acumen,” says Sherman. As the designated matchmaker, Sherman and his team have a new role at Arizona Commerce.

“Arizona is a land of innovation, and that’s what gives us an edge for manufacturers,” he says. “The day of business sitting back and waiting for orders is over. ‘Cranking it out’ has moved offshore, and businesses competing in that marketplace are going to get hit hard on price points.”

“Where a small- or medium-size manufacturer is going to succeed is with technical solutions and not just products. Innovation is what makes this state great,” Sherman’s on a roll. “We’ve got well-established manufacturing businesses aligned with our key sectors—but those same businesses could move into parallel sectors and grow even more. That’s what our team at Arizona Commerce is doing. We’re positioning these businesses for the next trend.”

Parallel sectors: Family classics meet Generation Z
“We have classic family manufacturers across the state. They’ve been around for decades; some for multiple generations. The make stuff.” Sherman calls them ‘salt-of-the-earth’ companies. “They’re starting to feel some of the pressure of the sequestration and recognizing that depending on defense or government is not the road to the future.”

“Then we’ve got these young entrepreneurs. They want to write code. They want to make games and apps,” he enumerates the issues. “They think manufacturing is stodgy, dead end and offshore. But they don’t really see the full picture. They’ll tell me, ‘yes, I have this vendor over in Taiwan and he’ll make this.’ Trying to prototype a product from 10 thousand miles away doesn’t let you see how it’s going to be built.”

“Back at the small manufacturer, let’s say it’s an aerospace or defense business. That’s high-precision work. The skills going into what it’s making now can be adapted into other high-precision manufacturing—like biomedical devices.” Sherman’s enthusiasm is contagious. “So we take the tech startup and the established business, bring them together and show the young entrepreneur that manufacturing can be pretty sexy. We show the manufacturer that the tech startup has the innovations and ideas that can be adapted for future growth.”

RevAZ: Arizona Commerce Authority consulting services
Sherman’s teams at Commerce work with manufacturing businesses as consultants — and in some cases bring in outside consultants — to help businesses transition into the next economy. The service is designed to revitalize Arizona manufacturing. “Rev AZ is just a phone call away,” explains Sherman. “We show how innovation, diversification, and shared knowledge helps companies position for trends and profitably grow. We bring in the experts to help businesses manufacture — both new and old.”

Back to that prototype, he says, “If the tech startup can have the prototype built here, it gives the view of how the production floor needs to function in order to turn out the product. It brings the new generation of innovation and technology into the experienced hands of our existing manufacturing businesses. It also opens new sectors for old business.”

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phoenix

GPEC Earns Economic Development honor

Cited as one of the Best to Invest Top U.S. Groups of 2013, the Greater Phoenix Economic Council (GPEC) has once again made Site Selection magazine’s annual ranking for top U.S. Economic Development Groups.

“This recognition is a reflection of our elected and business leaders working together to promote Greater Phoenix and Arizona as business friendly,” said Barry Broome, president and CEO of the Greater Phoenix Economic Council. “The Arizona Competitiveness Package of 2011 and subsequent economic development policies have dramatically shifted our market’s competitive position towards advanced manufacturing and other high-tech industries.”

The ranking took into account four objective categories: new jobs, new jobs per 10,000 residents, new investment amount and new investment per 10,000 residents. “This year’s Best to Invest Top Groups in the U.S. all demonstrated an ability to reach new markets while reaping significant reinvestments from their existing industries,” said Ron Starner, general manager and executive vice president of Conway Data Inc. and Site Selection magazine.

The magazine also features a ranking for top North American deals of 2013, highlighting the Apple, Inc. locate to Mesa, Ariz. The collaboration included a partnership between GPEC, the Arizona Commerce Authority, the city of Mesa, DMB Associates, Maricopa County, and Salt River Project.

Several factors contributed to determining the Top Deals of 2013, including: level of capital investment, degree of high-wage jobs, creativity in negotiations and incentives, regional economic impact, competition for the project and speed to market. “Trends among this elite group of projects include a penchant for free trade zones and an awareness that sometimes facility reuse is as good as brand new,” said Adam Bruns, managing editor of Site Selection.

Broome credits the successful consummation of the project to “years of work on infrastructure, permitting, and crafting performance-based incentives.” He also cited the ability to offer a “turnkey real estate option” as a key factor in sealing the deal.

manufacturing sector expanded

Brewer OKs tax cut law for manufacturers

Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer on Friday signed into law a bill that eliminates sales taxes on electricity and natural gas purchased by manufacturers and mining smelters, a move she said was needed to make the state more attractive to large businesses.

Brewer signed Senate Bill 1413 at a Capitol ceremony attended by a couple of dozen business leaders, calling it “another smart tax reform that will bolster job creation in Arizona and our competitive edge.”

The tax cut is expected to cost the state general fund at least $17 million a year. Brewer also vetoed money in the state budget designed to help counties make up for the losses, saying their loss was small and would set a bad precedent.

“Since becoming governor, my cornerstone priority has been to make Arizona as attractive as possible for new and expanding businesses, particularly for our manufacturing industry, which generates quality jobs and high-wage salaries,” Brewer said. “I want Arizona to be No. 1 and be the pro-business state in the nation and we have worked relentlessly to accomplish that.”

Later in the day, Brewer also signed a law providing a $5 million tax credit many say is aimed directly at Apple Inc. Senate Bill 1484 grants the tax credit to a company that installs at least $300 million in renewable power capacity to supply its own plant.

The governor touted other tax cuts, regulatory reform and business-friendly policies that she has championed since she took office in 2009. Those tax cuts have affected the state’s revenue, but she said they are important to growing the economy.

“When we bring in these new businesses it drives our economy, they bring in construction jobs, they bring in employees, they bring in money into the state,” she said. “So in the end, everybody’s ship rises.”

Brewer called for the elimination of the tax in her State of the State address in January, saying it was needed to make Arizona more competitive and draw new manufacturing to the state.

The bill received bipartisan support in both legislative chambers, although one conservative Republican in the House of Representatives dissented when it came up for a vote earlier this week.

Rep. Brenda Barton, R-Payson, says the bill places a burden on rural counties that rely on that tax base. She and other rural lawmakers managed to get $1.3 million in the budget to make up for the cuts, but Brewer vetoed that money Friday afternoon.

“I am getting to the point that a lot of these special legislation bills that we are promoting are harming the state of Arizona, and they are harming our rural counties and our rural cities, and I don’t believe we are doing a very good job of doing what’s right for the right reasons,” Barton said during debate earlier in the week. She didn’t immediately return calls seeking comment.

Others defended the bill.

“I think anytime we can support small businesses and reduce their taxes and large businesses and reduce their taxes, and allow them to reinvest in their business and reinvest in the communities and reinvest in their employees, I think we need to be looking for opportunities to do this,” Rep. David Livingston, R-Peoria, said.

Steve Macias, chairman of the Arizona Manufacturer’s Council and the operator of a machine shop that will get a small direct benefit from the tax cut, said it could bring in more manufacturing.

“Seventy percent, 80 percent of the business we do is right here in Arizona,” Macias said of his operation. “And almost all of that is to larger manufacturers, the General Dynamics of the world, the guys who make equipment for the solar industry. So when they attract those guys, I get excited because to me those are all potential customers.”

Glenn Hamer, president of the Arizona Chamber of Commerce & Industry, said 38 other states do not tax electricity use by manufacturers and cutting the tax will help the state.

“These are jobs that pay more than the median wage. They’re jobs that every other state competes for, and we’ve done something significant to make Arizona more competitive today,” Hamer said.

The tax credit bill drew the ire of conservative House Republicans, who said say the bill is unfairly tailored to benefit Apple’s planned Mesa sapphire glass manufacturing plant and picked winners and losers among the state’s industries.

Apple said in November it will open the plant and eventually employ 700 workers to provide material for its iPhone 5 cameras and fingerprint reading sensors.

The tax credit could also be claimed by other companies that build similar facilities. Tesla Motors Inc. is currently looking for a battery plant site and often mentioned as a possible candidate.

“We as conservatives have got to step away from this crony capitalist style of development,” Rep. Adam Kwasman, R-Oro Valley, said during debate on the bill Tuesday. “We cannot afford to pick winners and losers in industry. We believe in low taxes for everybody. We believe in simple rules for everybody.”

But the bill sponsor defended it, saying it was a small amount of money to help establish a large manufacturing operation. The Arizona Commerce Authority helped seal the deal with other incentives.

“I believe that they did the right thing to bring Apple here,” Sen. Bob Worsley, R-Mesa, carried the Apple bill, saying he did it because the Arizona Commerce Authority had made a commitment to the company as part of the deal to draw them here. “And the dollars are very small in the whole scheme of things with Apple being in the Valley. They could have gone to Texas, they could have gone other places and we wanted them here. It’s a good decision.”

startup

Getting an angel to open the checkbook

Governor Jan Brewer touts her policies and business regulatory climate as the reason Arizona is growing new businesses. That may be a factor, but it’s not the major reason Arizona topped the Kaufman Foundation Index of Entrepreneurial Activity in 2012. If it were the case, Arizona would have been on top again in 2013—instead of plummeting to 20th nationally.

“Just because there are a lot of startups,” observes Barry Broome, CEO of the Greater Phoenix Economic Council, “doesn’t provide a measure of the economic growth in the Valley.” A startup can be someone opening a consultancy, a contractor or the next Apple. Self-employment is a form of startup. The challenge is nurturing a startup so it grows with high value jobs.

Local governments and the Arizona Commerce Authority see major value with growing Arizona startups into enterprises. Chris Mackay, economic development director in Chandler says, “There’s staying power when a business is local. It’s connected to the local community and if the economy falters, the owners are more willing to keep going locally as opposed to closing up shop.” That local staying power is one reason Mackay says Chandler makes big investments in growing future enterprises.

Planting the seeds

Arizona’s new economy needs startups to scale up into enterprises. Those growing small businesses become hiring employers offering high value jobs paying home-buying income. Government policy supporting businesses that can scale up is based on simple economics.

Businesses with more than 20 employees, says the Small Business Administration, generate two of three Arizona paychecks. Those same businesses cut checks for more than 70 percent of Arizona’s private payrolls. The value in 2012 was over $100 billion.

All new businesses are “startups,” but not all startup businesses will be entrepreneurial enterprises. “There is no relation between starting a business and starting a company,” says Dr. Daniel Isenberg, Professor of Entrepreneurship Practice and founding executive director of the Babson College Entrepreneurship Ecosystem Project in Boston. “Ninety percent of companies formed don’t grow high value jobs.”

Isenberg says that the difference between a start-up and enterprise is a matter of scale. He is an international advocate for scaling a business to grow as opposed to opening a business. An entrepreneur, he points out, is a business founder with a large company that just happens to be small right now.

Arizona State University, as the new American university, is at the cutting edge of helping turn ideas into enterprise. Recently, the college joined the elite ranks of schools offering a stand-alone degree in entrepreneurship. It’s on that list with Harvard Business School, Babson, and University of Texas. Its goal is getting new businesses that can grow into the market.

Locally grown

ASU says more than 70 percent of its W.P. Carey School of Business MBA graduates remain in Arizona. Keeping these graduates in state provides the human resources necessary to building new enterprises fueling the future economy.

“Starting a company — as opposed to just starting a business — is hard work,” says Isenberg. “An entrepreneur looks at the business and sees it growing. It’s a time of sleep deprivation, hard work, and endless pitches.” Few startups achieve quality growth—less than ten percent, he believes. “The golden triangle of a growing enterprise,” he continues, “is cash, customers and people.”

“An entrepreneurial endeavor isn’t limited to startups,” Isenberg emphasizes. “University research, family businesses, mature companies, all can be turned into a growing enterprise. Most startups tend to stay small.” The key to the economic contribution of startups in Arizona is scalability. He is adamant about it, “Ambition is not a dirty word. A business founder without ambition does not significantly contribute to overall economic growth.”

“There are a number of entrepreneurial success stories arising from a new direction for an existing, mature business,” Isenberg reports. Sometimes it takes a new owner with a vision; sometimes the existing management team finds a new direction. It can be a license from a university, a new product, or an innovative use of an existing product. Entrepreneurship can occur anywhere in a business’ lifecycle.”

Bringing ideas to market

Arizona colleges are on that licensing bandwagon. Entrepreneurs complain that it takes years to license patents or transfer technology from most universities. In ASU’s Office of Knowledge and Enterprise Development, the Arizona Furnace Technology Transfer Accelerator — first project of its type in the world — slashes technology transfer time from years to months. The AZ Furnace is a joint venture of ASU, University of Arizona, Northern Arizona University and Dignity Health. Funding partners include the Arizona Commerce Authority, BioAccel, and additional support from Thunderbird School of Global Management.

“There are hundreds of patents sitting on shelves at universities that could be in the market earning money for creators, colleges and businesses,” enthuses Gordon McConnell, assistant vice president, Entrepreneurship & Innovation Group in OKED. “We started a program to get patents into the market quickly.” The startups selected for incubation in AZ Furnace are either entrepreneurs in search of an idea to market or idea-creators ready to market through a business entity. The fledgling enterprises are capital-ready in 12 months or less.

Enterprise starts with a leader and a vision. The scale of the vision is what makes the difference, says Isenberg. The vast majority of business owners are thinking of a model that gets them to the point that they’re putting money in the bank. He says, “Entrepreneurs are thinking of a model that finds smart people, willing customers and puts the cash to back into the enterprise.”

“Angels invest in businesses they understand or CEOs they respect,” says Broome. “There’s a need for more of that in the Valley. We’re just not seeing the next Apple or Google evolving here.”

Gaining visibility

“The biggest challenge about getting angel and venture money is visibility,” says Brandon Clark, region coordinator for Startup Arizona.  “If you’re a promising digital startup locally, it’s a little harder to get noticed nationally being from a region not known for its digital startups.  That’s starting to slowly shift.” National publications, FastCompany and Entrepreneur Magazine, have eyed Arizona as an emerging technology region.

The development opportunity for the small business is capital. Combine the “Broome Factor”—known businesses; known leaders—with the large number of startups, and there are too many funding requests heading towards too few checkbooks.

What makes early investors open pocketbooks to startup businesses is scalability. Businesses with potential to grow create the greatest return on investment for the angels. “It’s also makes a difference to the local economy,” says Isenberg. “Local policymakers need to change their focus from ‘startup’ to a ‘high value growth business’.”

Cities like helping scalable startups — and provide resources that build success. There’s a loyalty factor when the business grows; it typically remains in the hometown that helped it succeed. This is important to Chandler, Mesa, Peoria, Phoenix, Scottsdale, and Surprise. These five cities have specifically invested in incubators and accelerators to nurture and graduate businesses achieving market traction. Chandler, Phoenix and Tucson have involvement with collaborative workspaces — Gangplank and Co+Hoots — as well.

While an employee or two in a collaborative workspace works well for a while, the time comes when a move up is needed. Clairvoyant, an enterprise and analytics startup now in Chandler Innovations started with Gangplank. “We grew from four employees in March to 12 in April,” smiles Amber Anderson, a firm partner and its business developer. “We needed a place to meet with clients and work with a growing team.” Still self-funded, the growing entity plans to hit 20 employees by January.

Mackay explains, “We help a company like this grow and hope that as it expands it continues to locate in Chandler.” To that end, the city is working with landlords in its Price Corridor to offer “teenage” space that lets a business move from the heavily subsidized rents and back office support of the incubator into its own place—without too much sticker shock.

Support from cities

The difference by which startup is accepted into a city’s incubator is the ability to scale up from the garage to commercial space; from one employee to more than 20. Chandler and Mesa are looking for businesses with this capacity. Innovations gives lab and office space to businesses that have formed entities — LLCs, corporations, partnerships — and a business plan. Mesa’s new Technology Accelerator is planned with a similar focus, but is looking for businesses at an earlier stage. Surprise’s Arizona TechCelerator wants to shepherd a business to the angel investor stage.

In Surprise, scalability is one of the criteria to be accepted into Arizona’s oldest incubator. The TechCelerator is looking for businesses offering something outside the box or creating a new niche. “The company has to be started before we’ll consider them,” says Julie Neal, the economic development coordinator for the city’s enterprise. “They need a mentor, a plan and have to know where they are going.”

“Scaling up is difficult,” says Isenberg, “but doing it right defines the difference between the successful entrepreneur with a growth business and a startup that just stays small. Marketplaces are competitive. The startup has to acquire customers. That means overcoming inertia or changing buyer behavior. While established companies are cruising on their business platforms, the startup has to hire people, start a company, raise money, and all the while, it’s competing in the marketplace. That’s tough work.”

After incubation, the business must gain market traction. At this phase, the fledgling enterprise has product going out and customers paying for it. The kinks are being smoothed, and it’s time to move up to the next stage and grow. Isenberg says that the high growth criterion is simply 20 percent annual increases in sales or staff for five years.

Getting capital

To make this leap requires high levels of capital — the checks venture capitalists cut. The biggest challenge in Phoenix is that there are few sources for local venture capital. The venturists hang out in places like Silicon Valley, Boston, San Diego and Seattle. “There are even a couple of funds with deep ties to the Valley,” worries Clark, “but they have very little involvement in local startups.”

Clate Mask, CEO of Infusionsoft, had to travel out of town for his venture capital. “At one time, I was told that a fund wouldn’t cut a check for a firm in Phoenix because we didn’t have the workforce for success,” he says. “That’s no longer true; venture funds are seeing that there is a real climate for success in the Valley.”

Another resource for a growing business is the Arizona Commerce Authority’s “Growing Your Arizona Business” services. The quasi-public agency provides mentorship, regulatory assistance, access to incentive programs and site selection. It also works as a liaison connecting the growing business with other business resources. The agency mentors businesses in accessing federal procurement and grant opportunities as well as serving as an entrée to international trade.

Overall, the major resource in Arizona for start-up businesses is the universities. Anemic legislative funding for the schools causes their efforts to help to face the same struggles growing businesses face. Their efforts to improve Arizona’s long-term economy are stymied by a declining source of capital.

“ASU is underfunded,” complains Barry Broome. “The school has done an amazing job despite being financially crippled by budget cuts. It’s suffering from a lack of resources to take its programs to scale.” “Scalability” is applicable to the business-development programs at the universities and other public agencies just as it is for growing enterprises.

“Getting money for those programs is the top job for the next governor,” predicts Broome.
Opportunity in Arizona will come from the core of businesses growing today. They will create the jobs for the new economy and drive economic success for the next generation.

social media day

Gigya brings 200 jobs with Arizona expansion

A California firm that helps companies connect with customers through social media says it has opened a Phoenix office and plans to hire more than 200 employees within three years.

Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer touted Tuesday’s announcement by Mountain View, Calif.-based Gigya as the latest sign that her efforts to cut business tax rates and regulations is drawing new companies to the state.

Gigya CEO Patrick Salyer says the fast air access between Phoenix and the Silicon Valley, ease of setting up shop and available trained workforce made Phoenix the company’s top choice. The company will receive $450,000 for training from the Arizona Commerce Authority.

Salyer says the company has begun hiring and expects to have 50 sales, account and client management employees here by the end of the year.

Go Daddy founder and former CEO Bob Parsons is resigning as executive chairman to spend time on other ventures.

Parsons Acquires Scottsdale-based Martz Agency

Valley entrepreneur and philanthropist Bob Parsons today announced the acquisition of Martz Agency by MP Agency, L.L.C., an organization owned by Parsons. The award-winning Scottsdale based marketing and public relations firm, which will be renamed Martz Parsons, will bring creative firepower to Parsons’ growing portfolio of businesses.

Parsons has said that by looking at and structuring their marketing as a revenue generator that makes money rather than an expense item, businesses are able to not only bring attention to their brand but also increase their revenue streams. Parsons’ numerous Valley based entities, including Harley-Davidson of Scottsdale, Go AZ Motorcycles, Spooky Fast Parts & Engineering, YAM Properties, The Bob & Renee Parsons Foundation and Scottsdale National Golf Club, will be using Martz Parsons as their agency of record. The agency will immediately add talent to keep pace with the growth.

Martz Agency, founded by Carrie Martz in 1980, is among the most highly regarded agencies in Arizona. Moving forward, Carrie Martz will assume the title of CEO and the agency will continue to serve its existing clients. Existing and future accounts, including Parsons personal enterprises, will be able to leverage the Agency’s unparalleled talent and newly expanded resources to further develop and empower their brands.

“I am thrilled that someone I consider to be a marketing genius has purchased the Agency,” said Carrie Martz.  “This is a once in a lifetime opportunity for our agency and for our clients. With Bob Parsons behind us, I believe our Agency will become even more value to the clients we serve.”

Bob Parsons, like Carrie Martz, is well-known for his intense focus on providing an excellent customer experience. Moving forward, clients can expect their accounts to be managed with the same level of personalized care that Martz Agency has delivered for the last 33 years.

“It’s no secret that I am passionate about marketing,” said Bob Parsons. “The formula is simple … great brands that deliver an uncontested customer experience thrive. Martz Agency brings years of experience, professionalism and enthusiasm to the table. Together, we should knock it out of the park.”

Martz Agency’s current client roster includes Yurbuds, Arizona Commerce Authority, Toronto based Pacific Links International, Valley of the Sun YMCA, Fennemore Craig, RLC Labs, One Neck, Mirabel, The Reef Residences at Atlantis, Estrella by Newland Communities, and Olympia Group.

Business Credit Score

Progrexion Announces Phoenix Office, Hundreds of Jobs

Progrexion, the nation’s leading provider of services in the credit repair industry, today announced it is opening a new office in Phoenix, bringing hundreds of new jobs to the region.

“We are excited to enter such a dynamic and high-quality market like Phoenix to meet our growth demands. We acquired 30,000 square feet in North Phoenix for a sales call center and plan to add hundreds of hires initially, and then grow from there”, said Gene Abernethy, Senior Vice President – Human Resources for Progrexion, based in North Salt Lake, Utah.

“We are excited that Progrexion has chosen Phoenix as its new site,” said Mayor Greg Stanton. “This is one example of how Phoenix is making a big comeback in the job market. Our competitive and dynamic workforce makes us a top choice for companies looking for new opportunities.”
Progrexion used Dallas-based global location advisory firm Site Selection Group, LLC to assist in its national site search to expand its credit repair telesales operations.

“We worked closely with Progrexion to filter through a large number of potential cities to determine which location had the best chance to provide high quality associates and community support to meet Progrexion’s growth needs. Phoenix was the clear choice,” stated Samuel J. Pruitt, Executive Vice President & Principal of Site Selection Group, LLC.

“Progrexion is the national market leader in its industry, and its new Phoenix operations will allow the company to access a high-quality workforce to propel its growth initiatives,” said Arizona Commerce Authority President and CEO Sandra Watson. “Progrexion’s capital investment and expansion in Phoenix will bring hundreds of jobs to Arizonans while strengthening our state’s overall economy.”

Progrexion will host a job fair September 20 from 3-7 p.m. and September 21 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at 20620 North 19th Avenue in Phoenix. They are looking for candidates to fill call center and sales agents positions. On Friday, burgers and live music will also be available. On Saturday, the job fair will feature a family carnival with a bounce house, petting zoo, face painting and prizes.

In addition, Progrexion intends to bring to the Phoenix area its robust corporate giving program, which was launched in Utah in 2012 and has already raised more than $100,000. During the job fair, Progrexion will collect food and cash contributions to benefit St. Mary’s Food Bank. For every 10 pounds of food or $10 in cash, attendees of the job fair will be entered into a drawing for many great prizes, including a flat-screen TV and a mountain bike.

“St. Mary’s Food Bank would like to welcome Progrexion to the valley and we look forward to working with a new partner in the fight against hunger,” St. Mary’s Food Bank Alliance President and CEO Beverly Damore said. “Progrexion has been a hunger hero in their home state of Utah and were quick to reach out to the World’s First Food Bank upon their arrival in Arizona – where one in four children are affected by food insecurity. We look forward to this great new partnership.”

“Progrexion’s compassion for helping others succeed is a welcome addition to the Greater Phoenix region,” said Barry Broome, president and CEO of the Greater Phoenix Economic Council. “The region’s workforce and community strengths played a major role in their decision, and we’re proud to welcome them to Phoenix.”

“We look forward to being involved in the Phoenix community and establishing ourselves as a true employer of choice,” Abernethy said.

To find out about Progrexion’s career opportunities, visit http://www.progrexion.com/careers.

118315706

Phoenix ranked Top 10 for foreign direct investment

Greater Phoenix was named one of fDi Magazine’s top 10 “American Cities of the Future” for foreign direct investment (FDI) strategy in 2013/14. Greater Phoenix ranked sixth among overall North and South American cities, and second in the United States behind Chicago.

“One of GPEC’s primary objectives has always been an international presence and strong performance in foreign direct investment. The fact that we were ranked second to Chicago – a true world leader in FDI – speaks volumes about our success and how far we’ve come in a relatively short period of time,” said Barry Broome, GPEC President and CEO. “While Chicago is one of America’s most illustrious cities, Greater Phoenix is still developing its brand, giving everyone living and doing business here an incredible opportunity to be a part of its legacy. There’s no question in my mind that being a top international city for business will be one of our marquee features.”

The rankings are part of fDi Magazine’s “Locations of the Future” series, which are designed to identify the most promising destinations around the world for future inward investment. Each world region is assessed over two years.

The Greater Phoenix region has seen particular success this year with the launch of an international toolkit and forum series targeting international business executives. Called “Doing Business in Greater Phoenix, U.S.A,” the toolkit is a compilation of how-to advice ranging from human resources issues, immigration law, investment parameters, taxes, import/export laws and banking.

In addition, GPEC also partnered with the Arizona Commerce Authority, Arizona State University, Green Card Fund and Tucson Regional Economic Opportunities, Inc. to form the China-Arizona Alliance, which seeks to establish extensive contacts within the government and Chinese business communities and to promote Arizona as a destination for Chinese investment.

Sandra Watson

Sandra Watson – 50 Most Influential Women in Arizona Business

Sandra Watson – President and CEO, Arizona Commerce Authority

Watson has more than 20 years of economic development leadership and experience. She and her teams have attracted hundreds of companies to Arizona that have invested billions of dollars in capital and created more than 65,000 quality jobs.

Surprising fact: “My career in economic development began in Canada. When my family and I moved to Arizona, I continued economic development work with the City of Chandler and then the state of Arizona.”

Biggest challenge: “Economic development during the recession was extremely challenging. Working with Gov. Brewer and our elected leadership to create the Arizona Commerce Authority and lay the foundation for a more sustainable economy has been incredibly rewarding and is already paying dividends through quality job creation for Arizonans.”

Fifty Most Influential Women in Arizona Business – Every year in its July/August issue Arizona Business Magazine features 50 women who make an impact on Arizona business. To see the full list, read the digital issue >>

rsz_carts

WinCo Foods Chooses West Phoenix For Southwest Distribution Headquarters

 

Grocer WinCo Foods announced it will open an 800,000 SF distribution center in west Phoenix. The new facility, expected to be completed in about a year, will create up to 200 jobs in its first phase.

“We are very excited about the development of our Phoenix Distribution Center,” said Michael Read, WinCo Foods’ Vice President of Public and Legal Affairs. “It will give us a much more economically favorable opportunity to service our stores in the southwest and will allow us to grow our business in the Greater Phoenix market and in other areas within the geographic reach of the facility.

“It will also give us the opportunity to create good jobs for many individuals as we open and will allow us to grow the employee base as we continue to grow the company.”.

“Working with WinCo Foods on this distribution center demonstrates their commitment to grow in the region and the city’s commitment to doing all that we can to assure that Winco’s building can be constructed and delivered in a timely manner,” Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton said.

“Phoenix’s competitive advantage in real estate, low operating costs and talented workforce make our city an attractive location where WinCo is creating jobs with an economic impact that goes beyond our city limits to benefit the whole region.”

The distribution center will service WinCo’s Arizona, southern California and southern Nevada supermarkets. Metro Phoenix already has three WinCo Foods retail locations Mesa, Glendale and Phoenix.

The new distribution center will help them grow their operations and storefronts in Arizona and throughout the southwest. Currently, they are serviced by a distribution center in Modesto, Calif.

“WinCo Food’s decision to build its newest distribution center in Arizona speaks volumes about our state’s strategic southwest location and advanced transportation infrastructure,” said Sandra Watson, president and CEO, Arizona Commerce Authority.

“This project represents a significant investment in our state and demonstrates how collaborative regional partnerships attract quality employers such as WinCo to Arizona.”

“WinCo’s new distribution center is one of the largest build-to-suit projects this region has seen over the past few years – another positive sign that our economy is turning around,” said Barry Broome, president and CEO of the Greater Phoenix Economic Council.

WinCo Foods chose its distribution center site in west Phoenix with the help of Kupperman Location Solutions.

 

real estate - expanding to california

Shine coming off the Golden State

The Tax Foundation in its 2013 State Business Tax Climate Index tells us something most of already know: California has high taxes. Really high.

In its state-by-state rankings, California checks in at 48, duking it out with New Jersey and New York at the bottom of the barrel. Breaking out the ranking in its component parts, California comes in at 45 for corporate taxes and 49 for individual tax rate.

The hits keep on coming. The California Taxpayers Association reports that California has the highest statewide sales tax in the nation and the country’s second-highest gasoline tax.

So it doesn’t take an economic development wizard to figure out that California’s pain could be Arizona’s gain. After all, while our governor and Legislature have been reforming Arizona’s tax code to make it friendlier to business, California has been going in the opposite direction.

As the Arizona Commerce Authority made clear last week in a presentation by ACA CEO Sandra Watson before the House Committee on Commerce, our state’s job creation authority is well aware that our proximity to California and our fertile jobs environment can drive job growth here at home.

But as Watson said in her testimony, “the opportunity in California goes way beyond a tax discussion.” The state’s California strategy is about opening doors to the world’s ninth largest economy and taking advantage of the opportunities our nearness to that market allows.

The ACA has set up offices in Santa Clara and Santa Monica where it has two executives working full-time as market representatives, spreading the word about what Arizona has to offer for firms exploring expansion, while also helping Arizona take advantage of the benefits our proximity to California has to offer, such as improved supply chain access.

As Chamber board member Pete Bolton of Newmark Grubb Knight Frank said at the same hearing, the tremendous growth in warehousing seen in the West Valley can be attributed to logistics. The area, according to Bolton is “zoned properly and that’s where the trucks come from. You get on I-8 and mostly I-10, it is a very serious line of trucks coming from the ports. The ports in Los Angeles distribute a huge amount of the products that we all consume.”

Sharing a border with California is advantageous to our other neighbors as well.  Currently, Texas and Mexico are tied for the 14th largest economies in the world and they, too, enjoy the access to California that Arizona provides. Arizona is well positioned to easily ship goods to market, while companies looking to hire California talent can set up shop in Arizona and have easy access to that talent pool.

As Watson pointed out, “Businesses generally don’t pay attention to a state border when they’re looking at access to markets. They’re going to ship their goods in and out, [and] they’re going to access the talent in those markets.”

Arizona is making tremendous strides in emerging technology and aerospace and defense. Having a flag planted in California, home to venture capital firms looking to invest in the next big thing, means opening doors for Arizona firms looking to be that next big thing. Beyond just access to capital, locating in Arizona means Arizona companies can enjoy the benefits of California without the high cost of doing business next door.

But the ACA’s strategy in California is more than just one state versus another or one region’s economic dynamism versus another’s. This is about global competition. By hanging a shingle in California, the ACA has access to the many multinational firms that call California home and is more easily able to interface with them to help Arizona companies reach customers around the world, especially since the world’s fastest-growing economies all have consulate offices in California.

Currently, the ACA has been in touch with over 200 potential leads and partners through their offices in California. Of those leads, more than 40 are truly qualified and are currently being pursued. The ACA is hopeful that more of those leads will become solid partnerships and that Arizona will continue to grow our presence within California. Greater Phoenix Economic Council President and CEO Barry Broome nailed it when he said, “California’s economy and Arizona’s economy are intertwined.”

But I close with a note of caution. For all that Arizona is doing right and California is doing wrong, let’s remember that the Golden State is our next door neighbor. While we’ve got the manicured lawn, our neighbor’s yard is overgrown with weeds and there’s a car up on blocks. It’s an eyesore and bringing down the value of the whole block.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce is so concerned about the direction California’s taken that it’s launched the California Comeback, a policy initiative designed to help advance California’s recovery. A state with as much to offer as California is too important not only to Arizona but to the entire country to allow it to fail.

Admittedly, Arizona has much to gain by California’s struggles; we’re an escape hatch from their high taxes and stiff regulations. But we have so much more to gain when California makes a full recovery.

Glenn Hamer is the president and CEO of the Arizona Chamber of Commerce and Industry. The Arizona Chamber of Commerce and Industry 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. 

healthcare

ZocDoc will bring 600 jobs to Valley

A New York company that helps patients connect with doctors through an online service is opening a Scottsdale office and will hire more than 600 workers in the next three years.

ZocDoc is a free service for patients that also lets them book appointments online. Gov. Jan Brewer and Scottsdale Mayor Jim Lane announced the office opening on Tuesday.

Brewer has made three other major jobs announcements in recent weeks, including a new General Motors information technology innovation center in Chandler that will have 1,000 high-tech employees.

All three are benefiting from incentives from the Arizona Commerce Authority.

The Commerce Authority also was involved in Tuesday’s announcement.

The company says it will hire nearly 70 people to staff the office by year’s end.

rsz_davecheatham_velocityretail_small_2013

Retail Overview: Big Boxes, Big Decisions

 

As a building owner of a vacant big box (or perhaps soon-to-be-vacant), there are a lot of factors that affect the return on your investment and the success of your asset.

From our experience in working with owners as they analyze their asset, we have found that one common denominator applies to every situation — the owner must be armed with specific market information so that they can make educated decisions.

Market intelligence or market analytics play a key role in nearly every building sale or lease. While it is important to know the vacancy rate in the market, it is even more important to drill down to specifics about your product type and market area.

Following are some questions you can ask yourself about your building or asset:

>> How many vacant big boxes are in the immediate trade area (what is my competition)?

>> Are the big boxes of the same product type? Neighborhood, vs. power center, vs. anchored, vs. unanchored?

>>  What is the average length of time these boxes are on the market before they lease or sell?

>> What deals have been completed recently which are similar? What was the rental rate, or concessions such as free rent or TI dollars?

>> Who would be the typical tenants to lease or buy the space? Are they already in the area?

>> Will the other tenants in my shopping center be able to stay open if the anchor space is vacant? If so, for how long?

Chances are you do not know all of these answers, or even know where you can get this information. However, we believe that these answers are critical to a successful outcome for your asset. Whether you want to lease and hold it as an investment, or whether you want to sell it as is, the information you gather to make that decision is critical.

Velocity Retail Group has allocated significant resources over the past two years to create a structured research vehicle aimed specifically at big box owners. We have drilled down to specific product types within cities, market areas and regional areas. Additionally, understanding absorption, vacancy and new construction are critical factors to any real estate decision.

Over the past year, we have been asked to present our information to various economic, industry and governmental groups throughout the Valley. The feedback we receive from these presentations has been extremely positive. In order to help share this information in a format that communicates the analytics succinctly we have created a video podcast series for our clients.

Click on the video at the bottom of this article to watch the eight-minute market overview recapping 2012.

Dave Cheatham is Managing Principal of Velocity Retail Group. He is an authority on retail real estate in the disciplines of brokerage, project leasing, development, consulting and advisory services. He is a senior advisor to merchants, entrepreneurs, investors and senior retail executives throughout the industry.

Jan Brewer

Brewer, GM announce Chandler Innovation Center

Michigan-based General Motors (GM), together with Governor Jan Brewer, Chandler Mayor Jay Tibshraeny, the Arizona Commerce Authority (ACA) and the Greater Phoenix Economic Council (GPEC), announced today GM has selected Chandler as the site of its fourth Information Technology Innovation Center.  These IT Innovation Centers enable GM to in-source the company’s innovation capabilities, strengthening its global competitiveness.

With the announcement, GM expects to invest $21 million in the new Chandler facility and hire 1,000 high-wage employees over the next five years.

“GM could have chosen to locate this premier facility anywhere in the country, so it is a tremendous credit to our state and everything we have to offer that GM has decided to build right here in Arizona,” said Governor Jan Brewer.  “Today’s announcement speaks volumes about the business-friendly environment we have created in Arizona, including our high-tech workforce, competitive tax policies and lean regulations. I could not be prouder of our state or what this announcement means for the future of the Arizona economy.”

With today’s GM announcement, Chandler joins previously disclosed locations for Innovation Centers in Warren, Mich., Austin, Texas, and Roswell, Georgia.

“The greater Phoenix area is a fantastic hub of emerging technical talent – from university graduates to working professionals. GM needs these kinds of world-class and skilled employees to be as successful as we want to be,” said GM Chief Information Officer Randy Mott.  “Chandler is the perfect addition to our overall Innovation Center market strategy, locating in great communities that are on the leading edge of innovation and technology.”

GM’s IT Innovation Centers are part of a companywide transformation to improve performance, reduce the cost of on-going operations and increase its delivery of innovation.

“This is exactly the type of technology employer we need in Chandler and in our state,” said Chandler Mayor Jay Tibshraeny. “The GM Innovation Center is a perfect complement to Chandler’s Price Corridor, and furthers the City’s reputation as a regional hub for innovation and high-tech businesses.”

GM will begin recruiting and hiring software developers, database administrators and system analysts immediately.  The new Innovation Center is expected to be operational by first quarter 2014. Interested candidates can apply for positions at http://jobs.gm.com/.

“We are thrilled with GM’s selection of Arizona and its significant increased investment in our community.  The company’s long-term commitment grows and strengthens our economy in the form of quality jobs, high wages and capital investment, building on the technology and economic base in our state,” said Sandra Watson, president and CEO, Arizona Commerce Authority.  “It has been wonderful working with GM’s team throughout this process, and we look forward to a continued successful partnership for many years to come.”

“General Motors could not have found a better innovation partner than the City of Chandler, which has worked hard to earn its well-deserved status as one of the western U.S.’s top technology cities,” said GPEC President and CEO Barry Broome. “GM’s investment is testament to our skilled workforce and quality lifestyle, as well as competitive and uncomplicated business landscape. Indeed, today’s announcement is a win for the entire region, and we look forward to developing a lasting partnership with General Motors.”

Arizona SciTech Festival - AZ Business Magazine January/February 2012

Arizona House panel OKs high-tech tax credits

An Arizona House committee has given initial approval to a bill that sets up a tax credit for insurance companies who invest in a new high-tech fund overseen by the Arizona Commerce Authority.

The bill sponsored by Republican House Speaker Andy Tobin gives insurers a credit against premium taxes they would owe of up to $10 million in the budget year beginning July 1 and $20 million in the next two years.

Tobin says the credit will prompt investment in biotechnology, semiconductors, electronics or other high-tech businesses.

It is one of two tax credit bills he is pushing that expand or create new tax credits. Tobin contends they will spur economic growth.

The bill passed the Commerce Committee Wednesday on a 7-2 vote with two Republicans opposing Tobin’s bill.

srp installs solar energy systems

Energy Consortium’s Roadmap puts state of path to build industry

Imagine Arizona as the energy hub of the Southwest — where major regional transmission lines tie into infrastructure in the state and serve a growing regional demand for energy. Arizona would be a place where an increasing percentage of jobs are related to the energy industry, whether in manufacturing, generation, transmission, energy efficiency, service or technology innovation. Many of these jobs would be higher-wage jobs requiring a skilled labor force fed by Arizona’s schools and universities. Arizona could be a hub of energy-sector jobs, with factories making equipment for the industry and power plants shipping electricity to neighboring states via new power lines, all contributing to a better economy.

That is the essence of the Arizona Energy Consortium’s Energy Roadmap, which the group hopes with be a catalyst for the state’s energy industry in the same way Arizona’s Bioscience Roadmap helped the state increase bioscience jobs by 41 percent and helped increase the number of bioscience establishments by 27 percent during its 10-year plan.

“It was important to create this document to give the energy industry a unified voice and direction,” said said Michelle De Blasi, co-chair of the AEC and a shareholder at Greenberg Traurig. “The energy industry is going to be here forever. We are always going to need energy. So the Roadmap was designed to make the industry better for everyone — consumers, developers, legislators. So it was critical that we get it right.”

This is the vision the Roadmap hopes to realize over the next decade: Arizona is the energy hub of the Southwest, with a diverse energy mix supporting reliable transmission, a strong base of manufacturing facilities, increased numbers of higher wage jobs, and world-class research institutions, resulting in increased economic development for the state and region.

Once that vision is realized, De Blasi said the state can expect to reap these benefits:
• Enhanced job creation and higher-wage jobs within Arizona
• Increased state economic revenue
• Enhanced energy export potential
• Heightened energy self-sufficiency and national and state security
• Increased transmission reliability
• Continued low cost energy

“This Roadmap is going to help Arizona be looked at differently from outside its borders,” said Chris Davey, co-chair with De Blasi of the AEC and president of EnviroMission, which is developing a solar tower in Western Arizona. “The Roadmap will create a sense of certainty, which appeals to the finance community. So when they are looking to invest, that certainty creates a more attractive environment for developers and investors.”

Davey and De Blasi said they will be rolling out the Roadmap this year, presenting it to groups throughout the state. For more information on the Roadmap, visit aztechcouncil.org.

ROADMAP CONTRIBUTORS

Arizona Commerce Authority
Arizona Governor’s Office of Energy Policy
Arizona Public Service
Bridge Strategy Group
Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck
City of Mesa, the Office of the Mayor
Cleantech Open
Dircks
DIRTT
DMB Associates
Energy Services Coalition
EnviroMission
Faithful+Gould
Greater Phoenix Economic Council
Greenberg Traurig
The Green Chamber – Greater Phoenix
Golder Associates
Hensel Phelps
Ikoloji
Institute for Tribal Environmental Professionals
J.D. Porter & Associates
Kolbe Connect
Matthew McDonnell
Ormond Group, LLC
RG Schmelzer, Inc.
Salt River Project
Stream Energy
Tucson Electric Power
Valley Forward
Valley Partnership

Business Awards: Are They Worth The Effort Of Applying?

Scottsdale Realtors hand out awards

Scottsdale Area Association of Realtors (SAAR) announced their Annual Award recipients at their January 31st Membership Breakfast “Template for Arizona’s Future” which featured a panel of distinguished state leaders including Wellington “Duke “ Reiter, Sr. VP, ASU Foundation, Grady Gammage, Sr. Fellow, ASU Morrison Institute, Marisa Walker, Sr. VP Arizona Commerce Authority and Michael Ryan, Ryan Media.

Elaine Grill, of Re/Max Excalibur was named Realtor of the Year. Grill has been an active member of SAAR for the past twelve years.  Additionally, she has volunteered countless hours serving on the Arizona Regional Multiple Listing Service (ARMLS) and also contributing as a member of the ARMLS Technology Committee.

Affiliate of the Year, Lonny Gibson, Alliance Financial Resources was honored for his contributions on SAAR’s Community Outreach and Awareness Committee and his leadership with the Lockbox for Seniors Program in conjunction with the Scottsdale Public Safety Department.

Citizen of the Year, Beverly Damore is President and CEO of St. Mary’s Food Bank and was recognized for her commitment to community and her work on behalf of the hungry in Arizona.

The Scottsdale Area Association of Realtors would like to once again congratulate and thank Elaine Grill, Lonny Gibson and Beverly Damore for their dedication to the Association and Scottsdale Area Community.  Over two hundred business and community leaders attended the event at Chaparral Suites Resort in Scottsdale.

TREO-Chairmans_Circle_2013

TREO adds to leadership

The TREO Board of Directors announced the following new leadership additions:

> New Vice Chairman of the Board/Chair-Elect: Guy Gunther, Vice President and General Manager, Tucson and Greater Arizona, CenturyLink. The Vice Chairman serves a key leadership role in partnership with the Chairman of the Board, and serves as Chair-Elect for the 2013-2014 Fiscal Year.

New Chairman’s Circle Members:
> Karen D. Mlawsky, CEO, University of Arizona Medical Center
> Sandra Watson, President & CEO, Arizona Commerce Authority

“We’re thrilled to continue adding top business leadership to our ranks,” said Steve Eggen, retired CFO, Raytheon Missile Systems. “We have put together the right critical mass of leaders to accelerate our economic growth.”

As CenturyLink’s Vice President and General Manager, Guy Gunther is responsible for Northern and Southern Arizona markets for voice, data, entertainment and managed services, including P&L, field operations, customer experience, direct and indirect sales channels, network development and community relations. Gunther has over 20 years of senior management experience in telecommunications, consulting firms and finance. “I am honored to become part of the leadership of this effective organization,” said Gunther. “TREO is the connective tissue in the region – promoting our assets and creating value for companies looking to establish or expand operations in Southern Arizona.”

As CEO of the Hospital Division of The University of Arizona Health Network, Karen Mlawsky oversees both The University of Arizona Medical Center – University Campus and The University of Arizona Medical – South Campus, as well as dozens of affiliated clinics and physicians’ offices. She previously served as vice president of oncology services for University Medical Center in Tucson and spent more than 13 years at the Ohio State University Medical Center. “Health care will likely be one of the top job-creating industries, regardless of a slow economic recovery,” said Mlawsky. “There is tremendous opportunity to contribute to our region’s economic development through teaching and training our future health-care workforce.”

Sandra Watson, president and CEO of the Arizona Commerce Authority (ACA), brings more than 20 years of economic development leadership and experience to Arizona. She and her teams have successfully attracted hundreds of companies that have invested billions of dollars in capital and created more than 65,000 quality jobs. With Governor Brewer’s visionary leadership, and a private sector board of directors made up of some of the state’s most successful CEOs, the ACA has established an aggressive five-year plan and is experiencing strong results in strengthening the state’s overall economy. “Partnering with regional groups such as TREO is critical to our overall success. TREO is central to a larger, collaborative movement in the state,” said Watson. “As a result of our strong, long-standing working relationship, we will continue to attract quality companies creating high-wage jobs in the Tucson region, benefitting the statewide economy.”

TREO Officers include:
> Chairman of the Board – Steve Eggen, (ret.) Chief Financial Officer, Raytheon Missile Systems
> Vice Chairman of the Board/Chair-Elect – Guy Gunther, Vice President and General Manager, Tucson and Greater Arizona, CenturyLink
> Immediate Past Chairman – Paul Bonavia, Chairman and CEO, UNS Energy Corp. & Tucson Electric Power Company
>  Secretary/Treasurer – Lisa Lovallo, Market Vice President, Southern Arizona, Cox Communications

TREO is governed by a 16-member Chairman’s Circle, which serves as a key advisory group for business development strategy and represents the Tucson region to national business prospects, and a 46-member Board of Directors.

TREO continues its Chairman’s Circle/Board of Directors expansion efforts begun in 2010. Economic development is a high priority, demanding increased engagement from the key companies, organizations and people that drive the Southern Arizona economy. TREO leadership recognizes the importance of providing strong thought leadership for community development and strengthening the Tucson “product” and positioning as a business center.

The above new members join other leaders providing both private and public sector perspective in accelerating economic development. For a complete listing of the TREO Chairman’s Circle and Board of Directors, visit http://www.treoaz.org/About-TREO-Board-of-Directors.aspx.

From left: Steven Murray, president of Direct Energy; Jim Lundy, chairman of GPEC; Kevin Sullivan and Matt George of the Arizona Commerce Authority. Photo by Huan Vo/Az Business

Direct Energy bringing 500 jobs to Valley

Wednesday marked the official announcement of the expansion into Arizona of Direct Energy, a multibillion-dollar energy company which promises to create about 500 new jobs by the end of this year.

Based in Houston and specializing in upstream production and downstream delivery, Direct Energy is one of North America’s largest energy services providers with approximately 6,000 employees.

The company worked with the Arizona Commerce Authority and Greater Phoenix Economic Council to open a new call center in Tempe, which is expected to bring $7 million of capital investment to the region and create 250 to 300 new jobs when it’s open.

“I can’t tell you how easy they have made it for us to expand and invest in Arizona,” said Steven Murray, president of Direct Energy. “It’s an easy, pleasant experience.”

Expected to be fully functional by the end of the first quarter year of 2013, the new call center will be tasked with call taking for the residential energy business, which will enable Direct Energy to “offer a wide range of products and services in one location,” according to the company’s news release.

Working with the ACA and GPEC gave Direct Energy an understanding of and access to a quality workforce that attracted Direct Energy in the first place, Murray said.

“Beyond the ease, I mean the quality workforce, you can have an entirely educated, motivated, hardworking people, and it really makes it easy,” he said.

“I think this commitment just illustrates that we do have a quality workforce in addition to the quality, smart economics policies that GPEC and ACA, the governor’s office, the state Legislature have been working behind the scenes just to get this economy going again,” said Jim Lundy, chairman of GPEC’s board of directors and CEO of Alliance Bank of Arizona.

Direct Energy is on a mission to make a difference to its customers through the provision of choice, which will help families with tight budgets.

“In a world of constraint household economics, people on tight budgets need to have products that meet their needs and give them control of how they are actually consuming and spending money,” Murray said.

Murray said Direct Energy has grown quickly over the years, and with each step in growth, the company is doing its best to invest and create jobs in communities where it started.

Direct Energy is accepting job applications online at www.directyourenergy.com, and at the Nation Career Fair at Phoenix Airport Marriott, 1101 N. 44thSt., from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. on January 21.

boeing-phantom-ray

It takes fuel to win tech race

Many of us can relate to thinking of Arizona’s economy as an automobile race. To win, you need a smooth race course, a fast car, a winning driver and high-powered fuel.
Carrying that analogy into Arizona’s technology sector, it’s clear that a lot of resources have been invested and progress has been made in building a world-class race course.  We’ve made tremendous strides in creating a business climate and technology environment for facilitating both private and public sector support to address the needs of Arizona’s technology businesses.

The Arizona Technology Council has worked collaboratively with many different technology champions to build this course. Technology issues are supported by the Governor’s office, the state’s legislature, the Arizona Commerce Authority, the Arizona Chamber of Commerce and Industry, and more.

Technology incubators and shared space facilities such as Gangplank in Chandler, Avondale and Tucson; Hackspace and Venture Catalyst at ASU’s SkySong in Scottsdale; BioInspire in Peoria; Innovation Incubator in Chandler; AzCI in Tucson; and AZ Disruptors in Scottsdale are making sure that today’s innovators are being given the right support, tools and environment to create the next big thing.

Collectively, our wins have included the passage of a tax credit for qualified research and development that is the best in the nation, the creation of the first statewide Arizona SciTech Festival and the birth of the Arizona Innovation Institute, to name a few.
Arizona’s technology industry also has great race cars. These are the technologies and intellectual property that create wealth and jobs driven by both Fortune 500 companies and entrepreneurs.  Companies such as Intel, Microchip Technologies, Freescale, ON Semiconductor and Avnet can all be found here.  Nearly all of the largest aerospace and defense prime contractors in the nation are located in Arizona, including Boeing, Honeywell, Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman and General Dynamics.

The state’s entrepreneurial spirit is reflected in companies such as WebPT, Infusionsoft, Axosoft, iLinc and Go Daddy that were founded in Arizona along with the many innovators that are coming to the table every day with new ideas rich in technology.

These companies large and small are driven by some of the greatest race car drivers the nation has produced.

But when it comes to fuel, Arizona’s economy has always been running close to empty. We lack the vital capital needed to win the race. Having access to angel investors, venture capital and private equity as well as debt instruments is critical to Arizona’s success.
The situation has not been improving on the equity side of the fuel equation. To offer some relief, the Arizona Technology Council is proposing legislation that would create a system of contingent tax credits to incentivize both in-state and out-of-state investors to capitalize Arizona companies.  This program, called the Arizona Fund of Funds, would allow the state to offer $100 million in tax incentives to minimize the risk for those seeking to invest in high-growth companies.  The state government’s role would be to serve as a guarantor through these contingent tax credits in case the investments don’t yield the projected results.  Expect more information on this important piece of legislation as it advances.

On the debt side of the fuel equation, there are encouraging signs that the worst of the credit crunch may be over. Early-stage companies need access to debt instruments, or loans. Capital is needed for equipment and expansion. A line of credit can help early-stage companies through ongoing cash-flow issues. But loan activity is still modest in Arizona for small companies. It remains heavily weighted toward the strongest corporate and consumer borrowers.

Capital goes hand in hand with innovation, high-paying jobs and cutting-edge technology, products and services. Before Arizona’s economy can win the race, we will need to become more self-sufficient at providing the fuel necessary to be a winner.

Steven G. Zylstra is president and CEO of the Arizona Technology Council.

rsz_aris_announcement_group

Aris Integration Establishing HQ, Manufacturing Center in Tucson

Aris Integration announced that it is establishing its corporate headquarters and a manufacturing center in the Tucson region.

The building systems company plans to bring nearly 600 jobs to support its innovative, sustainable building technologies used in residential and commercial construction.

Aris will manufacture a cost-effective, panelized-wall system that integrates light-gauge-steel structural framing, ultra-lightweight foam insulation and vapor-barrier products and processes with other sustainable materials and energy-efficient design.

Aris’s new production process will yield fully customizable commercial and residential structural insulated panels up to 32-feet long, 10-feet tall and up to 12-inches thick, which will be lighter and faster to install.

Changes to panel dimensions, insulation value, interior/exterior coatings, stud spacing, as well as the addition of unique architectural features, such as arches and window/door designs, can be easily modified during the manufacturing process, reducing jobsite construction time and cost.

The same technology will be used in non-thermal wall panels, roof trusses and floor systems, to ensure high performance throughout the entire building.

The company is in the final stages of the decision-making process on a physical location of its new facility. UK-based Fusion Building Systems will be a key partner in the new facility.

Aris plans to begin manufacturing operations in Tucson during fall 2013. The company anticipates hiring nearly 600 skilled workers over the next five years, with 250 over the near term. Positions include executive management, sales & marketing, quality control, HR, and manufacturing, among others. Wage levels will be competitive with the industry.

Experienced construction industry personnel will be needed. The hiring process will be announced via arisintegration.com.

Aris chose Southern Arizona for its experienced pool of construction tradesmen as well as coordinated public/private support. The Tucson area facility will be the company’s second of six planned regional manufacturing locations across the U.S. by 2017.

“We’re pleased to locate our second manufacturing operation and Aris headquarters here in Arizona, where many on our team call home,” said Duane Armijo, CEO and founder of Aris Integration, LLC. “As a Southwest native, I truly believe the fuel for our nation’s housing recovery will stem from the type of next-generation jobs and innovative technologies that we are bringing to our Tucson facility.”

Beyond serving as a significant area employer, Aris will also be a provider of energy-efficient and sustainable building systems to cut energy and construction costs for many state and municipal projects. In addition to manufacturing, the company will also offer design, engineering and construction services for its high performance building systems.

“We’re thrilled to welcome Aris Integration to Southern Arizona. The growth of headquarter and manufacturing facilities contributes to a healthier, stronger overall economy,” said Sandra Watson, President and CEO, Arizona Commerce Authority.

“Additionally, the construction of Aris Integration’s cutting-edge, renewable building materials is an investment in a more sustainable future in Arizona and around the world. We want to thank our partners Pima County and TREO for their strong, collaborative effort in ensuring Aris selected Arizona as its new headquarters location.”

“One of the hallmarks of Pima County’s support of new and existing businesses is its focus on workforce development,” said Sharon Bronson, vice chair, Pima County Board of Supervisors. “Pima County opened the nation’s first workforce center aimed at helping military veterans find jobs in July of this year. The center is ready to assist Aris right away.”

“Aris Integration fits very well with our region’s assets as well as our vision of providing innovative products and services that contribute to important industries,” said Joe Snell, president & CEO, TREO. “I am proud of the unified approach displayed throughout this recruitment process, which included direct involvement from several members of the TREO Chairman’s Circle and Board of Directors.”