Tag Archives: Mayor

Phoenix Sky Harbor, Photo: Flickr, flavouz

Volaris will fly out of Sky Harbor

Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport is welcoming a new airline that will operate direct flights to two cities in Mexico.

Officials say Volaris, the largest Mexican low-cost airline, will fly nonstop, three times a week from Phoenix to Mexico City and Phoenix to Guadalajara beginning later this year.

Details on exact days and times have not yet been released.

Volaris CEO Enrique Beltranena and Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton say the new flights will strengthen economic ties and bolster tourism.

Sky Harbor currently offers nonstop flights to 20 international cities, including several daily flights to Guadalajara and Mexico City.

Volaris also serves airports in California, Colorado, Nevada, Illinois and Florida.

GPEC Forum

GPEC targets international business executives

The Greater Phoenix Economic Council (GPEC) this week officially launched an international toolkit and forum series, called “Doing Business in Greater Phoenix, U.S.A,” with additional support from the City of Phoenix. The toolkit is designed to assist foreign companies with investment and expansion decisions in the United States and, specifically, the Greater Phoenix region.

From accessing capital to forming strategic partnerships with universities and purchasing land in Arizona – the toolkit is a compilation of how-to advice ranging from human resources issues, immigration law, investment parameters, taxes, import/export laws and banking.

“Phoenix is open for business,” Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton said. “In order for our economy to be globally competitive, we have to reach out internationally so we can attract the businesses and jobs that will propel Phoenix toward a stronger future. Making our city a place where it’s easier to do business makes it even more attractive to investment. It’s a win-win.”

The toolkit was officially launched last month in Shanghai, where GPEC joined representatives from Green Card Fund, Polsinelli and BDO for the first forum, held in conjunction with the International Photovoltaic Power Generation Conference and Exhibition (SNEC).

“The response we received to our forum was incredible, with 75 attendees at the forum and nearly 1,000 online views to date – and we are just now starting to actively promote it,” GPEC President and CEO Barry Broome said. “In China, executives are hungry for this type of information so they can grow their businesses abroad. Fortunately for them, Greater Phoenix is primed for growth and is very hospitable in helping companies that are considering foreign-direct investments with their options in the City of Phoenix and the surrounding region.”

Arizona has taken giant strides over the past few years to keep business taxes low and improve available economic development programs. The City of Phoenix has a 24-hour business permitting program that allows businesses to apply for a permit and start construction on the same day.

“The response from businesspeople and government officials in China to the toolkit we presented was excellent. Helping executives understand the benefits that GPEC has to offer companies is a key component to positioning our region for future business opportunities,” said Melissa Ho, a shareholder of the national law firm Polsinelli. “Our international law team is excited to partner with GPEC and the City of Phoenix as we explore the possibilities in China.”

Since last month’s launch in Shanghai, the toolkit’s website has received nearly 1,000 hits without any additional promotion beyond the first forum. As such, the region’s international brand – of which the City of Phoenix is a central part – is receiving a significant boost from the toolkit. The media impact from the initial rollout in Shanghai was also substantial, with media impressions of 370 million from last month’s trip alone.

“By taking the initiative and launching the International Toolkit, GPEC, along with local business leaders and the City of Phoenix, have shown their steadfast commitment to providing foreign firms and individuals with the knowledge and resources needed to successfully invest and expand to the Greater Phoenix region,” said Kyle Walker, Managing Partner at Green Card Fund, which specializes in EB-5 visas and presented at the forum in Shanghai.

“I couldn’t be more excited about GPEC’s creativity in developing ways to attract new businesses to Arizona and am proud to contribute the strength of the BDO network to those efforts,” said Susan Wolak, Office Business Line Leader at BDO USA, which has 37 offices and 4,700 employees in China, and also assisted in the recent trip to Shanghai.

The toolkit is currently available in English, Mandarin and Spanish, and plans are underway for further translations. Both short and long versions of the toolkit are available at http://www.gpec.org/toolkit.

Banner Good Samaritan Hospital

Banner Health Center preview on June 29

West Valley residents can tour the new Banner Health Center in Goodyear from 8 to 11 a.m. on Saturday, June 29.The Center is designed to support high quality, convenient health care for the entire family.

Attendees will hear remarks by Banner Medical Group CEO Jim Brannon and Goodyear Mayor Georgia Lord at 8:30 a.m., followed by a celebration including food, tours, giveaways, children’s activities and information about Banner Health facilities and services. Community members are invited to meet physicians and staff and even make an appointment.

“We want to become part of the fabric of the community by becoming the medical home residents look to for help in keeping their families healthy,” said Jim Brannon, chief executive officer of Banner Medical Group. “This Banner Health Center is designed to provide primary care to the entire family in one space. We want it to be the place you would choose for prevention, wellness, basic and complex medical care and the advice you need to thrive with chronic health conditions.”

At opening on July 10, staff physicians will include family practitioners and pediatricians. Banner Health Centers accept most insurance plans. The Center will be open extended hours from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday and 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday. Same-day appointments will also be available. Laboratory and X-ray services are also on-site.

Banner Health Center in Estrella will also be the gateway to the incredibly comprehensive services offered throughout Banner Health system, including Banner Estrella Medical Center and specialty facilities such as Banner MD Anderson Cancer Center, Cardon Children’s Medical Center and Banner Concussion Center.

This location at 9780 South Estrella Parkway joins the existing Banner Health Centers offering health care where you want it and how you want it in Gilbert, Queen Creek, Surprise, Verrado and Maricopa, Ariz. as well as South Loveland, Colo. For more information on the Banner Health Center in Estrella, visit www.BannerHealth.com/HealthCenterEstrella.

Tempe Town Lake July 4th Festival

Tempe lands state’s largest office development deal

The City of Tempe announced today that Ryan Companies US, Inc. and Sunbelt Holdings will develop a site owned by Arizona State University adjacent to Tempe Town Lake, subject to City Council approval of development agreement details in the coming month.

State Farm will lease office space and anchor the multi-use development.

“We are thrilled that Ryan Companies US, Inc. and Sunbelt Holdings have been selected to co-develop and construct the State Farm regional hub,” said John Strittmatter, President of Ryan Companies US, Inc., Southwest Division.

“With retail and recreational amenities on site for State Farm employees and the entire community to enjoy, Marina Heights will become an important icon of the Tempe Town Lake landscape and we are proud to be a part of it.”

The Marina Heights project in Tempe will be the largest office development deal in Arizona history, with more than 2 MSF to be constructed on more than 20 acres. Construction costs are estimated at $600M. Additionally, 40,000 SF to 60,000 SF of retail amenities will complement the transit-oriented development, including food service, coffee shops, restaurants, business services, and fitness facilities.

The site will also feature an approximately 10-acre lakeside plaza, which will be open to the public.

“This is a proud day for Tempe and everyone involved. We are tremendously excited about what the addition of State Farm will mean to our community over the decades to come,” said Tempe Mayor Mark Mitchell. “These employees, buildings, and amenities will further contribute to and showcase the vibrancy of Tempe Town Lake, Mill Avenue, and Arizona State University, and serve as a catalyst for more high-quality development.”

“We are thrilled that State Farm will be expanding in Arizona,” said Gov. Jan Brewer. “The jobs that will be created to make this project a reality will be a tremendous boon to our economy. This is a great example of how our plan to build an Arizona that is attractive to high value employers is hitting the mark.”

The five-building campus will be leased by State Farm and become a hub to include a combination of new hires and existing employees who will provide claims, service, and sales support to State Farm customers.

“State Farm selected Tempe because it has a growing population with skill sets that match our customers’ needs,” said Mary Crego, Senior Vice President, State Farm. “The site along Tempe Town Lake gives our employees access to nearby amenities as well as easy connections to public transportation.”

“We look forward to having State Farm as a neighbor and to working with the company on a variety of programs including employee recruitment and academic programs for their staff,” said ASU President Michael M. Crow.

“State Farm’s decision to lease the land owned by the university immediately adjacent to the ASU Athletic Facilities District is the first major step in the campaign to fund new and renovated sports facilities for the university. The Athletic Facilities District will be home to an exciting mixed-use development reflecting high quality and the best practices of sustainability. A high stature tenant such as State Farm will add to the luster of the district and validates its attractiveness.”

The project is being developed by Ryan Companies US, Inc. and Sunbelt Holdings. Tempe-based architectural firm DAVIS designed the project.

Tempe Town Lake July 4th Festival

Tempe lands state's largest office development deal

The City of Tempe announced today that Ryan Companies US, Inc. and Sunbelt Holdings will develop a site owned by Arizona State University adjacent to Tempe Town Lake, subject to City Council approval of development agreement details in the coming month.

State Farm will lease office space and anchor the multi-use development.

“We are thrilled that Ryan Companies US, Inc. and Sunbelt Holdings have been selected to co-develop and construct the State Farm regional hub,” said John Strittmatter, President of Ryan Companies US, Inc., Southwest Division.

“With retail and recreational amenities on site for State Farm employees and the entire community to enjoy, Marina Heights will become an important icon of the Tempe Town Lake landscape and we are proud to be a part of it.”

The Marina Heights project in Tempe will be the largest office development deal in Arizona history, with more than 2 MSF to be constructed on more than 20 acres. Construction costs are estimated at $600M. Additionally, 40,000 SF to 60,000 SF of retail amenities will complement the transit-oriented development, including food service, coffee shops, restaurants, business services, and fitness facilities.

The site will also feature an approximately 10-acre lakeside plaza, which will be open to the public.

“This is a proud day for Tempe and everyone involved. We are tremendously excited about what the addition of State Farm will mean to our community over the decades to come,” said Tempe Mayor Mark Mitchell. “These employees, buildings, and amenities will further contribute to and showcase the vibrancy of Tempe Town Lake, Mill Avenue, and Arizona State University, and serve as a catalyst for more high-quality development.”

“We are thrilled that State Farm will be expanding in Arizona,” said Gov. Jan Brewer. “The jobs that will be created to make this project a reality will be a tremendous boon to our economy. This is a great example of how our plan to build an Arizona that is attractive to high value employers is hitting the mark.”

The five-building campus will be leased by State Farm and become a hub to include a combination of new hires and existing employees who will provide claims, service, and sales support to State Farm customers.

“State Farm selected Tempe because it has a growing population with skill sets that match our customers’ needs,” said Mary Crego, Senior Vice President, State Farm. “The site along Tempe Town Lake gives our employees access to nearby amenities as well as easy connections to public transportation.”

“We look forward to having State Farm as a neighbor and to working with the company on a variety of programs including employee recruitment and academic programs for their staff,” said ASU President Michael M. Crow.

“State Farm’s decision to lease the land owned by the university immediately adjacent to the ASU Athletic Facilities District is the first major step in the campaign to fund new and renovated sports facilities for the university. The Athletic Facilities District will be home to an exciting mixed-use development reflecting high quality and the best practices of sustainability. A high stature tenant such as State Farm will add to the luster of the district and validates its attractiveness.”

The project is being developed by Ryan Companies US, Inc. and Sunbelt Holdings. Tempe-based architectural firm DAVIS designed the project.

tempe

Ryan Companies US, Sunbelt Holdings To Co-Develop 2 MSF Multi-Use Office Development In Tempe

The City of Tempe announced today that Ryan Companies US, Inc. and Sunbelt Holdings will develop a site owned by Arizona State University adjacent to Tempe Town Lake, subject to City Council approval of development agreement details in the coming month.

State Farm will lease office space and anchor the multi-use development.

“We are thrilled that Ryan Companies US, Inc. and Sunbelt Holdings have been selected to co-develop and construct the State Farm regional hub,” said John Strittmatter, President of Ryan Companies US, Inc., Southwest Division.

“With retail and recreational amenities on site for State Farm employees and the entire community to enjoy, Marina Heights will become an important icon of the Tempe Town Lake landscape and we are proud to be a part of it.”

The Marina Heights project in Tempe will be the largest office development deal in Arizona history, with more than 2 MSF to be constructed on more than 20 acres. Construction costs are estimated at $600M. Additionally, 40,000 SF to 60,000 SF of retail amenities will complement the transit-oriented development, including food service, coffee shops, restaurants, business services, and fitness facilities.

The site will also feature an approximately 10-acre lakeside plaza, which will be open to the public.

“This is a proud day for Tempe and everyone involved. We are tremendously excited about what the addition of State Farm will mean to our community over the decades to come,” said Tempe Mayor Mark Mitchell. “These employees, buildings, and amenities will further contribute to and showcase the vibrancy of Tempe Town Lake, Mill Avenue, and Arizona State University, and serve as a catalyst for more high-quality development.”

“We are thrilled that State Farm will be expanding in Arizona,” said Gov. Jan Brewer. “The jobs that will be created to make this project a reality will be a tremendous boon to our economy. This is a great example of how our plan to build an Arizona that is attractive to high value employers is hitting the mark.”

The five-building campus will be leased by State Farm and become a hub to include a combination of new hires and existing employees who will provide claims, service, and sales support to State Farm customers.

“State Farm selected Tempe because it has a growing population with skill sets that match our customers’ needs,” said Mary Crego, Senior Vice President, State Farm. “The site along Tempe Town Lake gives our employees access to nearby amenities as well as easy connections to public transportation.”

“We look forward to having State Farm as a neighbor and to working with the company on a variety of programs including employee recruitment and academic programs for their staff,” said ASU President Michael M. Crow.

“State Farm’s decision to lease the land owned by the university immediately adjacent to the ASU Athletic Facilities District is the first major step in the campaign to fund new and renovated sports facilities for the university. The Athletic Facilities District will be home to an exciting mixed-use development reflecting high quality and the best practices of sustainability. A high stature tenant such as State Farm will add to the luster of the district and validates its attractiveness.”

The project is being developed by Ryan Companies US, Inc. and Sunbelt Holdings. Tempe-based architectural firm DAVIS designed the project.

energy.bill

Direct Energy Opens Phoenix Area Call Center

Direct Energy today officially opened its Phoenix area call center in Tempe symbolizing the company’s dedication to grow long-term in the Phoenix community. As part of the grand opening festivities, Direct Energy announced that the company and its employees would commit to volunteering a minimum of 2,000 hours over the next year among several different area non-profit organizations including Habitat for Humanity and the St. Mary’s Food Bank.

“Direct Energy takes community investment and corporate social responsibility very seriously,” said Scott Boose, president, Direct Energy Services. “We are committed to making a difference in our customer’s lives and positive impacts in areas like Phoenix where we are part of the community employing hundreds of people with plans to grow even more.”
The community involvement initiative announcement was made at a press conference at Direct Energy’s new call center. During the press conference, Direct Energy also discussed its optimism that Arizona will open to retail electric competition, an industry where Direct Energy is the largest in North America. Recently, Direct Energy submitted a Certificate of Convenience and Necessity (CC&N) to the Arizona Corporation Commission (ACC) to serve retail electric customers in the state. The ultimate goal is to allow more consumers, specifically residential and small businesses, in Arizona to reap the full benefits of a competitive retail market structure, which may include cost savings.

“Across the United States in competitive retail electric markets, Direct Energy has offered choice and innovative time-of-use products to consumers that will save them money,” said Steven Murray, president, Direct Energy Residential. “Arizona should be no different and we look forward to working with the Arizona Corporation Commission Commissioners and other parties to continue the forward progress the state is making toward competition.”

Direct Energy employs more than 200 people in the Phoenix area with current plans to grow to as many as 500. The company’s call center in Tempe serves customers in both Direct Energy Services for their plumbing, heating and air conditioning, and electricians needs, and Direct Energy Residential for our retail electric customers.

“We are so pleased to celebrate this day with Direct Energy and its employees,” said Mayor Mark Mitchell. “Tempe is excited about adding 500 new jobs to our community, and we are appreciative of the volunteerism of the Direct Energy employees. That is a genuine and generous sign that they are here to stay.”

“Our new call center is a symbol of the important position Tempe and the Phoenix area has toward growing our customer base and business in North America,” said Matt George, Direct Energy’s call center director and senior executive in the Phoenix area. “I look forward to showing the community our new workplace and enhancing our visibility and influence here.”

Valley Metro - Bike Equals One Less Car

Stanton eyes more spending on bike projects

Phoenix would spend $1.5 million of its state transportation funding on making the city more bicycle friendly if Mayor Greg Stanton gets his way.

Stanton is proposing that the money be used to add more bike lanes, launch a bike-share program and prepare a citywide bicycle plan.

The Arizona Republic reports that Stanton’s proposals are included in a proposed budget that is scheduled for an initial City Council vote on Tuesday.

Phoenix has not previously used money from the state Highway User Revenue Fund for bicycle projects.

solar.plant

Mesquite Solar facility ready for business

Arizona Secretary of State Ken Bennett, Maricopa County Supervisor Mary Rose Wilcox and Buckeye Mayor Jackie Meck today joined Sempra U.S. Gas & Power officials and community leaders to dedicate the 150-megawatt (MW) first phase of Sempra U.S. Gas & Power’s Mesquite Solar facility.

Located in Arlington, Ariz., about 40 miles west of Phoenix, Mesquite Solar 1 is part of Sempra U.S. Gas & Power’s massive 4,000-acre Mesquite Solar complex, with the potential to build out up to 700 MW of capacity. The Mesquite Solar Complex is well-positioned to be North America’s largest photovoltaic (PV) solar power installation.

“Mesquite Solar 1 represents a major step forward for the state of Arizona as we continue down the path toward our goal of establishing ourselves as the nation’s leader

in solar generation,” said Bennett.  “Sempra U.S. Gas and Power has demonstrated

remarkable leadership with this project, and we look to continue working together to fully build-out the Mesquite Solar Complex.”

“This is a shining moment for the state of Arizona as it continues to establish itself as a renewable energy leader,” said Kevin C. Sagara, vice president of renewables for Sempra U.S. Gas & Power. “There is so much to be proud of here.  Our project would not have been possible without all the tremendous support we received at the federal, state and local level.”

Construction on Mesquite Solar 1 began in June 2011.  The solar project provided a boost to the local economy by creating more than 500 local construction jobs at peak along with 10 long-term positions. The landmark solar plant was completed in December 2012 and now generates enough emission-free electricity for about 56,000 homes.

The renewable power from Mesquite Solar 1 is sold to Pacific Gas & Electric under a 20-year contract.

Completion of Mesquite Solar 1 brings Sempra U.S. Gas & Power’s operating solar portfolio up to 300 MW. The company has another 308 MW under construction at its Copper Mountain Solar 2 and Copper Mountain Solar 3 facilities in Boulder City, Nev.

Sempra U.S. Gas & Power, LLC is a leading developer of renewable energy and natural gas solutions.  The company operates solar, wind and natural gas power plants that generate enough electricity for nearly 1 million homes, along with natural gas storage, pipelines and distribution utilities. The company is a subsidiary of Sempra Energy (NYSE: SRE), a Fortune 500 energy services holding company with 2012 revenues of approximately $10 billion.  The Sempra Energy companies’ nearly 17,000 employees serve more than 31 million consumers worldwide.  For more information, visit www.SempraUSGP.com.

121198354

Ak-Chin Indian Community Invests $10M in Maricopa

During the May 7 Maricopa City Council meeting, Mayor Christian Price announced that the Ak-Chin Indian Community would be making an investment of $10 million in Maricopa. Of the $10 million investment, $2.6 million will support the Maricopa Unified School District and $7.4 million will be allocated to the operation of the City of Maricopa’s Copper Sky Recreational Complex, a multigenerational/aquatic center and regional park, currently under construction.

The Community’s investment in the District will assist with the short fall within the budget and the failure of the previous tax initiative.   Ak-Chin Tribal Chairman Louis J. Manuel, Jr. has long valued the importance of education and has made it a priority for the Tribal Council to find ways to improve upon it, not only for the Tribal community, but for the City of Maricopa as well.

“As true leaders to those our youth look to for guidance, we need to invest in them to promote and partake in a future yet to be determined but with the belief of opportunities,” said Chairman Manuel.  “The Ak-Chin Indian Community believes a partnership like this goes beyond the boundaries and creates a relationship to forge a strong future for everyone.”

The Copper Sky Recreational Complex, slated to open in spring 2014, includes a multigenerational/aquatic center and a regional park.  The 52,000-square-foot center will have many amenities, such as a gymnasium with two full-size basketball courts, a fitness area, an indoor running track, a competitive pool, a recreational pool, and a splash pad.  The regional park is approximately 120 acres and will be comprised of a five-acre lake, tennis, basketball and volleyball courts, a skate park, multi-use fields, a baseball/softball field, a dog park, and bike and multi-use trails.

“I am ecstatic to see the countless benefits that come from building positive and valuable relationships with our wonderful neighbors, the Ak-Chin Indian Community,” said Maricopa Mayor Christian Price.  “As we embark on this new era of collaboration, I look forward to seeing our partnerships continue to develop and our communities continue to thrive. I am encouraged that, together, we will continue to construct a highly-prized and decidedly-successful region.  The City of Maricopa is extremely grateful for the outstanding generosity of the Ak-Chin Community and we look forward to building a prosperous future together.”

The Community’s $10 million investment will be made in one payment to the City, who will serve as the grantor of the $2.6 million to the District.

“We have a life-long relationship with the City of Maricopa; we have shared in each other’s growth and helped when called upon.  We hope to continue our partnership into the future,” said Chairman Manuel.

118315706

Stanton pitches Phoenix to Silicon Valley businesses

Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton wants businesses in Silicon Valley to relocate to Arizona.

Stanton traveled to California this week to sell Phoenix as a prime location for technology and manufacturing jobs.

Stanton says Phoenix needs to proactively attract employers.

Stanton’s office would not say what companies he is approaching in California because the meetings are confidential.

Stanton has traveled to Silicon Valley in the past to persuade companies there to relocate or open new branches in Phoenix.

He also has made several recent trips to Mexico to promote international trade.

Stanton was elected mayor in 2011.

Runoff Election, Early Voting Phoenix Mayor, Council

Andrew Thomas will run for governor

Former Maricopa County Attorney Andrew Thomas says he’s planning to run for Arizona governor in 2014.

Thomas served as county attorney from 2005 until he resigned in 2010 to unsuccessfully run for Arizona attorney general.

A three-member disciplinary panel of the Arizona courts disbarred Thomas about a year ago for failed corruption investigations that he and county Sheriff Joe Arpaio launched against officials with whom they were having political and legal disputes.

Thomas is a Republican and he joins a growing list of candidates for governor.

Democrat and former Arizona Board of Regents Chairman Fred DuVal, Republican and ex-Tempe Mayor Hugh Hallman and Americans Elect party candidate John Mealer have already formally filed to run.

Republicans Sen. Al Melvin and Secretary of State Ken Bennett have formed exploratory committees.

healthcare

ZocDoc will bring 600 jobs to Valley

A New York company that helps patients connect with doctors through an online service is opening a Scottsdale office and will hire more than 600 workers in the next three years.

ZocDoc is a free service for patients that also lets them book appointments online. Gov. Jan Brewer and Scottsdale Mayor Jim Lane announced the office opening on Tuesday.

Brewer has made three other major jobs announcements in recent weeks, including a new General Motors information technology innovation center in Chandler that will have 1,000 high-tech employees.

All three are benefiting from incentives from the Arizona Commerce Authority.

The Commerce Authority also was involved in Tuesday’s announcement.

The company says it will hire nearly 70 people to staff the office by year’s end.

Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton, second from left, joined city leaders March 14 at the American Animal Hospital Association’s annual conference to celebrate the millionth delegate to visit the Phoenix Convention Center since its $650 million expansion in January 2009. The millionth delegate, veterinarian Monique Weldon of Aurora, Colo., accepted a donation in her honor to the Rescue Operation for the Animals of the Reservation (ROAR). Pictured from left are Phoenix Convention Center Director Debbie Cotton, Mayor Stanton, AHAA President Mark Russak, ROAR spokeswoman Helen Oliff, Greater Phoenix CVB President Steve Moore, Weldon, and Phoenix City Manager David Cavazos.

Convention Center welcomes millionth delegate

A huge milestone at the Phoenix Convention Center arrived last week in the form of a petite veterinarian from Colorado.

Dr. Monique Weldon, owner of Loving Family Animal Hospital in Aurora, Colo., was the one millionth delegate to visit the Phoenix Convention Center since it emerged four years ago from a $600 million expansion.

Weldon, a veterinary professional in town for the American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA) annual conference, was honored by Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton and City Manager David Cavazos in the convention center’s palatial North Ballroom during the AAHA’s May 14 opening general session. Phoenix Convention Center Director Debbie Cotton and Greater Phoenix Convention & Visitors Bureau President Steve Moore also participated in the celebration.

“One million delegates is a testament to the drawing power of our city, our airport, our remade downtown, and this beautiful convention center,” Mayor Stanton said.

Cavazos pointed out that one million convention delegates visiting downtown Phoenix equates to nearly $1.5 billion in estimated spending for Phoenix’s economy.

The Phoenix Convention Center welcomed its first convention attendees in January 2009. With a glass-and-stone design inspired by the turquoise waters and red rock of the Grand Canyon, the convention center boasts nearly 900,000 square feet of exhibition and meeting space.

Mayor Stanton characterized the new convention center as a game changer, and called attention to several other developments that either dove-tailed with the facility’s construction or followed in its wake:

* METRO Light Rail began operation with 20 miles of line and 32 stations
* More than 60 new restaurants have opened downtown
* Every major hotel in downtown Phoenix is either completely new or has undergone multimillion-dollar renovations.
* CityScape was built, adding 2 blocks of new dining and entertainment options within a short stroll of the convention center’s doors.

On a more whimsical note, in the four years since expansion was completed, the convention center’s catering staff has served nearly 400,000 chicken breasts and 68,000 gallons of Starbucks coffee.

In addition to honoring Dr. Weldon with an array of gifts that included a return visit to Phoenix, representatives from the Greater Phoenix Convention & Visitors Bureau and three downtown hotels—the Hyatt Regency Phoenix, Renaissance Phoenix Downtown and Sheraton Phoenix Downtown—donated $1,000 to the Phoenix branch of AAHA’s charity of choice, the Rescue Operation for the Animals of the Reservation (ROAR).

The AAHA matched that donation to ROAR, and another $2,500 was given to the group’s cause by BlogPaws, a collection of bloggers who write about pet-care information.

ROAR is a nonprofit that provides food, shelter and medical care to dogs and cats rescued from American Indian reservations. According to the organization’s website, extreme poverty and limited access to medical care lead to tens of thousands of animals being orphaned on Indian reservations each year; there are at least 1,500 stray dogs and cats roaming the Navajo Nation alone.

On hand Thursday to help ROAR accept the donations was Lucy, a German Shepherd mix who was found in a roadside cardboard box in a New Mexico pueblo. Lucy now lives in a mountainside home in South Phoenix, where she enjoys daily walks and swims in a backyard pool.

Jan Brewer

Brewer, GM announce Chandler Innovation Center

Michigan-based General Motors (GM), together with Governor Jan Brewer, Chandler Mayor Jay Tibshraeny, the Arizona Commerce Authority (ACA) and the Greater Phoenix Economic Council (GPEC), announced today GM has selected Chandler as the site of its fourth Information Technology Innovation Center.  These IT Innovation Centers enable GM to in-source the company’s innovation capabilities, strengthening its global competitiveness.

With the announcement, GM expects to invest $21 million in the new Chandler facility and hire 1,000 high-wage employees over the next five years.

“GM could have chosen to locate this premier facility anywhere in the country, so it is a tremendous credit to our state and everything we have to offer that GM has decided to build right here in Arizona,” said Governor Jan Brewer.  “Today’s announcement speaks volumes about the business-friendly environment we have created in Arizona, including our high-tech workforce, competitive tax policies and lean regulations. I could not be prouder of our state or what this announcement means for the future of the Arizona economy.”

With today’s GM announcement, Chandler joins previously disclosed locations for Innovation Centers in Warren, Mich., Austin, Texas, and Roswell, Georgia.

“The greater Phoenix area is a fantastic hub of emerging technical talent – from university graduates to working professionals. GM needs these kinds of world-class and skilled employees to be as successful as we want to be,” said GM Chief Information Officer Randy Mott.  “Chandler is the perfect addition to our overall Innovation Center market strategy, locating in great communities that are on the leading edge of innovation and technology.”

GM’s IT Innovation Centers are part of a companywide transformation to improve performance, reduce the cost of on-going operations and increase its delivery of innovation.

“This is exactly the type of technology employer we need in Chandler and in our state,” said Chandler Mayor Jay Tibshraeny. “The GM Innovation Center is a perfect complement to Chandler’s Price Corridor, and furthers the City’s reputation as a regional hub for innovation and high-tech businesses.”

GM will begin recruiting and hiring software developers, database administrators and system analysts immediately.  The new Innovation Center is expected to be operational by first quarter 2014. Interested candidates can apply for positions at http://jobs.gm.com/.

“We are thrilled with GM’s selection of Arizona and its significant increased investment in our community.  The company’s long-term commitment grows and strengthens our economy in the form of quality jobs, high wages and capital investment, building on the technology and economic base in our state,” said Sandra Watson, president and CEO, Arizona Commerce Authority.  “It has been wonderful working with GM’s team throughout this process, and we look forward to a continued successful partnership for many years to come.”

“General Motors could not have found a better innovation partner than the City of Chandler, which has worked hard to earn its well-deserved status as one of the western U.S.’s top technology cities,” said GPEC President and CEO Barry Broome. “GM’s investment is testament to our skilled workforce and quality lifestyle, as well as competitive and uncomplicated business landscape. Indeed, today’s announcement is a win for the entire region, and we look forward to developing a lasting partnership with General Motors.”

boeing-phantom-ray

GPEC analyzes impact of potential defense cuts

The Greater Phoenix Economic Council today released findings and recommendations from its Aerospace and Defense Market Intelligence Program, a two-phase initiative that took an in-depth look at the region’s aerospace and defense companies to determine their strengths, weaknesses and readiness for the sequestration, federally-mandated automatic spending cuts scheduled to take place on March 1 unless Congress intervenes.

As a result of the sequestration, the Department of Defense (DoD) must cut $1 trillion from its budget. Arizona has the sixth largest share of DoD contracts, and stands to lose as much as $2.3 billion in annual revenue on account of sequestration-based cuts.  Until it happens, however, the size or effects of the cuts in Arizona remain ambiguous.

In anticipation of these massive cuts, the Greater Phoenix Economic Council (GPEC) – along with its Economic Development Directors Team and the Greater Phoenix Chamber of Commerce – last year undertook a major market intelligence initiative to determine the existing strengths and weaknesses of Arizona’s aerospace and defense companies. Based on this data snapshot, the analysis also sought to understand the potential impact of sequestration on our local companies, communities, workforce and innovation base.

“As part of GPEC’s program, I personally sat down with several aerospace and defense companies located in Phoenix. The message I heard from them was resoundingly clear – the uncertainty over the timing and severity of these cuts has many of them paralyzed, and they want guidance,” said Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton. “With 49,000 Arizona aerospace and defense jobs at stake, it’s critical that our federal leaders work together to avert this crisis or at least provide a strategic direction for where we go on March 2 and beyond.”

“Sequestration is a bad way to budget. Local companies and individuals get caught up in a political game that does little to solve our nation’s long-term financial challenges,” Mesa Mayor Scott Smith said. “Washington should follow the example of cities and make smart cuts to fix the budget rather than making arbitrary cuts that do more harm than good.”

The program consisted of two main components. The first developed an in-depth profile and analysis of 114 local companies identified by GPEC using data from the Office of Management and Budget. The second was an extensive door-to-door outreach effort to these companies, conducted by mayors, local chambers of commerce, GPEC Ambassadors (volunteers from GEC’s member companies) and municipal economic development directors and their teams.

“As a top-ranked defense state, Arizona has much to lose with the budget cuts associated with the 2011 Budget Control Act. The West Valley, proud home to Luke Air Force Base, has worked tirelessly to protect the mission of the base and to secure the F-35 aircraft,” Avondale Mayor Marie Lopez Rogers said. “Sequestration and the drastic budget cuts to defense and aerospace will undermine the efforts of the communities in the West Valley and negatively impact our local economy, which is tied closely to Luke Air Force Base and the defense-related industry.”

It’s also important to note that nearly 75 percent of the state’s research and development expenditures are housed within Arizona’s corporate infrastructure – companies like Intel, Boeing, Raytheon and Honeywell. As such, drastic reductions in their DoD contracts could result in losses in some of the state’s most significant research programs, which affect Arizona’s science position, its universities, and opportunities for increased investments and exports.

“These looming cuts represent a crossroads for our region,” GPEC President and CEO Barry Broome said. “The region’s corporate, science, civic and government partners must convene to not only mitigate job loss but also to support and protect the region’s physical assets, workforce talent and innovation from being moved out of the market.”

The findings represent a snapshot of the Greater Phoenix region’s aerospace and defense industry for a specific period of time, from May through December 2012 when the data was collected. During this time period, sequestration was considered more of a threat and less of a reality.

Top-line analysis revealed that 76 percent of the companies reported to be either stable (52 percent) or expanding (24 percent). Twenty-six percent reported that their businesses were contracting – primarily companies and operations where DoD contracts represent the largest share of their revenue base. Those that were expanding focused on diversification, including commercial and international markets, or DoD growth areas like intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance, cyber technology, space technology and counterterrorism.

Because 2,000 companies throughout Arizona were awarded $13 billion in defense contacts in 2012 – and the industry represents 43,000 direct jobs – even a 25 percent contraction could be detrimental to one of the state’s major employment bases. For larger, Tier 1 companies, the short-term outlook is more stable as many have expanded products and services in anticipation of the cuts. However, Tier 2 companies that generally represent the industry’s supply chain are less likely to withstand the cuts due to their reliance on Tier 1 companies for contracts and subcontracts. Some of these companies have neither the access to capital or the working capital to wait it out – meaning they could be forced to lay off workers or cease operations.

Based on the program’s findings, GPEC’s five recommendations include:

1. A federal-level strategy from Arizona’s congressional leadership to either fully reverse sequestration or provide a “go forward” strategy to ensure Arizona’s aerospace and defense assets – including R&D and skilled workforce – are retained and redeployed.
2. Public and bilateral support for Governor Brewer and the Arizona Commerce Authority in their efforts to secure an FAA-designated test site.
3. A major commitment to science and technology to ensure the aerospace and defense industry’s existing knowledge and technology assets are leveraged to generate new and higher-value economic growth opportunities for our existing workforce talent while also attracting new, skill ed workers to Greater Phoenix.
4. Increased support for regional export opportunities from state and regional leaders.
5. An ongoing commitment to business retention and expansion, particularly with regards to sequestration.

To view the Aerospace and Defense Market Intelligence Report in its entirety, as well as all five recommendations, please visit http://www.gpec.org/aerospace.

Local Initiatives Check Pres 2-11-13_sml

Wells Fargo grants $1 million to six area nonprofits

Wells Fargo & Company, one of America’s leading community banks and the nation’s largest home mortgage lender, announced the company will make donations totaling $1 million shared across six Arizona nonprofits to help further strengthen and stabilize Arizona communities.

The local grant recipients were identified in close collaboration with the City of Phoenix and Mayor Greg Stanton.  Grants are targeted to support five key areas:  Support services for the homeless, neighborhood beautification and improvement, education and workforce programs, small business and economic development, and the environment.

Wells Fargo is making $1 million in grants to the following Phoenix nonprofits:
· Arizona Citizens for the Arts — $50,000 to support the organization’s efforts in neighborhood beautification efforts and the arts.
· Keep Phoenix Beautiful — $100,000 in support of Phoenix neighborhood beautification efforts and the environment.
· Arizona Women’s Education and Employment, Inc. (AWEE) — $150,000 in support of education and workforce programs, homelessness, and economic development.
· Maricopa County Community College (MCCC)/Arizona Small Business Development Center — $200,000 to support small business programs and economic development.
· Teach for America – Phoenix — $200,000 to support the organization’s education programs.
· Valley of the Sun United Way — $300,000 to support the homelessness community, education, employment, and economic development.

The grants are funded through the Wells Fargo’s NeighborhoodLIFTSM  program that was launched early last year.  The program is an innovative effort created to help stabilize neighborhoods and help people buy homes by making properties more affordable with down payment assistance available for eligible prospective buyers.

“Wells Fargo is the leading mortgage lender in Arizona and we are proud to support our communities to help ensure a thriving and healthy community base,” said Pam Conboy, Wells Fargo Arizona Lead Regional President.  “These nonprofits are actively leading efforts to help stabilize neighborhoods and promote jobs and education programs, and we are excited to help support their tremendous efforts with the NeighborhoodLIFTSM program local initiatives funds.”

“City government is a key player in moving our economy forward, ending homelessness and advocating for quality education for our kids, but we cannot do it alone,” said Mayor Stanton.  “Our partners in the nonprofit and faith communities are indispensable to ending homelessness and ensuring a stronger economic future in Phoenix and the region.  Thanks to Wells Fargo’s NeighborhoodLIFT program and their continued efforts in our communities and for being a conduit for boosting programs that build our city up to a more promising future.”

In addition to the local grants, the NeighborhoodLIFTSM program is helping further the nation’s housing recovery by providing down payment assistance to help more local families achieve successful, sustainable homeownership. In Phoenix, more than $2 million is still available for down payment assistance grants of $15,000 for local eligible hombuyers as part of the $8 million commitment to provide down payment assistance grants, homebuyer support programs and local initiatives to help consumers achieve successful, sustainable home ownership.  Wells Fargo collaborates with the City of Phoenix and the non-profit organization NeighborWorks America and its local affiliate, Neighborhood Housing Services of Phoenix, to implement the program.

Down payment assistance of $15,000 is available to those who qualify, buy and reside in a home in the city of Phoenix.  To qualify for down payment assistance that may be applied to mortgage purchase loans with any lender, applicants must meet certain criteria including annual income not exceeding 120 percent of the median income for the area. Income maximums vary based on family size.  An event was held in Phoenix last March to kick-off the program and nearly 1,000 prospective homebuyers attended. Wells Fargo committed $8 million in the city of Phoenix to fund the NeighborhoodLIFTSM program designed to stabilize neighborhoods and help residents become homeowners.

Sun Health

Dignity names new West Valley hospital

Dignity Health announced that “St. Joseph’s Westgate Medical Center” will be the name of its new West Valley hospital during an official groundbreaking at the planned 35-acre medical campus near the Loop 101 and Glendale Avenue.

The $44 million Dignity Health facility is scheduled to open in early 2014 and will provide West Valley residents with a new alternative to receive high quality healthcare services. Dignity Health already operates three hospitals in the Valley including St. Joseph’s Hospital and Medical Center, which is home of the Barrow Neurological Institute in central Phoenix, and Chandler Regional and Mercy Gilbert Medical Centers. Dignity Health was previously known as Catholic Healthcare West.

When the new facility opens, the first phase will contain a 60,000 square-foot hospital that will include an emergency room, 24 inpatient beds, two operating rooms and diagnostic services. For the most complex medical cases, patients will benefit from the clinical integration with St. Joseph’s in central Phoenix. Established in 1895, St. Joseph’s today is nationally recognized for its specialty care and its expertise in treating the most complex medical cases.

“St. Joseph’s Westgate Medical Center was selected as the name of the medical campus because it builds on more than a century of healthcare in the Valley and people recognize St. Joseph’s as a beacon of quality care,” says Linda Hunt, Dignity Health Arizona President and CEO. “We intend to deliver that same excellence to the residents of the West Valley.”

The hospital will initially employ 200 staff and will have the capacity to expand to 200 inpatient beds as demand grows. The 35-acre medical campus will house community physicians and outpatient partners, giving patients one location for their healthcare needs.

“St. Joseph’s Westgate Medical Center will be a vibrant medical campus right in the heart of the West Valley,” says Gregg Davis, President of St. Joseph’s Westgate Medical Center. “The campus is designed to be a model for the nation’s changing healthcare environment and will change as medicine and the community evolve.”

The campus will serve as a collaborative venture in partnership with physicians in the West Valley to enhance and better manage the delivery of healthcare to patients in the area.

“This is a great project for the City of Glendale as the Loop 101 corridor near Glendale’s Sports and Entertainment District is one of the city’s key economic focus areas,” says Glendale Mayor Jerry Weiers. “The new hospital will not only expand development west of the freeway, it will also attract other healthcare-related businesses and jobs to the area.”

While this is the first Dignity Health hospital in the West Valley, the organization began to lay the business foundation of its launch several years ago. Today, Dignity Health operates a family practice clinic and an orthopedic clinic in Peoria, imaging centers throughout the area, an outpatient surgery center and a partnership with the Minute Clinics located in the CVS pharmacies in Glendale and Goodyear.

SS Reendering

SkySong sparks economic revitalization along McDowell Road Corridor

No one would guessed that a catalyst of innovation could rise from the ruins of a vacant shopping mall. And certainly no one could imagine that happening in the middle of a crippling economic downturn that affected the entire world.

But that’s what’s happened in Scottsdale.

“It is hard to think of a business attraction initiative the city has recently used that has not mentioned SkySong as a major attribute,” said Scottsdale Mayor Jim Lane. “SkySong has a national reputation and as it grows it will continue to elevate Scottsdale’s standing.”

SkySong, the ASU Scottsdale Innovation Center, opened in 2007 at the location that was once the Los Arcos Mall and has become one of the biggest success stories in the world when it comes to incubator and technology centers.

The vision for SkySong is to create a mixed-use project of 1.2 million square feet that will draw entrepreneurs and innovators into the project, give them the resources they need to grow and thrive, and provide them an exceptional home for when their businesses begin to take off. The vision started with Arizona State University President Michael Crow, who wanted to create the kind of technological and innovation-minded environment that would attract companies and job creation to the metro Phoenix area.

In addition to becoming home to more than 50 companies from 10 countries around the world, SkySong has become the anchor to what economic developers are calling Scottsdale’s McDowell Road Corridor, a community where innovation, technology, business and retailers have converged to create tremendous economic opportunities. Scottsdale economic development officials said more than $200 million of new capital in being invested along the McDowell Road Corridor. And the economic impact of SkySong — which was estimated to be $10 billion over the course of the next 30 years — is only expected to grow with the addition of SkySong 3.

“The targeted opening date for SkySong 3 is in 2014,” said SkySong spokesman Tom Evans. “We anticipate a kick-off in construction activity in the second quarter of 2013. In the meantime, work is continuing on the new residential units that are part of the SkySong project. The $45 million, four-story project will include 325 residential units, and is being built by MT Builders. Todd & Associates is the architecture firm for the project. The first of those units will open for occupancy in October 2013.”

Evans said you can expect to see companies that will mirror the energy of the firms that filled SkySong 1 and 2 when SkySong 3 opens.

“The businesses at SkySong share the spirit of innovation and technology that is so critical to the vision of SkySong,” Evans said. “Companies such as Jobing.com, Channel Intelligence and Adaptive Curriculum will serve as models for the new companies coming into SkySong 3 and for the smaller companies in the ASU SkySong incubator space. The companies at SkySong 3 will also continue the positive impact the project is having on the McDowell Road Corridor, thanks to the success of SkySong 1 and 2 over the past few years.”

Masiulewicz

Masiulewicz takes leadership role in MPI

Donna Masiulewicz, a native of Chicago, was named president of the Arizona Sunbelt Chapter of Meeting Professionals International for the 2012 – 2013 year.

Masiulewicz earned her BA from Northern Illinois University in Spanish Translation and International Marketing.  She began her career in the hospitality industry working in association meetings management and tenured in corporate meeting and event operations.  A move to Arizona in 2001 carried over her role in corporate meetings and introduced her to incentive travel programs.

As president at Timeline Meetings and Events, LLC, Masiulewicz manages programs and events in domestic and international destinations with delegations from 12-2500.
Over the years, Masiulewicz has earned several industry awards, including the Rising Star for MPI (both Chicago and Arizona chapters) and the MPI Special Commendation award in Arizona. Masiulewicz won the prestigious 2008-2009 AZMPI Planner of the Year.
She recently sat down with Arizona Business Magazine to talk about the state of the hospitality industry in Arizona.

Question: What motivated you to become a meeting and event producer?
Masiulewicz; I started working the association market as an internal meeting/registration coordinator for a national nursing council. I truly loved the job and all the facets of the meetings industry. Wanting to learn more, I moved to the corporate side of meetings and conferences, got involved in MPI and continued to grow, learn and focus on perfecting each event.

Q: What are your duties and focus as president at Timeline Meetings and Events, LLC?
M: I am an independent senior meeting planner who is proficient in operations management for conferences, events and incentive programs. I manage all facets of program logistics including on-line registration support team, housing, custom program itinerary, ancillary meetings/activities, food/beverage selection, implementation, budget management, client relations, on-site execution and production, accounting and financial reconciliation.

Q: How did you become involved in the Arizona Sunbelt Chapter of MPI?
M: I joined the Chicago chapter of MPI in 1997 and served on several committees; also receiving the Rising Star award in 2001. I transferred my membership to the Arizona Sunbelt Chapter when I moved in 2001. I was going to sit back and take it all in, but quickly jumped onto two committees. Over the next few years, I served on several committees including host and hospitality, membership, holiday party, special events/fundraising, and education forum. I joined the board of directors as director of special events/ fundraising in 2006-2007 and served as vice president of finance for a year before becoming president-elect in 2011-2012.

Q: How have some of the political and social issues — SB1070 and the lesbian couple being asked to leave a downtown Phoenix hotel restaurant — impacted the meeting and events industry in Arizona?
M: While we continue to be sensitive to the special interests of all our clients, we have a responsibility to remain focused on the task at hand which is the organization and execution of the best event we can produce. At times this may entail distancing that task from any group’s social or political views. While some may protest such an approach, the resultant neutrality assures both the organizers and the clients a well-run event without the distractions of any alternate agendas.

Q: What are your goals as president of the chapter?
M: My theme for the year is “Meeting Momentum.” We have the energy and resources laid in the foundation for the hospitality industry and it’s up to us as the Arizona Sunbelt Chapter to keep the movement and mobility in motion by doing four things:
* Offering top notch education to our membership.
* Encouraging members to live MPI and share the message throughout the industry and beyond.
* Paving the path for our future leaders.
* Having fun with networking events and helping others via our community outreach efforts.

87690275

Technology expands meeting and conference industry

We don’t catch up over coffee anymore, we catch up on Facebook.

Technology has changed the way we date, invite people to parties, and even watch TV. It’s only natural that technology will change the face of business meetings and conferences.

“As a chapter and in addition to our website, we utilize social media outlets — Facebook and LinkedIn — to promote our meetings and events and to share information industry-wide,” says Donna Masiulewicz. president of the Arizona Sunbelt Chapter of Meeting Professionals International. “We also use these means to educate those outside the industry about the power of meetings.”

Mara Weber, global marketing and communications director for Honeywell Process Solutions in Phoenix, has taken the use of technology a step far beyond Facebook.

“We held a global sales and service kickoff meeting on a virtual platform, with live broadcasts of a general session in two time zones,” Weber says. “The objective was to align our global team on growth initiatives, portfolio offerings, key messages and how to sell the value to our customers.”

While Weber says virtual meetings — which experts expect to triple in the next five years — give companies the ability to create a global footprint and bring content to an audience when and where it’s convenient for them, there are logistical challenges that need to be overcome.

“To be honest, the time and energy required and cost is far more than people realize,” she says. “You need to start with a very specific plan of attack, keeping goals and results in mind and making sure you are creating the right content in the right format. Video format, platform format, firewalls, testing in varied browsers and software versions, ability to convert files and stay flexible at all times is just the start. You also need to think past the technical to the end-user experience and also branding to create a visual environment and help messages that guide attendees or they quickly get frustrated and jump off. It’s not like being lost at a trade show and being able to view a map and ask people for directions. The audience is largely on their own and you have to think about their experience every step of the way, how they behave, how you want them to behave, download, ask, engage.”

Weber believe the best use of virtual meetings are as a component of a live, face-to-face event, extending the value of the content through the web to attendees who cannot travel or have abbreviated schedules.

“We chose to do a fully virtual kickoff meeting because we have over 3,500 sales and service team members in more than 100 countries,” she says. “The cost and logistics of face to face meeting is not reasonable.”

Weber says Honeywell has piloted virtual meeting a couple of times with customers when they can focus on a specific, targeted topic. And even in the high-tech world that Honeywell does business in, change isn’t embraced easily.

“Our customer base does not seem to be accepting,” Weber says. “By nature, they are engineers and like live demonstrations, talking face to face with experts and networking.”

TECHNOLOGY IMPACTS THE MEETING INDUSTRY

Here are five way ways experts say the use virtual technology is changing the face of the convention, conference, meeting, event, and trades how industries: ways he says you can use virtual technology to enhance your meetings.

WEB CONFERENCING: Connects meeting attendees and speakers in different locations by using VoIP (voice over Internet protocol), which allows real-time streaming of audio and video. More hotels and business centers are also adding high-definition virtual conference rooms that can be used to host hybrid sessions.

ONLINE COLLABORATION TOOLS: Open source your meetings and events by allowing virtual participants to share documents, Web pages, whiteboards, slide decks, audio, and video … all in real-time. Some Web conferencing systems allow you to record your events, thereby creating a collective knowledge base. These tools can be used for small meetings or for larger groups of thousands.

SOCIAL MEDIA CHANNELS: Often called the “backchannel,” social media represent the virtual conversations taking place in the background before, during, and often long after your live meeting or event. Take the time to set up and promote social media activity through things like assigning a specific Twitter hashtag for your event, creating event-specific Facebook and LinkedIn pages, and setting up Foursquare check-in locations.

REMOTE PRESENTERS: Use a streaming video feed of a speaker who is in a different physical location. This can be done as a realistic 3-D hologram, or a live feed of your guest speaker. Remote presenter options can be a great way to attract high-profile speakers who may not have the time to travel to a physical event.

LIVE WEBCASTS: Broadcast your keynotes, general sessions and breakouts by streaming your live audio and visual presentations via the Internet in real-time.

p

Meetings and conventions drive tourism industry

Steve Moore, president and CEO of the Greater Phoenix Convention and Visitors Bureau, knows his industry is big business.

“If Arizona’s tourism industry were a publicly traded entity,” he says, “it would be the third-largest company in the state—just behind Avnet and Freeport-McMoran, and just ahead of US Airways and PetSmart.”

Despite the economic downturn and the hit that the state’s tourism industry has taken because of human rights concerns, the numbers back up Moore’s statement. According to a study released this year by Dean Runyan Associates:
* Total direct travel spending in Arizona was $18.3 billion in 2011. Travel spending increased by 5.4 percent in current dollars compared with 2010.
* The tourism industry employs 157,700 people in Arizona. Combined with secondary employment that is generated through this direct travel spending, total job generation for Arizona is nearly 300,000. Tourism-related employment increased in 2011 by 1.7 percent – an addition of 2,700 jobs. This is the first increase in employment since 2006.
* The re-spending of travel-related revenues by businesses and employees supported 136,000 additional jobs outside of the travel industry, with earnings of $5.4 billion.
* The biggest economic boost came from conferences, conventions and business travel, which accounted for more than $6 billion in spending, or the equivalent economic impact of hosting a Super Bowl every month.

“Conventions and meetings are essential to Phoenix’s economy,” Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton says. “Their attendees stay in our hotels, go shopping at our local businesses and eat in our restaurants, which generates revenue and creates jobs.”

In many ways, experts says, conventions and meetings are a key indicator of the state’s ongoing economic recovery.

“Our industry is in a unique position in that our economic recovery has a direct effect on the recovery of the country as a whole,” says Donna Masiulewicz, president of the Arizona Sunbelt Chapter of Meeting Professionals International. “For most organizations, the first step in such a rebuilding phase is to regroup, reorganize and set out plans for the future. What better place to accomplish these things than at a company-wide event or convention? That means, in essence, that when we are hired to set up these events we are not only helping our own industry get back on financial track but we are serving as a conduit for other organizations to do so as well.”

The gross domestic product of Arizona’s travel industry was $7.3 billion in 2011, according to the Runyan study, making it the state’s top export-oriented industry, ranking above microelectronics, aerospace, and mining.

A big chunk of that revenue comes from meetings and conventions, which account for about two-thirds of the total revenue at Phoenix hotels and resorts, according to Douglas MacKenzie, director of communications for the Greater Phoenix Convention and Visitors Bureau.

“That’s higher than the national average,” MacKenzie says, “because our destination holds great appeal as a meeting destination.”

MacKenzie is quick to point out that when a big event like Major League Baseball’s All-Star Game or the Super Bowl comes to Arizona, the public hears about the economic impact it has on the community because those events get a lot of media attention. But people often don’t realize that big conventions similarly bring thousands—and in some cases tens of thousands —of visitors to Phoenix on a regular basis.

“When a large convention comes to the Phoenix Convention Center, it’s like entire small town moving into downtown for a week,” says Douglas MacKenzie, director of communications for the Greater Phoenix Convention and Visitors Bureau. “And each one of these temporary ‘residents’ directly puts dollars into the economy and generates tax revenue. By a very conservative industry estimate, each convention attendee who comes here spends more than $1,500.”

Meetings not only play a critical role in Scottsdale’s $3 billion tourism industry, according to Kelli Blubaum, vice president of Convention Sales & Services at the Scottsdale Convention & Visitors Bureau, they are economic catalysts that extend beyond the singular event.

“Meetings and events not only help fill thousands of resort and hotel room nights each year, but also provide an opportunity to introduce new visitors and business decision makers to the area,’ she says. “These events often lead to repeat visitors and even economic development opportunities for the city.”

Scottsdale Mayor W.J. “Jim” Lane says that meetings and conventions sometimes open the attracting new industry to Arizona.

“Sometimes, people who get a taste for Scottsdale end up buying a home here, or even moving a business here,” Lane says. “In fact, (convention-goers) may represent larger groups and businesses who may ultimately do more business in Scottsdale based on an initial stay here.”

MacKenzie says Arizona’s robust meeting and convention industry brings people into the state who might not otherwise be exposed to the benefits of doing business in Arizona.

“Many conventions and corporate meetings deliver to our doorstep the very manufacturing and knowledge industries economic developers want to attract to the city,” MacKenzie says.

And while meetings and conventions represent about one-third of the tourism revenue in Tucson, city officials have used their success as an attraction in the meetings industry to attract more revenue in the future.

“Many of Tucson’s larger resorts and hotels rely exclusively on group business to maintain occupancy and revenue throughout the year,” says Graeme Hughes, director of convention sales for the Metropolitan Tucson Convention and Visitors Bureau. “We are also very successful in converting meetings attendees into leisure visitors.”

Since 2008 and 2009 — the low point for Arizona tourism in the wake of the economic downturn — tourism-related tax revenue has risen across the state and as much as 60 percent in some regions of Arizona.

“The hospitality industry is a primary driver of the Arizona economy,” says Andy Ernst, regional vice president of Robert Half International, a professional staffing and consulting service. “We anticipate that Arizona will continue to experience healthy growth in the coming years as hotel occupancy continues to rise, and business comes back to the state.”

With a bright financial outlook for the meeting and convention industry nationally, experts expect Arizona to ride the momentum.
“At this point, Arizona is positioned to follow the national trend,” Hughes says. “As the economy improves, travel increases. Organizations will soon be willing to reinvest in the positive outcomes that meetings and conventions provide.”

The groups that met at the Phoenix Convention Center in 2011 accounted for more than 240,000 attendees and $350 million in estimated direct spending, according the MacKenzie. That surpassed the previous year’s direct-spend total by nearly $10 million, and it reflects the drawing power of the renovated and expanded convention center and additions to downtown, including CityScape.

“However, that’s a performance that likely will not be repeated soon,” MacKenzie says. “The number of convention attendees we’ve booked for 2012 is down 20 percent compared with 2011.”

MacKenzie attributes the decline to the recession, a 30 percent cut to the CVB’s budget, the removal of half of our Prop 302 marketing funds, and client backlash from Arizona’s role in the immigration debate, and the “A.I.G. effect,” the tendency of corporations to cut down on lavish expenditures and luxuries in areas like travel and meetings to avoid appearing wasteful in times of economic downturn. The A.I.G. effect became a reality because of the negative publicity generated by some practices of the insurance giant A.I.G.

“Keep in mind: This year’s and next year’s conventions were booked from 2008 to 2010, during the depths of the recession and during the first year of the immigration debate,” MacKenzie says. “The typical booking window for citywide conventions is two to five years out—i.e., a group usually selects the site of its 2012 convention by 2010.”

Despite some challenges, experts agree that the long-term appeal of Arizona should allow the state’s convention and meeting industry to fluorish.

“We’re seeing an increase in business from third-party planners, and the corporate segment is strengthening as well,” Blubaum points out. “Plus, healthcare continues to be a strong segment. Canada also is a growing market for Scottsdale, which is why we are increasing our efforts to drive additional meetings business from key Canadian cities.”

Hamer - June 2011-fornewsletter

The 2012 Hammer Awards

It’s that time of year to hand out some honors for the year’s best. So it is without further ado that I bring you the Third Annual Hammer Awards.
Impact Player of the Year: State Treasurer Doug Ducey
The keeper of the state’s checkbook took down Proposition 204 in a rout, and for that Doug Ducey wins a Hammer. Before he arrived on the scene, the tax measure was poised to coast to victory with no opposition. Ducey rallied opponents to make a clear case to voters why Arizona could do better by its education system than to saddle the state with a permanent tax increase that wouldn’t advance proven reforms. Ducey hit the exacta when Proposition 118, which would help create a more reliable funding stream into the K-12 system, also passed.
Best Public Policy Effort of the Year: (tie) Personnel Reform and Competitiveness Package 2.0
Two major policy efforts in 2012 deserve Hammers.
Gov. Jan Brewer and the Legislature, led by Senate President Steve Pierce and House Speaker Andy Tobin, were firing on all cylinders in 2012 with their passage of a sweeping personnel reform package that injects a new and much needed level of accountability and professionalism into the state’s employment system. Newly appointed Brewer chief of staff Scott Smith deserves kudos for shepherding the package through the Legislature with the help of two of  the state House ’s brightest rising stars, Justin Olson and Justin Pierce.
As if that weren’t enough, though, the governor and Legislature also passed a major economic competitiveness package in 2012 that built on the gains passed in 2011. Who says you can’t have back-to-back once-in-a-generation job creation bills? This year’s wins included the state’s first ever reduction in the tax on investment income (capital gains), and it now makes Arizona more attractive from a tax standpoint to service providers who sell their services beyond the state’s borders, bringing the service sector into alignment with manufacturers. Gov. Brewer’s lead policy adviser and tax guru Michael Hunter, state Rep. J.D. Mesnard, who was honored as the Arizona Chamber’s Representative of the Year, and Arizona Commerce Authority CEO Sandra Watson all deserve a Hammer for a job well done.
Comeback Player of the Year: Matt Salmon
The Hammer goes to former and now Congressman-once-again Matt Salmon for his return to the U.S. House 12 years after he stayed faithful to his term limits pledge that he made when he was a member of the class of 1994. As someone who had the honor of spending a good chunk of his professional life working for Matt, the East Valley will be well served by its incoming congressman who, by having served three terms in the 1990s, brings to his job a perspective (and seniority) few have.
Expect Big Things: Steve Chucri
Maricopa County Supervisor-elect Steve Chucri is one to watch, so he earns the Expect Big Things Hammer. Steve is one of the most affable guys you’ll ever meet. Adding his voice to the Board of Supervisors will ensure that the needs of Maricopa County will always come before any personal political agenda. Drawing on his experience as the chief of the Arizona Restaurant Association, I expect he’ll inject a pro-business point of view into the Board’s work that will help Maricopa County grow more jobs.
Southern Arizona Star: Lea Marquez-Peterson
Lea Marquez-Peterson, the president and CEO of the fast-growing Tucson Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, wins the Hammer for her groundbreaking work to illuminate business issues for southern Arizona’s Hispanic and Spanish-speaking community. Through her work on votaaz.org, an online guide to candidates and election information, Lea is ensuring that more people than ever understand public policy’s impact on business.
I’ll Be Back: Kirk Adams
Former state House Speaker Kirk Adams may have come up short in his bid for Congress, but he’s simply too talented a leader and respected as a conservative voice to be gone from the scene long. Here’s hoping it’s won’t be too long until Kirk returns to a position of influence.
Emerging Mayor: Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton
If I were pressed, I might be able rattle off the names of a dozen or so big city mayors around the country. Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton gets the Hammer Award for now having clearly joined that small list of mayors whose influence exceeds the borders of his or her city. Mayor Stanton and his colleagues on the Council are doing great things in Phoenix. The Mayor has taken the lead in advancing trade with Mexico, developing a biotech hub, education and pension reform. Because of Stanton and City Manager David Cavazos, when cities around the country are looking for best practices, they’ll look to Phoenix.
Councilmen of the Year:  Sal DiCiccio and Tom Simplot
Phoenix has dramatically reduced the time it takes to get a project through the permitting process, an initiative headed up by Councilmen Sal DiCiccio and Tom Simplot.  This effort has received national attention, including from columnist George Will.
Buy this Stock: Danny Seiden
Danny Seiden, Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery’s political adviser, wins the Hammer for being a stock to watch in 2013. He was on the inside of two big wins in the 2012 election cycle: the defeat of Props 204 and 121, the so-called open primary measure, all while working with Montgomery to return the office of county attorney to respectability. And to boot, he’s married to one of Arizona’s most talented women, Southwest Gas executive Ann Seiden. Buy this stock!
The Next Generation: Martinez and Romero
They’re barely old enough to rent a car, but Gretchen Martinez (formerly Conger) and Lorna Romero each wins a Hammer for representing the next generation of Arizona politics. Martinez was the successful No on 204 campaign manager while doing her day job directing advocacy efforts at the Arizona Chamber of Commerce and Industry. Romero last month was named Gov. Brewer’s director of legislative affairs, where she helps shepherd the governor’s priorities through the legislative process.
Serious Work for a Funny Man: Chris Bliss and the Bill of Rights Memorial
Professional juggler and comedian Chris Bliss wins a Hammer for his dogged determination to install monuments to the Bill of Rights in civic spaces across America. Thanks to Bliss’ work and legislation introduced by U.S. Rep.-elect Kyrsten Sinema, Arizona last week became the first state to dedicate a monument. The limestone pieces with the words of the first 10 amendments to the Constitution can be found at Wesley Bolin Plaza at the state Capitol.
Former Roommate of the Year: Steve Voeller
This is no slight to anyone else who split the rent check with me during my 20s, but Steve Voeller wins the Hammer for Former Roommate of the Year for his tireless and effective tax policy work at the state Capitol as head of the Arizona Free Enterprise Club. Steve is now headed off to serve as Sen.-elect Jeff Flake’s chief of staff. A trusted adviser for years to the senator-elect, Steve will be an excellent leader for the Flake office as he shuttles between D.C. and Arizona. The Chamber wishes him the best of luck in his new post.

Glenn Hamer is the president and CEO of the Arizona Chamber of Commerce and Industry. The Arizona Chamber of Commerce and Industry is committed to advancing Arizona’s competitive position in the global economy by advocating free-market policies that stimulate economic growth and prosperity for all Arizonans. http://www.azchamber.com/.

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Phoenix Looks to Award Contracts to Local Businesses

Local First Arizona believes the leadership at Phoenix City Hall is moving in the right direction with respect to the inclusion of Arizona owned companies bidding for new contracts for the city’s towing.  A new towing contract proposes that Phoenix be divided into four zones, with local companies All City Towing and DV Towing being recommended for three of the four zones. The fourth zone is expected to go to an out of state company, Western Towing. The Phoenix City Council is reviewing staff’s recommendation that supports local businesses and will ultimately vote on the matter. Previously, the towing contract went to United Towing, a company based in Chicago that had a monopoly for many years.

The city’s actions will keep far more dollars, more jobs and more economic impact in the community due in large part to the fact that the locally owned towing companies being considered are rooted in Arizona. They utilize local accountants, payroll service providers, web developers, attorneys and more local businesses. Those dollars stay here and recirculate, retaining jobs and creating additional tax revenue for other city services. A procurement study done by Local First Arizona focusing on Arizona based office supply company Wist showed that locally owned companies keep three times of their total revenue in Arizona than an out of state company.  Another study shows that for every $100 spent with a locally owned business, roughly $45 remains right here in Arizona. When the same $100 is spent in a national business, only $13 remains here.

Phoenix is making a concerted effort to make sure more tax dollars spent on city contracts go to Arizona based companies. Recently Mayor Greg Stanton implemented a policy to encourage more contracts valued at $50,000 or less to local companies. This new policy shift is expected to generate an estimated $18-$20 million in new business in the local community each year.

Local First Founder and President Kimber Lanning said, “We are now seeing large and small City of Phoenix contracts go to local companies and the positive impact will be measurable and significant.  While I hope I am never in the unfortunate situation to have my car towed by the City, it’s encouraging to know that predominately local companies are on the job in three-fourths of the city of Phoenix.”