Tag Archives: CEO

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Meetings and conventions drive tourism industry

Steve Moore, president and CEO of the Greater Phoenix Convention and Visitors Bureau, knows his industry is big business.

“If Arizona’s tourism industry were a publicly traded entity,” he says, “it would be the third-largest company in the state—just behind Avnet and Freeport-McMoran, and just ahead of US Airways and PetSmart.”

Despite the economic downturn and the hit that the state’s tourism industry has taken because of human rights concerns, the numbers back up Moore’s statement. According to a study released this year by Dean Runyan Associates:
* Total direct travel spending in Arizona was $18.3 billion in 2011. Travel spending increased by 5.4 percent in current dollars compared with 2010.
* The tourism industry employs 157,700 people in Arizona. Combined with secondary employment that is generated through this direct travel spending, total job generation for Arizona is nearly 300,000. Tourism-related employment increased in 2011 by 1.7 percent – an addition of 2,700 jobs. This is the first increase in employment since 2006.
* The re-spending of travel-related revenues by businesses and employees supported 136,000 additional jobs outside of the travel industry, with earnings of $5.4 billion.
* The biggest economic boost came from conferences, conventions and business travel, which accounted for more than $6 billion in spending, or the equivalent economic impact of hosting a Super Bowl every month.

“Conventions and meetings are essential to Phoenix’s economy,” Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton says. “Their attendees stay in our hotels, go shopping at our local businesses and eat in our restaurants, which generates revenue and creates jobs.”

In many ways, experts says, conventions and meetings are a key indicator of the state’s ongoing economic recovery.

“Our industry is in a unique position in that our economic recovery has a direct effect on the recovery of the country as a whole,” says Donna Masiulewicz, president of the Arizona Sunbelt Chapter of Meeting Professionals International. “For most organizations, the first step in such a rebuilding phase is to regroup, reorganize and set out plans for the future. What better place to accomplish these things than at a company-wide event or convention? That means, in essence, that when we are hired to set up these events we are not only helping our own industry get back on financial track but we are serving as a conduit for other organizations to do so as well.”

The gross domestic product of Arizona’s travel industry was $7.3 billion in 2011, according to the Runyan study, making it the state’s top export-oriented industry, ranking above microelectronics, aerospace, and mining.

A big chunk of that revenue comes from meetings and conventions, which account for about two-thirds of the total revenue at Phoenix hotels and resorts, according to Douglas MacKenzie, director of communications for the Greater Phoenix Convention and Visitors Bureau.

“That’s higher than the national average,” MacKenzie says, “because our destination holds great appeal as a meeting destination.”

MacKenzie is quick to point out that when a big event like Major League Baseball’s All-Star Game or the Super Bowl comes to Arizona, the public hears about the economic impact it has on the community because those events get a lot of media attention. But people often don’t realize that big conventions similarly bring thousands—and in some cases tens of thousands —of visitors to Phoenix on a regular basis.

“When a large convention comes to the Phoenix Convention Center, it’s like entire small town moving into downtown for a week,” says Douglas MacKenzie, director of communications for the Greater Phoenix Convention and Visitors Bureau. “And each one of these temporary ‘residents’ directly puts dollars into the economy and generates tax revenue. By a very conservative industry estimate, each convention attendee who comes here spends more than $1,500.”

Meetings not only play a critical role in Scottsdale’s $3 billion tourism industry, according to Kelli Blubaum, vice president of Convention Sales & Services at the Scottsdale Convention & Visitors Bureau, they are economic catalysts that extend beyond the singular event.

“Meetings and events not only help fill thousands of resort and hotel room nights each year, but also provide an opportunity to introduce new visitors and business decision makers to the area,’ she says. “These events often lead to repeat visitors and even economic development opportunities for the city.”

Scottsdale Mayor W.J. “Jim” Lane says that meetings and conventions sometimes open the attracting new industry to Arizona.

“Sometimes, people who get a taste for Scottsdale end up buying a home here, or even moving a business here,” Lane says. “In fact, (convention-goers) may represent larger groups and businesses who may ultimately do more business in Scottsdale based on an initial stay here.”

MacKenzie says Arizona’s robust meeting and convention industry brings people into the state who might not otherwise be exposed to the benefits of doing business in Arizona.

“Many conventions and corporate meetings deliver to our doorstep the very manufacturing and knowledge industries economic developers want to attract to the city,” MacKenzie says.

And while meetings and conventions represent about one-third of the tourism revenue in Tucson, city officials have used their success as an attraction in the meetings industry to attract more revenue in the future.

“Many of Tucson’s larger resorts and hotels rely exclusively on group business to maintain occupancy and revenue throughout the year,” says Graeme Hughes, director of convention sales for the Metropolitan Tucson Convention and Visitors Bureau. “We are also very successful in converting meetings attendees into leisure visitors.”

Since 2008 and 2009 — the low point for Arizona tourism in the wake of the economic downturn — tourism-related tax revenue has risen across the state and as much as 60 percent in some regions of Arizona.

“The hospitality industry is a primary driver of the Arizona economy,” says Andy Ernst, regional vice president of Robert Half International, a professional staffing and consulting service. “We anticipate that Arizona will continue to experience healthy growth in the coming years as hotel occupancy continues to rise, and business comes back to the state.”

With a bright financial outlook for the meeting and convention industry nationally, experts expect Arizona to ride the momentum.
“At this point, Arizona is positioned to follow the national trend,” Hughes says. “As the economy improves, travel increases. Organizations will soon be willing to reinvest in the positive outcomes that meetings and conventions provide.”

The groups that met at the Phoenix Convention Center in 2011 accounted for more than 240,000 attendees and $350 million in estimated direct spending, according the MacKenzie. That surpassed the previous year’s direct-spend total by nearly $10 million, and it reflects the drawing power of the renovated and expanded convention center and additions to downtown, including CityScape.

“However, that’s a performance that likely will not be repeated soon,” MacKenzie says. “The number of convention attendees we’ve booked for 2012 is down 20 percent compared with 2011.”

MacKenzie attributes the decline to the recession, a 30 percent cut to the CVB’s budget, the removal of half of our Prop 302 marketing funds, and client backlash from Arizona’s role in the immigration debate, and the “A.I.G. effect,” the tendency of corporations to cut down on lavish expenditures and luxuries in areas like travel and meetings to avoid appearing wasteful in times of economic downturn. The A.I.G. effect became a reality because of the negative publicity generated by some practices of the insurance giant A.I.G.

“Keep in mind: This year’s and next year’s conventions were booked from 2008 to 2010, during the depths of the recession and during the first year of the immigration debate,” MacKenzie says. “The typical booking window for citywide conventions is two to five years out—i.e., a group usually selects the site of its 2012 convention by 2010.”

Despite some challenges, experts agree that the long-term appeal of Arizona should allow the state’s convention and meeting industry to fluorish.

“We’re seeing an increase in business from third-party planners, and the corporate segment is strengthening as well,” Blubaum points out. “Plus, healthcare continues to be a strong segment. Canada also is a growing market for Scottsdale, which is why we are increasing our efforts to drive additional meetings business from key Canadian cities.”

Eric Marcus, CEO of Marcus Networking.

Tech Q&A: Outsourcing vs. consultant

Question: In this economy, does it make more sense to outsource IT or utilize a consultant?
 
Answer: Outsourcing is more cost effective than a full time person and you gain 24/7 support, whereas an employee only works a certain shift like 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.  Outsourcing means you are getting more than just a single person who manages your network. You are a getting a team of experienced technicians who can handle all areas of telecommunications and technology.

Let’s say you have an IT issue in the middle of the night, Marcus Networking has the ability to connect remotely to most computers and take control of the user’s session and see what’s going on.  We can provide hands-on support without being onsite. Most issues are resolved within 15 minutes and that’s faster than it would be to wake a sleeping employee, have them get dressed and drive to the office.

If we find a problem with parts or equipment, we can generally purchase a replacement component and be on-site and have the issue fixed within an hour or two of the diagnosis.  Again, much more efficient than waiting for the employee to get to work and diagnose what’s going on.

In today’s marketplace, outsourcing is about 45 percent less than the cost of a full time employee.  When you consider salary, benefits, payroll taxes, mandatory workman’s compensation, vacation days, sick days, 401K’s or a bonus plan it adds up quickly. Outsourcing is an affordable option for many businesses who wish to get a higher level of work.

Eric Marcus is CEO of Tempe-based Marcus Networking, which specializes in telecommunications centered on phone systems, cabling, and the network infrastructure also known as the “backbone.” Read more about Eric Marcus in the January issue of Az Business magazine.

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Arizona Super Bowl Host Committee Hires CEO

The Arizona Super Bowl Host Committee today announced the appointment of Jay L. Parry to head the organization as Chief Executive Officer. As CEO, Parry will oversee the Host Committee and will work closely with the NFL to deliver a successful Super Bowl XLIX to the State of Arizona, including driving marketing efforts, developing and implementing NFL and Host Committee programs, spearheading sponsorships, fundraising and community relations, and managing financials.

Super Bowl XLIX will be the third Super Bowl played in Arizona, and the second played at University of Phoenix Stadium. Super Bowl XLII in 2008 had an economic impact of $500 million, according to a study conducted by the W.P. Carey School of Business, Arizona State University.

Parry brings a sports and business acumen uniquely suited to lead the Host Committee’s efforts for Super Bowl XLIX. Most recently, she was senior vice president of Brand and Business Development for the Phoenix Suns. Parry also spent seven seasons as president and chief operating officer of the Phoenix Mercury. During her tenure, the Mercury won two WNBA championships and generated double-digit business growth in corporate partnerships and attendance. Prior to her career in professional sports, Parry was an executive in a variety of roles with Bank of America, most recently as executive vice president in the Central Region. She served on the MVP Host Committee when Arizona hosted Super Bowl XXX in 1996. Currently, Parry serves as a director on the boards of several local organizations, including Arizona Women’s Education and Employment (AWEE,) BMO Harris Bank Arizona Advisory Board and Thunderbirds Charities. See www.AZSuperBowl.com for Parry’s full biography.

Parry was named a Most Admired CEO by the Phoenix Business Journal in 2010 and in 2008, was selected one of the Arizona Woman magazine’s “20 Women Who Will Shape Arizona by 2020.”

Parry will report to David Rousseau, Arizona Super Bowl Host Committee Chairman and president of Salt River Project.

“Jay’s appointment is an amazing coup for the Host Committee,” said Rousseau. “She is the ideal candidate for this role because of her deep experience in sports marketing, business and her strong ties to the community. Jay’s proven leadership skills make her well-suited to drive all facets of the organization from sponsorship and community activation and engagement, to the complex logistics involved in putting on the Super Bowl.”

“Arizona has so much to offer, and I’m honored and excited to be a part of demonstrating this to the world through the Super Bowl,” said Jay Parry, CEO, Arizona Super Bowl Host Committee. “Sports and business are not only my expertise, but my passion. Super Bowl is an exciting opportunity for Arizona that will leave a lasting legacy for our entire community.”

The successful 2015 game bid was prepared by the Host Committee, led by Michael Bidwill, president of the Arizona Cardinals, Mike Kennedy, former chairman of the Host Committee, and Winnie Stolper. Stolper has worked with the Host Committee since 2006 and will take on the role of Chief Administrative Officer reporting to Parry.

The Arizona Super Bowl Host Committee will bring together influential business leaders, senior government representatives, Convention and Visitors Bureau personnel, and thousands of volunteers to insure Super Bowl XLIX is a success, and results in positive economic impact under a global spotlight that enhances community pride.

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BioAccel Adds Stimwave Technologies To Incubator

BioAccel and the City of Peoria announced that BioInspire has accepted a sixth company, Arizona based medical device startup Stimwave Technologies, Inc., into the medical device incubator facility in Peoria,.

Stimwave Technologies has received a $300,000 investment from BioAccel’s New Venture Development Program and will be a resident of the new incubator facility in Peoria, where it will utilize BioInspire’s exceptional laboratory spaces and advisory services.

Stimwave Technologies is a medical device company that develops that has developed  novel wirelessly powered microimplantable stimulators for the neuromodulation field for pain relief.  The company’s first novel device is a microstimulator placed through a needleless implantable device designed for patients suffering from chronic back and leg pain. Currently only wired solutions are available. The new device is 99% smaller in volume that the next smallest commercially available wired product on the market, and takes 75% less time for the clinician to place.

BioInspire, managed by BioAccel in partnership with the City of Peoria, is designed to foster and facilitate the development of medical device companies and to stimulate the development of products and spin-off companies in Peoria based on research conducted at other academic, public and private institutions.

“We are extremely pleased to be welcomed into the Bioinspire incubator to continue to apply our innovative technology to research new indications and support our transition to commercialization for our pain relief product,” said Laura Tyler Perryman, Founder and CEO of Stimwave. “Our commitment to superior patient care is unparalleled, and our goals are aligned with BioAccel to achieve the vision and purpose of BioInspire,” she said.

“The goal is to create knowledge-industry jobs and new companies that will drive and accelerate local economic development as well as bring novel medical devices more efficiently through the commercialization process,” said MaryAnn Guerra, CEO of BioAccel. “Stimwave is the kind of company that will drive job creation and growth through their scalable business plans and the products derived from their innovative research and accelerated commercialization.

“BioAccel is proud to be able to provide critical support for that effort through BioInspire, by providing funding, flexible office and lab space, business and regulator advisory services and expert mentoring critical to early stage companies.”

BioInspire’s Director Tom Rainey said that adding another company to the incubator space is a great sign of early success.

“We’re very excited to add a sixth company to the BioInspire family,” he said. “Considering that the incubator only opened in September, we are pleased with the number and quality of companies that have located within our space. It shows that BioInspire is achieving the goal of bringing growth and innovation to Peoria through these important medical device companies.”

Scott Whyte, City of Peoria Economic Development Services Director, said he is pleased with the success of BioInspire and glad to see more companies taking advantage of its resources.

“We’re delighted to welcome Stimwave to Peoria, and to see the BioInspire initiative take flight,” Whyte said. “As the client companies at BioInspire grow and graduate from the incubator program we are prepared to support their move into other commercial space within Peoria,” Whyte said. “This will serve as a significant economic engine for our local and regional economy, planting the seeds for future growth.”

healthcare

Maricopa County Medical Society Names new CEO

Sara Presler, JD has been named CEO/Executive Director of the Maricopa County Medical Society (MCMS) and Medical Society Business Services. The appointment, which was made by MCMS’ Board of Directors, will begin in December 2012. Founded in 1892, the Maricopa County Medical Society is a not-for-profit, voluntary association for physicians committed to promoting excellence in the quality of care and the health of the community, and to present and serve its members by acting as a strong, collective physician voice. More than 2600 members strong, MCMS supports physicians through a wide range of resources, advocacy efforts, education, volunteerism, philanthropy and professional development activities.

Presler brings more than 10 years of experience in law, community relations, and organizational management to the Maricopa County Medical Society. Before her appointment to MCMS, Presler served two terms as Flagstaff Mayor, General Counsel for Southwest Windpower, and in private law practice focusing on ethics and business law. She began her career as an attorney for children and behavioral health patients.

In each of her positions, she has focused on establishing and maintaining sustainable operations by applying strong expertise to long-term, mission-centric strategic planning. Presler will collaboratively work with the Board to achieve data-driven outcomes based growth, and the development of innovative products and services for Members and the community. The focus of Presler’s career has been the innovation and enrichment of programs to improve community health.

Board President, Michael R. Mills, MD, MPH said Presler has been a key Arizona leader and looks forward to her leading the Medical Society. Dr. Mills states, “Presler is a seasoned professional and is well suited to serve our Physician Members. I am a native Phoenician and I encourage our community to welcome Presler. You will find Sara has the expertise and passion to serve our medical profession and our community.”

Daniel Lieberman, MD, President-elect emphasizes Presler’s strong philanthropic and community relation skills as an asset to Members. “As physicians, we are closest to the patients, and, therefore, have the best understanding of what is wrong with the current system and how to fix it. We have traditionally helped our patients navigate the healthcare system; it is now our responsibility to change the system for the better on their behalf. Presler will lead the Maricopa County Medical Society toward fulfilling this responsibility.”

Presler holds a degree in History and English from Northern Arizona University and a J.D. from Michigan State University.  She is a Flinn Brown Fellow and alumni of the Flinn Foundation’s Civic Leadership Academy’s inaugural class. Presler is an active member of the State Bar of Arizona and serves on the board of the United Way of Northern Arizona, Northern Arizona Healthcare Childhood Obesity Board, and is an Honoree for the Donor Network of Arizona, a few of her many philanthropic and community efforts.

Presler will succeed interim executive director, Alex Miles, who assumed the duties of the position after Daniel Mitten’s relocation to Oregon in November of 2012.

About Maricopa County Medical Society: Celebrating its 120 year anniversary in 2012, the Maricopa County Medical Society encompasses the Bureau of Medical Economics, a medical collection agency; Medabytes computer services; Greater Arizona Central Credential Program, a primary source, auditing and application service; and was the founding incorporator for what is now known as the Arizona Foundation for Medical Care. For more information, visit www.mcmsonline.com.

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GoDaddy hires tech veteran as CEO

GoDaddy, the world’s largest registrar of Internet domain names, on Tuesday said Microsoft and Yahoo veteran Blake Irving will become its CEO on Jan. 7.

He replaces Scott Wagner, an appointee from private equity firm Kohlberg Kravis Roberts who has been serving as interim CEO since July. KKR, Silver Lake Partners and Technology Crossover Ventures bought Scottsdale-based GoDaddy in 2011, at which time founder Bob Parsons stepped down as CEO.

Irving worked at Microsoft Corp. from 1992 to 2007, ending up as the vice president in charge of the Windows Live online services. He joined Yahoo Inc. in 2010 as chief product officer.

Goran Dragic, Brandon Knight

Fulton Homes’ 3-Point Zone raises $10,500

That swish from the arc is beginning to add up.   Through the first month of the season, the Phoenix Suns have hit 105 three-pointers, banking a cool $10,500 for the Youth Assistance Foundation.  With five months of the season remaining, they are on course to raise more than $60,000 for the non-profit.

It’s all part of the Fulton Homes “Proud to own the Three-Point Zone” program, a partnership between the Tempe-based homebuilder and the Phoenix Suns.  With each three-point basket made, the Youth Assistance Foundation receives $100.

“Fulton Homes is dedicated to local charities like the Youth Assistance Foundation and recognizes the good work they do to prevent youth violence, promote good role models and positive interactions with law enforcement,” Doug Fulton, CEO of Fulton Homes, said.

Fulton Homes reunited this fall with the Phoenix Suns to revive the Fulton Homes “Proud to own the Three-Point Zone” program. In previous seasons, Fulton Homes has donated more than $206,000 over five years to local charities through Phoenix Suns Charities. This year’s partnership includes all 80 home and away regular season games broadcast on Fox Sports Net.

Does Your Online Presence Pass the Truth Test?

What’s the fastest-growing marketing trend on the Internet?

I’m sad to say it’s the “fakeosphere.” Yes, fake blogs (called “flogs”), fake web news sites and fake testimonials. They look like the real thing, right down to comments posted by “bloggers” and their supposed readers. Those comments appear to be written by people discussing the pros and cons of a particular product or service, and they even include some naysayers.

“But in the end, the bloggers and their readers always win over the skeptics and persuade them to buy the product from a convenient nearby link,” writes Bob Sullivan in his blog on msnbc.com.

He cites Internet marketing analyst Jay Weintraub, who believes the fakeosphere has become a $500 million-a-year industry.

These fake sites and phony conversations are often more than simply misleading – OK, fraudulent – marketing. For consumers, they can be downright dangerous.

“The end game for most of these sites – no matter what they sell – is to persuade a consumer to sign up for a ‘free’ trial of a product, then make it incredibly difficult to cancel before the trial period ends,” Sullivan writes. “A similar technique … is to offer a free product and charge a web user a token shipping and handling fee, just to get the consumers’ bank account information. Larger charges soon follow.”

Consumers are – and should be – increasingly wary. They’re scrutinizing websites more closely, especially if they’re considering making a purchase there. They’re avoiding social media interactions with anything that smells less than genuine, and they’re more careful about who they share information with online.

What would they say about your online presence? Do you look like the real deal, or a potential cyber threat?

Here are some ways to ensure you pass the reality test — and some missteps that will ensure you don’t.

On social media:

• Real people have real friends and family among their connections. They can’t resist sharing photos of their vacation, the newest baby in the family and their genius dog (not necessarily in that order). They have interests that may have nothing to do with what they’re trying to market, and they comment about them (“I shot a hole in one today!”) or share a photo (“Here I am buying everyone drinks after my hole in one today. That was the most expensive golf shot ever!”) They also respond to all comments, even if it’s just to say, “Thank you.”

• Fake people generate mostly sales copy – “Buy my product! It’s great!” They don’t engage in conversation, they don’t appear to have a personality – or friends or loved ones or hobbies, for that matter.

On your website:

• Real people have text that informs and entertains users while offering them helpful information. The copy is professionally written – no typos or other mistakes – and provides answers to anticipated questions. It’s easy to learn more about you or your business and to find your contact information. Testimonials are from real people whose existence can be verified through a simple Internet search. They write blogs that are updated regularly and/or post articles with helpful information.

• Fake people have websites with lots of pop-up advertising banners and text urging users to “Buy my product!” Testimonials are from untraceable people with vague titles or credentials. The site may be hard to navigate; contact information may be missing or difficult to find; and there’s no link to media about the person or company.

In your newsletter:

• Real people share valuable information in their newsletters (which can be as minimal as a “tip of the week” email). Their newsletter (or tip) includes no overpowering sales pitch or self-promotion – or, at least, includes that only occasionally. It conveys a personality, whether warm and friendly, authoritative, or humorous.

• Fake people blast newsletters and promotional emails that may identify a problem but offer as the only solution hiring them or buying their product. They may seem unprofessionally written (errors, etc.) and lack personality. They offer nothing of value to the reader.

All of these things will help you create an online personality that conveys your authenticity. But the No. 1 thing you can do – what I value above everything else – is to be, actually … genuine.

In my book, “Celebritize Yourself,” I write about identifying the passion that led you to start your business, create your product or write your book. Maybe you became a financial adviser because you found it gratifying to solve people’s money problems. Or you developed a product that you know will benefit others. Or you have expertise that can help people live longer, happier, or more productive lives.

Whatever it is that got you going, that’s what makes you genuine. Identify it and make it a part of your message, and no one will ever call you a fake.

Marsha Friedman is a 22-year veteran of the public relations industry. She is the CEO of EMSI Public Relations (www.emsincorporated.com), a national firm that provides PR strategy and publicity services to corporations, entertainers, authors and professional firms.

Mark H pics 001

CRA forms alliance with Quintiles

Tempe-based Clinical Research Advantage (CRA), the country’s largest community-based network of clinical trial sites, has entered into a strategic agreement  with Quintiles to facilitate a higher level of clinical trial participation with an emphasis on safety, improved study efficiencies and excellent quality data in medical research. Clinical Research Advantage is the first therapeutically aligned network of Family Medicine community-based sites selected by Quintiles as a strategic alliance.

“It is an honor to be chosen by Quintiles, the world’s largest biopharmaceutical services provider with the highest standards for quality and safety,” said Mark S. Hanley, CRA’s Chief Executive Officer. “The core value and principal purpose of Clinical Research Advantage is to improve the lives of patients through the development of new medical therapies. Working with Quintiles will allow CRA to conduct an increased number of community-based trials with unparalleled accuracy and safety.”

“Clinical Research Advantage impressed us with their high standards for quality, high patient enrolments, and exceptional study start-up abilities,” said Lindy Jones, Senior Vice President, Integrated Site Services, Quintiles. “Many chronic conditions such as diabetes and heart disease are now managed in the community. It is imperative that these patient populations have the opportunity to participate in studies and be a part of the quest to develop new and better medicines for conditions that have a significant impact on both individuals and society.  We are pleased to enter into this relationship with CRA and anticipate that together we will ensure that studies start on the right path.”

The CRA-Quintiles relationship marks a new era in Phase II – IV clinical trials, enabling physicians and clinical researchers to conduct an increased number of trials across a wide range of disease areas. In addition, it will streamline and expedite the process of bringing these potentially life-changing and life-saving drugs to market.
About Clinical Research Advantage

Tempe, Arizona-based Clinical Research Advantage, Inc. (CRA) is a provider of a range of research services to pharmaceutical companies and clinical research organizations. As a leading trial management organization, CRA operates from 38 sites across 17 geographic markets nationwide, helping trial sponsors bring drugs to market more quickly and efficiently. Founded in 1992, CRA has successfully completed more than 1,800 clinical trials on behalf of its clients. For more information, please visit www.crastudies.com.

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Ling & Louie’s Kitchen Concept will Debut at Biltmore

Restaurant industry entrepreneurs Randy Schoch, founder and CEO of Desert Island Restaurants and Michael McDermott and Jason Merritt, co-founders of Kona Grill and Rojo Mexican Grill, have joined forces to launch a joint venture dining concept in the Biltmore Fashion Park in early December. Ling & Louie’s Kitchen, an upscale urban brand expansion of Schoch’s successful Ling & Louie’s Asian Bar and Grill concept, will introduce the Ling & Louie’s story (where Ling’s Asian flair meets Louie’s American comfort food) to the Camelback corridor.

Similar to Ling & Louie’s Asian Bar and Grill, Ling & Louie’s Kitchen will offer Asian inspired cuisine with a contemporary American twist, but with even more exciting variations of American favorites including salads, burgers and sandwiches. Their signature dishes include Firecracker Chicken, Black Orchid Ahi, Braised Duck Flatbread and New Wave Pad Thai. Ling & Louie’s Kitchen will feature an upbeat full-service bar offering a variety of specialty cocktails, such as Ling’s Margarita and their famous Thai Mai, as well as a vast variety of beer including Ling & Louie’s Copper Ale, which is locally brewed, and a world-class selection of sake.

“With our modern Asian Cuisine and sophisticated take on American comfort food, Ling & Louie’s Kitchen will bring an inviting, but edgy lunch and dinner destination in a category of all its own to the Biltmore area,” said McDermott.

Development of the centrally-located 7,500 square-foot space, currently occupied by McDermott and Merritt’s Black Chile Mexican Grill, will begin Monday, Nov. 19. Black Chile will be open regular hours until Sunday, Nov. 18 at 9 p.m. Ling & Louie’s Kitchen will open in early December.

Ling & Louie’s Asian Bar and Grill has locations in Chandler and Scottsdale as well as Anchorage, Boise, Denver and Reno with a new location opening soon in Dallas. In addition to Ling & Louie’s Asian Bar and Grill, Schoch is well known for many notable concepts, including Nick’s Fish Market, Thaifoon-Taste of Asia, Black Orchid, and as a franchise owner of multiple Ruth’s Chris Steak House, Roy’s Pacific Rim and Romano’s Macaroni Grill restaurants. McDermott’s more than 20 years in the restaurant business include the development of popular dining concepts such as Kona Grill, Black Chile Mexican Grill and Rojo Mexican Grill.

For updates on Ling & Louie’s Kitchen, the first phase of this unique partnership between two hospitality industry innovators, visit www.lingandlouies.com.

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Clinical Research Advantage VP earns Silver Stevie

Kim Kundert, RN, BSN, CCRC, has received the 2012 Silver Stevie Award for Female Executive of the Year in the Business Services category. Kundert was honored for her achievements as Vice President of Clinical Operations for Clinical Research Advantage, an integrated network of clinical trial sites.

The Stevie Awards for Women in Business are the world’s top honors for female entrepreneurs, executives, and the organizations they run. All individuals and organizations worldwide are eligible to submit nominations – public and private, for-profit and non-profit, large and small. The 2012 awards received entries from 17 nations and territories.

Stevie Award winners were selected by more than 200 executives worldwide who participated in the judging process this year.

“In 2012, Clinical Research Advantage became the largest integrated site network in the United States, and Kim Kundert has been a driving force behind the company’s rapid growth and expansion. We are thrilled that she has received national recognition for her executive leadership,” said Mark S. Hanley, CEO of Clinical Research Advantage.

This year marked the 9th Annual Celebration of the Stevie Awards for Women in Business. “This year’s Stevie Award-winning women are the most accomplished, impressive group we’ve ever had. Their stories of success will be an inspiration to women around the globe who dream of starting and growing a business and making a difference in the world,” said Michael Gallagher, president and founder of the Stevie Awards.

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Experience Matters gets Grant from Virginia G. Piper

Experience Matters, an organization that connects baby boomers with nonprofit and social service organizations to improve the quality of life in Maricopa County, has received a $1.6 million grant over four years from Virginia G. Piper Charitable Trust. The grant allows Experience Matters to expand its infrastructure to offer more paid and unpaid opportunities to more boomers seeking work in the social sector. Often referred to as encore careers, this represents a new life-stage in which experienced boomers find meaningful ways to engage in the community. Nationwide, 31 million boomers indicate an interest in encore opportunities.

Engaging boomers as the talent to solve community problems is the driving force of the Experience Matters’ vision and mission, and it is changing the quality of life for boomers such as Encore Fellow Anne White.  “I feel my work as an Encore Fellow brought more rewards to me than I gave to the Balsz CommunityEducation Foundation, my host organization,” stated White.  “Helping them build the infrastructure and fundraising programs for their foundation was incredibly rewarding, and I am thrilled to stay on as a volunteer with the organization beyond my Encore Fellowship,” she added.

Experience Matters aims to expand operations and deliver $34 million in human capital to Maricopa County organizations over the next five years.  The organization’s strategic plan to connect boomers with service organizations was crafted by a group of highly experienced strategists, business owners, technologists, marketing experts and nonprofit executives and community leaders over a six-month period.

“This generous grant from Virginia G. Piper Charitable Trust is vital to the successful expansion of Experience Matters.  We can significantly increase the number of boomers engaged in paid and unpaid social service opportunities to support our nonprofit community as they work so hard to improve the quality of life in Maricopa County.  Both boomers and nonprofit organizations are signing up rapidly to engage.  The demand is strong to connect the talent with the community, ” stated Nora Hannah, CEO of Experience Matters.

“Experience Matters produces a high rate of return on investment because there is nothing more valuable than giving a nonprofit talent and skill,” noted Patrick McWhortor, President and CEO of Alliance of Arizona Nonprofits.  “As Experience Matters helps nonprofits engage experienced and talented boomers in their organizations, the capacity and effectiveness of the organizations has the potential to expand exponentially,” he added.

financial

Credit unions grow membership, revenue

Like many other industries, credit unions in Arizona are bouncing back from the economic downturn.

Credit unions, which are similar to banks in the products and services that they offer except at a slightly lower cost, are taking advantage of consumer disenchantment with big banks to attract new members. According to a recent National Credit Union Administration report, through the first quarter of 2012, credit unions around the country combined for a record 92.5 million members.

“As local, member-owned financial institutions, credit unions are simply doing what they have always been good at,” said Scott Earl, CEO of Mountain West Credit Union Association, a trade organization of credit unions across Arizona, Colorado and Wyoming. “They have a long history and reputation for providing excellent member service, financial education and a wide variety of financial services to fit their members needs. The recent increased recognition of these qualities and the progress credit unions have made is establishing their success as an industry.”

Nationally, credit unions generated $2.1 billion in profits and added 667,000 new members in the first quarter of 2012, a 25 percent spike in profits compared with a year earlier. Most large Arizona credit unions — including Desert Schools, TruWest, Arizona State, Credit Union West and Arizona Federal — saw profits roughly double in the first quarter of 2012, compared with earnings from a year earlier.

“The word ‘profit’ is a bit of a misnomer,” said Paul Stull, senior vice president of strategy and brand for Arizona State Credit Union. “Credit unions do have net income. However, all credit unions are not-for-profit cooperatives. The net income or funds available after expenses are paid become part of a credit union’s capital or are used to build new branches, purchase new technology or offer additional services.”

Something that Arizona State Credit Union added recently were construction loans to its home loan portfolio in anticipation of an improving economy, as evidenced by the 27 percent growth of new home sales in the first quarter, compared to the prior year.

The construction loan program allows members the opportunity to lock in their mortgage rate early and avoid the possibility of fluctuating rates during the construction phase. Additional perks to this all-in-one loan include needing to only qualify once, signing one set of loan documents and paying one set of loan fees for both the construction-phase financing and permanent mortgage.

“As a local financial cooperative, the Credit Union is proud to offer low rates and flexible terms on a product that few financial institutions are offering,” said David E. Doss, president and CEO of Arizona State Credit Union. “We are excited to add construction loans to our home loan options as it is one more way we can assist members residing in the Arizona communities we serve.”

A J.D. Power and Associates study this year showed that consumer backlash against fees and the perception of poor customer service from some of the bigger banks have caused some consumers to switch to credit unions, whichunlike banks, which are run as private businesses seeking profits, operate as nonprofit entities and are technically owned by their members.

“Generally credit unions offer lower fees and better interest rates than banks,” Stull said. “This is one reason consumers may come to a credit union. We also see many people that switch because they want to do business with a local financial institution that is based in Arizona. Our deposits are returned to the community in the form of loans than in turn grow jobs and economic development in the communities we serve. Many consumers have made a choice to support local businesses, and credit unions are a great example of that.”

While credit unions never issue subprime mortgages, which many experts blame for helping lead the nation into the recession, credit unions did get hit with the impact of the failing economy. One lesson Earl said they learned: Innovation.

“Learning to manage resources while providing increased quality of services through the recession has challenged the way credit unions approach problems,” he said. “Increased creativity and credit union technology are some of more positive lessons for the long term.”
In addition to lower fees and increasing efficiency that is resulting from lessons learned in the wake of the recession, Stull said credit unions offer free financial counseling, will help members create a budget to manage their funds, and Arizona State Credit Union’s Home Affordable Refinance Program has allowed homeowners who owe more than the house is worth to refinance and reduce their payments.

“Choosing a credit union is a win-win situation for consumers,” Stull said. “They can get a better rate or lower fees to help them stretch their budgets, and they can benefit their community by doing business with a local financial cooperative that helps create jobs and grow the local economy. You get a good deal and you can feel good about helping your community, too.”

Superstorm Sandy

Hunter Douglas creates fund to help storm victims

In immediate response to the unprecedented destruction caused by Hurricane Sandy on the East Coast and particularly in the New York tri-state area, Hunter Douglas, the leading manufacturer and marketer of custom window fashions in North America, announced today that it has created the Hunter Douglas Hurricane Sandy Relief & Recovery Fund.  The Company will make an initial donation of $100,000 and, in addition to that $100,000, will match every employee donation on a dollar-for-dollar basis up to $250,000.

The Hunter Douglas Horizontal Blinds Division and Custom Shutters Division are located in Gilbert with a plant in Phoenix.  Comfortex Window Fashions, a Hunter Douglas company, also has a facility in Phoenix.

“All of us at Hunter Douglas are deeply saddened by the devastating effect of Hurricane Sandy on the lives of so many of our fellow Americans.  We want to do what we can to help those who are suffering and most in need of support,” said Marv Hopkins, Hunter Douglas North America President and CEO.

The monies are being donated to two highly efficient and effective nonprofits: The New York Times Neediest Cases Hurricane Sandy Relief Effort and Team Rubicon.

Managed by The New York Times Company, which absorbs all administrative costs, The New York Times Neediest Cases Hurricane Sandy Relief Effort is providing direct assistance through key area social service agencies to those people in the tri-state region most severely affected.

Team Rubicon, a veteran service organization that repurposes the ready-made organizational and operational skills of military veterans for disaster relief, has mobilized 1,000 veteran volunteers in the tri-state to assist in the response and recovery process.  Team Rubicon teams are currently working street by street, home by home, for post-disaster damage assessments, debris management and emergency coordination. All resources are devoted to the direct coordination and execution of disaster response and recovery efforts.

 

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IO CEO Honored by Goldman Sachs for Entrepreneurship

Goldman Sachs recognized IO CEO George Slessman as one of the top 100 entrepreneurs of 2012 at its recent Builders & Innovators Summit in Newport Beach, California.

Goldman Sachs selected Slessman as one of 100 leaders from multiple industries to be honored at the event. Slessman has been an executive in the data center industry for over a decade and a technology leader and entrepreneur for more than 15 years. In this brief period of time, he has founded and successfully exited several technology businesses, inventing and delivering transformational software, hardware and clean energy technologies for the benefit of enterprise, government and service provider customers. In addition to being recognized as a thought leader in the technology industry that solves problems for customers, his companies have organically created over a billion dollars of value for his investors to date.

“I am humbled to be included in this summit,” said Slessman. “This is truly an acknowledgement of the extraordinary people, organizations, and customers that I have had the privilege to learn from and work with in my own professional journey.”

“We are honored to recognize George Slessman as one of the top 100 most innovative entrepreneurs in the technology industry,” said David Solomon, co-head of investment banking at Goldman Sachs. “This inaugural event brought together emerging entrepreneurs paired with seasoned entrepreneurs from a diverse set of industries to discuss how to build great and enduring companies that reshape industries and the world through innovation.”

For more than 140 years, Goldman Sachs has been advising and financing entrepreneurs as they launch and grow their businesses. In addition to honoring 100 entrepreneurs, the conference included general sessions and clinics led by Goldman Sachs experts and resident scholars.

IO designs, engineers and delivers data center infrastructure for the world’s largest enterprises, governments and service providers. IO owns and operates data centers for hundreds of customers, and has leveraged this experience to build a next-generation Data Center 2.0 cloud enabling technology platform. IO.Anywhere modular data centers provide enterprise-class infrastructure that can be delivered as DCaaS and rapidly deployed as a product to customer sites anywhere in the world. IO developed the first data center infrastructure operating system, IO.OS, to provide the intelligent control needed to maximize utilization, resiliency and energy efficiency. IO is a privately held company headquartered in Phoenix. For more information on IO, please visit us on the web at .io.com

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AWEE presents 2012 Faces of Success

A formerly homeless veteran who lost his hearing from an explosion in Vietnam, an ex-offender who chose drugs over her children and today counsels individuals in similar circumstances, and a Baltimore transplant who had to rely on the financial support of family when she couldn’t find a fulltime job despite a steady work history will tell their turnaround stories and be honored at the 18th annual Faces of Success Luncheon on Thursday, Nov. 15 at The Arizona Biltmore Resort and Spa.

The annual fund-raising luncheon supports Arizona Women’s Education & Employment (AWEE), a workforce development organization using a diverse range of evidence-based training and support services to advance Arizona’s workforce and change the lives of women, men, young adults and special populations through the dignity of work.

Also at the luncheon, Michelle King Robson, who overcame life-threatening health issues to start the widely praised social health website EmpowHER.com for women will receive the Jeanne Lind Herberger Award.

More than 700 people are expected at the luncheon, which is presented by Bank of America.  Registration and reception begin at 11 a.m.   The highly entertaining, rapid-fire program of giveaways, raffles and remarkably moving stories of success will be co-hosted by television personality Tara Hitchcock and Alfredo J. Molina of Molina Fine Jewelers.  Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton will make brief congratulatory remarks.

Molina also has donated a stunning pair of 18-karat white gold earrings with .39 carats of brilliant diamonds surrounding black onyx for a raffle.  The earrings are valued at $4,990.  Raffle tickets are $25 each or 6 for $100 and can be purchased at the event or online at www.awee.org.

Individual tickets for the Faces of Success Luncheon are $100 each and also can be purchased online or the day of the event.  Sponsorships are still available.

The highlight of the annual luncheon comes midway through the program when the three Faces of Success take the audience through their personal journeys from rock bottom to steady employment and self sufficiency thanks to AWEE programs, services and support.

The 2012 Faces of Success are:

• Craig Leighton, a U.S. Marine Corp photographer whose life fell apart after returning from Vietnam in 1974 deaf and angry.  Leighton eventually found himself battling alcohol and drug addiction, homeless and in jail.  “I needed help,” he said.  “Coming out of prison, you have a choice:  Go back to your old behavior or start over.  AWEE is what saved my life.”

• Vicki Rainey, the mother of two children who grew up in Phoenix living a “wonderful childhood” until the family moved to a new neighborhood.  That’s when she started making a series of bad choices with alcohol, drugs and criminal behavior and wound up homeless and in and out of prison.  Prison let her come out of the meth-induced fog she had lived in for months when she chose the drug over her kids.  She learned about AWEE in prison workshops and classes, rebuilt her self-esteem and her life and is now the marketing manager at Recovery Opportunity Center.  “The simple fact is, I wouldn’t be where I am today without AWEE.”

• Tanya Smith moved to Phoenix from Baltimore after her mother died.  Smith wanted warmth and sunshine.  Unfortunately, she couldn’t find permanent work and ran out of money between assignments through a temporary agency, needing help from family members.  Surgery complicated matters.   After getting on AHCCCS, she was referred to AWEE where resume writing and interview training keyed her turnaround.  Today, she’s working fulltime in the Home Modification Division of the Arizona Department of Economic Security.

Jeanne Lind Herberger honoree Robson combines a successful track record as a businesswoman and entrepreneur with nearly two decades of civic and community leadership to lead one of the fastest-growing social health companies on the Web.  She started EmpowHER following her own personal struggle with a debilitating health issue and the challenges she experienced in finding the health resources she needed.  “I thought ‘If this happened to me, what is happening to women all over the world?’  At that moment, I decided I would dedicate my life to making sure no other woman would suffer as I had by creating the resources I wish I had when I was sick.”

Kathey Wagner, CEO, B-On The Obvious and Nicole Spracale, Senior Vice President, Jobing, are co-chairs of the 2012 Faces of Success Luncheon.  Bank of America is the Presenting Sponsor with additional support from: The Herberger Foundation, Bruce T. Halle Familiy Foundation, APS, B-On The Obvious, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Arizona, Discover Financial Services, Jobing, EmpowHER.com, First Solar, Molina Fine Jewelers, SRP, State Farm, Lewis & Roca, MidFirst Bank, Wells Fargo, Avnet, Comerica Bank and University of Phoenix.

For sponsorship information, contact Chief Development Officer Jamie Craig Dove at jamiecraigdove@awee.org or by calling (602) 223-4333.  For ticket information, visit www.awee.org.

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Report: Fulton Homes leads E.V. Home Sales

Fulton Homes’ domination in new home sales continues.   According to the latest KnowledgeBase Market Insights report released by Phoenix-based Belfiore Real Estate consulting, Fulton Homes had three communities ranked among ten of the best-selling Phoenix-area subdivisions over the past two months.  The Tempe-based homebuilder placed Queen Creek’s Paradise at Ironwood Crossing, and both Mediterranean at Freeman Farms and Caribbean at Freeman Farms in Gilbert. Overall, six of the Top 10 Phoenix area subdivisions were in the East Valley, with the remaining four in the West Valley.

“We provide the best, quality-built home in Arizona,” Doug Fulton, Fulton Homes CEO, said. “We are tremendously pleased by the public’s response to all of our East Valley communities. We have an extraordinary team of professionals who every day help people realize their dream of homeownership.”

Fulton Homes is also outpacing the market when it comes to monthly sales in each community.  Belfiore Real Estate Consulting anticipates an average of 3.3 sales per subdivision per month for the year.  Fulton Homes is currently selling more than twice that, on average.

Belfiore Real Estate consulting is a full-service residential market research firm, offering a variety of residential data and analyses.

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Social Media Changes Driving Some Marketers Buggy

Social media is the most rapidly changing aspect of communications to begin with. Throw in an IPO (Facebook) and a major overhaul (LinkedIn) and modifications are barreling ahead so fast, even the techies seem unable to keep up.

“I’m a big believer in social media marketing for my business, so when I started having a lot of problems with LinkedIn, I didn’t wait – I sent an email to the Help Center,” says Marsha Friedman, CEO of EMSI Public Relations, (www.emsincorporated.com), in Wesley Chapel, Fla.

“Last week, a ‘customer experience advocate’ finally emailed me back. He wrote, ‘I apologize taking so long to get back to you. We are currently experiencing an unusual high volume of requests due to our recent site enhancements.’ “

Many of the changes were implemented Oct. 16 and, as EMSI’s social media specialist, Jeni Hinojosa, observes, “It’s a great overhaul.”

But, she adds, “It must not have gotten much of a test run because the site has been very buggy.”

Over on Facebook, Friedman says she’s noticed advertisements popping up everywhere – even in her news feed.

“Now that the site has gone public, it’s trying all sorts of new tricks to make money for shareholders, but it’s creating some problems,” she says.

One of her employees got this error message while trying to post to her wall: “The server found your request confusing and isn’t sure how to proceed.”

Hinojosa offered a brief overview of some of the changes and a solution people are turning to – at least in the case of Facebook.

LinkedIn: “One of the new features I like is that you can check for comments and other activity without getting notices sent to your email,” Hinojosa says. “Just go to your LinkedIn page and you’ll see the notifications at the top, just like on Facebook.”

“The bugs I and others have encountered include being unable to check private messages; sporadically unable to get into groups; and being notified that invitations to join others’ networks are waiting – but when I look, I don’t see any,” Hinojosa says. “When we report the problems, the responses we’re getting sound like they’re working on them but they’re overwhelmed.

“Hopefully, they’ll get them worked out soon. The good news is, they’re aware.”

Facebook: “Sadly, I’ve been down this road before – and it didn’t lead to a good place,” Hinojosa says. “Remember MySpace?”

Since its initial public offering in May, Facebook has been making a lot of changes designed to add revenue. The newest of these are a $7 fee for “promoted posts” from your personal page and a $5 to $15 fee to promote posts from your fan page. They’re not yet available to all 166 million U.S. Facebook users, according to tech bloggers, because it’s still experimental.

Now, those with the option will see a “promote” button next to the “like,” “comment” and “share” buttons. Click “promote,” put the appropriate fee on your charge card, and that post will go to the top of your followers’ news feeds a few times in the days ahead. (It will also wear the Scarlet S label of “sponsored post.”) The promise is that more of your followers will see it.

“It doesn’t make a lot of sense when applied to personal pages,” Hinojosa says. “How many people will pay to show off their vacation photos? But people using Facebook as a marketing tool may be motivated to pay for more reach.

“Soon, everyone will be scrolling through a bunch of ‘sponsored’ posts before they get to the ‘free’ ones. If you want someone to actually see your post, you’ll have to pay.”

That’s why, she says, people are jumping to …

Google+: “If Facebook and Twitter had a baby, it would be Google+,” Hinojosa says.

This toddler network, which launched in June 2011, combines Facebook’s capabilities for sharing news and photos and Twitter’s searchability.

“It allows you to designate one or more “circles” for your friends,” Hinojosa says. “One co-worker might be ‘business’ and ‘close friends’ while another could be just ‘business.’ So everyone sees what’s appropriate for them based on your relationship.”

“Like Twitter, Google+ uses hashtags to help sort information and allow people to search for posts on particular topics,” she says. “For instance, if you type #cutecats into the search box at the top of your page, you’ll see everything with that hashtag – including comments that incorporate the label.

“What makes me happiest is, Google had its IPO way back in 2004,” Hinojosa says. “So we shouldn’t have to worry about this company suddenly drumming up ways to make us pay for what we previously got for free.”

Shannon Brown

Fulton Homes, Suns Reunite For Three-Point Zone

Twenty-three feet, nine inches is the distance that makes Fulton Homes, the Phoenix Suns and local charities a winner this season.

Tempe-based Fulton Homes is reuniting with the Phoenix Suns to revive the Fulton Homes “Proud to own the Three-Point Zone” program, which in years past has provided tens of thousands of dollars to Phoenix Suns Charities. When a Phoenix Suns player drains a three-pointer this season, Fulton Homes will write a $100 check to Phoenix Suns Charities. This year’s sponsorship includes both home and away games broadcast on Fox Sports Net.  With 80 televised games on the schedule, and a Suns average of 6.7 three-point shots per game last season, Phoenix Suns Charities could slam dunk some serious donations.

“Fulton Homes is really excited to partner again with the Phoenix Suns to benefit Phoenix Suns Charities,” Doug Fulton, CEO of Fulton Homes, said. “If the Suns keep their three-point game up, we could be giving quite a bit to worthy causes.”

Phoenix Suns Charities is the cornerstone of the team’s charitable giving.  The organization offers grants to non-profits that serve children and youth in the areas of education, health and human services, the arts, sports, and recreation and rehabilitation.

Derrick Watchman, Bob Winter, Raymond Etticy

Navajo Nation Gaming Enterprise CEO Winter Resigns

Bob Winter, Navajo Nation Gaming Enterprise (NNGE) Chief Executive Officer (CEO), announced today he will resign from his position effective January 1, 2013.  NNGE Chief Financial Officer Derrick Watchman will be named CEO by the NNGE Board of Directors upon Winter’s transition.

Winter, who has served as CEO since May 2007, decided to leave his position as CEO for the NNGE in order to concentrate his efforts on completing the development and opening of the Twin Arrows Navajo Casino Resort.  The Board has asked him to remain and work on the due diligence and planning for the Pinta Road Casino & Travel Center as well as other potential developments on behalf of the NNGE.

“I have had the privilege to work for an extraordinary board of directors, as well as with caring and committed Enterprise staff and casino employees during my time with NNGE,” Winter said. “When I was confirmed as CEO in 2007, I advised members of the Council that it was my goal to mentor a Navajo for the CEO position and I wouldn’t resign until I had found the right person.  Having worked closely with Derrick during my tenure as CEO, I have total confidence in his ability to lead the NNGE and he is, without a doubt, the right person for the job.”

In June 2012, after three years of casino operations, the NNGE Board of Directors authorized the Enterprise’s first distribution of gaming profits to the Navajo Nation Gaming Distribution Fund.  The first distribution to the Navajo Nation was $5 million with future distributions expected to increase over the coming years.

Watchman said, “I learned a great deal from Bob Winter and I am looking forward to applying what I have learned as we continue to grow and strengthen our partnership with the Navajo Nation.  Of course, any good organization is only as good as its’ employees and I happen to believe we have the finest and most dedicated employees around.  Furthermore, I am very positive about NNGE’s future and I am especially excited about the opening of our flagship property Twin Arrows – a unique destination that the Navajo Nation can be proud of.”

“Bob successfully promoted NNGE’s mission to develop a Navajo gaming economy.  Under his leadership NNGE provided thousands of Navajo people with jobs, competitive wages, and the ability to provide for their families,” said Quincy Natay, NNGE Board Chair. “During Bob’s tenure, he consistently advocated that the Navajo Nation has the talent within to make gaming profitable. Under Bob’s leadership he created a strong management team. In particular, Derrick’s commitment to the success of the Enterprise is evident and we have great confidence that he will continue making a difference in the lives of the Navajo people. We are excited about NNGE’s future with Derrick as our CEO.”

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Pivotal Group Acquires Majority Stake in Pan Am Education

A Pivotal Group affiliate has acquired the assets of Pan Am Education, expediting the international expansion of the company. Pan Am founding management will maintain a stake in the company and continue day-to-day operations.

Pan Am Education provides online blended learning solutions for students and education companies around the globe.  Pan Am currently distributes its education services in 10 countries, including China, Korea, Brazil, Mexico, Turkey and the U.S.  Its current distribution network reaches over 5 million students.  The company plans to expand into additional markets as a result of this investment by Pivotal Group.

The transaction is also expected to create new jobs in Arizona and around the U.S. Pan Am hires contract teachers from across the country that work from home, videoconferencing with students to provide online, synchronous instruction around the world.

“Pivotal Group is impressed with Pan Am’s unique interactive, blended-learning model; global platform; capable management team and capacity to make a major impact on how people learn.  This investment reinforces our long-standing commitment to improving the global mindset of students and educators around the world,” said F. Francis Najafi, CEO, Pivotal Group.

“Pan Am and Pivotal Group share the same vision: to improve access to quality, affordable education to students everywhere. This investment represents a mutual commitment to international education and the shared principles of our team,” said Joe Merrill, CEO and co-founder of Pan Am Education.

Angel Chaves, Pan Am Education executive vice president and co-founder adds, “With additional resources and the support of the Pivotal Group, we will change the face of education and create opportunities for students and teachers everywhere.”

Christopher Nyren and Todd Maurer, of Illinois-based Educated Ventures, advised Pan Am Education with respect to the transaction.  The amount of the transaction is not being disclosed.

Founded more than a quarter century ago by CEO F. Francis Najafi, Phoenix-based Pivotal Group is a diversified investment company focused on private equity and real estate, particularly drawn by the unrealized potential of well-managed, middle-market companies with unique assets.  Pivotal Group works in partnership with acquired company management to strengthen the firm’s strategic and financial position through planning, improving operations and creating growth initiatives.  To learn more about the Pivotal Group go online to http://www.pivotalgroup.com.

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Arizona Commerce Authority gets new CEO

The Arizona Commerce Authority — the state’s economic development organization — is finally getting a new CEO to replace Don Cardon. The ACA is charged with creating jobs and boosting the state’s economy.

The Arizona Commerce Authority board voted unanimously Tuesday to have a board committee negotiate a contract with Sandra Watson, who was chief deputy to former CEO Cardon and has served as interim CEO since July.

Watson has made $218,000 annually as interim CEO. Cardon’s salary was $300,000.

The quasi-private authority took over economic development functions from the now-disbanded state Department of Commerce. The authority gets $35 million of state funding annually, including $25 million for grants to help attract, expand or retain businesses.

Cardon announced in January that he will return to running his businesses.

The authority’s board hired a search firm to help find a new CEO, but Gov. Jan Brewer said no other candidates emerged from that process as a finalist.

“We certainly interviewed and consulted with a lot of people but no one rose to the occasion,” said Brewer, who heads the authority’s board.

The board’s executive committee decided “that Sandra really stepped up in the interim and that she would serve us well as the ACA president moving forward,” the governor said.

Brewer won legislative approval of creation of the authority last year as part of legislation that also included business tax cuts.

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Innovative CEO Martz offers advice on being an effective boss

Today is National Boss Day, so it’s the perfect time to get a business owner’s view on what it takes to be a successful and effective boss.

Carrie Martz founded the Martz Agency — the largest female-owned advertising and public relations firm in Arizona — in 1980 after spending a couple of years in the corporate world. Her client roster includes Chateau on Central, Pacific Links International, Mirabel, Yurbuds and dozens more.

Martz is known as a hands-on owner/CEO, a leader, an innovator, and a philanthropist whose Home of Miracles program has helped raise more than $8 million for Phoenix Children’s Hospital and other local charities. So, to celebrate National Boss Day, Az Business magazine asked one of the Valley’s most effective leaders to talk a little bit about being a great boss.

Az Business: What do you think your employees say about your management style behind your back?
Carrie Martz: I would imagine they would say the same to my face.  I am tough but fair and have a good memory for details.

AB: What qualities do you think an effective boss needs to have?
CM: Be upbeat, optimistic, set the tone for the business, be as transparent as you can. Never stop learning and always listen.

AB: Was there a significant lesson you learned early in your career that made you a more effective boss?  
CM: Don’t get too personally involved. Remember this is a business. It isn’t personal. If someone isn’t working out, help them find a better fit.

AB: How is being a boss in a creative industry different from being a boss in a more traditional business?
CM: You have to foster creativity and individualism.  A few more egos to manage and work with, but that comes with the territory. Plus, we must create a working environment that is fun and engaging.

AB: If you could give one piece of advice to women who aspire to be a boss like you, what would it be?
CM: Give up balance in life. You will never be everything to everyone all the time.  Just go for every opportunity you can with all you have. Make sure you have great back up in all aspects of your life.

To learn more about Martz Agency, visit http://www.martzagency.com/.

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Science Foundation releases 5-year plan to strengthen STEM education

Ask any leader of a technology company in Arizona what their biggest hurdles are and there is always one common challenge: finding enough homegrown qualified workers to fill their needs.

“Arizona is transitioning to an economy that is increasingly dependent upon a knowledge-based workforce,” said Steve Sanghi, CEO of Microchip in Chandler. “Out No. 1 challenge is to improve the schools. Arizona high schools are near the bottom and if we don’t improve them soon, it’s really going to impact the future.”

Science Foundation Arizona (SFAz) is doing something to help Sanghi and other business leader. The nonprofit public-private partnership has launched the Arizona STEM Network. The STEM Network is a first-of-its-kind strategic effort to help transform Arizona’s educational system for STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics).

“The vision for a statewide, strategic commitment to STEM education is coming to fruition,” said Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer. “The Arizona STEM Network will help build a common agenda for STEM education that will lead our teachers and students forward.”

The five-year plan being led by SFAz will leverage effective education practices and teaching advances, including the state-adopted, internationally benchmarked Common Core Standards. The Arizona STEM Network will provide educators, the business community and donors with a centralized infrastructure, tools, resources and the framework needed to measure performance and achieve collective impact in Arizona classrooms. The plan’s driving force is to help Arizona children be successful in school, careers and life.

The Freeport-McMoRan Copper & Gold Foundation — which provided $2.2 million for the establishment of SFAz’s STEM initiative, announced a new three-year, $2.1 commitment beginning in this year that will allow SFAz to roll out its plan for the Arizona STEM Network. Also providing financial support for the launch were the Helios Education Foundation, Intel, JPMorgan Chase Foundation and Research Corporation for Science Advancement.

“We believe that the private sector must play an active role in developing the next generation to keep our businesses competitive and our economy vibrant,” said Tracy Bame, president of Freeport-McMoRan Copper & Gold Foundation. “A first-rate education that encompasses the STEM disciplines is a foundational step to provide students with the skills and knowledge they need to succeed.”

The STEM Network focuses on four strategic areas:

* Integrating STEM learning into Arizona schools and districts.

* Developing and deploying a predictive analytics system to measure impacts.

* Strengthening teacher effectiveness in STEM teaching.

* Creating opportunities for the private business sector to meaningfully engage with schools.

“Arizona must develop a globally competitive educational system and STEM disciplines will lead the way,” said Darcy Renfro, vice president of education and coordinator of the Arizona STEM Network at SFAz. “The Network will link existing STEM assets in Arizona, build on best practices and foster innovative teaching approaches for school districts to help students improve in these areas.”