Tag Archives: Northern Arizona University

Desert Botanical Garden1

AzMPI partners with schools to stress education

Today’s students need to hit the ground running.

“One of the fascinating things I share with my classes every semester is how important the bachelor’s degree is to employment,” said Gary Vallen, a professor in the School of Hotel and Restaurant Management at Northern Arizona University. “Studies performed by the industry demonstrate the same fact; well over 80 percent of today’s executives hold at least a bachelor’s degree. While it is your skill and motivation that keeps your job and moves you up the ladder, it is the college degree which gets your foot in the door.”

That’s never been more true in the meetings and events industry than it is today. Recognizing that today’s students will evolve into tomorrow’s leaders, the Arizona Sunbelt Chapter of Meeting Professionals International (AzMPI) is partnering with the state’s universities to demonstrate the importance of education and training for the future of the industry. AzMPI has even launched clubs at Arizona State University and NAU.

The industry impact from the collaboration is undeniable.

“I gained insight and knowledge from (college) professors who had been in the hospitality industry for years,” said Deliah Rose, who went through NAU’s Hotel and Restaurant Management Program and is now director of hotel sales and marketing at Wild Horse Pass Hotel & Casino. “I loved the idea that I was learning from people who  had been on the front line, not just from a book.”

Rose said college level training also exposes students to different aspects of the hospitality industry to help them determine what they enjoy most.

“Classes included everything from guest service to tourism, accounting to housekeeping,” Rose said. “We were also required to have real world  experience before graduation.”

At NAU, Vallen said the meetings and events management course helps students become involved with more than 25 separate events in just 16 weeks.

Life lessons

Experts say today’s college classes and hands-on experience prepare prospective meeting and event planners for those “real-life” scenarios they will encounter in the industry.

“This structured education assists in providing the basis for effective and efficient decision-making as they understand meeting management concepts as well as the related business applications,” said Michelle Fulcher, CMP, manager at Discovery Treks who also teaches at ASU. “Such training better ensures a less experienced meeting professional can communicate and understand client and attendee needs.”

Fulcher said practical experience through internships and industry jobs while in school is also necessary to gain confidence, teamwork skills and understand how the industry’s individuals work in tandem.

A quick glance at NAU’s core curriculum — featuring classes in convention sales, hotel operations, restaurant and kitchen management, accounting, facilities management, sustainability, information technology, law, group sales and revenue management — shows how well-rounded the education is for professionals coming out of Arizona’s universities.

“Our curriculum is constantly evolving,” Vallen said. “The core and elective classes are mostly new for this decade. We were not offering these classes in meetings, events and catering 10 years ago.”

Raising the profile

Experts said a lot has changed in the meeting management industry that makes the profession a more compelling field of study for students.

“In the past, the U.S. Department of Labor classified meeting professionals as a subgroup of hospitality and tourism with lodging managers and restaurateurs,” said Christina Tzavellas, CMP, who works with partnership development and sales for the  International Association of Exhibitions and Events. “For the first time, the meeting and event professionals are being recognized by the Department of Labor as a standalone sector. Their decision was based upon review of the Meeting and Business Event Competency Standards, the CMP (Certified Meeting Professional) Standards, and the CEM (Certified in Exhibition Management) blueprint to document the body of knowledge required by event professionals.”

Add the higher profile for professionals in the industry with demand for new talent and you have a very attractive profession. Between 2010 and 2020, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates a 44 percent job growth in the meetings, conventions and events industry, which makes it an even more attractive career option.

“Despite online communication, there is a globalized increase of companies recognizing the importance of meetings and events in forging business relationships with the power of face-to-face dialogue and a handshake,” Tzavellas said. “Meetings are critical to financial systems, delivering more than $5 billion into the U.S. economy each year. The Phoenix Convention Center contributes nearly $1 million in estimated spending each day.”

While meetings and events are seeing a resurgence after the recession, the industry has become far more competitive.

“There’s a huge market potential to any organization involved in group business,” Vallen said. “As such, they’re all involved. For example, even the lowest-priced lodging operations compete for small group business. Today’s executives need to understand the economics of group business and be able to quote events which are both attractive (competitively priced) and profitable.”

Changing space

To prepare students for a changing marketplace, Tzavellas said colleges and universities will be challenged to create multi-level meeting professionalism programs, including undergraduate degrees in meeting professionalism and graduate degrees with industry specialties, such as hotel management, public relations, communications, marketing or business. Tzavellas said some school systems have even introduced meeting professionalism at the high school level.

Vallen said he expect to see technology transform meeting management education in the next decade.

“While we have yet to see the explosion of online meetings, it is only a matter of time,” Vallen said. “While nothing will ever replace face-to-face events, the costs of attending keep rising. Online meetings will continue to slice a bigger portion of the pie.”

Vallen also talks to students about the potential impact of proprietary conferences and events.

“If I were a new graduate, I’d risk it all and develop a new conference — think National Association of Home Builders or Consumer Electronics Show, privately owned conventions which have made their owners literally billions of dollars.”

Whatever the future of the industry may bring, leaders of AzMPI said nurturing relationships with colleges and universities positions the industry to have an even greater economic impact in Arizona.

“That is our next generation coming,” said Penny Allphin, current president of AzMPI. “Grand Canyon University is now opening a hospitality course. ASU, Scottsdale Community College and NAU all have great programs that are boosting our industry. There are more people in the hospitality industry than ever. It runs America. When we meet, we change the world. Education is knowledge. When you can become better and more proficient in your profession, it makes you better. And it’s making our industry stronger.”

123rf.com: Nutdanai Prathan

NAU researchers using genetic fingerprinting on cattle fever

Amidst new outbreaks of a disease that can be fatal to cattle, the U.S. Department of Agriculture has awarded NAU a $490,000 grant for an ongoing research project on Babesia, an organism carried by ticks and responsible for cattle fever.

David Wagnerassociate director for Northern Arizona University’s Center for Microbial Genetics and Genomics, said his team has spent the past three years using genetic data to study cattle fever ticks in southern Texas.

The next phase of research will involve gathering samples from Mexico to expand knowledge of the ticks’ populations, movements and ability to persist in the environment. Wagner’s team also will address cattle fever ticks’ growing chemical resistance, which could further challenge management efforts.

Before the USDA’s efforts to eradicate cattle fever, it was widespread in southern states, costing the cattle industry annual losses equivalent to more than $3 billion dollars today. Following a strong eradication effort during the past century, new outbreaks of Babesia-carrying ticks have created heightened concerns.

Because Mexico has never eradicated cattle fever ticks, the USDA employs tick riders, cowboys on horseback who patrol a quarantine zone along the southern Texas border looking for stray cattle. Through DNA fingerprinting of the ticks, Wagner’s team found that the region’s deer carried the same ticks responsible for cattle fever, raising another concern for the way the disease is being managed.

Looking to the future, Wagner has an additional concern: the cattle fever tick’s ability to proliferate and spread into other states. “We developed a predictive model of suitable habitat for ticks in the U.S. based on predicted climate scenarios,” Wagner said. “We found that the suitable habitat for these cattle fever ticks will likely increase, creating a much more difficult management task.”


NAU designs bioscience course to develop STEM workforce

Enabling high school students to solve a scientific problem affecting the community may help establish a new model for cultivating a local high-tech workforce.

Funded by an $840,000 National Science Foundation grant, faculty at the Center for Science Teaching and Learning at Northern Arizona University will bring together community partners in healthcare, science and education to develop and offer the model bioscience class.

The high school-level career and technical education course will give students the tools and guidance to devise ways to more accurately report influenza-like illnesses in Coconino County. And while the students are formulating their strategies, the model’s designers will be watching carefully to test their ideas about improving STEM learning.

According to Kenric Kesler, a professional development coordinator at the center, the question being investigated is how much of a difference the partnership approach will make.

“If you bring all these community resources in as an integral part of the class, does that impact learning compared with a more traditional single-teacher class going through the curriculum?”

Those resources include the Coconino Association for Vocations, Industry, and Technology (also known as CAVIAT) which will offer the class in Flagstaff and Williams; the Coconino County Public Health Services District; the Translational Genomics Research Institute—TGen North; North Country Healthcare; and Flagstaff STEM City.

The first year of the grant involves handling the logistics of those partnerships and establishing the curriculum, Kesler said. Assistant professor Ron Gray of the NAU center

is helping to develop the model, and assistant professor Danielle Ross will evaluate the effectiveness of the concept in the grant’s third and final year.

Kesler said the project will use problem-based instruction, a well-proven method, to allow students the flexibility to develop their solutions for improving how flu-like illnesses are reported. Typically, during a flu outbreak, the county receives incomplete data from schools and communities because of the difficulty of ensuring accurate reporting.

“Our approach is to say to the students, ‘Here’s the problem. How do you want to solve it?’ ” Kesler said.

One of the tools to be made available to students is geospatial information systems software offered through the GRAIL Lab at NAU. That approach, which emphasizes decision making based on the organization and analysis of data, has been used successfully in another NSF-funded project being conducted by the NAU center.

The students will be juniors and seniors who are taking the class in addition to their normal load of high school courses. Kesler said about 44 percent of CAVIAT students are Native American, and that they are pursuing the additional education to enhance their career opportunities.

Gray said the class design is ideally suited to address that goal.

“In the longer term, this is about bioscience resource development in Coconino County. A lot of organizations are trying to attract bioscience business to Flagstaff, but we need a workforce to make that happen.”

Mindy Bell, Flagstaff STEM City coordinator, will participate in the project by developing some of those career opportunities. Bell will work with businesses to clarify the skills they seek in employees, and will help establish internships for students in the program.

“When higher education, businesses and other STEM partners work together, we can find and fill the gaps to build a stronger STEM workforce,” Bell said. “Students need information and interest to fuel their career choices. They also need a solid education at all levels to prepare them for a career in a field that motivates them.”

Measuring those levels of interest and motivation at the end of the project will establish whether the work was successful. The effect of the model’s design will be determined through interviews and surveys, and compared to the results of a more traditionally presented bioscience class in Tucson.

Kesler said he hopes the project will show that “if you really want to enact change in the schools, this is one way to do it.”

The class will be ready for its first students in fall 2016.


Environmental Excellence Awards honor state’s best

The Sun Link Tucson Streetcar earned the coveted President’s Award (Best of Show) in Arizona Forward’s 35th Annual Environmental Excellence Awards, held in partnership with SRP. The project is the first Made in America streetcar in nearly 60 years.

Arizona Forward celebrated its 35th milestone anniversary of this historic program, in addition to the competition’s statewide expansion. For the first time ever, all categories were open to submittals from anywhere throughout the Grand Canyon State.

“We’re breaking new ground by broadening the scope of our largest, most prominent event, which has become known as the Academy Awards of the environmental community,” Diane Brossart, president and CEO of Arizona Forward announced to nearly 600 business and civic leaders at the Sat., Sept. 12 gala. “It’s inspiring to see all the good work contributing to the environmental sustainability and economic vitality of Arizona cities and towns.” 

More than 120 entries were received in Arizona’s oldest and most prestigious awards competition focusing exclusively on sustainability. Submittals from 30 communities within the Grand Canyon State were represented, 18 of which were outside of Maricopa

County. The ceremony was held at an exclusive new venue, Chateau Luxe, and attended by a prominent audience of influencers representing state, county and municipal organizations, as well as the corporate sector. 

Arizona Forward and SRP presented 17 first-place Crescordia awards and 31 Awards of Merit. Projects were recognized in a range of streamlined categories, including two brand new ones – the Governor’s Award for Arizona’s Future and Healthy Communities. Other categories include: Buildings & Structures, Energy & Technology Innovation, Site Development, Art in Public Places, Environmental Education/Communication and the SRP Award for Environmental Stewardship. 

Jurists selected the Sun Link Tucson Streetcar for top honors because the iconic project is vital to improving the look and feel of downtown Tucson while providing a much-needed boost to the community’s infrastructure. The $196 million endeavor is the largest and most complex construction project the city of Tucson has ever undertaken. The project also earned a first-place Crescordia in the Healthy Communities Multimodal Transportation & Connectivity category. Crescordia is a Greek term meaning, “to grow in harmony,” and the President’s Award is selected from among all Crescordia recipients.

Running through the city’s largest activity centers, the Sun Link Streetcar connects more than 100,000 people who live and work in the vicinity. It provides affordable, clean and comfortable travel, connecting five of Tucson’s most unique districts along a 4-mile line with 23 stops along the way.

The construction of the streetcar generated more than 500 jobs and triggered six new housing projects along the corridor. Boasting about 4,000 riders per day, this innovative project is fostering and connecting a healthy, vibrant community in southern Arizona.

Five southern Arizona projects earned first-place Crescordia awards, including the notable Mariposa Land Port of Entry in Nogales. Northern Arizona yielded three Crescordia awards: the Museum of Northern Arizona Easton Collection, The Arizona National Scenic Trail, and Northern Arizona University’s multi-panel solar thermal hot air system. Central Arizona earned nine Crescordia awards. 

Steve Seleznow, president & CEO of the Arizona Community Foundation, served as lead judge for the competition. Other jurists include: William Auberle, senior consulting engineer of Pinyon Environmental Inc.; Klindt Breckenridge, president of Breckenridge Group Architects/

Planners; Robert Breunig, president emeritus for the Museum of Northern Arizona; Joseph Loverich, senior project manager for JE Fuller Hydrology and Geomorphology; Christopher McIsaac, policy advisor for energy and environment for the Office of the Arizona Governor; Suzanne Pfister, president & CEO of St. Luke’s Health Initiatives; Lori Singleton, director emerging customer programs – solar, sustainability and telecom at SRP; Stephanie Rowe, AIA, LEED AP, principal of Reece Angell Rowe Architects; Richard Underwood, owner & president at AAA Landscape; and Cree Zischke, director of philanthropy at the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum.

Since its inception in 1969 as Valley Forward, Arizona Forward has brought business and civic leaders together to convene thoughtful public dialogue on regional issues and to improve the sustainability of communities throughout the state. The organization operates with the belief that businesses must take a leadership role in solving the complex and sometimes controversial problems that confront growing population centers.

In addition to Sun Link Tucson Streetcar, Crescordia winners include:

TEAM ARIZONA COLORADO RIVER SHORTAGE AND DROUGHT PREPAREDNESS (City of Phoenix/Central Arizona Water Conservation District/ADWR Partnership) — Governor’s Award for Arizona’s Future

In response to dwindling supplies, Arizonans are forming strategic alliances and innovative water management strategies toward ensuring an adequate, safe and sustainable supply. Water providers and planners have stored nearly 3.4 million acre-feet of Colorado River water underground; partnered to store Central Arizona Project water in Tucson aquifers; aligned with irrigation districts in central Arizona and other partners to conserve and store water in Lake Mead; provided $5 million to help fund the pilot Colorado River System Conservation Program; and established the Northern Arizona Forest Fund to protect the state’s watersheds. These collaborative efforts have significantly increased the resiliency of Arizona’s water supplies.

TUCSON UNIFIED SCHOOL DISTRICT PIONEERING 11 MW SOLAR PROJECT (Natural Power and Energy)—Governor’s Award for Energy & Technology Innovation, Southern Arizona

At more than 11 megawatts, Tucson Unified School District’s groundbreaking solar generation project encompasses 42 schools and is the largest distributed school solar project in the nation without utility incentives. It represents TUSD’s commitment to renewable energy, reducing its carbon footprint, saving money and serving as a model of environmental stewardship to students and other school districts. The project will ultimately supply about 80 percent of the electricity needed at each site, save an estimated $170,000 in energy costs in its first year and more than $11 million over the 20-year term. Systems are now operational at 15 schools. 

MARIPOSA LAND PORT OF ENTRY (Jones Studio) — Buildings & Structures (Civic)

One of the busiest land ports in the U.S., the Mariposa Land Port of Entry in Nogales, Arizona, processes more than 2.8 million northbound vehicles each year. Built in the 1970s, the port demanded modernization and expansion due to growth in international trade and traffic volume. Completed in August 2014, the LEED Gold certified 55-acre site contains 270,000 gross square feet of buildings, inspection facilities and kennels for both southbound and northbound traffic. The central spine of the port is the oasis, a desert garden that runs the length of the main buildings.

THE UNIVERSITY OF ARIZONA OLD MAIN RESTORATION (The University of Arizona) — Buildings & Structures (Historic Preservation)

Opening in 1891, Old Main was the first building on the University of Arizona campus. The approach to preserving this historical structure included bringing the exterior appearance and features back to their original grandeur while placing the functionality of a 21st-century university into a 19th-century shell. Old Main is the oldest LEED certified building in Arizona and a model for sustainable historical preservation. The existing building envelope was largely unaltered, yet new mechanical systems reduced energy use by 24 percent. Deteriorated masonry was restored instead of replaced. Subterranean water infiltration was addressed through concealed drainage systems that preserved the existing habitat comprising the Old Main “teardrop” site.

MUSEUM OF NORTHERN ARIZONA EASTON COLLECTION CENTER (Kinney Construction Services Inc.)— Buildings and Structures (Commercial & Institutional)

The Easton Collection Center is a 17,282-square-foot LEED Platinum certified facility. It provides an optimal environment for long-term storage of priceless museum collections and sets a high standard for environmental sustainability while reflecting the character of the region and its cultures. Features include a 14,000-square-foot living roof, a 22,000-gallon rain/snow water harvesting cistern, drought-tolerant native plants and bioswales to utilize surface runoff. The facility was designed around existing ponderosa pines, none of which were removed. Following recommendations from an American Indian Advisory Committee, the building has a number of symbolic and functional elements designed to make the Native community feel at home in the structure.


Reclamation Department) — Buildings and Structures (Industrial & Public Works)

The Regional Optimization Master Plan is among the largest construction projects in southern Arizona. It significantly upgraded and modernized the metropolitan portion of the Pima County Regional Wastewater System, resulting in water clarity and quality improvements; reduction of nutrient pollution; declining effluent flow extent due to higher infiltration rates; and aquatic wildlife quantity and diversity showing signs of improvement. The entire program was completed in 2014 at a cost of $605 million. Design and construction followed two intensive years of planning and coordination with the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality, national engineering firms and local stakeholders.


Environmental Design) — Healthy Communities (Sustainable Communities)

The Downtown Tolleson Redevelopment Project was a 1-mile urban revitalization effort that set out to create a true sense of place for the city of Tolleson. It reflects the city’s history, culture and spirit while integrating sustainable design principles. The pedestrian-friendly destination environment serves as an economic driver for the community and provides a foundation for fostering private investment. Wide pedestrian sidewalk zones encourage restaurants to utilize on-street dining. Many of the themed custom-designed elements, including the award-winning art sculpture program, dynamic paving system, signage and custom tiled seat walls, reflect the cultural story of Tolleson and its proud heritage.

LOW IMPACT DEVELOPMENT TOOLKIT (City of Mesa) — Healthy Communities (Public Policy/Plans)

Like most communities spanning Arizona, the cities of Mesa and Glendale historically considered stormwater to be a nuisance that needed to be quickly eliminated through an expensive pipe and channel system. By developing and advancing Low Impact Development, these communities are shifting the stormwater paradigm and recognizing stormwater as a resource that can be used to promote healthy urban communities. LID is a stormwater management method that engages native materials and simple tools to reduce runoff and pollution. The toolkit provides a user-friendly menu of LID methods, best practices, technical requirements and construction details that help communities restore washes and enhance streetscapes or parks while cooling down cities at night.

HONEYWELL ARIZONA AEROSPACE – BEING THE DIFFERENCE! (Honeywell)— Healthy Communities (Sustainable Workplaces)

Employees at seven Honeywell Aerospace sites in Arizona are empowered and encouraged to carry out improvement ideas targeted at reducing the corporation’s environmental footprint.

Since 2007, projects have matured from implementing “Turn It Off” campaigns and installing occupancy sensors on lighting to larger and more impactful efforts, such as completing a Building Envelope Solutions initiative. The focus has also expanded to include water conservation and waste diversion. Since the program’s inception, 595 energy projects targeting energy and water conservation have been executed, resulting in energy savings of 202 billion British thermal units and water savings of 24.8 million gallons. In addition, more than 3.6 million pounds of waste has been diverted from local landfills in the last 18 months alone.

SOLAR THERMAL HOT AIR TECHNOLOGY (Northern Arizona University) — Energy and Technology Innovation

Northern Arizona University this year installed the first known multi-panel solar thermal hot air system in the country, demonstrating a long-standing commitment to decreasing its fossil fuel consumption. While renewable energy alternatives like solar and wind can reduce net electricity use, options for directly reducing fossil-based heating are more limited. Yet heat and hot water comprise nearly half the country’s energy demand so the opportunity for cost-effective solar thermal technology is massive. Technology utilized by NAU and developed by

Phoenix-based SolarThermiX is expected to pay for itself in a fraction of the time of campus solar and wind ventures. It holds promise for more than 650 major educational institutions that have signed the American College and University President’s Climate Commitment pledging to reduce long-term carbon emissions.

ARIZONA STATE UNIVERSITY COLLEGE AVENUE (SmithGroupJJR) — Site Development (Public Sector)

Conceived through a unique public-private partnership between ASU and the City of Tempe, the project transforms the existing multiuse transportation corridor into vital public realm space with a focus on walkability that encourages infill development and adaptive reuse of vacant land and buildings. Incorporating strategies from the National Complete Street Coalition, the project eliminates unused vehicular pavement by narrowing travel lanes to create dedicated bike lanes and shaded pedestrian walkways. A flexible urban plaza serves as a venue for events of all sizes. A unified, integral concrete paving design for the street, sidewalks and plaza spaces creates an extension of indoor and outdoor areas associated with nearby retail, including ASU’s College Avenue Commons. The use of bollards, lighting and street trees delineate traffic, creating separation for bicyclists and users while allowing for flexibility in event staging. The “new” people-focused College Avenue has transformed this district into a vital active space, providing a gateway to the city of Tempe and ASU that will serve generations to come.

VALLEY PARTNERSHIP COMMUNITY PROJECT (Arizona Foundation for the Handicapped) — Site Development (Private Sector)

Valley Partnership’s innovative annual Community Service Project this year benefited not only the Arizona Foundation for the Handicapped, a disability service provider, but also the community at large. This collaborative effort involved more than 92 different companies from throughout the Valley joining together to design/build a work site project using donated resources. Grounds of the facility, used daily by people with disabilities, were transformed into a therapeutic garden featuring desert plants and accessible space that serves the entire neighborhood. Landscaping enhances the area’s environmental quality and conserves natural resources, with catchment areas to harvest water for native plant irrigation. Raised gardens allow people with disabilities to grow herbs and vegetables for meals prepared daily. Adapted gaming areas and eco-friendly park furnishings promote health and well-being.

THE ARIZONA TRAIL ASSOCIATION’S GIFT TO ARIZONA (Arizona Trail Association)— Site Development (Parks and Trails)

The Arizona National Scenic Trail is one of the most innovative and unique approaches to fostering long term environmental sustainability throughout the state. This extraordinary project spotlights Arizona’s amazing biodiversity and healthy ecosystems, encouraging stewardship of our natural assets. The vison was conceived 30 years ago by Dale Shewalter, a Flagstaff sixth-grade teacher who sought a way to instill a spirit of conservation in Arizonans through experiential environmental education. It became the mission of the Arizona Trail Association, a nonprofit organization founded in 1994. Thousands of people were inspired by the concept and toiled tirelessly to establish an 800-mile sustainable pathway from Mexico to Utah. Today, the Arizona Trail links deserts, mountains, canyons, forests, communities and people in a pathway that is protected in perpetuity by an act of Congress.

PHOENIX SKY HARBOR AIRPORT TERMINAL 3, SKY TRAIN STATION PLATFORM AND BRIDGE (City of Phoenix Office of Arts and Culture) — Art in Public Places

Arizona artist Janelle Stanley merged her experience as a Diné (Navajo) weaver with contemporary design to create the terrazzo floors at Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport’s Sky Train Bridge and Platform at Terminal 3. She relied on Diné weaving and basketry patterns to design the flowing shapes and intricate details in the floors’ winding paths of color, pattern and surprising textures. On the transfer bridge, the turquoise blue and black overlays represent the twisting and spinning that strengthens and elongates wool into yarn. The design of the station platform was inspired by details from Haak’u (Acoma) pottery and a piece of treasured family jewelry. Both designs convey the artist’s interest in expanding her cultural heritage to create vibrant new public spaces. The floors were fabricated by Corradini Corporation, using about 100,000 pounds of crushed aggregate, 20,000 linear feet of divider strip and 9,000 custom waterjet-cut pieces. This spectacular project will enhance the traveling experience for visitors and residents alike for years to come.

CITY OF PEORIA SUSTAINABLE U (City of Peoria) — Environmental Education/Communication

(Public and Private Sectors)

The City of Peoria’s Sustainable U program is open to all Arizona residents to educate, demonstrate and empower citizens to make responsible choices and lifestyle changes to reduce their environmental impact. By 2030, it is estimated that almost 5 billion of the world’s population will live in cities. The City of Peoria has a long history of educating its residents about water conservation, stormwater pollution and waste management. Recognizing the importance of education in changing behaviors, the city of Peoria created this new initiative to empower people to make a difference. Sustainable U offers a diverse list of workshops that utilize in-house experts, community partners and the Valley Permaculture Alliance. These engaging, interactive and fun workshops focus on topics such as: desert landscaping, edible landscapes, energy efficiency, composting, recycling, renewable energy, culinary classes, rainwater harvesting, and composting.


School of Architecture) — Environmental Education/Communication (Educators, Students and Nonprofit Organizations)

The University of Arizona School of Architecture has long held a reputation for teaching that fosters a respect and reverence for the environment. As topics of climate change and sustainability become increasingly urgent, UA felt it was necessary to develop ways to improve its curriculum to address the needs of the future. In surveying what peer universities were doing, UA discovered that single classes or lectures were becoming commonplace. Upon further research and discussion, its Sustainability Pedagogy Task Force proposed using the entire five-year Design Studio sequence, which is the backbone of the curriculum, as the armature for investigating and teaching the principals of sustainable design. Over the course of the five-year sequence, each area of focus is highlighted at least once, so it becomes evident to students how the entirety of the sustainability issue might be seen holistically.


Sustainability is core to all facets of operations at Arizona State University’s Facilities Management Grounds Services/Arboretum/Recycling departments on the Tempe campus.

The grounds team began analyzing operations about 10 years ago, making some easy changes such as leaving grass clippings on the turf and eliminating unneeded desk phones. Then they started sending all green landscape waste to Singh Farms to be converted to compost. The finished product was returned to campus for use in an organic fertilizer program, along with coffee grounds collected from university cafes. ASU’s recycling program now encompasses all

campuses and includes commingled blue bins, organics, a student “Ditch the Dumpster” initiative, construction debris recycling and special collection streams, all around a zero waste goal. This highly sustainable university also installed some of the Valley’s first solar-operated landfill and recycling compactors.




Name of Entry: Team Arizona Colorado River Shortage and Drought Preparedness

Submitted by: City of Phoenix/CAWCD/ADWR Partnership


Name of Entry: Central Arizona Conservation Alliance

Submitted by: Desert Botanical Garden


Name of Entry: NAU Solar Thermal Air Heating

Submitted by: Northern Arizona University




Name of Entry: Mariposa Land Port of Entry

Submitted by: Jones Studio



Submitted by: LEA Architects, LLC


Name of Entry: City of Maricopa City Hall

Submitted by: Gensler 


Historic Preservation


Name of Entry: The University of Arizona Old Main Restoration

Submitted by: Sundt Construction, Inc.


Name of Entry: The Newton

Submitted by: John Douglas Architects


Name of Entry: Silver King Marketplace / Padilla Park

Submitted by: EPG


Commercial & Institutional


Name of Entry: Museum of Northern Arizona Easton Collection Center

Submitted by: Kinney Construction Services, Inc. (KCS)


Name of Entry: Arizona State University Downtown – Sun Devil Fitness Complex

Submitted by: Gabor Lorant Architects, Inc.


Name of Entry: The VILLAGE at Prescott College

Submitted by: WEDDLE GILMORE black rock studio


Industrial & Public Works


Name of Entry: Regional Optimization Master Plan

Submitted by: Pima County Regional Wastewater Reclamation Department


Name of Entry: Clarkdale’s Broadway Water Reclamation Facility

Submitted by: Water Infrastructure Finance Authority of Arizona


Name of Entry: Cornell │ Cookson Industrial Door Manufacturing and Offices

Submitted by: Jones Studio


Sustainable Communities


Name of Entry: Downtown Tolleson Redevelopment Project: Paseo de Luces

Submitted by: J2 Engineering and Environmental Design


Name of Entry: Stepping Stone Place

Submitted by: Chasse Building Team


Name of Entry: Mountain Park Health Center

Submitted by: SmithGroupJJR


Multimodal Transportation & Connectivity


Name of Entry: Sun Link Tucson Streetcar

Submitted by: Engineering and Environmental Consultants


Name of Entry: Hardy and University Drives Streetscape Projects

Submitted by: City of Tempe


Name of Entry: GRID Bike Share

Submitted by: City of Phoenix


Public Policy/Plans


Name of Entry: Low-Impact Development Toolkit

Submitted by: City of Mesa, AZ


Name of Entry: ReinventPHX

Submitted by: City of Phoenix Planning and Development Department


Name of Entry: Northern Arizona Forest Fund

Submitted by: National Forest Foundation


Sustainable Workplaces


Name of Entry: Honeywell Arizona Aerospace – Being the Difference!

Submitted by: Honeywell


Name of Entry: Risk Recycling

Submitted by: Maricopa County, Risk Management Department


Name of Entry: Workplace Wellness Nurtures Work Well Done

Submitted by: U-Haul International



Name of Entry: Solar Thermal Hot Air Technology

Submitted by: Northern Arizona University


Name of Entry: IO Modular Deployment

Submitted by: IO


Name of Entry: InfinitPipe®

Submitted by: QuakeWrap, Inc.


Public Sector


Name of Entry: Arizona State University, College Avenue

Submitted by: SmithGroupJJR


Name of Entry: Phoenix Tennis Center

Submitted by: Hoskin Ryan Consultants, Inc.


Name of Entry: GateWay Community College Integrated Education Building

Submitted by: SmithGroupJJR


Private Sector


Name of Entry: Valley Partnership Community Project

Submitted by: Arizona Foundation for the Handicapped


Name of Entry: Airport I-10

Submitted by: Wespac Construction Inc.


Parks and Trails


Name of Entry: The Arizona Trail Association’s Gift to Arizona

Submitted by: Arizona Trail Association


Name of Entry: Echo Canyon Recreation Area Trailhead Improvements

Submitted by: EPG


Name of Entry: Riverview Park

Submitted by: City of Mesa



Name of Entry: Phoenix Sky Harbor Terminal Three Sky Train Station Platform and Bridge

Submitted by: City of Phoenix Office of Arts and Culture


Name of Entry: Shade for Transit Series

Submitted by: City of Phoenix Office of Arts and Culture


Name of Entry: Pinnacle Peak Water Reservoir Public Art Project

Submitted by: City of Phoenix Office of Arts and Culture


Public and Private Sectors


Name of Entry: City of Peoria Sustainable U

Submitted by: City of Peoria 


Name of Entry: 7th Avenue @ Melrose Curve Recycling Awareness

Submitted by: City of Phoenix Office of Arts and Culture


Name of Entry: Avondale – I Heart Environment

Submitted by: City of Avondale


Educators, Students, and Nonprofit Organizations


Name of Entry: Bachelor of Architecture Sustainability Pedagogy

Submitted by: University of Arizona School of Architecture


Name of Entry: Mrs. Green’s World

Submitted by: Mrs. Green’s World


Name of Entry: Water RAPIDS (Research and Planning Innovations in Dryland Systems) Program

Submitted by: Water Resources Research Center, University of Arizona



Name of Entry: Arizona State University Facilities Management Grounds/Recycling

Submitted by: Arizona State University


Name of Entry: Sun Link Tucson Streetcar

Submitted by: Engineering and Environmental Consultants

NAU-McConnell 1

NAU breaks enrollment records with largest freshman class

On the first day of classes, Northern Arizona University is recording its highest total enrollment for the fall semester and the largest freshman class in school history.

NAU’s overall student population is 29,035, up from 27,197, and the university welcomed 5,141 first-time freshman compared to 4,765 last fall. The overall GPA for incoming resident students on the Flagstaff campus is 3.42, up from 3.39 last year.

“Our commitment to Arizona is represented in this outstanding incoming freshman class,” said NAU President Rita Cheng. “Its diversity and distinctiveness evidence the important and changing nature of our state and the communities we serve. I’m delighted to see that NAU continues to be a university of choice for so many new and returning students.”

Enrollment at the Flagstaff campus is 20,839, a nearly 5 percent increase from 19,913 last year. Graduate student enrollment increased from 3,823 to 3,905, and enrollment at the Phoenix Biomedical Campus is 256, up from 184.

Online enrollment is up to 5,183 from 4,385, which includes students enrolled in Personalized Learning, NAU’s competency-based online degree program.

The number of students pursuing STEM degrees continues to rise with enrollment in the College of Engineering, Forestry and Natural Sciences and the College of Health and Human Services up 6 percent and 10.7 percent, respectively. Enrollment in the W.A. Franke College of Business is up nearly 8 percent.

NAU continues to welcome a diverse population of students. The university reported a 15 percent growth in Asian students enrolled and a 13 percent increase in the Native American population. Twenty-two percent of the incoming class is Latino with the overall population up 10 percent.


Rita Cheng: Most Influential Women in Arizona Business

Rita Cheng, president, Northern Arizona University

Rita Cheng serves as the 16th president of NAU. As a first-generation and non-traditional college graduate, Cheng firmly believes in making higher education accessible and affordable for all students.

Current challenge: “We have to continue to be as entrepreneurial as possible, offering programs that are connected to not only life success, but job success. And we will look for private partners to help us carry out our mission.”

Reception: The 2015 Most Influential Women in Arizona Business will be recognized at the Most Influential Women in Arizona Cocktail Party on August 27, from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. at Chateau Luxe. Click here to purchase tickets.

123rf.com: Mário Mihál

NAU researchers show impact of drought on forests

In forests around the world, drought leaves a legacy that endures even after the rains return.

Three Northern Arizona University researchers contributed to a study published today in Science that showed surviving trees took an average of two to four years to recover and resume normal growth rates after droughts ended.

The finding runs counter to climate models that assume instant recovery, said George Koch, a professor in NAU’s Center for Ecosystem Science and Society. Koch focused on project design for the research, while Christopher Schwalm, assistant research professor at NAU, applied his expertise in land atmosphere modeling. Kiona Ogle, who recently moved to NAU from Arizona State University, also contributed to the design and analysis of the study.

“What we’ve found is that recovery takes a while,” Koch said. “For most forested ecosystems, growth following a dry year is slower than expected.” Now Schwalm will help other modeling groups build this nuanced reality into better models, Koch said.

Koch, meanwhile, will conduct research to “understand more of the mechanistic basis of this legacy effect of drought.” He and collaborators will use data they’ve collected over dozens of areas in the Four Corners region.

“We can define drought and study its impacts to trees in more detail when looking at specific regional sites,” Koch said.  “This may help us understand why some trees survive while others die. And it will improve predictions of the impacts of future droughts on forest carbon sequestration.”

The implications of the global study relate to climate change and the anticipated increase in drought frequency and duration.

Forest trees play a big role in buffering the impact of human-induced climate change by removing massive amounts of carbon dioxide emissions from the atmosphere and incorporating the carbon into woody tissues. The finding that drought stress sets back tree growth for years suggests that Earth’s forests are capable of storing less carbon than climate models have calculated.

Lead author William R.L. Anderegg at the University of Utah led a team that carefully measured the recovery of tree stem growth after severe droughts since 1948 at more than 1,300 forest sites around the earth using records from the International Tree Ring Data Bank. Tree rings provide a convenient history of wood growth and track carbon uptake of the ecosystem in which the tree grew.

The researchers found that a few forests showed positive effects; that is, observed growth was higher than predicted after drought, most prominently in parts of California and the Mediterranean region. But in the majority of the world’s forests, trees struggled for years after experiencing drought.

On average, trunk growth took 2 to 4 years to return to normal. Growth was about 9 percent slower than expected during the first year of recovery, and remained 5 percent slower in the second year. Long-lasting effects of drought were most prevalent in dry ecosystems, and among pines and tree species with low hydraulic safety margins.


UMB hires Richard Ziegner as director of healthcare banking

UMB Bank, n.a., a subsidiary of UMB Financial Corporation (Nasdaq: UMBF), announced that it has hired Richard Ziegner as executive vice president and director of healthcare banking. Ziegner is responsible for leading the bank’s efforts in the healthcare sector and providing capital and financial solutions to healthcare providers.

Ziegner has more than 20 years of financial and healthcare banking and consulting experience. Prior to his new role at UMB, he was senior vice president and regional manager in the healthcare financial services and commercial banking segments at Wells Fargo.

“Richard brings a wealth of knowledge and expertise to UMB with more than two decades of experience in the financial services, consulting and healthcare lending areas,” said Pat Thelen executive vice president of treasury management, capital markets and international banking at UMB Bank. “We are excited to have him join our team and provide strategic leadership in healthcare banking.”

Ziegner graduated from the University of Arizona with a bachelor’s degree in finance. He earned a master’s degree in business administration from Northern Arizona University. Ziegner is active in the community having served on several nonprofit boards, including First Choice Community Healthcare, Inc., and Presbyterian Healthcare Foundation.

123rf.com: Illia Uriadnikov

TGen developing accurate test for Lyme disease

Focus On Lyme, an initiative sponsored by the Leadership Children’s Foundation of Gilbert, Ariz., has donated $75,000 to the Translational Genomics Research Institute (TGen) to support research into the development of a quick, affordable and accurate method of diagnosing Lyme disease.

The most common vector-borne illness in the U.S., Lyme disease affects an estimated 300,000 Americans annually.

Today, no perfect test for Lyme disease exists due to three main barriers: multiple strains of Lyme bacteria often confound test results, the existence of related bacteria may cause false positive test results and most Lyme infections typically present at a level not detectable by current testing methods.

Scientists at TGen’s Pathogen Genomics Division in Flagstaff, Ariz. — TGen North — will use the power of targeted DNA sequencing to develop and validate a test to measure the presence and severity of tick-borne Lyme disease at the genomic level.

By analyzing a sample’s DNA, the new test should be able to pinpoint Lyme disease, identify multiple Lyme strains, detect other tick-related infections, and show non-Lyme causes of disease.

“With recent advances at TGen and genomics overall, we can finally develop a diagnostic test that will put more actionable information into the hands of the physician than previously possible. We are thrilled to be working with Focus On Lyme on this project,” said Dr. Paul Keim, Professor and Director of TGen North and Director of the Center for Microbial Genetics & Genomics at Northern Arizona University (NAU), which will help develop the test.

The bacterium that causes Lyme disease occurs naturally in mice, squirrels and other small animals. The infection spreads as ticks feed on these animals and then bite humans. Although deer are not a source of the bacteria, they are important for the life cycle the ticks.

This infection can manifest with a bulls-eye rash or a non-specific rash, but not always.  Flu like symptoms, such as fever, headache, body aches and fatigue can last a few days to a few weeks.

Undiagnosed and untreated cases can lead to fatigue, painful and swollen joints, memory loss, insomnia, heart palpitations, difficulty with concentration and other changes, including those that mimic other diseases, complicating a clinical diagnosis.

This is why an accurate diagnostic tool is essential.

“We chose to partner with TGen because they have the best and most experienced pathogen researchers in the world,” said Tammy Crawford, Executive Director of Focus On Lyme. “TGen has a proven record of success. I am convinced there is no one more qualified to develop an improved diagnostic test for Lyme disease.”

Lyme disease was first described in 1977 following investigation of a cluster of arthritis cases among children living near Lyme, Conn. Further study indicated that arthritis was a manifestation of a tick-transmitted disease.

If detected early, most cases of Lyme disease can be successfully treated with antibiotics. Lyme disease can be prevented by using insect or tick repellent, promptly removing ticks, applying pesticides, treating pets for ticks, and reducing tick habitat. The ticks that transmit Lyme disease also can transmit other tick-borne diseases.

Focus On Lyme plans an inaugural Scientific Conference about Lyme disease on Feb. 11-13, 2016. This invite-only event will bring researchers, clinicians and more together to discuss diagnosis and treatment for Lyme patients. A fundraising dinner is planned Feb. 12, 2016. Proceeds will assist clinical trials and FDA approval of TGen’s diagnostic tool.


Universities scramble to balance budgets after state cuts

At Northern Arizona University, Christopher Gass said he and other engineering students looked forward to having a new building to house the 3-D printers, machines such as laser cutters and other technology they need to complete capstone design projects.

But with Arizona’s public universities losing $99 million in state funding in the recently approved state budget, NAU has dropped plans for the building to help absorb that school’s $17 million hit.

“It’s pretty disappointing,” said Gass, who is studying mechanical engineering. “The entire year, they had planned the building down to the room.”

While universities are still formulating plans for the budget year that begins July 1, some details are starting to emerge.

At Arizona State University, President Michael M. Crow said in an interview with The State Press last week that seeking a tuition increase, something he had said wasn’t on the table, is now a possibility because of the depth of ASU’s cut: $54 million.

“Our total cut since 2008 on a per-student basis is above a 50 percent reduction on the public investment,” Crow said. “We’ve already had furloughs, we’ve already had 1,800 layoffs. We already restructured the institution. We have already made massive changes to everything that we are doing.”

Joe Cutter, director and professor of Chinese at the ASU School of International Letters & Cultures, told students in an email that the availability of some courses will be reduced. He mentioned Hindi as an example.

“We don’t have much to cut this time,” the email said. “It is very likely that we will not be able to offer some classes needed by students.”

At the University of Arizona, which faces a $28 million cut, Andrew Comrie, senior vice president for academic affairs and provost, said in an interview that while the funding cuts will be hard to take the school is committed to making it so no group bears the whole load.
“Tuition announcements will be out soon, and we have a proposal that really does not burden the students,” he said. “We’ve had extensive discussions with our student leadership over the last few months, and we’ve had a team-based approach on how we want to set tuition, and I just really want to recognize the leadership role the student played in shaping a budget proposal.”
Tom Bauer, director of the Office of Public Affairs at NAU, said the university wouldn’t be making any cuts to academics.

“We are not spreading this $17 million reduction across everything equally,” he said. “It’s divided on what will best serve students.”

In a letter to students about the cut, NAU President Rita Cheng said all hiring must be “carefully considered,” including her office approving any new positions. It said all travel must be approved by the university’s vice presidents and provost.

“We had been expecting cuts for several weeks, but the higher number significantly changes the scale of all that has been considered thus far,” her letter said.

Crow said ASU’s cut, which amounts to 15 percent per student, reflects an era in which public support for higher education is dwindling lower than ever before. listen

While ASU’s plan had been to reduce expenses in ways that don’t affect students, it might be unavoidable given the scale of the cut.

“We are doing everything we can to not raise in-state tuition,” he said. “We do, however, have an unprecedented financial adjustment that was unanticipated. So we have not made our final thinking on any of this yet.”

Pima Community College, which along with Maricopa Community Colleges lost all of its state funding, is raising in-state tuition by $5 per credit hour to $75.50 and out-of-state tuition by $23 per credit hour to $352 for the upcoming school year. The state eliminated $6.8 million in funding for PCC, which has a budget of $170 million this school year.

“There was already anticipation that funding would be gradually reduced, but not totally cut altogether,” spokeswoman Jodi Horton said.

Ducey said during Thursday’s Arizona Board of Regents meeting that he is going to partner with university presidents to redesign higher education.

The UA’s Comrie said he welcomes the governor’s proposal.

“We’ve had very good discussions with him already,” Comrie said. “We have to be realists of what the budget will look like, and we are partnering on doing that.”

Public university cuts:

• NAU: $17 million (from $118.3 million in fiscal 2015)

• ASU: $54 million (from $349.3 million in fiscal 2015)

• UA: $28 million (from $278.9 million in fiscal 2015)

Source: Joint Legislative Budget Committee



How Arizona wildfires impact water supply, economy

Arizona is home to the largest contiguous ponderosa pine forest in North America, with a single stand stretching from near Flagstaff all the way to the White Mountains of the east.

And in the last 10 years, 25 percent of it burned, said Patrick Graham, Arizona state director for the Nature Conservancy.

Fire suppression and subsequent cleanup costs have risen far beyond estimated prevention costs, according to studies by the Nature Conservancy, Sierra Nevada Conservancy, the U.S. Forest Service and the Ecological Restoration Institute (ERI) at Northern Arizona University (NAU), among others.

The tourism industry in Arizona, an estimated 20 percent of the state’s economy, is largely dependent on the health of forested lands and other wildlife preserves, a 2007 report by the Governor’s Health Oversight Council stated.

But “wildfires affect the entire state — not just the north,” said Eric Marcus, executive director at the Northern Arizona Sustainable Economic Development Initiative.

A full-cost economic analysis of the 2010 Schultz fire outside of Flagstaff by the ERI revealed the deeper effect of forest fires. More than 15,000 acres of forest were burned, causing an estimated $147 million in economic damage, the report found. An investment of only $15 million could have prevented this catastrophe, said Marcus.

Fire and water

But most of the damage from these wildfires occurs after the fire has been extinguished.

When major wildfires remove the trees and grasses necessary for holding soil in place, a once standard rainstorm can now cause dangerous floods and massive erosion, filling up the reservoirs and ultimately decreasing the carrying capacity of our water supply, said Bruce Hallin, director of water rights and contracts with the Salt River Project.

“These catastrophic wildfires go in and the fire burns so hot that it burns everything,” said Hallin. “It turns it into this wasteland.”

But nothing can hold back sediment from flowing directly into the water supply if a fire were to ignite downstream from the reservoirs, such as the Sunflower fire in 2012. If ash-laden water were to be delivered to processing plants, treatment costs would increase dramatically, thus increasing the price of the water, said Marcus.

The 2002 Hayman fire in Colorado deposited more than 1 million cubic yards of sediment into Denver’s primary drinking water supply. To this day, cleanup is still underway to restore Strontia Springs Reservoir, with costs exceeding $150 million.

“Ultimately, through forest thinning, we don’t want to get to that point,” said Hallin.
One century ago, Arizona’s northern forests were more akin to open grasslands interspersed with towering ponderosas. Ignited by lightning, the grass beneath the trees would carry a smoldering fire along the ground, burning the young trees while only charring the thick bark of the older, more established ponderosas.

Need for thinning

But Arizona’s northern forests have “all departed from the way they were historically,” said Diane Vosick, director of policy and partnerships at ERI.

When grazing came through in the late 1800s and removed all of the grass, fires could no longer move through the forest naturally. Bare soil — which resulted from result over-grazing — allowed the pines to germinate seeds more easily. However, when fires did ignite, the U.S. Forest Service fire policy at the time required any and all fires to be extinguished. This fire policy went unchanged until 1995, allowing millions of young ponderosas and other vegetation to crowd the once-thin forest.

A study conducted by ERI Director Wally Covington found that historically, Arizona’s ponderosa forests contained roughly 25 trees per acre. But now, one acre of forest can contain more than a thousand trees.

“You’ve basically got a big wood pile out there waiting to burn,” said Vosick.

SRP, the water supplier for more than half of Phoenix and nearly all of Tempe, manages eight reservoirs deep within Arizona’s northern region.

“That’s the goal,” said Vosick. “You want fire to do its natural role and to help manage the forests.”

The Four Forest Restoration Initiative, or 4FRI, is a collaborative effort comprised of residents, industry, and the government to restore the Coconino, Kaibab, Apache-Sitgreaves and Tonto national forests through thinning and prescribed burning.

Vosick said that 4FRI hopes to have thinned at least 1 million acres of forested land within 20 years.

However, almost no thinning has taken place in nearly five years since the initiative began.

Seeking a solution

“Forest lands have been managed for the last 20 years through litigation and attorneys, not projects,” said Hallin. Because of these legal barriers, Northern Arizona’s timber industry has all but vanished. So even the lands that have been approved for thinning cannot receive the treatment prescribed because there is no longer any industry to do the work, he said.

“You can make money with big old trees, but we don’t want those trees taken out of the forest,” said Marcus. Private enterprise doesn’t want to invest because no money can be made from the small diameter trees, he said.

The only way to thin the forests in a timely manner is through convincing industry that their investment will not be inhibited by litigation because the federal government can’t do it by itself, Hallin said. “The fact of the matter is, without a successful forest products industry, that entire forest is going to burn.”

SRP, in conjunction with the National Forest Foundation, has created the Northern Arizona Forest Fund, enabling individuals and businesses to invest in restoring the lands that provide them water.

“We don’t need to do more research to know what our problem is; we need to generate public interest in fixing things,” said Marcus.

“You can pay me now, or you can pay me later. But if you pay me now, you pay me a fraction of what you’re going to pay me later and have nowhere near the devastating effects that you’re going to have down the road.”


The 5 most haunted places in Arizona

Just in time for Halloween, we thought you might like to consider a ghostly visit to one of the five most haunted places in Arizona.

Hotel San Carlos, 202 N. Central Ave. Phoenix

Blood splattered on Leone Jensen’s white gown as she hit the pavement from the rooftop of the seven-story hotel. Heartbroken and lonely, 22-year-old Jensen committed suicide in 1928 at the Hotel San Carlos. Guests said they have witnessed a woman dressed in a white shear gown blown by the wind from nearby windows. Screaming children have also been heard running the halls late at night from the multiple drownings that occurred in a water well in the late 1890’s. The well remains on the first floor of the hotel and is the main water supply for the residents. Book a night in the San Carlos hotel to see what you might wake up to.

North Morton Hall at Northern Arizona University, 601 S. Knoles Drive, Flagstaff

Built in 1914, North Morton Hall on the NAU campus is a women’s residence hall and home to a girl who committed suicide in the dormitory. Her ghost has not left the premises as students have seen flickering lights, girls being locked in the bathrooms, blankets flying off beds, and even the sight of the ghost lurking the halls.

Jerome Grand Hotel, 200 Hill St., Jerome

A former hospital, a plethora of ghosts walk the halls and visit the rooms in this hotel in “Ghost City.” Many deaths have occurred in the hotel, such as Claude Harvey who was crushed by a self-serviced elevator and two suicides by hanging. Most of the ghosts are allegedly the patients who died in the United Verde Hospital. Flowers, cigar smoke, and whiskey are just some of the smells guests have said to be coming from the rooms. In the heart of the haunted city itself, witness the sights and smells of this five-story hotel.

Fox Theatre, 17 W. Congress St., Tucson

Built in 1930, the Fox Theatre was used as vaudeville and movie house. During the Great Depression, a man would linger outside of the theatre asking for money to feed his family. Watch your wallets, there has been sight of male ghosts walking about outside of the theatre and might just snatch a couple bucks. Suspicious movement of objects in the theatre have some visitors questioning the eerie environment.

Luana’s Canyon southeast of Kingman

A miner and his family lived in a wooden shack in the opening of the canyon. The husband would leave his family for days to find food and mine for gold in the mountains. One day Luana’s husband did not return from his expedition and her family began to starve. Luana began to go insane as the children begged for food and were slowly dying. Impulsive actions took over and Luana chopped up her kids in the wooden house. The remains of her children were tossed into the nearby river, where she wept and screamed in remorse for her murdered children. Her screams are said to still be heard within the canyon and the blood-splattered house is called the “Slaughter House.” Check out this landmark to see if the blood remains on the walls and Luana’s scream can still be heard bouncing off the mountains.

Wholefoods_Flagstaff, WEB

Retail property sells at Aspen Place at the Sawmill

Cassidy Turley announced that Rosenthal & Rosenthal, Inc., through its affiliate Broadway Tenth/Flagstaff, LLC, purchased a retail property leased to Whole Foods in Flagstaff, Ariz., for $11.69M The property is located at 320 S. Cambridge Ln. and is part of the Aspen Place at the Sawmill development.

Executive Managing Directors Ryan Schubert and Michael Hackett with Cassidy Turley’s Retail Capital Markets Group represented the seller, Sawmill NF, LLC, an affiliate of The Aspen Group.

“This investment represented an extremely unique opportunity for Broadway Tenth because of the high quality construction, freshly signed 20-year lease by Whole Foods and annual increases in the rental stream,” Hackett said.

Built in 2010, the property is strategically located near Northern Arizona University and the center of Flagstaff at the corner of Butler Avenue and Lone Tree Road. Aspen Place at the Sawmill tenants include REI, Chico’s, Eddie Bauer, Flagstaff Jean Company, Wildflower Bread Company and Pita Jungle.


TGen and NAU pandemic flu test patent approved

The federal government has awarded a patent to the Translational Genomics Research Institute (TGen) and Northern Arizona University (NAU) for a test that can detect — and assist in the treatment of — the H1N1 pandemic flu strain.

TGen and NAU initially developed this precise, genomics-based test during a significant global swine flu outbreak in 2009.

The newly-patented test, developed at TGen’s Pathogen Genomics Division (TGen North) in Flagstaff, can not only detect influenza — as some tests do now — but also can quickly inform doctors about what strain of flu it is, and whether it is resistant to oseltamivir (sold by Roche under the brand name Tamiflu), the primary anti-viral drug on the market to treat H1N1.

As with other influenza strains, H1N1 flu can over time be expected to show signs of resistance to oseltamivir, and new treatments will be needed to respond to future pandemics.

“The problem with influenza is that it can become resistant to the antiviral drugs that are out there,” said Dr. Paul Keim, Director of TGen North, a Regents Professor of Biology at NAU and one of the test’s inventors. “Because it is a virus, it easily mutates and becomes resistant.”

David Engelthaler, Director of Programs and Operations for TGen North and another of the test’s inventors, said this flu detection and susceptibility test uses a molecular technique that rapidly makes exact copies of specific components of H1N1’s genetic material.

“Many people, including physicians, don’t realize that the pandemic swine flu strain from 2009 is still the most important flu strain out there. This assay is very effective with detecting and characterizing this dominant strain in the U.S. and around the world,” said Engelthaler, the former State Epidemiologist for Arizona, and former State of Arizona Biodefense Coordinator.

The third inventor of the test is TGen North Lab Manager Elizabeth Driebe.

Previously, only the U.S. Centers for Disease Control Prevention (CDC) and a few select labs could look for resistance, using time-intensive technology.

“This new test puts the power in the hands of the clinician to determine if their drugs will work or not. This is really important moving forward as we discover new strains that are resistant to antivirals,” Engelthaler said.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has identified dozens of instances in which H1N1 was resistant to Tamiflu.

At most doctors’ offices, there is no readily available test for H1N1. Such tests generally are conducted by state and federal health agencies, and usually for those patients who require hospitalization and appear at high risk because they have a suppressed immune system or they have a chronic disease.

“Our test measures minute amounts of virus and minute changes to the virus. Not only does it detect when resistance is occurring, but it also detects it at the earliest onset possible,” Engelthaler said.

This new patent — No. US 8,808,993 B2, issued Aug. 19 by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office — could be licensed for development of test kits or for development of a testing service.

Earlier this year, TGen-NAU celebrated its first joint patent for a genomics-based test that can identify most of the world’s fungal infections that threaten human health.

college graduates

Arizona State Credit Union rewards grads

Arizona State Credit Union awarded $38,000 to 19 deserving students and alumni of Arizona universities and colleges through its Community Leaders Scholarship and Loan Reduction Grant program.

The seventh annual grant and scholarship program supports the Credit Union’s ongoing commitment to provide financial assistance to students and alumni of in-state colleges and universities.

“The Credit Union’s cooperative culture stems from our focus on what we can do to help Arizona residents and community members,” said David E. Doss, President/CEO of Arizona State Credit Union. “Our scholarship program has been in place for seven years, and is one of the many ways we give back to the community. We are proud to once again reward students and alumni for all of their hard work.”

All 19 recipients hail from Arizona’s student and alumni population and are affiliated with one of the following schools: Arizona State University, Northern Arizona University, the University of Arizona, South Mountain Community College, the University of Phoenix, Yavapai College, Estrella Mountain Community College and Coconino Community College.

The Community Leaders Scholarship helps students attending state universities, colleges and vocational schools pay for various expenses, including tuition, books and other academic necessities.

The Loan Reduction Grant assists graduates in paying on their student loans, a significant financial burden that affects many students upon graduation. The grant was awarded to graduates who exhibited strong academic prowess and active participation in community efforts.

For information regarding 2015 scholarship and grant applications, visit us online at azstcu.org.

Congratulations to:

• Aaron Burger – Northern Arizona University
• Alyssa McGregor – University of Arizona
• Angela Towner – University of Phoenix
• Blake Koolick – Arizona State University
• Brandon Quezada – Arizona State University
• Clarence Cleveland Jr. – Arizona State University
• Connie Berry – Arizona State University
• Delaney Scanlan – South Mountain Community College
• Heather McCrea – Yavapai College
• Lauren Meyer – University of Arizona
• Maria Pina – Arizona State University
• Natasha Kukowski – Arizona State University
• Nathan Eyde – University of Arizona
• Nicole Porter – Northern Arizona University
• Rianne Gibson – Northern Arizona University
• Saumya Gupta – Arizona State University
• Sergio Copus-Nunez – Estrella Mountain Community College
• Spencer Forsberg – Yavapai College
• Taylor Richards – Coconino Community College


ASU’s Arntzen Named Bioscience Researcher of the Year

image003Charles J. Arntzen, PhD, the founding director of the Biodesign Institute at Arizona State University, has been named the 2014 Arizona Bioscience Researcher of the Year. The award is given annually to the life science researcher in Arizona who has made the most significant contribution to the advancement of knowledge and the understanding of biological processes.

“Charlie was instrumental in helping create an experimental drug called ZMapp that was recently used to treat U.S. aid workers infected with Ebola this summer,” says Joan Koerber-Walker, president and CEO of the Arizona Bioindustry Association. “His work has put Arizona on the map in new ways as people all over the world are fascinated by the idea that it is possible to produce medicine inside a plant.”

“Charlie’s work represents some of the best and brightest of Biodesign,” says Raymond DuBois, executive director of the Biodesign Institute. “By erasing traditional boundaries between the sciences, we are able to deliver unexpected solutions.”

Arntzen’s primary research interests are in plant molecular biology and protein engineering, as well as the utilization of plant biotechnology for enhancement of food quality and value, and for overcoming health and agricultural constraints in the developing world. He has been recognized as a pioneer in the development of plant-based vaccines for human disease prevention, with special emphasis on needs of poor countries, and for disease prevention in animal agriculture. His work developed the technology by which human proteins (such as ZMapp) can be expressed in and harvested from plants.

Arntzen is the Florence Ely Nelson Presidential Endowed Chair and Regents’ Professor in ASU’s School of Life Sciences. He serves on the board of directors of Advanced BioNutrition and is on the advisory board of the Burrill and Company’s Agbio Capital Fund and the Nutraceuticals Fund.

Prior to coming to ASU in 2000, Arntzen was president and CEO of the Boyce Thompson Institute for Plant Research. He also served on President George W. Bush’s Council of Advisors on Science and the National Nanotechnology Oversight Board.

Arntzen will be honored at the AZBio Awards Gala on Sept. 17 at the Phoenix Convention Center. The AZBio Awards ceremony celebrates Arizona’s leading educators, innovators and companies. Each year AZBio honors bioindustry leaders from across Arizona illustrative of the depth, breadth and expertise of the state’s bioscience industry.

Past winners of the Arizona Bioscience Researcher of the Year Award include: Leslie Boyer, MD (The University of Arizona), Paul Keim, PhD (Northern Arizona University and TGen-North), Jessica Langbaum, PhD (Banner Alzheimer’s Research Institute), Milton Sommerfeld, PhD, and Qiang Hu, PhD (Arizona State University), Bruce Rittman, PhD (Biodesign Institute at Arizona State University), Rod Wing, PhD (Arizona Genomics Institute at the University of Arizona), and Roy Curtiss, III, PhD (Biodesign Institute at Arizona State University).


TGen and NAU celebrate 5-year research pact

Northern Arizona University (NAU) and the Translational Genomics Research Institute (TGen) announced a five-year agreement to promote innovation and quality research benefiting Arizona.

The NAU-TGen Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) implements the allocation of state funding as directed by Governor Jan Brewer and the Arizona Legislature, and reaffirms the commitment of both institutions toward quality research, training and educational opportunities, protection of public health and improved patient care. The Governor and Legislature recommitted state funding support as part of the 2014-15 state budget, recognizing the positive dividends from a viable, competitive bioindustry in Arizona.

“TGen has played a valuable role in developing and advancing Arizona’s bioscience industry,” said Governor Brewer. “From delivering medical breakthroughs and first-rate research — to creating quality jobs and growing our economy — TGen is a shining example of the innovative companies we seek to attract and expand in Arizona. By enhancing the successful partnership between TGen and NAU, we can ensure that both our bioscience industry and our economy will continue to thrive for years to come.”

NAU and TGen also announced today that the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office has approved a patent for a new set of genetically-based tests, jointly developed by NAU and TGen, that accurately identify fungal pathogens that threaten public health worldwide. Broad-based identification of fungi is essential for clinical diagnostics and also for environmental testing. This is the first of many patents anticipated through NAU-TGen collaborations.

The two institutions also are celebrating other joint research, including highly accurate, genetically-based tests for detecting and monitoring Valley Fever, influenza and different types of staph bacteria infections, especially the potentially deadly Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, also known as MRSA.

These achievements, and numerous other collaborations underway between NAU and TGen, will be celebrated at 2 p.m. today at NAU’s Applied Research and Development building.

The NAU-TGen developed genetic-based tests allow real-time tests in any location, including laboratories, but also clinics, physician offices, emergency rooms and even field settings. Immediate diagnosis of pathogens is a critical part of TGen’s push for precision medicine, in which patients receive the correct treatments as quickly as possible, speeding their recovery and saving lives.

The genetic-based tests for various pathogens were developed by a team from NAU and TGen that includes Dr. Paul Keim, Director of TGen’s Pathogen Genomics Division (also known as TGen North) in Flagstaff, and a Regents Professor and Cowden Endowed Chair in Microbiology at NAU.

“These advanced diagnostics have far reaching implications for protecting public health, quickly treating patients and lowering the cost of healthcare,” Dr. Keim said. “Through our joint NAU-TGen research, we are continuing to develop tools and technologies that have a great impact on human health.”

This joint effort has generated other intellectual property, stimulated the founding of a startup company, and now generates licensing revenues for both NAU and TGen.

“Our relationship with TGen exemplifies the importance of the biosciences to NAU and to Arizona’s economy,” said NAU President John Haeger. “An important mission of our university is to produce research with direct benefits to the state and to the world, and together with TGen that is what we are accomplishing. We look forward to much more.”

Dr. Jeffrey Trent, TGen President and Research Director, praised President Haeger, Gov. Brewer and the Arizona Legislature for helping ensure TGen’s continuing role in stimulating local research that directly benefits Arizona patients.

“We are enormously grateful to Governor Brewer and the state Legislature, particularly the leadership, for their continuing confidence and support in us,” said Dr. Trent. “In addition, as demonstrated by the leadership and cooperation of President Haeger, Dr. Keim and NAU, there is no question that these types of collaborations between universities and research institutions can result in significant commercial applications.”

Rita Cheng

Cheng succeeds Haeger as NAU president

The Arizona Board of Regents has approved the selection of Rita Cheng as president of Northern Arizona University.

The vote came during a special board meeting Wednesday in Phoenix.

Cheng has been the chancellor of Southern Illinois University in Carbondale since mid-2010. She’ll begin as NAU’s 16th president on Aug. 15.

The regents will be looking to Cheng to increase enrollment at the university that serves 26,000 students at dozens of campuses statewide and online.

Cheng will earn an annual base salary of $390,000 under her three-year contract. She’ll also get yearly allowances of $10,000 for a vehicle and $50,000 for housing.

Cheng succeeds John Haeger, who served 13 years as NAU president. He plans to remain at the school as a professor in higher education leadership and governance.

Arizona State University student team members Haylee Hilgers, right, and Jason Hyacinthe won the EMC Green Data Center Challenge at the Avnet Tech Games.

Avnet Tech Games Winners Announced

Avnet, Inc., a leading global technology distributor, announced the 2014 winners of the Avnet Tech Games. Close to 200 students from Arizona community colleges and universities competed head-to-head for top honors in the Avnet Tech Games Arizona onsite competition on Saturday, April 12, 2014, at The University of Advancing Technology in Tempe. In addition, college students competing on a national level in the Spring Virtual Avnet Tech Games had their work displayed and winners were announced during the awards ceremony at the onsite competition. Thirty winning students collected $1,000 each in scholarship money.

A panel of judges including technology executives, engineers and other business leaders selected the winners based on the students’ ability to meet the technical requirements of a task, apply innovative approaches to the solution and demonstrate professional skills. Nearly 76 teams of students competed in the onsite and virtual Avnet Tech Games, including 8 Arizona community colleges and universities: Arizona State University, ITT Technical Institute, seven Maricopa County Community Colleges, Northern Arizona University, The University of Advancing Technology and University of Arizona.

The winners of the 2014 Onsite Avnet Tech Games are:

Cisco Networking Expert Battle
South Mountain Community College
Faculty Coach: Tom Polliard
Student Team Members: Huy Mai and Justin Woys

Desktop Domination
The University of Advancing Technology
Student Team Members: William Hartman and Kelly Stahlberg

Digital Design Dilemma
Chandler-Gilbert Community College
Faculty Coach: Bassam Matar
Student Team Members: Michelle Smekal, Niccolo Horvath and Neel Mistry

EMC Green Data Center Challenge
Arizona State University
Student Team Members: Haylee Hilgers and Jason Hyacinthe

HP Build the Fastest Computer
Chandler-Gilbert Community College
Faculty Coach: Eli Chmouni
Student Team Members: Troy Gerloff, Blake Knoll and Jeremy Morgan

Java Blitz
Chandler-Gilbert Community College
Faculty Coach: Rameen Kaliqu
Student Team Members: Zachary Peshke, Samuel Slater and Larry Standage

Robot Race Obstacle Course
Mesa Community College
Faculty Coach: Bruce Carlton
Student Team Members: Richard Dale, Spencer Hall and Federico Ortega

Solar Scrimmage
Mesa Community College
Faculty Coach: Bruce Carlton
Student Team Members: Justin Arispe, Drew Carlson and Jennifer Hooker

Since the inception of the Avnet Tech Games in 2006, nearly $300,000 in scholarship money and prizes have been awarded to hundreds of the approximately 2,680 students and 215 faculty members who have participated in the competitions.

“The Avnet Tech Games provide a great opportunity for students to test their technical and strategy skills by applying what they have learned in the classroom to real-life scenarios,” said Joal Redmond, vice president of public relations for Avnet, Inc. “Students also had the opportunity to improve their communications skills by participating in a networking workshop and then practice those skills by meeting with Avnet and sponsor executives during a networking hour. Students win, schools win and business wins with the Avnet Tech Games.”

The annual multidisciplinary technology competition, composed of eight separate events, required students to work in teams to test their knowledge, creativity, decision-making, problem-solving and technical skills. During the event, students showcased how they can make a difference in advancing business and improving quality of life by participating in competitions such as creating a solar-powered water-pumping system, racing to build a computer using refurbished parts and troubleshoot issues in the Windows 7 operating system.

2014 Spring Virtual Avnet Tech Games
The Virtual Avnet Tech Games were introduced in 2010 to expand the breadth of the onsite event by allowing students to compete on a national level. More than 115 teams competed in the Virtual Avnet Tech Games competition. The winners were:

Android App™ Showdown
ITT Technical Institute
Student Team Member: Bryan Geesey

Green Video Competition
Chandler-Gilbert Community College
Faculty Coach: Eli Chmouni
Student Team Members: Dustin Allen, Kendra Charnick, Joel Parker and Brian Weeks

JDA Supply Chain Challenge
Southern Methodist University
Student Team Members: Aaron Barnard, Matt Mulholland, Tushar Solanki and Meredith Titus

“Congratulations to everyone who participated in this year’s virtual and onsite Avnet Tech Games, especially our winners,” added Redmond. On behalf of Avnet, thank you to all of our sponsors, business partners and volunteers for helping to make this year’s event a success.”

Avnet Tech Games 2014 sponsors included signature sponsors CA, Cisco, CDW, Datalink, DPAIR, EMC, HP, JDA, Kyocera, Microchip, Nimble Storage and Sungard.


New Surprise College Spotlights Health Information

The College of St. Scholastica has opened its first venue in Arizona at the Communiversity @ Surprise, a higher education center at 15950 N. Civic Center Plaza in Surprise.

The Communiversity, which opened in 2009, is a partnership among six schools: Glendale Community College, Phoenix College, and Rio Salado College (all part of the Maricopa Community College System), Ottawa University, Northern Arizona University and now St. Scholastica. In addition to its new site in Surprise, St. Scholastica operates eight other U.S. locations as well a virtual campus, with a total enrollment of more than 4,200 students.

St. Scholastica’s initial programs in Surprise are online and include its Bachelor of Science and Master of Science degrees in Health Information Management, and a Master of Science in Health Informatics. St. Scholastica’s health information management program has been a national leader since it began in 1934 as the first such degree program in the nation. The College is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission, which also accredits Arizona institutions of higher learning.

Each of the College’s online programs in Surprise provides in-person support for admissions, financial aid and advising from St. Scholastica and Communiversity staff.
“St. Scholastica provides a new pathway to baccalaureate and graduate degrees for students currently enrolled at the Communiversity, and more broadly the Maricopa Community College system,” said St. Scholastica President Larry Goodwin. “Our goal is to offer innovative higher educational opportunities for students in Surprise and the entire West Valley.”

St. Scholastica will also utilize space in the Communiversity to deliver professional development sessions so healthcare professionals can take advantage of the College’s expertise in healthcare, and earn continuing education credits.

The College of St. Scholastica is a 102-year-old independent private college in the Catholic Benedictine tradition with its main campus in Duluth, Minnesota. St. Scholastica is regularly recognized for the quality of its academic programs. The 2014 “America’s Best Colleges” survey by U.S. News & World Report magazine ranks St. Scholastica in the top tier of Midwestern universities. For more information, call 623-694-0984 or visit www.css.edu.


Getting an angel to open the checkbook

Governor Jan Brewer touts her policies and business regulatory climate as the reason Arizona is growing new businesses. That may be a factor, but it’s not the major reason Arizona topped the Kaufman Foundation Index of Entrepreneurial Activity in 2012. If it were the case, Arizona would have been on top again in 2013—instead of plummeting to 20th nationally.

“Just because there are a lot of startups,” observes Barry Broome, CEO of the Greater Phoenix Economic Council, “doesn’t provide a measure of the economic growth in the Valley.” A startup can be someone opening a consultancy, a contractor or the next Apple. Self-employment is a form of startup. The challenge is nurturing a startup so it grows with high value jobs.

Local governments and the Arizona Commerce Authority see major value with growing Arizona startups into enterprises. Chris Mackay, economic development director in Chandler says, “There’s staying power when a business is local. It’s connected to the local community and if the economy falters, the owners are more willing to keep going locally as opposed to closing up shop.” That local staying power is one reason Mackay says Chandler makes big investments in growing future enterprises.

Planting the seeds

Arizona’s new economy needs startups to scale up into enterprises. Those growing small businesses become hiring employers offering high value jobs paying home-buying income. Government policy supporting businesses that can scale up is based on simple economics.

Businesses with more than 20 employees, says the Small Business Administration, generate two of three Arizona paychecks. Those same businesses cut checks for more than 70 percent of Arizona’s private payrolls. The value in 2012 was over $100 billion.

All new businesses are “startups,” but not all startup businesses will be entrepreneurial enterprises. “There is no relation between starting a business and starting a company,” says Dr. Daniel Isenberg, Professor of Entrepreneurship Practice and founding executive director of the Babson College Entrepreneurship Ecosystem Project in Boston. “Ninety percent of companies formed don’t grow high value jobs.”

Isenberg says that the difference between a start-up and enterprise is a matter of scale. He is an international advocate for scaling a business to grow as opposed to opening a business. An entrepreneur, he points out, is a business founder with a large company that just happens to be small right now.

Arizona State University, as the new American university, is at the cutting edge of helping turn ideas into enterprise. Recently, the college joined the elite ranks of schools offering a stand-alone degree in entrepreneurship. It’s on that list with Harvard Business School, Babson, and University of Texas. Its goal is getting new businesses that can grow into the market.

Locally grown

ASU says more than 70 percent of its W.P. Carey School of Business MBA graduates remain in Arizona. Keeping these graduates in state provides the human resources necessary to building new enterprises fueling the future economy.

“Starting a company — as opposed to just starting a business — is hard work,” says Isenberg. “An entrepreneur looks at the business and sees it growing. It’s a time of sleep deprivation, hard work, and endless pitches.” Few startups achieve quality growth—less than ten percent, he believes. “The golden triangle of a growing enterprise,” he continues, “is cash, customers and people.”

“An entrepreneurial endeavor isn’t limited to startups,” Isenberg emphasizes. “University research, family businesses, mature companies, all can be turned into a growing enterprise. Most startups tend to stay small.” The key to the economic contribution of startups in Arizona is scalability. He is adamant about it, “Ambition is not a dirty word. A business founder without ambition does not significantly contribute to overall economic growth.”

“There are a number of entrepreneurial success stories arising from a new direction for an existing, mature business,” Isenberg reports. Sometimes it takes a new owner with a vision; sometimes the existing management team finds a new direction. It can be a license from a university, a new product, or an innovative use of an existing product. Entrepreneurship can occur anywhere in a business’ lifecycle.”

Bringing ideas to market

Arizona colleges are on that licensing bandwagon. Entrepreneurs complain that it takes years to license patents or transfer technology from most universities. In ASU’s Office of Knowledge and Enterprise Development, the Arizona Furnace Technology Transfer Accelerator — first project of its type in the world — slashes technology transfer time from years to months. The AZ Furnace is a joint venture of ASU, University of Arizona, Northern Arizona University and Dignity Health. Funding partners include the Arizona Commerce Authority, BioAccel, and additional support from Thunderbird School of Global Management.

“There are hundreds of patents sitting on shelves at universities that could be in the market earning money for creators, colleges and businesses,” enthuses Gordon McConnell, assistant vice president, Entrepreneurship & Innovation Group in OKED. “We started a program to get patents into the market quickly.” The startups selected for incubation in AZ Furnace are either entrepreneurs in search of an idea to market or idea-creators ready to market through a business entity. The fledgling enterprises are capital-ready in 12 months or less.

Enterprise starts with a leader and a vision. The scale of the vision is what makes the difference, says Isenberg. The vast majority of business owners are thinking of a model that gets them to the point that they’re putting money in the bank. He says, “Entrepreneurs are thinking of a model that finds smart people, willing customers and puts the cash to back into the enterprise.”

“Angels invest in businesses they understand or CEOs they respect,” says Broome. “There’s a need for more of that in the Valley. We’re just not seeing the next Apple or Google evolving here.”

Gaining visibility

“The biggest challenge about getting angel and venture money is visibility,” says Brandon Clark, region coordinator for Startup Arizona.  “If you’re a promising digital startup locally, it’s a little harder to get noticed nationally being from a region not known for its digital startups.  That’s starting to slowly shift.” National publications, FastCompany and Entrepreneur Magazine, have eyed Arizona as an emerging technology region.

The development opportunity for the small business is capital. Combine the “Broome Factor”—known businesses; known leaders—with the large number of startups, and there are too many funding requests heading towards too few checkbooks.

What makes early investors open pocketbooks to startup businesses is scalability. Businesses with potential to grow create the greatest return on investment for the angels. “It’s also makes a difference to the local economy,” says Isenberg. “Local policymakers need to change their focus from ‘startup’ to a ‘high value growth business’.”

Cities like helping scalable startups — and provide resources that build success. There’s a loyalty factor when the business grows; it typically remains in the hometown that helped it succeed. This is important to Chandler, Mesa, Peoria, Phoenix, Scottsdale, and Surprise. These five cities have specifically invested in incubators and accelerators to nurture and graduate businesses achieving market traction. Chandler, Phoenix and Tucson have involvement with collaborative workspaces — Gangplank and Co+Hoots — as well.

While an employee or two in a collaborative workspace works well for a while, the time comes when a move up is needed. Clairvoyant, an enterprise and analytics startup now in Chandler Innovations started with Gangplank. “We grew from four employees in March to 12 in April,” smiles Amber Anderson, a firm partner and its business developer. “We needed a place to meet with clients and work with a growing team.” Still self-funded, the growing entity plans to hit 20 employees by January.

Mackay explains, “We help a company like this grow and hope that as it expands it continues to locate in Chandler.” To that end, the city is working with landlords in its Price Corridor to offer “teenage” space that lets a business move from the heavily subsidized rents and back office support of the incubator into its own place—without too much sticker shock.

Support from cities

The difference by which startup is accepted into a city’s incubator is the ability to scale up from the garage to commercial space; from one employee to more than 20. Chandler and Mesa are looking for businesses with this capacity. Innovations gives lab and office space to businesses that have formed entities — LLCs, corporations, partnerships — and a business plan. Mesa’s new Technology Accelerator is planned with a similar focus, but is looking for businesses at an earlier stage. Surprise’s Arizona TechCelerator wants to shepherd a business to the angel investor stage.

In Surprise, scalability is one of the criteria to be accepted into Arizona’s oldest incubator. The TechCelerator is looking for businesses offering something outside the box or creating a new niche. “The company has to be started before we’ll consider them,” says Julie Neal, the economic development coordinator for the city’s enterprise. “They need a mentor, a plan and have to know where they are going.”

“Scaling up is difficult,” says Isenberg, “but doing it right defines the difference between the successful entrepreneur with a growth business and a startup that just stays small. Marketplaces are competitive. The startup has to acquire customers. That means overcoming inertia or changing buyer behavior. While established companies are cruising on their business platforms, the startup has to hire people, start a company, raise money, and all the while, it’s competing in the marketplace. That’s tough work.”

After incubation, the business must gain market traction. At this phase, the fledgling enterprise has product going out and customers paying for it. The kinks are being smoothed, and it’s time to move up to the next stage and grow. Isenberg says that the high growth criterion is simply 20 percent annual increases in sales or staff for five years.

Getting capital

To make this leap requires high levels of capital — the checks venture capitalists cut. The biggest challenge in Phoenix is that there are few sources for local venture capital. The venturists hang out in places like Silicon Valley, Boston, San Diego and Seattle. “There are even a couple of funds with deep ties to the Valley,” worries Clark, “but they have very little involvement in local startups.”

Clate Mask, CEO of Infusionsoft, had to travel out of town for his venture capital. “At one time, I was told that a fund wouldn’t cut a check for a firm in Phoenix because we didn’t have the workforce for success,” he says. “That’s no longer true; venture funds are seeing that there is a real climate for success in the Valley.”

Another resource for a growing business is the Arizona Commerce Authority’s “Growing Your Arizona Business” services. The quasi-public agency provides mentorship, regulatory assistance, access to incentive programs and site selection. It also works as a liaison connecting the growing business with other business resources. The agency mentors businesses in accessing federal procurement and grant opportunities as well as serving as an entrée to international trade.

Overall, the major resource in Arizona for start-up businesses is the universities. Anemic legislative funding for the schools causes their efforts to help to face the same struggles growing businesses face. Their efforts to improve Arizona’s long-term economy are stymied by a declining source of capital.

“ASU is underfunded,” complains Barry Broome. “The school has done an amazing job despite being financially crippled by budget cuts. It’s suffering from a lack of resources to take its programs to scale.” “Scalability” is applicable to the business-development programs at the universities and other public agencies just as it is for growing enterprises.

“Getting money for those programs is the top job for the next governor,” predicts Broome.
Opportunity in Arizona will come from the core of businesses growing today. They will create the jobs for the new economy and drive economic success for the next generation.


UA Part of $6M research of American Indian Health

Public health researchers at the University of Arizona, along with researchers at two other higher education institutions in the state, have earned a $6 million grant to investigate health issues in American Indian communities.

The National Institutes of Health’s National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities awarded the five-year grant to a statewide team of researchers from the UA, Northern Arizona University and Diné College to establish the Center for American Indian Resilience, also known as CAIR.

The collaborative team will study why some American Indian communities facing high rates of chronic disease and poverty seem to thrive despite adversity.

“The basic practice of public health is about understanding ways to support healthy behaviors, and we know programs that are culturally relevant are more effective,” said Nicolette Teufel-Shone, professor of health promotion sciences at the UA’s Mel and Enid Zuckerman College of Public Health.

“We will take a look at existing health behaviors and programs that target the prevention of chronic diseases, such as obesity, diabetes and heart disease, to determine what is working and why,” Teufel-Shone said.

Teufel-Shone and Priscilla Sanderson, assistant professor of health sciences and applied indigenous studies at NAU, have been named CAIR’s co-directors. Diné College faculty on the project are Mark Bauer and Donald Robinson, both of the department of science education.
The UA public health college received $2 million of the CAIR grant, which includes collaborations with tribal communities and research projects.

“CAIR research will deepen our scientific knowledge of existing positive health outcomes in tribal communities, and then we will translate this knowledge to practice through public health education and policy,” said Sanderson, a member of the Navajo Nation.

Also under the grant, the UA public health college will collaborate with NAU and Diné College to support Diné College’s ongoing summer program to teach undergraduate students to consider and incorporate community strengths in their work as emerging public health professionals. The program combines classroom learning with hands-on experience through an internship in tribal communities.

The research project, directed by the UA, also involves a partnership with the Tucson Indian Center to interview elders about their concept of resilience and their perceptions of key factors that contribute to success in life.

Through this initiative, members of the Southwestern American Indian community will record video diaries to share their experiences of well-being.

“The goal of the video diaries project is to use existing information about which factors contribute to Native American resilience and spread this knowledge to other Native American communities,” Teufel-Shone said. “This way, researchers can learn lessons of how resilience is already effective in these communities, share experiences and allow community members to create new paths based on other people’s stories.”

Other UA College of Public Health participants include John Ehiri, director and professor; Division of Health Promotion Sciences; Agnes Attakai, director, Health Disparities Outreach and Prevention Education; Kerstin Reinschmidt, assistant professor, Health Promotion Sciences; and Rebecca Drummond, program director for Family Wellness.

NAU faculty and staff contributing to CAIR include Olivia Trujillo, professor of applied indigenous studies; Robert Trotter, Regents’ professor and chair of anthropology; Chad Hamill, assistant professor of music; Roger Bounds, associate professor and chair of health sciences; Lisa Hardy, assistant professor of anthropology; R. Cruz Begay, professor of health sciences; and Kelly Laurila, coordinator in anthropology. Paul Dutton, director of NAU’s Interdisciplinary Health Policy Institute, will facilitate the executive advisory board.

Diné College faculty on the project are Mark Bauer, PhD and Donald Robinson, PhD of the Department of Science Education.

technical education career training looking at petri dish

Arizona Students Awarded United Health Scholarships

Six Arizona students have been awarded a scholarship from United Health Foundation’s Diverse Scholars Initiative to pursue a career in health care. The students  joined future health leaders from across the country in Washington, D.C. for the United Health Foundation’s Fifth Annual Diverse Scholars Forum.

Kaitlyn Benally of Tuba City is a sophomore at Northern Arizona University studying biomedical sciences, with the goal of educating people about the risks associated with diabetes.

“I hope to make a difference as a member of the future health workforce by working with children and their parents to help them understand the benefits of healthy living,” she said. “Diabetes is a growing health concern on the reservation. I will educate people about the risks and show them ways to improve their lifestyle to become healthier.”

Another scholarship winner, Cecilia Espinoza of El Mirage, is studying nursing at Grand Canyon University. After watching her father pass away from cancer, she decided to pursue a career as an oncology nurse.

Other Arizona scholarship recipients, and their areas of study, include:

* Regis Maloney of Tonalea, Environmental Health at Dine College
* Jeffrey Sleppy of Chinle, Biology at Dine College
* Lorenza Villegas-Murphy of Litchfield Park, Nursing at Arizona State University
* Mycolette Anderson of Lukachukai, Nursing at Dine College

United Health Foundation’s Diverse Scholars Initiative, through its partner organizations, awarded $1.2 million in scholarships in the 2012-2013 school year to 200 students from diverse, multicultural backgrounds, with nearly $2 million in scholarships announced for 2013-2014. This is part of the foundation’s ongoing commitment to build a more diverse health care workforce.

By the end of 2013, United Health Foundation will have awarded $10 million in scholarships to diverse students pursing health careers. Nearly 70 scholarships have been awarded in Arizona since 2007.

“We know patients do best when they are treated by people who understand their language and culture,” said Kate Rubin, president, United Health Foundation. “United Health Foundation is grateful for the opportunity to support these outstanding students who are demonstrating impressive purpose and passion and who will help lead the way to better health access and outcomes.”

United Health Foundation made the announcement at its fifth annual Diverse Scholars Forum, which brings more than 60scholarship recipients to Washington, D.C., July 24-26 to celebrate the scholars and inspire them to work toward strengthening the nation’s health care system. This year’s event gives these future health care professionals the opportunity to meet and interact with members of Congress and leaders from a variety of health care fields.

According to the American Medical Association and Association of American Medical Colleges, the number of multicultural health professionals is disproportionately low when compared to the overall population. For example, while about 15 percent of the U.S. population is Hispanic/Latino, only 5 percent of physicians and 4 percent of registered nurses are Hispanic/Latino. About 12 percent of the population is African American, yet only 6 percent of physicians and 5 percent of registered nurses are African American.

Given the changing demographics in the United States and the volumes of people entering the health care system due to the Affordable Care Act, there is an even greater need for a more diverse health care workforce.

Research shows that when patients are treated by health professionals who share their language, culture and ethnicity, they are more likely to accept and adopt the medical treatment they receive1. Increasing the diversity of health care providers will reduce the shortage of medical professionals in underserved areas, reduce inequities in academic medicine and address variables – such as language barriers – that make it difficult for patients to navigate the health care system.

“We are pleased to support these exceptional students in their efforts to achieve their educational goals and work to improve our health care system,” said Rubin. “The Diverse Scholars Initiative helps these scholars fund their education, and gives them an opportunity to learn from one another and interact with experts who are leading the way in improving patient care.”

United Health Foundation’s Diverse Scholars Initiative is one facet of the foundation’s commitment to build and strengthen the health workforce. United Health Foundation supports additional programs like STEMPREP, which aims to produce the next generation of researchers in the science, technology, engineering, mathematics and medical fields. The foundation also supports A.T. Still University’s Connect the Docs Graduate Loanship Program that provides loan repayments to four qualifying graduates who secure jobs in community health centers.

For more information about the Diverse Scholars Initiative, visit www.unitedhealthfoundation.org/dsi.html.

Jeri Jones

Jeri Jones – 50 Most Influential Women in Arizona Business

Jeri Jones – CEO, UnitedHealthcare

Jones has been with UnitedHealthcare for more than a decade and currently oversees employer and individual markets for Arizona, Utah and Idaho. Prior to taking this role, Jones was chief of staff for the West Region of UnitedHealthcare, responsible for strategy and execution of the regional vision and business plan. Jones holds a B.S. degree in accounting from Northern Arizona University and is a C.P.A.

Surprising fact: “I co-owned a hot-air balloon.”

Biggest challenge: “Public speaking. It hasn’t been easy, but as the CEO of a major healthcare company, I had to get use to speaking in front of groups, on TV and about myself, which I wasn’t very comfortable doing.”

Fifty Most Influential Women in Arizona Business – Every year in its July/August issue Arizona Business Magazine features 50 women who make an impact on Arizona business. To see the full list, read the digital issue >>