Tag Archives: don cardon

sandra watson*280

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.

clear energy systems coming to tempe

Clear Energy Systems Breaks Ground On Tempe Location

Clear Energy Systems, an innovator in mobile and distributed power generation systems, broke ground at its new location at Elliot Business Park in Tempe. The new facility is located at 7825 S. Hardy Drive. The 158,000 square foot building will feature 30 foot clear heights, a steel roof structure, energy efficient features and concrete paved truck areas.

In October, Clear Energy Systems announced it would expand its operations in Arizona, creating 225 quality new jobs, increasing Arizona’s exports globally and investing $10 million in the local economy.

“I am pleased that our planned expansion in Tempe is moving forward, and we are one step closer to moving into our new home,” said Tony Carmen, President and CEO of Clear Energy Systems. “We looked at many locations for our new site, and it was the collaborative work and support from Governor Brewer, the Arizona Commerce Authority, GPEC, and the City of Tempe that ultimately sealed the deal for us to bring the Genesis 1000 to Elliot Business Park.”

“Clear Energy’s decision to expand its operations in our State is a true testament to Arizona’s pro-business climate, competitive tax policies and skilled workforce,” said Governor Jan Brewer.

“I would like to thank Clear Energy Systems, the ACA and its partners for helping once again to bring quality jobs and meaningful investment to Arizona’s economy.”

“Tempe has long considered itself to be a great place to do business, and Clear Energy’s decision to expand here reinforces that belief,” said Tempe Mayor Hugh Hallman.

“The ACA worked closely with our economic development partners and the City of Tempe to ensure Clear Energy Systems knew all of the incredible benefits of doing business in Arizona,” said Don Cardon, president and CEO of the Arizona Commerce Authority. “Clear Energy is a global leader in advanced technology, and the product being made in Tempe will likely be exported and provide incredible benefits to millions of people around the world.”

“Clear Energy Systems’ decision to stay in Greater Phoenix is testament to the unique collaborative effort Greater Phoenix has in support of regional economic development,” said Barry Broome, president and CEO of the Greater Phoenix Economic Council. “Clear Energy Systems is exactly the type of innovative company we like to see putting down roots in the region, and the City of Tempe is certainly the right place for them to do so.”

Clear Energy Systems chose the Elliot Business Park location for its enhanced building features including structure to support heavy duty manufacturing equipment and layout compatibility with the company’s production targets. Kevin Lange of Cushman & Wakefield of Arizona represented  Clear Energy Systems, and Jerry McCormick of CBRE represented the building owner and developer, Tempe Marketplace Commerce Associates, an affiliate of Transpacific Development Southwest. DL Withers has been selected by the developer to construct the new building.

“Clear Energy Systems is a great addition to the current tenant mix of national companies at Elliot Business Park,” said Vincent Curci of Tempe Marketplace Commerce Associates. “Their new 158,000-square-foot facility and its sister 158,000-square-foot speculative building are the final phase of the park.”

“It can’t be understated how important the Clear Energy Systems and Elliott Business Park construction projects are to the continued growth in construction jobs in Arizona. With the combined vision of developers like Tempe Marketplace Commerce Associates we are putting the Arizona construction trades back to work,” said Dan Withers, president and CEO of D.L. Withers Construction.

For more information on Clear Energy Systems, visit Clear Energy Systems’ website at clearenergysystems.com.

ACA FAST Grants promote growth

ACA Awards FAST Grants To Small Businesses

This week 25 small businesses were awarded $184,832 in FAST Grants by the Arizona Commerce Authority. The ACA hopes that this will initiate the commercialization process. The grants ranged from $5,000 to $7,500 for each company and may be used toward reviews of technology, commercialization feasibility studies and commercializations assistance.

According to the president and CEO of the Arizona Commerce Authority Don Cardon, “This is a seed investment the ACA is making towards startup companies which we believe will assist the company advance in the crucial steps towards bringing the idea to the market place.” Don Cardon states that he is pleased with the amount of responses received for the program and believes that they are a promising glimpse into the future of Arizona.

Since 2008, Arizona has seen a 57 percent increase in entrepreneurial activity, ranking 5th in the U.S. for business start-ups. Programs such as the ACA’s FAST Grants awards have been crucial in the advancement of small businesses.

Executive director Laura Tyler of Stimwave Technologies Inc. said, “We are so thankful to the AZ Commerce Authority for their support of Stimwave’s efforts in expanding the reach of our innovative wireless neuromodulation platform.” Tyler also added that the grant will allow Stimwave to complete market investigations and device planning as well as local research partners like TGen/TD2 and Barrow’s Neurological Institute. This will further their ability to provide effective and minimally invasive therapies for cancer and brain disorder patients.

The co-founder and chief technology officer of Acudora, Inc. stated that the grant will be used to assist their continued commercialization efforts. Mark Banister, founder and chief technology officer of Medipacs said, “This grant will provide Medipacs the ability to finish market research and our product launch plan for a medipacs device that can be launched in the Veterinary market late this year. This product will help build value for our investors and jobs for Arizona.”

Besides awarding FAST Grants, the ACA also secured $18.2 million for the Arizona Innovation Accelerator Fund — A fund that helps stimulate business growth, capital investment and the creation of jobs in Arizona. The ACA’s second Arizona Innovation Challenge is also underway and semi-finalists will be announced in early March.

2012 Arizona FAST Grant Recipients
Acudora, Tucson, $7,500
Arbsource, Tempe, $7,500
Arizona Cancer Therapeutics, Tucson, $7,500
Castle Biosciences, Inc., Phoenix, $7,500
Colnatec, Gilbert, $7,500
Cyclone ADG, LLC, Tucson,$7,500
Earth Knowledge, Tucson, $7,440
ECOmplete, LLC, Chandler, $7,500
Fennova Corp., Tucson, $5,000
inXsol, Phoenix, $7,500
Kinetic Muscles, Inc., Tempe, $7,500
Latitude Engineering, LLC, Tucson, $7,440
Medipacs, Inc., Tucson, $7,500
MSDx, Inc., Tucson, $7,500
NEST Energy Services, Prescott Valley, $7,500
Power Gold, Phoenix, $7,500
Prime Solutions Group, Goodyear, $7,500
Provista Diagnostics, Inc., Phoenix, $7,500
Quaesta Instruments, LLC, Tucson, $7,452
Reply Buy, Inc., Scottsdale, $7,500
Science Tomorrow, LLC, Phoenix, $7,500
Serious Integrated, Chandler, $7,500
Siegel Consulting, LLC, Scottsdale, $7,500
Stimwave Technologies, Inc., Scottsdale, $7,500
VisionGate, Phoenix, AZ, $7,500

For more information on the Arizona Commerce Authority and its current projects visit azcommerce.com
Don Cardon, Arizona Commerce Authority

Don Cardon: The Driving Force Behind The Arizona Commerce Authority

A political appointee with a successful track record in the private sector, Don Cardon has become the face of the new and innovating Arizona Commerce Authority. While Gov. Jan Brewer is chair of the public/private economic development agency and sports mogul Jerry Colangelo serves as co-chair, it is Cardon, as president and CEO, who has his hands on the reins.

Leaders who have gotten to know Cardon better during the process of creating the Arizona Commerce Authority say he keeps his cool at all times, in good days and bad, is respectful of all points of view, is thoughtful, and someone who projects an element of stability for the state of Arizona.

But even more importantly, according to Roy Vallee, outgoing chairman and CEO of Avnet, are Cardon’s financial skills.

“Not only does he have numeric literacy, (he also has an)  understanding of financing, how to pull deals together and how to interact with banks and other sources of capital,” Vallee says.

Cardon began his employment with state government in March 2009 as director of the Arizona Department of Housing, and just a couple of months later Brewer appointed him director of the Arizona Department of Commerce, predecessor of the ACA. Before joining the state, Cardon was president and CEO of Cardon Development Group, creating low-income workforce housing projects in Phoenix, Gilbert, Eloy and Winslow, and was the visionary behind the group that helped create CityScape, a mixed-use development in Downtown Phoenix.

Cardon’s stated intention was to see the ACA through its formative stage until a permanent president and CEO could be brought onboard, enabling him to return to the more lucrative private sector. But as the ACA board of directors took shape, comprising the cream of Arizona’s business and community leaders, Cardon was urged by Brewer, Colangelo and board member Michael Manson to remain.

“We sat him down and said you can’t create vision and hope with no structure or follow through,” says Manson, co-founder/executive chairman of Motor Excellence in Flagstaff. “That’s the worst kind of leadership. He realized that was true. We identified him as one of the few people in the state who had the political connections, the Commerce Department background and the business connections to make this work.”

Manson, who has founded several other companies, including PETsMART, says Cardon brings enthusiasm, energy and integrity to the ACA.

“He’s eternally optimistic and politically sensitive,” Manson says. “It takes a unique person to be politically rooted, but business oriented, and to be able to handle all of the political and business entities and very strong personalities it requires. He is truly focused on doing the right things for this organization.”

Indeed, focus is a key word in Cardon’s vocabulary. In guiding the ACA, the focus is attracting and retaining businesses in science and technology, aerospace/defense, renewable energy, and small business/entrepreneurship. He once told an interviewer: “You can’t just kind of throw a line in water and say whatever fish comes along you’ll take, which isn’t to say we won’t respond to any other opportunities. But you have to know what you’re trying to go after.”

At the Commerce Department, economic development was “a shotgun approach,” Cardon says. It was an approach he intends to avoid.
“There was no focus within the department,” he says. “Because of the lack of focus, I don’t believe the Legislature has had a great deal of confidence in our efficiency, our ability to accomplish what we set out to do. It was an agency that has really lost touch with what it’s really supposed to be about.”

Another ACA board member, Mary Peters, president of a consulting group bearing her name, touts Cardon’s private-sector background.
“Don understands what it takes to attract and retain businesses in Arizona,” says Peters, whose resume includes stints as federal highway administrator of the U.S. Department of Transportation in President George W. Bush’s administration from 2006-2009, and director of the Arizona Department of Transportation from 1998 to 2001.

“He knows how to put projects together and how to manage,” Peters says. “That’s the value I see in Don and what he brings in the transition from the Commerce Department, having that continuity. Having spent most of my professional career in the public sector, it’s helpful for me to have someone with that private-sector experience to realize what businesses are looking for. I have a different perspective. I know very well the regulatory side of government. I know what it’s like to work through issues with government agencies so those issues aren’t barriers to companies that would like to come into Arizona.”

When Vallee of Avnet, also on the ACA board, heard about a move to encourage Cardon to accept the top ACA job, even after a search firm had been hired and specs of the job had been outlined, his instant reaction was, “That’s fantastic.”

The reasons: Cardon had a good track record at the Commerce Department and had been intimately involved in the creation of the Commerce Authority.

“He understands the history and the purpose of what we’re trying to accomplish,” Vallee says. “This was a brand new entity, and if we recruit someone who had not been involved in creating it, that person would flounder for a while trying to figure out what the job is all about.”

Because the ACA is a public/private partnership, having a CEO with experience and expertise in both areas is considered a huge benefit.

“He is better able to manage that environment very, very well — better than anyone with one viewpoint or the other,” Vallee says.

Vallee mentions Cardon’s core values, especially integrity.

“We all want someone in that role we can trust,” he says. “People are going to want to do business with someone they can trust, whether it’s investment coming from within state or from outside. As people get to know Don and develop that trust, it’s going to be beneficial to economic development.”

Vallee pauses and adds, “Don is a good man and a good executive, which makes him a really great fit for this job.”

[stextbox id=”grey”]For more information about the Arizona Commerce Authority, visit www.azcommerce.com.[/stextbox]

Arizona Business Magazine September/October 2011

 

Arizona Commerce Authority - AZ Business Magazine September/October 2011

Arizona Commerce Authority Aims To Bolster The Business Environment

The new kid on Arizona’s economic development scene is poised to shake things up. The Arizona Commerce Authority (ACA), a public/private entity, is not merely a name change, a rebranding of the Arizona Department of Commerce that over the years received its share of praise and an increasing level of criticism. And it’s not just a committee of top-shelf business leaders.

“It’s more than that,” says Don Cardon, president and CEO of the Arizona Commerce Authority. “It’s really a call to arms.”

Created by Gov. Jan Brewer through an executive order a year ago, and formally established by the Arizona Legislature early this year, the Arizona Commerce Authority is the cornerstone of the Arizona Competitiveness Package, a mix of tax benefits and incentives targeting quality job growth. The Arizona Commerce Authority’s leadership board consists of 17 of Arizona’s top CEOs who provide oversight and valuable input, with House Speaker Andy Tobin and Senate President Russell Pearce as ex officio members. Brewer chairs the Arizona Commerce Authority, and sports entrepreneur Jerry Colangelo serves as co-chairman.

The state’s university president, chair of the Rural Business Advisory Council and other committee chairs round out the balance of the 31-member ACA board.

The leadership board’s focus is on growing and diversifying Arizona’s economy and creating quality jobs throughout the state. The ACA works closely with such key partners as the Science Foundation Arizona, the three state universities, regional economic development groups and local communities.

The ACA is targeting these key base industries — aerospace and defense, renewable energy, science-technology, and small business and entrepreneurship. It is funded through existing payroll withholdings under an annual operating budget of $10 million, plus a so-called deal-closing fund of $25 million, some of which will be allocated for job training.

Michael Manson, an ACA board member and founder/executive chairman of Motor Excellence in Flagstaff, says he thinks the quasi-public agency will produce results for a number of reasons.

“By involving business leaders as we have and funding it by government we are removing some of the politics, enabling more performance and quicker response to commercial opportunities,” says Manson, who also founded PETsMART. “The pendulum swung a little far before the recession toward government regulations, but we need to get back to being more oriented toward entrepreneurial commercial opportunities.”

Mary Peters, president of Mary E. Peters Consulting Group, says the ACA draws from the successful endeavors of other states.

“We now have a mindset that Arizona is open for business,” says Peters, a former federal highway administrator with the U.S. Department of Transportation and former director of the Arizona Department of Transportation. “We’ll do what we can, especially in the aerospace and defense industries. If we’re not out there working to bring them to Arizona, other states will.”

Under the deal-closing Arizona Competes Fund, a company will need to achieve certain performance measures including average employees’ wages above the county’s average wage, health insurance coverage minimums and other requirements similar to the state’s existing job-training program. Backers say the fund will spur investment in projects in the targeted industries.

It replaced the inactive Commerce and Economic Development Council deal-closing fund, is controlled by CEO Cardon, and puts Arizona among the top one-third of states with aggressive economic development programs, supporters say.

Funds provided to growth projects must result in a net benefit to the state, consistent with the Arizona Constitution’s gift clause. In addition, an economic impact analysis by an independent third party will be conducted on all projects to determine potential return on investment benefits to the state. Furthermore, funding will be awarded with contractual provisions for performance and “claw-back” of funds for non-performing projects.

The Competitiveness Package extends the existing job-training program, a reimbursable grant program for job-specific training plans for employers creating new jobs or increasing the skill and wage levels of current employees.

Arizona’s Enterprise Zone Program is replaced with a new Quality Jobs Tax Credit for new job creation statewide. This tax credit is performance based on net new job creation and capital investment with specific eligibility qualifications for urban and rural businesses.

The tax credit for each new quality job created is $3,000 per year for three years and is limited to 400 new jobs per employer, per year. The program is capped at 10,000 new jobs per year. Experts say the program will increase Arizona’s competitiveness ranking to No. 3 from No. 9 in the Mountain West.

On the tax side of the equation, the electable sales factor for multistate corporations increases to 100 percent from 80 percent in equal increments from 2014 to 2017. A corporation that conducts business both in-state and out-of-state must apportion its income from business activity based on the ratio of property, payroll and sales in

Arizona compared to the corporation’s property, payroll and sales everywhere.

The corporate income tax rate is reduced by 30 percent to 4.9 percent from 6.97 percent in equal increments from 2014 to 2017. The change is expected to improve Arizona’s national ranking from 24th to No. 5, and from No. 6 to No. 3 in the Mountain West.

Arizona Commerce Authority

Under personal property, depreciation schedules are further enhanced for prospective acquisitions of commercial personal property on or after 2012.
Colangelo, partner of JDM Partners, explains his determination in agreeing to serve as co-chairman of the Arizona Commerce Authority.

“We will eliminate all distractions in pursuit of the ultimate goal — restoring economic vitality and stability to our state,” says Colangelo, former top executive of the Phoenix Suns and Arizona Diamondbacks. “Our new structure automatically eliminates the agency’s culture of entitlement and political sloth, and we have introduced what I believe to be a ferocious approach to both retaining and attracting business for the benefit of Arizonans, their families and our children.”

For more information about the Arizona Commerce Authority visit www.azcommerce.com.