Tag Archives: corenet global

CBRE’s Jamie Swirtz named to “Young Leaders to Watch”

Jamie Swirtz head shotCBRE broker Jamie Swirtz has been named to CoreNet Global’s inaugural “36 Under 36: Young Leaders to Watch” list.

CoreNet Global chapters from around the world nominated their top Young Leaders for the first-ever list of “Who’s Who” in corporate real estate and the honorees were recently announced and featured in the LEADER magazine’s May/June issue. Distinguishing themselves as vibrant, adaptable, technologically savvy, innovative and philanthropic, CoreNet’s “36 Under 36” represent the bright future of corporate and commercial real estate.

Swirtz began his career with CBRE in 2009. In 2011 he joined the Arizona market’s top corporate services team working under Executive Vice President Tom Adelson. That year the team negotiated 78 transactions worth $343 million and comprising ±2.6 million square feet and represented 30 different tenants in 35 leases. In 2014, Swirtz began focusing his work in the Southeast Valley (Tempe, Chandler, Gilbert and Mesa) office market where he represents landlords and tenants.

Outside of CBRE Jamie is actively involved in the community. In addition to CoreNet Global’s Arizona Chapter, he participates in the Make-A-Wish Foundation and Phoenix Suns Charities.

“I’m very proud of Jamie; he is very deserving of this honor. Since starting with CBRE he has quickly made an impact on the local commercial real estate community,” said Craig Henig, senior managing director and Arizona market leader for CBRE. “CBRE prides itself on being at the forefront of the industry and professionals like Jamie, who embody our standards of excellence, ensure we will continue to maintain our position as an industry leader.”

Chris Toci will present annual Phoenix market overview

Chris TociAn in-depth overview of the Metro Phoenix real estate market including the evaluation of demographic drivers, supply and demand, and trends will be presented by Chris Toci of Cushman & Wakefield of Arizona at the May event sponsored by the Arizona chapter of CoreNet Global.

The presentation by Toci, Executive Director for Capital Markets at Cushman & Wakefield, also will answer the question: What next?

The event is scheduled for Thursday, May 22, at Phoenix Country Club. Registration begins at 11:30 a.m. followed by Toci’s presentation from noon to 1 p.m. Price is $35 for CoreNet Global members and $70 for non-members and includes the program, lunch, and networking.

Since beginning his investment broker career in 1998, Toci has been a consistent top performer, earning accolades from both the local and national Cushman & Wakefield offices. In 2013 he closed on 10 investment sales totaling 1.805 million square feet for $278.8 million in consideration. He was Cushman & Wakefield of Arizona’s Top Producer of 2013.

To register, go to arizona.corenetglobal.org and click on the Arizona Chapter Events link.

Bob-Gracz

Executive Q&A: Bob Gracz

Bob Gracz, vice president of corporate real estate at Avnet, Inc., took on the role of president of CoreNet Global Arizona just last year and is encouraged by the status of his platform goals to grow the membership and organization’s local activities through the instatement of new committee chairs. “I’m enthusiastic about what we’ve accomplished so far and am really excited that everyone is keeping the momentum going,” he said of his recently appointed chairs. Gracz took a few minutes out of his day to talk about the future of CoreNet Global Arizona and what the local chapter has planned for the next year.

You’ve been president of CoreNet Global Arizona’s chapter for just about a year. Looking back, what significant progress has been made with regards to your goals as a chapter president?
Primarily the main goal I wanted to accomplish was setting up a structure that allows us to grow and operate with discipline and accountability. We’ve been able to accomplish that. We’ve been able to set up a number of chair positions and define the required accountability and have the people drive themselves toward meeting goals. I’m very excited that one of the long-term goals in that structure was to create a senior advisory group. […] We recently appointed a chair of education, and we’re in the process of closing on the communications and marketing chair. […] Some of the evidence that the structure is delivering what the chapter intended to do, which was create networking and drive educational awareness to people in the local chapter, that evident by our growth and membership and more participation as local chapter associates. (See interviews with chapter chairs on page 46.)

How have your goals evolved over the last year?
It’s a journey and I firmly believe with the right structure, discipline and people — let’s face it, this is a volunteer situation so people have to be passionate — the program will be self-feeding.

What remains a core focus or concern for a majority members?
The main focus is continuous networking and learning more about how the business is evolving. You can roll the tape back 10 years and there was a lot of office space and what not and now the latest thing is all about work-remote management and companies are becoming extremely efficient at using space, and everybody feeds on that. So, you have an end-user that wants to learn more about how they can do that. You have a landlord that’s saying I need to better understand this so I can position my product to be ready now to help you. That’s really what we’re really bringing out there. It’s leading edge. It’s current time.

One of your platforms was to increase the number of meeting and training options. Have those gone into effect yet? 
We have a regular program schedule. We have about 10 programs once a month; the summer months are off-months. We have just introduced the education chair. The goal of the educational chair is to get us to the point to where we have four educational circumstances a year. Once we accomplish that, the desire will be to have at least four and one of them be one corporate CoreNet wants to bring here.

Have you seen an increase in membership?
Yes. When we first started this journey, we were at about 85. Today, we’re sitting on about 129. It’s been quite a big improvement and right in line with the metric we tossed out — 20 percent a year. I think the team’s up for it, and I’m looking for another 20 percent next year.

Who comprises a majority of CoreNet Global Arizona’s membership?
More often than not, the end-users are usually the minority. You usually have a larger broker content, but we’re having a good mixture of what I call the feeders — architects, title companies, interior design and companies that assist corporate real estate — and I think in our chapter we’re having a large success of bringing in the people who help us do our jobs.

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CoreNet Global makes space in a changing workplace

To add value to a corporate end user, you have to learn to think like one.

That starts with realizing a client’s No. 1 business isn’t real estate, says Colliers International’s Bill Littleton. The executive vice president of Colliers’ corporate solution group works with six national and global corporate end users and has 25 years of experience. Yet, he remains an active member of the local chapter of CoreNet Global, an organization that serves the corporate real estate community comprised of members from the brokerage community, end users and support industries. It’s at the monthly meetings and annual summit, he says, that he really learns the needs of his clients.

“To add value, is to get involved in CoreNet Global,” says Littleton, who has been a member for more than a decade. “CoreNet is a think tank for all the trends and issues related to corporate users of space.”

Arizona Commerce Authority’s Hilary Hirsch says economic developers are seeing more companies create an internal real estate division instead of relying on a third-party source.

“This shift is due in large part to the critical value and insight that corporate real estate professionals add to a company’s overall success whether in increasing their bottom line or forecasting trends in the market,” Hirsch says.

This echoes Littleton’s point of thinking like an end user. Bringing the market trends to the table is important for brokers’ clients, but in return corporate executives can share their concerns — efficiency, for example — with brokerages as well as other CoreNet members, such as furniture suppliers.
“Leaders in the corporate real estate industry have evolved from focusing on leases and facilities management to serving as change agents, innovators, facilitators and strategic experts,” contributes Colliers’ Tivon Moffit.

Mark Singerman, Vice President and Regional Director of The Rockefeller Group, has been a CoreNet member for two years as a means of saving money.
“Knowing what issues end users face and providing cost-effective solutions are what the most successful CRE professionals do,” says Singerman, whose company has built for General Mills, Sumitomo and BASF.

Examples of useful information, Singerman says, includes rent and sale comparisons from commercial brokers, build-to-suit buildings for sale or lease to end users, general contractors for renovations and new facilities for end users.

With the big push for office efficiency and “right sizing.” there’s less need for large leasable areas. Though that means less space for Littleton to lease, the value proposition for his clients is the real gain.

“It’s like anything else, if you’re true to your cause and you don’t waiver in it, you’ll be fine,” Littleton says. “The world is changing; either change and add value or get out of the way.”

There’s may be a third option, though, suggests one corporate executive — make your own way.

CENTRAL COMMAND
While the world is changing, it helps to be ahead of the curve. Leo Bauman recalls jotting a note on a napkin 20 years ago that would take years of lobbying and research before it could be realized. Seven of Wells Fargo’s office leases were set to expire and he thought, “Why not consolidate the workforce on a centralized campus environment?” After nearly a decade of preparation, the first 410K SF Wells Fargo campus in Chandler broke ground, making way for a few thousand employees.

Ten years later, history repeated itself and Wells Fargo announced plans to double its existing presence with a 410KSF expansion — and that’s not even the half of it; the master plan calls for three more buildings that will bring the campus to 1.74M SF. Bauman, the vice president and manager at Wells Fargo, heads the Corporate Real Estate Group for Arizona’s fourth-largest non-government, non-education employer in the state. It’s his department’s job to manage the office space and utility for 85 lines of work comprised of 16,192 employees.

Bauman is a long-time member of CoreNet. Though the Wells Fargo Campus wasn’t facilitated through a CoreNet connection, many corporate executives and brokers are working closely to increase efficiency, even if that means rightsizing office space, and to accommodate the changing workplace. One of the greatest challenges, notes a recent white paper and case study published by CoreNet, is determining respective departments’ needs and how to make sure those are met in a space.

REGUS SPACE
At Avnet, Inc., Bob Gracz’s role is to develop strategic positioning and help his company get most efficient use of space. The CoreNet Global Arizona’s President says the key to success in his position is about being an early adopter and having a discerning eye for trends. Gracz spearheaded Avnet’s Arizona transition to a Regus executive workplace that promoted flexible space for remote workers.

“What has evolved in the last 10 years is phenomenal, where we’ve gone from a work state where everybody is sitting in an office to literally where almost everybody is working remotely these days,” Gracz says.

“Think of what that does for productivity of the employee, think of what that does for cost management inside a company and think of what that does for quality of life of an employee.”

Avnet is also finding ways to make its existing office space versatile for different lines of work within the company through the use of technology.

“As the square footages of offices and work stations are generally decreasing, corporate institutions are definitely paying more attention to creating work environments tailored toward flexibility, mobility and associate amenities,” says Holder Construction Company’s Keyvan Ghahreman.
Regardless of innovation, corporate executives are always battling what Gracz calls the “expense scenario.”

“Everybody looks at real estate as an expense, but if you really understand how that expense is looked at in the corporate world, you can better position your strategies to be very valuable to the company,” Gracz says, adding that 70 percent of Avnet’s expenses is personnel-related.
“We only have 30 percent of expenses that are not people-expenses, so we have to manage that very well,” he says.

“We want to keep the people. We want to bring more in. I look forward to the day when it’s 80 percent.”

Gracz’s staff of three manages offices for 8,000 people. They were recently approached by Avnet to advise on increasing real estate efficiency within the company’s other regions. Gracz credits CoreNet Global’s emphasis on understanding financial acumen, among other things, to his success.

“Technology, where and how people work—the space—has changed dramatically and, more than ever, the relationship among commercial real estate, human resources and IT is fundamentally critical,” says GPE’s Michael Brinkley.

Gracz’s first Regus executive office structure five years ago was unsuccessful due to an expensive and cumbersome dynamic between his existing real estate and IT. His current adaptation, he says, is far more successful and will save $2M annually. That’s about 20 percent of the group’s facility expense — and that’s just the beginning.

Corenet’s Committee Chairs

Keyvan-Ghahreman
KEYVAN GHAHREMAN
Vice Chair of Program Committee
Holder Construction Company
What’s your committee role at CoreNet?
The Programs Committee plans and organizes the Arizona chapter’s monthly luncheons, networking events and annual signature event. The committee selects the topics for each program, develops the publicity, and promotes attendance at our events. The committee strives to relate program content to the trends within and evolution of the corporate real estate market.

What are the goals of the Planning Committee and how will they be achieved?
My goal is to continue building on our successful events, and to challenge the Program Committee members to reach into their respective industries to find the best program topics that have a high impact for our membership. With the diversity of our committee and CoreNet membership, we are fortunate to be able to leverage a broad network and talent pool in this effort.

Hilary-Hirsch
HILARY HIRSCH
Education Committee
Arizona Commerce Authority
What is your role at CoreNet?
The Education Committee is committed to providing corporate real estate professionals the opportunity for further education, ensuring that seasoned or new corporate real estate professionals can accelerate their careers by providing basic access to training courses that are focused on the strategic management of corporate real estate.

What are your goals in your chair position and how will these be achieved?
My No. 1 goal is to make CoreNet Global a local resource for corporate real estate professionals to gain access to programs and courses provided through the global chapter. My path to achievement will be working in tandem with CoreNet Global’s professional development team to bring accredited programs for the Arizona chapter to utilize for certifications and licenses.

Christopher-Kewson
CHRISTOPHER KEWSON
Membership Committee
Newmark Grubb Knight Frank
What is your role at CoreNet?
The Membership Committee is responsible for finding and retaining CoreNet members and collaborating with other committees.

What are your goals in your chair position and how will these be achieved?
Our goal for this year is to grow the membership base by 20 percent. First, our goal is to start with the existing members renewing for 2014. Historically we have a big drop off in memberships each year… so this goes back to focusing on our members in helping them get involved in CoreNet with whatever their interests may be. Secondly, is recruiting the right members. The focus and goal for CoreNet here in Arizona is to have each end-user as a member. Arizona in general isn’t a big end user market so we also focus on other industries and potential members that have some type of affiliation in CRE.

Tivon-Moffitt
TIVON MOFFITT
Sponsorship Committee
Colliers
What is your role at CoreNet?
The Sponsorship Committee is responsible for increasing sponsorship commitments to the organization. Sponsorships are a critical component of the local chapter’s finances.

What are your goals in your chair position and how will these be achieved?
My top goal is to increase local sponsorships of the chapter. Retaining our current sponsors and signing up new sponsors enables us to have quality programming.

Jamie-Swirtz
JAMIE SWIRTZ
Young Leader Committee
CBRE
What is your role at CoreNet?
To provide young leaders (35 years of age and under) with access to the knowledge and experience of industry professionals by means of establishing relationships, promoting continuing education, fostering peer networking and encouraging active roles in the community.

What are your goals in your chair position and how will these be achieved?
The Young Leaders’ Committee goals are to build relationships within the group, further advance our knowledge of corporate real estate and continue to increase membership involvement in the organization and the CRE community at large. Holding three to four Young Leader events per year will be key in achieving our goals.

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Property Paradox: Space For Office Workers Continues To Decline, Even As Companies Expect Hiring To Increase

 

The average amount of space per office worker globally has dropped to 150 SF or less, from 225 SF in 2010, according to a recent global survey conducted by CoreNet Global, a leading association of corporate real estate managers at large companies throughout the world.

The study is part of CoreNet Global’s ongoing advocacy of quality working environments and work experiences, and the group’s call to action to measure quality of life per square foot.

At the same time, companies in the survey indicated that employment levels will increase in the second half of 2013 — triggering a “property paradox,” in which more workers are using less individual space.

The survey underscores how today’s increasing mix of workers in the office and teleworking, assigned to team and individual projects, along with the rapid emergence of space-on-demand, co-working and other “third places,” is combining to enable the balance of less space per office worker while more jobs are added.

Because of these fast-changing trends, CoreNet Global continues to advocate that companies create and implement workplace strategies that are integrated with the goals and business plans of the enterprise and that address the needs of employees and the type of work that is being performed.

Nearly two-thirds of companies responding to the survey report the average space per person is currently 150 SF or less. Slightly over half of the respondents project an average of 100 SF or less per worker as the norm in five years.

A leading factor is the monumental shift among corporate offices toward open space floor plans with fewer assigned cubes and assigned individual offices. In the survey, more than 80% of the respondents said their company has moved in this direction.

However, that trend too, may be reaching an endpoint. In the survey, 43% of the respondents say that they now have more collaborative space, than heads-down, private space where employees can focus. And that might be a problem: one-half of the respondents either agreed or said they were not sure if companies in general are over-building collaborative space at the expense of focus work and privacy (31% agreed; 19% not sure).

Also in the survey, nearly 60% projected increases in employment at their companies during the second half of 2013, only 11% projected a decrease.

“Through this survey, and anecdotally, we are hearing of a ‘collaborative space bubble,’ ” said Richard Kadzis, Vice President, Strategic Communications for CoreNet Global. “Just as we have escaped the ‘cube farms of Dilbertville,’ some employees may start to feel that the open-space pendulum has swung too far, at the expense of a worker’s ability to concentrate without interruption or distraction.”

Multiple variables come into play, including the corporate brand, corporate culture, technological capabilities of the company, nature of the work performed, and cost.

“We advocate that corporate real estate and workplace executives approach workplace management as a holistic practice starting at the C-suite level,” Kadzis added.

“Workplace strategy is no longer a singular function of real estate, but a product of taking into account the needs and demands of the business, and how real estate should work with human resources, information technology, finance and other support functions to support overall organizational planning,” Kadzis said.

The survey reveals how more than two-thirds of companies have instituted integrated workplace strategies.

 

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CoreNet Global Index Predicts Upbeat Economic, Corporate Climates For 2nd Half Of 2013

 

The global economic outlook is strong for the second half of 2013, while the prospects for corporate growth and expansion are also increasing, according to the views of corporate executives surveyed in June for the new CoreNet Global Confidence Index, developed in conjunction with Dr. Roy Black, director of the Real Estate program at Emory University’s Goizueta Business School in Atlanta.

The index is a new macro-economic measure based on the viewpoints of corporate real estate (CRE) executives serving large, multinational companies from multiple industry sectors. The first index rating is 4.65, based on a scale of 7 with 7 representing an extremely optimistic environment. Professor Black, who led the design of the Confidence Index model, characterized its first outcome as “a classic case of corporate economic resiliency following the challenging overhang of 2009.”

According to the predictive survey, nearly two-thirds (62.5%) rated their outlook on the global economy for the coming six months as optimistic to very optimistic, compared to a year ago. Almost one-third (31.3%) were neutral on the question, with only incremental pessimism registered (4.2%).

By contrast, the World Gross Product measure of all economic growth globally shows a flat-line trend of +2.3% from last year to this year. It also projects an increase to +3.1 for 2014, making the CoreNet Global index trend a possible harbinger of future growth. In a similar way, a July 9 International Monetary Fund report cited by CNN characterized the global economy as “stuck in neutral.”

Still, executives in the CoreNet Global survey ascribed even higher confidence levels to the likelihood of their companies’ growth for the second half of 2013. A strong majority rated their confidence levels in the prospects for business expansion as optimistic (54.2%), very optimistic (14.6%), and extremely optimistic (4.2%).

One-fifth (20.8%) were neutral on the question, while less than a tenth (6.3%) expressed pessimism.

Moody’s Analytics’ chief economist recently offered supporting evidence by pointing to the strength of the private sector as the main driver of otherwise sluggish growth.

“The (US) private sector is now in a strong growth mode of 3.5% points of GDP. Consumers and business are doing their part to support the recovery,” Mark Zandi told Globe Street on July 9.

Internal corporate business factors relating directly to the size, cost and location of massive real estate and workplace portfolios provide the basis for the rating of confidence levels of the executives who directly influence the growth and contraction of corporate property holdings.

“As a leading professional association for CRE executives, CoreNet Global is projecting the demand for office, industrial and other types of corporate real estate and correlating those internal business conditions to prospects for economic and business growth that, in turn, have direct impact on the wider economy,” said CoreNet Global CEO Angela Cain.

Key findings of the first CRE confidence measure include:

>> As part of the trend reflected by the index, almost three quarters (72.4%) indicated that market entry, new products, mergers and acquisitions, and on-shoring will drive growth. Opportunities to improve cost performance by relocating are also viewed as likely growth drivers by over half of the executives responding (52.4%).

>> Most companies (72.4%) reported the likelihood that flexible, open workplace strategies will increase while space per work setting and/or work settings per supported worker will be reduced. A related driver shows that a move to higher-quality work spaces could occur (40.4%) because of poor-quality spaces that do not support contemporary work practices.

>> The availability of capital to fund real estate portfolio growth is not regarded as a limiting factor with almost two-thirds (62.6%) expecting sufficient levels of financial capacity and affordability for changing the size of the portfolio.

>> Many CRE executives (62.5%) have increased the flexibility of their lease-hold strategies, saying it’s unlikely that tenure constraints will prevent changes. One outcome is they now have the ability to trade off under-performing assets for more productive facilities on an on-demand basis.

>> Respondents also identified two limiting factors. One is surplus space, with half (50%) indicating some degree of misalignment between employment levels, unoccupied space and the growth rate of the company. Another limiting factor is continuing cost management pressure (35.5%).

The index methodology is informed quarterly by the direct polling of nearly 90 CoreNet Global Corporate Partners, comprised of an economically-diverse mix of multinational companies representing the following sectors: aircraft and aerospace; automotive; business services and consulting; consumer goods; distribution and logistics; education; energy; petroleum and mining; financial services; government; health care; hospitality and entertainment; insurance; life sciences and pharmaceuticals; manufacturing and industrial; media; real estate; retail; software; technology; telecommunications; transportation and utilities.

Corporate Partners manage real estate portfolios that typically range between 2 MSF and 110 MSF globally. The types of real estate managed are office space (84.8% of total average portfolio), industrial (34.8%), laboratories (32.6%); research and development (32.6%), data centers (39.1%), retail (26.1%), other including mixed use development (19.6%).

 

William Littleton & Tivon Moffitt

Two Colliers Brokers Earn Top CoreNet Global Awards

William S. Littleton and Tivon Moffitt, executives at Colliers International in Greater Phoenix, have earned two of the highest honors awarded by CoreNet Global, the world’s leading professional association for corporate real estate and workplace executives.

Littleton, senior vice president of corporate solutions, is being recognized for completing the Senior Leader of Corporate Real Estate Certificate (SLCR). Prior to earning this distinction, Littleton already achieved a Master of Corporate Real Estate (MCR) and a Society of Industrial and Office Realtors® (SIOR) designation.

Moffitt, a Colliers vice president, has secured the Master of Corporate Real Estate (MCR) designation, the industry’s most prestigious distinction.

Littleton is one of just 16 individuals honored this year with the SLCR certificate. He completed six seminars designed to enhance his business perspective, strategic approach to decision-making, financial analysis skills and leadership abilities. The seminars are designed to position participants for a greater role in their organization.

Moffitt, who was awarded with the MCR, the industry’s highest designation, participated in more than 100 hours of classroom training, two elective seminars and a capstone, followed by a graded assessment. He achieved this all within a 5-year period.

Moffitt was one of a record 146 global corporate real estate executives – representing 15 countries – to earn the Master of Corporate Real Estate designation in 2012.

CoreNet Global’s Master of Corporate Real Estate designation provides critical business skills and reflects Moffitt’s strategic competence and successful experience as a corporate real estate expert.

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CoreNet Global To Host Corporate Real Estate 2020

Commercial real estate executives convene in a unique forum that will review and discuss CoreNet Global’s Corporate Real Estate 2020, a transformational research initiative envisioning the future of business and the changing nature of work.

This year-long project is a collection of global thought leadership of hundreds of corporate real estate leaders and their analysis of the current and future state of our industry. The forum will leverage CoreNet Global’s thought leadership to understand how this report applies to the Arizona corporate real estate market.

The event is scheduled for Nov. 8 at the Phoenix Country Club. Topics will include: key trends in location strategies, role of place, portfolio optimization and how technology tools are affecting the workplace.

Confirmed national speakers and panelists include:

>> Master of Ceremonies: Sunil Das, Director Workplace Transformation & Services, Intel;

>> Panel Moderator: Myra Smith, Mid Cap Strategy & Support Director, CBRE.

Panelists:

>> Stan Gibson, Senior Vice President, Wells Fargo;

>> John Schulze, Director of Global Real Estate, Allegis Group;

>> Stephanie Pater, Vice President, Americas, American Express GBS, Global Real Estate & Workplace Enablement;

>> Charlie Popeck, LEED BD+C, O+M, President, Green Ideas (Phoenix).

CoreNet Global will also present the CoreNet Global Arizona Chapter Corporate Excellence Award to Intel Corp., recognizing its work on behalf of, and in support of, the corporate real estate industry in Arizona.

The forum is sponsored by CBRE, Rockefeller Group Development Corporation, APS, Goodmans, DIRTT and the Greater Phoenix Economic Council.

Agenda:

2:30 p.m. – Registration and Networking

3-5 p.m. – Location Strategy, Role of Place, Portfolio Optimization, Technology Tools and the Workplace

5 p.m. – Award presentation and Networking reception

Registration: http://arizona.corenetglobal.org; $45/members $90/non-members.

 

First Solar

First Solar and Mesa Proving Grounds: East Valley Center for Economic Growth

CoreNet Global brought together panelists who were instrumental in the planning that led to First Solar’s decision to locate their second US manufacturing facility in the City of Mesa. On March 17, 2011, First Solar announced it was acquiring 135 acres within the Mesa Proving Grounds to build the first phase of a $300 million solar module fabrication plant, their second facility in the U.S. To meet growing demand for photovoltaic solar panels, First Solar needed construction underway in 2011, with four manufacturing lines in production by late 2012.

CoreNet Global
Tues June 7, 2011, Phoenix Country Club
11:30 a.m. – 1 p.m.

Moderator:
Karrin Kunasek Taylor, DMB, Exec. VP, Chief Entitlements Officer

Panelists:
Steve Krum, First Solar, Director of Communications
Barry Broome, Greater Phoenix Economic Council, CEO& President
Mayor Scott Smith, City of Mesa

Background: In 2006, DMB bought 3,200 acres of the former 5,000-acre General Motors Desert Proving Grounds located in the City of Mesa and previously used for hot weather vehicle testing. DMB’s acreage became the Mesa Proving Grounds: the last significant, privately-owned contiguous land holding in Metro Phoenix’s southeast Valley. The City of Mesa has actively pursued employers for their Gateway Planning Area, which includes the Phoenix-Mesa Gateway Airport, ASU Polytechnic campus, and major freeway access.

Kunasek-Taylor: Mesa Proving Grounds is unique… it is a strategic site east of the Phoenix Mesa Gateway Airport which offers three runways that can land any aircraft in the world. This airport is one of the priorities of the Federal Aviation Authority for future funding. The adjacent ASU campus now has 10,000 students and plans for growth up to 30,000 students. 11% of the jobs in Metro Phoenix are in the Southeast Valley, and ADOT (Arizona Department of Transportation) will soon award the contract for first phase of construction connecting the 202 freeway to the airport. Zoning for Mesa Proving Grounds future development was based upon dividing the 3,200 acres into nine development unit plans, with pre-approved densities and uses. First Solar announced in the fall of 2010 that it was hunting for new manufacturing space capable of accommodating 5,000 employees.

Krum: Why was Mesa selected, when a solar panel manufacturing facility can be located anywhere since the manufacturing process doesn’t need sun? First Solar needed immediate availability of land and a quality workforce. There was a sense of urgency and commitment by Barry Broome of GPEC, the leadership of the City of Mesa and its economic development team, and DMB had a fantastic master plan for the Mesa Proving Grounds. With manufacturing facilities around the world, First Solar has choices. But it was very clear that the City of Mesa wanted First Solar. A lot of people here were trying to help us achieve our vision. Our fastest growing market right now is the Southwestern United States. The Agua Caliente project (290 megawatt solar photovoltaic generating facility) in Yuma County, southwestern Arizona. — we want to be in close proximity to projects like that. Pacific Gas & Electric has contracted to purchase Agua Caliente’s output for 25 years. There will be more projects like this to serve California, since utilities there have to meet California requirements for alternative energy sources.

Broome: In 2007 we saw the unprecedented spike in solar — we saw an incredible opportunity for Arizona. We went after every German solar company, but lost them (locating) to states like Oregon, New Mexico, Texas and California. It’s a capital intensive industry: we’ve got to help them recover their capital, help lower their operating environmental over 10-15 years, and we’ve got to deliver talent. Most of the guys who run solar companies are ex-Intel and Motorola guys. So we put together a platform that delivered engineering, real estate, and demand. On a policy level, we removed personal property taxes for a ten year period. With this program, the state of Arizona and the city of Mesa will make millions of dollars of corporate taxes in the coming years. There are many related solar supply chain companies coming into this market – we expect to announce another 16 solar related companies in the coming 18 months. The price of solar electric power will continue dropping, as technology improves. It was 28¢/kwh; not it’s down to 14¢/kwh, and it will go lower. This means more demand for solar.

Smith: The First Solar project is a great example of how economic development should work. Companies go to places where they can succeed. Tax policy is not an end-all. State policy has to be in place. Business attraction tools are set at the state level. Barry helped create the policy level, which gave us the tools. The three key things that make a deal are infrastructure, people, and real estate. We decided this was a deal that we were not going to lose. We brought out every resource we have in the City of Mesa. We needed 1 million square feet, all entitlements, and fast tract for opening in 2012. We needed the right zoning — that’s why DMB was part of this. I’ve got to give DMB credit for being flexible and having the right vision to make this work. They did not make money on this deal. It was a giant leap of faith to make the community better. The complexity of this type of structure — power, roads, water — Mesa passed a bond issue two years ago that allowed us to accommodate this size of project. We were able to solve the problems and create a environment so that First Solar couldn’t say no. First Solar will succeed, and others will come. This truly was a team success — state, county, city and private companies.

For more information about First Solar and more, visit:

firstsolar.com
dmbmesaprovinggrounds.com
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