Tag Archives: AZRE May-June 2011

Valley Partnership Advocates and Allies, AZRE May/June 2011

Valley Partnership: Advocates And Allies

As Arizona emerges from a grueling global recession, business and civic leaders are focusing on creating jobs and jump-starting our economy. Valley Partnership, as the state’s only grass-roots organization devoted to promoting responsible development, is poised to play an important role in that process.

“Our goal is to help stimulate the local economy by our actions,” says this year’s board chair Mindy Korth, an executive vice president and capital markets broker at CB Richard Ellis.

With its extensive ties throughout the development community, as well as into municipal and state offices, Korth says Valley Partnership is in a unique position to help get the economy moving again.

To say the past two years have been challenging for the commercial real estate industry would be an understatement.

Speculative construction in the office, industrial and retail sectors just about ground to a halt, with most construction occurring on build-to-suit projects or others already in the pipeline.

And as the Valley begins to see an uptick in business activity and employment, it is more crucial than ever that the principles of responsible development and job creation come to the forefront — something Valley Partnership has been promoting for 24 years.

As in the past, the linchpin of Valley Partnership’s efforts will be its advocacy, Korth says. Historically, the organization has been remarkably successful in rallying its partners — either against measures that would impose onerous restrictions on development, or on behalf of measures that would promote good growth.

“That’s an ongoing effort,” says Richard Hubbard, president and CEO of Valley Partnership. “We’ve always advocated against over-burdensome regulations at the local and state level.”

This year, Hubbard says Valley Partnership also will emphasize partner-to-partner relationships, as well as those between private and public entities.

Standing Apart

Valley Partnership’s more than 500 partners include representatives from all tiers of commercial real estate — from developers to attorneys to general contractors and engineers. Two important characteristics set it apart from other organizations: its relationships with public sector and government representatives and its emphasis on local stakeholders advocating on behalf of local issues.

“We are specific to the Valley,” says Rick Hearn, director of leasing for Vestar, one of Valley Partnership’s original corporate partners. Hearn has served on the board of directors for six years, and in that time has witnessed the organization’s partners tackle thorny local issues.

“We advocate on behalf of this industry better than anyone else,” he says, adding, “Not one of the national organizations comes close to touching the value proposition of what we do. We work at so many levels and have so many relationships.”

Not only does Valley Partnership share information and expertise with municipal and state leaders, it also has ties to federal officials and even someone at Luke Air Force Base.

City, state and federal partners can dip into Valley Partnership’s brain trust and glean important information on many pressing issues, Korth says.

For example, a municipality that is re-examining its city plan can garner feedback from Valley Partnership. The organization’s task forces dig deeper into issues, then forwards recommendations to a committee before the organization arrives at a public stance.

Some of the measures its committees are examining include:

  • The Maricopa Association of Government’s efforts to design a dark-sky ordinance to reduce excessive light, while also addressing safety issues for tenants and customers.
  • Maricopa County drainage permits and other building permit issues.
  • Incorporating Green Building Codes within Valley cities’ building codes.
  • Proposed city general plans.

Valley Partnership Value Proposition

Another important initiative this year is to make partners more aware of the value that Valley Partnership adds to their efforts. Korth says the communications committee is working hard to articulate back to all partners on what is being accomplished.

“We need to let them know that there is no one else like us here and if we did go away there’d be a gaping hole,” she says.

While membership did drop some during the recession, it is starting to tick back up, Hubbard says. As it does, Valley Partnership also is setting goals for its other key functions: education, networking and public service.

Hubbard said the organization surveyed its members to see what issues they would like to see addressed at educational events and Friday breakfast meetings, a staple for many partners.

Respondents said they would like to hear from industry leaders in the community and those involved in important development issues.

Signs are evident, Hubbard says, that their message is resonating with people in the commercial real estate community. More than 50 people attended the first January meeting of the committee that oversees city and county issues, a big jump from the usual six to eight attendees.

Partners recognize that advocacy on behalf of responsible development reaps dividends for everyone. Korth says: “If you go alone, you may go faster, but if you go together, you go farther.”

AZRE Magazine May/June 2011

Mindy Korth, Valley Partnership - AZRE Magazine May/June 2011

Valley Partnership: Mindy Korth

Mindy Korth has served in a variety of capacities during her 26-year commercial real estate career and has been on the front lines of an up-and-down industry. Korth, an executive vice president at CB Richard Ellis and this year’s Valley Partnership chair, says the advocacy role Valley Partnership plays is crucial to its members in the current recession.

A graduate of Arizona State University with a bachelor’s degree in business administration, Korth is Valley Partnership’s first chair who is an active real estate broker as a capital markets sales professional for the past 14 years. She has been on the Valley Partnership board of directors since 2007, serving as vice chair in 2010. Korth serves on boards for several other organizations, including Social Venture Partners, Channel Eight/KAET Public Television and the Discovery Triangle Development Corporation. She is also a member of Soroptimists and Arizona Commercial Real Estate Women (AZCREW), where she is a past board member.

Q: What does it mean to be an advocate for the commercial real estate industry?

Valley Partnership works to stay in touch with its real estate industry partners’ needs and to understand how local, regional, state and federal policy will affect their ability to thrive in this metropolitan area. We support those public-sector initiatives that promote the health of our industry.

Q: How important is that advocacy during these tough economic times?

Advocacy is important in all economic times. Valley Partnership was established to pool the resources of many in the real estate industry, and to address and bring awareness to the myriad of real estate-related issues that impact our community.

Q: Valley Partnership’s 2011 goals?

The board has set goals that include partner retention, new partner recruitment, outstanding programs that inform and inspire our partners, fun events, community service and most importantly, working closely with our municipal partners to support their initiatives.

Q: How will you achieve these goals?

Our board has engaged in strategic planning sessions through which we created definitive action items and a scorecard to track our progress. Our board is comprised of very talented real estate professionals who have great vision on what is needed and how Valley Partnership can serve our community. Our City/County Committee has a goal to form task forces as needed and already has created three to address and provide input on proposed policy changes. Legislative proposals are reviewed by members of our State Legislative Committee, which then forms recommendations for further action.

Q: What are the biggest challenges in 2011?

There are many controversial issues being discussed within city, county, state and federal chambers. Our role is to be the steady sounding board, bridging and partnering to promote responsible growth. We have found ourselves often asking the question “Should we take a position?” If we say “Yes,” then we ask, “How can we do this in a balanced manner?”

Q: Any advice for partners?

Get involved. Attend our events. Have fun. Create relationships and promote business-to-business among your fellow partners. If you are not familiar with advocacy and want to learn, participate in one of our advocacy committees. You may not be adept the first year, might start feeling comfortable the second and by the third year you will be surprised at what you can do.

For more information about Mindy Korth and Valley Partnership, visit www.valleypartnership.org.

AZRE Magazine May/June 2011