Tag Archives: Kari McCormick

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After Hours: Kari McCormick of Kitchell

Director of Client Services — Native American Division
Kitchell, Phoenix
With Kitchell for 2 1/2 years
Born in Scottsdale
Received bachelors in Business Administration from ASU; attended Fuller Theological Seminary
Husband Terry Fong;  son, AJ (26), daughters, Kassi (21), Hunter (12), newly adopted foster child; stepdaughter, Nici (31); 2 grand daughters; Great grandfather (maternal), Joseph P. Allyn served as one of the original Associated Justices on the Supreme Court of the Arizona Territory appointed by Abraham Lincoln; (paternal), Territorial Secretary Richard C. McCormick served at the same time in 1800s

Favorites:

Sports/Teams — College, ASU 1st and UA 2nd (my dad played football there so I have to support them as well). I root for our local teams: Diamondbacks, Suns and Cardinals, but I love watching a great soccer or tennis match.
Music — Eclectic from alternative, hard rock, jazz and blues. Saw Carlos Santana and got to meet the band; it was incredible!
Destinations — Loved traveling to Australia seeing the Great Barrier Reef, an ancient rainforest and spending time at Ayers Rock. My husband is from the Fiji Islands so we will be traveling there this summer to attend a wedding. A European trip is on our near to-do list, but I would love to visit Viet Nam, Galapagos Islands, and Africa.
Activities — Golf, tennis, reading, and traveling with family

What did you think you’d be when you were growing up?

Veterinarian or marine biologist.

What accomplishment you are especially proud of?

Having kids that have grown into kind, independent and balanced human beings making their own mark in the world. Parenting is the toughest job and you never know if you’re doing it right, you just hope and pray you don’t mess it up too bad. Professionally a highlight would be serving my second term on the National Indian Gaming Association Executive Board. You are nominated and elected by your peers, which makes this so special. I was awarded the 2012 Great Women of Gaming Rising Star Award which again was from a nomination of peers, so I feel really blessed to have so many wonderful colleagues who I admire and respect.

What would people be surprised to know about you?

I used to do competitive kick boxing, I was an early elementary school teacher and I attended seminary with intentions of becoming an ordained Presbyterian minister.

Advice:

Received — It all comes out in the wash. When you can’t control the behaviors and actions of others, you can spend your time fighting the chaos or you use your energy to create justice through your own actions.   At the end of the day, people will judge you not on the words of others, but on your actions and integrity by which you live.
To Share — Because 90% of my work is with tribes and tribal development, the question I get asked the most is why is working with tribes so different? I always advise anyone interested in working with tribes to first and foremost understand, tribes are sovereign nations. Just as any foreign government they are fully empowered to form their own governments, create laws and are charged to create an environment of well-being in education, health, economic development for their members to thrive. Because of this, tribal development can be (ital) very challenging because it’s not all about profit and bottom-line cost. There is a much deeper sense of responsibility toward future generations and well-being of whole communities with any development. Once you understand and respect the sovereignty, and that each tribe is very different in their structure and way of doing business, it can be one of the most gratifying markets with immeasurable intrinsic rewards knowing that what you do can change communities.

Tribes Pursue Retail Projects

Arizona Tribes Pursue Retail Projects

Arizona tribes pursuing retail projects as economic engines as well as entertainment and shipping options for their members

With gaming and hospitality reaching closer to a saturation point, many Arizona tribes are choosing to invest in markets where traditional retail developers and lenders have shied away from during the current economy.

In Metro Phoenix, three tribes have major retail projects in the works:

  • The Gila River Indian Community just signed a lease with the Simon Property Group for the Phoenix Premium Outlets adjacent to Wild Horse Pass Hotel & Casino in Chandler.
  • The Ak-Chin Indian Community is building the 185,000 SF Ak-Chin Family Entertainment Complex in Maricopa.
  • The Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community is getting a Courtyard by Marriott in Scottsdale plus a possible Tanger Outlet Mall. “This (Phoenix Premium Outlets) development represents the next steps toward economic self sufficiency for our community,” says Gila River Gov. Gregory Mendoza. “It’s going to complement this area.”

The outlet, to be located off of I-10 and Wild Horse Pass Blvd., is expected to create 500 construction jobs and 800 to 1,000 full or part-time jobs, according to the tribe. The 360,000 SF center will include 90 high quality and name-brand stroes. It is scheduled to open in 2Q 2013.

Developers can find a real benefit to working with tribes on reservation land as development fees and lease rates can be very competitive and can be areas of high visibility and underserves areas, according to Kari McCormick, business development manager for Kitchell’s Native American Division.

“There are progressive tribes such as the Ak-Chin who recognized a need in the community in which their own members lived and worked and were underserved by the local market and realized they have the resources to fulfill a need within the community and complement their existing enterprises by adding the entertainment venue,” McCormick says.

The 185,000 SF, $35M-$40M Ak-Chin facility will consist of a 12-screen movie theater, 24-lane bowling center, arcade, laser tag arena, restaurant and concession area aong with 23,000 SF of retail and 45 acres of site work. A.R. Mays Construction is the general contractor and Nelsen Partners is the architect.

Retail outlets and entertainment venues are nothing new to tribes, but what they are seeing is “bigger, better, more diversified developments in Indian Country,” McCormick says.

“For many tribes the stand-alone C-stores and gas stations still remain very profitable enterprises, but tribes are seeking ways to create destination sites and expanding their customer base in a competitive market,” she says. “Although each tribe has very different reasons for getting into the retail market, usually it is a variety of reasons that leads them to take the plunge to diversify as their gaming market becomes more saturated.”

Some of the most important reasons for diversification include:

  • Expand their existing market base — increasing the foot traffic to the existing gaming facility, especially if it is focused on a client base they may not otherwise draw to their gaming facility.
  • Expand services for their existing client base, lengthening the “stay and play” for an existing customer. It is the theory of “something for everyone” where a couple goes to a casino, and only one of the partners enjoys gambling; that individual is more inclined to stay longer and play more if they know their significant other has separate activities to keep them happy.
  • Create a greater market for their gaming property by creating a complementary draw — especially if it is high recognition brands or unique brands not located everywhere.
  • Create an economic driver for tax revenues
  • Create jobs for the tribal members
  • Create opportunities for tribal entrepreneurs
  • Provide a local service for tribal members and local community (buy local/buy Indian)

Just as with any successful retail development location, visibility, access and parking require careful consideration. McCormick adds. An added consideration for retail development for tribes is ay new development must complement and create spillover to the existing gaming facility. In the end, the key to success in any retail development is that it increases foot traffic, but does not detract or disrupt the existing gaming enterprise.

“Kitchell recognizes the importance of tribal sovereignty, workforce development within the community and honoring the unique culture of each tribe,” McCormick says. “Tribes have become one of the leading investors helping to stimulate the economy in our state with developments that are creating jobs.

“We are very proud and honored to be a part of the exciting growth and construction opportunities that we are seeing. We believe that the impact tribes will have within our state and nationally will be unprecedented, as they seek to diversify and expand their existing enterprises.”

AZRE Magazine March/April 2012