Tag Archives: Greater Phoenix Economic Council

Arizona Mega-Region, Sun Corridor

Developing the Road Map to Growth in the Sun Corridor

With the housing industry in the slumps and fewer construction jobs, now is the time for Arizona to look at ways to diversify its economy to guarantee a sustainable future. The region’s population is poised to grow from 5 million to 10 million by 2050, so we will also face the environmental challenges of accommodating rapid population growth in a fragile desert community.

The changing demographic and economic situation is prompting researchers and leaders to think about how the mega-region known as the Sun Corridor can one day become a significant economic, technological and cultural center. In moving forward, how do we ensure a balance between economic growth and environmental quality?

If the region between Phoenix and Tucson becomes a new paradigm in Arizona for sustainable development with a diverse economic base, our state — quite possibly — will be on track to advance globally. With that said, it will take a substantial amount of cooperation between business and government as well as much better marketing of the region to encourage the wave of investment to continue and accelerate.

Next month, Valley Forward Association is hosting a luncheon focused on opportunities for the Sun Corridor. Panelists include:


The program will be moderated by Janet Perez, editor-in-chief of Arizona Business Magazine, and will focus the discussion on ways Phoenix, Central Arizona and Tucson might work together to enhance growth opportunities and the quality of life issues in the Sun Corridor. Be part of the dialogue that will help shape Arizona’s future!

PTK Top Industry Leaders 2010

People To Know’s Top Industry Leaders Of The Year Announced

AZRE: Arizona Commercial Real Estate Magazine’s latest edition of Top People to Know (PTK) in Commercial Real Estate has just been published, and last night the winners of the PTK Top Industry Leaders were announced at a special event.

PTK showcases the most influential people working in commercial real estate in Arizona in the categories of developers and investors, brokers, architects and engineers, general contractors, sub-contractors, financiers and accountants, attorneys, city planners, property managers, and economic developers.

A committee of CRE professionals and the editorial staff of AZRE picked the people profiled in the 2010-2011 edition of PTK. Of those selected to be in the publication, the committee chose one person in each category as a Top Industry Leader.

A full profile on each of the Top Industry Leaders will be published in the January/February edition of AZRE.

Developers &Investors  Mike Ebert Managing Partner, Development RED DevelopmentDevelopers &Investors

Mike Ebert
Managing Partner, Development
RED Development



Brokers  Mike Haenel Executive Vice President Cassidy Turley | BRE CommercialBrokers

Mike Haenel
Executive Vice President
Cassidy Turley | BRE Commercial



Architects & Engineers  John F. Kane, AIA Partner ArchitektonArchitects & Engineers

John F. Kane, AIA
Partner
Architekton


General Contractors  Bryan Dunn, LEED AP Senior Vice President Adolfson & Peterson ConstructionGeneral Contractors

Bryan Dunn, LEED AP
Senior Vice President
Adolfson & Peterson Construction


Sub-Contractors  Tim Drexler President & CEO Ace Asphalt of ArizonaSub-Contractors

Tim Drexler
President & CEO
Ace Asphalt of Arizona


Financiers & Accountants  Mark Winkleman Chief Operating Officer ML ManagerFinanciers & Accountants

Mark Winkleman
Chief Operating Officer
ML Manager


Attorneys  Jordan Rich Rose Founder & President Rose Law Group pcAttorneys

Jordan Rich Rose
Founder & President
Rose Law Group pc


City Planners  Chris Anaradian Community Development Director City of TempeCity Planners

Chris Anaradian
Community Development Director
City of Tempe


Property Managers  Afton Trail Managing Director CB Richard EllisProperty Managers

Afton Trail
Managing Director
CB Richard Ellis


Economic Developers  Barry Broome President & CEO Greater Phoenix Economic CouncilEconomic Developers

Barry Broome
President & CEO
Greater Phoenix Economic Council

Health Care Reform in Arizona - AZ Business Magazine Nov/Dec 2010

Business And Community Leaders Are Trying To Figure Out What Health Care Reform Will Mean In Arizona

For government and business, providers and patients, the U.S. health care reform legislation promises a new world of costs and care.

Most individuals without insurance will be able to get it. Those who have insurance already probably will have to pay more for it. Hospitals, doctors and others in the front lines of health care will begin to change long-established ways of doing business. State governments and many businesses, already battered by recession, will face new costs and possibly some benefits.

But beyond these generalizations, little is certain about what health care reform will mean in Arizona and across the country. The bill is vague in many areas and leaves important details of implementation to be determined by federal regulators and other officials in the weeks and months ahead.

“Quite frankly, we won’t know the financial impacts until we move through the process and see what the federal government and insurance companies do,” says Donna Davis, chief executive officer of the Arizona Small Business Association (ASBA).

Barry Broome, president and chief executive officer of the Greater Phoenix Economic Council (GPEC), says it is too early know what the bill will mean.

“It sounds very good to be able to cover the uninsured, but what the costs are and how they are going to be distributed are still not clear,” he says.

Marjorie Baldwin, director of the School of Health Management and Policy and assistant dean at Arizona State University’s W. P. Carey School of Business, says it is important to note that the law’s primary purpose is to cover the uninsured.

“This bill is about access,” Baldwin says. “It’s designed to cover the uninsured. There is much less in it about quality of care and little about cost controls.”

On what the price tag for health care reform will be, Baldwin says, “The one safe prediction is that it is going to cost much more than anticipated.”

Hospitals and doctors
Whether the health care overhaul is ultimately deemed a success will be determined to a large extent by what happens inside the nation’s hospitals, clinics and doctors’ offices.

Peter Pavarini, a health care lawyer for Squire, Sanders and Dempsey and an adviser to health care organizations, believes hospitals are actually well-positioned to adapt to the new law.

“Hospitals have been anticipating something happening for some time,” Pavarini says. “Hospitals have the resources to prepare better than some of the other players in the health care system.”

Several provisions in the law are expected to lead to a dramatic shift in the way hospitals are paid by insurance. Under the existing system, providers receive set rates for specific medical procedures. The new law moves toward a system in which hospitals receive a set amount for treating an overall condition or a so-called “bundled payment.” This shift is expected to require more detailed treatment plans, coordinated care and closer cooperation among hospitals and physicians.

“With the bundled payments, you have to have a more integrated approach and an approach that aligns physicians and hospitals,” says Suzanne Pfister, vice president of external affairs at St. Joseph’s Hospital and Medical Center in Phoenix.

The hospital already has been moving in this direction, according to Pfister. St. Joseph’s has forged a series of partnerships with area health care organizations, including outpatient and short-stay providers United Surgical Partners and SimonMed Imaging
.
“We are continuing to look at moving from acute care to a continuum of care,” Pfister says.

Pavarini believes the new payment systems for Medicaid and Medicare will bring big changes to care at hospitals. When the system is in place, hospitals will get a set payment for delivering all of the care a patient receives from 72 hours before admission to 30 days after discharge, he notes.

“That’s a whole different model from what we have now,” Pavarini says. “This means it’s not good enough just to get the patient in and out of the hospital. It means testing can’t be duplicative. And it means patients better be ready for discharge when they’re released.”

Pavarini says doctors and hospitals will need to cooperate more closely as the law is implemented. He sees hospitals forging formal alliances with physician groups and appointing more practicing physicians to their boards of directors.
A more basic concern for hospitals is how much they will be paid. Because expansion of Medicaid is a key feature of the law, hospitals are concerned about long-term revenue.

“Payments are going to shift more to the level of Medicaid, and Medicaid has not been a particularly good payer,” Pfister says.

Officials at Phoenix-based Banner Health, one of the largest nonprofit health care systems in the country, are still examining the legislation to assess its consequences.

“This reform is primarily about health insurance, not health care reform,” the organization said in a statement. “It will result in expanded AHCCCS (Medicaid) coverage in Arizona and access to insurance, but the need remains to address reducing the cost of health care.”

The bill includes a number of provisions that will increase the role of primary-care physicians. Medicaid fees will go up for primary-care doctors, who also will be eligible for bonuses from Medicare.

St. Joseph’s is concerned about being able to find enough physicians as health care reform is implemented in the coming years, according to Pfister.

“Arizona has fewer physicians per capita than the national average, so we face that already. Arizona does not have enough primary-care physicians and even some specialists,” she says.

The larger hospitals that have formal ties to physicians and other providers probably will fare best under health care reform, according to Pavarini. But he believes smaller, more isolated hospitals will struggle and some will close.

“Arizona has a number of smaller hospitals in less populated areas,” he says. “I think the outlying hospitals in rural communities could have difficulty.”

Businesses
While all businesses will be affected by the health care reform law, some will feel it more than others. Probably least affected will be firms that already provide health insurance now and have a pool of employees large enough to allow the companies to self-insure.

“For most large businesses, fundamentally there’s not a lot of change,” says Keith Maio, president and chief executive officer of National Bank of Arizona. “For us, we’ll have to be a little more paperwork conscious.”

ASU’s Baldwin says the principal effect on large employers will be slightly higher expenses, as they absorb some of the cost of the system’s expanded coverage.

“For larger employers, the law is not going to mean a big difference, but they are going to see their costs go up,” she says.

Smaller businesses though will face new uncertainties, and, for some, significant new costs.

“I would say that there is a cloud of concern generally for small businesses,” says Maio, whose bank has many small business customers. “People who have been through the recession and are still slugging it out have learned to survive. But they still have trouble seeing how they can get back to where they were . That’s why something like the health care bill can have such an impact.”

The law offers a complex mix of incentives and penalties designed to spur employers to offer health insurance. In 2014, employers with 50 or more workers who do not provide coverage will face penalties of $2,000 or $3,000 per employee. Some employers who provide insurance and have fewer than 50 workers will be eligible for tax credits.

“In a sense there is both a carrot and a stick,” says Bradford Kirkman-Liff, professor in the School of Health Management and Policy at W. P Carey. “The idea is to create a very strong incentive to provide insurance.”

The tax credits could offset as much as half of the insurance costs for some employers, Kirkman-Liff notes.

“Arizona has a high number of small employers. Many of them don’t provide health insurance, but some do. This would give them a reason not to drop it,” he says.

The law also instructs states to establish insurance exchanges, where small employers and individuals can purchase policies from insurance companies. The exchanges are designed to bring down the cost of insurance by combining groups of buyers into large pools.

But even with government subsidies and insurance exchanges, some businesses will find the burden too large, according Maio.

“The greatest impact will be on those that employ entry-level employees,” he says. “Arizona has a lot of lower-wage businesses who won’t be able to afford to provide insurance. I think some will opt to pay the fine. Then what have you accomplished?”

Another problem that Maio sees is the 50-employee threshold for the coverage requirement. Employers with fewer than 50 can escape penalties for not providing insurance.

“Have you given them a disincentive to adding people?” he asks.

Davis at ASBA says most business owners are focused on short-term challenges and do not have a clear picture of how the law will affect them.

“For some small businesses who fit the prescribed requirements, it will help offset some of their costs,” Davis says. “For others, it simply won’t.”

Green Economy

Green News Roundup – Building A Green Economy, Solar Power & More

Welcome to our weekly green news roundup. This week we’ve gathered stories about the benefits of making your home energy efficient, building a green economy and solar in Arizona.

Feel free to send along any stories you’d like by e-mailing me at kasia@azbigmedia.com Also visit AZ Green Scene for informative articles on sustainability endeavors in the Valley and state.


Best of Green 2010: Business and Politics

Find out who the best political ambassador is, the best politics Web site, the best non-profit partnership and so much more, all with a “green” twist.

Building a Green Economy
This New York Times Magazine essay addresses how to cut greenhouse gas emissions without further injuring our economy. Along with a synopsis of climate change economics, the author dives into controversial aspects of the issue and sorts it all out so we don’t have to.

Arizona to world: Do we have solar!
The LA Times spotlighted Arizona’s efforts to draw solar companies to the Grand Canyon State. Greater Phoenix Economic Council president and CEO Barry Broome is quoted in the article, emphasizing the state’s commitment to a sustainable economy.

Motivating People to make homes energy efficient
In this piece from the Washington Post, the author makes the case for energy efficient homes and looks at why homeowners don’t implement more measures. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration data, in the U.S. buildings are the largest source of greenhouse gas emissions that are causing global warming. However, making your home more energy-efficient reduces greenhouse gas emissions.

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: Craig Robb, Executive Vice President And Director Of Finance And Administration, National Bank Of Arizona

Craig Robb
Executive vice president and director of finance and administration, National Bank of Arizona

With a 17-year career in land development prior to joining National Bank of Arizona seven years ago, Craig Robb was a natural to become an active member of the Greater Phoenix Economic Council.

Robb, executive vice president and director of finance and administration for the bank, is in his first year on the GPEC board of directors. He also serves on the GPEC Next Committee, which reviews possible projects and initiatives before forwarding them to the board.

But it was his two-plus years on GPEC’s Community Development Committee that enabled him to draw extensively from his combined experience in real estate and banking. Comprised primarily of real estate brokers and developers, with some bankers, the panel focused on shovel-ready projects as the construction industry’s fortunes plunged.

One of the areas his committee worked on involves sustainability and LEED certification.

“GPEC maintains a strong effort to identify programs and buildings that are more attractive to potential companies coming into the Phoenix area,” Robb says. “It’s an effort to match companies to a building that is LEED certified and sustainable, whether it’s office or industrial. That’s very attractive to a company that might be interested in relocating here.”

The bank’s relationship with GPEC is a two-way street.

“We are glad to be a contributor to GPEC, which is absolutely the right organization for promoting Greater Phoenix,” Robb says, “especially how difficult it is now, with the competition we face in a national and global economy. On a reciprocal basis, we have benefited. GPEC has given us a greater interest in sustainability.”

The bank, which celebrated its 25th anniversary in 2009, decided to upgrade some of its nearly 80 branches that were facing energy challenges.

“We started our own effort to see what we could do to create a more sustainable platform for our own buildings,” Robb says.

About the same time in late 2008, Robb, through a GPEC event, met the CEO of Solar City.

“That blossomed forward, and we ended up with a $1.5 million installation at our Biltmore location, improving our energy efficiency,” he says. “In addition, the bank has committed $25 million to provide a lease program that allows individuals to lease solar equipment for their homes.

“We made our contribution to GPEC, and as a result here is a relationship that has blossomed into well over a $50 million investment related to solar.”

www.nbarizona.com


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

Q&A With Michael Bidwell, Chairman Of GPEC, President Of The Arizona Cardinals

Michael Bidwill
Chairman, GPEC
President, Arizona Cardinals

Why did you opt for a second term as GPEC chairman?

It is an honor to serve a second year as chairman of GPEC. The organization is doing meaningful work, and I wanted to help build upon that work. I think it’s also important to provide consistency in leadership, particularly during times like this. Over the last year, GPEC has made impactful contributions to Arizona’s economy, including our work on the renewable energy incentive program (SB1403). We have much more to do and serving another year as chairman will allow me to continue to work closely with the governor, Legislature and business community on vital economic development issues.

You have been GPEC’s chairman during one of the worst economic downturns the Valley has seen in decades. What lessons have you taken from this experience and what have you learned about the business community?
Our state was unprepared for the slowdown in the economy and the ramifications are going to be sobering in 2010 for those not following the state budget cuts. It is clear that the business community needs to lead the effort to diversify our industry base. And it is equally clear that we have many talented, passionate business community members who are ready to step forward and provide new leadership. Like in football, we need a game plan and players on the field to execute it.

Economists say the recession has made Arizona more affordable again, and thus more attractive to relocating companies. Do you agree with this assessment, and how is GPEC making sure the Valley maximizes its competitiveness?
I believe it is one factor, but not significant enough to be a game changer. Arizona needs to understand that we compete for business expansion and relocation with our Mountain West competitor states. Decision makers who decide where these projects (and jobs) are located factor many things: an educated work force, cost of and access to capital, business operating environment and an ability to attract and retain talent. Housing costs play a role, but our competition has a leg up on Arizona in many of the other areas. We need to stress to our elected officials that we need a game plan to recover from this downturn and diversify our economic base.

GPEC has targeted the renewable energy industry as a source of new business opportunities. How do Arizona’s efforts to attract green companies compare with those of other states? How would you assess any progress the state has made?

With the passage of SB1403 last session, we are well positioned to land new solar and renewable energy companies. But Corporate America is going green too and looking for green or LEED-certified buildings. Arizona needs to develop new programs to bring our commercial buildings to LEED certification. There is no doubt this will help in our effort to land new projects.

What are some of the goals and initiatives GPEC is taking on this year and how will it go about achieving those goals?

We have several efforts. First, we are providing analysis to the Legislature on how rewriting the state’s Enterprise Zone legislation will stimulate job creation and fill some of the empty commercial space. Second, we have renewed our focus on marketing Greater Phoenix with an emphasis on positive business news and opportunity. We’ve created a new Web site called opportunitygreaterphoenix.com that showcases the region and unique opportunities businesses and people have here. Next, we are organizing executive missions to Washington, D.C., and New York, where we’ll meet with leaders who can help influence positive economic activity for Arizona. And of course, we’ll continue to work hard to bring solar and renewable energy companies to Arizona under the new incentive legislation passed last summer. It will be a busy year and we are committed to doing all we can to improve the Valley’s economy and bring jobs to this region.

www.azcardinals.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

Barry Broome

First Job: Barry Broome, President And CEO, Greater Phoenix Economic Council

Barry Broome
President and CEO, Greater Phoenix Economic Council (GPEC)

Describe your very first job and what lessons you learned from it.
I loaded trucks for Mountain Top pies on the west side of Columbus, Ohio. I was in the baker’s local union. I was 15 when I started that job. I remember asking my Dad, who was the plant superintendent at the time, what my goal should be. He said I should become the fastest loader on the dock. After a couple of weeks, I asked the supervisor who the fastest guy was. He said a guy named Sparks. I started requesting to load trucks with Sparks, so I could get fast enough to beat him. Sparks would always finish before me. When he was done, he’d sit around, smoke a cigarette and watch me finish loading. I never did beat him. But he was the only one I couldn’t beat. What I learned from that job was how important college would be for my future. Having grown up working class, it was difficult to see what people’s life was like in a plant. It was very limited. I wanted to build a rewarding life, and I wanted to do something that made a difference in other people’s lives.

Describe your first job in your industry and what you learned from it.
I worked for an initiative in Cleveland aimed at rebuilding inner-city neighborhoods. We focused on areas that had 100 percent poverty rates, high crime and gang violence. We created jobs and organized leadership. We worked with gangs, the Crips and the Bloods. We did a lot of work with the Nation of Islam. And a lot of the guys were ex-Black Panthers. I learned a lot from that experience. I realized how much potential people have, even when they live in poverty; that the amazing talent and potential of people can be harnessed if they are given hope. Hope is the most important thing you can instill in someone.

What were your salaries at both of these jobs?

I earned $5 an hour at Mountain Top. I made $24,000 a year working in Cleveland’s inner city. We almost starved, but the work shaped my life. It really gave me a sense of purpose.

Who is your biggest mentor and what role did they play?
My biggest mentor, outside of my mother, was a (state) senator from Cleveland named Charlie Butts. Charlie was a genius who saw all of the real problems in our country before most did and understood the magnitude of their complexity. He was instrumental in helping balance the moral compass, which needs to be balanced against ambition. He was the first person to instill in me that winning was not everything, but how you won really mattered. He taught me that principle was more important than power, that real leaders were essentially selfless.

What advice would you give to a person just entering your industry?
Do it for the love of community and be inspired by the work. You will never be disappointed.

If you weren’t doing this, what would you be doing instead?
Either running a tech company or coaching and teaching kids. I’ve built and launched a lot of new tech companies in Michigan. … If I didn’t do that, I would like to teach. I really enjoy being around young people and mentoring them. It’s important, powerful work.

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.”

Michael Bidwill Arizona Cardinals

Q&A: Michael Bidwill, President, Arizona Cardinals

During these difficult economic times, how vital is an organization such as the Greater Phoenix Economic Council (GPEC) to the local economy?
GPEC is vitally important because it is the only regional organization focused exclusively on bringing new business to Greater Phoenix. Because GPEC works closely with companies considering expansion to the region, they know what companies need to make business decisions and gain insight into what steps the state can take to better compete with our Mountain West competitor states.

What can the Valley do to better position itself to succeed once the recession is over?
Diversify our economy and work with public sector leaders to create sensible, new programs that bring high-wage industries to Arizona. During the last decade of the real estate explosion, Arizona was one of the leading job-producing states. Over the last two years, we have fallen to 49th in terms of new job creation. Business as usual will not work. Now is the time to change our metrics and compete for other industries to migrate to Arizona.

Arizona and Greater Phoenix routinely lose projects to less desirable locations because of aggressive relocation programs in other states. GPEC has developed modest, fiscally responsible programs, such as the Quality Jobs Through Renewable Industries program, for the Arizona Legislature to consider. GPEC has vetted these programs with decision-makers in the renewable energy industry. Senior executives within these industries have told us this program would put Arizona in a more competitive position to win projects. GPEC also had Elliott D. Pollack and Company conduct a third-party review of our program to confirm its fiscal impact.

We need to immediately work with the state to develop and implement new programs that make our region more competitive.

What are some of the initiatives and goals you have planned this year for GPEC, and how will you go about achieving those goals?
In addition to solar and renewable energy, GPEC has three other strategies that we feel are meaningful generators of new business. We continue to work aggressively on a foreign direct investment program, as the United States is still an attractive environment to invest in for international companies. Next, in working with many of our public sector leaders, we are actively seeking to locate companies to Greater Phoenix from neighboring states with higher operating costs of doing business. Lastly, health care in Arizona is an untapped resource. In fact, Arizonans routinely seek health care outside of the state valued at hundreds of millions of dollars. We need to work with the health care industry to determine the needs not currently being met in Arizona and look to those opportunities for economic growth.

How did you first become involved in GPEC and how have your own professional experiences prepared you for your current role?
The Arizona Cardinals have long been stakeholders of GPEC, as we believed in its important work. I had no personal involvement until Glendale Mayor Elaine Scruggs asked me to serve on the GPEC board three years ago. I was honored to join and realized quickly how critical this organization is to helping our local economy grow, especially during this downturn and with the state’s budget cuts to the Arizona Department of Commerce.

You’ve seen first hand how important professional sports are to the local and regional economy. How can the Valley capitalize more on that in the future?
Sports are important to Arizona and we need to support what we have now. But, again, we need to focus on diversifying our economy. Like a personal stock portfolio, we cannot become “over-weighted” in any single sector. We have all the teams we need, but it will be important to attract events with significant economic impacts and exposure like the Super Bowl in the future. Our regional success will depend largely on creating a diverse and vibrant economy around many new industries and we can’t look to real estate or sports to take us out of this downturn.

Globe, International Business Growth in Arizona

New Group Aims To Boost International Business Growth In Arizona

Most Arizona legislators and business leaders now recognize the value of international commerce to the state. It hasn’t always been that way, but today there is broad agreement that exports from Arizona and foreign direct investment into Arizona from around the world create jobs and community growth. After all, 95 percent of the world’s population is outside the U.S., along with 70 percent of the world’s purchasing power. Why not tap into that power?

Arizona has made relatively slow progress with international trade compared to states such as California and Texas. Those states have each made greater per capita investments to encourage local companies to export and foreign companies to invest locally. Arizona is ranked in the bottom of U.S. states for foreign direct investment — No. 31 — according to the U.S. Department of Commerce. This creates an excellent opportunity for improvement.

With exports, the picture is a little better. Arizona businesses have done a reasonably good job of selling their products overseas. Exports from Arizona-based companies increased to $19.2 billion in 2007, contributing to good job and tax revenue growth. These figures rank Arizona as the 17th leading state for exports.

People all over the world know about the Grand Canyon, but few know about businesses within Arizona. Exports can help build global awareness of Arizona businesses, making the state a more viable candidate for foreign investment. That’s important because foreign companies investing in Arizona pay higher wages than local companies, and with today’s sputtering economy, the state’s economy needs all the help it can get.

According to the Greater Phoenix Economic Council (GPEC), if Arizona could increase foreign direct investment to be the 17th ranked state as it is with exports, it would attract 84,000 more jobs and $12.5 billion more in capital investment. How’s that for an economic shot in the arm?

“We need investment to capture strategic industry growth for Arizona, like Germany-based solar companies,” says Rod Miller, vice president of international economic development for GPEC. “In the current environment, increasing our investment in economic development initiatives will support a quicker and stronger economic recovery.”

Miller’s data shows a return in capital spending and taxes of as much as $110 for every dollar spent attracting companies to Arizona. GPEC is making progress despite Arizona’s low per capita investment. The good news is that many know what’s needed. The bad news is that Arizona, like other states, faces a challenging budget crisis.

It has been against this backdrop of both opportunity and challenge that the Arizona International Growth Group (AZIGG) was founded in 2007. AZIGG was created to provide a place for Arizona-based business owners to gain all the international information and connections they need to be successful overseas. Each of the existing business-support organizations has a piece of the international puzzle, but none has a full view of importing, exporting, international company attraction and international company retention. AZIGG brings it all together, including forums to attract and retain foreign companies.

AZIGG has quickly attracted more than 1,000 members from the Arizona business and business-support community. The group meets monthly to hear international business speakers and discuss ways to help Arizona-based businesses to export or to attract foreign direct investment.

AZIGG encourages cooperation between local international business and cultural groups, including the consulates, the Department of Commerce, GPEC, other city economic development resources, the Phoenix Committee on Foreign Relations, the World Affairs Council of Arizona, financial institutions working with the U.S. Export-Import Bank, trade associations such as the Arizona Technology Council, and international business service providers such as accounting, insurance, marketing and legal firms. AZIGG allows each resource to address the group monthly to keep business owners aware of the most recent ideas, news and opportunities.

In the same spirit of cooperation, the global law firm Squire, Sanders & Dempsey is stepping forward as the first business sponsor for AZIGG. This month, the firm is hosting the AZIGG International Business Fair at its law offices in Downtown Phoenix in order to make local businesses aware of all the services available for companies to grow internationally. Arizona and Arizona-based businesses need to be especially creative to compete against other states for opportunity dollars.

AZIGG encourages both government and private business actions to grow international development. Monthly meetings feature Arizona-based entrepreneurs such as Lee Knowlton of Kahala Corporation (which owns Cold Stone Creamery), Colin Christie of MX Secure and Omar Sayed of Succeed Corporation, all of whom are pioneers for Arizona in connecting their companies to the global market place. Similarly, global service firms such Squire, Sanders & Dempsey show leadership to help others succeed internationally.

Business owners now have more choices with less risk to grow their businesses internationally. Their success ultimately will result in a more balanced and sustainable economy for Arizona. Besides AZIGG, the U.S. Commercial Service’s Export Council and foreign consulates are available as resources to Arizona-based business owners. Additional resources are available on the AZIGG Web site, in AZIGG monthly meetings and as part ofthe AZIGG International Business Fair.

Besides international sales growth, there are other initiatives that all residents of Arizona can support to create a more level playing field for companies based in Arizona. They include:

  • More direct international flights to Sky Harbor International Airport.
  • Sending a clear message that Arizona is a state open to legal immigration.
  • Improving education from below average to above average in the U.S.
  • Providing tax incentives to attract capital-intensive industries.
  • Supporting international sales with education and infrastructure to increase exports.


Doug Bruhnke is president and founder of the Arizona International Growth Group (AZIGG) and CEO and founder of Growth Nation. For more information, visit www.azigg.com

Arizona's venture capital market receives boost

Arizona’s Venture Capital Market Receives Boost

Venture capital is still out there, but startups remain starved for investors

Arizona’s venture capital market has received a welcome boost, but startups and early-stage businesses are still looking for financial angels. Experts in the field say a new wave of venture capital is vital if the state’s economy is to continue growing at the pace it has been in recent years. Because Arizona is an attractive place to do business, experts expect to see an increase in interest by venture capitalists, perhaps later this year. They also believe that the flagging national economy is not a factor.

Yet, a PricewaterhouseCoopers’ report shows slippage in 2007, when Arizona companies received $200.7 million in venture capital compared to $262.6 million in 2006. Providing some relief in 2008 is the recent formation of the Translational Accelerator LLC (TRAC), a private Arizona-based, $20 million bioscience venture capital group. TRAC plans to invest between $500,000 and $2 million in any one company devoted to developing diagnostics, services, prevention agents and treatments directed to cancer and central nervous system diseases, including Alzheimer’s and multiple sclerosis.

Barry Broome, president and CEO of the Greater Phoenix Economic Council, calls the TRAC fund “an example of the investors’ commitment in taking the needed risk to help drive Arizona’s economy.”

Broome says reports indicate that virtually all of Arizona’s recent venture capital funding is in late-stage activity, funding mergers and acquisitions of built-up companies.

“The key component is getting a venture-capital model more aggressively focused around seed and startups,” he says. “That’s where you’re going to get long-term economic benefits.”

Venture capital peaked in 1999-2000 with the telecommunications industry and Internet-based companies. But since the dot-com bust, venture capital has yet to recover.

“People took big losses on them,” Broome says, “and subsequently there was a cooling of venture capital.”

Terree Wasley, director of entrepreneurial services at Arizona State University, sees gradual improvement in the venture capital arena, with no huge moves forward or back.

“Things are on a slow but steady incline going forward,” she says. “But if we’re looking at some sort of downturn in the economy, I’m not sure what impact that might have.”

Wasley says ASU Technopolis, which hosted the Invest Southwest Capital Conference in December, and ASU entrepreneurial services strive to train entrepreneurs who are worthy of investments.

“Our mantra is: ‘Good ideas always find funding, even in tougher times,’ ” she says.

Arizona’s venture capitalists often partner with out-of-state firms.

“They’re looking for good deals,” Wasley says. “They hear about them from other investors. Arizona is turning out a lot of good local talent. Investors look for that.”

Investors also look to stay within their geographic area, which bodes well for Arizona’s potential to attract some of the many venture capitalists in California.

“It’s an advantage for Arizona,” Wasley says.

Dee Harris, senior managing director at Alare Capital Securities LLC, an investment banking firm, doesn’t blame the economy for a shortage of venture capital.

“The primary problem is that venture capital firms in Arizona are basically fully invested,” Harris says.

Being fully invested is a two-sided coin.

“It’s a good sign in that they were able to find some good investments,” Harris says. “But, presumably, it’s a bad sign, because until they raise their next fund — which could take months — they’re not going to be much of a player in Arizona.”

Most of the interest is in life sciences, which means venture capitalists are not investing in technology information and semiconductor companies, Harris says.

Bob Morrison, executive director of Desert Angels in Tucson, says angel investors are not necessarily swayed by the general economy. Angels typically invest their own money, unlike venture capitalists who manage the pooled money of others in a professionally-managed fund.

“It’s a fairly small percentage of their total net worth,” he says. “Generally speaking, it’s their mad money. Nobody puts their lifetime savings into very many of these ventures that can be so risky.”

He dismisses suggestions that venture capital is drying up.

“For ventures that are well conceived and have a reasonable prospect for success, there is ample money,” he says.

But angel investors are reluctant to invest in biotech, he says, because it often takes a long time to make money, especially if the project requires approval from the Food and Drug Administration.

What can the state do to improve the venture capital climate? Broome says Arizona could dedicate 1 percent of the state’s pension fund for early-stage investment, as other states have done.

“If well managed, the use of 1 percent, or even one-half of 1 percent, of the pension fund into a venture strategy would be a major source of capital,” he says.

Wasley says angel investment tax credits also could help.

“Anything that gives investors any kind of incentive to invest in Arizona versus someplace else would be welcome,” she says.

For more information visit the following websites,
asuresearch.asu.edu
gpec.org

International business - AZ Business Magazine April 2008

International Business Opportunities Increase In Arizona

Arizona leaders are pushing the state’s businesses to the international forefront

When principals from United Kingdom-based txtNation, a technology solutions provider, wanted to spread their global wings they turned to Arizona to set up a U.S. location. Similarly, when the German firm Ubidyne, a wireless technology developer, was looking to establish its first U.S. global footprint, it zeroed in on Scottsdale and SkySong, the Arizona State University Scottsdale Innovation Center, to make an imprint. Ditto for Sebit, a Turkish e-learning company. Somehow, the Grand Canyon State is on the international radar these days.

Obviously, Arizona’s expansive blue skies and mountain vistas are appealing to these international companies. But the strategy behind such international business in Arizona hasn’t occurred by accident — it has been clearly mapped out by statewide economic development officials keen on building Arizona’s economy far beyond tourism, real estate and retirement mainstays.

Today, Arizona is playing on the global business stage and it is not a bit part. In 2007, according to the U.S. Department of Commerce, Arizona exported $19.18 billion worth of goods to a collection of countries around the globe — up from $18.28 billion in 2006.

The bulk of Arizona’s exports came from the Valley. According to 2006 figures from the U.S. Census Bureau, the metro Phoenix area logged almost $11 billion in exports, placing it in the top 20 metro areas nationwide. Tucson exported more than $3.2 billion worth of goods in 2006.

Based on the 2006 figures, Arizona’s increase in exports outpaced that of Texas and California. In addition, Arizona’s per capita exports in 2006 were at $2,966, besting Utah, New Mexico and Colorado.

Along with increasing exports, economic leaders’ are also working to bring more international businesses and foreign direct investment to the state.

“We strive to put Arizona on the international map,” says Barry Broome, president and CEO of the Greater Phoenix Economic Council and one of a handful of statewide economic experts pushing for Arizona’s global business success, in large part with his role in an economic statewide partnership called the Arizona Global Network (AGN). “Arizona is emerging as an incubator for international firms expanding in the U.S.”

The AGN includes economic brainpower from Flagstaff to Tucson to Yuma and everywhere in between. All have partnered with the goal to put Arizona’s business on the international scene. This stepped-up spotlight can be attributed to a number of factors. But for txtNation Director Michael Whelan, the decision for his firm came down to the fact that Arizona is a state on the ascension in the international business community.

“TxtNation chose Greater Phoenix due to its location, being a West Coast city on the rise,” he says, adding there is a global sense that Arizona is becoming an international “entrepreneurial hotbed” and that it also played a role in the expansion process.

Northern and Southern Exposure

Of course, Arizona has long counted its brother and sister to the North and South — Mexico and Canada — as global business family partners. These efforts continue today.

Glenn Williamson has experienced success in the international business market. He’s founded, sold and run various enterprises, but today he’s gunning for Arizona to build successful partnerships and business relationships with Canada. Much like Canada’s wide-open lands, the opportunities are vast.

“Our primary goal is to push bilateral trade between Canada and Arizona to the $5 billion mark by the end of 2008,” says Williamson, founder and CEO of the Canada Arizona Business Council (CABC). “We are well on our way to achieving that goal.”
Canada is Arizona’s No. 2 global trading partner behind Mexico. In 2006, according to U.S. Department of Commerce numbers, Arizona exported more than $5.3 billion worth of goods to Mexico compared to just more than $1.8 billion to Canada.

Williamson says the CABC has several primary goals. First, besides significantly increasing the trade between the two countries, the CABC is seeking a direct flight between Montreal and Phoenix, while also upgrading the seasonal flights between various Canadian cities and Arizona. Then, there is fostering the huge impact of Canadian residents who are interested in, or already are, doing business in Arizona.

“Gov. Janet Napolitano gets international business, the tourism folks get it, Tucson gets it and the Arizona Department of Commerce gets it,” Williamson says. “Now, we have to convince everyone else.”

Williamson is quick to praise statewide efforts such as AGN and calls statewide leaders, including ASU President Michael Crow, key catalysts to pushing Arizona onto the international business stage.

“ASU is huge in these efforts,” he adds. “We need their brainpower to make this successful. Everything is pointing in the right direction, but we need to put the pedal to the metal.”

International EDU

Besides Crow’s intensity at ASU and the hotbed of activity at SkySong, which Julie Rosen, ASU’s assistant vice president for economic affairs, touts as an atmosphere of “unparalleled opportunity,” other educational institutions in Arizona are aiming for the international business beacon.
Consistently ranking in the top echelon of international business schools, the Thunderbird School of Global Management has operations in Latin America, Asia, Europe and Russia. The school has forged public sector partnerships like those with ASU to better compete in the international education arena. Over the past two years, Thunderbird has pioneered significant relations with ASU, especially ASU’s West campus and the School of Global Management and Leadership (SGML).

In addition, the Arizona Department of Commerce has foreign trade offices in London, Mexico and Japan, as well as investment offices in Ireland, Japan and Hong Kong.

“Broadly, business executives and community leaders recognize that attracting out-of-state and foreign direct investment and business, as well as increasing trade, should receive significantly more emphasis to secure Arizona’s growth and provide good, well-paying jobs,” notes Gary Waissi, dean of the ASU SGML. “There are several organizations with advanced initiatives working aggressively on these areas.”

ASU, GPEC, AGN and others are continually pushing for increased international business opportunities in Arizona. But, as Arizona Department of Commerce Director Jan Lesher points out, while exports and international business opportunities continue to increase in the state, there is a baseline that needs to be established before Arizona can truly “go global” now and into the future.

“Arizona companies need to establish first a solid domestic market, and then consider expanding to national markets,” she says. “International customers can be ideal for Arizona-based businesses; however, this is a decision that needs to be done carefully — international means a company must have the resources, market know-how and commitment to stick with it.”

It’s a point not lost on those who, like Lesher, are continually working to cultivate these relationships.

“It is all about recognizing that in today’s world, business is truly global,” Waissi says. “And at the same time knowing there is a need to strategically diversify in select industries.

For more information visit the following websites:

azcommerce.com
gpec.org
commerce.gov

Katie Pushor - AZ Business Magazine October/November 2006

CEO Katie Pushor Adds Fresh Ideas To Greater Phoenix Chamber Of Commerce

New President and CEO Katie Pushor adds fresh ideas to Greater Phoenix Chamber of Commerce


Katie Pushor gets a rush as she looks out of her 27th floor office, taking in the booming development in downtown Phoenix. The president and CEO of the Greater Phoenix Chamber of Commerce mentions the expanding ASU campus, the expanding convention center and the TGen headquarters. “I just like to see what’s going on,” says Pushor, who took the helm of the 4,000-member chamber early this year.

“The most important thing I bring is the knowledge of actually running a business, being in business in the Valley for 27 years, and I understand the challenges that business owners and executives face,” Pushor says. “When we look at programs or events or opportunities we might have here at the chamber, I am able to say, ‘When I was in the business community, would that have had value for me? Is that something I would have wanted to go to?’”

Pushor agrees with others who say her leadership style is “calm and collaborative.” But she feels she is most noted for building superior management teams, “and getting accomplished through a team, what you could never accomplish through a collection of individuals.”

She’s also process-oriented. “I see structure,” she says. “Here at the chamber, I’ve been very interested in understanding our business processes and improving them so that they can better serve the needs of our growing community.”

Her main strength, Pushor says, is the diversity of her experience, but that’s not all. “My genuine interest in people and wanting their business to be successful is probably my greatest strength,” she says. “That’s what provides my motivation and passion when I come to work each day. I love to hear about other people’s business models, I like to understand what makes it work, how they get their customers, what their profit margin is, what their challenges are.”

Not surprisingly, Pushor says her weakness is impatience. “I’m able to see exactly what needs to get done, and I have a hard time understanding why it wasn’t done yesterday,” she says.

Working at the Arizona Lottery provided Pushor with a bridge to her current role. The Lottery is a quasi-public business that deals with 2,600 retail outlets, does a lot of consumer advertising and acts like a privately-held business, but is bound by legislative mandate.

“It was an opportunity for me to learn what it’s like to work with an administration and with elected officials and how to work within a legislative cycle,” she says. “And how a great deal of our value to the business community is advocating for them within the legislative and executive branches.”

Since coming on board at the Phoenix Chamber, Pushor has made it her business to meet with chambers and other groups in the Valley, such as the Greater Phoenix Economic Council and other economic development officials.

“That has helped me understand what they do, and helped me to differentiate in my mind what we’re doing,” she says. “What is the unique slot that we’re fitting in and where can we be of help to other people? Where can we join forces? A lot of it is communication and to be willing to be a student, and not come in and think you know all the answers.”

While high-tech is a key driving force of the Arizona economy, and a sector where Pushor excelled for several years, she now takes a broader view. “What the chamber really does is accelerate business growth and retention within the Valley,” she says. “What’s different about us is we look horizontally across the Valley. We don’t see you only as a bioscience company or only as a technology company or only as an agricultural company. We see you as a business partner.”

So the focus is on the challenges that all businesses face, such as workers’’ compensation, safety, human resource issues and employee retention. Pushor says her mission is to get the word out to non-member businesses about the services the chamber provides. “That’s why they hired me,” she says.

And she emphasizes that the chamber is not competing with business recruitment organizations. “They’re looking out of state, out of the country, to bring people here,” Pushor says. “We want you to start here and stay here and grow here. If they bring the fish in, then we’re the aquarium.”


Quick Facts about Katie Pushor

Katie Pushor’s resume reads like a been-there, done-that array of business and executive experience. She came to the Greater Phoenix Chamber from the Arizona Lottery, where under her leadership, revenues and profits soared. Beginning her career as a CPA, Pushor has started and operated two small businesses, held several executive positions at MicroAge starting in 1989, and in 2002, co-authored a book, “Into the Boardroom.”



Arizona Business Magazine October/November 2006