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internet

ACA names Arizona Innovation Challenge semifinalists

The Arizona Commerce Authority (ACA) today announced 25 semifinalists in its Fall 2014 Arizona Innovation Challenge (AIC), a bi-annual business plan competition awarding $3 million annually to talented entrepreneurs.

Each year, the ACA awards – $1.5 million in the spring and $1.5 million in the fall – to the most qualified, innovative startups and early-stage companies. Recipients receive up to $250,000 in capital to grow their businesses, advancing innovation and technology commercialization opportunities in Arizona.

“We congratulate the forward-thinking entrepreneurs selected as our newest AIC semifinalists,” said Sandra Watson, President and CEO, Arizona Commerce Authority. “Arizona’s engagement with early-stage companies through its suite of targeted programs continues to spur growth, technology commercialization and capital investment within Arizona’s innovation ecosystem. With more than 1,200 applications received for the AIC since 2011, the program continues to be among the many opportunities available to innovators which have made Arizona a top hub for entrepreneurial activity and startup success.”

The 25 Fall 2014 Arizona Innovation Challenge Semifinalists include:

• Adosia, LLC, IT – Software, Tempe, AZ
• Allbound, IT – Software, Scottsdale, AZ
• Cactus Semiconductor, Advanced Manufacturing, Chandler, AZ
• CampusLogic, IT – Software, Gilbert, AZ
• Crowd Mics, IT – Software, Mesa, AZ
• Dermspectra, LLC, Bio & Life Sciences, Tucson, AZ
• Energy Conservation Mgmt., Cleantech/Renewable Energy, Scottsdale, AZ
• EZ Dump Commercial, Advanced Manufacturing, Phoenix, AZ
• HiringSolved, IT – Software, Chandler, AZ
• Iris PR Management, IT – Software, Phoenix, AZ
• Iron Horse Diagnostics, Inc., Bio & Life Sciences, Scottsdale, AZ
• MWI Laboratories, Advanced Materials, Tempe, AZ
• Next Alternative, Inc., Cleantech/Renewable Energy, Chandler, AZ
• Numa Tactical Eyewear, Advanced Materials, Phoenix, AZ
• NuvOx Pharma, Bio & Life Sciences, Tucson, AZ
• Park Genius, IT – Software, Tucson, AZ
• PoG Technologies, LLC, Cleantech/Renewable Energy, Peoria, AZ
• Pure Chat, IT – Software, Scottsdale, AZ
• RightBio Metrics, Bio & Life Sciences, Scottsdale, AZ
• Salutaris Medical Devices, Inc., Bio & Life Sciences, Tucson, AZ
• Sentinel Internet Systems, IT – Software, Phoenix, AZ
• Smart Service Desk, IT – Software, Chandler, AZ
• Spotlight Software, IT – Software, Peoria, AZ
• Universal Bio Mining, Bio & Life Sciences, Tucson, AZ
• Zero Shock Seating, Advanced Manufacturing, Chandler, AZ

A panel of expert judges evaluated 154 applications from the Fall 2014 AIC submitted by companies based in Arizona, California, Colorado, New Mexico, Ohio, West Virginia, and Virginia. The judges assessed each application on a set of criteria including technology potential, marketing strategy, quality of management team and economic impact. These companies represent high-value industry sectors that include IT software, IT hardware, bio and life sciences, cleantech/renewable energy, advanced materials, advanced manufacturing, and aerospace and defense.

Every applying company that meets the AIC’s eligibility requirements will receive constructive feedback generated from the rigorous online evaluation and scoring process. All semifinalists also will be considered for participation in Venture Ready, the ACA’s mentor program that connects early stage companies with high-level CEOs to further refine business plans and investor pitches.

The ACA will name its Fall 2014 Arizona Innovation Challenge finalists in early January and the winners later that same month.

A Guide to Applying for a Bank Loan

Wells Fargo No. 1 SBA lender for Arizona

Wells Fargo & Company announced it is the No. 1 Small Business Administration (SBA) 7 (a) lender in Arizona in amount of dollars and number of loans  approved for fiscal year 2014.  Wells Fargo approved $89,034,400 and 197 loans to Arizona businesses from Oct. 1, 2013 and Sept. 30, 2014.

“Working with small business owners is one of the most important things we do and is a key focus for our company,” said Greg DeJesus, SBA regional sales manager for Wells Fargo Arizona.  “Every SBA dollar we lend helps an Arizona business owner start, expand or invest in a business and helps keep the Arizona economy strong.  We believe that the flow of new loan dollars into our communities represents a very powerful statement for job creation and economic development.”

Nationally, Wells Fargo approved a record $1.6 billion in Small Business Administration (SBA) 7(a) loans in federal fiscal year 2014 (Oct. 1, 2013 – Sept. 30, 2014).  The company increased its dollar volume of SBA 7(a) loans by 10 percent from a year ago. An SBA preferred lender in all 50 states, Wells Fargo also is the second largest SBA lender by units, extending 4,036 SBA 7(a) loans in federal fiscal year 2014, a 16 percent increase in units from the prior year.

Wells Fargo is the No. 1 SBA 7(a) lender in dollars in 10 states: Arizona, California, Colorado, Minnesota, North Dakota, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, South Carolina and Texas  – and the No.1 SBA 7(a) lender in number of loans (units) in 8 states: Alaska, Arizona, California, Georgia, North Carolina, New Mexico, South Carolina and Virginia.

starbucks

More than 1,000 enrolled for Starbucks tuition program

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

ONEHOPE Wine

Arizona Vineyard Expands, Releases New Wine

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

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

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

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

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

87690275

Wells Fargo Startup Accelerator Helps Tech Innovators

Wells Fargo began accepting applications through October 1 from young companies interested in joining the new Wells Fargo Startup Accelerator, a semiannual boot camp for innovators whose technology ideas in payments, deposits, fraud, operations and other fields could shape future customer experiences in financial services.

Wells Fargo will make a direct equity investment of $50,000 to $500,000 in each selected start-up. The Startup Accelerator also will provide business planning expertise to firms in the six-month program, which is designed to continuously attract innovative ideas and stoke innovation across the Wells Fargo enterprise. Company subject matter experts and purchasing managers will offer workshops and individual coaching to the firms. Successful companies may become vendors to the bank.

“For Wells Fargo to work on big ideas and spark innovators inside our organization, we need to expand our access to new ideas at the edges of our industry,” said Steve Ellis, executive vice president and head of Wholesale Services at Wells Fargo, who noted that in 1995, Wells Fargo was the first major financial services company in the U.S. to give customers free Internet access to account balances. Wells Fargo also was first to offer a mobile service for businesses in 2007, he added.

“The Startup Accelerator adds a new cylinder to our corporate innovation engine,” said Ellis. “We’re taking a proven business model from the venture capital community and repurposing it as a strategy for connecting with start-ups whose ideas and growth prospects could add value to our business and our customers.”

Three innovative companies already have been selected and funded to pilot the Wells Fargo Startup Accelerator. They are:

• Zumigo, San Jose, California: A developer of mobile services using a unique combination of location and mobile identity technologies to secure commerce and enable mobile marketing.
• EyeVerify, Kansas City, Kansas: The creator of EyePrint ID™ that transforms a picture of your eye into a key that protects your digital life.
• Kasisto, New York: The builder of state-of-the-art artificial intelligence technology that improves the consumer experience on mobile devices through intelligent conversation.

In addition to these three firms, the Startup Accelerator will give 10 to 20 young companies each year the opportunity to develop and refine products in a collaborative environment. Applications will be accepted twice per year, with a deadline of October 1 for this fall’s program. A Wells Fargo investment committee comprised of senior technology, venture banking, and innovation leaders will evaluate candidates and select participants. Prospects can learn more and apply online at https://accelerator.wellsfargo.com.

“We’re interested in any technology that could be used by an institution like Wells Fargo to better serve our customers or operate our business,” Ellis said. “Analytics, big data, mobile, security, and infrastructure are all important to us. We’re looking to engage with innovators beyond the edge of our own creative enterprise.”

energy policies

SRP Ranked No. 1 in Performance by J.D. Power

Salt River Project’s electric customers continue to give SRP higher marks for customer satisfaction, according to a report issued today by J.D. Power. With an increase of 21 performance points from a year ago, SRP ranks highest for residential electric service in the western United States among Large electric utilities for the 13th consecutive year.

With a Customer Satisfaction Index score of 730 on a 1,000-point scale in this year’s ranking, it is the 15th time in 16 years (1999, 2000, 2002-2014) that SRP scored the highest in the West among large electric utilities (500,000 or more residential customers). The average score in the West Large Utility region, which covers utilities in Arizona, California, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Utah, Washington and Wyoming, is 657.

SRP’s score was bolstered by ranking highest in the study’s Large Utilities segment in the West region for all six components, Power Quality and Reliability, Billing and Payment, Corporate Citizenship, Price, Communications and Customer Service.

The 2014 Electric Utility Residential Customer Satisfaction Study is based on responses from more than 104,000 online interviews conducted from July 2013 through May 2014 among residential customers of the 138 largest electric utility brands across the nation, which collectively represent more than 96 million households. More information on the Electric Utility Residential Customer Satisfaction study can be found at http://www.jdpower.com/press-releases/2014-electric-utility-residential-customer-satisfaction-study.

Today’s announcement was the second in the last week by J.D. Power in which SRP was recognized. On July 9, SRP was recognized for contact center operation customer satisfaction excellence under the J.D. Power Certified Contact Center Program. The Certified Contact Center Program distinction acknowledged a strong commitment by SRP’s service contact center operations to provide “An Outstanding Customer Service Experience.” SRP achieved certification for the live phone channel (ninth consecutive year), including interactive voice response (IVR) routing and customer service representative (CSR), as well as for the IVR self-service and Web self-service channels (first year, respectively). For J.D. Power 2014 Contact Center Certification Information, visit jdpower.com.

SRP is the largest provider of electricity to the greater Phoenix metropolitan area, providing electric service to more than 990,000 customers. SRP also is the metropolitan area’s largest supplier of water, delivering about 1 million acre-feet to agricultural, urban and municipal water users.

Grand Canyon Adventures - EAZ Fall-Winter 2012

Arizona Office of Tourism Partners With Buxton

The Arizona Office of Tourism (AOT) is partnering with Fort Worth-based Buxton to develop in-depth profiles of Arizona visitors, at both the state and regional levels.

Buxton’s visitor profiling capabilities will help AOT leaders to:

* increase marketing campaign return on investment,
* better understand visitor potential,
* expand the impact of tourism on local economies, and
* identify ideal media channels to reach future and returning visitors.

The results of Buxton’s analysis will be presented at the Arizona Governor’s Conference on Tourism, July 16-18 in Phoenix, Arizona.

“AOT’s goal is to provide precise, research-driven strategies to expand travel activity and increase travel-related revenues in Arizona,” said Sherry Henry, director of AOT. “Partnering with Buxton supports this goal by providing the visitor insights we need to strengthen tourism marketing strategies across the state.”

“Buxton is pleased to support AOT’s tourism development efforts,” said Cody Howell, vice president of public sector solutions at Buxton. “Our best-in-class analytics will provide the insights needed to grow tourism revenues and enhance Arizona’s economy.”

By becoming a Buxton client, AOT will have access to SCOUT®, Buxton’s proprietary web-based analytics platform, giving leaders data and information at their fingertips to analyze visitor profiles for different areas of the state.

Buxton has worked with more than 650 cities nationwide to implement retail and tourism development strategies. Clients include Flagstaff, Arizona; Palm Springs, California; and Downtown Dallas, Inc.

Created as an executive agency in 1975, the Arizona Office of Tourism is charged with enhancing the state’s economy and the quality of life for all Arizonans by expanding travel activity and increasing related revenues through tourism promotion. For information on AOT’s program of work, research and media plans, visit www.azot.gov. For information about Arizona travel experiences, visit www.arizonaguide.com.

clear energy systems coming to tempe

SRP Increases Renewable Energy Portfolio

Salt River Project has agreed to purchase an additional amount of renewable geothermal energy from a number of plants located in the Imperial Valley of southern California. SRP has amended its agreement with CalEnergy, LLC to add an additional 37 megawatts to a previous contracted agreement of 50 megawatts for a combined capacity of 87 megawatts. One megawatt is about enough energy to power approximately 250 homes in the Phoenix area.

The geothermal facilities are located in Salton Sea Known Geothermal Resource Area – one of the world’s most prolific regions for the production of renewable energy. SRP’s purchase will begin with 18 megawatts in 2016 and grow to the full 87 megawatts in 2020. The agreement will allow SRP to continue providing its customers with sustainable energy from these facilities until 2039.

A geothermal plant produces electricity from naturally occurring geothermal fluid. Steam is formed when production wells tap into superheated water reservoirs thousands of feet beneath the Earth’s surface. Unlike other forms of renewable energy such as solar or wind, geothermal power plants are highly reliable as they produce energy continuously, irrespective of the time of the day or weather conditions.

Geothermal is one of the cleanest sources of baseload generation because, instead of burning fossil fuel to heat water into steam as seen in most conventional forms of generation, heat from the Earth is used to create steam that powers a turbine generator. Geothermal energy is considered renewable energy because no fuel is consumed and the energy is from naturally occurring sources.

SRP estimates that the geothermal power generated by the project will offset approximately 800 million pounds of carbon dioxide emissions each year – the equivalent of taking about 70,000 cars off the road.

Under SRP’s Sustainable Portfolio goals, SRP must meet 20 percent of its retail electricity requirements through sustainable resources by the year 2020.

SRP is the largest provider of electricity to the greater Phoenix area, serving nearly 990,000 electric customers.

Dick's Sporting Goods distribution warehouse, Goodyear

Industrial Evolution: West Valley poised for land grab

Dick’s Sporting Goods built a 720KSF distribution center in Goodyear to service its West Coast stores.

A California-based investor erected a 400KSF spec shell in Surprise’s Southwest Railplex business park.

Corporate giants, Macy’s, Amazon, Sub-Zero, Marshall’s/TJ Maxx, Southwest Products and WinCo have landed or expanded their vast West Valley industrial operations within the last two years.

Even more companies are eyeing potential stakes in the burgeoning industrial parks springing up in once sleepy bedroom communities west of Phoenix.

With the recession in their rear-view mirrors, local, national and international companies are revving up manufacturing and distribution operations, and the West Valley is poised to be a big beneficiary of their expansion plans.

Justin LeMaster, Cushman & Wakefield

Justin LeMaster, Cushman & Wakefield

Available and affordable land, a deep labor pool, business-friendly state and local governments and top-notch transportation corridors contribute to the West Valley’s desirability, said Justin LeMaster, Cushman & Wakefield’s director for industrial properties.

Farsighted developers are already master-planning vast spreads of land, setting up infrastructure and even building large-scale spec structures that can accommodate another industrial giant or get sliced and diced to accommodate several smaller operations.

The developers — along with city and state economic development specialists — want their properties primed to snag the business when the lookers become movers, LeMaster said.

“Smart, creative developers will make the West Valley a successful high-growth market for years to come,” he said.

The numbers confirm the trend.

An impressive 4.5 MSF — nearly 94 percent of the metro area industrial construction started or completed in 2013 — is in the West Valley, according to Jones Lang LaSalle’s Q4 Industrial Report.

Q4 absorption was 1.96 MSF, and only 15.3 MSF of the West Valley’s 90.7 MSF total industrial inventory was still available at year’s end.

Nevertheless, 4.5 MSF is a significant amount of new inventory for a post-recession market, and, in fact, it boosted Valleywide industrial vacancy rates above 12 percent.

Anthony Lydon, Jones Lang LaSalle

Anthony Lydon, Jones Lang LaSalle

Industry experts aren’t worried.

“The new, grown-up, industrial tenants coming to market right now are looking for 300KSF, 400KSF and above,” said Anthony Lydon, Jones Lang LaSalle managing director for Supply Chain & Logistics Solutions.

Less than half of the West Valley’s available space meets that criteria, and a few big employers could snatch that up in a flash, he said.

Like LeMaster, Lydon expects that to happen sooner rather than later.

“Over the next 24 to 36 months, the Valley, and the West Valley in particular, will see significant new job creation,” he said.

So what makes the West Valley suddenly so attractive to the industrial users?

“Economics and location,” said Pat Feeney, CBRE senior vice president for industrial services.

Cost is key
Of the metro area’s three major industrial hubs ­— the airport area, the Tempe/Chandler corridor and the West Valley — the first two are nearly out of developable land, Feeney said. And scarcity makes that land pricey, especially for a large user.

Pat Feeney, CBRE

Pat Feeney, CBRE

A skilled and diverse labor force that moved west when the home builders did is another major factor, he said.

“Nearly 70,000 people live in Goodyear, but only 14,000 or 15,000 work in Goodyear,” Feeney said.

When big employers like Sub-Zero, Amazon and Macy’s held job fairs for their new West Valley digs, they typically attracted eight to 10 qualified applicants for every position, he said.

“They all shared that they were so happy they could pick the cream of the crop,” Feeney said. “It’s a really big draw.”

David Krumwiede, Lincoln Property Company

David Krumwiede, Lincoln Property Company

Staffing a large warehouse is a major economic concern, especially for companies with labor-intensive, e-commerce picking systems, said David Krumwiede, executive vice president for Lincoln Property Company, which owns 6 MSF in its four-state Desert West Region, 2.4 MSF of that in the West Valley, including Goodyear AirPark and 10 Lincoln.

Arizona’s main competition for the big industrial users looking to establish or expand operations in the West is California’s Inland Empire, Krumwiede said.

While the Inland Empire’s construction costs are comparable to Arizona’s, labor costs in Arizona, a right-to-work state, are much lower, he said.

“We are extremely competitive with California’s Inland Empire if a user has more people than trucks,” Krumwiede said.

And big energy consumers, such as companies employing sophisticated e-commerce logistics technology, can save as much as 30 percent to 40 percent in operating costs by locating in Arizona instead of California, Lydon said.

But possibly the biggest economic incentive for many industrial users is Arizona’s much more favorable tax basis, Krumwiede said.

All of the West Valley’s large planned business hubs have designated areas that are Foreign Trade Zone capable, and that’s a big selling point for companies that do significant international business in parts or products, Krumwiede said.

“If a company qualifies, it can see a 72 percent reduction in property taxes,” Feeney said. “It’s a tremendous benefit.”

And a benefit none of the nearby states can offer, he said.

Such issues make Arizona, especially the West Valley, where land is available and affordable, a clear economic winner over California.

Location, location, location
Second only to the West Valley’s attractive economics, is its advantageous location, less than half-a-day’s drive from the southern California ports — a major consideration for retailers and e-commerce leaders like Amazon, as well as manufacturers like Sub-Zero, according to the experts.

Rob Martensen, Colliers International

Rob Martensen, Colliers International

“If you can get out of traffic and get closer to the ports in Los Angeles and Long Beach, you can make that in six hours,” said Rob Martensen, Colliers International vice president.

That means truck drivers can log a round trip and still stay within federal guidelines regarding length of time on the road, a feat not so easy to accomplish from the East Valley.

And for companies distributing products regionally — Macy’s or Dick’s Sporting Goods, for example — the completion of the Loop 303 will forge the final freeway link that can speed trucks to and around cities and states north and west of Phoenix.

“It will open the gateway,” LeMaster said. “Companies want to be in Phoenix, and the West Valley will be the industrial hub of Phoenix with the (Loop 303/I-10) interchange.”

Overall, the combo of favorable attributes will ensure the West Valley lands on the short list for large and small industrial users for the next decade or so, Krumwiede said.

“The companies that are already out there — Amazon, Target, Costco, PetSmart, Staples, Macy’s — are all household names. It’s a great start. We’ll see more of those,” he said.

“My vision is that a lot of that vacant land will be put into production in the next five to 10 years.”

grocery

Expect to Pay More for Certain Groceries

With California experiencing one of its worst droughts on record, grocery shoppers across the country can expect to see a short supply of certain fruits and vegetables in stores and to pay higher prices for those items. Professor Timothy Richards of the W. P. Carey School of Business at Arizona State University recently completed some research on which crops will likely be most affected and what the price boosts might be.

“You’re probably going to see the biggest produce price increases on avocados, berries, broccoli, grapes, lettuce, melons, peppers, tomatoes and packaged salads,” says Richards, the Morrison Chair at the Morrison School of Agribusiness within the W. P. Carey School of Business. “We can expect to see the biggest percentage jumps in prices for avocados and lettuce – 28 percent and 34 percent, respectively. People are the least price-sensitive when it comes to those items, and they’re more willing to pay what it takes to get them.”

Industry estimates range from a half-million to 1 million acres of agricultural land likely to be affected by the current California drought. Richards believes between 10 and 20 percent of the supply of certain crops could be lost, and California is the biggest national supplier of several of those crops. For avocados, the state is the only major domestic source.

Richards used retail-sales data from the Nielsen Perishables Group, an industry analytics and consulting firm, to estimate price elasticities – how much the prices might vary – for the fruit and vegetable crops most likely to be affected by the drought. Those most vulnerable are the crops that use the most water and simply won’t be grown, or those sensitive to reductions in irrigation.

He estimates the following possible price increases due to the drought:

* Avocados likely to go up 17 to 35 cents to as much as $1.60 each.
* Berries likely to rise 21 to 43 cents to as much as $3.46 per clamshell container.
* Broccoli likely to go up 20 to 40 cents to a possible $2.18 per pound.
* Grapes likely to rise 26 to 50 cents to a possible $2.93 per pound.
* Lettuce likely to rise 31 to 62 cents to as much as $2.44 per head.
* Packaged salad likely to go up 17 to 34 cents to a possible $3.03 per bag.
* Peppers likely to go up 18 to 35 cents to a possible $2.48 per pound.
* Tomatoes likely to rise 22 to 45 cents to a possible $2.84 per pound.

“We predict the increased prices will change consumer purchasing behavior,” says Sherry Frey, vice president of Nielsen Perishables Group. “We’ve identified certain consumers who will be more heavily affected by the price increases — for example, younger consumers of avocados. In addition, there is a larger department and store impact retailers will need to manage. While some consumers will pay the increased prices, others will substitute or leave the category completely. And, for a category like avocados, there are non-produce snacking categories, such as chips, crackers and ethnic grocery items, that will be negatively impacted.”

Richards adds, “One other thing for shoppers to understand — Because prices are going to go up so much, retailers will start looking elsewhere for produce. This means we’ll see a lot more imports from places like Chile and Mexico, which may be an issue for certain grocery customers who want domestic fruit and vegetables.”

juice

Fox Enters Juice Market with Launch of Juby True

Fox Restaurant Concepts has expanded its presence in the thriving health-conscious restaurant market with the opening of Juby True, which stands for “Juice by True,” a juice bar poised to become a multi-unit concept by the end of 2014.

FRC, which has 40 restaurants under 13 brands in six states, opened Juby True in October as an extension to the restaurant group’s Scottsdale, Ariz. location of True Food Kitchen. The globally influenced restaurant debuted in Phoenix in 2008 and was developed in partnership with world-renowned leader in integrative medicine and best-selling author, Dr. Andrew Weil. It has since expanded into California, Colorado and Texas and has plans to open locations in Georgia, Virginia and Massachusetts.  New units of Juby True will be both stand alone locations and extensions of True Food Kitchen locations.

The launch of the walk-up juice bar is in response to the increasing demand for more healthful food options, said Sam Fox, CEO and founder of Fox Restaurant Concepts, based in Phoenix.

“When we first opened True Food Kitchen, we recognized the need for restaurants that offer nutritious food that also tastes good,” Fox said. “We instilled the same philosophy in Juby True, but this time in a portable, convenient cup.”

National Restaurant Association studies confirm the increasing interest in health and nutrition among today’s restaurant guests. In fact, 71 percent of adults said they are trying to eat healthier at restaurants than they did two years ago.

Juby True serves cold-pressed juices for $9, made in house and bottled for on-the-go convenience. The menu also features protein blends and smoothies for $8, water-based “hydrators” for $7, “juice boosts” for $4, coffees and teas ranging from $2-$6, and a variety of gluten-free, vegan and paleo-friendly snacks priced between $3 and $4. Additionally Juby True offers one- and two-day cleanse packages for $50 and $99, respectively.

Fruits and vegetables are sourced from local and regional organic farms in relation to “The Dirty Dozen” list. The foundation of Juby True was built with strong influences from True Food Kitchen’s anti-inflammatory philosophy.

SONY DSC

Binkley Opening Bink's Scottsdale in Late December

Chef Kevin Binkley announces plans for the opening of his fourth restaurant, Bink’s Scottsdale, at the Shops at Hilton Village, 6107 N. Scottsdale Road, Building C, Suite 110, in Scottsdale.

Chef Binkley looks forward to the opportunities of a central Scottsdale location, “I love that so many of our regular customers live in this area. We also have over 2,400 square feet of space, which allowed us to create a larger bar space to accommodate our customers. ”

Bink’s Scottsdale promises a fresh, organic look with a casual atmosphere. It will open its doors late 2013.

Bink’s Scottsdale will be open every day with brunch, lunch, happy hour, and dinner selections. Dishes will focus primarily on locally grown and harvested meats, fruits and vegetables. The restaurant will also provide a full bar with a regular wine list, as well as a reserve wine list.

Kevin, along with his wife, Amy Binkley, own and operate three award-winning restaurants including Binkley’s Restaurant in Cave Creek, Café Bink in Carefree, and Bink’s Midtown in Central Phoenix. Each restaurant sources and promotes seasonal fare in their menus.

A Valley food pioneer, Chef Kevin Binkley has received numerous accolades. Chef Binkley has been nominated every year since 2005 for the James Beard Award Best Chef of the Southwest. In 2013, the Arizona Culinary Hall of Fame awarded him the Lifetime Achievement award for his long-term excellence in the culinary industry.

Chef Kevin Binkley previously worked at the Inn at Little Washington, and with Chef Thomas Keller at the renowned French Laundry in Napa, California. His creative culinary process has earned national distinction since opening his own restaurants in Arizona.

Established in 2004, his first restaurant, Binkley’s, was named Best Restaurant by the Arizona Republic. Bink’s Midtown, established in 2013, was recently named Best New Restaurant by both Phoenix Magazine and Phoenix New Times. Bink’s Midtown also received the Best Happy Hour Award in Central Phoenix, for the 2013 Phoenix New Times awards.

SONY DSC

Binkley Opening Bink’s Scottsdale in Late December

Chef Kevin Binkley announces plans for the opening of his fourth restaurant, Bink’s Scottsdale, at the Shops at Hilton Village, 6107 N. Scottsdale Road, Building C, Suite 110, in Scottsdale.

Chef Binkley looks forward to the opportunities of a central Scottsdale location, “I love that so many of our regular customers live in this area. We also have over 2,400 square feet of space, which allowed us to create a larger bar space to accommodate our customers.”

Bink’s Scottsdale promises a fresh, organic look with a casual atmosphere. It will open its doors late 2013.

Bink’s Scottsdale will be open every day with brunch, lunch, happy hour, and dinner selections. Dishes will focus primarily on locally grown and harvested meats, fruits and vegetables. The restaurant will also provide a full bar with a regular wine list, as well as a reserve wine list.

Kevin, along with his wife, Amy Binkley, own and operate three award-winning restaurants including Binkley’s Restaurant in Cave Creek, Café Bink in Carefree, and Bink’s Midtown in Central Phoenix. Each restaurant sources and promotes seasonal fare in their menus.

A Valley food pioneer, Chef Kevin Binkley has received numerous accolades. Chef Binkley has been nominated every year since 2005 for the James Beard Award Best Chef of the Southwest. In 2013, the Arizona Culinary Hall of Fame awarded him the Lifetime Achievement award for his long-term excellence in the culinary industry.

Chef Kevin Binkley previously worked at the Inn at Little Washington, and with Chef Thomas Keller at the renowned French Laundry in Napa, California. His creative culinary process has earned national distinction since opening his own restaurants in Arizona.

Established in 2004, his first restaurant, Binkley’s, was named Best Restaurant by the Arizona Republic. Bink’s Midtown, established in 2013, was recently named Best New Restaurant by both Phoenix Magazine and Phoenix New Times. Bink’s Midtown also received the Best Happy Hour Award in Central Phoenix, for the 2013 Phoenix New Times awards.

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Binkley Opening Bink's Scottsdale in Late December

Chef Kevin Binkley announces plans for the opening of his fourth restaurant, Bink’s Scottsdale, at the Shops at Hilton Village, 6107 N. Scottsdale Road, Building C, Suite 110, in Scottsdale.

Chef Binkley looks forward to the opportunities of a central Scottsdale location, “I love that so many of our regular customers live in this area. We also have over 2,400 square feet of space, which allowed us to create a larger bar space to accommodate our customers.”

Bink’s Scottsdale promises a fresh, organic look with a casual atmosphere. It will open its doors late 2013.

Bink’s Scottsdale will be open every day with brunch, lunch, happy hour, and dinner selections. Dishes will focus primarily on locally grown and harvested meats, fruits and vegetables. The restaurant will also provide a full bar with a regular wine list, as well as a reserve wine list.

Kevin, along with his wife, Amy Binkley, own and operate three award-winning restaurants including Binkley’s Restaurant in Cave Creek, Café Bink in Carefree, and Bink’s Midtown in Central Phoenix. Each restaurant sources and promotes seasonal fare in their menus.

A Valley food pioneer, Chef Kevin Binkley has received numerous accolades. Chef Binkley has been nominated every year since 2005 for the James Beard Award Best Chef of the Southwest. In 2013, the Arizona Culinary Hall of Fame awarded him the Lifetime Achievement award for his long-term excellence in the culinary industry.

Chef Kevin Binkley previously worked at the Inn at Little Washington, and with Chef Thomas Keller at the renowned French Laundry in Napa, California. His creative culinary process has earned national distinction since opening his own restaurants in Arizona.

Established in 2004, his first restaurant, Binkley’s, was named Best Restaurant by the Arizona Republic. Bink’s Midtown, established in 2013, was recently named Best New Restaurant by both Phoenix Magazine and Phoenix New Times. Bink’s Midtown also received the Best Happy Hour Award in Central Phoenix, for the 2013 Phoenix New Times awards.

geothermal

SRP Taps into Super-Hot Renewable Energy Resource

Salt River Project has signed an agreement with CalEnergy, LLC for the purchase of 50 megawatts (MW) of geothermal energy from a number of plants located in the Imperial Valley of southern California. CalEnergy, LLC and its affiliates, subsidiaries of MidAmerican Energy Holdings Company and TransAlta Corporation, own and operate the geothermal facilities located near the Salton Sea.

The Salton Sea Known Geothermal Resource Area is one of the world’s most prolific regions for the production of renewable energy.  SRP’s purchase will begin with 18MW in 2016 and grow to the full 50 megawatts in 2019.  The agreement will allow SRP to continue providing its customers with sustainable energy from these facilities until 2039.  The geothermal power generated by the project will offset approximately 460 million pounds of carbon dioxide emissions each year – the equivalent of taking about 40,000 cars off the road.

A geothermal plant produces electricity from naturally occurring geothermal fluid.  Steam is formed when production wells tap into superheated water reservoirs thousands of feet beneath the Earth’s surface.  Unlike other forms of renewable energy such as solar or wind, geothermal power plants are highly reliable as they produce energy continuously, irrespective of the time of the day or weather conditions.

Geothermal is one of the cleanest sources of baseload generation because, instead of burning fossil fuel to heat water into steam as seen in most conventional forms of generation, heat from the Earth is used to create steam that powers a turbine generator.  Geothermal energy is considered renewable energy because no fuel is consumed and the energy is from naturally occurring sources.

SRP also has agreements to purchase geothermal energy from the Hudson Ranch facility in southern California which began operating in 2012, and the Cove Fort plant currently under construction in Utah.

Under SRP’s Sustainable Portfolio goals, SRP must meet 20 percent of its retail electricity requirements through sustainable resources by the year 2020.  SRP’s sustainable portfolio is currently providing more than 10 percent of retail energy needs with sustainable resources such as solar, wind, landfill gas, geothermal, biomass, hydro and energy-efficiency measures.

SRP is the largest provider of electricity to the greater Phoenix area, serving nearly 970,000 electric customers.

electricity

Customers Rank SRP Highest in West, U.S.

Salt River Project’s electric customers continue to give SRP high marks for customer satisfaction.  In a report issued today by J.D. Power and Associates, SRP received the top score for residential electric service in the Large Utilities segment in the western United States for the 12th consecutive year and the highest total among the nation’s largest utilities for the fifth year in a row.

SRP’s ranking was bolstered by sweeping the No. 1 spot in the survey’s Large Utilities segment in the West region for all six survey components, Power Quality and Reliability, Billing and Payment, Corporate Citizenship, Price, Communications and Customer Service. Among all large utilities across the nation, SRP scored highest in customer satisfaction for the eighth time in the 15 years J.D. Power and Associates has conducted its study of residential customers.  With a Customer Satisfaction Index score of 709 on a 1,000-point scale in this year’s ranking, SRP is the only electric utility that has been ranked among the top 10 in the U.S. in all 15 years.

It is the 14th time in the last 15 years that SRP scored the highest in the West among large electric utilities (500,000 or more residential customers). The average score in the West large region, which covers utilities in Arizona, California, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Utah, Washington and Wyoming, was 654.

The 2013 Electric Utility Residential Customer Satisfaction Study was based on responses from about 103,000 online interviews conducted from July 2012 through May 2013 among residential customers of the 126 largest electric utility brands across the nation, which collectively represent more than 94 million households.  More information on the J.D. Power and Associates’ study can be found at www.jdpower.com/library/index.htm.

SRP is the largest provider of electricity to the greater Phoenix metropolitan area, providing electric service to more than 970,000 customers.  SRP also is the metropolitan area’s largest supplier of water, delivering about 1 million acre-feet to agricultural, urban and municipal water users.

law.courts

Major victories for same-sex marriage

In a historic victory for gay rights, the Supreme Court on Wednesday struck down a provision of a federal law denying federal benefits to married gay couples and cleared the way for the resumption of same-sex marriage in California.

“Today’s significant ruling will likely spur further expansion of protections for LGBT individuals,” said Nonnie Shivers, a shareholder in the Phoenix office of Ogletree Deakins. “Employers must keep abreast of these rapidly expanding protections under federal, state, and local laws for not only gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender individuals, but also covering gender identity and gender expression. Employers should expect changes to federal laws impacting the workplace based on today’s rulings, in particular the inclusion of same-sex partners in leave considerations under the Family and Medical Leave Act and potentially sponsorship of same-sex partners for immigration purposes, as well as expanded state and local protections.”

The justices issued two 5-4 rulings in their final session of the term. One decision wiped away part of a federal anti-gay marriage law that has kept legally married same-sex couples from receiving tax, health and pension benefits.

The other was a technical ruling that said nothing at all about same-sex marriage, but left in place a trial court’s declaration that California’s Proposition 8 is unconstitutional. Gov. Jerry Brown quickly ordered that marriage licenses be issued to gay couples as soon as a federal appeals court lifts its hold on the lower court ruling, possibly next month.

In neither case did the court make a sweeping statement, either in favor of or against same-sex marriage. And in a sign that neither victory was complete for gay rights, the high court said nothing about the validity of gay marriage bans in California and roughly three dozen other states. A separate provision of the federal marriage law that allows a state to not recognize a same-sex union from elsewhere remains in place.

President Barack Obama praised the court’s ruling on the federal marriage act, which he labeled “discrimination enshrined in law.”

“It treated loving, committed gay and lesbian couples as a separate and lesser class of people,” Obama said in a statement. “The Supreme Court has righted that wrong, and our country is better off for it.”

House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, said he was disappointed in the outcome of the federal marriage case and hoped states continue to define marriage as the union of a man and a woman.

The ruling in the California case was not along ideological lines. Chief Justice John Roberts wrote the majority opinion, joined by Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen Breyer, Elena Kagan and Antonin Scalia.

“We have no authority to decide this case on the merits, and neither did the 9th Circuit,” Roberts said, referring to the federal appeals court that also struck down Proposition 8.

Phoenix Sky Harbor, Photo: Flickr, flavouz

Volaris will fly out of Sky Harbor

Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport is welcoming a new airline that will operate direct flights to two cities in Mexico.

Officials say Volaris, the largest Mexican low-cost airline, will fly nonstop, three times a week from Phoenix to Mexico City and Phoenix to Guadalajara beginning later this year.

Details on exact days and times have not yet been released.

Volaris CEO Enrique Beltranena and Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton say the new flights will strengthen economic ties and bolster tourism.

Sky Harbor currently offers nonstop flights to 20 international cities, including several daily flights to Guadalajara and Mexico City.

Volaris also serves airports in California, Colorado, Nevada, Illinois and Florida.

Grant Thornton Business Optimism Index

Comerica Bank’s Arizona Index Up in April

Comerica  Bank’s Arizona Economic Activity Index climbed slightly in April, rising 0.2 percentage points to a level of 95.0. The  April  index  reading  is  23.7 points, or 33 percent, above the index cyclical  low  of 71.3. The index averaged 87.2 points for all of 2012, 8.7 points above the average for full-year 2011.

“Our  Arizona  Index  increased  in  April  reflecting  the  turnaround  in residential  real  estate conditions in the Phoenix area,” said Robert Dye, Chief  Economist  at  Comerica  Bank.  “Home  prices  have  increased  on a month-to-month  basis for 20 consecutive months through this past April. On a  year-ago  basis,  Phoenix  area home prices are up 21.5 percent. That is providing  positive  incentive  for  home  buyers  and builders. It is also increasing  homeowners’  wealth,  which  translates  into  stronger overall consumer  activity.  We  expect  to  see further improvement to the Arizona economy in the months ahead.”

The  Arizona  Economic  Activity  Index  consists  of  seven  variables, as follows:  nonfarm  payrolls,  exports,  sales tax revenues, hotel occupancy rates,  continuing claims for unemployment insurance, building permits, and the  Case-Shiller  home  price index.  All data are seasonally adjusted, as necessary,  and  indexed  to  a base year of 2008. Nominal values have been converted to constant dollar values. Index levels are expressed in terms of three-month moving averages.

Comerica   operates   18   full-service   banking  centers  throughout  the Phoenix/Scottsdale area.  In addition to Arizona, Comerica locations can be found in its headquarters state of Texas, as well as in California, Florida and  Michigan, with select businesses operating in several other states, as well  as  in  Canada and Mexico.

law

Frutkin Law Firm Continues to Grow

The Frutkin Law Firm has added James Arrowood to its growing roster of attorneys. This is the third attorney hired by the firm in the past year. Arrowood brings extensive experience in business law, dispute resolution, and business negotiations to the firm.

As a Senior Counsel Attorney at The Frutkin Law Firm, Arrowood focuses his practice in the areas of conflict resolution and litigation, real estate, strategic financial and tax planning, and business law. He has also developed an emerging practice related to the special legal and financial needs of successful medical professionals and groups.

Before joining the firm, Arrowood served as counsel at one of the largest law firms in the world and as in-house counsel at several companies. As a result of his experience, he gained a wide breadth of business and legal knowledge, including an appreciation for business considerations in light of legal issues. Arrowood also spent a year living in London, England where he studied international law and interned in the House of Lords (England’s equivalent of our Supreme Court/Senate at the time). After law school, Arrowood worked as a litigator for a large firm in Philadelphia and then continued on to Washington D.C., New York, and Los Angeles before making Arizona his home base in 2010.

Arrowood graduated from the law school at University of Notre Dame in 2002 after he earned dual Bachelor of Arts degrees from University of California, Irvine in 1999. He has bar admissions in Arizona, California, and New Jersey, as well as affiliations with the 9th Circuit, California District Courts, District Court for Arizona, Eastern District Court for Pennsylvania, and United States Tax Court.

The Frutkin Law Firm now consists of ten attorneys with decades of experience in the core areas of business law, bankruptcy, estate and tax planning, and civil litigation. For more information on The Frutkin Law Firm and practices areas, visit www.frutkinlaw.com.

Banner Goldfield Medical Center is newest Banner hospital

Banner Health has selected Banner Goldfield Medical Center as the name for its newest facility, reflecting the community’s top naming choice, as well as the natural and majestic environment provided by the Goldfield Mountains, located near the medical center.

The Banner Goldfield name replaces the name of Arizona Regional Medical Center, which will join Banner Health on May 15. The 30-bed hospital will serve as a gateway to Banner’s array of specialized services in the East Valley.

“The Banner Goldfield name was chosen for many factors including community preference, meaning and distinctiveness,” said Julie Nunley, CEO of Banner Ironwood (and Banner Goldfield, beginning May 15). “The Goldfield Mountains are a beautiful backdrop to the newest addition to the Banner family.”

To ensure the smoothest transition possible, Banner Goldfield will temporarily close beginning May 15, but will begin providing patient care again Friday, June 14.

This transition period will provide the time necessary to implement the many systems and practices that are the foundation of Banner Health’s standing as a top health system in the nation for clinical care. The time will also be used to install new technology and equipment and train staff.

Headquartered in Phoenix, Banner Health is one of the largest, nonprofit health care systems in the country. The system manages 23 acute-care hospitals, the Banner Health Network and Banner Medical Group, long-term care centers, outpatient surgery centers and an array of other services including family clinics, home care and hospice services and a nursing registry. Banner Health is in seven states: Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Nebraska, Nevada and Wyoming. For more information, visit www.BannerHealth.com.

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Stanton pitches Phoenix to Silicon Valley businesses

Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton wants businesses in Silicon Valley to relocate to Arizona.

Stanton traveled to California this week to sell Phoenix as a prime location for technology and manufacturing jobs.

Stanton says Phoenix needs to proactively attract employers.

Stanton’s office would not say what companies he is approaching in California because the meetings are confidential.

Stanton has traveled to Silicon Valley in the past to persuade companies there to relocate or open new branches in Phoenix.

He also has made several recent trips to Mexico to promote international trade.

Stanton was elected mayor in 2011.

gaia

Biltmore Bank Sponsors Start-Up Competition

Biltmore Bank of Arizona, a premier community bank headquartered in Arcadia along the Camelback Corridor that is focused on the needs of the small and medium-sized business, announced that it has joined Tallwave, a lean business accelerator and venture management firm also located in Scottsdale, for the first-ever “High Tide” Start-Up Competition.  High Tide is focused on commercializing new sustainable ventures in Arizona by bringing validated companies to willing and motivated capital sources.

“High Tide is the only startup competition in the Southwest, applying lean business and design validation principles to identify, develop and commercialize rapid-growth startups,” said Jeff Gaia, CEO and president of the Biltmore Bank of Arizona. “Through our sponsorship of this innovative program, we believe we can help connect the entrepreneurial ecosystem in Arizona as well as assist startups in becoming become viable, scalable and sustainable growth companies.”

Thus far in the competition, High Tide has selected and celebrated 20 companies throughout the Southwest to participate in its “Phase One: Validation” program, which examines viability of each venture. Six of these 20 companies have since been announced as finalists and have now moved to the “Phase Two: Acceleration” program, which assesses product-market fit and go-to-market commercialization.

The finalists – four of whom are from Arizona – are:
Convrrt from Chandler
Creative Allies from Santa Monica, California
GreenRx from Denver, Colorado
HiringSolved from Chandler
LocalWork.com from Phoenix
SaveOnCouriers.com from Phoenix

Each High Tide finalist will receive a cash grant of $15,000 for use in company operational expenses and an additional $35,000 in scholarships for either “Product Market Fit” or “Go To Market” services from Tallwave. There is no cost to entrepreneurs selected to participate in the High Tide program. For more information, visit www.TallwaveHighTide.com.

“As a High Tide sponsor, Biltmore Bank has visibility into Arizona’s most exciting and promising startup and early-stage ventures,” said Jeffrey Pruitt, Tallwave chairman and CEO. “Entrepreneurs need the help of community leaders such as Biltmore Bank and we applaud their support of the next captains of industry.”

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.