Winning passage of 'Arizona Investment Package'
SALC began the year with a list of legislative priorities working with the Southern Arizona delegation for passage of our “Arizona Investment Package.” We had success winning the passage of critical legislation in support of Science Foundation Arizona, Research and Development Tax Credits, STEM and the Arizona Global Network. Mike Hammond and Eric Hedlund with the Strategic Initiatives Task Force led SALC’s efforts.
Showcasing our Beauty
SALC co-sponsored the “Showcasing our Beauty” cleanup in January along a five-mile stretch in the main corridor leading from Tucson International Airport to downtown Tucson. “Let’s be proud of the place we call home and make a good first impression,” said SALC Chair Peter Likins at the press conference kicking off the event. Richard Underwood provided a backdrop of desert plants for the event. Duff Hearon committed the Hearon Companies to cleaning a significant section of Tucson Boulevard.
Tucson Regional Water Coalition created
Due to SALC’s leadership of the business community in continuing to push for a regional approach to water management and planning, the City Council and Board of Supervisors in February created a “broad-based and transparent public process for engaging our diverse community.” City Councilwoman Karin Uhlich described the Council’s move as “historic” and praised it as being an important step to “enter into a coordinated and cooperative era of planning in our community.” Ken Abrahams and the SALC Water Task force continued to push the effort with the creation of the Tucson Regional Water Coalition, a group of 11 business organizations dedicated to the effective management of the region’s water and wastewater resources.
Advising on state budget deficit
At the invitation of the Governor and Legislature, leaders from SALC, the Greater Phoenix Leadership and the Flagstaff Forty met in February with House Speaker Jim Weiers and Senate President Tim Bee to advise the state on how to handle its budget deficit, which was estimated at $1.1 billion for 2008 and $1.7 billion or more in 2009. The SALC contingent included Larry Aldrich, Joe Coyle, Eric Hedlund, Kathleen Perkins, Gene Sander and Richard Underwood.
Community Conversation on Arts and Culture
Tucson Regional Town Hall follow-up meetings continued in 2008, with a Community Conversation on Arts and Culture in March attracting 160 people who came together to help ensure that Tucson’s arts community is vigorous and vital. Kathleen Perkins, Mike Jameson and Pete Likins played key roles at the event, which helped launch the Pima Cultural Plan for the region.
Strong support for the state's universities
In April, SALC gave strong support to an economic stimulus package designed to help the hard-hit construction industry while making a critically important investment in the state’s universities. The Legislature approved a $1 billion package, with the Board of Regents allocating it among the state’s three public universities. Eric Hedlund, Leslie Tolbert and Robert Shelton led the charge for SALC on this initiative.
Community Conversation on Early Childhood Education
In May, the Community Conversation on Early Childhood Education attracted more than 400 participants to develop action items to ensure young children in the Tucson region are given every opportunity to succeed. The First Things First initiative was successfully launched with Donald Diamond, Steve Lynn and Pete Likins playing leading roles.
'Historic' agreement on furthering bioscience
Also in May, the region’s leaders in bioscience reached an agreement to cooperate and coordinate their efforts. UA Vice President Leslie Tolbert characterized the agreement as “historic” and credited SALC President Ron Shoopman with “knitting these groups together.” Chris Gleeson Co-Chairs the work on the newly energized Southern Arizona Bioscience Steering Committee. SALC’s Bioscience Action Team has strong and active membership with D ewey Manzer, Roger Vogel, Neil Simon, Ray Woosley and Harry George taking leading roles.
Successful opposition to payday lending
The SALC Board in May recommended against the passage of the deceptively named “Payday Loan Reform Act,” which would have removed the 2010 sunset provision from the legislation allowing payday lenders to operate in Arizona. Voters in November rejected the “reform” by a margin of 3-to-2. The SALC Board of Directors stood up for business ethics with their strong support for defeating this initiative.
Organizing to combat economic and habitat threat from buffelgrass
On July 10, 45 scientists, land managers and government leaders met in a forum organized primarily by SALC to discuss the growing threat that the invasive weed buffelgrass presents to the Sonoran Desert, and to the lifestyle and tourism economy in the desert. A key recommendation was the creation of a Buffelgrass Coordination Center to coordinate among the different jurisdictions and to provide a centralized source of expertise. That center was formally created in the fall. Sarah Smallhouse, Lisa Lovallo and Steve Lynn have committed to this project.
A private-sector vision for Downtown Tucson
In late July, SALC members from the development community met with the president of the Tucson Downtown Partnership to discuss a private-sector vision for the future of Downtown Tucson. The creation of a private-sector plan for Downtown is anticipated in early 2009. Mike Hammond leads SALC’s work on Downtown Tucson with Partnership Chairman Steve Lynn. Stan Abrams, Don Bourn, Ken Abrahams, Kip Volpe, Neil Simon and Duff Hearon provided input along with others from SALC. The final plan is expected in early 2009.
Creation of statewide "Fund of Funds" for venture capital
Also in July, the first investment was made in a statewide “Fund of Funds,” which was created to diversify the state’s economy and increase innovation and knowledge-based industries in the state. The idea was first put forth by SALC member Harry George, managing partner of Solstice Capital, at an SALC Bioscience Action Team Meeting. The team support for the idea led to a White Paper on the subject, which quickly led to the adoption of the idea by the Arizona Economic Resource Organization Board.
First graduates from new fast-track nurse education program
In August, SALC joined with the Hospital Council of Southern Arizona in celebrating the first graduates from a new fast-track program to educate nurses and reduce the severe nursing shortage in the region. SALC worked closely with the Hospital Council on the program. SALC and HCSA CEOs Ruth Brinkley, Greg Pivirotto, Judy Rich and Paul Kappelman provide funding and oversight of this critical program.
Successful support for Central Arizona Project board candidates
For the first time ever, SALC in September endorsed candidates by supporting a slate of four highly capable Tucsonans for election to the nonpartisan Central Arizona Project board. Three of the four were elected on Nov. 4. Duff Hearon led the subcommittee of the Water Task Force to support these candidates.
Community Conversation on K-12 Education
In October, the fifth in the series of “Community Conversations” focused on K-12 Education and attracted over 500 participants – the largest Town Hall follow-up meeting to date. SALC Education Task Force Co-Chairs Roger Vogel and Don Pitt worked to ensure the program’s success. SALC members Jim Gentile, Bruce Dusenberry, Colleen Niccum, Pete Likins and Gary Clark played key roles at the event.
Tucson Values Teachers launched as a major community initiative
Tucson Values Teachers — a major initiative to ensure that the Tucson region attracts, retains and supports the very best teachers — was announced at the Community Conversation on K-12 Education. This was SALC’s most ambitious education undertaking ever. As an indicator of the initiative’s importance to SALC and the community, Jacquelyn Jackson was hired as executive director to oversee the major components of the initiative — teacher incentives, opportunities for professional development, teacher internships and an effort to provide more resources to education. Governor Janet Napolitano was the keynote speaker.
Tax deductible contributions now possible for Town Hall and Tucson Values Teachers
To put muscle behind Tucson Values Teachers and the Tucson Regional Town Hall, SALC announced the formation of two new charitable funds at the Community Foundation for Southern Arizona. The funds allow contributors to claim tax deductions for donating to both projects.
Community Conversation on Regional Land Use
December saw the sixth in the series of Town Hall follow-up meetings as Tucsonans attended the “Community Conversation on Regional Land Use” to discuss ways our region can improve its planning and collaboration. Mike Hammond, Ken Abrahams, Mark Mistler, Si Schorr, Eric Hedlund, Steve Lynn and Mitch Stallard were key supporters and sponsors of the event.