Tourism

13th February
2012
written by JHiggins

Don’t worry, be happy … in Tucson?

Cityscape of Tucson downtown against mountain range, Arizona.

By Rob Lovitt, msnbc.com contributor

Is winter giving you a bad case of the blues? If so, perhaps you should go to your happy place, which might just be Tucson, Ariz.

In a new study, “The Old Pueblo” topped a list of the 10 happiest winter travel destinations in the U.S. It was joined, in descending order, by:
•St. Petersburg, Fla.
•Charleston, S.C.
•Napa-Sonoma, Calif.
•Seattle
•Los Angeles
•Palm Springs, Calif.
•Washington, D.C.
•Las Vegas
•Houston

The study was commissioned by Hilton HHonors, the company’s loyalty program. Hilton Worldwide, to the surprise of no one, has multiple properties in each destination.

“People are indoors a lot during the winter and Seasonal Affective Disorder [SAD] is prevalent,” said happiness expert Aymee Coget, CEO of the American Happiness Association, who teamed up with Hilton. Travel, she said, can be the antidote to “the moody blues.”

“Being outdoors helps people be happier,” she told msnbc.com. “Sunshine helps because of the Vitamin D.”

It’s hardly surprising then that the list is dominated by sunny southern destinations. Selected by Sperling’s Best Places, they were judged in several categories, including relaxation, nature, average winter temperatures and number of sunny days per year.

Those criteria were augmented by more urban amenities, including the number of restaurants and bars, cultural institutions and, for some reason, ice cream shops. We’re not sure of the science involved but do have to admit that a big bowl of Chunky Monkey certainly makes us happy.

The latter set of criteria may also explain how Seattle and Washington, D.C. — not exactly warm and sunny winter destinations the last time we checked — made the list.

“It’s not rocket science,” Coget told msnbc.com. “When you’re having new experiences, you’re happier.”

Good vibes aside, it turns out that there actually is scientific, albeit equally non-aeronautic, evidence that travel, particularly leisure travel, makes you happier. However, according to a 2010 study published in Applied Research in Quality of Life, the biggest boost isn’t generated by the travel per se but rather the anticipation of it.

Do you prefer short getaways or longer vacations?

“People get excited [when planning vacations],” said Coget. “They’re excited to see this or that person or sit by the pool. It’s a projection of happiness.”

For that reason, both Coget and the scientists in the 2010 study suggest that taking more short getaways may provide a bigger boost than a single, longer vacation will. Presumably, multiple long weekends entail serial planning efforts, which elevates happiness on a recurring basis.

Clearly, more research is warranted but in the meantime, here in the Overhead Bin, we believe quick getaways and week-long trips both have their benefits. After all, why settle for being merely happy when you can enjoy double happiness?

Rob Lovitt is a longtime travel writer who still believes the journey is as important as the destination. Follow him at Twitter.

31st December
2011
written by Arizona Kid

Have We Got a Convention Center to Sell You!

From Boston to Austin, politicians spend money on fancy white elephants..

By STEVEN MALANGA – WSJ

For two decades, America’s convention center business has been declining, resulting in a nationwide surplus of empty meeting facilities, struggling convention halls and vacant hotel rooms. How have governments responded to this glut? By building more convention centers, of course, financed by debt backed by new taxes and fees on already struggling taxpayers.

Back in 2007, before the recession began, a report from Destination Marketing Association International described America’s convention industry as a “buyer’s market” suffering excess capacity. It’s only gotten worse, attracting just 86 million attendees in 2010, compared to 126 million in 2000. Meanwhile, the amount of convention space angling for business has increased to 70 million square feet, up from 53 million in 2000 and 40 million two decades ago.

That’s largely because governments refuse to stop making convention centers bigger and hotels even more dazzling, arguing that whatever business remains will flow to the places with the fanciest amenities. To finance these risky projects—which the private sector won’t build by itself—cities float debt backed by new taxes and fees on already struggling taxpayers. As Charles Chieppo, a former board member of Massachusetts Convention Center Authority, lamented last year, “Logic rarely has a place in the convention business.”

Take Illinois, an industry leader,where officials have invested heavily to keep Chicago’s McCormick Place, long one of the three most-used centers in the nation, on top. They spent $1 billion in the early 1990s to build a 840,000-square foot expansion financed by fees on auto rentals, a hotel tax and a surcharge on restaurant meals in downtown Chicago. In 2007 they opened a new building, McCormick West, at a cost of an additional $900 million. The result? According to the Chicago Tribune, the center operates at 55% capacity.

Then there’s Boston, perhaps the quintessential example of a city that interprets failure in the convention business as a license to spend more on it. Massachusetts officials shelled out $230 million to renovate Hynes Convention Center in the late 1980s. When the makeover produced virtually no economic bounce, officials decided that the city needed a new, $800 million center financed by a hotel occupancy excise tax, a rental-car surcharge, and the sale of taxi medallions. Opened in 2004, that new Boston Convention and Exhibition Center was projected (by consultants hired by the state) to have Boston renting some 670,000 additional hotel rooms annually within five years. Instead, Beantown saw just 310,000 additional hotel room rentals in 2009.

Chicago political and labor leaders, including Mayor Rahm Emanuel (arms crossed), appear at the expanded McCormick Place convention center in October.
.
Now Massachusetts officials want to spend $2 billion to double the size of the Boston Convention Center and add a hotel. Of course, they predict that the expanded facilities would bring an additional $222 million into the local economy each year, including 140,000 hotel room rentals. Even with these bullish projections, officials claim that the hotel would need $200 million in public subsidies.

“The whole thing is a racket,” Boston Globe columnist Jeff Jacoby recently observed. “Once again the politicos will expand their empire. Once again crony capitalism will enrich a handful of wired business operators. And once again Joe and Jane Taxpayer will pay through the nose. How many times must we see this movie before we finally shut it off?”

Many times, if officials in Baltimore have their way. Several years ago they built a $300 million city-owned hotel, (the Hilton Baltimore Convention Center Hotel) to boost the fortunes of the city’s struggling convention center. Having opened in 2008, the hotel lost $11 million last year. Now the city is considering a public-private expansion plan that would add a downtown arena, an additional convention hotel, and 400,000 feet of new convention space at the cost of $400 million in public money.

The list goes on—everywhere from Columbus, Ohio, to Dallas, Austin, Phoenix and places in between. One problem is that optimistic projections about new facilities fail to account for how other cities are expanding, too. Why did Minneapolis struggle to hit projected targets after it enlarged its convention center in 2002? “Other cities expanded right along with us,” Minneapolis’s convention center director, Jeff Johnson, said this year.

The surest sign that taxpayers should be leery of such public investments is that officials have changed their sales pitch. Convention and meeting centers shouldn’t be judged, they now say, by how many hotel rooms, restaurants, and local attractions they help fill. That’s “narrow-minded thinking,” said James Rooney of the Massachusetts Convention Center Authority this year. Instead, as Boston Mayor Thomas Menino has said, expanding a convention center can “demonstrate to the world that we have unlimited confidence in our city and what it can do, not only as a convention destination but as the center of the most important trends in hospitality, science, health and education.”

This new metric—a city’s amorphous brand value—is little more than a convenient way to ignore the failure of publicly sponsored facilities to live up to exaggerated projections. But as far as city officials are concerned, that failure is nothing that hundreds of millions more in taxpayer dollars can’t fix.

Mr. Malanga is a senior editor at City Journal. A longer version of this article appears in City Journal’s Winter 2012 issue.

29th December
2011
written by Arizona Kid

Glendale city manager to end tenure defined by sports

Glendale exec pushed entertainment-hub plan

by Cecilia Chan – Dec. 28, 2011 09:33 PM
The Arizona Republic
Glendale City Manager Ed Beasley’s rise came hand-in-hand with the city’s transformation from a bedroom community to a professional sports hub that will host its second Super Bowl.

Glendale rode high on its newly honed image until the recession called into question whether the city bankrolled an overly ambitious plan.

As the 53-year-old deal-maker retires in the coming year, Beasley’s tenure will largely be judged by the success of the projects he shaped and how well Glendale recovers from setbacks to those projects.

Beasley stands firm behind the city’s heavy investment in its sports and entertainment district, near the Loop 101 and Glendale Avenue.

“The city has assets now it didn’t have before,” said Beasley, who steadfastly maintains those assets will attract other investment and jobs.

“It’s a 30-year deal,” he said. “Judging them five years out, especially when the economy is bad, is not a fair judgment.”

Still, the City Council is in the political hot seat as an increasing number of residents question the sports-related debt.

A council majority continues to support Beasley, although some criticize the sports debt and the thus-far failed attempts to resolve the Phoenix Coyotes ownership saga.

Deal-making streak

The ambitious Beasley became Arizona’s first African-American, and youngest, city manager in 1988 when he took the helm in Eloy, a small city between Phoenix and Tucson.

Six years later, the Kansas City native became an assistant city manager in Glendale, where he made his reputation as a deal-maker, starting to lure what would become the city’s first professional sports team.

The council appointed Beasley to city manager in the midst of the deal to land the Phoenix Coyotes hockey team. Glendale spent $180 million to open the arena in 2003, the first visible step of the city’s metamorphosis into a sports and entertainment mecca.

Not long after the hockey deal, the city landed the University of Phoenix Stadium for the Arizona Cardinals and Fiesta Bowl.

Commercial development soon surrounded the publicly funded sports venues: the massive Cabela’s hunting store, Westgate City Center, a four-star hotel and office projects.

As the wins tilted the Valley’s development axis westward, Beasley responded to skeptics with quiet confidence.

“Every successful team needs a good point guard or quarterback … Ed has been that for the city of Glendale,” said Ray Artigue, a Valley sports marketing executive.

Longtime Glendale Planning Director Jon Froke described Beasley as “a visionary, a big-picture thinker.”

He said Beasley looked for development that would make the community more valuable and a better place to live.

And he pushed staff to make it happen.

“He raises people’s game to a higher level,” Froke said.

As Glendale snagged the vaunted 2008 Super Bowl, bringing the city to international attention, it turned its coup into its marketing mantra: Glendale’s Got Game.

In 2008, the city borrowed $200 million to build a spring-training facility for the Los Angeles Dodgers and Chicago White Sox.

In the same year, as financial markets buckled, USA Basketball announced it would move its headquarters to Glendale.

Falling down

The recession ended some of the city’s projects and hurt nearly all of them. Professional hockey, which had propelled the city’s foray into sports, led what seemed a chain reaction of woes.

The Coyotes filed for bankruptcy protection in 2009. The team continues under ownership of the National Hockey League until a permanent buyer is secured.

Since then, the city has spent or promised a total of $50 million toward team and arena operating costs.

“While you are scrambling to get a deal with a new Coyotes buyer … please don’t give away millions of our tax dollars this time,” resident Ken Jones recently told the council, among a growing number of residents concerned about the debt.

USA Basketball last fall canceled its relocation plans after the city’s development partner failed to secure financing.

Westgate, the shopping and entertainment complex near the arena, is lender owned after its developer lost the property to foreclosure earlier this year.

Glendale’s spring-training project also faces difficulty as none of the expected private development to help the city pay for the ballpark has occurred. The city is paying a $200 million debt with borrowed reserves, which will run out in about three years.

The sputtering projects put pressure on the Glendale council and, therefore, Beasley, who admits the past three years have been trying.

Several council members praise Beasley as a tough negotiator with the city’s best interests in mind, while others find him difficult to work with.

A former Coyotes executive came to Beasley seeking concessions in the arena lease nearly a year before the owner ended up filing the team into bankruptcy. Beasley said the city was willing to help but first wanted to see how the management was handling its debt.

Since then, talks to secure the arena’s main tenant have consumed Beasley. Known for his reserve, Beasley became increasingly guarded. Rather than answer questions from the media, Beasley’s staff would frequently issue written statements.

After a deal with Matthew Hulsizer to purchase the Coyotes fell apart last summer, Mayor Elaine Scruggs criticized city administrators for not always providing council with updates, saying her efforts to get more details and to be more involved in guiding negotiations were rebuffed.

Beasley said Hulsizer’s deal wouldn’t work in today’s market or without going against a council directive that a deal not adversely impact city revenues.

Hulsizer would not comment on his dealings with Beasley.

Scruggs skirted questions about her working relationship with Beasley, saying only in an e-mail: “Ed and I are very aware of our many responsibilities and we both work for the best interests of Glendale.”

Councilman Phil Lieberman has been the most vocal council member to express concern about the city’s debt.

Glendale borrowed about $500 million for its sports district. The city will have spent close to $1 billion by the time it is repaid with interest over 30 years.

“He brought mammoth debt,” Lieberman said of Beasley.

However, the council voted in favor of the projects, often unanimously.

Most council members continue to support Beasley.

“He saw the big picture for what Glendale could be, and if it hadn’t been for the bad economic times there would even be more successes,” Councilwoman Yvonne Knaack said.

Despite the economy, Artigue doubted many would want to wipe the slate clean and take back the sports venues built in Glendale.

“We are still better off, in my view, for having that infrastructure and to build upon it as the economy turns around and the West Valley continues to grow,” Artigue said.

Moving on

Beasley has said his retirement will wait as he tries to complete some of the tasks remaining in the city, including a Coyotes ownership deal.

Upcoming budget talks will look at restructuring the spring-training debt, he said.

Beasley said he is “leaving the city in the best possible situation.”

After 27 years in city management, Beasley is ready for a break. At some point next year, he’ll leave the City Hall office decorated with framed awards, newspaper articles like a New York Times article on the University of Phoenix Stadium and a shovel from the stadium ground breaking.

The father of four, who has family photos lining the shelves above his desk, says it’s time to change focus.

Retirement doesn’t necessarily mean disappearing from view: Beasley hasn’t ruled out another position in the public or private sector.

“Just because I’m retiring from the city of Glendale doesn’t mean I’m retiring from life,” Beasley said.

Whether that means he will be involved in some way in the city’s second Super Bowl, slated for 2015, is unknown.

But someone else will be Glendale city manager.

Read more: http://www.azcentral.com/arizonarepublic/local/articles/2011/12/15/20111215glendale-city-manager-sports-tenure.html#ixzz1hyrLrGWO

3rd December
2011
written by JHiggins

Have we killed the entrepreneurial spirit?

Posted: Friday, December 2, 2011 7:00 am
by   Joe Higgins

It’s hard to pick up a newspaper or watch TV news and not see what America is going through right now. People are frustrated and political solutions seem hollow. The uncertainty coming from government has the entire U.S. economy on hold.

Despite what economic experts say, the Great Recession continues. We are in for a long-haul; a new normal.

We see this malaise in shuttered business, home foreclosures and employee layoffs. Like downturns in the late 1980s and early 1990s, we thought “here we go again.” Before long business will come back to normal.

But as we turn the corner into our fourth year of the deepest recession since the Great Depression, it’s settling in that this one is different.

We can break down the causes of the Great Recession from multiple angles but they are topics that will be debated for years and ultimately determined by historians decades after the chips have fallen.

This opinion is about the fallout and the future of Tucson, Arizona and America.

Being an entrepreneur is the most gratifying, hardest thing I’ve ever done. As a serial business start-up person, I’ve rolled the dice more than a dozen times. Each time I start a new business, I research, study, plan and ultimately go all-in on an idea I think is better than anyone else in my market.

As others like me know, sometimes you get it right, others times you miss the mark.

Having mortgaged my home, maxed out credit cards and risked my family’s future on ideas more than once, I’m here to tell you that it has been worth it.

Up until now.

Early on, this Great Recession cleaned out those who who were over-leveraged and bought investments such as houses on interest-only deals that made no sense. Restaurants that went out of business already were teetering on the brink. Businesses that closed in 2008 and 2009 were too leveraged, too concentrated in crowded industries or were run by poor managers. That’s what the capitalist system does.

But now we are seeing a different kind of business failures. Entrepreneurs who played it safe are now watching their lifetime idea slowly slip away.

I’ve lived this journey myself and I’ve talked with my small business friends who are in the same rudderless boat. Many of us have had to close stores. We’ve laid off long-time employees who helped us from the very beginning. These people are more than employees, they’re family.

Most small business owners are wondering two things: How am I going to make payroll next Friday? And will this ever end? Start-ups have notoriously high failure rates but now we are starting to see established businesses buckling under financial pressures. Second-generation businesses handed down from father to son or daughter may not be left to hand down to a third generation.

Last week, I had two high school kids from different schools search me out as part of their career research. They wanted to be entrepreneurs. When I asked why, they responded that they each had a great idea, believed in their abilities, dreamed of potential riches and fame and they loved the variety of skills and duties that come with launching and running a business.

It was difficult for me to be upbeat and positive. It was hard not to tell them what it’s really like. I wanted to explain the dozens of agencies that will be regulating their every move. I wanted to explain how fierce competition can be when you’re up against a Fortune 500 company that has a fleet of lobbyists that can get waivers from federal healthcare mandates or build in a new regulation that is going to wipe out any margin you’ve been able to build.

I didn’t want to tell them the process of going through a local zoning review or the joy of having conflicting opinions come from two different city inspectors and that your only recourse it to say “thank you sir, may I have another.”

I held back on telling these future entrepreneurs about the headaches that come to your life when you hire an employee – from workers compensation claims, to equal employment complaints, to unemployment insurance, to layers of laws to protect employee rights but nothing about who pays the bills.

What I decided to share with the future capitalists was about the days when I didn’t know better and just got up every morning and worked through it.

My formative years came while Ronald Reagan was president, coming in to lead the nation out of the Jimmy Carter mailaise. Reagan won his election in 1980 and reinstated hope in the future with his “It’s Morning Again In America” and tapped into the American ideal of hard work, personal responsibility, patriotism and limited government.

Reagan knew the importance of the small business owner and he understood the power of the free market in getting this country back on track.

I can only imagine most people were wondering in 1979 – as they are today – are America’s best days behind us?

As a serial entrepreneur, I’ve come to the point where my local and federal governments don’t appreciate me and couldn’t care less if I practice my skill at all. As an entrepreneur, I don’t want to be stimulated or bailed out. Until my governments’ attitudes change, I’m going to sit on the sidelines and watch.

Joe Higgins, who is a regular contributor, wrote this column to express his personal feelings. His Tucson business start-ups include Talking Trash Waste Removal, Sports Buzz Haircuts and Gotta Go Wireless. Contact Higgins at wakeuptucson@gmail.com. He and Chris DeSimone host “Wake Up Tucson,” 6 to 8 a.m. weekdays on The Voice KVOI 1030-AM.

2nd November
2011
written by JHiggins

It’s been a tough time for the Tucson Metropolitan Convention and Visitors Bureau.

Budgets have been slashed, people let go and an audit last summer which was highly critical of the way it was performing.

Still, in the face of it all, Pima County gave the bureau $3 million to promote tourism. That’s only about 60% of what the county used to give, but that was before hard times.

The contract signed by the county also contains 24 benchmarks which the bureau must meet.

“I’m hopeful we’ll see some really interesting and dynamic changes in the bureau,” says District 3 supervisor Sharon Bronson.

Like the other supervisors who voted to approve the budget, Bronson is concerned.

One thing the audit pointed out, is that the Tucson Airport is lacking and one reason why Tucson is lagging far behind Phoenix in tourism growth.

It will be up to the bureau to find a way to reverse that trend.

“We all have to do more with less,” she says.

Rather than compete with Phoenix she’s hoping to partner with the Valley of the Sun to attract people here.

“It’s getting the message out to the folks who fly into Phoenix that it’s not that far from Phoenix and there are a lot of things to do down here,” she says.

But nearly everyone agrees that will be difficult because of the airport advantage.

A million people from the metro Tucson area drive to Phoenix every year to take a flight.

Much of that because Phoenix has non stops to most destinations and Tucson doesn’t. Cost adds a certain number ‘but some flights are actually cheaper out of Tucson,” says Felipe Garcia of the MTCVB.

He says check the airlines before you fly.

The Tucson Airport is trying to attract more carriers to add direct flights but so far, no takers.

Garcia says it will take time but Tucson should not limit itself to tourism.

“What we can become is a gateway from Mexico into the United States,” he says. “How do we post ion Tucson as the center for banking, financial services, investment, real estate and business development.”

Some of that might be bridged with more flights and non stops but with so many people going to Phoenix to fly, “what airline would be willing to add flights here,” he says.

That’s a question without an answer right now.

13th October
2011
written by JHiggins

College basketball revenue: Duke first, Arizona 4th, ASU 43rd

Phoenix Business Journal by Mike Sunnucks, Senior Reporter

Date: Thursday, October 13, 2011, 2:50pm MST

Duke University and Durham Convention & Visitors Bureau

Duke University, which plays basketball in Cameron Indoor Stadium, is the top revenue producer in college basketball.

College basketball’s March Madness is all about underdogs and Cinderellas busting brackets. But it’s the big boys of college hoops that dominate the “moneyball” aspects of the sport.

The University of Arizona ranks fourth among Division 1 school when it comes to men’s basketball revenue, according to 2010 figures compiled by the Memphis Business Journal, a sister paper in our chain. The Wildcats basketball program brought in $19.3 million a year ago.

Arizona State University Arizona State UniversityLatest from The Business JournalsAyers Saint Gross to design student housing in downtown PhoenixPhoenix-area home sales fall in SeptemberIPhone robbers hit Tempe, target ASU students Follow this company ranked 43rd for men’s basketball revenue at $8.6 million.

Duke University ranked first in college basketball with $26.7 million in revenue. The Blue Devils also spent the most on their basketball program in 2010 at $12.3 million. Just down the street in Chapel Hill, the University of North Carolina University of North CarolinaLatest from The Business JournalsNew Haiti PM a UNC-CH gradIt may take just to apply at Kenan-FlaglerCampbell med school takes step forwardFollow this company comes in at No. 3 in basketball cash, bringing in $20.6 million in 2010, according to the MBJ. University of Louisville University of LouisvilleLatest from The Business JournalsU of L extends Ramsey’s contract to 2020Elmcroft Senior Living names Wesley presidentU of L trustees to discuss Ramsey contract extensionFollow this company was No. 2.

The University of Kentucky was second to Duke (a high-priced private school) in basketball expenses at $11.6 million, and seventh in revenue $16.8 million. Big-time college basketball coaches take home a pretty good salary. Duke Coach Mike Krzyzewski made $4.7 million last year, according to Associated Press. Kentucky signed coach John Calapari to an eight-year, $31.65 million deal in 2009, according to ESPN ESPNLatest from The Business JournalsMiami Heat’s first two weeks canceledNew Hank Jr. song targets Fox, ESPNWashington Nationals tap media consultant to improve MASN dealFollow this company .

1st October
2011
written by JHiggins

On Wednesday, we laid out a vision for a business-friendly Tucson region. It was part of a forum put on by radio station KVOI 1030-AM and the “Tucson Needs Business” campaign spearheaded by the station’s president, Doug Martin.

While some progress has been made, there are plenty of ways to improve the environment for business in Tucson and Pima County.

Here is what we are proposing:

  1. Pima County should act like a county. The Pima County Board of Supervisors needs to realize that having healthy vibrant municipalities is good for the economy because it creates competition. Blocking annexations and fighting with other jurisdictions is holding back the entire Tucson region. A strong Marana or Sahuarita or Oro Valley is good for the region. Pima County is providing municipal-type services, such as law enforcment and road pothole repairs, to heavily populated unincorporated areas and that contributes to property tax rates that are almost five times higher than what Maricopa County is charging. It’s estimated that because 36 percent of the population is in unincorporated areas, the Tucson region is losing up to $80 million per year in state shared revenues. Pima County needs to get out of the way. That may require a change in a majority on the Board of Supervisors next year.
  2. Remove politics from Tucson Development Services. Between an entrenched bureaucracy and meddling city council members, business owners aren’t just getting squeezed, they’re getting crushed.
  3. Support tourism promotion. Marketing of this region’s tourism assets must be fully-funded to one or more organizations. The organization, or organizations, must be accountable, transparent and effective. The Metropolitan Tucson Convention and Visitors Bureau has an opportunity when it hires its new chief early next year. Once an effective new strategy is crafted, all hands in the region should get behind it to make it happen.
  4. Set governmental priorities. The basics of local government are police, fire and fixing potholes. Those are the priorities that must be in order before trying to win platinum status as a bicycle community.
  5. Get back to education. For businesses to have a reliable workforce source, students must first get a solid educational foundation in reading, writing and math skills. As the state’s second largest school district, Tucson Unified School District bascially defines education in this region. The district of nearly 53,000 students has been sidetracked by such things as ethnic studies, a program in which 365 students are enrolled. Nine schools have been closed in the past two years and with 1,500 students per year opting out under open enrollment or to charter schools, it appears that families are doing what they can to take educational matters into their own hands.
  6. Activate business leaders. Business leaders need to do their part. Claiming to be a pro-business candidate during a campaign isn’t enough. Once elected, business leaders must hold politicians accountable while in office.

Positive changes have occurred over the last 2½ years. New leadership has invigorated the Tucson Metro Chamber. A backroom political deal for an ill-conceived city-owned downtown hotel was stopped, saving taxpayers a $200 million burden. Voters elected Steve Kozachik to replace Nina Trasoff, allowing a new city councilman to shine a light on some of the backroom deals, and the Metropolitan Tucson Convention and Visitors Bureau is about to undergo a management change with the retirement of long-time leader Jonathan Walker.

But there’s more to do. In this economy, Tucson can no longer be content to talk about the weather and wait on the sidelines for opportunity to come knocking.

When opportunity does arrive, city officials shouldn’t be rubbing their hands and seeing it as an opportunity to charge $316,000 in permit fees to build a $900,000 Texas Roadhouse restaurant.

Doug Martin’s campaign is spreading the word that a good business climate is the engine that will create a thriving economy and produce jobs.

Tucson Needs Business.

Contact Joe Higgins and Chris DeSimone at wakeuptucson@gmail.com. They host “Wake Up Tucson,” 6-8 a.m. weekdays on The Voice KVOI 1030-AM. Their blog is at www.TucsonChoices.com.

16th September
2011
written by Arizona Kid

Jonathan Walker today (Sept. 13) announced he is retiring as president and CEO of the Tucson Metropolitan Convention and Visitors Bureau effective March 2012.

The announcement was made by Lynn Ericksen, chair of the board of the MTCVB’s board of directors.

Walker has been with the MTCVB for 18 years and has been the longest serving president of the organization. He has “successfully led destination sales and marketing efforts for the greater Tucson community and region,” according to the announcement.

Walker’s continued presence at the MTCVB over the next six months will help ensure a seamless leadership transition, Ericksen said in his announcement. A search committee will be announced shortly.

The MTCVB has come under increased scrutiny lately with both Pima County and the City of Tucson conducting audits of the organization, especially with respect to the money the MTCVB receives from the government entities.

The Pima County audit noted the Tucson region has fallen behind other areas of the state in attracting tourists.

31st August
2011
written by Arizona Kid

Hey Tucson and Pima County how about you come up with one of these – HERE.

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