Tag Archives: Economic Development

Economic Forecast

Economic Forecast: Arizona, U.S. to Show Improvement in 2012

Improvement in both the Arizona and U.S. economies can be expected next year, but full recovery is still a few years away. That’s according to experts who spoke Wednesday at the 48th Annual Economic Forecast Luncheon, co-sponsored by ASU’s W.P. Carey School of Business and JPMorgan Chase.

 More than 1,000 people packed into the Phoenix Convention Center to hear the outlook for 2012. The experts say that though U.S. economic growth was actually slower this year than last year, conditions for 2012 are looking up for the nation and state.

“Although the Arizona recovery is tepid at best, every key indicator is expected to improve in 2012 as compared to 2011, including jobs, incomes, sales and even housing,” said Research Professor Lee McPheters, director of the JPMorgan Chase Economic Outlook Center at the W. P. Carey School of Business. “Still, no indicator will be sharply better until the national economy moves onto a faster growth path.”

McPheters says Arizona hasn’t been rebounding with the same vigor seen in previous recovery periods. The state lost 324,000 jobs from 2007 to 2010. By the end of this year, only about 20 percent of those will be restored. However, Arizona did move from No. 49 among the states for job creation in 2010 all the way up to a Top 10 growth state this year.

“After three consecutive years of lost employment, about 23,800 jobs were added in 2011,” said McPheters, editor of the prestigious Arizona and Western Blue Chip Forecast publications. “Arizona employment is expected to increase by 45,000 jobs in 2012. However, we’re now at about 9 percent unemployment in the state and expect unemployment to continue to be a problem next year, dropping to around 8.5 percent. Healthcare and manufacturing are among the sectors doing relatively well.”

McPheters also expects Arizona’s population to grow by 1.5 percent in 2012, faster than the national average of about 1 percent, but slower than Texas and Colorado. Personal income is expected to go up 6 percent in Arizona. Retail sales are projected to rise by 8 percent. Cautious consumers have largely been putting off non-essential spending, but may relieve some pent-up demand next year.

In the hard-hit housing market, McPheters predicts 20-percent growth in single-family housing permits. However, Elliott D. Pollack, president of highly regarded economic and real estate consulting firm Elliott D. Pollack and Company, explained that even a large percentage growth in this area doesn’t mean much.

“Permits have bottomed out, but they are still down 89 percent from the peak,” Pollack said. “About 50,000 to 55,000 excess housing units remain in the Greater Phoenix area.”

Foreclosures and short sales have been dragging down existing-home prices. Pollack says, in the third quarter of this year, 25 percent of the existing-home transactions were foreclosures, and another 29 percent were short sales. Also, more than 40 percent of the homes being sold are going to investors and other owners who won’t actually live there.

“On the positive side, the number of units going into foreclosure is declining, and housing prices appear to have stabilized,” said Pollack. “Depending on population growth, job growth and other factors, we could see full housing recovery in three to four years.”

Pollack says the apartment market is already looking good, as many people switch to renting. Vacancy rates in industrial space have started to decline, and an increasing number of companies are looking at the Phoenix area as an alternative to California. Still, about one out of every four square feet of office space in the metro area is vacant.

At the national level, experts expect 2012 to bring an increase in gross domestic product (GDP) of somewhere between just under 2 percent to 3 percent. Professor John B. Taylor, the George P. Schultz Senior Fellow in Economics at Stanford University’s Hoover Institution, talked about what needs to be done in this area.

“The economy wasn’t nearly this weak in the 1980s, following an equally deep recession when unemployment rose to even higher levels,” said Taylor, who served as Undersecretary of the Treasury during President George W. Bush’s first term and on the President’s Council of Economic Advisers for President George H. W. Bush. “Recently, we have seen a return toward more government intervention for fiscal, monetary, regulatory and tax policy. These swings have had enormous consequences for the American economy.”

Taylor says the country needs a predictable government policy framework based on law with strong incentives derived from the market system and a clearly limited role for government.

Anthony Chan, chief economist for private wealth management at JPMorgan Chase & Co., specifically addressed the future of the financial markets. He said many stocks are a bargain now.

“We currently face oversized volatility and uncertainty; for this reason, we believe stocks are attractively priced from a historic perspective,” said Chan, who served as an economist at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, appears monthly on CNBC, and is a member of the Reuters, Bloomberg and Dow Jones weekly economic indicator panels. “Prices should gravitate toward fairer values when the outsized degree of uncertainty lifts.”

Chan added corporations are sitting on “huge amounts of cash,” while paying out low dividends. When business sentiment improves and uncertainty is reduced, he expects faster employment and economic growth. He also believes high-yield and municipal bonds will remain a good investment as long as the country doesn’t fall into recession. Still, he is concerned the United States may be losing some control over its long-term destiny, noting that China and Japan hold a combined 46 percent of U.S. Treasuries.

“It is hard to believe the U.S. influence will remain as dominant as it once was, if this trend persists,” said Chan. “Meantime, emerging markets are becoming more attractive. Consider a diversified portfolio.”

For more details and analysis on the 2012 economic forecast, including the presentation slides, go to knowwpcarey.com.

 

Greater Maricopa Foreign Trade Zone - AZ Business Magazine July/August 2011

West Valley Cities Are Looking Toward Foreign Trade Zone To Boost Their Local Economies

After three years of hard work and dedication, WESTMARC and West Valley city leaders finally saw their labor come to fruition with the formal granting of the Greater Maricopa Foreign Trade Zone (GMFTZ) in December.

The establishment of the Foreign Trade Zone began following the Foreign Trade Zone Act of 1934.

Most FTZs are applied for by a single city, but Harry Paxton, economic development director for the city of Goodyear, says the GMFTZ is one of only a few in the United States that was supported by a consortium of cities for an entire region. The application fees were paid by landowners of the properties in the region requesting FTZ status.

“It is vital to high-volume importers and exporters (foreign or domestic) operating the United States in reducing duty fees and speeding up the supply chain, allowing companies operating … to maintain competitiveness,” Paxton says.

The GMFTZ, he adds, “is a valuable tool that is useful in attracting and retaining businesses, and creating new job opportunities.”

Paxton is a member of the GMFTZ Advisory Council, which was formed so each city participating in the GMFTZ would have representation.

The cities in the West Valley that are participating in the FTZ are Avondale, Buckeye, El Mirage, Gila Bend, Glendale, Goodyear, Surprise and Wickenburg. WESTMARC became involved in the process after community leaders with Goodyear and Surprise approached the organization requesting its support.

The approval in December gave FTZ General Purpose Zone status to four sites:

AIRPORT GATEWAY AT GOODYEAR

This 230-acre site located from Van Buren Street south to Yuma Road, will have approximately three million square feet of industrial and work space. It is located in close proximity to Phoenix Goodyear Airport, which is constructing an additional 4,300-foot runway and a new entrance to the facility, which will be adjacent to the FTZ site.

SURPRISE POINTE BUSINESS PARK

Located on the southeast corner of Waddell and Litchfield roads, this 130-acre site has access to the Burlington Northern Santa Fe Rail Line, which will send goods to Los Angeles ports.

PALM VALLEY 303

Located north of Indian School Road along Loop 303, the site features 1,600 acres and has designated 235 acres for FTZ status. Development of the entire project will be phased over the next 20 years and is expected to feature 20 million square feet of office, retail, warehouse and industrial space.

10 WEST LOGISTICS CENTER

This 318-acre site is located on 339th Avenue and the I-10 in Buckeye, providing easy access to the freeway.

Several additional sites throughout the West Valley are under consideration for FTZ status, including the Goodyear Crossing Industrial Park, a 198-acre site at the northeast corner of MC 85 and Cotton Lane.

WESTMARC

The benefits to being in an FTZ, Paxton says, are numerous.

“Businesses in FTZs are treated as though they are outside U.S. Customs territory, and merchandise that is repacked, assembled, manufactured, displayed or placed in storage can be brought into the FTZ duty-free,” Paxton says. “Imports can be moved more quickly, without full Customs formalities. In addition, qualifying businesses located in a FTZ in Arizona are eligible for substantial reductions — currently 75 percent — on real and personal property taxes.”

Several large companies already have started construction or announced plans to start a location on the FTZ sites. A facility for appliance manufacturer Sub-Zero, based in Wisconsin, is under construction and will bring an estimated 380 jobs to Goodyear. In addition, the plastics manufacturing company Schoeller Arca Systems, based in the Netherlands, will hire an initial 45 employees for its new site in Goodyear.

Companies based in an FTZ, Paxton explains, must comply with regulations set by U.S. Customs officials. Communities benefit from these regulations as well, he says, due to the higher levels of security for imports.

Moving forward, Paxton says his goals for the GMFTZ revolve around helping not only the city of Goodyear, but also the entire West Valley.

“(I want to) ensure that each community that has a desire to participate has the best opportunity to succeed in helping existing employers expand and attract new employers to their respective communities, which will create new jobs for our citizens.”

Arizona Business Magazine July/August 2011

arizona flag 2011

Legislation to help re-establish Arizona as an economic leader

Gov. Jan Brewer today called the Legislature into Special Session for the consideration of a comprehensive plan to put Arizona back to work. Known as the Arizona Competitiveness Package, the proposal includes a mix of targeted business incentives and broad tax reforms designed to rev the Arizona economy.

“The Competitiveness Package will make Arizona a magnet for business expansion, relocation, capital formation and investment,” Brewer said. “This is our roadmap for future economic growth.” Improving Arizona’s competitiveness in the global marketplace is the first of the governor’s Four Cornerstones of Reform that she unveiled earlier this year. The centerpiece of the plan is her creation of an Arizona Commerce Authority.

Replacing the Arizona Commerce Department and its hodge-podge of more than 50 mandates and responsibilities, the Commerce Authority will have a single focus: the retention and recruitment of quality jobs for Arizona. The Commerce Authority will be overseen by a public-private board comprised of Arizona leaders in business and policy.

Designed to be nimble and flexible in responding to economic opportunities, the board will be armed with a $25 million deal-closing fund to help land some of the nation’s most highly-sought corporations and business ventures for Arizona. No dollars will be awarded prior to performance, and “claw-back provisions” and an independent, 3rd-party economic analysis will ensure that companies awarded public funds meet their promised obligations.

“This package of tax reforms and targeted investments will give Arizona the tools it needs to compete for economic development on the global stage,” said Don Cardon, president and CEO of the Arizona Commerce Authority. “Arizona can’t afford to wait for economic growth. We’re going to aggressively pursue quality jobs and stable industries that will become the bedrock of this state’s economic future.”

The Arizona Competitiveness Package is focused on both urban and rural job creation, and is intended to make this state a destination for business growth and development. Specific aspects of the plan include:

• The creation of a Quality Jobs Program, with corporate tax credits of up to $9,000 for each qualifying new job. ($3,000 per job, per year, with a 400-job cap).

• An increase in the electable state corporate income-tax sales factor to 100 percent, up from the current 80 percent. This will encourage firms to establish headquarters and manufacturing centers in Arizona.

• Re-authorization of the Arizona Job Training Program, providing job-specific, reimbursable grants to train employees for new careers.

• A four-year, phased-in reduction of the state’s corporate income tax to 4.9 percent, beginning in January 2014. This will give Arizona the nation’s fifth most competitive corporate income-tax rate.

• A 10 percent increase in the state’s Research & Development tax credit, encouraging further collaboration between Arizona’s research universities and the private sector.

• A 5 percent acceleration of the depreciation schedule for business personal property, spurring purchases of new equipment and other capital investments.

The Arizona Competitiveness Package is consistent with Brewer’s long-held call for corporate tax relief that would be phased-in after Proposition 100 expires and the state’s budget is on firmer footing.

“The development of a stable and growing economy is the key to Arizona’s future,” she said. “It will provide good jobs for our citizens and revenue for the state programs and services everyone enjoys. I urge legislators to act quickly in enacting these reforms and furthering Arizona’s economic recovery.”

Feature Big Green 2011

Speaker: Karen Collins ~ BIG Green Expo & Conference 2011

Karen Collins, SRP

Karen Collins, the Senior Analyst, Water Sustainability Initiatives, SRP, manages water conservation and water sustainability programs for SRP’s Water Group. Prior to this position, Karen worked in SRP’s Energy Solutions Department, Commercial Customer Services, Economic Development, and she was SRP’s Corporate Economist for 5 years. Karen holds Masters and Bachelors Degrees in Economics from Arizona State University. She is a member of the National Association of Business Economists and has appeared on the local PBS show, Horizon. Karen has been with SRP for nearly 26 years.


Topic: Water/Power Nexus: The interconnectedness between water needed for power generation and the power needed to treat, transport and deliver portable water supplies.

Conference Speaker
Friday, April 15, 2011
9:00 a.m. – 10:00 a.m.
Room 159

BIG Green Conference 2011

BIG Green Expo
Friday & Saturday
April 15th & 16th
9 a.m. – 4 p.m.



Sponsors:

Entrepreneurs Can Reach High Levels Of Success - AZ Business Magazine Nov/Dec 2010

The Entrepreneurs Of Today Can Reach High Levels Of Success — And Impact The World

In today’s fluctuating economy, the notions of entrepreneurship, entrepreneurial leadership and entrepreneurial decision-making are receiving increased attention by citizens, academics, managers and politicians on a global basis. The current global financial crisis has put added pressure on creating new ideas and bringing these to the market, resulting in financial fruition, economic development and employment.

Being an entrepreneur and creating value by establishing a new organization in both the profit and nonprofit sectors in business, as well as the arts, impacts economic and social conditions. This creation process takes more time and effort than one can imagine and is by no means easy, with a high failure rate reaching more than 70 percent in certain countries.

Since entrepreneurs are found in all professions — education, medicine, research, law, architecture, arts, engineering, social work and distribution — the definition of entrepreneurship in my book, “Entrepreneurship,” is relevant: “Entrepreneurship is the process of creating something new with value by devoting the necessary time and effort, assuming the accompanying financial, psychic, and social risks, and receiving the resulting rewards of monetary and personal satisfaction and independence.”

Global entrepreneurial leaders create visionary scenarios that assemble and mobilize participants, who become committed by the vision to discovery and creation of sustainable value. They have a wide variety of attributes, including being a visionary, having a passion for their idea, being a risk-taker, having perseverance, building a team, recognizing opportunities and needs, solving problems, and giving back. Let us look at a few examples:

Leonardo Da Vinci — In addition to his many other titles, Leonardo Da Vinci should be labeled as one of the great global entrepreneurial leaders of all time. It is, in fact, the breadth and depth of his work, his wide-ranging skills and his lasting impact on both the arts and society that reflect the strength of his entrepreneurial vision. He created many new and different pieces of art, devices and ways of thinking that were ahead of their time.

Edward Teach (Blackbeard the Pirate) — From 1716-1718, Blackbeard the Pirate ruled the seas and also was an entrepreneurial leader who flourished in his trade. The pirates who joined Blackbeard’s command often came from the lowest classes of society, or were former members of the British Navy, who found the conditions and treatment they received better than life on farms or plantations. All booty taken by the pirates would be divided evenly among the crew, one part each, save the captain’s two.

Peter the Great — Peter I ruled Russia from 1682 until his death in 1725, bringing about major modernization to his country. His global entrepreneurial vision and leadership gave Russia a new position of power as the country was transformed into a Western empire. Educators, military personnel and businessmen were invited to Russia; the army was modernized; a strong navy was developed; and arts and education flourished.

John D. Rockefeller — John D. Rockefeller was an extraordinary American entrepreneur and philanthropist. Through hard work, determination and a strong competitive nature, he became the world’s first billionaire. Rockefeller chose to change his entrepreneurial pursuits away from making money toward giving it away. From his equity position in Standard Oil, a company he co-founded, he felt the need to disperse his wealth to those less fortunate and formed the Rockefeller Foundation; this started the rise of American social philanthropy.

Madam C.J. Walker — Entrepreneurs often find opportunities and success in spite of great odds and obstacles. Madam C.J. Walker was one such person who identified a gap in the market — hair care products for black women. Walker became the first self-made, female black millionaire in the United States. At one point, she employed more than 3,000 women, and had a wide range of hair and skin care products.

Muhammad Yunus — Muhammad Yunus is an example of a selfless global entrepreneurial leader. After seeing the impact of his first micro-loan and the way in which he was repaid, Yunus began to envision a model that could work anywhere. He found that the poor would often quickly repay their loans with few problems. By the early 1980s, Yunus had expanded to other developing countries, and in 1983 formed the Grameen Bank, the institutional home of his micro-lending practices, both of which were honored with a Nobel Peace Prize in 2006.

Bill Gates — Microsoft founder Bill Gates’ entrepreneurial skills are varied. His company revolutionized the computer industry, helped to usher in the Internet age, and had a deep and profound impact on the daily lives of people around the world. Because of this persistence and risk taking, he shaped the evolution of the information age, making him the world’s richest man in 1995. In 2000, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation was founded with the goal of alleviating many of the problems that are afflicting the world’s poorest people. It has grown into one of the premier philanthropic organizations in the world.

The role of global entrepreneurial leaders throughout history indicates the diversity in backgrounds, mindsets and goals that spawn entrepreneurial actions, decisions and leadership. From public sector to private, for-profit to nonprofit, in science, arts, religion, medicine, politics and business, and across industries, the variety of forms that entrepreneurial leadership takes is clear.

For the contemporary entrepreneur who actually starts his or her own business, the experience is filled with enthusiasm, frustration, anxiety and hard work. There is a high failure rate due to poor sales, intense competition, lack of capital, or lack of managerial ability. The financial, social and emotional risks are high, as are the rewards. As history has shown, the individual’s reward can easily set the stage for an accelerated impact on the larger community, region, country or even the world.

Arizona Business Magazine Jan/Feb 2011

Greater Maricopa Foreign Trade Zone - AZ Business Magazine Jul/Aug 2010

The Greater Maricopa Foreign Trade Zone Opens Up Business Possibilities In The West Valley

At a time when the West Valley could use an economic boost, officials have put the finishing touches on the proposed Greater Maricopa Foreign Trade Zone. Under the administration of WESTMARC, an acronym for Western Maricopa Coalition, this new Foreign Trade Zone (FTZ) is seen as a welcome economic development tool that will spawn jobs and millions of dollars in new investment.

Participating cities are Avondale, Buckeye, El Mirage, Gila Bend, Goodyear, Peoria and Surprise. Initially, four sites in three of the cities have applied for FTZ status: two in Goodyear at Interstate 10 and Loop 303, one in Surprise near Bell Road, and one west of Buckeye in an unincorporated area. The Greater Maricopa Foreign Trade Zone is actually a series of trade zones, with each city acting independently but represented by WESTMARC.

Federal approval of WESTMARC’s application of the overall trade zone by the U.S. Department of Commerce and the Department of Homeland Security is expected before the end of the year. Launched in 1934, the federal Foreign Trade Zone program provides for reduced or eliminated federal taxes and fees in connection with imports and exports. For customs purposes, an FTZ is considered outside the United States.

Consultant Curtis Spencer, president of Houston-based IMS Worldwide, says there has been quite a bit of interest in West Valley sites from brokers looking for build-to-suit opportunities, particularly for solar and other manufacturers.

Spencer says developers generally pay the initial fee of about $50,000 to be in the FTZ depending on proposed use. Companies locating in an FTZ also pay an annual fee, but Spencer estimates the savings to a company can range from $300,000 to $1 million a year.

A typical business in an FTZ pays wages 7 percent to 8 percent more than a similar company not involved in exporting and importing, and employs 10 percent to 20 percent more workers, Spencer says.

“Foreign Trade Zone activities now exceed the statistical equivalent of imports and exports carried by truck into and out of Canada and Mexico,” Spencer says. “It’s a significant portion of our economy.”

A company in the West Valley area that decides to seek FTZ status puts in an application that will go through WESTMARC, which holds the federal permit, and on to the federal Foreign Trade Zone board. Zones are not limited to the four that have been selected. Likely candidate businesses for an FTZ range from high-tech manufacturers to distributors.

“It should give a major boost in investment and job creation,” Spencer says. “In the next 10 years we should have added hundreds of jobs and tens of millions of new investment.”

Basically, FTZs speed up the supply chain, reduce importing costs and provide better security, Spencer says.

“It’s faster, cheaper and better,” he adds.

Regarding security, companies that have been certified for FTZ status by federal authorities undergo extreme scrutiny, and therefore are not likely to be dealing with unfriendly countries or terrorist organizations. Concern over the importation of contraband has heightened since the attacks of 9/11.

Harry Paxton, economic development director for the city of Goodyear, says participating cities can use the FTZ as a marketing tool.

“It says that these communities are ready to accept businesses involved in international commerce,” he says.

Goodyear, which was among the first to express an interest in establishing an FTZ three years ago, hopes to fill some existing buildings by offering significant property tax breaks. Personal and real property taxes in an Arizona FTZ are cut by 75 percent.

But the perception that such tax reductions will have a negative impact on a city is incorrect, Paxton says. The assessed valuation of an activated FTZ reduces to 5 percent from 20 percent, but still generates additional revenue when compared to agricultural-use sites that collect $300 per 10 acres. What’s more, Paxton says, the FTZ becomes a catalyst for other development not requiring FTZ tax benefits, resulting in a full tax rate on those businesses.

“It’s a win-win,” he says. “It helps us become more competitive.”

Mitch Rosen, director of office and industrial development for SunCor Development Company, says his company owns 250 acres that will be part of the FTZ.

“The reason we’re interested is that we believe it to be an exceptional tool to stimulate the economic development of the West Valley,” he says. “It’s a good way to stimulate quality employment and it creates a competitive advantage for Arizona and the West Valley. It encourages businesses throughout the country to elect to locate in the West Valley.”

Jack Lunsford, president and CEO of WESTMARC, expects FTZs to spring up throughout the sprawling West Valley as cities become more aware of the benefits.

“We are thrilled,” he says, “to help bring this economic development tool to our West Valley communities that will assist them, especially at a time like this.”

www.imsw.com | www.suncoraz.com | www.ci.goodyear.az.us

Arizona Business Magazine Jul/Aug 2010

GPEC Profile: Candace Wiest, President And CEO Of West Valley National Bank

Candace Wiest
President and CEO, West Valley National Bank

Even before West Valley National Bank opened its doors on Dec. 23, 2006, a decision was made to join the Greater Phoenix Economic Council. Becoming an active member of GPEC made good business sense.

“What I like about GPEC is its economic development focus,” says Candace Wiest, president and CEO of the community bank. “It goes to the heart of what community banks do. I’m a firm believer in the saying that a rising tide lifts all ships.”

One of the first benefits Wiest saw for her bank was how GPEC helped attract the Cancer Treatment Centers of America to the West Valley. The nation’s fourth Cancer Treatment Centers of America, located in Goodyear, opened on Dec. 29, 2008, bringing with it quality care for cancer patients and 200 high-paying jobs. But there’s more.

“It certainly helped with some of the housing issues in the West Valley, created a lot of options in terms of health care, and gave the area national recognition,” Wiest says. “I couldn’t bank the hospital itself, maybe, but I certainly can be the banker for a lot of the people out there.”

GPEC efforts benefit the Greater Phoenix’s economy on a macro level, Wiest says, as well as on a micro level helping its individual members.

She enjoys serving on GPEC Next, which is an advisory group through which some of the newer ideas flow before being submitted to GPEC’s board of directors. She applauds GPEC’s role in supporting solar energy, which produces a benefit for her bank.

“I certainly cannot finance any big solar companies,” Wiest says, “but we have launched a program to finance construction for businesses that want to convert to solar.”

The solid relationship between West Valley National Bank and GPEC is ongoing. Wiest is on the board of the Cancer Treatment Centers of America, maintaining a link between the cancer facility and GPEC; and she is a trustee of New Hampshire’s Franklin Pierce University, named after the 14th U.S. president. The university already holds some classes in Goodyear and is considering an expansion, Wiest says, adding that GPEC is playing a role in that project.

Wiest says GPEC has done wonders to enhance the Valley’s image. While serving a pair of three-year terms as a director of the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, she heard numerous negative comments about the Phoenix area.

“GPEC has helped to debunk some of those myths,” Wiest says.

www.wvnb.net


Arizona Business Magazine

February 2010

GPEC Profile: Steve Cowman, CEO Of Stirling Energy Systems Inc.

Steve Cowman
CEO, Stirling Energy Systems Inc. (SES)

With more than a hint of an Irish brogue, Steve Cowman sounds like he has found a home in what he calls the solar capital of the Southwest.

The CEO of Stirling Energy Systems Inc. (SES) is enthused about the prospects for an expanding solar energy industry, the strategic access to his market that Phoenix provides, and the proactive reputation of the Greater Phoenix Economic Council. SES is a pioneer in the design and development of Concentrated Solar Power solutions.

Cowman joined the company in May 2008, after having worked for General Electric for 10 years, including eight in the United States. He’s been living in the U.S., mostly on the East Coast, for 12 of the past 20 years.

Barely a year after taking the helm of Stirling, and choosing Phoenix for its corporate headquarters, Cowman joined GPEC and sits on the economic development organization’s executive committee. Though a relative newcomer to the Valley, Cowman, who has a background in semiconductor engineering, had a longtime involvement with Intel, Motorola and Arizona State University.

With Stirling targeting markets in Nevada, New Mexico, California, Texas, and of course, Arizona, Cowman says of Phoenix, “I liked the location and the infrastructure.”

While Cowman was working in Dublin, GPEC dispatched a representative to his company to reinforce the story about what Phoenix offers.

“I was impressed with the people and with the vision they have to reverse the trend of losing engineering and manufacturing-intensive businesses in the Valley,” Cowman says. “I like GPEC, and I want to stay here and grow here.”

Cowman applauds the efforts of GPEC to attract more solar energy businesses.

“A number of companies are looking to relocate their design or manufacturing operations to the Phoenix area,” he says. “The larger solar infrastructure we build in the Valley, the better it is for companies like Stirling. It improves the gene pool we can all draw from and helps with collaborative programs.”
In addition to marketing and promoting the Phoenix area from coast to coast, GPEC also gets into what Cowan refers to the “hard stuff,” pushing legislation that helps the solar industry.

On the lost manufacturing jobs, Cowman says, “These jobs are not going overseas. A lot of them are going to places like Nevada and New Mexico.
Arizona has some catching up to do, and GPEC is doing that. GPEC is trying to make the Valley look more attractive, and state officials need to wake up to the reality that we have a competitive disadvantage.”

www.stirlingenergy.com

Arizona Business Magazine

February 2010

GPEC Launches A New Website To Promote The Greater Phoenix Story

At a time when traditional newspapers are struggling or even vanishing, the Greater Phoenix Economic Council has launched a new Web site designed to provide information that offers a complete picture of what is going on in the Valley.

One of the goals behind the formation of OGP — opportunitygreaterphoenix.com — is to offset some of the negative news coverage that continues to plague Arizona. Barry Broome, GPEC president and CEO, says community leaders agreed on the concept of establishing a communications initiative that focuses on the brand of the Greater Phoenix market.

“We’re more transactional,” Broome says. “A lot of great attributes about our market don’t necessarily get conveyed in a transactional exchange. Our reputation is tied to a lot of things that go well beyond building work force availability and the cost of a transaction.”

Working with the Maricopa Partnership of Art, the Greater Phoenix Chamber of Commerce, and the Phoenix Convention & Visitors Bureau, GPEC maintains the Web site that enables people in Arizona and elsewhere to read stories about Arizona they might not see anywhere else.

“You can find the kind of in-depth stories not necessarily always available in a typical news environment,” Broome says. “Hopefully, it will become a social media phenomenon. Our goal is to complement blog activity and news activity in the market, and really tell our story. It’s more of a communications initiative than a Web site.”

Events of the past two years spurred the creation of Opportunity Greater Phoenix. There was concern that mainstream media were not defining Greater Phoenix in a fair and equitable way. Those events Broome mentions include the immigration debate, the housing market collapse, the impact on Arizona from the banking crisis and issues related to a state budget bleeding red ink.

GPEC Chairman Michael Bidwill and Vice Chair William Pepicello obtained funds from the private sector to launch the site. A Web publisher and a part-time reporter were brought onboard. Discussions about OGP began Oct. 1. Eight weeks later, the site was up and running.

The OGP site is designed to inform and influence the conversation about all things related to business, employment, and the economy in Greater Phoenix. It provides accurate coverage of news, trends and analysis relevant to the local economy, along with resources such as database searches, lists, links and summaries on work force, quality of life, and overall competitiveness. It will be particularly helpful, Broome says, when GPEC embarks on economic development trips to New York City and Washington, D.C. Interested parties can go to a single site and get a broad base of stories about the Greater Phoenix market, he says.

Commenting on the emergence of blogs, Broome says, “There’s not a lot of peer review to a blog. As communications becomes more organic and viral, we think it’s important that the market has an organic and viral communication device that will allow readers who are intrigued about our market an intense reading and learning experience.”

So where and how will the site get its information?

“We will be reconstituting information from mainstream media, and producing a lot of fresh new stories of our own,” Broome says. “We expect to write at least five new major stories a week. We’ll have features on CEOs, a community news site, profiles on individuals, and there may be an interactive opportunity to interface with an expert on the economy. The content will be fresh and compelling, but it won’t all be originally generated.”

As an example, Broome notes that Nobel Prize winner Lee Hartwell left the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle, where he was executive director, to establish and co-direct the Center for Sustainable Health at Arizona State University’s Biodesign Institute.

“That’s a big deal,” Broome says. “There’s a lot more to that story. What will be the focus of his research? It’s important to the region’s reputation that the story gets told in a more comprehensive and robust way.”

Another example of a story waiting to be told involves a dynamic young woman who graduated from ASU and launched a wireless company in Chandler.She might not be a candidate for a major news story by a major news outlet, but she’s young, which addresses the notion that Greater Phoenix is a retirement community, and she’s talented, which more accurately describes ASU as a first-class institution and not a party school, Broome says.

“That story won’t be in the New York Times,” he adds. “They write about our housing troubles. And The Washington Post writes about our budget problems.”

Opportunity Greater Phoenix is more than a news source. OGP is a resource, Broome says.

“Businesses looking to relocate or expand into Greater Phoenix will find information about the work force, quality of life, policies and legislation that impact decisions,” he says. “And those looking to visit or live in the Valley will find useful information on employment, neighborhoods and arts and culture.”

opportunitygreaterphoenix.com


Arizona Business Magazine

February 2010

Measuring CityScape’s Impact On Downtown Phoenix

CityScape, a $900 million multi-use project nearing first-phase completion in the heart of Downtown Phoenix, will finally fill the so-called “hole in the doughnut.” Located on a 3-block tract centered at the zero-zero intersection of Central Avenue and Washington Street, CityScape is seen as the catalyst for long-overdue development in the city’s core. Key players in this project, the biggest private-sector undertaking ever in Downtown Phoenix, use such phrases to describe its impact as:

“It’s going to put the heart back into Downtown Phoenix.”
“It’s going to redefine Downtown, giving the area a critical mass of retail and amenities.”
“It’s really going to help change the face of Downtown Phoenix.”

Dave Kreitor, deputy city manager for the City of Phoenix, has helped guide the Downtown area through an unprecedented period of growth, but there was always a hitch. “When I was economic development director 15 years ago, we talked about those blocks being the hole in the doughnut,” he explains. “We would never be truly effective with our Downtown redevelopment activities until that area was developed.”

Spanning Washington Street to Jefferson Street, and Second Street to First Avenue, CityScape is a 1.8 MSF project featuring a 27-story tower that will be home to myriad retail outlets, prestigious law firms and other businesses. The development’s first office tenants are expected to move in by March, with retailers showing up in April. The bulk of the tenants should be up and running by July.

Kreitor expects CityScape to create a center of activity that will relate well to nearby US Airways Center, Chase Field, the Phoenix Convention Center, Arizona State University’s Downtown campus and the core office market.

Leasing Up
As of late November 2009, leasing activity was on target. Jeff Moloznik, development manager for RED Development, says nearly 75% of the 575,000 SF of office space, and 75% of the 180,000 SF of retail space, were leased. Rates PSF were being negotiated with retailers individually, depending on the tenant, Moloznik says.

Office
Jerry Roberts, leasing broker of CB Richard Ellis, says CityScape office space is going for low-to-mid $30 PSF, depending on the length of the lease. “The pre-leasing went better than almost any building I’ve ever been involved with.”

The pace of leasing CityScape office space would be considered very successful in any real estate market, let alone the market of the last two years, Roberts adds.

One of the tenants, Squire Sanders and Dempsey, a law firm with about 110 employees, is moving across the street from the Renaissance II Building. Robert Matia, a partner at Squire Sanders, says the floor layout at CityScape is ideal for the reduced amount of space needed for secretaries.

“Lawyers coming out of law schools have spent so much time on the computer that they prefer to type their own first draft on many documents,” Matia says. The law firm will occupy 72,000 SF on 3.5 floors, with room to expand.

Represented by CB Richard Ellis, the brokerage process for Squire Sanders went smoothly. “We knew RED Development was a great group to work with,” Matia says. “They were anxious to have us there and were accommodating to our needs.”

Retail
Don Keuth, president of Phoenix Community Alliance, says CityScape creates synergy for the area. “It sends a tremendous statement about Downtown Phoenix, that it is a vital place where investments can be successful.”

He applauds RED Development, which is also the brokerage firm for the retail portion of CityScape, for making the project a reality.

Among the challenges was providing enough easy-access parking, especially for retail customers. “We accomplished this by creating an open and inviting below-grade parking environment that allows visitors to intuitively find their way from their below-grade parking stall to their retail destination,” Moloznik says.

Retailers include CVS Pharmacy, Urban Outfitters, Lucky Strike upscale bowling, Sam Fox Restaurants, Designer District, The Breakfast Club and Gold’s Gym.

The key to maintaining and enhancing a successful Downtown, Keuth says, is to get more people to live in the immediate area. “We need to create a reasonably affordable housing option so young professionals can live here and enjoy the area,” he explains.


Arizona Business Magazine

January 2010

TREO Is Working To Position The Tucson Region For Post-Recession Growth

The past year was unprecedented in the U.S. economy. As experienced nationwide, the recent credit and housing crises resulted in rapid job losses and extreme economic uncertainty. While the situation at the national and state level is critical, leaders in the Tucson region are working to take our destiny into our own hands, providing leadership in developing local tools and programs to create jobs for our citizens.

Gains experienced in 2009 were a result of our ability to react quickly and develop programs and initiatives to mitigate the effects of the worst recession in 30-plus years. Significant progress was made in addressing the work force skills gap, improving and expanding our best practices, communications to internal and external customers, and thought leadership.

In response to the economic conditions, Tucson Regional Economic Opportunities (TREO) developed a plan called Tucson: Job One. In conjunction with all our community partners, we created a proposed immediate action plan with clearly defined priorities to address strengthening the local economy, creating and maintaining jobs, and spending. This is our chance to synergize the region’s recent strategic planning efforts and priorities, demonstrating how all local economic drivers can work together to emerge stronger and with a much more diversified economy.

To address local economic conditions, in early 2008 TREO embarked on a comprehensive survey of 170 of the top local companies in an effort to gather data on those planning to hire new employees within the next year. Companies that responded to the survey reported a total of more than 2,200 open positions anticipated to be filled within the next 12 months. TREO then created a job portal on its Web site as part of the Tucson: Job One program. Available at www.treoaz.org/Tucson-Job-Portal.aspx, the job portal provides links to the career pages of a sampling of companies that reported plans to hire despite the state of the economy.

The region realizes it needs to be poised and ready when the economy improves, so TREO has instituted some programs to help facilitate readiness.

Shovel ready and fast track permitting
TREO’s Shovel Ready and Fast Track Permitting program involves the certification of shovel-ready sites for fast-track permitting and development processes. The program makes the Tucson region more competitive in attracting and expanding new, high-skilled/high-wage jobs.

Certified shovel-ready sites are parcels that are on the market for sale or lease, appropriately zoned, pre-qualified to meet local planning requirements, served by utilities, and with identified access to transportation linkages. The certification requirements are designed to ensure the ability of a firm to proceed immediately to the building permit phase and be able to receive approval of plans within 90 days.

California job development program
Arizona Sun Corridor: Open for Business is an unprecedented partnership between the Greater Phoenix Economic Council (GPEC), TREO, the Greater Yuma Economic Development Corp., and the city of Flagstaff that is designed to bring high-wage jobs and investment to the Sun Corridor, a megapolitan projected as one of the 10 U.S. markets expected to see most of the nation’s growth in the next 35 years.

The program pools resources to place a contractor in California who will be responsible for researching companies and qualifying those poised to expand operations. The contractor actively generates business development leads in targeted industries such as aerospace/defense, health care/bioscience, transportation/logistics, renewable energy, and information communications technology.

Transportation and logistics focus
TREO’s efforts in the transportation and logistics industry focus on developing and presenting a regional implementation plan that positions the Tucson region as a recognized global logistics and distribution hub. The goal is to facilitate economic growth, prosperity and opportunity for the Tucson region through the promotion of freight, transportation and logistics.

The Tucson region possesses a strong transportation infrastructure, including interstate highway, railroad and air freight connections. The convergence of Interstate 10 and Interstate 19 provides the region with connections to major east-west and north-south trade corridors. The same advantage holds for the region’s rail connections — the Union Pacific Sunset Route runs east-west through Tucson, along with the north-south connection to Mexico via Nogales. The existing Port of Tucson intermodal operation is a huge asset for the expansion of rail opportunities in Southern Arizona. Additionally, current air freight operations include integrated carriers such as Federal Express and cargo operations provided via passenger carriers. Expansion possibilities exist for air freight with the ongoing expansion of the air cargo warehouse facilities at Tucson International Airport. Recent surveys indicate more than 150 logistics-based businesses are currently serving the needs of freight movement in the region, and more than 72,000 jobs are associated with the existing manufacturing, warehouse, and transportation sectors.

Aerospace and defense industry recognized
According to economy.com, Tucson’s highly concentrated aerospace product and parts manufacturing sector has an 8.35 location quotient, a ratio calculated to compare a region’s industrial activity level to the rest of the United States. The location quotient means Tucson is 8.35 times more concentrated in the aerospace product and parts manufacturing industry than the average of all metropolitan statistical areas across the country.
In August 2009, Business Facilities magazine named Tucson No. 6 on its list of the top 10 metro areas for aerospace/defense manufacturing in its fifth annual ranking report. The ranking is primarily based on a comparison of industry sector employment and wages. Also evaluated were major projects and facility expansion/relocation activity for a region in the past 12 months, and the number of major aerospace and defense contractors headquartered in the region.

Solar heats up
Tucson is home to a growing number of companies involved in the development and production of solar technology, including several recent investments from Germany, Europe’s solar hub. In 2009, TREO conducted an economic analysis revealing that there are close to 50 companies in the region involved in solar-related activities, directly or indirectly supporting more than 2,000 jobs with a total annual economic impact of more than $400 million.

New expansions and relocations
Switzerland-based Roche bought Ventana Medical Systems in early 2008, and purchased 17.1 acres for $8.9 million to expand its campus. Ventana is now the headquarters of one of Roche’s global business units that focuses on diagnostics. Roche CEO Severin Schwan says the company plans to expand research and development laboratories at Ventana’s campus and increase staffing levels from about 750 to more than 1,000.

Tucson-based Salutaris Medical Devices, a startup medical devices firm, received $1.5 million in Series A financing by Arizona venture capital firm Translational Accelerator (TRAC). TRAC, a private, Arizona-based, $20 million bioscience venture capital group, is Arizona’s first venture fund established to target early-stage bioscience companies. TRAC investments only support firms located in Arizona or those planning to move to the state.

The Rockefeller Group Development Corporation broke ground on the first of three distribution buildings on a 21.5-acre, pad-ready approved industrial site in the Tucson Airport Commerce Center. The first building, a 113,000 square foot state-of-the-art speculative distribution building was completed and ready for occupancy in June 2009.

Schletter, a manufacturer and distributor of solar mounting systems based in Germany, chose Tucson for its first U.S.-based operations center. Schletter has operated more than 40 years in the design and manufacturing of steel and aluminum products, and rose to be the largest provider of solar mounting systems in Europe, supplying utility-sized PV-projects. Following the German lead, the Tucson facility offers everything from design and development to manufacturing of Schletter products.

Since TREO was formed in 2005, more than 40 companies have announced their relocation or expansion in the region, adding thousands of new jobs and contributing more than $1 billion in fiscal and economic impact.

Laura Shaw, senior vice president of marketing and communications for TREO contributed to this report.


Arizona Business Magazine

January 2010

Promoting Smart Growth in Down Economy

Promoting Smart Growth In A Down Economy

Please welcome Diane Brossart, president of Valley Forward Association, and guest blogger to the AZ Green Scene. This is the first blog of our exclusive monthly blog partnership series, where Diane will share her experience and insight regarding the state’s sustainable industry.

Freezing impact fees to stimulate economic development runs counter to the principles of smart growth.

There is no evidence that placing a moratorium on impact fees results in any increase in residential or non-residential construction, according to a number of authoritative studies, including the Brookings Institution. Yet with the hope of establishing momentum in the development industry our legislature recently imposed a freeze on acquisitions and increases until June 2010.

Not only won’t this stimulate growth but it places a huge burden on Valley cities when they can least afford it. Most communities are struggling with severe budget cuts, reductions in personnel and impending tax hikes. Now they’re facing yet another economic hit in the form of lost revenue from impact fees.

New development should pay for itself, period end of story. Impact fees implemented by local governments on new or proposed developments assist or pay for costs caused by growth and expansion. These fees help fund the construction of offsite capital improvements including infrastructure and public services such as road expansion and maintenance, expanded police and fire services and increased demand on schools.

In short, impact fees effectively eliminate the financial encumbrance on local jurisdictions that are trying to deal with population growth within the area. The capital required to fund new growth is simply the cost of doing business.

The widely held perception that development results in economic growth is not always the case, however. Badly planned growth creates vast burdens that are often subsidized with tax dollars.

The financial crisis our state is now facing has little to do with impact fees. It’s the result of poor and unscrupulous lending and borrowing decisions that led to a nationwide credit freeze.

Legislation should work to promote livable and sustainable communities by creating viable incentives for developers to undertake projects within urban areas rather than in greenfields on city edges. Our policies should facilitate a balance between economic growth and environmental quality.
The moratorium on impact fees undermines smart growth while shifting the cost of development from one sector to another.

Diane BrossartPresidentValley Forward Associationwww.valleyforward.org

An End in Sight

Hit Harder Than The Rest Of The Nation, The Valley’s Economy Is Starting To Show Faint Signs Of Recovery

Don’t dust off that party hat just yet, but there are early signs that the worst recession in the Valley’s history is easing its stranglehold on the economy. To be sure, as fall approaches and the recession’s two-year mark looms in December, Phoenix residents and businesses still struggle with plenty of economic problems. But economists and business leaders see hopeful signs.

Conventional wisdom says the housing market will pull the Valley out of the recession, after having led it down that path in the first place. Lee McPheters, economics professor at the W.P. Carey School of Business at Arizona State University, sees that milestone unfolding right now. The Greater Phoenix Blue Chip Real Estate Consensus Panel estimates 8,260 single-family housing permits will be issued this year, McPheters says. That’s down dramatically from the 57,360 issued in 2004, but McPheters says the forecast also calls for 12,600 permits in 2010, establishing 2009 as the bottom for that economic indicator.

New-home sales may have hit their low point the first half of this year and sales of existing homes, or re-sales, are bouncing back, according to McPheters.

“We are on track here to have easily over 75,000 re-sales for 2009, and it could be closer to 100,000 because there’s lots of inventory out there,” McPheters says. “At least half of that is bank-owned foreclosures but, nonetheless, re-sales are quite robust.”

There were 110,000 re-sales in 2005 during the Valley’s housing boom.

“New permits and sales of new homes seem to have bottomed out and re-sales have been going up,” McPheters says. “Those seem to be pretty strong trends, but still at a low level.”

What McPheters is saying is that good news in the housing sector alone does not constitute an overall recovery.
“There is nothing in the makeup of the Phoenix economy at all that would provide the stimulus for any independent recovery,” McPheters says.

Metropolitan Phoenix is still plagued by continuing job losses, declining personal income, decimated retail sales, declining home prices, home foreclosures, weak commercial real estate construction and more. The shrinking labor force likely won’t bottom out until the second half of next year after recording a historic three-year stretch of job losses — 2008, 2009 and 2010.

“By the time all the job losses have been recorded, Phoenix will have several hundred thousand fewer workers, and it probably will be 2011 before there is any kind of vigorous recovery in retail sales,” McPheters says.

In the meantime, 96 percent of the economists in the national Blue Chip Economic Indicators newsletter expect the national recession will end in the fourth quarter of this year. McPheters sees the national downturn drawing to a close with a modest turnaround and he thinks Phoenix will follow suit.

“Nationally, at the end of 2009, we will stop talking contraction and start talking about indicators that are more positive,” McPheters says. “Then there will be a period of slow growth. Phoenix probably will follow that, but remember that we have been harder hit than the rest of the country.”

Still, there is more to the Valley’s economy than statistics. Local business leaders are encouraged by what they see.

“From my perspective, we have seen a dramatic increase in headquarters activity,” says Barry Broome, president and CEO of the Greater Phoenix Economic Council.

Businesses primarily from the Northwest and California and, to some extent, Boston and New York, are either researching the Valley or making definitive plans to move their headquarters here, he says. Broome expects 10 to 15 headquarters to relocate to Arizona over the next 18 months and Phoenix will land some of them.

Broome also sees “new, sophisticated capital” moving into the Phoenix market. Investors are deploying the money now and plans are being written up for commercial real estate and science and technology projects, he says. Existing companies poised for growth are attracting capital infusions, Broome adds.

“This is not the cheap Las Vegas capital coming into the Valley where they buy it, zone it and flip it,” Broome says. “Now we’re seeing private equity firms that have 50 to 100 years of reputation in the U.S. and the world that didn’t get burned in this downturn. They are coming out of the Northeast markets, which we have not seen before.”

Bruce Coomer, executive director of the Arizona Association for Economic Development, is amazed at how busy city and county economic development departments are in the Valley and around the state.

“I don’t think there are any in Metro Phoenix cities that are not extremely busy,” Coomer says. “They are telling me that they are having trouble keeping up with the work.”

Although cities are likely conducting outreach programs, Coomer believes staffers are scrambling mainly because companies are approaching them.

Economic developers, Coomer says, “have got some big deals in the wings. That tells me companies, site selectors and developers know that sooner or later the recovery is going to come and they all want to position themselves. They want all their ducks in a row and all their due diligence done so they can pull the trigger and be on the front lines in a short period of time.”

Richard Hubbard, president and CEO of Valley Partnership, sees two encouraging signs within the business community.

“Commercial development companies have come face to face with the difficult decisions they have to make, be that layoffs, stopping projects or filing for bankruptcy,” Hubbard says. “A lot of those decisions are being made.”

Hubbard also is pleased with decisions made by sources of capital.

“Lending companies — whether that’s banks, private institutions or individuals — who have taken back property through foreclosure are starting to bring that property to market at reasonable prices,” Hubbard says. “They’re cutting their losses and deciding they can’t hold onto the property anymore. That will allow these companies to move forward.”

Hubbard says he also is encouraged that the housing market is well into the process of working its way out of the recession.

“The home-building industry has been suffering for a long time and they made their tough decisions a year ago,” Hubbard says. “Now it’s time for the commercial industry to follow suit.”

The Arizona economy and Tucson, Southern Arizona’s economic engine, continue to suffer from the same maladies as Greater Phoenix, says Marshall Vest, an economist at the University of Arizona’s Eller College of Management. Vest sees no hopeful signs of a statewide recovery for the time being. The only positive for Tucson is that its housing boom was not as strong as Phoenix, and its economy was not dragged down as far as the Valley’s, he says.

Vest sees the national recession receding in the third quarter.

“Arizona and Tucson will lag behind the nation by at least a quarter or two,” Vest says. “So Arizona should bottom out by the end of the year or the first quarter of next year and start its recovery at that time.”

The first sign of a statewide recovery will be a peak in the number of initial unemployment insurance claims, followed by stabilization of the labor market and then an uptick in retail sales, Vest says.

Flagstaff dominates the Northern Arizona economy. Marc Chopin, dean of the W.A.

Franke College of Business at Northern Arizona University, says the city has been logging double-digit declines for sales tax revenues and bed, board and beverage tax receipts. Building permits for single-family homes and additions and alterations to existing homes also have been declining, he says.

“I don’t expect things will turn around for some time,” Chopin says. “Construction, I expect, won’t recover for some time. About a quarter of the homes in Flagstaff are second homes. Until there’s a recovery under way in Phoenix, from which many of our second-home owners come, the second-home market in Flagstaff is unlikely to recover.”

www.aaed.com
www.cba.nau.edu
www.ebr.eller.arizona.edu
www.gpec.org
www.valleypartnership.org
wpcarey.asu.edu

West Valley Industry Turnover

WESTMARC Unveils The Results Of A Work Force Labor Market Study

What started as an initiative from the city of Surprise Economic Development Department quickly turned into an unprecedented work force study on the entire West Valley spearheaded by WESTMARC. The study came about through a collaboration of communities, corporations, government entities and educational institutions that contributed more than $150,000 to fund the report.

“West Valley communities have experienced tremendous growth since the 2000 Census. They were having difficulty addressing questions from business prospects concerning the size and skill levels of the regional work force,” says Surprise Economic Development Coordinator Megan Griego, who sits on WESTMARC’s economic development committee and was chair of the Workforce Labor Study of the West Valley. “The communities of the West Valley formed a consortium to better understand their region’s work force and to better promote its growth and development.”

Russ Ullinger, senior project manager of economic development for SRP, and WESTMARC co-chair and member of the economic development committee, adds that the concept for the study developed out of necessity.

“Numerous surveys and studies have identified work force as one of the most important assets when national site selection consultants consider different regions and locations for businesses,” he says.

“This is relevant in good economic times, as well as poor economic times. This study truly drills and provides specific labor information unique to the West Valley.”

Harry Paxton, economic development director for the city of Goodyear, who also acted as co-chair of the study, credits WESTMARC’s partnerships with the Maricopa Work Force Connection, as well as Maricopa Community College in the development and funding of the study. He also praises WESTMARC for bringing together work force professionals to get their input on what the study should entail.

In May 2008, WESTMARC enlisted California-based ERISS Corporation to prepare the comprehensive labor market analysis.

“That analysis involved a survey of all businesses in the West Valley with 20 or more employees — all such businesses were contracted and 1,100 completed the survey — and a detailed review of newly available government information,” Griego says.

The detailed data developed by the survey and the analysis of various government data sources is also available through www.usworks.com/westmarc, which presents the comprehensive information and data relevant to businesses, site selectors, economic development professionals, work force development professionals and educators into convenient and customizable reports.

The results of the study can now help the 15 West Valley communities represented in the report to identify their specific needs when it comes to work force issues, transportation and industry growth, and demand. For example, Glendale encompasses more than 6,000 firms, according to the report. Health care accounts for more than 12 percent of total employment in Glendale, which is higher than the Metro Phoenix area as a whole (9.1 percent), but is on par with other West Valley cities. The results also show that 19.6 percent of Glendale workers live and work in the city. The majority of other Glendale employees travel from Metro Phoenix (35.3 percent) and as many as 1.3 percent commute from Tucson.

In general, the study found there are more than 450,000 workers available to fill jobs for the right offer. In addition, there are growth and expansion opportunities in the industries of transportation, wholesale trade, traditional and non-store retail, as well as education. Regarding industry growth, health care leads the trend with a 6 percent growth rate. Construction and transportation/utilities follow closely with a 5 percent growth rate each, and retail in the West Valley has a 4 percent growth rate.

As part of the study, businesses were asked to rate their own work forces on a scale of one to seven, one representing the lowest productivity rating and seven the highest.Sixty-six percent of the area’s employers ranked their employees in one of the two highest categories.

Absenteeism is also a non-issue when it comes to West Valley workers as a whole. The majority of employers, 63 percent, reported that absenteeism is “not a significant problem” at their firms, and when absences do occur, 61 percent of employers reported that the cause is a legitimate illness with childcare.
Jack Lunsford, WESTMARC’s president and CEO, says ERISS Corporation did an excellent job with the study and the results have given them a course of action.



“We found that we have in the West Valley, even in this economy, a very large and qualified labor supply, and we still have some industries that are currently growing and that anticipate growth,” he says, adding that results also show West Valley communities need to implement a live/work/play strategy to avoid the problems with transportation issues.

Landis Elliott, business development director for House of Elliott, says the benefits of the study are numerous. “The study is a tool that the West Valley cities can use while working with potential locates to validate the high-quality employees we have in this region,” she says.

Wooing businesses to AZ in the recession

Despite Tough Times, Economic Development Groups Continue To Woo New Businesses To Arizona

Economic development experts in Arizona hope to parlay the state’s convenient geographic location, and even a stagnant housing market, into attracting new businesses.

Toss in relatively low taxes, a freeze on new regulations and a well-honed reputation as a business-friendly state, and recruiters have a tool box full of reasons why businesses should consider relocating to Arizona.

But that’s not all the economic development agencies tout. Local experts know that businesses looking to relocate are interested in those intangible quality-of-life issues: an available and educated work force, a higher-education community that excels in research and churns out highly qualified workers, and a relatively low cost for starting up and doing business.

Television commercials are generally cost-prohibitive, officials say, leading them to rely heavily on the Internet for their recruitment efforts. Feature articles in national trade publications also represent a low-cost way of spreading the Arizona story.

Two of Arizona’s largest economic development agencies — the Greater Phoenix Economic Council (GPEC) and Tucson Regional Economic Opportunities (TREO) — are collaborating on a campaign to lure California businesses to Arizona.

Scarlett Spring, GPEC’s senior vice president of business development, says her team makes targeted trips to California at least once a month, with specific emphasis on the Bay Area, Los Angeles and San Diego. Often, GPEC invites local mayors along to give recruitment efforts an official flavor. Bringing mayors, Spring says, gives recruiters leverage and “opens doors that might not otherwise be open.”

The GPEC message to California?

“Arizona has a business-friendly environment and a reputation of having lowered taxes in some shape or form for 10 consecutive years,” Spring says. “It’s a lower-cost environment for their employees, whether through workers’ comp, competitive wages or health care insurance. Those are the operational costs that a company looks at when considering a financial move or expansion.”

Noting that virtually every phase of running a business is more expensive in California, Spring adds, “What we’re doing is trying to position Arizona as being complementary to the California marketplace.”

DGPEC also invites businesses to Arizona for special events. For example, last November biotech and solar companies from the Bay Area were hosted for a weekend in the Valley. The visit included attending a game between the Arizona Cardinals and the San Francisco 49ers. Two of those companies are close to moving to Arizona, Spring says.

Laura Shaw, senior vice president of marketing for TREO, agrees with the strategy of taking advantage of Arizona’s location. California businesses struggling under mounting operating costs have the ability to move to Arizona and still access California markets.

TREO targets such industries as aerospace, defense, biosciences and alternative energy, and only meets with companies that have been pre-qualified as likely candidates for relocation.

“Research shows that labor drives all market decisions — whether a company can find the labor that fills their needs,” Shaw says. “We focus on matching our assets with a company’s needs.”

Despite the national perception that Tucson is a low-wage community, TREO presses for higher-paying jobs.

What the Tucson area offers is a high-growth Southwestern region situated at the doorstep of California and Mexico, with young talent graduating from the University of Arizona. Tucson is also in the heart of one of the most heavily traveled trucking networks, linking Mexican markets to the California coast.

Meanwhile, the Arizona Department of Commerce, though on a limited basis because of budget cuts, continues to participate in trade shows and foreign direct investment events in Canada, Mexico and Europe. Commerce officials and hired contractors work with foreign companies that are interested in expanding to Arizona. They also help match Arizona firms with foreign customers.

Kent Ennis, interim director of the Commerce Department, confirms that a tight budget makes recruiting more difficult, yet the agency reaches out to major industries, including bioscience and solar. In fact, the Commerce Department led an Arizona delegation to a national convention of bioscience technology companies in Atlanta on May 18.

In addition, the Commerce Department assisted in the relocation of Spain’s Albiasa Solar, which in April announced plans to build a $1 billion renewable solar energy plant near Kingman. The project will create 2,000 construction jobs and more than 100 permanent positions when it is completed in 2013, Ennis says.

The Arizona Association of Economic Development, which is more of a trade organization representing Arizona firms and does not embark on recruiting efforts, nevertheless gets its share of contacts from businesses considering a move to Arizona, says Bruce Coomer, executive director of AAED. But first, he makes sure to sing Arizona’s praises. He mentions the usual advantages, but adds an unlikely twist.

Because our housing market crashed,” he says, “that’s a plus. Now there is affordable housing if a company wants to move here, especially from California. Their employees can really get some bargains.”

Bob Matia Managing Partner Squire, Sanders and Dempsey

CEO Series: Bob Matia

Bob Matia
Managing Partner
Squire, Sanders and Dempsey

What impact has the current recession had on the legal profession?
With the credit markets being down as much as they were this time around, the flow of corporate legal business was definitely affected more than in past recessions. A lot of people view law firms as recession proof, and to some extent some of the practice areas within a law firm are recession proof. Litigation, for example, seems to go on and on whether there is a recession or not, and that is in fact happening now in our firm. But this time around, the corporate group was affected much more than in the past and that has caused different challenges.

Do you foresee any long-term changes in how law firms conduct the business side of their operations as a result of the economic crisis?
It’s been a wake-up call for the law profession … I think there was a complacency that had developed among law firms about how carefully they had to watch developing trends. But I think this has been a good wake-up call, so I think you’ll find law firms staying more conscious of staffing and not trying to get too far ahead in staffing; maybe slightly curtailing the kinds of lead hiring we used to do. We hire every year out of law school. We’re having in Phoenix six new lawyers joining us out of the class of 2009.

They were originally scheduled to arrive in October. We’ve deferred that arrival to January of 2010. I think you’ve probably seen in the paper a number of other moves by other law firms, some taking different forms of action. … I think you’ll see tinkering here and there. I don’t think you’ll see vast changes in the way we do things, but we’re looking at it. We’re looking at it on a monthly basis, checking the numbers, trying to see if we see a trend in one practice area or another.

You have represented the city of Phoenix in its dealings with developers of its downtown mixed-use complex. How would you describe the evolution of Downtown Phoenix from a governmental and legislative aspect?
The change in 30 years has just been remarkable. It’s great. … During the course of 30 years, we got a bill passed that established economic development as a major public purpose in Arizona, which has significant implications in that we feel it probably was the turning point in permitting condemnation for economic development purposes, a subject which is not popular in all sectors of the economy. But certainly there were instances where a single property owner could hold up an entire, major, new downtown development, and the governmental units simply had to have a way of dealing with that. Condemnation was one of them and we’re pleased about that. But there’s a new challenge, actually, to the subsidies that cities have made available to developers, both downtown and in other kinds of zones that are created for economic development. The (state) court of appeals has just thrown out part of the subsidy the city of Phoenix gave to CityNorth. Whether that goes to the Arizona Supreme Court depends on the Supreme Court.

For years, we were operating under another court of appeals case, known as the Wistuber case, and I always thought it struck a very good balance between hard consideration and soft consideration on what cities were getting for their subsidies. The problem is that the Arizona constitution has a gift clause in it, which says public bodies can’t give away their money to private interests without getting value back for that money. TheWistuber case made it clear that you could look at things like increased tax revenues and improving job availability, but you also had to have some hard considerations for what you were spending your money on. I always thought  that was a great balance. We’ll see how this comes out.

Given the current economic climate, what changes have you made to future workforce planning?
I think law firms will stay closer to the break-even point on need, on staff. We had the luxury of delaying responses to ups and downs in the economy in the past. Law firms are being much more conscious today of the cost of legal services to clients. Even the largest corporations are getting our attention in terms of trying to give them the very best service we can for the lowest cost. So we’re going to pay a lot more attention, probably, to having balanced legal teams in terms of experience level. For example, on a typical corporate transaction or litigation matter, we will probably pay a lot more attention to what the blended hourly rate would be if you looked at all the people who are working on the account.

    Vital Stats




  • Started with Squire, Sanders and Dempsey in 1966
  • Opened Phoenix office in 1979
  • Listed in the 2009 edition of “The Best Lawyers in America”
  • Selected for inclusion in the 2007 inaugural edition of “Southwest Super Lawyers”
  • Designated a Center of Influence by Arizona Business Magazine in 2008
  • Received law degree from Case Western Reserve University
  • Works with the Arizona Business Coalition, the Arizona Justice Foundation and the Phoenix Community Alliance
  • www.ssd.com