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Paying it forward: Why it Matters

If one person can make a difference, think what an entire company can do.

Giving back has been at the core of many great businesses, but there is a growing trend in the way businesses are paying it forward — employee-volunteer programs.

Many businesses understand that it’s more than just numbers, it’s about values. Generosity and corporate responsibility are some of those values. Generosity demonstrates a genuine corporate value that benefits the company and employees. Many businesses have started to make it a fundamental part of their mission.

In many different ways, businesses are looking for ways to reach their consumers, connect with them on a personal level and give back to the communities in which they live and serve. Through employee volunteer programs like HERO at Harrah’s Ak-Chin, employees volunteer thousands of hours each year to help individuals and communities in need.

Some recent HERO success stories include:

* Employees raised $7,000 for the Dove’s event to help with a late life domestic abuse program and shelter (first of its kind).
* Over 40 participants in Pat’s Run to help provide resources and educational scholarship support to veterans, active service members and their spouses.
* Participation in Maricopa Relay for Life dinner and walk raised more than $18,000 for cancer research.
* Employees collected 831 pounds of food and distributed to needy families at the FOR Maricopa food bank event.
* Partnered with the Ak-Chin Indian Community, with over 160 volunteers, for a community trash pickup in celebration of Earth Day.

But communities and organizations aren’t the only ones benefiting — businesses and their employees are also seeing the benefits, too.

What goes around comes around
Beyond helping the community, volunteer programs help employees. Volunteering boosts motivation and allows employees to work with each other outside of an office setting. When employees have the chance to give back in a meaningful way for something they care about, they will feel more positively connected to the business where they work.

As for businesses, a donation simply is not enough. It’s about the return. Making a lasting impact is just as – and perhaps more – important as defining your mission. You can’t solve disease or climate change with good intentions. As your name comes around as a business that is generous with their time and money, you’ll gain new customers, clients and overall respect from the communities you serve.

Other benefits:
* Improve relations with the surrounding community
* Enhance public image through a different platform
* Strengthen employee leadership and interpersonal skills
* Improve employee retention

Charity may begin at home, but it certainly does not end there. From the small grass-roots enterprises to large organizations, building partnerships with nonprofit organizations and supporting employee volunteer opportunities is a great way to give back to those who have helped support your business and will likely bring beneficial returns back to the business.

Mike Kintner is marketing director at Harrah’s Ak-Chin Casino Resort.




13 Reasons To Visit Maricopa In 2013

The New Year is in full swing, and it’s once again time to start planning that next trip. With the great weather and gorgeous scenery, why not make your next stop Maricopa, Ariz.? From the outdoor adventures to dining and entertainment, Maricopa has quickly become a go to place for those travelers looking for a little rest and relaxation or who are just looking to get away from the hustle and bustle of the city.

If you still need some convincing, here are 13 reasons why you should visit Maricopa in 2013:

No. 1: Get your golf on

Looking to get out on the green while on vacation? Well look no further. Southern Dunes Golf Club is one of the premier golf courses in Arizona and has been the site for professional tours and even PGA qualifying tournaments. Set in the heart of Maricopa, it offers a relaxing welcoming environment to make for the most enjoyable golf experience in the Valley.

No. 2: Explore the Indian culture

Experience a little Indian history at the Ak-Chin Him Dak Eco- Museum. Start with a stop by the heritage museum or learn about the Ak-chin culture and tour the area known as the eco-museum. The museum includes the tribal office, senior center and police and fire stations.

No. 3: Let the kids have some fun

Need something fun to do for the kids? The recently built UltraStar Multi-tainment Center at AK-Chin Circle offers a variety of activities for kids. The two story Urban Laser Tag Battlefield and Play ‘n Win Arcade brings kids and teens from all over for hours of fun and entertainment.

No. 4: Great live entertainment

Enjoy some great live music on your next vacation. Every month, Harrah’s Ak-Chin Casino Resort brings the best entertainers to deliver unforgettable performances. Enjoy everything from country to rock ‘n’ roll, as artists hit the stage to play all the favorites.

No. 5: Art

Just a quick drive outside Maricopa is the Maricopa Casa Grande Art Museum. The historic restored building was built in 1929 and has since become a popular attraction for visitors. Wonder in the Sculpture Garden, which features works by various artists from all over Arizona, or enjoy the changing exhibits inside the house.

No. 6: Maricopa Stagecoach Days

Bring the family out to Maricopa Stagecoach Days each fall. Celebrate the history of Maricopa while participating in fun activities around town. Guests will enjoy everything from a carnival to a Mini-Miss Maricopa pageant. In addition, adults will enjoy a wine tasting, motorcycle rally and more.

No. 7: Enjoy a romantic date night

Are you and your significant other on a couple’s retreat? How about dinner and a movie at the newly built UltraStar Multi-tainment Center at AK-Chin Circle? Grab a bite to eat at 347 Grill, and then catch a movie at the UltraStar Cinemas in one of the 12 auditoriums featuring stadium seating, 3-D capability and StarClass seating for the 21-and-over crowd. Finish off date night with some drinks at the Multi-tainment Center’s J Bar or LuxeLounge.

No. 8: Game on

For the 21-and-up crowd, come out for some exciting gaming at the Harrah’s Ak-Chin Casino Resort. Test your hand at a game of black jack or press your luck on one of the many slot machines. May the odds be in your favor.

No. 9: Ram Tough

Calling all sports fans! If you enjoy the purity of high school sports, come cheer on the many teams at Maricopa High School. Football, basketball, baseball and more, the exciting games bring together fans young and old from all over.

No. 10: Free fall

Just south of Maricopa, thrill seekers can enjoy a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Make your next trip unforgettable at Skydive AZ. Personalized instructors take you soaring high in the sky on a tandem skydive for an adventure of a lifetime.

No. 11:  Fun for the family

Who doesn’t love family vacations? Make lasting memories on your next trip with family activities at the UltraStar Multi-tainment Center at Ak-Chin Circle. Challenge your family members to a game of bowling. The Ten Pins Down Bowling alley offers 24 lanes of bowling and eight VIP lanes for big groups and parties.

No. 12: Soak up the sun during the summer

Grab that bathing suit and cool off in one of Arizona’s most popular pools. Harrah’s Ak-Chin Casino and Resort is changing the swimming experience offering an exotic pool with a swim up bar. Enjoy a few cocktails or grab a refreshing frozen drink while soaking up the Arizona sun this summer.

No. 13: Arizona Soaring

For the adventurous travelers, soar high over the Sierra Estrella Mountains. Arizona Soaring’s professional flight staff offers rides of all kinds. Enjoy the views of the natural desert life and environment or opt for a thrilling and wild aerobatic ride.


Resorts Redefine Rest, Relaxation With Resort Activities

Resorts redefine rest and relaxation with increased amenities and resort activities.

Turn that cell phone off, and pack your bags — it’s time to get away. Whether it’s the mountains, ocean or somewhere in-between, a summer vacation usually means leaving the stressors in life behind and enjoying the luxurious accommodations and fun amenities resorts have to offer.

Today’s resorts are creating a whole new meaning to rest and relaxation. From indulging spa treatments to family adventure activities, resorts provide a little something for everyone and allow guests to set aside responsibilities and surrender to the meandering spirit of exploration.

At Harrah’s Ak-Chin Casino Resort in Maricopa, resort guests can enjoy the beauty of the outdoors and have enough activities and entertainment to keep everyone in the family happy during a vacation. Enjoy music? Harrah’s offers some of the best in live entertainment weekly in its Oasis Lounge.

With other resorts sporting similar trends, today’s guests can expect to have an unforgettable experience the next time they get away.

So tear up the itinerary and check out what resort activities, thrills and action — or rest and relaxation — you can expect during your next getaway.

Tee time

Ready to hit the links? With great weather, Arizona golf courses have become a premier destination for players and vacationers from all over who are looking to relax and get out on the green. Before your next vacation, ask about available golf packages at your resort. Many resorts offer to set up everything from the tee times to transportation to and from the golf course, often at a discounted rate.

Summer swim

Resort pools are no longer just for lounging. Today’s resorts have made pools their own attraction offering everything from water-park features to lap pools, and, yes, the pools just for lounging as well. The unique designs have guests ready to dive in while on vacation. The corkscrew pool and swim-up bar at the pool at Harrah’s Ak-Chin Casino Resort give a twist to the traditional pool experience.

Arizona adventures

Immerse yourself in all Arizona has to offer. Whether on a family vacation or a couple’s getaway, Arizona’s landscape and scenery offer adventurous activities for all ages. Try hiking around the canyons and mountains of Central Arizona, travel north for wine tasting, or check out the infamous ghost towns in the southern part of the state. Many resorts today are even hosting kid-friendly excursions and regular on-site adventure activities to take part in while they are on vacation.

Go gaming!

For the thrill seekers, casinos offer an exciting experience day or night. The stay-and-play option for guests makes them a prime location for adult vacationers everywhere. Nestled in the town of Maricopa is the Harrah’s Ak-Chin Resort Casino, a choice destination for gamblers throughout the Southwest. Jump on the fast-action slots, or try your hand at some poker for an exciting experience guaranteed to make you feel a rush.

Shop ‘til you drop

Shopping has always been a drawing point for travelers and a huge part of leisure activities while on vacation. The resort gift shop is no longer the only retail option for hotel guests. Today’s resorts may offer boutiques featuring art, retail centers or themed shopping to appeal to vacationers of all ages.

Spa bliss

Needing a little rest and relaxation? Increased interest in spa and wellness has hotels adding more unique amenities and activities. On your next vacation, check out the various spa packages and/or health offerings at your resort. If you and your partner are looking for a nice, stress-relieving way to spend an hour or so, try a couple’s massage. Or try unwinding with yoga or Pilates classes.

Resort guests no longer want to simply escape for rest and relaxation. They now want to be engaged in interactive activities, adventures and activities. On your next vacation, be swept away by first-class amenities and an unforgettable experience. Look for resorts offering activities and excitement for every member of the family so everyone can be involved.

Resort Food Trends 2012

Resort Food Forecast 2012

Whether traveling locally or visiting from out of state, the scenic beauty of a place or historical importance is not enough to make a memorable resort stay. While it is true that “location, location, location” remains a significant drawing point for tourists, a new attraction is beginning to emerge. Desiring more than just a little rest and relaxation, today’s resort guests also want to be wined and dined with unique fare and an unforgettable experience.

Not wanting to settle for typical hotel food, resort guests are enthusiastic about tasting and trying new or foreign delicacies. Resorts across the globe have caught on to the rapidly growing trend, transforming their menus to offer new and innovative food and beverage options. At Harrah’s Ak-Chin Casino Resort in Maricopa, the resort food choices are endless as guests can choose from four on-site restaurants — ranging from traditional to modern — to please their palates.

Whether you are looking for a quick bite, a taste of something new or to satisfy a craving, following are a few resort food trends to be expected in resort restaurants this year:

Comfort food comeback

Guests are getting a little taste of home during their stay as comfort food takes over resort menus everywhere. No more traditional flavorless sides. Instead, chefs are providing new taste thrills by re-inventing the classics. Love mac and cheese? Chefs are getting creative by offering this all-American favorite fried, baked and even on top of burgers. It’s all about taking old favorites and reworking them into new culinary inventions.

All around the world

Looking for a little taste of everything? The recently renovated Buffet at Harrah’s Ak-Chin lets guests travel the world without leaving the resort by offering traditional American favorites along with Italian, Asian and Mexican specialties. As people travel more and taste buds change and evolve, so does the palate of today’s guests. From hand-carved meats to a selection of seafood favorites, buffets offer something different to please the palates of every guest.

La vida locavore

The concept of farm-to-table dining has truly gone mainstream. In the quest for providing healthier eating options, resorts are finding ways in which they can incorporate locally produced items into their menus to get guests to dine locally. Expect preservative-free options with smoothie shots, healthy granola bars, juice blends and trail mix. From the mini-bar to the resort restaurants, offering menu items featuring locally grown produce and organic fare will have guests eating a whole lot healthier this year.

In-house to in-room dining

For many resort guests, being on vacation means being lazy. After all the tours and sightseeing, guests want to unwind without having to get dressed and head out for dinner. The new and improved in-room dining experience allows guests to have restaurant quality food in the comfort of their room. The menus now offer a gourmet twist on traditional breakfast, lunch and dinner items as well as dishes from the on-site restaurant.

To-die-for desserts

Does that sweet tooth have you browsing the candy bar section of your resort gift shop? Skip the gift shop and indulge in a decadent dessert from the resort restaurant. Today’s resorts are making desserts a little sweeter by super-sizing treats and adding twists on throwback childhood favorites like cookies and milk. The Range Steakhouse at Harrah’s Ak-Chin, offers more than your typical hot fudge sundae. The famous oversized desserts leave diners speechless and their sweet tooth satisfied.

As we watch the restaurant industry grow and diversify, we can’t help but wonder what’s next. With authentic options and unique takes on old favorites capturing the empty stomachs of resort guests today, Harrah’s Ak-Chin and resorts across the nation will surely be setting the trend when it comes to innovative creations to please the palate.

Resort entertainment

On Your Next Staycation, Expect More Resort Entertainment

For Your Entertainment: On your next staycation, expect more resort entertainment, including in-room, on-the-floor and in-lounge

Thanks to places like the Las Vegas Strip that offer guests close to anything their heart desires, staying at a resort is oftentimes much more than just the simple overnight stay. Not only is it about the room, the amenities and the service, but it’s also about what the resort can offer in terms of entertainment. In this case, Harrah’s Ak-Chin Casino Resort and many other resorts throughout the state are offering in-room activities, special concerts, events and gaming — to name a few of the resort entertaining options.

Gone are the days of a simple overnight stay. Guests can now expect to be impressed by more than just the room, but also some of the following amenities that will keep them entertained for the days and nights during their stay.

In-room entertainment

From movies to media hubs, there are plenty of options available to guests who want to be entertained in-room during their stay. The plug-and-play experience is at a guest’s fingertips with entertainment options like the media hub, including those available in Harrah’s Ak-Chin’s new hotel tower, which comes with the most commonly used industry standard connection ports (such as HDMI and USB) that allow guests to plug in anything from their laptop to their Nintendo Wii.

On-the-floor entertainment

No longer is the lobby or fine dining restaurant the key focus of the resort floor. Now guests also have a bevy of options, including casino gaming. Harrah’s Ak-Chin and many other casino resorts in Arizona offer everything from bingo and slots to blackjack. Boasting the largest selection of reel and video slots, video poker and table games from blackjack to World Series of Poker®, Harrah’s Ak-Chin is also home to the only bingo hall in the entire Caesar’s organization, which provides the latest in bingo technology and continues the proud heritage of William F. Harrah, who opened his first bingo hall in Reno in 1937.

In-lounge entertainment

In addition to gaming being a key entertainment option, another is live concerts and events, such as those held in Harrah’s Ak-Chin’s Oasis Lounge. Be it classic acts like The 5th Dimension (best known for their hit songs, including “Up, Up and Away” and “Aquarius/Let the Sunshine In”), country favorites like Mark Chestnut or cover bands that play anything from Stevie Nicks to the best of the ’80s, the live entertainment options run the gamut — and best yet, they’re all free to both guests and Valley residents who are stopping in for a fun night on the town.

While these are just some of the entertaining options that resorts are rolling out, others can include anything from chef and wine dinners to special events and poolside activities for some fun in the sun. So whether you’re jet-setting to a new location or having a “staycation,” the opportunities to be entertained are right outside, or in some cases, inside your door.

For more information about the resort entertainment options offered at Harrah’s Ak-Chin, visit harrahsakchin.com.

Trending Resort Technology

Resort Technology Trends

Whether traveling for business or for pleasure, guests are looking for more than just the average experience in 2012. Sure, they may have been satisfied with newly renovated rooms and friendly service in the past, but this year’s guests demand much more. Resorts have already begun, and will continue, to offer guests the latest in technology and sophisticated entertainment systems that will provide them with an unforgettable stay.

Trending Resort Technology

Media hubs

Trending Resort TechnologyHarrah’s Ak-Chin Casino Resort takes technology to a new level. The new rooms in the hotel tower are equipped with the hottest technology on the market, including the addition of MediaHubs, which give guests a plug-and-play experience. The MediaHub features the most commonly used industry standard connection ports, such as HDMI and USB. Whether you’re plugging in your laptop or video game console, resorts across the nation are catering to every kind of guest’s technological needs.

There’s an app for that

Tablets, PDAs, laptops and smartphones — everyone seems to be carrying them these days. Resorts are taking advantage of the proliferation of smart devices by offering their own custom apps. For example, take Caesars Entertainment Corporation, Harrah’s parent company; with the creation of iSpin – Harrah’s Entertainment, guest can download a virtual slot machine which puts the action of the game in the palm of their hands. Guests of Caesars Palace Las Vegas can also book everything from a room and tee times to dining reservations from the Caesars smartphone app. Look for apps similar to these in resorts across the nation as we continue into 2012.

More than just a TV

Resort technology trendsSure, flat screens were cool — two years ago. With the technological advancements seen over the past year, guest’s demands continue to evolve as well. Now that almost all resorts have transitioned from tube to sleek flat screens, look for resorts to offer such innovative technology as IPTV (Internet Protocol Television), high-definition televisions, 3D technology and much more to make a guest’s stay the ultimate home-away-from-home experience.

Bandwidth and Wi-Fi

Guests are traveling heavier these days — that is, when it comes to how many devices they are carrying. Today’s travelers love to stay connected. Be it utilizing social media to talk about their travels, getting online to check in to flights, or booking their next vacation, two things are a must: Wi-Fi and bandwidth. More devices means a need for more bandwidth to ensure they are all running efficiently and effectively as possible, at the same time. And without their usual at-home Internet access, having free or cost-effective Wi-Fi is a must to respond to emails on the go, check out nearby restaurants, etc. Guests can expect to see both of these tech-friendly amenities in order to help them stay informed and share their experiences online.

Going Green

Resort technology trendsAside from the bells and whistles, resorts also are looking to conserve energy. At Harrah’s Ak-Chin, the resort has implemented a new energy management device system in each of its rooms which not only conserves electricity but lets the guest be in control of their room temperature. When a guest enters the room, they simply insert their room key into a slot by the door, which activates the ability for them to alter the room temperature at will. As they leave room and remove the room key from the device, the AC unit automatically goes to an even temperature to conserve energy while the guest is no longer in the room.

While technology may be getting more complex, resorts across the nation are keeping up with its evolution so guests can experience the most enjoyable, and tech-savvy, stay as much as possible.  It is revolutionizing the hospitality industry, and knowing what is next and how to meet guests’ demands will be crucial in the years to come. Say goodbye to the days of traditional resort stays and hello to utilizing the technology that is now at a guest’s fingertips.

Resort Trends

Three Resort Trends In 2012

As with every year that goes by, trends come and trends go. This is the case in every industry – be it fashion, food and beverage or hospitality. Looking into 2012 there are three key resort trends that guests can expect to see during their stays at hotels across the nation.

Three Resort Trends In 2012

Hotel Lobbies

Scratch out lobbies and make that lounges. Resorts are doing their best to make hotel lobbies more comforting, inviting and enjoyable; similar to a lounge experience, rather than just a place to check in and out.

“Service is at the forefront and that means from the time a guest walks in to the time they leave,” said Robert Livingston, general manager of Harrah’s Ak-Chin Casino Resort. “We not only want to make sure guests feel welcome, but that they also feel comfortable in a luxurious space – not just another guest checking in.”

The hotel “lounge” style was incorporated into Harrah’s Ak-Chin new 152-room hotel tower and can also be seen at resorts across the globe. Don’t think of checking-in as just a tedious task; resorts are now making it an experience in itself.

Going Green

Going green has been a popular trend for some time now, and not just in hospitality. But now, more than ever, resorts are jumping on the green bandwagon in a variety of ways. Be it organic sheets, using solar power or offering climate-neutral rooms, resorts are increasingly moving towards offering earth-friendly amenities.

An example of this at Harrah’s Ak-Chin is their ability to conserve electricity and offset carbon emissions by utilizing an AC monitoring system in the new hotel tower. When a guest enters the room, the hotel key is inserted into a slot by the door which activates the ability for them to alter the room temperature at will. When a guest leaves the room and removes the hotel key from the device, the AC unit automatically goes to an even temperature to conserve energy while the guest is away from the room.


iPhones, tablets, touch-screen kiosks and DVR – in this “I want it now” day and age, resorts are constantly upgrading to keep their guests ever-evolving technological needs accessible. As technologies continue to enable consumers to customize their experience, so is Harrah’s Ak-Chin Casino Resort with their new hotel tower’s customized rooms, each with its own media hub.

Whether Droids, iPads, Tablets or playing Wii is a guest’s technology of choice, they have the ability to plug in any and all of their favorite devices during their stay. This, and many other tech-savvy features – think: mobile apps to book and manage stays, text messages from restaurants to let you know your table is ready or connecting to Facebook via resort wristbands to share your experience with friends – will be seen adorning rooms in resorts across the nation in 2012.

Overall, resorts are making it their resolution to offer a more luxurious, earth-friendly and tech-savvy stay for guests. No matter if it’s a stay-cation, a trip across the nation or a stay on the other side of the globe, it’s time to enjoy the many amenities that 2012 will bring.

For more information about Harrah’s Ak-Chin Casino Resort, visit harrahsakchin.com.

Centennial Series - AZ Business Magazine January/February 2012

Centennial Series: Arizona’s History Impacts The Way We Live Our Lives

100 Years of Change: From ‘Sesame Street’ to scientific breakthroughs, Arizona’s history impacts the way we live our lives

During Arizona’s first century, every elementary school student in the state learned about the five Cs that drove Arizona’s economy — copper, cotton, cattle, citrus and climate.

There is a chance that if you ask Arizona elementary school students what C words drive the state’s economy now, their best answers might be casinos or Cardinals, whose University of Phoenix Stadium has been filled with fans, and hosted both a Super Bowl and a BCS championship game since it opened in 2006.

A lot has changed since copper and cotton drove the state, but that doesn’t lessen the impact Arizona’s first 100 years had on the way we live our lives today.

Here are a baker’s dozen events, people or projects from Arizona’s history, its first 100 years, that shaped the state or helped the state make history:


In 1988, the U.S. Congress passed the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act (IGRA) in response to the proliferation of gambling halls on Indian reservations. IGRA recognized gaming as a way to promote tribal economic development, self-sufficiency, and strong tribal government.

By the end of 1994, 10 casinos were in operation in Arizona. Currently, 15 tribes operate 22 casinos in the state, creating a huge boost for Arizona tourism and the economy.

To put it into perspective, a study commissioned by the Ak-Chin Indian Community in 2011 showed that Harrah’s Ak-Chin Casino Resort alone accounts for 1,094 jobs, $36,713,700 in payroll, and a total economic impact on the community of $205,322,355. And those numbers represent figures before the resort added a 152-room hotel tower in July 2011.

Air travel

In 1935, the City of Phoenix bought Sky Harbor International Airport for $100,000. In 2010, the airport served 38.55 million passengers, making it the ninth busiest in the U.S. in terms of passengers and one of the top 15 busiest airports in the world, with a $90 million daily economic impact. The airport handles about 1,252 aircraft daily that arrive and depart, along with 103,630 passengers daily, and more than 675 tons of cargo handled.

“As much as anywhere in the U.S., Phoenix is a creature of good air connections,” says Grady Gammage Jr., an expert on Arizona’s history. “There is no good rail service (in Arizona). There are no real transportation corridors. Sky Harbor has had a huge impact.”

Road travel

Another transportation milestone occurred in 1985 when the Maricopa Association of Governments approved a $6.5 billion regional freeway plan for Phoenix and voters approved a 20-year, one-half cent sales tax to fund it. By 2008, the Arizona Department of Transportation had completed the construction and Phoenix boasted 137 miles of loop freeways that link the metro area.

The loop freeways have had a significant impact on shaping Phoenix and, ultimately, Arizona, says Dennis Smith, MAG executive director.

“The loop freeways resulted in a distribution of job centers around the Valley,” Smith says. “That allows every part of the Valley to achieve its dream and have employment closer to where the homes are. That distributes the wealth throughout the Valley.”

Smith says the freeways also extended the Valley’s reach to Yavapai, Pinal and Pima counties, creating a megapolitan area known as the Sun Corridor.

Master-planned neighborhoods

Arizona is home to countless master-planned residential communities, but the first one — Maryvale — opened in 1955 in West Phoenix as the post-war years exerted their influence. Its developer, John F. Long, wanted to plan and build a community where young people could buy an affordable home, raise a family and work, all in the same area. He named the development after his wife, Mary, and its influence is felt to this day.

“Because Maryvale was a master-planned community and because John did affordable housing, the master plan included a lot of parks, school sites and shopping areas,” says Jim Miller, director of real estate for John F. Long Properties. “It really was where people could live and work. If you lived in Maryvale, you weren’t more than three-quarters of a mile from a park or school. That forced a lot of other builders to adopt the same type of philosophy.”

The first homes sold for as little as $7,400, with a $52-a-month mortgage. The first week the models went on the market, 24,000 people stopped by to take a look.

Retirement communities

A year before Maryvale opened, Ben Schleifer introduced a different lifestyle to an older demographic. In 1954, Schleifer opened Youngtown in West Phoenix, the first age-restricted retirement community in the nation, according to research by Melanie Sturgeon, director of the state’s History and Archives Division. No one younger than 50 could live there. By 1963, Youngtown had 1,700 residents and Arizona was on its way to becoming a retirement mecca.

But it was builder Del E. Webb and his construction companies that firmly established the concept of active, age-restricted adult retirement in Arizona with the opening of Sun City on Jan. 1, 1960, next to Youngtown and along Grand Avenue. According to Sturgeon’s research and a magazine observing Sun City’s 50th anniversary, about 100,000 people showed up the first three days to see the golf course, recreation center, swimming pool, shopping center and five model homes. Traffic was backed up for miles. The first homes sold for between $8,500 and $11,750. Sun City had 7,500 residents by 1964 and 42,000 by 1977, the same year Webb decided the community was big enough and he began construction on Sun City West.


Ernesto Arturo Miranda was a Phoenix laborer whose conviction on kidnapping, rape, and armed robbery charges based on his confession under police interrogation resulted in the landmark 1966 U.S. Supreme Court case (Miranda v. Arizona), which ruled that criminal suspects must be informed of their right against self-incrimination and their right to consult with an attorney prior to questioning by police. This warning is known as a Miranda warning.

After the Supreme Court decision set aside Miranda’s initial conviction, the state of Arizona retried him. At the second trial, with his confession excluded from evidence, he was again convicted, and he spent 11 years in prison.


The first successful surgery and use of an artificial heart as a bridge to a human heart transplant was conducted at the University Medical Center in Tucson by Dr. Jack Copeland in 1985. His patient lived nine days using the Jarvik 7 Total Artificial Heart before he received a donor heart.

It also put the spotlight on Arizona as a place where cutting-edge research and healthcare was taking place.

Copeland made several other contributions to the artificial heart program, including advancing surgical techniques, patient care protocols and anticoagulation. He also performed the state’s first heart-lung transplant and the first U.S. implant of a pediatric ventricular assist device. In 2010, Copeland moved to a facility in San Diego, where he continues to make an impact on health care.


Joan Ganz Cooney, who received her B.A. degree in education from the University of Arizona in 1951, was part of a team who captured the hearts and imaginations of children around the world with the development of Sesame Workshop, creators of the popular “Sesame Street.” Now in its 42nd season, the children’s television show uses puppets, cartoons and live actors to teach literacy, math fundamentals and behavior skills. Today, Cooney serves as a member of Sesame Workshop’s executive committee. In 2007, she was honored by Sesame Workshop with the creation of The Joan Ganz Cooney Center, which aims to advance children’s literacy skills and foster innovation in children’s learning through digital media.

Military bases

Williams Air Force Base in Mesa, which broke ground for its Advanced Flying School on July 16, 1941, allowed more than 26,500 men and women to earn their wings. It was active as a training base for both the U.S. Army Air Forces, as well as the U.S. Air Force from 1941 until its closure in 1993.

It also opened the door for other military training bases in Arizona, including Luke Air Force Base; which employs more than 8,000 personnel and covers 4,200 acres and is home to the largest fighter wing in the world, the 56th Fighter Wing; Davis-Monthan Air Force Base in Tucson, home to the A-10 Thunderbolt II, which was used in combat for the first time during the Gulf War in 1991, destroying more than 900 Iraqi tanks, 2,000 military vehicles, and 1,200 artillery pieces; and Yuma Marine Corps Air Station, which specializes in air-to-ground aviation training for U.S. and NATO forces. In 1990, almost every Marine that participated in Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm trained at Yuma.

Solar power

Solar power has the potential to make Arizona “the Persian Gulf of solar energy,” former Gov. Janet Napolitano once said. But despite the overabundance of sunshine, the industry didn’t take root in the state until the end of the last century.

The first commercial solar power plant in the state came in 1997 when Arizona Public Service (APS) built a 95-kilowatt, single-axis tracking photovoltaic plant in Flagstaff. In 1999, the City of Scottsdale covered an 8,500-square-feet parking lot with photovoltaic panels, to both provide shaded parking and generate 93 kilowatts of solar power.

Arizona installed more than 55 megawatts of solar power in 2010, doubling its 2009 total of 21 megawatts, ranking it behind California (259 megawatts), New Jersey (137 megawatts), Florida (110 megawatts), and Nevada (61 megawatts).


Construction of the Central Arizona Project — which delivers water to areas where 80 percent of Arizonans reside — began in 1973 at Lake Havasu. Twenty years and $4 billion later, it was completed south of Tucson. The CAP delivers an average 1.5 million acre-feet of water annually to municipal, agricultural and Native American users in Maricopa, Pima and Pinal counties.

“Without the CAP, we wouldn’t have the population we have today,” says Pam Pickard, president of the CAP board of directors. “We wouldn’t have our economic base. We wouldn’t have the industry we have.”

But the CAP wouldn’t have been possible without another milestone that occurred nearly 60 years earlier — Hoover Dam and its reservoir, Lake Mead, 30 miles southeast of Las Vegas. Hoover Dam, constructed between 1933 and 1936, tamed the Colorado, which Marshall Trimble, Arizona’s official state historian, says was even more erratic than the Salt River. The dam created reliable water supplies for Arizona’s Colorado River Valley and, eventually, Central and Southern Arizona via the CAP.


On April 24, 2000 Arizona Gov. Jane Dee Hull signed a bill that created the Arizona Tourism and Sports Authority (initially known as the TSA). Later, it was renamed to the Arizona Sports and Tourism Authority.

The Arizona Sports and Tourism Authority was instrumental in the constructions of University of Phoenix Stadium, home of the Arizona Cardinals and an anchor of Glendale’s sports complex. The development of the stadium, also home to the Fiesta Bowl, marked a shift in the economic landscape of the West Valley and Arizona sports. The Stadium has already hosted one Super Bowl and will host a second in 2015.

The Arizona Sports and Tourism Authority has also been instrumental in Cactus League projects — including Surprise Stadium, Phoenix Municipal Stadium, Tempe Diablo Stadium, Scottsdale Stadium, Goodyear (Cleveland Indians and Cincinnati Reds) and in Glendale (Los Angeles Dodgers and Chicago White Sox.) The economic impact of Cactus League baseball is estimated at $350 million a year.

“There’s no doubt about it, sports is an integral part of any destination tourism package,” says Lorraine Pino, tourism manager at the Glendale Convention and Visitors Bureau. “Our tourism literally exploded over the past few years.”

Isabelle Novak, Noelle Coyle and Tom Ellis contributed to this story.

Arizona Business Magazine January/February 2012

Harrah's New Year's Eve

New Year’s Eve Extravaganzas In The Valley

While holidays spent at resorts have become a bigger trend in recent years, resorts are now going above and beyond to please guests by extending the holiDAY into a weekend of festivities. Champagne toasts, special concerts and events, prix fixe (pronounced pree feeks) holiday menus and “stay and play” packages are only a few of the New Year’s Eve options guests may see available for ringing in 2012.

A few things to keep in mind when making New Year’s Eve plans include:


Be sure to get the best bang for your buck this New Year’s Eve. Many resorts, night clubs and restaurants like to up the ante for special occasions, but believe it or not (in part thanks to the current economy) there are specials available such as complimentary champagne toasts and even free events and concerts.


In this case, resorts offer the best of both worlds — an amazing time on New Year’s Eve without the hassle or worry of how to get home post-midnight.


An intimate dinner, live entertainment, ball drop and champagne toasts are only a few of the options being offered this New Year’s Eve. Compare what venues are offering your “musts” per the best price and location.

What guests of Harrah’s Ak-Chin Casino Resort can expect to see come the end of the month is three days of New Year’s Eve festivities, featuring a different musical act each night. Better yet, all performances are free for guests and Valley residents alike.

New Year's Eve Events

December 29, 9 p.m.: John Michael Montgomery

Kick off three days of New Year’s celebrations with John Michael Montgomery’s soulful country ballads that have set the standard for love songs in this generation. The Kentucky Music Hall of Fame inductee has had more than 30 singles on the Billboard country charts, including the Number One Country Single of the Year for “I Swear.”

December 30, 9 p.m.: Sammy Kershaw

New Year's Eve Events Harrah's

Sammy Kershaw exploded into the country scene in the early ’90s with top 100 hits “She Don’t Know She’s Beautiful” and “Cadillac Style.” His latest album, “Better Than I Used To Be,” is reflective of his rocky career, but tells the story of lessons learned, putting him back into the spotlight and into country music lovers’ hearts.

December 31, performances at 8 p.m., 10 p.m. and midnight: New Year’s Eve “Denim & Diamonds”

New Year's Eve Events at Harrah'sGuests are invited to ring in 2012 in denim and diamonds as they enjoy the psychedelic hits of The Family Stone Project. The party starts at noon with “hot seats” being chosen every 10 minutes until 7 p.m., where one lucky Total Rewards member could win big. The famous Harrah’s Ak-Chin Buffet will be featuring special holiday selections and the evening will ramp up as Jerry Martini and Cynthia Robinson of The Family Stone Project (original founding members of Sly & The Family Stone and Rock & Roll Hall of Fame inductees) perform at 8 p.m., 10 p.m. and midnight, when a balloon drop will ring in the New Year.

So I ask: why celebrate for only one night, when staying a weekend can offer a myriad of entertainment and guarantee a safe and celebratory New Year’s Eve? Whether it’s in another city, state or even country, the options for New Year’s revelry abound for 2011-2012.

Harrah Ak-Chin Casino Resort

Spend The Holiday At The Harrah's Resorts

A Holiday To Be Waited On, At The Harrah’s

We do it every year; the entire family comes over, we spend all week prepping the house, putting up the lights, followed by a day or two of cooking and a mess of leftovers and holiday wrapping paper strewn across the house. This ultimately leads to the question, why not have someone else do all of this for us?

A growing trend in the hospitality industry is the holidays. Not just for out of town guests or for those who want to get away for the holiday, but also for families who would rather enjoy Christmas dinner at their favorite resort or have a Hanukkah stay-cation.

No matter the rhyme or reason, it’s a time to enjoy the company of those we love, and this year, resorts across the region are inviting guests to celebrate.

Some examples of resorts spreading the holiday cheer, aside from serving up some delicious holiday cocktails, include:

Harrah’s Ak-Chin Casino Resort

Guests can stay, play and celebrate at this 40,000-square-foot casino, which recently underwent a $20 million expansion with the addition of a 152-room hotel tower.

Holiday dining is available in Agave’s Restaurant, the Copper Cactus Grill, as well as the the famous seafood buffet is available every Friday and Saturday, including Christmas Eve.

For the family that plays and stays together, Harrah’s also boasts the largest selection of reel and video slots, video poker, table games from blackjack to World Series of Poker®, Keno and the Ak-Chin Bingo Hall, which provides the latest in Bingo technology.

Harrah’s Rincon San Diego North

Winner of the AAA Four-Diamond Award, three of the Harrah’s Rincon restaurants will be serving holiday feasts to please any palate. For an upscale dining experience, guests can indulge in a four-course Christmas dinner prepared by Executive Chef Jon Palsson. A four-time winner of the Wine Spectator Magazine Award of Excellence, this fine dining fare will be available for $75 per person on Christmas day.

For a more casual atmosphere, guests are invited to indulge in The Buffet, where holiday traditions meet modern food theatre, or enjoy the Christmas Special for $28 per person at The Café.

A top resort-gaming destination, the casino also offers state-of-the-art amenities and the unparalleled customer service — a sure fire holiday success.

Harrah’s Laughlin

The holidays are a magical time and because of that Harrah’s Laughlin is featuring various Christmas dining specials in addition to featuring a live magic show complete with animals, dancers, escapologists and comedy magicians, called Masters of Illusion, performing every night at 8 p.m., December 26-29 for $25-$35 per person.

In addition, The Fresh Market Square Buffet, voted best in Laughlin for seven years; the Range Steakhouse, which features first-class service and spectacular views; and Harrah’s Beach Café will all be featuring Christmas menus this holiday season.


Whether guests are staying or going, the holidays are trending at resorts across the nation — and Valley-wide. While Scottsdale has only gotten a few sprinkles of snow this year, resorts are going all out to bring more holiday cheer and less holiday chores.


Most Admired Companies - AZ Business Magazine Sept/Oct 2010

2010 Most Admired Companies Award Winners

Arizona Business Magazine and BestCompaniesAZ are honored to unveil the winners of our inaugural Arizona’s Most Admired Companies Awards.

With 43 winners, we think you’ll agree the awards selection committee has done an outstanding job in determining some of the most admired companies in our state.  Our primary goal in developing this program was to find those organizations that excel in four key areas: workplace culture, leadership excellence, social responsibility and customer opinion.  This list features the most prestigious companies in our state, providing us the opportunity to learn from the best.

Adolfson & Peterson Construction
Headquarters: Minneapolis
Year Est.: 1991
No. of Employees in AZ: 69
Recent Award: AIA Kemper Goodwin Award – 2009
WEB: www.a-p.com

AlliedBarton Security Services
Headquarters: Conshohocken, Penn.
Year Est.: 1957
No. of Employees in AZ: 1,047
Recent Award: Brandon Hall Research Award for Best Integration of Learning and Talent Management – 2009
WEB: www.alliedbarton.com

American Express
Headquarters: New York
Year Est.: 1850
No. of Employees in AZ: 7,219
Recent Award: Fortune Magazine’s Most Admired Companies – 2010
WEB: www.americanexpress.com

Arizona Charter Academy
Headquarters: Surprise
Year Est.: 2001
No. of Employees in AZ: 61
Recent Award: Elks Lodge Community Partner of the Year – 2010
WEB: www.azcharteracademy.com

Banner Health
Headquarters: Phoenix
Year Est.: 1999
No. of Employees in AZ: 27,528
Recent Award: Gallup Great Workplace Award – 2009
WEB: www.bannerhealth.com

BeachFleischman PC
Headquarters: Tucson
Year Est.: 1991
No. of Employees in AZ: 104
Recent Award: Accounting Today’s Best Accounting Firms to Work For – 2009
WEB: www.beachfleischman.com

To buy a print version of the 2010 Arizona’s Most Admired Companies
go to MagCloud.com

Arizona's Most Admired Companies November-December 2010