Some of the Valley’s top business minds recently gathered at the Arizona Biltmore for an economic symposium sponsored by InBusiness Magazine. InMedia President and CEO Rick McCartney shares what they had to say about creating a brighter future for the local economy.
TED SIMONS: Some of the valley's top business minds gathered at the Arizona Biltmore last week for inbusiness magazine's guest editor symposium. Here to tell us what was said about creating a brighter future for the local economy is Rick McCartney, publisher of inbusiness magazine.
RICK MCCARTNEY: Thank you for having me.
TED SIMONS: What was the purpose of the symposium?
RICK MCCARTNEY: It was to make sense of the fact that there are a lot of business leaders in this town. People who feel very strongly that Arizona is a very ripe place for us to build business. Honestly that's the reason we started the magazine. It's a ripe place to build business and we work with a guest editor for each issue really asking them to come on board using their expertise an help us with what the content of that publication is. So after 16 issues, we were really able to bring 16 top leaders to something like this.
TED SIMONS: So if the guest editor is someone who is an expert on education, then that edition becomes somewhat of a focus on education or just --
RICK MCCARTNEY: Superintendent Huppenthal was our guest September of 2011, and it was an education issue. What he did was help us in focusing on what the state is all about. Sometimes they are interviewed in the cover story for that issue. Other times they are just helping us direct a few of the main articles. So it's not a themed publication. But as I say, the concept of the magazine is to really bring collaboration among business organizations, business people, then expose that to do better business here.
TED SIMONS: That certainly was the goal of the symposium. Let's start with education. What did you hear from Huppenthal?
RICK MCCARTNEY: Basically that we're on a good track. If I remember correctly he was focused on the fact that our numbers have not been wonderful in the past but we're getting there. The legislature and our politicians are focusing better. It was interesting because we started with Mr. Huppenthal, moved from him to Dr. Barrett, Dr. Craig Barrett, who as we know is the founder of basis and a big proponent of charter schools in Arizona, which is an area we are leading in. We're leading the country as far as a legislature to open up the charter school opportunities to build that strong foundation of education. As you know, you were there, Dr. Barrett really dove right into that. Said, you know, we're not on the right track yet. We're going to get there. He believes that it's things like these charter schools and this competitive side of education that's going to fix our problem here. We have said all along that going to business people to build business here is the right way to do it. Maybe not politicians. I said that.
TED SIMONS: Interesting. Let's move on here. There was so much discussed at this event. Real estate both residential and commercial was touched on what. Did we hear?
RICK MCCARTNEY: Jim Peterson was involved when we did a commercial real estate issue a number of months ago. I don't remember what month. Jim Peterson owns Peterson group and owns more than 30 shopping centers focused in that space here in our community. He says that it is on an upswing. He says things are getting better there. Commercial kind of follows residential. So we went to him first to get a sense of where we are. Immediately after that we went to Howard Lien, owner of remax Excalibur, and talked to him. How are we faring from a residential real estate standpoint? His sense of the market is that it's becoming a very different market than what we have been used to before. He had an incredible number of statistics that showed that inventories are way, way down. He had made, I don't know, four or five points to the fact that if we were to -- there's a big foreclosure mess that's seemingly just winding down. He says it isn't that big of a mess because if those properties go on the market we'll sell them.
TED SIMONS: Mentioned how much investor activity was involved in those sales, though. That brings some concern.
RICK MCCARTNEY: It does. There was some concern I think early on when we were seeing all of these investors. Later in the market that's leveling out. We have a unique market to where people can purchase and own five properties and so the people that are investing are here not long term so they are purchasing these properties to turn around and sell. That might be good for our growth.
TED SIMONS: Speaking of growth and jobs, we had an aerospace and defense expert who mentioned there are jobs waiting, tons of jobs waiting in that particular industry and other hot industries looking for people to fill them.
RICK MCCARTNEY: yes. That was Vicki Penhouse. She heads the aerospace and defense commission. It was one of the reasons we had her on board. She's also part of the Arizona commerce authority board and has been very active in bringing we hope some of this federal money to our region for some things that they want to work on in Aero space and defense, which would drive some incredible jobs here. Pilots as she mentioned, and those are career-based positions. That's good for our work force.
TED SIMONS: Also good for Arizona, for some folks at least, regarding Arizona, is to get the message out of what really goes on here as opposed to the glaring headlines that people see and read across the country, and one of the guests basically said, tell people why you live here. You're here for a reason. You chose to stay here. You're having a good time. You enjoy it. Tell people about it.
RICK MCCARTNEY: That's right. That was really a wonderful way to end it. He's in marketing and he really does understand that we are in a good place. This growth and what we talk about in building business here is very possible because people want to be here. We love it here. Today it was a little hot but we still love Arizona. Tourism, Derek hall talked about tourism, how the recession didn't truly affect what it is they are doing because of all of the major league baseball teams ours is the most affordable. During recession we had people driven to those games which really helps our region. So we're smart about what we're doing, we just have to collaborate more, be a little smarter, sometimes be tough to make sure it's working.
TED SIMONS: Indeed. It was a very encouraging group of guests, encouraging to hear. I think the moderator did a fantastic job.
RICK MCCARTNEY: I would have to agree. The moderator's voice is very recognizable.
TED SIMONS: Rick, good to have you here. We appreciate it.
Rick McCartney:President and CEO, InMedia;