Tag Archives: phoenix

From left: SPIKE, Arizona Super Bowl Host Committee mascot; Councilman Bill Gates, City of Phoenix; Councilman Michael Nowakowski, City of Phoenix; Jim Hughes, First Solar, Inc. CEO; and David Rousseau, Chairman, Arizona Super Bowl Host Committee.

Super-sized Super Bowl countdown clock unveiled

To build on the growing momentum and anticipation of Super Bowl XLIX the Arizona Super Bowl Host Committee and First Solar, Inc. unveiled the First Solar Countdown Clock in downtown Phoenix this morning. Over the next 60 days, the technologically advanced clock will provide the countdown to kick-off and keep fans “in the know” about events and activities coming up on the free, 12-city block fan campus known as Super Bowl Central.

The super-sized timepiece stands 13 feet tall, is made of aluminum and steel, and illuminated by more than 200 feet of LED lights. The First Solar Countdown Clock will display updated video content and a countdown to the kickoff of Super Bowl XLIX. It features three, 55 inch ultra-bright LED displays and nine First Solar panels, which were manufactured at the company’s US production facility outside of Toledo, Ohio.

“The First Solar Countdown Clock is the second exciting addition to Super Bowl Central, the epicenter of fan activity in Downtown Phoenix, and made possible by First Solar taking a strong local leadership role,” said Jay Parry, President and CEO of the Arizona Super Bowl Host Committee.

First Solar is also a partner of the Host Committee’s volunteerprogram. With the support of its employees, it is currently the largest single corporate volunteer group for the Arizona Super Bowl Host Committee.

”Our association with the Arizona Super Bowl Host Committee demonstrates First Solar’s commitment to our home town,” said Jim Hughes CEO of First Solar. “Our associates are proudly participating in a variety of volunteer community service programs.”

The First Solar Countdown Clock is located on the northeast corner of Jefferson and 1st Street, which will be the heart of Super Bowl Central. The free, football-themed, pedestrian and family friendly fan campus will feature a multitude of daily activities such as outdoor performances by local musicians and national recording artists, an autograph stage, the iconic Super Bowl XLIX Roman Numerals and a beer garden. It will run from Wednesday, January 28 through Sunday, February 1, 2015.

In November, the Host Committee unveiled the first Super Bowl Central attraction on the corner of Central and Washington. The super-sized football towers more than 20 feet high, measures more than 32 feet around and weighs more than 7,000 pounds. Fans are encouraged to visit both monuments, take selfies, share them on social media using #sb49 and make their own Super Bowl XLIX memories.

US Airways 11_10_14

US Airways Center will now be Talking Stick Resort Arena

The Phoenix Suns, Phoenix Mercury and Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community announced today that US Airways Center — the home of the Phoenix Suns, Phoenix Mercury and Arizona Rattlers, as well as the Valley’s premier concert venue – is poised to take on a new name, Talking Stick Resort Arena, under an agreement reached between the two parties.

“Like Talking Stick Resort, this venue has become an iconic destination for entertainment in Arizona,” said President Diane Enos of the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community, the owner and operator of Talking Stick Resort. “Thousands of families and individuals have created long-lasting memories at this venue which makes its new name, ‘Talking Stick Resort Arena,’ all the more meaningful. We have a shared commitment with the Phoenix Suns in building a sense of community in the Valley and we are honored to help them provide a place for so many people to gather and celebrate.”

The naming rights agreement for the downtown venue is a multi-year deal that builds substantially on the existing agreement between the two parties. The name change will be visible throughout the facility, with Talking Stick Resort Arena being prominent on the exterior of the building; on the underbelly of the center hung scoreboard; on the arena’s rooftop; and featured on the Suns and Mercury basketball courts. The Casino Arizona Pavilion – the arena’s main lobby area – will retain its name. Additional details on the provisions of the naming rights agreement will be released as the transition begins.

“We could not be more excited about our expanded relationship with Talking Stick Resort,” said Phoenix Suns President Jason Rowley. “Talking Stick Resort and Casino Arizona has been a trusted and valued partner of the Phoenix Suns for many years. This naming rights agreement brings our partnership to a new level and will have an astral impact on the visibility of their support for the Phoenix Suns, Phoenix Mercury and the entire community.”

“This is an exciting day for Phoenix, and another example of what an incredible partner the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community is for all of us,” said City of Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton. “We welcome the new name and look forward to the day when a Suns championship banner hangs from the rafters at Talking Stick Resort Arena.”

American Airlines, the current naming rights partner and owner of US Airways, has fulfilled all of its obligations and elected not to extend its naming rights agreement beyond the 2014-15 season. The facility’s naming transition to Talking Stick Resort Arena, from US Airways Center, is expected to be completed before the beginning of the 2015-16 Phoenix Suns season.

US Airways Center, which opened in 1992, has earned a reputation for excellence, having received a prestigious Prime Site Award from Facilities & Event Magazine as well as a Top 30 ranking for North American Arenas from Pollstar. It hosts an average of 130 events each year with a collective annual audience of one million people. Not only is the arena the home of the Phoenix Suns, but also the three-time WNBA world champion Phoenix Mercury. It is also the home field for five-time arena football world champions, the Arizona Rattlers.

In the past year, the arena has welcomed blockbuster acts such as Paul McCartney and Lady Gaga, adding to its long list of legendary performances from U2, George Strait and Garth Brooks as well as many others. Upcoming events include the UFC’s first-ever visit to Arizona in December, Fleetwood Mac, Eric Church with Dwight Yoakam, Enrique Iglesias & Pitbull, and Bette Midler. The arena also is known for its family content and is the host site each year for Disney on Ice, Marvel Adventure and Ringling Brothers and Barnum and Bailey Circus.

The Phoenix Suns operate and manage all aspects of US Airways Center under a long term agreement with the City of Phoenix, which owns the facility.

Talking Stick Resort is a AAA Four Diamond Rated Resort and a central landmark within the emerging Talking Stick Cultural and Entertainment Destination. Talking Stick Resort is locally owned and proudly operated by the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community. The 240,000 sq. ft. property offers culturally rich experiences and luxury accommodations throughout its 496 deluxe guest rooms, 11 restaurants and lounges, world-class spa, 650-seat showroom, 25,000 sq. ft. grand ballroom, thriving cultural center and more than 100,000 sq. ft. of indoor and outdoor meeting space.

As co-founder and CEO of SEED SPOT, Courtney Klein has created a culture and environment that is unique and empowering for entrepreneurs in the Phoenix community. Photo by Robin Sendele, AZ Big Media

Klein creates Seed Spot to help innovators blossom

Entrepreneurs move fast in all directions and for Courtney Klein, it’s no different. From presenting to boards to attending festivals to competing in triathlons to being a full-time CEO, Klein is entrepreneurial in all facets of life.

A few years ago, Klein was spending endless nights and weekends at local coffee shops talking to college students about how to launch businesses until it dawned on her, “Why am I not doing this full time?”

Now she runs the No. 1 incubator for social entrepreneurs in Arizona as the CEO and co-founder of SEED SPOT. Klein and company will show off a little bit of what they do during Demo Day at 6 p.m. on Dec. 9 at the Herberger Theatre.

At SEED SPOT, things operate differently than a typical 9-5 job. Interns don’t make coffee runs or get saddled with menial tasks — they sit side-by-side with the CEO. What Klein has built at SEED SPOT goes far beyond a success story. She has built a community centered on making an impact.

“I love working with entrepreneurs and supporting them from the idea stage of just a concept all the way to demo day when they validate everything about their company,” she said.
Born in Mesa and raised by a mother with extremely high expectations, Klein was destined to do something big, but she didn’t always think it would be with nonprofits.

In her first year at Arizona State University, Klein attended the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication as a broadcast journalism student with dreams of being the next Katie Couric.

Things changed after an international volunteer program sparked an interest in starting a nonprofit. Her college advisor laughed and said many students have this dream, but few actually achieve it.

Despite the discouraging advice, Klein switched her major to nonprofit leadership and management and earned $1,000 in seed money from ASU that she used to launch Youth Reaction Corps, which empowered students to solve problems they saw in the world. Klein helped grow the organization, now New Global Citizens, into a sustainable nonprofit that reaches more than 14 states and 33 countries.

After leaving New Global Citizens, Klein took a position as the director of strategic planning and development for GPEC before co-founding SEED SPOT in 2012. The accelerator program takes ventures through the process of starting a company from providing access to capital opportunities to creating a personalized business plan.

“I realized how critical it was to have a network of people that believed in me and championed my ideas, so I looked for a way to connect other entrepreneurs, mentors, peers, community advisors and people who could really help each other,” Klein said.


LaneTerralever Wins Best in Class Award at 2014 IMA’s

Phoenix-based LaneTerralever is the recipient of the 2014 Interactive Media Awards (IMA) Best in Class for its All In website design and development.

IMA is a competition designed to elevate the standards of excellence on the Internet, and is presented by the non-profit organization, Interactive Media Council, Inc. (IMC). IMC is a group of industry leaders made up of web designers, developers, programmers, advertisers and other web-related professionals.

“Its an honor to be recognized for the second consecutive year with a Best In Class Interactive Media Award,” said Chris Johnson, president of LaneTerralever. “Such a prestigious award is a testament to the caliber of work our agency produces in partnership with amazing clients like All In.”

All In Magazine, The World’s Leading Poker Magazine, sought out LaneTerralever to build an innovative, responsive and content driven website that appeals to its global poker community. All In was the first entity to sponsor the World Series of Poker in 2004, and shortly after with the explosion of online poker, All In became a household name. With the development of the dotcom, All In has become the world’s fastest growing poker media house that provides direct access to online gaming action and luxury lifestyle.

LaneTerralever developed the high quality and innovative website in a two-phase operation over twelve, two week sprints. The completed website offers a user experience that effectively portrays the reemergence of the poker industry. The website is easy to navigate, offers a responsive design which adapts to varying screen sizes with seamless transition from desktop to mobile devices, and showcases All In’s full capacity including; poker tournaments, trends, tips, news, interactive gaming and big events.

Promoting Smart Growth in Down Economy

Super Bowl Host Committee announces CEO Forum

Today the Arizona Super Bowl Host Committee formally announces the CEO Forum, a cornerstone program that will directly foster Arizona economic growth. The CEO Forum will welcome more than fifty (50) business executives from around the world to participate in a premier policy discussion about opportunities and challenges that will shape our future communities and businesses. The program will take place the weekend of Super Bowl XLIX in Phoenix and highlight the unique opportunities and positive business climate in Arizona.

“We want to introduce corporate decision-makers to Arizona and show them what our state has to offer. Arizona is pro-business and there’s a great workforce here. Our goal is simple, to encourage participants to move or integrate business operations to Arizona,” said David Rousseau chairman of the Arizona Super Bowl Host Committee. “We want to plant the seeds during Super Bowl XLIX and see Arizona business grow in the future.”

Super Bowl XLIX will serve as a tremendous catalyst to boost the Arizona business environment. The game and surrounding events and activities are expected to draw more than 100,000 visitors, which will ideally foster future business relocations and expansions in Arizona as well as continuing strong tourism.

The Arizona Commerce Authority is leading Arizona’s various economic development organizations in a collaborative effort to identify a diverse group of companies to participate in the CEO Forum, from Fortune 500 corporations to emerging, high-growth businesses. The Host Committee has engaged with several presenting sponsors that are heavily invested in supporting Arizona growth to create a world-class program that capitalizes on the interest and prominence of the Super Bowl, including Apollo Education Group, First Solar, Inc. and National Bank of Arizona (NB|AZ).

A pillar of the CEO Forum will be the CEO Leadership Huddle, a multi-panel policy forum being conducted in partnership with The McCain Institute for International Leadership. The panels will focus on a range of topics with the common theme of global leadership and will be highlighted by discussions between prominent business leaders, international politicians and philanthropic visionaries. In addition, the CEO Forum will include many opportunities for attending CEOs to engage with Host Committee sponsors, Arizona’s business leaders, elected officials and other advocates. Additional program and panel details will be announced in January 2015.

The CEO Forum is unique to the Arizona Super Bowl Host Committee and was started in 2008 with Super Bowl XLII. The program brought more than 20 CEOs to Arizona for Super Bowl weekend and resulted in more than 1,000 jobs and over $400 million invested in the state.

One of the participants in the 2008 CEO Forum was Dr. Patrick Soon-Shiong, who led a sizeable business investment in Arizona after participating in the program. Dr. Soon-Shiong recently joined the Arizona Super Bowl Host Committee Board of Directors and continues to be an advocate for investment in Arizona. He also will play a key role in the CEO Forum curriculum.

Staying Innovative as a One Man Operation

Arizona businesses win Spirit of Enterprise Awards

We all win when local companies grow, create jobs and help boost our still-recovering economy. Today, several of the state’s best businesses were honored for their positive role in our communities. They’re the winners of the 18th annual Spirit of Enterprise Awards from the W. P. Carey School of Business at Arizona State University.

“We enjoy recognizing locally owned companies that introduce innovation, empower employees, impress customers, and make a real difference in Arizona,” says Sidnee Peck, director of the Center for Entrepreneurship at the W. P. Carey School of Business. “This year’s Spirit of Enterprise Award winners are in a variety of industries, and they all meet a market need and have a great impact on the Valley.”

Hundreds of business and community leaders attended today’s awards luncheon at the JW Marriott Desert Ridge Resort & Spa in Phoenix, where the winners were announced. The finalists’ impressive stories were shown on video, as the firms were lauded for ethics, energy and excellence in entrepreneurship.

The 2014 Spirit of Enterprise Award winners are:

• Ersland Touch Landscape – Overcoming Adversity Award. This state-of-the-art landscape maintenance company started as a one-man, one-mower operation run out of a garage. After 30 years in business, it now has a complete customer “feedback log,” an Adopt a Highway commitment, work with nonprofits, and more than 400 residences and 20 homeowner associations as clients.

• IO – Emerging Enterprise Award. This growing firm is focused on rethinking data-center technology, using software solutions, instead of just physical locations. It has more than 650 global clients, including Goldman Sachs and LexisNexis, as well as two patents and an emphasis on energy efficiency.

• I-ology – Gary L. Trujillo Minority Enterprise Award sponsored by Blue Cross Blue Shield of Arizona. This woman-owned technology company offers Web design and related services. It features close client relationships, heavy community involvement, and no management hierarchy, offering all employees a chance to participate in revenue sharing, stock options, flexible schedules and industry events.

• Kitchell – The Hahnco Companies Special Achievement in Entrepreneurship Award. This 100-percent employee-owned commercial builder, developer and program manager launched 65 years ago. It now has more than 850 employees, international operations, an internal leadership program, significant charitable contributions, and a focus on enabling employee-driven innovation.

• Melrose Pharmacy – Innovation in Entrepreneurship Award. This independent pharmacy offers fast, highly personalized service; utilizes cutting-edge equipment; and supports charities like the March of Dimes and local community issues. It has also achieved a 119-percent increase in net income already for this year.

The other Spirit of Enterprise finalists this year were Clean Air Cab, Endless Entertainment, India Plaza/The Dhaba, The James Agency and Potter’s House Apothecary.

Also this year, the Spirit of Enterprise Student Entrepreneur Award went to Anthony Gonzales, a recent W. P. Carey School of Business MBA graduate. Gonzales is a finalist in Entrepreneur magazine’s College Entrepreneur of the Year competition with his grant-winning, ongoing development of FITGuard, a mouthguard designed to indicate levels of head impact for athletes, as well as a smartphone application that can provide data to a diagnosing physician.

The event also included its first-ever National Founder of the Year award. The honoree is Sam Calagione, founder and president of Delaware-based Dogfish Head Brewery. Calagione’s family-owned business started small and grew about 400 percent in just four years. He still experiments with new products, works creatively with other breweries and food companies, and has written books about his experiences as an entrepreneur.

The Spirit of Enterprise Awards are just one focus of the Center for Entrepreneurship, which helps hundreds of businesses each year. The center offers companies the chance to recruit and meet with top student talent, while also allowing students to get hands-on business-creation experience. The center recently introduced the Sun Devil Select competition to honor ASU alum-owned or alum-led businesses. The center is also self-funded and utilizes community sponsorships to sustain its activities. For more information, visit wpcarey.asu.edu/entrepreneurship.

Blue Hound Kitchen & Cocktails' Prime Flat Iron Steak, served with whipped potatoes, crispy frites and a garlic cherry glaze.

Blue Hound’s new menu is a culinary masterpiece

Blue Hound Kitchen & Cocktails Executive Chef Sean Currid's Deviled Fried Oysters.

Blue Hound Kitchen & Cocktails Executive Chef Sean Currid’s Deviled Fried Oysters.

If you really want to give yourself a gift this holiday season, check out the new menu at Blue Hound Kitchen & Cocktails at Hotel Palomar Phoenix.

Newly appointed Executive Chef Sean Currid, who joined the restaurant in September, has created a new winter dinner menu and the results are a culinary masterpiece like you’ve never experienced.

Currid came to Blue Hound from Elements at Sanctuary Resort & Spa, where he served as executive catering chef. He has also worked at Michael’s at the Citadel, Mary Elaine’s at The Phoenician and Cafe ZuZu at The Hotel Valley Ho.

But Currid’s new winter menu at Blue Hound distinguishes him as perhaps the Valley’s best chef.

While Currid has kept some old favorites — charred pork belly sliders, Hickman’s Farm deviled eggs, short ribs — on the menu, he has added some new additions that should not be missed.

During a recent visit, these are the dishes we sampled that will keep us going back time after time:

• Currid’s Deviled Fried Oysters are served with grits, Meyer lemon and pickled shallots. They come in servings of two or four, but if they came by the gross, we’d have ordered a gross. That’s how incredible the dish tastes. The oysters are breaded are cooked to a perfect crisp. Currid’s decision to serve them over the best grits you will ever taste is a stroke of genius. This goes down as this writer’s favorite appetizer in all of Phoenix. No contest.
• Currid’s Prime Flat Iron Steak is served with whipped potatoes and crispy frites, but his garlic cherry glaze is what what took this dish from “Wow!” to “Holy cow!” because each bite was a religious experience. If you can imagine a piece of steak that is exquisitely cooked, with a cherry glaze that complements it so perfectly that it melts in your mouth like cotton candy, you might be able to imagine the deliciousness of Blue Hound’s Prime Flat Iron Steak.

Some of Currid’s personal favorites, and we cannot disagree, are:

• Hamachi: Ginger, pomegranate, pickled fresno peppers, extra virgin olive oil.
• Corvina Sea Bass: White beans, kale, clams, smoked bacon.
• Prime Flat Iron Steak: Whipped potatoes, crispy frites, garlic cherry glaze.
• Kale Salad: Pomegranate, pine nuts, shaved apple, parmesan.
Roasted Beet Salad: Medjool dates, arugula, clementine.

Do yourself a favor and check out Blue Hound’s new menu before the college football bowl crowds and Super Bowl crowds descend on the Valley and realize we have a dining diamond at Hotel Palomar Phoenix and make it more difficult to get a table.

And I didn’t even mention the Foodist Award-winning mixologists who create signature drinks that are out of the world and the S’more in a cup that was served as dessert.

Does it get any better than a S’more in a cup? Currid’s Deviled Fried Oysters might give it a run for its money.


DISH Network plans to hire 150 in Phoenix

DISH is now hiring 150 customer service representatives at its Customer Care Center in Phoenix. This is a great opportunity for recent graduates as well as those with solid work experience to advance their careers. Job seekers are invited to learn about the company and our open career opportunities at our open house.

WHO: DISH Network Corporation, through its subsidiaries, provides approximately 14.041 million pay-TV subscribers, with the highest quality programming and technology with the most choices at the best value.

WHEN: Thursday, December 3, 2014; 11:00am – 6:00pm

WHERE: DISH Customer Service Center, 4811 E. Thistle Landing Dr., Suite 105, Phoenix, AZ 85044

WHY: DISH is an exciting, fast-paced work environment that offers individual career paths and exceptional career growth potential with a world-class organization. DISH offers competitive wages plus significant bonus potential for customer service representatives, along with full benefits including, but not limited, to medical, dental, vision, 401(k), tuition reimbursement and free DISH television service.

HOW: Click here to browse available positions and complete an application.

Ryan and Randy Coffin, Coffin & Trout

‘Phoenix-inspired’ pendant sells for $33K

February will be a busy month of celebration for many Arizonans, with Valentine’s Day, the Super Bowl and Arizona’s 102nd birthday.

While most people may not be aware of the latter, a fine jewelry store in Chandler gave Arizona, or, more accurately, one lucky buyer, the most rare and exquisite birthday present.

Coffin & Trout Fine Jewelers handcrafted a pendant titled “The Phoenix” to commemorate Arizona’s growth just in time for the state’s birth month ― and Valentine’s Day.

“I think it’s a celebration of Arizona’s birthday. It’s just an inspiration that covets the city’s namesake, which is a city that certainly has been reborn many times before. I was born and raised her in 1956 and so obviously the change that I’ve seen here in the Valley has been tremendous and in my estimation, all very good change,” President of Coffin & Trout Randy Coffin said.

The Phoenix pendant, designed by Coffin & Trout Fine Jewelers

The Phoenix pendant, designed by Coffin & Trout Fine Jewelers

The center gemstone, a bi-color topaz, was the inspiration behind the pendant.

“When I saw this particular gemstone, which is basically an imperial by-color topaz, my mind pretty quickly formed an image of what I wanted it to be, which was somewhat of a representation of the Phoenix bird, the bird of fire. So we called it the Phoenix,” Coffin said.

The rarity of the gemstone and the unique aspect of Arizona seemed to make the perfect combination for a pendant.

“The other thing that’s so unique about the piece of course is the rarity of that particular gemstone. It’s quite rare. It comes from only one place in Brazil and it’s found out of a particular mine,” Coffin said.
Not only does the pendant contain the 5.74ct bi-color topaz set in platinum, but it also has a pear shaped garnet and tourmaline accented with 18 karat rose and yellow gold and diamonds. Every detail in the pendant is symbolic.

“You have the fiery red and orange topaz, which is representing the Phoenix itself. As soon as I saw that flaming reddish pink tip in the stone, I instantly thought of flames, which led me back to this bird. Then of course the wings, the shimmering diamonds reaching up into the pearl shaped garnet, which is the orange stone, you see on the secondary stone. Then the top is the tourmaline turquoise, which kind of represents the color of the summer sun here, the sun setting,” Coffin said.

The pendant is part of Coffin & Trout’s Masterpiece Collection of mostly one-of-a kind pieces. To no surprise, “The Phoenix” pendant already sold for an estimate of $33,500.

“There is only one and very likely will only be one,” Coffin said.

T. Cook's Interior

Thanksgiving menu offered at T. Cook’s at Royal Palms

This Thanksgiving, leave the cooking to T. Cook’s, the renowned restaurant at Royal Palms Resort and Spa, A Destination Hotel, and enjoy two dining opportunities with a buffet or specialty menu from Chef Paul McCabe.

Guests of T. Cook’s have the opportunity to choose from a prix-fixe menu or holiday buffet featuring Carved Free-Range Turkey and other Thanksgiving dishes. Details include…

Thanksgiving Dinner Menu at T. Cook’s

Thursday, November 27, 2014
Available from 10:30am to 8:00pm

Prix-fixe menu with your choice of three courses including Carved Free-Range Turkey, Crispy Duck Confit, Loch Duart Salmon, Bourbon Pecan and Dates dessert and more.
$80 per person, $29 for children ages 6-12 years old, gratis 5 years or younger. Does not include tax or gratuity. Reservations are required.

Thanksgiving Palmera Holiday Buffet
Thursday, November 27, 2014, Available from 11:00am to 4:00pm

Specialty Holiday Buffet with carving stations will include Roasted Beet Salad, Carved Free-Range Turkey, Tahitian Squash Soup, Carved Herb Crusted NY Strip, Organic Apple Galettes and more. $65 per person, $20 for children ages 6-12 years old, gratis 5 years or younger. Does not include tax or gratuity. Reservations are required.

To book a reservation, click here or call 602-808-0766.


CitySkate is back! Ice rink opens Saturday

For the fifth year in a row, close to 100,000 holiday revelers will descend on CityScape Phoenix to take part in the 10 weeks of CitySkate, the largest and only real outdoor ice rink in the Valley that is bigger than ever and dramatically placed in the center of Central Avenue.

The ice rink this year has been significantly upgraded to a 30 percent larger rink than last year with 5,442 square-feet of real ice, a Christmas tree placed in the center of the rink and hundreds of thousands of twinkling lights. Also new this year is a complimentary photo booth for skaters to capture their CitySkate memories.

The rink, presented by APS, will be open daily from Nov. 22 through Feb. 2 with special events happening many days of the week

The holidays will officially kick-off at CityScape Phoenix with a tree lighting ceremony and fun for the whole family on Nov. 29.

For those looking to extend their holiday festivities, Kimpton’s Hotel Palomar Phoenix is offering a “Stay & Skate” package that includes beautifully appointed deluxe accommodations, 15 percent off the best available rate starting from $129 per night, two tickets to CitySkate and two custom Hotel Palomar branded beanies. Use rate code “Skate” when booking at http://www.hotelpalomar-phoenix.com or by calling 602-253-6633.

CitySkate at CityScape Phoenix
Nov. 22 through Feb. 2
Day Session: 11am – 1:30pm (Daily). Night Session: 4pm – 11pm (Sun.– Fri.), 4pm – Midnight (Sat.)
Kids and Adults – $12 each
Military, Kids Under 5, Seniors – $6 each
College Students (with valid student ID) and groups of 10 or more – $10 each
Ice rink rental is available for private parties and events. Contact (602) 772-3900.
Visit www.cityskatephx.com to purchase tickets and for a list of holiday hours and closures. Admission includes skate rental and unlimited skating all day.

City of Phoenix Holiday Kick-Off and Tree Lighting Ceremony
Saturday, Nov. 29
3pm – 11pm (Santa Claus arrives at 4pm, Tree Lighting at 6pm)
The holiday tree lighting ceremony begins at 6pm with Mayor Greg Stanton and his family lighting the tree. There will be “Frozen”-themed ice skating performances, sledding with real snow in Patriots Square, live music performances, photos with Santa and public ice skating following the tree lighting.

Skate with Howler from the Arizona Coyotes
Every Monday from 7-8pm
Beginning Nov. 24, join Howler from the Arizona Coyotes every Monday night!

Tuesday Theme Days
11/25: Red Nose Day. 12/2: White Christmas. 12/9: Elf Day. 12/16: Ugly Sweater Day. 12/23: Santa Skate (Bad Santa after 8pm).
Every Tuesday, guests are encouraged to dress up as part of that week’s theme for a chance to win prizes. To enter, just take a photo at the photo booth and a winner will be picked the following day. The first 100 skaters will receive fun giveaways based on the theme. Movies will be projected on the ice and soundtracks will be played while skaters circle the ice.

Learn to Skate with the Arizona Coyotes
Dec. 3, Dec. 7 and Jan. 21
5-6pm and 6-7pm
Skate lessons with Coyotes Hockey Development Team
Tickets are $12 and can be purchased online.

Adult Skate
Every Saturday from Nov. 22 through Jan. 31
9pm – midnight
DJs, games and prizes and Copper Blues selling hot chocolate and hot apple cider.

Photos with Santa
Saturday’s from Nov. 29 – Dec. 20
Nov. 29: 4:30 – 8pm
Dec. 6: 2 – 5pm
Dec. 13:  6 – 9pm
Dec. 20: 9am- noon

Skater Discounts from CityScape Tenants
All season long, skaters who visit CitySkate can show their wristband to receive a special discount at the following locations:
• 10 percent off your bill at LUSTRE Rooftop Garden, Blue Hound Kitchen & Cocktails, Copper Blues, Squid Ink Sushi.
• 20 percent off any service at V’s Barbershop.
• Free shoe rental when you bowl at Lucky Strike Lanes
• Free fountain beverage with the purchase of any pizza at Pizza Studio
• $3 glass of red or white wine and a free cookie with the purchase of a hot chocolate at The Corner

For more information about CityScape Phoenix’s CitySkate, visit www.cityskatephx.com or call 602-772-3900. Ample and convenient underground parking is available.

Staying Innovative as a One Man Operation

Phoenix Chamber seeks nominees for IMPACT Awards

The Greater Phoenix Chamber of Commerce (GPCC) seeks nominations for its 2015 IMPACT Awards, which honor the accomplishments of outstanding Valley businesses and the positive impact they’ve made on the Greater Phoenix business community.

Nominations — which can come from anyone in the community — are open from now until January 9, 2015, and can be submitted through the Chamber’s website. Two businesses — one with fewer than 250 employees and one with 250 or more employees — will be honored in each of the four categories:  Community Champion, Economic Driver, Entrepreneurial Excellence and Response to Adversity. An IMPACT Business of the Year will be selected from among the four category recipients in each business sector and will be announced at the 28th Annual IMPACT Awards Luncheon on May 13, 2015.

Since 1987, the Greater Phoenix Chamber of Commerce has recognized local companies that demonstrate superior levels of success while maintaining extensive community involvement, that excel entrepreneurially, that have survived tremendous adversity or that contribute to the Valley’s economic vitality. The GPCC encourages community members to nominate a deserving business — or even their own business — that has a strong footprint in the Valley that are deserving of special recognition.

“The Greater Phoenix Chamber of Commerce has celebrated some of the finest Valley businesses over the past 28 years and it is an honor to continue this great tradition,” said Todd Sanders, President and CEO, Greater Phoenix Chamber of Commerce. “We are proud to recognize the outstanding achievements of local companies who continue to innovate and set new standards that positively impact the greater Phoenix business community.”

For more information and to access the nomination form, please visit www.phoenixchamber.com/impact or contact Janelle Tassart at 602-495-6480 or jtassart@phoenixchamber.com.

Neurologist Victor Zach, MD demonstrates the telerobot he uses to coordinate care for stroke patients at John C. Lincoln Hospitals. The telerobot spans the miles between patient and specialist.

John C. Lincoln Recertified as Primary Stroke Center

John C. Lincoln Deer Valley Hospital in North Phoenix has been recertified as a Primary Stroke Center by DNV Healthcare, an international certifying agency approved by the US Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, according to hospital CEO John Harrington Jr.

“Deer Valley Hospital demonstrated that its stroke care program follows national standards and guidelines that can significantly improve outcomes for stroke patients,” said Chief Medical Officer Mary Ann Turley, DO, who led the stroke certification task force.

“We received only the highest marks when the surveyors visited from DNV and awarded John C. Lincoln Deer Valley Hospital recertification as a Primary Stroke Center,” Turley added. “I could not be more proud of our entire stroke certification team and hospital co-workers who all jumped at the opportunity to earn this recognition for our caregiving capability.”

Strokes are the third most prevalent cause of death, the leading cause of adult disability, and affect 700,000 Americans every year. A stroke occurs when blood flow to the brain is disrupted by a blood clot (ischemic) or by bleeding from a burst blood vessel (hemorrhagic), either of which impairs the brain’s ability to function, but which require opposite treatments.

“Because diagnosing the cause is key to ensuring appropriate and effective care, it’s important for patients and families to insist that EMS providers take them to a Primary Stroke Center, said Turley.” A Primary Stroke Center is where staff is trained not only to recognize symptoms of stroke, but more importantly, to correctly identify the cause,” she explained.

When people have strokes, time is of the essence. Rapid medical treatment – started less than three hours after onset of symptoms and completed within 45 minutes of the patient’s arrival at the hospital – can save many stroke patients from a lifetime of disability.

“Time loss equals brain loss,” said Turley. “When stroke symptoms begin, people should call 9-1-1 without delay.”


Squire Patton Boggs adds Raphael Avraham

Raphael AvrahamSquire Patton Boggs has welcomed Raphael Avraham to its Phoenix office.

Avraham previously worked for Snell & Wilmer handling corporate matters. Avraham’s practice at Squire Patton Boggs will be focused on representing both public and private companies in corporate transactions, including mergers and acquisitions, securities matters and managing corporate governance and compliance issues.

Avraham received his Juris Doctor from the University of Arizona, Master of Business Administration, from the University of Arizona, and his Bachelor of Arts from the University of California, Davis. Avraham is Chair of the Cardozo Society of Phoenix.

Marketing action plan

Fingerpaint acquires Valley’s Olson Communications

Fingerpaint, a strategic marketing agency headquartered in Saratoga Springs, today announced the acquisition of Phoenix-based Olson Communications, a 13-year-old firm known for its work in the film, entertainment, real estate and hospitality industries. The acquisition will add public relations, content marketing and promotions to Fingerpaint’s scope of services, while also expanding its footprint to the Southwest. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

“Two questions continue to come up in conversations with clients: When are we adding public relations, and when are we opening an office in the West?” said Ed Mitzen, Fingerpaint founder. “Acquiring Olson Communications answers both. They have a highly regarded reputation for leading companies in their space and can apply their know-how across all industries. We’re thrilled to have them join the Fingerpaint family.”

Olson’s team will offer additional strategic advantages for all Fingerpaint clients. Its Scottsdale office will be rebranded as Fingerpaint and will operate with all capabilities offered by the firm.

“Joining forces with Fingerpaint gives us more resources and a bigger reach for our clients,” said Michelle Olson, president of Olson Communications. “The team is excited to work on client initiatives that span the globe and provide clients one stop for a truly integrated approach to their marketing efforts. It is an exciting next step for me and my entire group.”


Recycling provides economic incentives for businesses

While first associated with environmentalism and the green movement, recycling can help turn a profit too. For some companies, using recycled materials may be the most economically viable option.

“There’s an increasing interest in buying recycled products,” said Will Herzog. “We’re always looking for local options, and I know that it’s an initiative that the city of Phoenix is looking to draw potential buyers of recycled materials to the market.”

Herzog is the director of marketing for ReCommunity, an organization that operates recycling facilities across the country, including in Phoenix.

According to Herzog, right now a majority of the materials processed in Phoenix and Arizona are exported out of state. That being said, between the two Phoenix recycling facilities ReCommunity operates, there is a high volume of recyclables processed.

“With the city of Phoenix, we handle all the city’s recyclables, and that works out to about 105,000 tons to 110,000 tons of recyclables per year,” Herzog said.

Any given inbound ton of recycled material can be worth about $100, not including operating costs. The materials consist of paper products, cardboard and cardboard-like materials, paper-cardboard combinations called fibers, metals, plastics and glass.

“Across the entire city of Phoenix program, we’re probably recovering between 70 and 80% of the stream,” Herzog said. “90% of the revenue generated goes directly back to the city.”

“Most of our buyers are major national and global manufacturers of products that we recycle,” Herzog said.

One of their buyers is Strategic Materials, which further processes recycled glass to be resold to manufactures.

Strategic Materials has a facility in downtown Phoenix where they take glass shipments from Phoenix transfer stations. These are then resold to manufacturers.

“We process glass,” said Strategic Materials Vice President Paul Faherty. “We basically take glass from recycling operations, clean it, color sort it, size it and sell it to people who make new bottles and fiber glass.”

Buyers vary from container manufacturers to general fiber manufacturers. At the small plant in Phoenix, glass from Phoenix and Tucson is processed and sold to companies primarily in California and Texas.

Faherty explained that for glass manufacturers, using recycled material have become the most economically sound approach to their operations.

“Recycled glass has a lower melt point than making virgin glass,” Faherty explained. “It’s an energy save. You’re burning less gas and getting the same amount of material.”

Burning at a lower temperature also reduces maintenance costs, making it more affordable to maintain a furnace. Additionally, because of emission caps, companies using recycled glass can produce more while staying under the emissions limit.

Although many manufacturers are using up to 80% recycled glass in their products, this does not happen as much locally.

“The problem with Phoenix is that nobody is making glass in Phoenix,” Faherty said. “It’s going to get shipped somewhere…that costs money. It does make the relative cost of shipping recycled glass higher…there’s an economic calculation these guys go through.”

Despite this, Faherty said that glass is one of the most widely reused materials.

Locally, many businesses will use recycled material both out of social responsibility and as a way to make the recyclable movement more viable.

The Arizona Diamondbacks, for example, are part of the Green Sports Alliance, an information sharing organization built to promote green venue operation.

Matthew Helmeid is the director of special projects and brand development for the Diamondbacks, and spoke to some of their efforts at Chase Field.

“If you walk through the ballpark, we’ve got over 200 recycling containers that are matched up with all our trash receptacles,” Helmeid said. “Everything they prepare for concessions…that they don’t sell, they freeze, and overnight, a local group, Church on the Street, comes to the ballpark…and then they distribute it to people in need.”

Helmeid said that they would love to begin composting at Chase Field, but Phoenix does not have the infrastructure for it. Until it becomes economically viable, some reuse projects have to wait.

VCU, Butler, UConn and Kentucky will play in Houston this weekend for the NCAA basketball Final Four. Winners continue to the National Championship game

Phoenix gets 2017 Final Four tournament

Let the March Madness begin.

The 2017 NCAA Final Four men’s basketball tournament will be played in Phoenix, it was announced Friday.

The Division I Men’s Basketball Committee announced Friday that Phoenix was among five cities selected from eight finalists to host the Final Four for the years 2017-2021. The Valley of the Sun will play host to the event at University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale in 2017, becoming the first western city selected since Seattle staged the Final Four in 1995.

Experts say the week-long event could generate more than $100 million in economic impact. Final Four games will be played April 1 and 3, 2017 at University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale. The 2015 Super Bowl and 2016 College Football Playoff championship game also will be played at the same venue.

Other cities chosen by the committee to host in future years include San Antonio in 2018, Minneapolis in 2019 and Atlanta in 2020. The committee elected to award the 2021 Final Four to Indianapolis, which as the home of the NCAA headquarters has a unique long-term contractual relationship that guarantees the Men’s Final Four will be held regularly in the city.


Wells Fargo gives $200K to Chicanos Por La Causa

Wells Fargo & Company announced it has donated $200,000 to Chicanos Por La Causa, Inc. (CPLC) through its 2014 Leading the Way Home® program Priority Markets Initiative to  help stabilize and revitalize neighborhoods impacted by the economy.   The Leading The Way Home® program Priority Markets Initiative provides grant support for neighborhood stabilization projects that are located in areas designated for revitalization to stimulate growth, stability and investment in distressed areas.  This grant was part of a $6 million grant initiative awarded to 54 nonprofits across the country.

“Wells Fargo is proud to provide support to enable Chicanos Por La Causa to continue its work to stabilize and revitalize our local communities,” said Pam Conboy, lead regional president for Wells Fargo Arizona. “Community support and neighborhood revitalization is a key focus for our company and we believe the work of the nonprofit community is a critical conduit to revitalize neighborhoods in cities that have been deeply affected by the challenging economy.”

CPLC is actively involved and experienced in community revitalization efforts and was identified by Wells Fargo as being in need of extra help with large-scale neighborhood revitalization projects. Priority Markets Initiative program grants can be used for any costs associated with the development or redevelopment of the project. Recipients must be an IRS 501c3 organizations with successful histories of building or renovating housing for low-to moderate-income homebuyers.

“We appreciate and thank Wells Fargo for their visionary work and investment in community revitalization,” said Edmundo Hidalgo, CPLC President and CEO. “We look forward to distributing the funding to ensure that quality affordable homes are available in our community; continue to help stabilize housing values and preserve neighborhoods; and empower potential homebuyers to make educated decisions when purchasing a home.”

CPLC will use the grant funds to rehabilitate 10 properties in three distressed Phoenix zip codes and provide down payment assistance to 10 homebuyers at or below 80 percent of the area median income.  The organization has a long-standing history of providing the tools necessary to empower individuals, families, and communities to achieve their aspirations and become self-sufficient. In fact, CPLC successfully led a national consortium to revitalize markets in eight states through the Neighborhood Stabilization Program 2. CPLC understands that having a safe and comfortable place to live is fundamental for families to live healthy and prosperous lives.

Since 2009, the Wells Fargo Housing Foundation Priority Markets Program has provided more than $30 million across 100 communities.

Since 1993, the Wells Fargo Housing Foundation has stewarded nearly $300 million to nonprofits in support of affordable housing and community revitalization programs. Wells Fargo Housing Foundation programs have also delivered 4.7 million volunteer hours to build or rehabilitate more than 5,000 homes during the past two decades.

Arizona Biltmore Remodeled Classic King

Renovation transforms iconic Arizona Biltmore

The legendary Arizona Biltmore, A Waldorf Astoria Resort has completed a major renovation that has significantly enhanced the guest experience and restored the iconic property’s competitive position in the Phoenix/Scottsdale luxury resort marketplace.

The multi-million-dollar renovation has created modern, refined accommodations and public spaces while preserving the historic architecture and design that distinguish the grand dame of Phoenix.  Guest rooms and suites, the spa and salon, and meeting spaces – including ballrooms, pre-function rooms and the Mystery Room, the Prohibition-era “speakeasy” that is used for themed events – have been re-mastered with a sophisticated new look that recalls the seductive style of the resort’s early years. The redesign is chic and contemporary, while continuing the original Frank Lloyd Wright style of organically incorporating the natural environment.

The revamp of the landmark property also comprised rebuilding and redesigning the 15 cabanas at the Paradise Pool that now feature luxurious new interior décor and an array of amenities, from flatscreen HDTVs to full baths. Refinements were also made to the service culture and communications tools were re-imagined, including instituting True Waldorf Service, new uniforms for the front-of-the-house team, a new website and a glossy new, comprehensive history book that recounts the storied lore of the famous property.

“With the renovation we have enhanced our classic luxury with chic modern interpretations and recaptured our top-tier status in the Phoenix-Scottsdale resort marketplace,” said Sheila Foley, General Manager.

In the guest rooms, a soft color palette of mist, linen and latte created a light and cheerful ambiance, juxtaposed with contrasting warm wood colors that emulate the natural tones of the surrounding desert. Specialty glass tops on bureaus in a thick mist color bring the soothing atmosphere of a desert oasis indoors. Echoing the distinctive use of metals in the original hotel design, bronze and gold metal accents in the guest rooms evoke a distinguished vintage ambiance.  A particularly memorable feature, bringing a special touch of elegance and grandeur, are the mist-colored wall coverings embossed with a metallic Frank Lloyd Wright design, echoing the historic pattern on the Biltmore Blocks used to construct the entire resort.

Frank Lloyd Wright drawings of the hotel gardens, blended with geometric shapes, were the innovative inspiration for the new carpet in the corridors, creating an avant-garde historic interpretation. This contemporary merging of Wright designs and geometric patterns was the theme as well for the Frank Lloyd Wright and McArthur ballrooms, which were refreshed with new carpet, wall coverings, artwork and furniture. The ballrooms and their pre-function areas also were enhanced with technologically advanced production, signage and lighting capabilities.

The renovation was directed by Santa Barbara-based Smith & Firestone Associates (SFA), a leading international luxury hospitality interior design firm. www.SFAdesign.com

For more information about the Arizona Biltmore: 800-950-0086, 602-955-6600, www.arizonabiltmore.com.


Cox launches Phoenix WiFi hotspots

At today’s city of Phoenix Technology Summit, Councilman Bill Gates shared that Cox Communications has activated more than 500 city-wide Cox WiFi hotspots in the valley for Cox High Speed Internet customers and visitors to the valley who are cable internet customers in other areas of the country. The Cox WiFi hotspots are located in Phoenix’s City Council District 3 at locations such as the Phoenix Workforce Connection (7th St. and Mountain View), Sunnyslope Community Center (802 E. Vogel Ave.), and Palma Park (8940 N. 12’h St.), just to name a few. Cox will deploy more than 1,200 hotspots in communities valley wide by the end of the year, with a goal of more than 2,500 hot spots in metro Phoenix by the end of 2015.

“As users’ needs and behaviors continue to change over time, especially with the explosive growth of smart phones, tablets and other connected devices, Cox’s launch of a WiFi network, makes Phoenix a more attractive, livable, high-tech city,” said Councilman Bill Gates, Chair of the City’s Finance, Efficiency, Economy, and Sustainability Subcommittee. The Cox WiFi launch comes on the heels of the company’s announcement that residential gigabit internet speeds are now available in the Phoenix Metropolitan area,-Cox first market in the country to offer residential Gig service — offering consumers speeds 100 times faster than the average speed in the market today.

“In addition to the incredible speeds Cox offers in the home, our customers want access to reliable high speed Internet wherever they are,” said Susan Anable, VP of Public Affairs, Cox Southwest Region. “Cox has invested more than $3 billion in Arizona communities through infrastructure upgrades since 1996. This investment has readied us to take the step of offering hotspots all over the Valley, so our customers can access the Internet not just within the walls of their home, but to the corners of their community.”

In addition, Cox customers also have free access to the nation’s largest WiFi network of more than 300,000 cable Wifi hotspots across the country made possible by a collaboration of cable companies across the country, called Cable WiFi, launched in 2013.

“The addition of Cox WiFi hotspots throughout the Phoenix Metro area that link us to this nationwide network of Internet accessibility, is great not only for our residents, but for economic development and tourism,” said Gates.

Cox customers who are looking for WiFi access can go to www.cox.com/hotspots and enter their current location to find nearby hotspots. Users can also click on a WiFi icon on the map or download the Cox Connect app for iPhone and Android devices and immediately access directions to or from the specific WiFi hotspot address. Once a user has logged into a Cox WiFi or CableWiFi hotspot, his or her wireless device will automatically recognize and logon to other Cox WiFi and CableWiFi hotspots for up to two years. For more information, visit the Cox WiFi homepage at www.cox.com/wifi.


Phoenix Earns Perfect Score on Equality Index

For the second straight year, the City of Phoenix has earned a perfect score of 100 on the Human Rights Campaign’s municipal equality index (MEI), which measures how supportive U.S. communities are of the gay and lesbian community.

Last year, Phoenix was one of the most improved cities in the nation and became the first Arizona city to earn a perfect score. This year, Phoenix was joined by both Tucson and Tempe.

“People are taking notice that Phoenix is one of the most diverse and friendly cities in America, and that’s good for everyone,” Mayor Greg Stanton said. “We are a more vibrant and more economically viable city when we treat every person equally under the law.”

In February 2013, the City Council passed a sweeping anti-discrimination ordinance that made it unlawful to discriminate against someone based on sexual orientation, gender identity or disability for the purposes of employment, public accommodations, housing, and government contracts.

Over the past year, Phoenix doubled housing grants awarded to the non-profit organization one-n-ten to provide housing for LGBT youth and the City Council called on Gov. Jan Brewer to veto S.B. 1062, the so-called “right to discriminate” bill, with an 8-to-1 vote.

“I am proud that the City of Phoenix supports equality and inclusion for all of our employees and residents,” Councilwoman Laura Pastor said. “I applaud the Mayor’s leadership on this issue and look forward to continuing the progress the City has made.”

“Today’s announcement underscores what many of us already know: after years of hard work by community leaders and advocates, Phoenix is a city that believes in equality through and through,” said Councilwoman Kate Gallego. “From the everyday residents who have made change in our city by advocating for equality to the elected leadership, our city has embraced full equality for all of our residents as a fundamental value, not just a sound bite. I look forward to working with Mayor Stanton and my other colleagues in continuing to improve our city and working to make the change we need to bring full equality to all Arizonans.”

“Phoenix’s continued leadership to promote equality is strengthening our economy,” said Angela Hughey, co-founder of ONE Community, a coalition of socially responsible businesses that actively support diversity. “We’ve come a long way, and I’m proud that we have elected officials who will continue to make sure that all of our diverse citizens is celebrated, respected and protected.”

insight enterprises - cloud messaging solutions

Zenefits will create 1,300 Jobs at new Scottsdale office

Today the Greater Phoenix Economic Council was joined by the Arizona Commerce Authority, Maricopa County and the City of Scottsdale in welcoming Zenefits to the Greater Phoenix region.

Zenefits, the free, cloud-based human resources technology company that automates and eliminates time-consuming paperwork for small and medium-sized businesses, announced today plans to create over 1,300 new full-time jobs over the next three years, and the launch of a new, nearly 100,000-square-foot office in Scottsdale, Ariz.

“We’re thrilled to open our new office in Scottsdale, which will allow Zenefits to meet the growing demand from thousands of small businesses who want to focus on their people instead of paperwork,” said Parker Conrad, CEO and co-founder of Zenefits. “The greater Phoenix area has a talented workforce and an expanding tech community, and Zenefits is excited to grow our team both here and in San Francisco.”

Zenefits is widely considered to be one of the fastest-growing tech companies in recent history. Its user base is on track to grow 1,600 percent in 2014, and in a little over one year in business, the company has signed up more than 2,000 businesses serving over 50,000 employees across 47 states.

This is the largest expansion from a California-based tech company into the Greater Phoenix region since PayPal in 2010. Zenefits has already hired 60 new local employees, and plans to expand to more than 1,300 full-time employees within the next three years. The company’s new office will occupy 94,000 square feet of office space in the Scottsdale Galleria Corporate Center.

“We want to welcome Zenefits to Scottsdale, where it joins a growing field of exciting and innovative tech companies who are drawn here by all the elements that ensure a motivated, skilled workforce, an outstanding quality of life and a positive business environment,” said Scottsdale Mayor W.J. “Jim” Lane. “We are delighted to welcome Zenefits to Scottsdale – they will be an incredible addition to our business community and our City’s economy.”

The expansion into Scottsdale will enable the company to meet the needs of its rapidly increasing customer base. Zenefits is now in the process of hiring a range of new employees for the Scottsdale office, including HR specialists, sales representatives, account managers and executives, and client support staff. Zenefits currently employs more than 390 workers in its San Francisco headquarters, up from just 15 at the beginning of the year.

“Zenefits is one of the fastest-growing tech companies in America, and we are tremendously excited that its leadership selected Arizona for a major expansion that will advance its corporate growth goals,” said Sandra Watson, President and CEO, Arizona Commerce Authority. “Our state’s surging technology ecosystem and highly-educated workforce continue to attract innovative companies seeking to develop operational hubs to help drive business growth and enhance their competitiveness across the country.”

Zenefits automates a wide range of time-consuming, administrative HR tasks that companies otherwise have to handle manually, including: benefits and payroll, hiring, taxes and compliance, employee life events, health insurance and more. Zenefits’ cloud-based HR platform connects seamlessly to a company’s existing third-party benefits systems, so that businesses and employees can manage these systems from a single, beautifully designed dashboard.

“We are thrilled that Zenefits chose the Greater Phoenix region for its first big expansion,” said Barry Broome, President and CEO of the Greater Phoenix Economic Council. “Zenefits will provide a substantive impact to the innovation ecosystem, creating 1,300 new jobs in the ICT sector over the next three years, spurring growth and contributing to our broader economy.”

The core Zenefits service is 100 percent free to customers because it is able to collect fees from all kinds of benefit providers. This unique business model is one of the reasons Zenefits has been able to attract so many users so quickly. As of June, the company has raised $84 million from prominent investors including Andreessen Horowitz, Institutional Venture Partners (IVP), and Academy Award-winning actor and investor Jared Leto.


Phoenix Housing Market in Low Gear Until Next Year

The Phoenix-area housing market is unlikely to see a significant boost until next year. That’s according to the latest monthly report from the W. P. Carey School of Business at Arizona State University.

Here are the highlights of the new report on Maricopa and Pinal counties, as of September:

• The median single-family-home sales price was up 5 percent from last September, but that’s largely just because fewer sales are clustered at the bottom end of the market, not because individual home prices are rising much.
• The area has been experiencing sluggish demand and low sales activity for more than 14 months.
• Because there are fewer people buying, the rental market is hot, with both rents and construction permits for new multi-family housing rising.

After the housing crash, Phoenix-area home prices shot up from September 2011 to last summer. This year, prices leveled off and then rose somewhat. The median single-family-home price went up 5 percent from last September to this September – from $198,997 to $209,900. Realtors will note the average price per square foot rose 7 percent. The median townhome/condo price went up 15 percent.

However, the report’s author says the median increases happened primarily just because fewer sales are now clustered at the lower end of the market, with fewer foreclosures and short sales available. Only luxury homes above $2 million are seeing stronger-than-normal demand. Overall, the number of single-family-home sales is down 7 percent from last September to this September.

“Demand has been much weaker since July 2013 and still shows little sign of recovery,” says the report’s author, Mike Orr, director of the Center for Real Estate Theory and Practice at the W. P. Carey School of Business. “Supply is also fairly limited. We anticipate pricing will continue to move sideways over the next few months, and a significant increase in demand will be required to change things.”

Investors are unlikely to bring that increase in demand. They’ve largely lost interest in the Phoenix area, now that better bargains can be found in other parts of the country with more foreclosures. Investors accounted for only 14.4 percent of residential-property purchases in September — way down from the peak of 39.7 percent in July 2012.

“To get the market back to what we would consider normal will require a major recovery in demand from local first-time home buyers,” explains Orr. “The last quarter of the year is rarely one in which first-time home buyer demand takes off without some unusual stimulus, so it looks as though our hopes for a livelier market will have to rest on a stronger start to 2015.”

Orr says if lenders decide to lower their standards for home loans, then that might create some additional demand next year. Many people who went through foreclosure in 2008 will be allowed to enter the market again, after spending the required seven years in the credit “penalty box.”

Until then, the rental-home market is red hot, with fast turnover and a constrained supply of rental homes available. The Phoenix area has already seen a 5.7 percent boost in rents over the past 12 months. Construction permits to build new multi-family housing to meet the demand are also on a strong upward trend.

Those wanting more Phoenix-area housing data can subscribe to Orr’s monthly reports at www.wpcarey.asu.edu/realtyreports. The premium site includes statistics, charts, graphs and the ability to focus in on specific aspects of the market. More analysis is also available at the W. P. Carey School of Business “Research and Ideas” website at http://research.wpcarey.asu.edu.

David Funkhouser

Funkhouser Appointed to GPEC Ambassador Committee

The national law firm of Quarles & Brady LLP announced that David E. Funkhouser III, a partner in the firm’s Phoenix office, has been appointed to the Greater Phoenix Economic Council (GPEC) Ambassador Steering Committee, which is focused on ensuring GPEC’s Ambassador Program aligns with the organization’s key objectives and mission.  Members of the Steering Committee advise on the strategic direction of GPEC’s Ambassador Program, serve as a sounding board for emerging initiatives and support implementation of programs, and design activities relevant to and in support of GPEC’s mission.

Funkhouser handles complex commercial litigation matters. His litigation practice has an emphasis in real property disputes, trust, estate and probate litigation, and other commercial torts. Funkhouser also routinely represents financial institutions in all aspects of litigation.

He is also heavily involved in the local community, just recently completing his term as president of the Maricopa County Bar Association. Also in 2014, Funkhouser was named a Fellow of the American Bar Foundation, selected for inclusion in the 2014 Southwest Super Lawyers magazine and named to both the Phoenix Business Journal’s “40 under 40” and  Richman Media’s “Leaders under 40” lists, respectively. He is a member of the Leadership Council for the Special Olympics Advocacy Resource program, a founding member of Suns 88 Charities and a certified ambassador for the Greater Phoenix Economic Council. He also served in the Arizona House of Representatives from 2008–2009. Funkhouser earned both his law degree and undergraduate degree from the University of Iowa.