MJ Insurance, a leading property-casualty and employee benefits agency and one of the largest privately-held insurance agencies in the nation, is celebrating its 10th anniversary of its Phoenix’s office. Headquartered in Indianapolis, MJ Insurance expanded to the Southwest opening its Phoenix office in 2005.
MJ’s Phoenix office, strategically located in a centralized business district in Phoenix along Camelback Corridor, has continued to grow since 2005 and now has 16 team members serving clients from around the region and throughout the country. Impressively, over the past decade all of MJ’s growth in Phoenix has been organic and continues to be a key element of the agency’s overall long-term growth plans.
“Ten years ago, we saw great opportunity in the Southwest and knew opening our Phoenix office was the right decision at the right time,” said MJ Insurance CEO Michael H. Bill, who runs the company from its Phoenix location and grew-up and attended school in Arizona.
“I could not be more proud of our employees – both here and in Indiana – who have contributed to the immense success we have enjoyed in Arizona. Of course, our clients and community partners in the region deserve great praise for the trust they have placed in MJ Insurance. We look forward to the great things that lie ahead and are excited to maintain our continued success and help current and future clientele achieve their business goals,” Bill added.
Recently, MJ Insurance celebrated its 50th ‘golden’ anniversary. MJ has earned several award accolades throughout the years and regularly is named one of the “best places to work” and as a “top employer” in the industry – including in Arizona.
MJ Insurance is a risk management and benefits consulting agency that, since 1964, has grown from a two-person start-up to an agency with more than 135 employees.
MJ Insurance specializes in a diverse selection of unique service lines including construction, energy, transportation, real estate, manufacturing, sororities and mining. MJ also offers complete employee benefit programs including major medical, group disability, group life and onsite employer clinics. MJ Insurance currently has clients in 16 countries and in every U.S. state.
The national law firm of Quarles & Brady LLP today announced that Phoenix partner and Business Law Practice Group chair Leonardo Loo was honored with the 2015 Chairperson’s Award by the Black Chamber of Arizona (formerly the Greater Phoenix Black Chamber of Commerce) at its 17th Annual Awards Banquet, which was held March 13, 2015, at the Phoenix Convention Center. The award is given each year to an individual making a positive economic impact across the state through his/her service to both the Black Chamber and the community-at-large.
Loo volunteers on the boards of directors for the Black Chamber of Arizona and Asian American Bar Association, respectively, and also serves as general counsel for the Arizona Hispanic Chamber of Commerce. Loo, who focuses on mergers and acquisitions, commercial financing, international transactions, securities, and general corporate law involving clients in a wide variety of industries, is also currently serving as the chair of the board of directors for Chicanos Por La Causa, Inc. (CPLC), a statewide community development corporation committed to building stronger, healthier communities as a lead advocate, coalition builder, and direct service provider. CPLC promotes positive change and self-sufficiency to enhance the quality of life for the benefit of those it serves.
Earlier this year, Loo was honored by Az Business Magazine as one of the top “Minority Leaders in Arizona.” In 2014, he was honored with the Community Leader of the Year Award from the Phoenix chapter of the National Association of Asian American Professionals for his devotion to the community and outstanding service to the Valley. Loo earned his law degree from the University of Chicago and his bachelor’s degree from Stanford University.
Melissa Ho, a shareholder in the Phoenix office of the national law firm Polsinelli, has been asked to serve on the Board of Directors of the Arizona Justice Project (AJP). Since 1998 the Justice Project has been helping to overturn and prevent wrongful convictions in the State of Arizona. It is a non-profit organization whose mission is to examine claims of innocence and manifest injustice, and provides legal representation for inmates believed to have been failed by the criminal justice system.
“It is an honor to be elected to the Board of Directors of an organization that works tirelessly to strengthen the criminal justice system.” said Melissa. “For a system of justice to be truly just, it must take steps to assist those who have been wrongfully convicted, falsely accused, or have suffered manifest injustice. I am grateful for the opportunity to serve on the board to further its goals.”
Melissa previously worked on the Louis Taylor case, which received national visibility on CBS 60 Minutes. Taylor was released at the age of 58 after maintaining his innocence and being incarcerated for more than 42 years. Together with attorneys and volunteers from the Arizona Justice Project, Taylor was released after developments in arson science showed that the original investigation was flawed.
As a shareholder of the national law firm Polsinelli, Melissa works in the areas of government investigations and white collar criminal defense. She also dedicates her time to the State Bar of Arizona as a member of the Bar’s Board of Governors. Melissa is a former past president of the Arizona Asian American Bar Association. She has also served on numerous boards and commissions for the City of Phoenix, and volunteers her time on domestic violence, guardianship and immigration matters.
Last year, Melissa was the recipient of the Judge Learned Hand Emerging Leadership Award, which is a tribute to an attorney practicing twelve years or less who has demonstrated a commitment to the values of public or community service. She is also a past recipient of “Best Lawyers Under 40” awarded by the National Asian Pacific American Bar Association, an honor bestowed on only a select few attorneys in the United States. In 2013, she was chosen by the Phoenix Business Journal as a recipient of its “Forty Under 40” award honoring the best and brightest leaders in the Phoenix metro area. Melissa has also been named to the “Lawyers of Color Hot List” and recently was selected by AZ Business Magazine as a “Generation Next Forty Under Forty.” Most recently, Chambers USA, the world’s leading guide to the legal profession, ranked Melissa in its 2014 America’s Leading Lawyers for Business in the category of Litigation: White Collar Crime. Southwest Super Lawyers named her as a Rising Star in 2012, 2013, 2014 and 2015 in the category of Criminal Defense – White Collar.
Melissa earned her B.A. with honors and a B.S. from Arizona State University and her J.D. from the University of Arizona James E. Rogers College of Law.
Blue Cross Blue Shield of Arizona named Bridges Center for Surgical Weight Management at St. Luke’s Medical Center in Phoenix as part of its Blue Distinction® Centers for Specialty Care program. This healthcare facility has been designated as a Blue Distinction® Center+ for delivering quality care resulting in better overall outcomes for bariatric patients, while also meeting key requirements for cost efficiency.
To receive a Blue Distinction Center+ for Bariatric Surgery designation, a new designation added to the program this year, a healthcare facility must demonstrate success in meeting patient safety as well as bariatric-specific quality measures, including complications and readmissions, for gastric stapling and/or gastric banding procedures.
A healthcare facility must also have earned national accreditations at both the facility level and the bariatric care-specific level, as well as demonstrate better cost efficiency relative to its peers. Quality is key: only those facilities that first meet Blue Distinction’s nationally-established, objective quality measures will be considered for designation as a Blue Distinction Center+.
“The Blue Distinction Specialty Care recognition program was developed to identify healthcare facilities with proven expertise in delivering specialty care,” said Dr. Vishu Jhaveri, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Arizona chief medical officer. “The Bridges Center for Surgical Weight Loss Management team at St. Luke’s Medical Center has a commitment to quality and helping members better manage their care through the Blue Distinction Specialty Care program.”
Bariatric surgeries are among the most common elective surgeries in the U.S., which provides a significant opportunity to improve quality and efficiency within the healthcare system. There were 179,000 bariatric surgeries performed in 2013, according to the American Society of Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery, and the average cost is more than $28,000 per episode, according to the Journal of the American Medical Association. Furthermore, it is estimated that 72 million Americans are obese and 24 million suffer from morbid obesity, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The estimated annual healthcare costs of obesity-related illnesses are $190.2 billion, or nearly 21 percent of annual medical spending in the U.S., according to the Journal of Health Economics.
Research shows that facilities designated as Blue Distinction Centers and Blue Distinction Centers+ demonstrate better quality and improved outcomes for patients compared with their peers. On average, Blue Distinction Centers+ are also 20 percent or more cost efficient than non-Blue Distinction Center+ designated healthcare facilities.
“We’re honored to receive this noteworthy designation,” said Hilario Juarez, M.D., FACS, Co-Medical Director of Bridges Center for Surgical Weight Management at St. Luke’s Medical Center. “Our team is dedicated to making positive experiences for our patients by guiding and supporting them through every step of their weight loss journeys.”
Since 2006, the Blue Distinction Centers for Specialty Care program has helped patients find quality providers for their specialty care needs in the areas of bariatric surgery, cardiac care, complex and rare cancers, knee and hip replacements, spine surgery, and transplants while encouraging healthcare professionals to improve the care they deliver.
For more information about the Blue Distinction Centers for Specialty Care program and for a complete listing of the designated facilities, visit www.bcbs.com/bluedistinction.
Commercial Properties, Inc. has sold ±5 acres located at 3502 E. Roeser Rd. in Phoenix. Jeff Hays, Chad Neppl and Ryan Steele of CPI’s Tempe Industrial Team represented the seller, Hadco Corporation, in this $1.58 million sale.
The site offers convenient freeway access and is located south of Broadway Road and east of 32nd Street. The buyer, Colten Cowell Foundation was represented by DTZ.
The Phoenix office of international law firm Greenberg Traurig, LLP has 19 attorneys on the 2015 Super Lawyers list, an independent rating service of outstanding lawyers from more than 70 practice areas. In addition, the publication named six Greenberg Traurig attorneys as Southwest Rising Stars.
“We are extremely proud of the achievements of our attorneys,” said John E. Cummerford, a co-managing shareholder in Greenberg Traurig’s Phoenix office. “They are certainly deserving of this significant recognition.”
Super Lawyers, a Thomson Reuters organization, is a research-driven, peer-influenced rating service of lawyers who have attained a high degree of peer recognition and professional achievement. The mission of Super Lawyers is to bring visibility to those attorneys who exhibit excellence in practice.
The selection process is multi-phased and includes independent research, peer nominations and peer evaluations. Super Lawyers Magazine features the list and profiles of selected attorneys and is distributed to attorneys in the state or region and the ABA-accredited law school libraries. Super Lawyers is also published as a special section in leading city and regional magazines across the country. In the United States, Super Lawyers Magazine is published in all 50 states and Washington, D.C., reaching more than 13 million readers.
DeVry University recently announced the appointment of Anthony Spano as president of the Phoenix campus in Arizona. Spano will provide executive leadership at the university’s Phoenix, Glendale and Mesa locations (collectively known as the Phoenix metro).
Spano has more than 24 years of academic leadership experience and has served as the campus director of DeVry University’s campus in Oklahoma City since 2008.
“Anthony has demonstrated a propensity for leadership and has shown a focus on student needs since he joined DeVry University,” said Shelly C. DuBois, group vice president of DeVry University. “His strong rapport with students has helped many make the dream of college education a reality. Anthony’s personal knowledge and understanding of DeVry University’s mission and goals will be integral to leading the Phoenix area campuses as the new president.”
Spano began his career as a financial aid director at Oklahoma Junior College in Oklahoma City. Most recently, he served as the interim president of DeVry University’s Phoenix metro. Spano is a member of the Oklahoma, Southwest and National Associations of Student Financial Aid Administrators, which provide professional development for financial aid administrators and advocate for public policies that increase student access and success.
“During my time as campus director for the Oklahoma City campus, I had the privilege of meeting many students and administrators who exemplify the diverse success stories DeVry University has come to represent,” Spano said. “I look forward to making Phoenix my permanent home and deepening my relationships with DeVry University and the local community.”
Spano earned both his bachelor’s degree in business administration and master’s degree in adult education from the University of Central Oklahoma.
For more information about DeVry University, visit devry.edu.
Fennemore Craig, a leading Mountain West law firm, announced Stacey Johnson and Paul Omerza have joined the Estate Planning and Probate practice in the firm’s Phoenix office.
“We are pleased to welcome Stacey and Paul to the firm,” said Jim Lee, practice group chair of Fennemore Craig’s Estate Planning and Probate practice. “The combined depth of knowledge of Stacey and Paul further enhances the firm’s reputation as one of the largest and most sophisticated estate planning practices in the Southwest.”
Johnson focuses her practice on assisting persons responsible for managing another’s personal or financial matters, including family members, licensed fiduciaries, corporate trustees or those nominated in estate planning documents. She currently serves as Chapter President for the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys’ Arizona Chapter. Johnson earned her J.D. from Creighton University School of Law and her B.A. from the University of Washington.
Omerza practices in the areas of estate planning, probate and elder law. He assists clients on guardianships and conservatorships, heath care and mental health care powers of attorney, wills, and trust agreements, and fiduciary administration matters. Omerza earned his J.D. from Arizona Summit Law School and his B.S. from Arizona State University.
The Technology Management department at Phoenix-based Banner Health was recently awarded the 2015 ‘Department of the Year’ by TechNation Magazine. The publication began the award in 2011 to recognize the top technology management departments across the nation in terms of customer service, efficiency and exemplary procedures.
“Receiving the department of the year award by the leading biomedical engineering magazine in the country is a true honor and distinction that separates Banner Health from many of the great departments across the county,” said Tim Riehm, Banner Health’s vice president of technology management.
TechNation is devoted to the technology management/biomedical engineering career fields. While focused on the issues and current news within the technology management and biomedical engineering community, the publication is also dedicated to recognizing individuals and departments that strive to advance and improve the industry on a daily basis.
“We hope that by recognizing the top achievers in our industry, we will continue to draw attention to individuals and departments who set the bar and provide an outstanding example for others in our industry,” noted TechNation Publisher John Krieg.
The Technology Management department at Banner Health will be presented with the award on Oct. 23 at the 2015 MD Expo in Las Vegas.
Headquartered in Arizona, Banner Health is one of the largest nonprofit health care systems in the country. The system owns and operates 28 acute-care hospitals, Banner Health Network, Banner – University Medicine, Banner Medical Group, long-term care centers, outpatient surgery centers and an array of other services, including family clinics, home care and hospice services, pharmacies and a nursing registry. Banner Health is in seven states: Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Nebraska, Nevada and Wyoming.
Jennings, Strouss & Salmon’s charitable foundation, the Jennings Strouss Foundation, recently teamed up with the non-profit organization Girls on the Run as the Presenting Sponsor of its April 26th 5K event.
Girls on the Run is a non-profit organization dedicated to creating a world where every girl knows and activates her limitless potential and is free to boldly pursue her dreams. Its mission focuses on positive youth development, combining interactive curriculum and running to cultivate self-respect and healthy lifestyles in young girls. visit gotrmc.org.
As the presenting sponsor of the Girls on the Run 5K, staff and attorneys from Jennings Strouss supported the girls through a financial contribution, the creation of a slew of motivational posters, volunteering as running buddies and providing games for all to participate in after the run had concluded. Those who volunteered as running buddies partnered with young girls and accompanied them through their 5K, providing encouragement along the race route as well as celebrating the accomplishments at the finish line.
“Serving as the presenting sponsor of the Girls on the Run 5K was an honor for all of us at Jennings Strouss,” said Keith Overholt, President of the Jennings Strouss Foundation and Member of Jennings Strouss. “The faces of the girls crossing the finish line showed pride, accomplishment and determination. We were thrilled to play a small role in helping Girls on the Run spread its positive message throughout Phoenix.”
Host Hotels & Resorts, Inc., the nation’s largest lodging real estate investment trust (REIT), announced that the iconic Ritz-Carlton, located near 24th Street and Camelback Road in Phoenix, will be closed and re-branded.
During the second quarter the company completed an agreement to convert The Ritz-Carlton, Phoenix to an independent hotel to be operated by Destination Hotels. The property will close in July 2015 for extensive renovation work and will reopen early in 2016 as part of the Autograph Collection, a diverse collection of high-personality independent hotels worldwide.
The company has not announced an official closing date for the Ritz.
The 2015 Super Bowl kicked off an unprecedented run for the Phoenix metro area as the host of mega-sporting events. But if the Valley is going to continue to lure Super Bowls, NCAA championship football games and Final Fours, leaders in the sports community say the current system needs to be improved.
“We’re playing with a bow and arrow and everybody else is playing with a howitzer,” said Jon Schmieder, founder and CEO of the Huddle Up Group that is based in Phoenix and consults with sports commissions across the country.
The howitzer belongs to cities like Dallas, Houston, New Orleans and Miami that have deep pockets and one central sports commission with full-time staffers.
Phoenix, in conjunction with Glendale, Scottsdale, Tempe and Mesa, won bids for high-profile collegiate and professional events without the benefit of a unified sports commission to spearhead the effort. The successful bids were the results of hard work by dozens of people around the city, none of whom work together under one roof on a regular basis.
Phoenix might be in danger of falling behind other cities if it doesn’t update the system used to organize these events.
In 2016, the College Football Playoff National Championship Game will be played at University of Phoenix Stadium. One year later, the Men’s Final Four rolls into the Valley.
These rotating events complement the annual large-scale sporting events that call the Greater Phoenix area home. For more than 40 years, college football pageantry has descended on the Valley with the Fiesta Bowl and, more recently, the Cactus Bowl. Phoenix International Raceway hosts two NASCAR races every year. The Waste Management Phoenix Open at TPC Scottsdale is arguably the most raucous and fan-friendly tournament on the PGA Tour.
And the city hosted two Super Bowls in seven years.
When the pieces fit together, the picture seems clear: Phoenix has carved out a place among the major host cities of the nation’s biggest sporting events.
The question now becomes: Can the metro area maintain its hot streak?
David Rousseau, president of the Salt River Project and chairman of the Arizona Super Bowl Host Committee, worries the current system of assembling a different committee each time a new event comes to town could hinder future attempts to secure and produce the events.
“That (system), at some point, is going to start to be this frayed, fragmented effort,” he said. “I think there’s some value in just continuing to improve upon and refine that effort and you can only do that if you have that one platform model as opposed to startup efforts every time a new bid opportunity comes by.”
Only one person served on both the 2008 and 2015 Super Bowl host committees. Several members of the 2015 committee have transitioned to the Arizona Organizing Committee that will produce the college football championship game. But the majority of the Super Bowl host committee members have taken other jobs and gone their separate ways.
Each loss means some institutional knowledge gained from valuable experience is siphoned off, but the lack of overall consistency in personnel from committee to committee doesn’t necessarily mean a drop in the quality of the event.
By all accounts, the 2015 Super Bowl was a major success for the Valley. Rousseau hopes the economic impact report being produced by Arizona State University’s W.P. Carey School of Business will show numbers that equal or exceed the half-billion dollars of direct-spend money he said was captured around the 2008 game.
“We’ve never been better in terms of customer satisfaction than we are right now but we don’t have a staff to go ahead and go forward and secure that commitment for future bids,” Rousseau said.
Tom Sadler, president of the Arizona Organizing Committee, shined a positive light on the current model but also acknowledged there might be a better way to operate.
“I wouldn’t say it puts us at a disadvantage when we are bidding head to head … because at the end of the day we’ll rise to the occasion,” he said. “Could it be more efficient to have an overarching commission overseeing this so we’re not reinventing the wheel every year? The answer is yes.”
Sadler is a busy man in the landscape of mega-events en route to the Valley. As president and CEO of the Arizona Sports and Tourism Authority, he is the head of the group that oversees the operation of University of Phoenix Stadium. He was also co-bid chair for the Final Four.
“I would like to see an organization that would respond to not just the big three mega events – Super Bowl, college champ, Final Four – but soccer events, entertainment events, to be an agency that’s nimble enough to be on the leading edge of competition with these other cities,” Sadler said.
Cities that perennially host major sporting events in the country are the competition: Miami, Tampa Bay, Atlanta, New Orleans, Houston, Dallas, San Diego, San Francisco and Indianapolis. The New York Super Bowl opened the door for so-calledcold-weather cities to host the game.
Minneapolis was awarded the game in 2018, to be played in a new domed stadium.
Those cities, as well as many others in the rotation for at least one of the big events, have one central sports commission to oversee the recruitment and coordination of events of all sizes. The size and scope of the commission varies from city to city.
Individual committees can be formed on an as-needed basis or the commission itself can double as the host committee, as is the case with the Dallas Sports Commission.
“The sports commission is the local organizing committee (for the 2017 Women’s Final Four),” said Larry Kelly, communications and marketing manager for the Dallas Sports Commission. “It varies event to event but on all the collegiate and amateur events that we bring in, we’re the local organizing committee. And then on the major professional events, depending on the event, there will be a larger committee involved.”
The oldest sports commission in the country is the Indianapolis Sports Corp. Founded in 1979, its website lists close to 30 full-time employees who run departments like business development, finance and events.
Miami’s sports commission is one of the smallest, though the city is obviously a prime destination. The staff is comprised of only two people but the commission’s large board of directors, which includes ESPN college football analyst Desmond Howard, helps bring in all types of events.
“We have a very wide array of board members so that helps bridge a lot of the gaps and helps bring everyone together,” said Miami-Dade Sports Commission Associate Executive Director Mathew Ratner.
Despite the size and duties of a specific commission, the NFL requires each host city to form a new stand-alone committee to oversee the production of a Super Bowl. Even with an all-hands-on-deck mentality, the effort required for success is enormous.
“It is a herculean task put together an effective bid,” Sadler said. “It’s beyond herculean to execute these events when they come out.”
Two themes run through the discussion when the word “fundraising” comes up among metro-area leaders of the sports community: Arizona could benefit from a state fund for mega-events similar to the one used in Texas. Fundraising on an event-by-event basis is not a sustainable model for the future if Phoenix wants to remain competitive with other markets.
“Our fundraising focus was on largely (the) business community and I think we probably raised on the order of 70 percent of our dollars of the $30 million that it took to host the game from our business community,” Rousseau said.
With three mega-events landing in the Valley in consecutive years, the concern is each host committee must try to raise money from the same small pool of potential donors.
“We just can’t year in and year out count on the support from the private sector,” Sadler said. “I think it’s possible to do it for a few years in the short run, but year after year would be very difficult, and that’s why we need the state’s help.”
Texas has adjusted and amended its model over the years, but the concept has remained the same. If an event hosted in the state can prove a certain level of revenue was generated during its run, the state will reimburse the host committee for a percentage of its operating budget on par with the money earned.
The host committee can then pass some of those savings on to the rights holder of the event to hopefully ensure the event returns in the future and also roll some of the money over to pursue subsequent events.
Said Kelly: “The Texas Major Event Trust Fund program has been a tremendous success story for the city of Dallas and its ability to attract and retain major sporting events and certain citywide conventions to the state of Texas, and to Dallas.”
Texas has $50 million authorized for the fund for the 2015 fiscal year.
While many sports leaders in Phoenix agree a state fund would be beneficial, if not necessary, they also agree the $50 million figure is probably too high for Arizona.
“I frankly think that’s too rich of a model,” Rousseau said.
The exact dollar amount feasible in Arizona is debatable, but attempts to create such a fund have already begun.
In 2014, former state Rep. Tom Forese, R-Gilbert, introduced a bill that would have created a $10 million fund, though he and others were quick to say the fund must be carefully regulated.
“It’s a very competitive environment when you’re chasing opportunities like this, so you want to give the state every competitive advantage and yet you don’t want to be throwing money blindly at anything,” said Forese, now a member of the Arizona Corporation Commission. “So the model that we had was a revolving fund, and it was a fund that could be used in order to provide that competitive edge and then be reimbursed by the proceeds of the event.”
The bill did not make it through the Legislature, but Sadler, who helped promote the bill, hopes to keep the issue alive.
“Given the state’s current economic status, it wasn’t a great time to enter into that conversation, but we’re going to keep it on the front burner and see if we can get something enacted,” he said.
The challenges of raising money in the Valley can be daunting, and proponents of the fund say it would help ease the burden on both the host committees and local businesses.
The Phoenix metro area is home to only four Fortune 500 companies, according to the 2014 list compiled by Fortune magazine. By comparison, Dallas and Minneapolis both have 18 and Atlanta has 16.
Steve Moore, president and CEO of Visit Phoenix, has the unique experience of having worked with the Texas fund during his 14 years at the Houston Convention and Visitors Bureau and 14 years at the San Antonio Convention and Visitors Bureau. He has overseen Visit Phoenix for 13 years and sees the need for some kind of state fund for events.
“Those states that enjoy mega-event funding have clearly placed us at a disadvantage. It’s no longer just that our good weather is going to bring mega events here. It has to be an organized, consistent, well-funded effort that is a great business model, that is inclusive and aware, and abides by the sunshine (law) of open government.”
Questions without answers
The reason for a central sports commission, which would recruit and coordinate major sporting events in the Valley, seem plentiful. However, the idea is rife with questions.
Alan Young, COO of the Arizona Sports and Entertainment Commission, which primarily organizes youth and amateur events, sees several outstanding issues that would need to be addressed.
“I think the main question to ask is, what do the citizens believe?” he said. “What is the overall concept of this? Is building stadiums a drain on the economic impact of the community or is it a positive, is it a plus? Investing in these events – is it a drain on the citizens, the taxation, or is it a good investment? Is it a good business decision or not?”
Despite numerous questions, Young is in favor of a unified sports commission and a state fund.
“I certainly believe and our commission believes it’s a great business decision to invest in these types of events but getting the Legislature, getting the citizens, to buy into this has always been a difficult task,” he said.
Steve Moore speculated about the uses of a potential state fund for event production.
“Is this (state fund) something you’d use for a national political convention?” he asked. “That’s a partisan event. Would you use that for it? Is there an answer to that? That’s not a sports commission issue, but it’s a mega-event issue.”
Tom Sadler raised the issue of the year-round responsibilities of the prospective commission.
“What does this commission do between bids and between executing these bids?”
Opinions and theories are abundant in the sports community, and the discussion is ongoing. The goal, though, is the same for all.
“When we have these national sporting events … they’re massive economic drivers and so it’s much more than just sports,” said Commissioner Forese. “This is a way to put Arizona’s best foot forward, and also it’s a way to have people come and take a look at Arizona and consider moving here or moving their business here.”
Beazer Homes Phoenix, a Top 10 national homebuilder, is offering summer savings opportunities to buyers through the Come Home to More Event May 1-17.
“This is a great opportunity for homebuyers to see how they can get more out of a new home,” said Tim Little, Division President for Beazer Homes Phoenix. “All of Beazer’s high quality, ENERGY STAR® certified homes provide cost saving benefits through our Choice Plans program allowing our buyers’ to personalize main living areas of their home at no additional cost, and through our Mortgage Choices program where preferred lenders compete to earn our buyers’ business leading to great service and highly competitive rates and fees.”
During the Come Home to More Sales Event, Beazer Homes Phoenix will offer a free move-in ready package including refrigerator, washer/dryer and blinds on Quick Move-in homes. Interested buyers are encouraged to visit www.beazer.comto view offer details for their desired community. Also available on the website are comprehensive galleries of homes in the area, an array of floor plan options, estimated average utility costs, community overviews, reviews from other buyers and much more.
Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton talks about Phoenix Forward, which will help with business retention and expansion.
Officials said local business expansion makes up 80 percent of new jobs.
Phoenix leaders plan to help facilitate that growth and support business needs through the Phoenix Forward initiative, which launched Wednesday.
The initiative is a partnership between the Phoenix Chamber of Commerce, the city of Phoenix, the Arizona Commerce Authority and Maricopa County.
Phoenix Forward plans to meet with businesses to gain an understanding of their operation and help with retention and expansion. They will assist with developing policy issues, analyzing industry trends, overcoming regulatory barriers and promoting the region for new companies.
The initiative was funded by $1.5 million from private investors and will focus on companies in four key sectors: transportation and logistics, advanced business services, health care and bioscience.
Sandra Watson, CEO of the Arizona Commerce Authority, said the Phoenix Forward initiative is about communication, collaboration and commitment to enhance the state’s economy.
“The idea of Phoenix Forward is to really help support existing businesses in the state as well as in the city and to ensure that they have everything they need in order to continue to grow,“ she said.
“If they have workforce issues, we can assemble a team to address workforce. If they are looking to export to outside markets, we can assemble a team to provide information and intelligence on various market opportunities for businesses.”
Todd Sanders, president of the Greater Phoenix Chamber of Commerce, said the idea for the initiative began two years ago in an effort to understand how to support local businesses. The first thing they learned was that it had to be a collaborative process.
“We decided it was time to stop admiring the problem and to do something about it,” Sanders said at a news conference. “It means that the data we’re all collecting is going to come back to one central spot. We’re going to share it. We’re going to know what’s happening, and we’re going to know what’s out there.”
Russ Yelton, CEO of Pinnacle Transplant Technologies, said his company has identified new talent, explored several spaces to build a larger facility and received workforce training grants through the Phoenix Forward initiative.
“The support helps us in staying focused on growing our business and adding jobs to our community,” he said. “We have doubled our workforce to over 70 associates in the last 18 months and plan on hiring another 30 by the end of this year.”
Stanton said the area of economic development and job growth had been too siloed.
“If we are really going to grow jobs in this community, most of it is going to come from existing companies deciding to reinvest here in our community,” he said. “We’re going to be a much better partner to the business community as a result of this coming together.”
The Phoenician resort is nestled in the Sonoran Desert, with the breathtaking Camelback Mountain its backdrop. Photo: The Phoenician
The Phoenician, Arizona’s premier AAA Five Diamond resort destination, and its boutique hotel, The Canyon Suites at The Phoenician, are welcoming summer with sizzling rates and signature activities.
Beginning Monday, May 25 through Monday, September 7, 2015, guests of the 250-acre Phoenician can take advantage of the best rates of the year, starting from just $159 per night. At The Canyon Suites — Arizona’s only Forbes Five Star and AAA Five Diamond hotel — a more personalized, intimate experience is available, with guestrooms starting at $219 and suites at $329 per night.
Visitors to both properties will discover a diverse collection of activities, including Smartphone photography classes, special wine tastings with Arizona’s only Master Sommelier, dive-in movies, Glo at the Pho neon pool parties, Pop! Up movies, animal encounters and the Flight of the Phoenix, a mythological bird of prey show. Exclusive Canyon Suites offerings are highlighted by culinary and cocktail demonstrations, complimentary Electra bicycles for touring the resort grounds or nearby communities, and a library presenting the latest New York Times best sellers.
In addition, the two properties combined feature a total of eight spacious pools, full-service cabanas, a 165-foot water slide, the interactive “sprayground,” SURGE, a championship golf course, renowned spa and numerous award-winning restaurants offering select dining specials.
“We had a tremendous response to our summer programming last year, which has translated into even more events, activities and special offerings for 2015,” said Mark Vinciguerra, managing director. “We look forward to sharing these many memorable experiences with staycationers and visitors alike in the coming months.”
During the summer holiday weekends, entertaining, themed programming and activities will be offered, sponsored by Infiniti on Camelback. Memorial Day Weekend kicks things off with a Surf’s Up! Block Party featuring the band Southwest Surfers; along with face painting; a sidewalk chalk art competition; and a Hawaiian shirt contest. Following a Father’s Day “Weekend Off” event showcasing all things Dads like to do, the Independence Weekend gets under way with – IGNITE. On Friday, July 3, fireworks on the Casita Lawn will be preceded by a live performance from the band Young Country. An indoor carnival featuring a Shock Wave Obstacle Course, mechanical bull, a basketball shootout and football throw skill game will highlight the Saturday, July 4, activities. To wrap up the season, The Phoenician will host “On the Boardwalk” during the Labor Day Weekend with food trucks, rides, a magician and a special concert.
Michael Shafer, director of the ASU Center for Applied Behavioral Health Policy and John Bentz, president of developer PAG-CDG.
Residents who live in a landmark downtown Phoenix affordable housing high-rise will benefit from a new state-of-the-art clinic being built by Arizona State University (ASU) through its Center for Applied Behavioral Health Policy. The facility will also serve as a valuable training ground for students working under faculty supervision.
The new facility was made possible by a lease recently approved by the US Department of Housing & Urban Development (HUD) between ASU and PAG-CDG (Westward Ho developers and property managers). John Bentz, president of PAG said, “This is a rare project for HUD due to the lease and the related programming in the facility. We are proud that it is happening right here in downtown Phoenix.”
The College of Public Service and Community Solutions is leasing 15,000 square feet of space on the first floor of the Westward Ho building but this is not the beginning of the relationship. ASU nursing students currently provides residents with health services such as blood pressure checks, nutritional help, and disease prevention programs. The expanded facility will also give residents access to counseling, referral services, community assistance as well as educational and cultural enrichment opportunities. The clinic will provide hands-on experience and professional development training for students majoring in social work, nutrition, therapeutic recreation, and nursing.
“We could not be more excited about this unique opportunity to put the design imperatives of Arizona State University and our College into practice. An integral part of our mission is to fuse research, service and learning. This innovative partnership does exactly that; And the Westward Ho initiative exemplifies our dedication to developing collaborative solutions in our community,” said Jonathan Koppell, dean of the College of Public Service and Community Solutions.
“Establishing an ASU presence within this historic landmark of our community is the embodiment of our university’s commitment to community embeddeness”, said Dr. Michael S. Shafer, professor of Social Work and director of the ASU Center for Applied Behavioral Health Policy in the College of Public Service and Community Solutions.
The 16-story Westward Ho is a historically significant building. It opened as a hotel in 1928 with 600 elegant rooms. With the exception of one building in Long Beach, California, the hotel was the tallest reinforced concrete structure west of the Mississippi. Its famous Thunderbird Room was added in 1951. The 1,000-seat dinner theater was the site for many grand Phoenix society receptions. In 1979, the 600-room hotel was converted to affordable housing. Today, Westward Ho is a 289 unit ‘elderly preference’ affordable housing development within ¼ mile from a light rail station and close to downtown amenities.
“We are happy to have Arizona State University here providing health and social services, “ said Mildred Webb, an 84-year-old resident at Westward Ho. “They have helped me and others many times and now my life is better. I am very happy they are expanding.”
“It is great to have companies such as PAG-CDG investing in the community as they have done for over twenty years,” said Councilman Michael Nowakowski, District 7. “Top that with ASU’s Center for Applied Behavioral Health Policy running some of the most innovative social programs in the country, and we have a great one-of-a-kind neighborhood asset.” said Councilman Nowakowski.
In addition to renovating office space for the faculty, staff, and students that work at the Center for Applied Behavioral Health Policy, Westward Ho plans to repair and upgrade various building components including central plant mechanical and plumbing system repairs and replacement of select in-unit features.
“The lease represents the culmination of years of discussions with ASU and will be a true community asset, not only to the residents of Westward Ho, but also the general public,” said John Bentz of PAG-CDG. “Having ASU expand North of Fillmore Street for the first time will help activate this area of Central Avenue and improve its walkablilty. This is a great example of a public-private initiative between multiple organizations coming together to create a unique and special community asset.”
The clinic is scheduled to open in the third quarter of 2015.
Squire Patton Boggs Phoenix partner Frank M. Placenti, along with a group of the leading corporate governance lawyers from the US and Canada, have founded the American College of Governance Counsel. The College is a professional, educational and honorary association of lawyers widely-recognized for their achievements in the field of governance. Mr. Placenti serves as the inaugural President and as a Trustee of the College.
Through its programs, the College will address the major governance issues facing business enterprises including developing challenges to traditional models of governance, risk management, shareholder engagement, and an increasingly complex regulatory and enforcement environment. Membership is extended by invitation only to lawyers who have practiced law for a minimum of 15 years, 10 of which must have been in the field of corporate governance. Additionally, the Board of Trustees has elected an inaugural class of 36 Fellow to join the 14 founding Fellows and has also admitted 9 Honorary Fellows. A complete list of the founders and Fellows can be viewed on the College’s website.
With more than 30 years’ experience in corporate governance and M&A issues, Mr. Placenti is no stranger to the boardroom, both as an advisor to some of Arizona’s largest public companies and as a member of numerous public and private company and non-profit boards of directors. He has also had leading roles in advising boards throughout the country and in Asia in connection with governance matters.
In addition to his leadership role in the College, Mr. Placenti currently serves as a Vice Chair of the Corporate Governance Committee of the American Bar Association and as Lead Director for a private company based in Charlotte, North Carolina.
Mr. Placenti has had leadership roles in several non-profit organizations within the Phoenix community. He formerly served as the chair of the Board of Directors of the Boys and Girls Clubs of Metropolitan Phoenix, Chair of the Metropolitan Phoenix Chamber of Commerce, Chair of the Phoenix Children’s Hospital Foundation and as a member of that hospital’s Board of Directors. He currently serves as a member of the Board of the UTI Foundation.
Squire Patton Boggs Chair and Global CEO Mark J. Ruehlmann stated: “We are proud to see Frank take his place among America’s leading corporate governance lawyers and are pleased that our firm could provide much of the administrative support for the launch of the College.”
“Frank is a constant creator. He has innovated numerous non-profit efforts in the Valley and is frequently called upon by his clients to design or redesign their board and governance structures,” added Lew Clark, managing partner of the Squire Patton Boggs Phoenix office.
Architectural Photography by Michael Baxter, Baxter Imaging LLC
The Phoenix industrial market continued to improve in the first quarter of the year, posting its lowest percentage vacancy (11.8%) since Q1 2008. In that 7-year time period, the Valley’s industrial inventory gained over 32 million SF of warehouse/distribution, manufacturing and flex space. The most recent seven quarters have yielded the most productive net absorption gains during this period as well. This all coincides with a strong return to market fundamentals and an improving U.S. economy.
Leasing activity has remained steady throughout the past seven years, but the activity level signals that there is quality product for lease throughout the Phoenix area. With all the available space, rental rates have yet to return to pre-recession levels, but have been gaining ground slowly each quarter.
Using available and inexpensive funding resources, built-to-suit and spec. projects have gained momentum in the market in which nearly 2.4 million SF of product is under construction. Over 2.8 million SF was delivered to market inventory this past quarter alone.
The entire industrial market has its bright spots in different areas. The Southeast Valley’s demand remains strong for data and call centers and manufacturing facilities, while the Southwest Valley continues as the center for large distribution buildings. Multi-tenant distribution and warehouse projects are currently in high demand for medium-sized space. Chandler and the Sky Harbor Airport area remain the strongest areas for new multi-tenant building activity.
The Valley’s industrial market closed Q1 2015 with a vacancy rate of 11.8%, 20-basis points lower compared to last quarter. Net absorption landed at 1,337,703 SF. The Southwest and Southeast Valley combined for nearly 1 million SF of that total.
Overall asking rental rates saw a minor drop of -0.4% which does not seem to be an indicator of any specific trend. Leasing activity was generally lower but within historical norms and quarterly fluctuations.
In the largest lease transaction of the first quarter, Tuesday Morning leased 593,600 SF at Liberty Logistics Center, 563 S. 63rd Ave. in Phoenix. The company is expected to move into the vacant facility by September of this year. The facility will be used as a Western U.S. distribution center for the discount retailer.
The largest sale transaction for the quarter was the $10.2 million sale of 651 N. 101st Ave. in Avondale. The 73,050 SF general industrial building was bought by Cummins Rocky Mountain and sold by Granco Enterprises. Price per SF was calculated at $139.63.
Employees ofPhoenix-basedMesa Airlinescelebrated the arrival of the company’s 100th regional jet at its Phoenix hangar. The 76-seat E175, new from the Embraer factory in Brazil, was greeted by hundreds of Mesa employees, who enjoyed lunch and tours of the new aircraft.
“Taking delivery of our 100th jet is truly a great moment for our company,” said Chairman and CEO Jonathan Ornstein. “I would like to thank all of our dedicated employees, our longtime partners at American and United, and my friends and co-workers, including President Mike Lotz, COO Paul Foley, and EVP and Captain Mike Ferverda, among many others. We have a lot to be thankful for, and I truly believe there has never been a better time for Mesa Airlines.”
Mesa Airlines is currently the fastest growing airline in the country, with long-term partnership agreements with American Airlines and United Airlines. Mesa operates under the American Eagle and US Airways Express brands from hubs in Phoenix and Dallas/Fort Worth and as United Express from Washington Dulles and Houston George Bush Intercontinental Airport. Mesa’s previously announced aircraft deliveries will bring the fleet total to 115 by the end of 2015. The company is hiring all positions, including pilots, flight attendants and mechanics in locations across the country including Phoenix, Dallas/Fort Worth, Washington Dulles, Houston and El Paso.
“Our continued success goes back to the principles established by our founders Janie and Larry Risley back in 1982 in Farmington, New Mexico,” said Ornstein. “We do our best each day to provide outstanding customer service to our passengers, opportunities and job security for our employees, and industry-leading performance and efficiency for our airline partners.”
Mesa currently operates 78 Bombardier regional jets and recently announced the purchase of seven factory-new Bombardier CRJ900 NextGEN aircraft it will operate for American. In addition, Mesa currently operates 22 Embraer E175s for United, with eight more entering service this year.
GPE Commercial Advisors, one of the oldest privately owned commercial real estate firms in Arizona, secured the sale of a 9,816 SF one-story school located at 812 South 6th Avenue in Phoenix. The building sold for $615,000.
Executive Vice President, Nicholas A. Pelusio, and Senior Vice President, Kevin Helland represented the seller, Marie Maros Siblings, LLC. Benson Sainsbury with InSite Educational Facilities represented the buyer, Vista College Preparatory, Inc.
Vista College Preparatory has been in the building since 2013 and purchased the building in order to expand the school. Vista College Prep is a free charter school with a longer school day (7:40 am – 4:00 pm), small class sizes, and teachers who firmly believe that all students can achieve academic success if they have access to a high quality education.
Enchilada cravers, soup sippers and salad munchers can rejoice. The new summer-ready menu at Gadzooks Enchiladas & Soup is ready to serve.
Fork up some fun and spoon up some spicy new flavors at Gadzooks Enchiladas & Soup, where they offer way more than just their signature build-your-own enchiladas. Did you know that Gadzooks also serves up build-your-own street tacos and house-made soups? Not to mention fresh-baked desserts, handmade margaritas and a special Sunday brunch menu featuring enchiladas topped with brunch-only ingredients such as a jalapeno potato hash or eggs any-style?
Plus, perfect for summer, every Gadzooks enchilada combination is also available as a salad. Simply order all of your favorite filling and fixings, and then watch as they are flame-fired in the 575-oven, and then fresh-chopped and dressed to order alongside a bed of leafy romaine lettuce. And putting the soup in Gadzooks Enchiladas & Soup, chef/owner Aaron Pool recently rolled out an all-new spicy potato and corn chowder. And although this new soup is vegetarian, it doesn’t have to stay that way, says Pool. “It works just like our tortilla soup, where you add any of our filling and toppings to the soup ‘base.’ I highly recommend adding the guajillo braised short ribs, salsa verde, pico salsa, and jalapeño ranch sauce to it.”
CBRE has negotiated the following multi-family sales transaction(s):
· Trinity Apartments, LLLP from Vancouver, B.C. Canada has purchased the 38th Street Apartments, a 14-unit multi-family property located at 3234 North 38th Street in Phoenix, Arizona from 3234 N 38th Street, LLC of Mesa, Arizona. Brian Smuckler and Jeff Seaman of CBRE’s Phoenix office represented both buyer and the seller in negotiating the $860,000 transaction.
The Home Furnishing & Design Show will debut March 28-29, 2015, at WestWorld of Scottsdale.
Rebuilding Together and a team of Wells Fargo volunteers will formally kick off the Healthy Housing Challenge on April 25, 2015 by completing critical repairs to make a home in North Central Phoenix dramatically healthier and safer. Repairs will include: painting and landscaping the home’s exterior, new windows, siding and fascia and will be funded, in part, by a $15,000 grant from the Wells Fargo Housing Foundation along with a commitment of 60 team member volunteer hours.
Rebuilding Together is one of 32 local organizations across the country that is leading the Healthy Housing Challenge, which is a joint project of the National Center for Healthy Housing (NCHH) and Rebuilding Together. The Healthy Housing Challenge provides tools, training and additional funds to help Rebuilding Together affiliates make free critical repairs to correct health and safety hazards in the homes of low-income families, seniors, veterans and persons with disabilities.
Nationwide, an estimated 30 million homes pose potential health threats, which contribute to asthma and other respiratory diseases, carbon monoxide poisoning, lung cancer, falls, and burns, which add billions to national health care costs. Many such hazards can be corrected through relatively simple, low-cost repairs, such as repairing roofs and gutters, removing old carpeting, clearing clogged clothes dryer vents, adding ventilation, installing grab bars and handrails, and sealing gaps and cracks to keep out pests.
Making Homes Healthier and Safer
“Wells Fargo is proud to support Rebuilding Together and help to kick off the National Housing Challenge,” said Pam Conboy, lead region president for Wells Fargo Arizona. “Our team members are passionate about giving back and we know that these small measures, together, will make a huge difference to housing in Phoenix and to the well-being of those who live here.”
Since 2013, Wells Fargo has committed $959,000 to the Healthy Housing Challenge, helping to build the capacity of 40 Rebuilding Together affiliates in communities across the country.
Rebuilding Together affiliates in 11 other communities are making expanded health and safety repairs through Healthy Housing Challenge projects this spring: Austin, TX; Bergen County, NJ; Houston, TX; Las Vegas, NV; Montgomery County, MD; Portland, OR; Rohnert Park/Cotati, CA; Saratoga County, NY; Santa Rosa, CA; Silicon Valley, CA; and Tri-Cities, VA.
“We hope that by participating in the Healthy Housing Challenge, Rebuilding Together affiliates will have a ripple effect in their communities. The public deserves to know about dangers in the home and the simple steps they can take to protect themselves,” said Dennis Flynn, Executive Director, Rebuilding Together Valley of the Sun. “When we work together in applying the principles of healthy homes, simple repairs can make every home safer and healthier.”