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AAED Arizona hands out 2015 Golden Prospector Awards

The Arizona Association for Economic Development (AAED) has presented four Golden Prospector Awards and eight Golden Prospector Awards of Merit, to encourage and recognize excellence in economic development.

Winning 2015 Golden Prospector Awards were: the Town of Gilbert for its multimedia promotions, “Standing Out from the Crowd at BIO International” and “Talk of the Trade Series,” the Town of Queen Creek for its marketing brochure, “Economic Profile,” and AZ Culture for its special event, “Cottonwood Culture Challenge.”

The multimedia promotions included a promotional piece, series of promotional pieces or promotional campaign that contained non-printed elements. These included videos, mailed promotional items, etc.

The marketing brochures were required to introduce the state, county, community, region, or area of expertise to either:

  • Prospects for industrial, commercial, retail, or general development opportunities, or
  • A specific purpose, such as promoting an industrial park or other specific types of promotions.

The special events category includes meetings, seminars, marketing tours, events, or trips designed to develop prospects and promote economic development.

Golden Prospector Awards of Merit went to:

Marketing Brochure

* Town of Gilbert, ‘Inaugural Annual Report”

* City of Phoenix, “Phoenix is Hot!”

* City of Mesa, “Technology Brochure”

* City of Flagstaff, “Flagstaff Business Accelerator Magazine”:

Deal of the Year

* Sun Corridor, Inc., “HomeGoods Distribution Facility”

Special Event

* City of Scottsdale, “Cure Corridor Event”

* Town of Gilbert, “ASU Bio Meets Gilbert Bio”

* City of Scottsdale, “ ‘Work Scottsdale’ Talent Attraction Initiative”

The awards were presented at AAED’s Fall Forum in Tucson.

AAED, founded in 1974, has a mission to serve as Arizona’s unified voice advocating for responsible economic development through an effective program of professional education, public policy, and collaboration.

Photo by Brent Mathis

Candid Camera: Joe Snell captures the big picture of Tucson

Usually when people are trying to get inspired, they look up. That may not be the case concerning Tucson and its surrounding areas in the near future.

Joe Snell, president and CEO of Tucson Regional Economic Opportunities, says Southern Arizona is celebrating its best year since 2007. With news of HomeGoods, Comcast and LCMS moving into or expanding in Tucson, job numbers and capital investment are soaring. A win for Tucson, is a win for Phoenix, he adds. Snell wants Arizona’s economic developers to think bigger, and that’s why the organization announced in June it changed its name to Sun Corridor, Inc., which has 56 board members who represent 85 percent of all employers south of Phoenix.

Let’s talk about some of these good announcements coming out of Tucson.
There’s no doubt the recession hit Arizona hard. Southern Arizona was hit especially hard. It has been a rough run of it for six or seven years. We’ve been more aggressive into our operations than we were pre-recession. In every measure, we’ve had the best year since going into the recession. We ended up announcing, between major expansions or relocations, 14 major projects. … We did add two more foreign trade zone magnet sites to Pinal County… We opened our footprint by offering them two FTZ sites. … We’re actively selling Pinal County. It’s a natural segue to Sun Corridor. The name change, more than anything, is just catching up to the reality of what’s happening on the ground.

What is the significance of Sun Corridor?
One of the mantras we have with that is we just need one market. Sun Corridor is loosely a term for all these cities (in Southern Arizona). … We are the biggest bi-national economic development group in the nation, which means we’re working both sides of the border. Mexico is an integral part of our future economy. We plan to have a strong presence there. We’re one market divided by a border. We want people to look at Southern Arizona and Northern Mexico as one market.

What is Sun Corridor’s statement about the difference it will make?
We want to shape and maximize economic opportunities for Arizona. I think Southern Arizona will be an economic convergence center for the U.S., Mexico and Canada.

Last year, when we talked, you mentioned creative fundraising initiatives. Where is Sun Corridor at with these?
The vast majority of our funding is private. Funding is not an issue for us. We’re doing very well. We’re providing a strong vision. We’re healthy with good reserves. (Paying for infrastructure) is still an issue for us. We’ve worked closely with the rest of the business community and local government to support a bond issue that could put $800M back into the system. I have a 56-member board that voted unanimously on this. If we don’t invest in our own roads and economic development initiatives, who will? … What I’m saying is that maybe 15 years ago, we would have looked at the federal government to underwrite us. Now, we’re taking control of our destiny.

What is one of Tucson’s most understated values?
I think Tucson is well-known but not well understood. There are a lot of values here that are not well-understood. The talent pool is deep and rich at all levels. We have great high-tech and craftsmen. Our strategic location is just super. It’s not just Tucson. It’s Southern Arizona. Big markets in California and growing in Mexico…they’re going to be an economic superpower quickly.

How has the Banner-University Health Network merger affected SoutherN Arizona?
I was extremely supportive of the Banner partnership. One problem we have in Arizona is we think in pockets. We think too small. We’re one market. When I was in New York, Phoenix is five times the size of Tucson but no one has heard of it. They see L.A., Chicago and everything else in between. I came out of Denver doing this. In Southern Arizona, we embrace regionality. Maybe UA brings something no one else does. Let’s work as one market. Banner Health’s work does point to one market. I love their slogan: No boundaries. We embrace that.


TREO widens focus, changes its name to Sun Corridor Inc.

Tucson Regional Economic Opportunities, Inc. (TREO) today announces that the organization will expand its footprint across Southern Arizona, changing its name to Sun Corridor Inc.

TREO has been providing economic development support for the entire Southern Arizona megaregion for several years, assisting in key expansions of several employers, advocating for military installations, including Ft. Huachuca; and establishing new Foreign Trade Zone sites in Pinal County. 

“The drivers discussed in TREO’s Blueprint are the keys to strengthening our competitiveness, and by addressing talent, infrastructure, healthcare and collaboration regionally through the Sun Corridor we differentiate Southern Arizona in the marketplace for high wage jobs,” said Guy Gunther, chairman, TREO Board of Directors and Vice President Operations, Arizona, CenturyLink.

“TREO leadership recognized through this work that we have a significant opportunity to coalesce one market under a unified brand,” said Denny Minano, TREO Executive Committee member and Managing Director, CMM.  “We began to seriously consider a tangible structure that defines Sun Corridor business opportunities and provides a path to combine expertise in the attraction and expansion of business, thereby increasing our global competitiveness.”

“With Mexico’s growing economic strength, it paves the way to market the entire Southern Arizona/Sonoran region as a bi-national, world-class center in integrated research, manufacturing and supply chain strength,” said Fletcher McCusker, TREO Executive Committee member and CEO, Sinfonia HealthCare Corporation. “Few economic development groups have the unique strategic position of this ‘perfect storm’ of opportunities.” 

“President Kennedy said, ‘Change is the law of life and those who look only to the past or present are certain to miss the future.’  I’m confident that our future within the Sun Corridor has enormous potential and by making this bold move into this new regional partnership we will emerge as a stronger competitor in the global economy and position ourselves to be an attractive choice for expanding local business and recruiting new ones,” said Anthony Smith, Chair of the Pinal County Board of Supervisors and new TREO Board member. 

“It’s time for a name change to better reflect the current work we are doing and to position us as a force in the new global economy,” said Joe Snell, president & CEO, TREO. “The Sun Corridor has been recognized as one of the fastest-growing megaregions in the U.S. and with TREO’s strong foundation of economic development success, the new name Sun Corridor Inc. puts a critical business focus on a significant area of the state and the country.”

“These changes are strategic and build on the foundation of success set by TREO’s core leadership in the Tucson MSA and Pima County over the last ten years,” said Sharon Bronson, chair, Pima County Board of Supervisors. “We fully support this expansion, as it represents a new era for economic development.” 

With this new approach, Southern Arizona will benefit from:

– Promoting the megaregion as a gateway for near-shore products and movement

  of goods

– A stronger bi-national position with Arizona’s largest trading partner, leveraging

  Mexico’s economic growth

– Greater synergy to compete in a new global economy post-recession

– Enhanced influence at state and federal levels, representing a greater geographic

  economic super region

– Leveraging a larger talent pool, increasing competitiveness

– Combined resources and expertise to address complex economic trends

Effective August 1st, Sun Corridor Inc. will be located at 1985 East River Road, Suite 101, Tucson, AZ 85718.  

federal transportation bill

Arizona Forward hopes to guide Arizona’s transportation systems

As Valley Forward transitions to Arizona Forward to encompass a statewide focus, it’s only fitting that the association with a 43-year history of success tackling environmental issues — including land use, water management, air quality and energy — turns its attention to an issue that impacts every resident and every business in Arizona.

“Valley Forward has always valued transportation as one of the organization’s key areas of interest,” says John Godec, president of Godec, Randall & Associates Inc., which helps governments and businesses solve public and stakeholder challenges. “The Phoenix and Tucson metros have seen radical transportation changes and improvements in the past decade, so we’re asking, ‘What’s next? Are we good to go now?’”

Just as it did last year with parks and open spaces, Valley Forward hopes to answer those questions as it unveils its stance on transportation, covering topics such as transportation planning, how it impacts the quality of life in the Sun Corridor and how transportation affects Arizona’s economy.

One issue that Valley Forward wanted to address in its Transportation Primer is one on the minds of every Arizona: traffic congestion and how to better connect cities with each other. According to a policy report written by Byron Schlomach for The Goldwater Institute, the average Phoenix commuter spends an average of 38 hours a year in traffic, while a commuter in Tucson spends roughly 42 hours in traffic.

In an attempt to remedy traffic congestion in Phoenix, voters adopted Proposition 400 in November of 2004, which allowed for the renovating and extending of current freeways and the addition of more public transportation, such as the Valley Metro Light Rail, all of which connect small communities with larger cities. In Tucson, Pima County voters approved the $2.1 billion Regional Transportation Plan, which saw the construction of a modern streetcar project throughout the city, giving more people a chance to get around, while getting cars off the highways.

However, the question that has been asked by Valley Forward is, is it enough, especially since Arizona only seems to be growing in size?

“At least half the transportation systems that the state will need in 2050 have yet to be built,” says Sally Stewart, deputy communications director at the Arizona Department of Transportation (ADOT) and Valley Forward member. “Despite the recent economic downturn, Arizona’s growth is not over. It is not a question of whether the Sun Corridor — one of the emerging megapolitan regions in the country — will be a reality; it is simply a matter of when.”

According to a study published in March 2010 by ADOT, it is expected that Arizona’s population will more than double, from 6.4 million to about 16 million people in the next 30 years. Maricopa County’s population is expected to increase by 90 percent, from 4 million people to about 7.6 million. The study suggests that because of this population explosion, travel times for various destinations in the Sun Corridor could increase by about 100 percent by 2050. This could mean that a trip between Phoenix and Tucson, which currently is about a 95-minute drive, could take up to 5.5 hours in 2050 (assuming that the Interstate-10 freeway is widened to about 10 lanes).

Valley Forward experts say that Arizona must plan ahead to improve this possible transportation dilemma, especially if the state wants to see more business activity and economic improvement.

“Transportation is key for economic development,” says said Eric Anderson, transportation director at the Maricopa Association of Governments. “The ability of a company’s workforce to commute on a predictable basis is critical. The movement of freight in and out of the region is also important. Companies looking to locate in the region always look at the adequacy of the transportation system in providing mobility and travel options.”

According to the American Public Transportation Association, every $1 billion invested in public transportation supports and creates 36,000 jobs. Despite the fact that policies, such as Proposition 400, have created and funded transportation projects, Valley Forward says that there is still not enough money allocated for Arizona’s travel needs.

“Arizona’s future economic development will be tied closely to the state’s willingness to commit funding and resources to improving and expanding its statewide transportation system,” says Craig Hughes, CEO and founder of Total Transit, the parent company of Discount Cab in Phoenix and Tucson. “Without a firm commitment to building and maintaining an efficient, integrated transportation network, the future could be one of congested freeways, inadequate rural highways, gridlocked city streets and under-funded and under-utilized mass transit.”

Valley Forward hopes that its stance and data findings will help create a dialogue not only among Phoenix and Tucson residents, but also policymakers.

“Arizona’s business community is a vital participant in guiding policymakers regarding the infrastructure challenges facing the state,” Stewart says. “If Arizonans want to enjoy a better quality of life based on a vibrant economy, then the business community must work closely with policymakers to make the difficult, but necessary decisions regarding transportation infrastructure.”

Adds Diane Brossart, president and CEO of Valley Forward, “We want to bring together the public and private sectors. Valley Forward’s goal is to try and drive the conversation to the middle and take the politics out. We want to drive up solutions so that Arizona, as a whole, can advance and can sustain itself.”

regional planning agency

Regional Planning Agency MAG Elects New Officers

Avondale Mayor Marie Lopez Rogers has been elected to lead the Maricopa Association of Governments (MAG), the regional planning agency for the Maricopa region. MAG is a Council of Governments and Metropolitan Planning Organization that provides a regional forum for discussion, analysis, and resolution of regional issues, including transportation, air quality, and human services. MAG prepares the 20-year Long Range Transportation Plan and five-year Transportation Improvement Program for the region. MAG was founded in 1967.

Mayor Lopez Rogers was elected chair of the MAG Regional Council during MAG’s Annual Meeting in Phoenix on Wednesday, June 27, 2012. She succeeds Tempe Mayor Hugh Hallman, who has chaired the Regional Council for the past year and whose term is expiring.

Mayor Lopez Rogers stated that a key priority for her will be to work with the MAG Economic Development Committee and Joint Planning Advisory Council to foster a viable megaregion known as the “Sun Corridor.”

“One important priority will be for us to identify the corridor’s key economic drivers and find ways to grow those opportunities,” said Mayor Lopez Rogers. “One key area of focus for us will be working to improve our trade relations with Mexico and Canada and enhance the flow of commerce into Arizona.”

Mayor Lopez Rogers will lead the MAG organization for the next year and also will preside over the MAG Executive Committee. Mayor Lopez Rogers has served on the MAG Regional Council since 2006 and MAG Executive Committee since 2007. She served as treasurer of the Regional Council from 2010 to 2011, when she was elected vice chair. The committee serves as MAG’s finance committee and is responsible for a number of administrative responsibilities, such as amendments to the budget and contract selections. She will also serve as vice chair of the MAG Economic Development Committee, and she will continue to serve on the MAG Transportation Policy Committee. She serves as the vice president of the National League of Cities and in November will become its president.

In addition to Mayor Lopez Rogers’ selection as chair, Mesa Mayor Scott Smith was elected as vice chair. Youngtown Mayor Michael LeVault was elected as treasurer. Elected as at-large members of the Executive Committee were Scottsdale Mayor W.J. “Jim” Lane, Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton, Queen Creek Mayor Gail Barney, and Litchfield Park Mayor Thomas L. Schoaf.

The Regional Council also appointed members of the MAG Transportation Policy Committee (TPC). New members included Lt. Governor Stephen Roe Lewis of the Gila River Indian Community and Joseph E. La Rue of the State Transportation Board. The TPC is responsible for making policy recommendations to the Regional Council on transportation issues, including the Regional Transportation Plan and Transportation Improvement Program. A full listing of all Regional Council and TPC members is available on request.

For more information on MAG, the regional planning agency for the Maricopa region, please contact Kelly Taft, MAG communications manager, (602) 452-5020. There website is azmag.gov.

Centennial Series - AZ Business Magazine January/February 2012

Centennial Series: Arizona’s History Impacts The Way We Live Our Lives

100 Years of Change: From ‘Sesame Street’ to scientific breakthroughs, Arizona’s history impacts the way we live our lives

During Arizona’s first century, every elementary school student in the state learned about the five Cs that drove Arizona’s economy — copper, cotton, cattle, citrus and climate.

There is a chance that if you ask Arizona elementary school students what C words drive the state’s economy now, their best answers might be casinos or Cardinals, whose University of Phoenix Stadium has been filled with fans, and hosted both a Super Bowl and a BCS championship game since it opened in 2006.

A lot has changed since copper and cotton drove the state, but that doesn’t lessen the impact Arizona’s first 100 years had on the way we live our lives today.

Here are a baker’s dozen events, people or projects from Arizona’s history, its first 100 years, that shaped the state or helped the state make history:


In 1988, the U.S. Congress passed the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act (IGRA) in response to the proliferation of gambling halls on Indian reservations. IGRA recognized gaming as a way to promote tribal economic development, self-sufficiency, and strong tribal government.

By the end of 1994, 10 casinos were in operation in Arizona. Currently, 15 tribes operate 22 casinos in the state, creating a huge boost for Arizona tourism and the economy.

To put it into perspective, a study commissioned by the Ak-Chin Indian Community in 2011 showed that Harrah’s Ak-Chin Casino Resort alone accounts for 1,094 jobs, $36,713,700 in payroll, and a total economic impact on the community of $205,322,355. And those numbers represent figures before the resort added a 152-room hotel tower in July 2011.

Air travel

In 1935, the City of Phoenix bought Sky Harbor International Airport for $100,000. In 2010, the airport served 38.55 million passengers, making it the ninth busiest in the U.S. in terms of passengers and one of the top 15 busiest airports in the world, with a $90 million daily economic impact. The airport handles about 1,252 aircraft daily that arrive and depart, along with 103,630 passengers daily, and more than 675 tons of cargo handled.

“As much as anywhere in the U.S., Phoenix is a creature of good air connections,” says Grady Gammage Jr., an expert on Arizona’s history. “There is no good rail service (in Arizona). There are no real transportation corridors. Sky Harbor has had a huge impact.”

Road travel

Another transportation milestone occurred in 1985 when the Maricopa Association of Governments approved a $6.5 billion regional freeway plan for Phoenix and voters approved a 20-year, one-half cent sales tax to fund it. By 2008, the Arizona Department of Transportation had completed the construction and Phoenix boasted 137 miles of loop freeways that link the metro area.

The loop freeways have had a significant impact on shaping Phoenix and, ultimately, Arizona, says Dennis Smith, MAG executive director.

“The loop freeways resulted in a distribution of job centers around the Valley,” Smith says. “That allows every part of the Valley to achieve its dream and have employment closer to where the homes are. That distributes the wealth throughout the Valley.”

Smith says the freeways also extended the Valley’s reach to Yavapai, Pinal and Pima counties, creating a megapolitan area known as the Sun Corridor.

Master-planned neighborhoods

Arizona is home to countless master-planned residential communities, but the first one — Maryvale — opened in 1955 in West Phoenix as the post-war years exerted their influence. Its developer, John F. Long, wanted to plan and build a community where young people could buy an affordable home, raise a family and work, all in the same area. He named the development after his wife, Mary, and its influence is felt to this day.

“Because Maryvale was a master-planned community and because John did affordable housing, the master plan included a lot of parks, school sites and shopping areas,” says Jim Miller, director of real estate for John F. Long Properties. “It really was where people could live and work. If you lived in Maryvale, you weren’t more than three-quarters of a mile from a park or school. That forced a lot of other builders to adopt the same type of philosophy.”

The first homes sold for as little as $7,400, with a $52-a-month mortgage. The first week the models went on the market, 24,000 people stopped by to take a look.

Retirement communities

A year before Maryvale opened, Ben Schleifer introduced a different lifestyle to an older demographic. In 1954, Schleifer opened Youngtown in West Phoenix, the first age-restricted retirement community in the nation, according to research by Melanie Sturgeon, director of the state’s History and Archives Division. No one younger than 50 could live there. By 1963, Youngtown had 1,700 residents and Arizona was on its way to becoming a retirement mecca.

But it was builder Del E. Webb and his construction companies that firmly established the concept of active, age-restricted adult retirement in Arizona with the opening of Sun City on Jan. 1, 1960, next to Youngtown and along Grand Avenue. According to Sturgeon’s research and a magazine observing Sun City’s 50th anniversary, about 100,000 people showed up the first three days to see the golf course, recreation center, swimming pool, shopping center and five model homes. Traffic was backed up for miles. The first homes sold for between $8,500 and $11,750. Sun City had 7,500 residents by 1964 and 42,000 by 1977, the same year Webb decided the community was big enough and he began construction on Sun City West.


Ernesto Arturo Miranda was a Phoenix laborer whose conviction on kidnapping, rape, and armed robbery charges based on his confession under police interrogation resulted in the landmark 1966 U.S. Supreme Court case (Miranda v. Arizona), which ruled that criminal suspects must be informed of their right against self-incrimination and their right to consult with an attorney prior to questioning by police. This warning is known as a Miranda warning.

After the Supreme Court decision set aside Miranda’s initial conviction, the state of Arizona retried him. At the second trial, with his confession excluded from evidence, he was again convicted, and he spent 11 years in prison.


The first successful surgery and use of an artificial heart as a bridge to a human heart transplant was conducted at the University Medical Center in Tucson by Dr. Jack Copeland in 1985. His patient lived nine days using the Jarvik 7 Total Artificial Heart before he received a donor heart.

It also put the spotlight on Arizona as a place where cutting-edge research and healthcare was taking place.

Copeland made several other contributions to the artificial heart program, including advancing surgical techniques, patient care protocols and anticoagulation. He also performed the state’s first heart-lung transplant and the first U.S. implant of a pediatric ventricular assist device. In 2010, Copeland moved to a facility in San Diego, where he continues to make an impact on health care.


Joan Ganz Cooney, who received her B.A. degree in education from the University of Arizona in 1951, was part of a team who captured the hearts and imaginations of children around the world with the development of Sesame Workshop, creators of the popular “Sesame Street.” Now in its 42nd season, the children’s television show uses puppets, cartoons and live actors to teach literacy, math fundamentals and behavior skills. Today, Cooney serves as a member of Sesame Workshop’s executive committee. In 2007, she was honored by Sesame Workshop with the creation of The Joan Ganz Cooney Center, which aims to advance children’s literacy skills and foster innovation in children’s learning through digital media.

Military bases

Williams Air Force Base in Mesa, which broke ground for its Advanced Flying School on July 16, 1941, allowed more than 26,500 men and women to earn their wings. It was active as a training base for both the U.S. Army Air Forces, as well as the U.S. Air Force from 1941 until its closure in 1993.

It also opened the door for other military training bases in Arizona, including Luke Air Force Base; which employs more than 8,000 personnel and covers 4,200 acres and is home to the largest fighter wing in the world, the 56th Fighter Wing; Davis-Monthan Air Force Base in Tucson, home to the A-10 Thunderbolt II, which was used in combat for the first time during the Gulf War in 1991, destroying more than 900 Iraqi tanks, 2,000 military vehicles, and 1,200 artillery pieces; and Yuma Marine Corps Air Station, which specializes in air-to-ground aviation training for U.S. and NATO forces. In 1990, almost every Marine that participated in Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm trained at Yuma.

Solar power

Solar power has the potential to make Arizona “the Persian Gulf of solar energy,” former Gov. Janet Napolitano once said. But despite the overabundance of sunshine, the industry didn’t take root in the state until the end of the last century.

The first commercial solar power plant in the state came in 1997 when Arizona Public Service (APS) built a 95-kilowatt, single-axis tracking photovoltaic plant in Flagstaff. In 1999, the City of Scottsdale covered an 8,500-square-feet parking lot with photovoltaic panels, to both provide shaded parking and generate 93 kilowatts of solar power.

Arizona installed more than 55 megawatts of solar power in 2010, doubling its 2009 total of 21 megawatts, ranking it behind California (259 megawatts), New Jersey (137 megawatts), Florida (110 megawatts), and Nevada (61 megawatts).


Construction of the Central Arizona Project — which delivers water to areas where 80 percent of Arizonans reside — began in 1973 at Lake Havasu. Twenty years and $4 billion later, it was completed south of Tucson. The CAP delivers an average 1.5 million acre-feet of water annually to municipal, agricultural and Native American users in Maricopa, Pima and Pinal counties.

“Without the CAP, we wouldn’t have the population we have today,” says Pam Pickard, president of the CAP board of directors. “We wouldn’t have our economic base. We wouldn’t have the industry we have.”

But the CAP wouldn’t have been possible without another milestone that occurred nearly 60 years earlier — Hoover Dam and its reservoir, Lake Mead, 30 miles southeast of Las Vegas. Hoover Dam, constructed between 1933 and 1936, tamed the Colorado, which Marshall Trimble, Arizona’s official state historian, says was even more erratic than the Salt River. The dam created reliable water supplies for Arizona’s Colorado River Valley and, eventually, Central and Southern Arizona via the CAP.


On April 24, 2000 Arizona Gov. Jane Dee Hull signed a bill that created the Arizona Tourism and Sports Authority (initially known as the TSA). Later, it was renamed to the Arizona Sports and Tourism Authority.

The Arizona Sports and Tourism Authority was instrumental in the constructions of University of Phoenix Stadium, home of the Arizona Cardinals and an anchor of Glendale’s sports complex. The development of the stadium, also home to the Fiesta Bowl, marked a shift in the economic landscape of the West Valley and Arizona sports. The Stadium has already hosted one Super Bowl and will host a second in 2015.

The Arizona Sports and Tourism Authority has also been instrumental in Cactus League projects — including Surprise Stadium, Phoenix Municipal Stadium, Tempe Diablo Stadium, Scottsdale Stadium, Goodyear (Cleveland Indians and Cincinnati Reds) and in Glendale (Los Angeles Dodgers and Chicago White Sox.) The economic impact of Cactus League baseball is estimated at $350 million a year.

“There’s no doubt about it, sports is an integral part of any destination tourism package,” says Lorraine Pino, tourism manager at the Glendale Convention and Visitors Bureau. “Our tourism literally exploded over the past few years.”

Isabelle Novak, Noelle Coyle and Tom Ellis contributed to this story.

Arizona Business Magazine January/February 2012

Arizona Forward - AB Magazine November/December 2011

Arizona Forward Hopes To Preserve Parks, Open Land

As one of the earliest pioneers of sustainability in the Valley, Valley Forward has had an Arizona presence for 42 years. The organization’s focus on land use and open space, air quality, water, energy and transportation has grown immensely since its inception. It is no surprise that this progressive group has once again embarked on the next sustainable step with the creation of Arizona Forward — a public interest coalition aimed at bringing together business, community and civic leaders to convene public dialogue and advocacy on sustainability in the state.

“By promoting cooperative efforts between Arizona cities and towns, the state’s livability, sustainability and economic vitality will be enhanced for both current and future generations,” says Kurt Wadlington, employee-owner at Sundt Construction, Tucson Building Group Leader and Arizona Forward advisory board chair.

Arizona Forward is initially expected to focus on the Sun Corridor, the region encompassing Tucson to Phoenix, hoping to encourage collaborative efforts between members and strike a balance between economic growth and environmental quality.

“We believe there is a strong connection between the health of our environment and the health of our economy,” says Pat Graham, state director of the Nature Conservancy in Arizona. “Arizona Forward provides an opportunity for like-minded businesses and organizations from across the state to come together and come up with solutions.”

First on the agenda for the coalition is spreading the message about the importance of parks and open spaces and their economic impact on the state.

According to the Outdoor Industry Foundation, nearly 5.5 million Arizonans participate in outdoor recreation. This leads to approximately $350 million in annual state tax revenue and supports 82,000 jobs in Arizona.  Arizona Forward leaders say the economic impact of parks and open spaces is just one reason why the business community should take notice and take a stand.

“One of the challenges today is the complexity of the problems we face,” Graham says. “It requires working together in new ways and with new partners to find solutions that improve the health of both the economy and our environment to maintain a good quality of life in Arizona.”

A study compiled by WestGroup Research on behalf of Valley Forward found that 93 percent of Arizonans categorize parks and open space as “essential” to Arizona’s tourism industry. The study also found that 23 percent of Arizonans visit parks or recreation areas at least once a week.

Just how much open space are we talking about? State and federal entities, along with Native American tribes in Arizona manage more than 70 million acres of land (excluding county and municipal parks). Not surprisingly, negative effects on our parks and open space have a big impact on the state’s bottom line.

“Economic development and new jobs rely on lifestyle considerations,” Wadlington says. “Parks, forests, refuges and other open spaces support the quality-of-life factors that can make a difference for communities seeking to attract employers and a strong workforce. Access to open space boosts property values and provides healthy outdoor recreational opportunities for residents and tourists alike. If we don’t prioritize our parks and open space, we will lose our most treasured resources.”

Prioritizing these aspects has a major economic impact on Arizona. A 2009 National Parks Second Century Commission projected that every $1 in taxpayer money spent on national parks returned a $4 economic benefit through tourism and private sector spending. A June 2011 press release from the Department of the Interiors’ Economic Contributions Report further emphasized this information, with data showing that Arizona’s public lands supported 21,364 jobs and contributed nearly $2 billion to Arizona’s economy.

It is figures like these that Arizona Forward hopes will get the public and policy makers involved with protecting parks and open spaces. State legislators must stop encroaching on the parks-system budget and instead focus on securing funding for their protection, Valley forward leaders say.

“A depressed economy has impacted parks negatively at every jurisdictional level,” Wadlington says. He noted that an already-weakened parks system could be further depleted if lawmakers don’t get the message from their voters about protecting these open spaces.

“As the economy recovers and state revenues return, legislators will be faced with many choices on how to best allocate these funds,” Wadlington says. “As a community, we have to step forward collectively and make a strong case for the parks system and open space preservation.”

Like the mission Valley Forward embarked on 42 years ago, Arizona Forward hopes to serve as the catalyst for change during these trying times.  A diverse membership group with a common goal of environmental stewardship hopes to protect the state’s important parks and open spaces and other environmental issues facing Arizona.

“Future Arizona vision: A place where people want to live and work, where growth occurs responsibly and does not diminish quality-of-life,”  Wadlington says. “A place where business thrives, creating public revenue that can be reinvested in perpetuating sustainability of our state’s natural resources and quality-of-life amenities.”

For more information about Valley Forward and Arizona Forward, visit www.valleyforward.org.

Arizona Business Magazine November/December 2011


Arizona Mega-Region, Sun Corridor

Developing the Road Map to Growth in the Sun Corridor

With the housing industry in the slumps and fewer construction jobs, now is the time for Arizona to look at ways to diversify its economy to guarantee a sustainable future. The region’s population is poised to grow from 5 million to 10 million by 2050, so we will also face the environmental challenges of accommodating rapid population growth in a fragile desert community.

The changing demographic and economic situation is prompting researchers and leaders to think about how the mega-region known as the Sun Corridor can one day become a significant economic, technological and cultural center. In moving forward, how do we ensure a balance between economic growth and environmental quality?

If the region between Phoenix and Tucson becomes a new paradigm in Arizona for sustainable development with a diverse economic base, our state — quite possibly — will be on track to advance globally. With that said, it will take a substantial amount of cooperation between business and government as well as much better marketing of the region to encourage the wave of investment to continue and accelerate.

Next month, Valley Forward Association is hosting a luncheon focused on opportunities for the Sun Corridor. Panelists include:

The program will be moderated by Janet Perez, editor-in-chief of Arizona Business Magazine, and will focus the discussion on ways Phoenix, Central Arizona and Tucson might work together to enhance growth opportunities and the quality of life issues in the Sun Corridor. Be part of the dialogue that will help shape Arizona’s future!