“Five Communities Project” Winners

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Dr. Lattie Coor, chairman and CEO of the Center for
the Future of Arizona, discusses the five winners of a CFA-sponsored
competition to make Arizona a better place to live and work.

Ted Simons: For much of the last year we have been following the progress of a statewide competition to find the best ideas for strengthening Arizona at the local level. The five communities contest is sponsored by the center for the future of Arizona, the center recently announced the five winning community projects. Here to tell us about the winners is Dr. Lattie Coor, president and CEO of the Center for the Future of Arizona.

Ted Simons: Encapsule what this project was meant to do.

Dr. Lattie Coor: When we had the gallup Arizona poll released two years ago it identified a series of major goals for Arizona's future, education, job creation, civic engagement, health access, environment, and we put together a number of policy activities that have gone with it. But we discovered in the process that local communities wanted to get into it. They wanted to strengthen their economy. They wanted to strengthen their education. They wanted to do work with environment, so we created this contest saying give us your best idea, make sure it's transformational. We'll pick five of you and go with national funders to enable you to put the idea into place.

Ted Simons: We'll start with the wine growers region in the Verde valley region.

Dr. Lattie Coor: It's a whole state region. Originally there were three proposals. They put them into a single proposal at the end. It has Yavapai County, Santa Cruz County and Cochise County. It's the statewide wine growers association, and they have engaged their community, they have engaged all of the parts of the industry itself and are absolutely convinced as were we when we visited them and saw their material that it will keep young people in their community, will create not only tourism and excitement but a very healthy kind of economic base wherever they are.

Ted Simons: Especially in those rural communities. Another winner, Desert Botanical Garden, talk to us about that.

Dr. Lattie Coor: The mountain preserve alliance, they are committed to making sure that we preserve and use these mountains preserves, but they have the entire region of city, County parks around the city involved with them. So the alliance is to not only preserve them but to find ways to get people to use them more actively throughout the whole metropolitan area.

Ted Simons: Sounds like a worthy winner. What is gangplank?

Dr. Lattie Coor: There is a fascinating kind of new movement where people with creative ideas want to create companies, we have seen it in start-ups in the bay area for a long time, can come in with no cost to them, where these young people that put it together -- the town of Chandler put the space together for them so they could make it happen, that they come together, try 14 their ideas out, create companies. They have to pay nothing but they have to give social capital to encourage one another to come. It's worth a visit. I would encourage anyone who would like to go downtown Chandler, go into gangplank and watch this phenomenon happen. They are creating companies just every day.

Ted Simons: Local talent, small business.

Dr. Lattie Coor: You bet.

Ted Simons: International Sonoran Desert Alliance.

Dr. Lattie Coor: Very long handle for an organization that for years was working on preserving the area around AHO, but now in this project is rebuilding it. They have done a phenomenal job of taking the old high school, putting 30 apartments in there for low income artists. They are all full. They have an activity created there. What this project will do is enable them to provide the kind of preparation for work that is needed in the community, where there are jobs available but people who didn't finish high school or -- get a GED, and a capacity to enter the work force so they don't have to leave after they get their education.

Ted Simons: Number five, the last, the YWCA of Tucson. Why a winner?

Dr. Lattie Coor: Fascinating. They have committed themselves to taking Spanish speaking women in the area, enable them to begin understanding the culture they are living in, master the language, but far more importantly understand that there are things you do when you're here. If you're a parent, if you come from another country, obviously, you don't understand that you have to make requests of the school. Challenge the school. How well are you doing with our youngsters? This program is to reach out to several thousand people all together and build a community within them where they can reinforce one another.

Ted Simons: With these five winning ideas now, for lack of a better way to put it, what do they get?

Dr. Lattie Coor: We have promised them our best effort. We don't have the money. We're going to national foundations, local foundations to help fund them. $100,000 a year per project for three years. So it's a total $1.5 million project that now that we have them selected I and others are riding the circuit. We have had a number of national foundations interested in this and involved with us. It's our job now to get them funded.

Ted Simons: These were the winners, obviously, but there were a lot of entrants.

Dr. Lattie Coor: 96 proposals came in.

Ted Simons: Some of them are good ideas. Are they moving forward on their own?

Dr. Lattie Coor: Best we can tell, approximately 50 of them are moving ahead. We are going to try also to encourage others. There were ten finalists and we're working initially beyond the five that were chosen with the other five, very strong proposals. But we're trying to create a network where they learn from one another, encourage one another, find their own ways to make it happen.

Ted Simons: Last question regarding these five winners, from a distance, what did you see them having in common?

Dr. Lattie Coor: Passion and spark and belief that they are not going to wait for somebody else to do it. They are going to take what they think is very important, our language was transformational and they mostly always did that, and they are going to put together a plan working collaboratively to make it happen.

Ted Simons: Has to be encouraging effort for you to undertake.

Dr. Lattie Coor: Very much so. There's great spirit, great gusto out there and a great willingness to pitch in and make things happen.

Ted Simons: It helps you and others show optimism for Arizona.

Dr. Lattie Coor: You bet.

Ted Simons: Congratulations. We followed this from the get-go. Nice to find out who the five winners are. We'll see where their projects go with a little bit of assistance.

Dr. Lattie Coor: Glad to be able to tell you about it.

Ted Simons: Good to see you.

Dr. Lattie Coor: You bet.

Dr. Lattie Coor : Chairman and CEO of the Center for
The Future of Arizona

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