Tag Archives: arizonans

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High-Net-Worth Arizonans Upbeat about Economy

A study released today by BMO Private Bank has revealed that affluent Arizonans are optimistic about what the future holds for the U.S. economy.  The study is the second in a series by BMO Private Bank examining trends among high-net worth individuals (those with investible assets of $1 million or more) in Arizona and across the country.

According to the study, 65 percent of Arizona’s affluent expect the U.S. economy to improve over the next year. Additionally, almost half (48 percent) say they are financially better off now than they were before the 2008 recession.

Other key highlights of the study include:

* Affluent Arizonans consider stocks (65 percent) and real estate (58 percent) as the investments most likely to deliver solid returns in the next five years.
* They see the health sector (83 percent) as the most promising in which to invest, followed by the energy and technology sectors (73 percent each). They are least optimistic about the mining (40 percent) and agricultural (28 percent) sectors.
* Arizona’s affluent are spending more or the same since before the recession on entertainment/leisure activities (88 percent) and vacations (85 percent).

“Confidence in the economy has given Arizona’s wealthy greater peace of mind,” said Mike Sullivan, CFA, Regional Director – Investments, Western US, BMO Private Bank. “They are relaxing more, spending more, and making more thoughtful decisions about their investment strategies – all of which will continue to help stimulate economic growth within the state.”

On a national level, the study found:

* Almost two-thirds (61 percent) of high-net worth Americans say they are better off today than they were before the recession.
* Sixty percent of the nation’s affluent are optimistic about what the future holds for the U.S. economy.
* They are most bullish about the technology (80 percent), health (78 percent) and energy (77 percent) sectors and least optimistic about the prospects for the manufacturing (50 percent), agricultural (46 percent) and mining (43 percent) sectors.
* They are spending more money or the same amount as before September 2008 in a number of areas, including:

* Entertainment and leisure activities (86 percent)
* Travel and vacations (83 percent)
* Club memberships (81 percent)
* Collections and hobbies (80 percent)
* Clothing and accessories (77 percent)

Verandah Facing Glorietta Bay

San Diego’s Coronado Island is perfect family getwaway

I was sitting at breakfast when my 15-year-old daughter took a break from watching “Breaking Bad” on her iPhone and said, “Mom, we should take a girls’ vacation.”

After patting myself on my back for doing something right while trying to act like a sane Mom to four daughters, working full-time, and finding time for my spouse, I set my plan into motion.

With the skills only an experienced multi-tasker could possess, I moved into planning mode. I have always been jealous of friends who were better at balancing career and family time, particularly when they would take time to vacation in Coronado Island. I felt like I was missing out on some secret, some exclusive location where only the financially sophisticated and elite were allowed to vacation.

So I decided this was my time to shine, my daughters and I would discover for ourselves what lures so many Arizonans to Coronado Island. After a quick search, I landed at the San Diego Tourism Authority’s website (sandiego.org). I  wanted to explore Coronado, to figure out what makes Coronado such a unique destination. I wanted adventure, to discover things to do that were off the beaten track, and also to learn a thing or two about the island along the way.

We decided to stay at the Glorietta Bay Inn, which was once the home (OK, mansion) of sugar baron John D. Spreckles – also the original owner of the Hotel Del Coronado. The boutique inn, restored to look as it did in the 1920s, has 11 spacious mansion rooms in the main building for adults only, in addition to 89 contemporary rooms and suites.  Our one-bedroom suite came with a full kitchen, separate bedroom off the living room (with a fold-out couch), TV with DVD player.  The Glorietta Bay Inn also provides complimentary snacks each day off the grand music room, with lemonade and gingersnap cookies.  Each morning, they provide a complimentary breakfast, and guests may sit inside in the dining room, or outside on the patio.  The staff is incredibly helpful. The Glorietta Bay Inn is also located across from the beach.

Our first activity was a two-hour Discover Coronado Biking Adventure from Where You Want To Be Tours.  Husband and wife team, Darlynne and Marc Menkin were quick to point out that every house on the island is unique. We rode along the newly opened bike path that parallels the Hotel Del Coronado. We stopped by Spreckles Park and learned how on summer concert evenings, it becomes a large family-like picnic ground. We took in the downtown San Diego skyline from Ferry’s Landing (you may take your bike on the ferry over to San Diego), and rode along the Glorietta Bay. Water and light snacks are provided, along with trivia questions along the way.

The next morning, we met up with Crystal at Tourlands Park for a stand-up paddleboard lesson with SUP Coronado. Tourlands Park was on the other end of the island, (the Glorietta Bay side), and it worked out perfectly that we had done the bike tour the evening before, because the directions made sense, and I knew where I was going. Crystal gave us a brief 5-minute lesson on the basics of paddleboarding, and we were off into Glorietta Bay and out into the water like a gondolier in Venice.  We paddleboarded under the Coronado Bay Bridge, ducked under a catamaran, and learned much more about the culture of Coronado.

Of course, we couldn’t go to Coronado Island, without visiting the infamous Hotel Del Coronado.  A girls’ weekend is not complete without facials, so we went to the Del for spa treatments. The Spa at the Del features 21 treatment rooms, hydrotherapy tubs, steam rooms and its own private beachfront terrace with a vanishing edge pool.

For a vacation that was somewhat impromptu, I am thankful for the San Diego Tourism Authority’s website that easily allowed me to plan an off-the-beaten-track vacation, which turned out perfectly. The best part was the weekend came when my 15 year-old showed me a website she built in computer class. Under “My Favorite Places” she wrote – Coronado Island and the Glorietta Bay Inn. This time, I owe my Mother of the Year Award to Coronado Island.

High Speed Rail

Will Arizona Ever Climb Aboard The High-Speed Rail System?

High-Speed RailLast year, the Obama administration rolled out an ambitious $8 billion program to fund 21st century transportation via high-speed rail (HSR).  U.S. Secretary of Transporation, Ray LaHood, said, “High-speed-rail will be our generation’s legacy.”

This bold 21st century vision of new transportation options promises to revitalize the economy, reactivate the manufacturing sector, create millions of jobs, end the country’s oil dependency, and cut the carbon footprint by epic proportions. But has Arizona climbed aboard HSR? Its California neighbors, frustrated by miles of clogged freeways, passed a $10 billion voter approved bond to begin building an 800-mile system. Anyone familiar with the herculean effort to get light rail approved and funded in Arizona might wince at the thought of laying out a regional high-speed rail system.

Like the 1950s Interstate Highways System of the Eisenhower administration, which linked cities by a series of inter-state highways, this new plan aims to connect cities via rail line. In August, LaHood estimated that “New high-speed trains will link 80 percent of Americans within 25 years, at a cost of about $500 billion.” This includes a 17,000 mile national rail system to be built in four phases, with completion by 2030. It should be noted that the initial cost estimate of the Eisenhower system was $25 billion over 12 years; it ended up costing $114 billion (adjusted for inflation, $425 billion in 2006 dollars) and took 35 years.  Maybe that is why conservative Arizonans cringe.

Phasing In HSRThis said, the visionary map phasing championed by the U.S. High Speed Rail Association follows the most logical sequence for a national system build out — starting with the largest cities in the busiest corridors, then growing to connect those together across the country.  The busiest corridors are known as “megaregions,” none of which are in the Rocky Mountain West. The plan calls for a national system of HSR express lines connecting cities and states into an integrated system. The plan sets high standards for state-of-the-art dedicated track, advanced control systems, elegant multi-modal train stations, and top-of-the-line 220 mph trains connecting major cities. The plan calls for a support network of 110 mph trains connecting smaller cities and towns (such as between Phoenix and Tucson), together with the high-speed system.

Last year, the Obama administration awarded funding to 23 regional rail projects nationally. Neither Phoenix nor any Rocky Mountain West community received any of the funding. This was an unfortunate reminder that Arizona needs to position itself for future federal awards, notes Arizona Department of Transportation rail chief, Shannon Scutari.

“For us to be taken seriously,” Scutari said, “it’s very important that our two major metropolitan areas (Phoenix and Tucson) are building momentum and trying to connect by rail, and for us to show we are becoming a rail state. The key to that effort is to finish a state rail plan.  Without a state rail plan, the federal government will not consider funding applications.

On Feb. 8-10, the U.S. High Speed Rail Summit 2010 will convene in Washington, D.C. to further lay out its agenda. The summit recognizes that many obstacles lie in the path of completing the HSR plan, including:  overcoming partisan politics, ongoing permanent funding support, linking the various different agencies, real estate development opportunities, and integrating regional and local systems.HSR

In light of Arizona’s dependence on real estate development as a major part of its economic agenda, being on board with HSR seems like a “no brainer.” This national movement isn’t merely a trend. Only time will tell whether the train has already left the station  — and whether a stop in Arizona is on the map.