BizTucson Summer 2023

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SUMMER 2023 $3.99 DISPLAY UNTIL 9/30/23

We are proud to present our third an nual Women Leading the Region issue honoring the extraordinary women who advance Southern Arizona. This year’s honorees are thriving in academia, beauty, bioscience, education, health care, global management, real estate, law, finance, commercial construction, interior design, public service, housing and technology. Tara Kirkpatrick, Rod ney Campbell, Christy Krueger, Tiffany Kjos and Loni Nannini shar ries.

Romi Carrell Wittman files an indepth report on the University of Arizona Center for Innovation, which marks 20 years. Since its 2003 incep tion, UACI has supported some 255 startups, with a focus on the fields of biotechnology, environmental science, aerospace, renewable energy and more. UACI helps entrepreneurs launch a business by providing access to people, programming and more. There are fascinating profiles of more than a dozen startups supported by UACI. Additionally, the team offers startups a signature 27-point “Roadmap” to success. UACI’s presence includes Tech Parks Arizona, outposts in Oro Valley, Biosphere 2, Sahuarita, Sierra Vista and Tech Parks at The Bridges. You’ll be impressed by the innovation ecosystem that’s evolved over the past two decades.

Our region continues to experience construction in every category. Jay Gonzales provides a comprehensive overview of the housing industry and current trends. Tom Leyde also files a report from “The Power of Real Estate” summit, which took place recently at Tucson Convention Center.

Dave Perry provides coverage of two recently completed buildings that are, architecturally, on a grand scale at UArizona and Pima Community College and will boost workforce development to a whole new level.

UArizona’s $89 million Applied Research Building is a giant leap for space science. The facility allows the university to reach for the stars and create near-Earth solutions. It is “science, non-fiction” fueled by imagination. The building houses a High-Bay Payload Laboratory beneath a 40-foot-high reinforced concrete ceiling securing two five-ton cranes, fittingly named Wilbur and Wilma. Here, scientists and engineers can assemble and store highaltitude stratospheric balloons, conduct satellite missions and evaluate perfor-

mance. Also featured is a Thermal Vacuum Chamber, a 40-ton, 13-foot by 24-foot enclosure so large it had to be placed ahead of construction.

A few miles away is the newly opened, $35 million PCC Advanced Manufacturing Building. The threestory, 100,000-square-foot building sits near the school’s new Automotive Technology and Innovation Center. At the Advanced Manufacturing Building, students will learn automated industrial technology, computer-aided design, machining and welding. They’ll study prototyping robotics and automation, and mechatronics (the melding of computer science, electronics and mechanization). Plus, the exploration of optics, photonics and electronics.

Nearly 15 years ago, we launched BizTucson with the theme “Why the World is Watching Tucson.” In our premiere edition, we honored global visionary Mel Zuckerman, who changed the world with the creation of Canyon Ranch. Zuckerman recently passed away at age 94. David Pittman files a moving tribute, honoring the man who created the modern spa movement. Mel and his wife, Enid, have also supported the transformation of health education, with the Mel and Enid Zuckerman College of Public Health at UArizona. We also report on the groundbreaking of the Pima JTED Mel and Enid Zuckerman Building for health care careers at The Bridges.

We are grateful for our loyal readers, the tremendous support of our advertisers and our exceptional editorial team and their high standard of journalism.

Summer 2023 Volume 15 No. 2

Publisher & Owner Steven E. Rosenberg

Creative Director Brent G. Mathis

Contributing Editors Donna Kreutz

Tara Kirkpatrick

Jay Gonzales

Romi Carrell Wittman

Contributing Technology Director Mike Serres

Contributing Project Coordinator Maricela Robles

Contributing Writers

Rodney Campbell

Jay Gonzales

Tara Kirkpatrick

Tiffany Kjos

Christy Krueger

Tom Leyde

Contributing Photographers

Jose Beltran

Brent G. Mathis

Chris Mooney

Frank & Christie Pickrell

BizTucson News Update

Loni Nannini

Dave Perry

David Pittman

Steve Rivera

Valerie Vinyard

Romi Carrell Wittman

Chris Richards HawkView Aerial Solutions

(Email Newsletter) Brent G. Mathis Tara Kirkpatrick


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BizTucson Magazine Issue 4 (ISSN 1947-5047 print, ISSN 2833-6739 online) is published quarterly for $16 per year by Rosenberg Media, LLC., 4729 E. Sunrise Dr., PMB 505, Tucson, AZ 85718-4534. Periodicals postage pending at Phoenix, AZ, and additional mailing offices.

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520.299.1005 or 520.907.1012 4 BizTucson < < < Summer 2023
Summer 2023 BizCONTENTS DEPARTMENTS BizLETTER 4 From the Publisher BizHONORS 30 Metropolitan Pima Alliance Common Ground Awards BizCONSTRUCTION 36 Pima JTED Advances Healthcare Mel & Enid Zuckerman Center for Health BizREALESTATE 40 Real Estate Market in State of Flux BizHOUSING 44 Homebuilders Change Strategies to Meet Market Needs BizDESIGN 58 JKaiser Workspaces Focuses on Environments BizRADAR 64 On The Radar Region Receives National Acclaim BizAWARDS 101 Social Venture Partners Fast Pitch BizREALESTATE 102 Commercial Real Estate Women of Tucson BizCONSTRUCTION 128 New to Market Upcoming Developments in the Region 132 A Giant Leap for Space Science Innovation UArizona Applied Research Building Opens 136 Pima Community College Advanced Manufacturing Building Opens BizLAW 142 Step Up For Justice Offers Free Civil Legal Aid BizTRIBUTE 144 Mel Zuckerman: An Icon of Health and Wellness SUMMER 2023 VOLUME 15 NO. 2 136 132 FEATURES COVER STORY: 107 WOMEN LEADING THE REGION 108 Jennifer Barton 109 Lori Carroll 110 Desiree Cook 110 Leigh-Anne Harrison 114 Paula Register Hecht 115 Kate Maguire Jensen 118 Cecilia Mata 119 Amy McReynolds 120 Linda Morales 121 Lisa Rulney 124 Keri Silvyn 125 Monica Vargas-Mahar 126 Jana Westerbeke ABOUT THE COVER Women Leading the Region Photography by Chris Mooney Creative Design by Brent G. Mathis Hair & Makeup: Gadabout SalonSpas Furnishings: Copenhagen Imports 65 University of Arizona Center Innovation Marks Years SPECIAL REPORT 2023 THE REGION’S BUSINESS MAGAZINE TWO DECADES OF FUELING THE STARTUP ECOSYSTEM IN ARIZONA UNIVERSITY OF ARIZONA CENTER FOR INNOVATION SPECIAL REPORT 132

bership grow from 31,500 to 178,000 and total assets increase from $239 million to $1.9 billion. He joined Hughes in 1986 as a finance manager and was consistently promoted before being named president and general manager in 1999.

Lance Jones has joined Pima Foundation as its director of philanthropy. He is a Tucson native and University of Arizona graduate with more than 30 years of experience in government, business and entrepreneurship. Jones has a strong technical background, having worked for AOL, Apple, Google, and grant writing for Simply Bits. He has developed and owned commercial property and various businesses.

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nior VP and group manager for PNC Commercial Banking in Tucson and Southern Arizona. Asúnsolo previously served as relationship manager, senior commercial relationship associate and branch retail executive for PNC and its predecessor organizations BBVA USA and Compass Bank. In his role, he will develop relationships and serve the banking needs of regional businesses.

Megan Powe is the new COO for Carondelet St. Joseph’s Hospital. Powe joined Carondelet Health Network as the Market Chief Strategy Officer in 2021 and has helped drive growth, physician recruitment, marketing and business development initiatives. Through her leadership in major projects and investments, the network has installed a new Neuro Interventional Radiology Lab, Epilepsy Monitoring Unit and Wound Care Clinic.

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Megan Powe

Tucson International Airport Welcomes New Nonstop Daily Service to Orange County

Alaska Airlines has announced new nonstop service between Southern Arizona and Southern California with flights connecting Tucson International Airport (TUS) and Orange County’s John Wayne Airport (SNA). The seasonal service is scheduled to begin on Dec. 14. Introductory fares as low as $99 one way are available at alaskaair. com.

Daily nonstops through Apr. 17, 2024 will be operated on Embraer 175 aircraft, featuring roomy overhead bins and two-by-two seating. Alaska continues to expand its offerings at SNA with Tucson being the 6th destination. Orange County will be the 4th Alaska destination for TUS.

“This new route is the result of our team connecting the dots to demonstrate demand to our airline partners and accomplishing a top priority,” said Tucson Airport Authority President and CEO Danette Bewley. “Southern Arizonans now have a more convenient

way to reach the top attractions around Los Angeles, and Southern Californians, who are our top source of visitors to Tucson, have a convenient way to skip the seven-hour drive.”

For Southern Arizonans, SNA is the closest airport to such major Orange County attractions as Disneyland and Disney California Adventure Park, Knott’s Berry Farm, and numerous Southern California beaches. Great shopping, dining, and live entertainment are nearby as well.

Visitors to Tucson arrive in the heart of the unique Sonoran Desert, the only place in the world that is the natural habitat of the iconic and majestic Saguaro cactus. Mountain ranges in all directions offer scenic drives, and even snow skiing. With the most winter sunshine of any city in the United States, Tucson invites visitors to play in its wideopen outdoor spaces and enjoy finding out why it is a “City of Gastronomy”.

“We’re always looking at new routes

to connect our guests, and we see a lot of potential with our new nonstop between sunny Orange County and sunny Tucson,” said Kirsten Amrine, VP of revenue management and network planning at Alaska Airlines. “There’s plenty to enjoy in Southern California and the desert of Arizona, especially when we begin this new flight in the winter as the weather is turning nearly everywhere else.”

The flight will operate daily. Travelers from SNA will depart at 11:40 a.m. and arrive at TUS at 2:20 p.m. Passengers from TUS will depart at 3:05 p.m. and arrive at SNA at 3:49 p.m. Departures and arrivals are listed in local times.

Alaska Airlines, as a member of the oneworld global alliance, allows guests to earn and redeem miles on more than 20 airlines, including Tucson’s largest airline, American, to more than 1,000 destinations around the world.

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30 BizTucson < < < Summer 2023 1 2 3 6 11 14 17 7 18 8 19 9 12 15 20 4
1) Allyson Solomon 2) Mike Grassinger, David Godliewski, Terry Klipp 3) David Ramsower, Lisa Bowers, Kevin Hall 4) Tom Warne 5) Brad Lloyd-Lloyd Construction 6) KB Home Team 7) BWS Architects Team 8) The Planning Center Team 9) Liz Pocock — accepting for Fletcher McCusker 10) Lazarus & Silvyn Team 11) Diamond Ventures 12) Tom McGovern

2023 Metropolitan Pima Alliance Common Ground Awards

Metropolitan Pima Alliance’s 25th annual Common Ground Awards took a new turn for its quarter-century anniversary.

This year, the evening focused on people instead of collaborative building projects in Southern Arizona. People were honored in these categories: ounders Award, Exemplary Board Service Award, Community Builders, Collaborative Public Policy and Past Public-Private Partnership Common Ground Award Winners.

MPA, a nonprofit with more than 150 members, was founded as a force for responsible growth and development. It has connected key stakeholders and fostered collaborative discussions. That effort has led to solutions that consider

impacts on quality of life, local economy and the environment.

The organization has played a crucial role in aiding the revitalization of Downtown Tucson, the Chuck Huckleberry Loop, Rio Nuevo Multipurpose Facilities District and, more recently, the Oro Valley Marketplace.

Its mission statement, in part, reads: “MPA’s focus is to facilitate sensible land use and development policies and practices by encouraging and assembling reasonable and respectful dialogue amongst diverse groups and interests. Unique to the region, MPA is an alliance of business, government, and non-profit organizations. MPA’s goals directly relate to improving our region’s quality of life and economic vitality.”

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Summer 2023 > > > BizTucson 31
5 10 13 16 21
13) Sunbelt Holdings Team 14) Jason Wong 15) Bill Carroll 16) Chuck Martin 17) Pima County Team 18) City of Tucson Team 19) Town of Marana: Mayor Ed Honea and Town Manager Terry Rozema 20) Town of Oro Valley Councilmember Steve Solomon 21) Town of Sahuarita Mayor Tom Murphy

Founders Award

Honored with the Founders Award were David Godlewski of the Southern Arizona Home Builders Association; Terry Klipp of Terramar Properties; and Mike Grassinger of The Planning Center.

Grassinger recalled how MPA began in 1997, when he met with two other local businessmen for a drink.

“We decided we would like to form a group that would bring together and educate members of the development community, the elected and appointed jurisdictional members as well as interested members of the public to discuss land use issues in Pima County,” he said.

“We modeled it on Valley Partnership in Phoenix. This was one of the few times we thought we could learn something from Phoenix,” Grassinger said.

“The purpose of MPA,” Grassinger said, “was to shine the light on the development industry in Pima County.”

He said the trio created an organization that would not be an advocate, but

rather an educational and support organization to bring people together to discuss issues about development. The goal was to come to some understanding and resolve certain issues, understanding each group’s or individual’s concerns.

Klipp, who has been involved in real estate for more than 50 years, said that Tucson was a growth, no-growth town

in the 1970s. He recalled bumper stickers that read “No growth” and others that said “Will no growth feed your family?”

Back then, Klipp said, there were two jurisdictions: Tucson and Pima County. “We were constantly butting heads trying to get land use and trying to get land use standards, in one way or another, to where they were workable.”

Klipp said he jumped at the chance in 1997 to be on MPA’s board of directors, “because it was an opportunity to kind of change the dialogue. It wasn’t a good time,” he said. “But when MPA formed to try to get policies formed through collaboration that drew me to the group. “MPA has become kind of a go-to organization because jurisdictions know that we’re willing to collaborate and try to move and foster development standards and to make Tucson a better community,” he said. “I’m very proud of the small part I played in moving this organization forward.”

Godlewski called the award a tremendous honor and great recogni-

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continued from page 31
“The purpose of MPA was to shine the light on the development industry in Pima County.”
– Mike Grassinger The Planning Center

tion for the Southern Arizona Homebuilder’s Association. “All the credit goes to SAHBA members,” he said.

“Taking a look at the next 25 years, there’s no shortage of challenges,” he said. “But I’m encouraged by all the opportunities we have, an opportunity to unify around a shared vision, one of success and prosperity.

“We’re really elevating all of our businesses and residents,” Godlewski said. “But that’s going to take collaboration. That’s going to take all of us in the room working together to accomplish that. So I’m pleased to work with MPA to try to reach those goals. And I want to thank everyone with MPA for doing what you’ve done to help build our community.”

The Other Award Winners Were:

Exemplary Board Service Award:

• Jack Clements

• Kevin Hall

• Lisa Bowers

• Robin Shambach

• Emeritis: David Ramsower

• Emeritus: Lucinda Smedley

Community Builders Award:

• Tom Warne

• Tom McGovern

• Fletcher McCusker

• Lloyd Construction

• Sundt Construction

• KB Home

Collaborative Public Policy Award

• Jason Wong

• Bill Carroll

• Chuck Mar tin

Honoring Past Public-Private Partnership Common Ground Award Winners:

• Pima Count y Chuck Huckleberr y Loop

• Cit y of Tucson Sunlink Streetcar

• Town of Marana, Marana Heritage River Park

• Town of Oro Valley, Innovation Park

• Town of Sahuarita, Rancho Sahuarita Biz

• Lazarus & Silvyn P.C.

• Diamond Ventures Inc.

• The Planning Center

• Sunbelt Holdings

Summer 2023 > > > BizTucson 33 Biz

Pima JTED Advances Healthcare

Mel & Enid Zuckerman Center for Health and Medical Careers Breaks Ground

Pima County Joint Technical Education District is expanding again.

JTED has broken ground for a new building at The Bridges, 3300 S. Park Ave. The 50,000-square-foot structure will be built directly next to the existing JTED facility, which opened last October.

Expected to be completed by August 2024, the new structure will be known as the Mel & Enid Zuckerman Center

for Health and Medical Careers. The Zuckerman family donated $5 million toward the cost of the $21 million project. About $13 million had been raised at the time of the May 4 groundbreaking

The building also will house the Potoff Private Philanthropy Veterinary Sciences Center and the Connie Hillman Family Foundation Health & Wellness Center.

“An increased demand for workers in the medical and veterinary science fields was a strong impetus for the new building,” said Greg D’Anna, JTED’s director of public relations. Medical and veterinary classes in the existing building at The Bridges will move into the new structure when it is completed, he said.

“Eventually, we look to add more buildings at the site of The Bridges,”

36 BizTucson < < < Summer 2023

D’Anna said. “We have first right of re fusal for the property just north of us.”

Pima JTED is a public career and technical education district work ing with business and industry and 14 member school districts. It provides career training programs to about 22,000 sophomore, junior and senior high school students annually.

At the groundbreaking ceremony JTED CEO Kathy Prather said the

cine and veterinary science.”

“I thought this is one of the top things that adds value to our community,” Robbins said. “This is a big deal today. This is something that is going to change the course of healthcare in Arizona.”

“This is all about you,” he told stu-

dents in attendance at the groundeaking. “But it’s all about us because the future is bright. These students are going to go into the workforce and they’re going into healthcare. Don’t waste this opportunity because this is going to be an incredible experience in getting you ready.”

Pima JTED Board Chair Bob Schlanger added: “I’ve been astounded by

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Summer 2023 > > > BizTucson 37

the public support for this project. It validates what we’ve been working toward for the last 16 years.”

Other private donors at the time of the groundbreaking included:

• Potoff Private Philanthropy − $2 million.

• Connie Hillman Family Foundation − $2.5 million.

• Thomas R. Brown Family Private Foundation − $2 million.

• Rotary Club of Tucson − $750,000.

• Allison & Simon Heinz Trust − $100,000.

• Tucson Medical Center − $300,000.

• Banner Health − $100,000

• Pascua Yaqui Tribe − $50,000.

• Federal government − $3 million

“These gifts will not only help us resolve the critical shortage of health, medical and veterinary professionals in our community, but will also make innovative, holistic curriculum and advanced medical training tools available to high school students pursuing careers in these areas,” Prather said in a news release.

Juan Ciscomani, U.S. congressman representing Arizona’s Sixth District, also is working to obtain federal funding for the new building. Ciscomani said the new project is filling the need in the community for more workers.

“I’m so excited for the Mel & Enid Zuckerman Center,” Shirley Martin, a junior in the JTED healthcare program, said at the groundbreaking. “This will open so many opportunities for students who are interested in the medical field and the health field overall. This program has set me up for life. As soon as I graduate, I’ll be working at a hospital or in a clinic.”

continued from page 37 Biz

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“This is something that is going to change the course of healthcare in Arizona.”
– Dr. Robert C. Robbins President University of Arizona
Summer 2023 > > > BizTucson 39

Real Estate Market in Flux Power of Real Estate Event Outlines Issues

There are big changes in the real estate industry these days. Those attending The Power of Real Estate event sponsored by the Tucson Association of REALTORS® on March 10 at the Tucson Convention Center learned how big they are.

The Federal Reserve’s multiple interest rate hikes aimed at taming inflation have made it more difficult for home buyers and everyone else seeking bank loans.

Home sales in Tucson were down 18%, the lowest since 2014, said Lawrence Yun, National Association of REALTORS® chief economist. That, he said, was due to interest rate hikes that

pushed 30-year home loan rates to as high as 7.5%.

Yun said the price of new existing homes have declined in the West. He said the nation is on the cusp of a housing price plunge. And while the inventory of homes is rising, he said, the nation still remains short of housing.

Yun said he expects mortgage rates will level off at about 5.5%, but added, “I could be wrong.”

Several other speakers took part in the event, covering such topics as water, legislation, market trends and navigating the new normal.

David Welsh of Sun Corridor Inc. addressed Tucson’s competitiveness and

site selection criteria.

Tucson’s workforce numbers are positive, he said, but the availability of existing land is down. However, finding workers with the right skillsets for projects has been an issue, he added.

Tucson International Airport has been working hard to promote business. It has 3.4 million passengers annually and 21 nonstop destinations with seven airlines serving the site, including service to Canada.

“We’re lucky to have what we have,” Welsh said. “We want you to fly out of Tucson and the airlines want you to fly out of Tucson.”

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Summer 2023 > > > BizTucson 41

Welsh said there is a need to upgrade the airport terminal and that $1.1 billion is planned to do just that.

Land development is a long process and developers are doing environmental studies in advance, he said. And an Interstate 10 interchange at Country Club is being proposed.

Sharon Megdal spoke about the Water Resources Research Center at the University of Arizona and the Colorado River.

The Colorado River, she said, is in crisis after a long period of low flows and overdrafts. Too much water is being taken from Lake Mead, she said, but winter snow melt may help some. “Careful water management is key to the entire state,” Megdal said. But there are different rules for federal, state and tribal lands.

The Water Resources Research Center is trying to help communities understand water issues. “Know where your water comes from,” Medgal said, and think about appropriate use of water. Also, she said, build in water use laws when designing new developments.

“The glass is half full and half empty,” she said. “We’re all in this together and we need to find out how we can live

The federal government put $1.4 billion into water infrastructure last year, she said. However, 95% of rain evaporates before it gets into the ground.

“There’s a lot of solutions out there that

in the next five to 10 years, he said. Future planning is crucial and zoning must be in place for necessary development. Land acquisition and zoning take a long time, which slows development, Carroll said.

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“We’re all in this together and we need to find out how we can live and thrive in the desert.”
– Sharon Megdal Director Water Resources Research Center

Adjusting to a New Normal

Homebuilders Change Strategies to Meet Market Needs

If there is such a thing as “normal” in the housing market, it has been anything but that over the last two to three years in the Tucson area – and probably everywhere.

The pandemic of 2020 threw everything into disarray. There was an unanticipated rush for housing in the area, both in the new-home and resale markets. Interest rates reached historic lows. Demand exploded. Supply was low. Available labor and the supply chain were causing chaos.

As we reach the summer of 2023, builders say there are signs that normal is on the horizon, although just what will be considered normal going forward probably is nowhere near the prepandemic normal. “Normal” depends on the segment of the market you’re talking about.

“I think now we’re starting to see just a little bit of some normalcy,” said Amy McReynolds, division president for KB Home, one of the national homebuild-

ers active in the new-home building market here. “I’ve been watching the numbers and comparing them to 2018 and 2019, and resale looks very much like 2018 and 2019.

“There was some sticker shock with the interest rates going up and people kind of taking themselves out. I think where the interest rates are is kind of a new norm. We’ve either gotten some people back that wanted to take a little bit of a break, and then we’ve got new people that are wanting to buy a home and are figuring it out.”

It was a wild ride from the summer of 2020, just after the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, until the summer of 2022 when rising interest rates cooled the market down, said Jeff Grobstein, region president for Meritage Homes, another national builder active in the region.

New homes flew off shelves into the hands of buyers who anticipated a

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Meritage Homes Dove Mountain
Rancho Sahuarita
KB Home
Meritage Homes
numbers and comparing them to 2018 and 2019, and resale looks very much like 2018 and 2019.”
– Amy McReynolds President KB Home Tucson Division
nationally and also in Tucson, everybody got a little bit nervous about the interest rates.”
Summer 2023 > > > BizTucson 45
– Jeff Grobstein Division President Meritage Homes in Tucson
Gladden Farms 46 BizTucson < < < SUmmer 2023
Coyote Creek A. F.
Miramonte Homes Miramonte Homes
increases, it’s the hardest period I’ve ever had to endure as a builder.”
– Chris Kemmerly Owner Miramonte Homes
A. F. Sterling

continued from page 44

long slog through the pandemic. Buyers knew they would be working from home, and they also realized they could work remotely from just about anywhere. Even today, these two factors continue to affect the market more than three years since the start of the pandemic.

Buyers armed with cash from sales of their homes in other markets like California, the Pacific northwest, Chicago and elsewhere were snapping up homes in the Tucson region and paying cash. At the same time, the low interest rates were putting first-time buyers in play, even though demand for homes made prices skyrocket.

As mortgage interest rates started climbing, builders actually saw it as an opportunity to catch their breath. After a peak of about 5,100 permits issued in 2021, that number dropped to about 3,500 last year and is expected to dip again in 2023.

“In the real estate market nationally and also in Tucson, everybody got a little bit nervous about the interest rates,” Grobstein said. “They were probably a little bit nervous about the general economy and the state of the nation.

“As we went into the third and fourth quarters (of 2022), we did see a slowdown in sales and most of the builders said, ‘We’re gonna see a slowdown. Let’s right-size the business a little bit going into the new year.’ ”

While some builders are using the slow down to gather themselves, challenges remain, said David Godlewski, president of the Southern Arizona Homebuilders Association.

The supply chain, cost of materials and the availability and cost of labor caused a huge rise in home prices and affected the ability to build and meet demand. Today the prevailing wisdom is that these challenges will be the new normal and conditions may never return to what they were pre-pandemic.

“We had some unprecedented supply chain issues. We had labor challenges. We had material price increases,” Godlewski said.

For a local custom builder like Chris

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Summer 2023 > > > BizTucson 47
Gladden Farms Gladden Farms Gladden Farms
good sign is that when the COVID-19 case numbers spiked in July, you didn’t see a slowdown in home sales.”
– David Godlewski President Southern Arizona Homebuilders Association

continued from page 47 Kemmerly and his company, Miramonte Homes, the challenges, mostly from supply chain issues and labor and material costs, were unprecedented. With most of his product being custom homes, getting the needed supply of electrical components for homes that require unusual items like elevators, speciality garage doors and high-end electrical panels put his company in the most difficult position that he can ever recall.

“Because of supply chain issues, and labor and material cost increases, it’s the hardest period I’ve ever had to endure as a builder, and that includes 2008,” Kemmerly said, referencing that real estate meltdown. “I would rather have 2008 because I knew what the problems were and I could deal with that. Every day there’s a new issue.”

More recently, Kemmerly said, those issues have gotten “a little better, but not normal.”

Randy Agron, VP at local builder A.F. Sterling, said his company, like

Miramonte Homes, ran into the same challenges during and post-COVID with high costs of materials – sometimes unexpected – high cost of labor and a difficult supply chain.

The adjustment A.F. Sterling made was to go small, not in the size of the homes they’re building, but in the size of the developments. He said his company set a general minimum of 10 lots for its developments. It has five active projects around town.

“We did well (post-COVID). The market was strong. The demand was strong. Interest rates were low. Affordability was much better than now,” Agron said. “But we still had challenges – all of us builders did.

“That said, I think we’ve survived and done alright because we’ve become somewhat of a niche builder. We try to find unique locations, good locations. We’ve gone away from the real large communities.”

That kind of creativity and adjusting is what Godlewski said the builders have had to do in order to stay competi-

48 BizTucson < < < Summer 2023
alright because we’ve become somewhat of a niche builder. We try to find unique locations, good locations. We’ve gone away from the real large communities.”
– Randy Agron VP A.F. Sterling

tive and in business.

“I would say the last eight to 10 months have been fairly challenging for the builders,” Godlewski acknowledged. “They’ve had to get creative in terms of bringing in buyers and trying to create incentives to still maintain the level of interest.”

Godlewski said builders still have inventory because of the build-up prior to the summer of 2022. But what’s missing is a short-term future inventory as permitting has dipped by about 50% from the first quarter of 2022 to the first quarter of 2023. There aren’t nearly as many homes in the pipeline.

“The builders had been trying to keep up with demand so there was a lot of inventory in the ground,” Godlewski said. “There were a lot of homes that were in backlog, so even though the permitting activity isn’t where it’s been, they’re still selling homes.”

Will White, who runs the local office of Land Advisors Organization which brokers land deals for builders, said a percolating issue before the pandemic,

and one that remains an issue, is the availability of land for future developments. The master-planned communities that were in place in the summer of 2021 are the same ones still being built out in the summer of 2023. A few scattered subdivisions have opened and filled, but there aren’t any new larger communities in the works, and he estimates the current inventory of new homes will run out in mid-2025.

Tucson is surrounded by Arizona state land that is not being put to auction at any kind of pace that White thinks will meet the coming demand for homes as Tucson grows and jobs come to the region. Add to that the amount of time it now takes to get homes built from the time land is purchased − about a 24-month process − and White suggests a shortage of housing is on the way.

“There are all kinds of things putting pressure on our supply storyline,” White said. “But I don’t want to say everything is difficult. I think it’s good that

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Summer 2023 > > > BizTucson 49
six-month gap that we call a ‘gap out’ where they won’t have anything open for sale. And that’s not good.”
– Will White Land Broker Land Advisors Organization
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continued from page 49 in this cycle we didn’t over build.

“My best guess scenario is they won’t get new lots and new communities open till later in 2025. There could be a fourto six-month gap that we call a ‘gap out’ where they won’t have anything open for sale. And that’s not good.”

While that sounds ominous, builders and sellers remain bullish on the Tucson market for both new homes and resales. There have been some economic development victories with expansions and new companies coming to the region. Those moving here for employment have to have places to live and the builders know it.

And while interest rates are up, builders are trying to keep their business booming by, among other incentives, buying down interest rates, particularly for first-timers who remain interested and available to buy.

Those selling existing homes should probably be doing the same thing, said Judy Lowe, CEO at Tucson Association of REALTORS®.

“We also have to create a housing supply for the resale buyer,” Lowe said. “Our new-home construction is offering incentives, offering a buy-down of the interest rate for the buyer. We need to start looking at ways to enhance the buyer’s opportunity in buying resale.”

That can come from both sides of a sale, Lowe said. A seller can offer to buy down the interest rate and a buyer can also request that from a seller.

“We have to think about emulating what is already happening that’s causing our market to feel better, maybe not good but better,” she said.

So what’s in front of us in the market in and around Tucson?

“We’re relatively optimistic about the coming year,” said Jeremy Sharpe, president of Sharpe & Associates and the developer at Rancho Sahuarita, the 3,000-acre development south of Tucson that has been going for 20 years. “I’m cautiously optimistic that the market will continue to strengthen in home sales, which then leads for us as a developer to future land sales.”

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Summer 2023 > > > BizTucson 53
enhance the buyer’s opportunity in buying resale.”
– Judy Lowe CEO Tucson Association of REALTORS®

continued from page 53

Sharpe said the lag from purchase to when you can “flush a toilet” at a new home is 18 months to two years. That means that developers like him, and the builders who buy land from him, have to project what might be happening in the market 18 to 24 months from now. With all the data and market information available, it’s still a tough thing to do, he said.

“We have the tough job with our homebuilder asking what’s the market gonna be like in 18 months to two years, and so we’re planning well ahead of that,” Sharpe said. “But overall, what we’re seeing is the demand hasn’t died down at all. There’s tremendous demand for new homes and resales and the issue is the supply.”

One of the biggest questions is in what direction is development headed? Infill opportunities are few and much of the available infill land is being taken up by vertical projects that have become popular and plentiful in recent years, particularly downtown and around the University of Arizona.

Existing projects and master-planned communities have been going in all directions from the metropolitan area, northwest along Interstate 10 in Marana where Gladden Farms has been developing 112 acres, east of Tucson at Rocking K Ranch where Diamond Ventures still has continued on page 56 >>>

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“I’m cautiously optimistic that the market will continue to strengthen in home sales, which then leads for us as a developer to future land sales.”
– Jeremy Sharpe President Sharpe and Associates Developer of Rancho Sahuarita

continued from page 54

much of its 2,000 acres available for new communities, at La Estancia along I-10 south of Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, south at Rancho Sahuarita, and west along Ajo Way at Star Valley.

Dove Mountain, which is also in the Marana Town limits, and Rancho Vistoso in Oro Valley are the only other active master-planned communities.

With the constraints of state land that is not up for auction nor will be anytime soon, White, the land broker for developers, said the existing master-planned communities are where new home buyers are going to have to go.

Gladden Farms in Marana opened five new communities since last June and are building a much-needed Fry’s Food and Drug in the development. KB Home, Mattamy Homes, Meritage and Richmond American Homes all have communities there. With homes starting in the high $200,000s, first-time buyers have a chance there.

Sharpe said there are about 1,000 lots, some in escrow, that are coming up to be available at Rancho Sahuarita.

But White continues to caution that builders and developers who have paused on new land purchases until they can sell and build out existing inventory might be creating a future shortage of new housing.

For now, buyers are getting used to the new normal with interest rates essentially double what they were at this time last year while prices have not returned to prepandemic levels.

“What we’ve seen in the first quarter of this year is what I call a normalizing or a moderation from the perspective that people are starting to get a little bit used to the interest rates,” said Grobstein, of Meritage Homes. “I think the consumer got really conditioned over the last two or 2½ years that 3% or 4% (interest rate) was kind of the norm, and it really wasn’t. It was just a flash in the pan that created really good payments for people. What we’ve seen happen since is a nice resurgence into the marketplace.”

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Rocking K
PHOTO BY BRENT G. MATHIS Jessica Kaiser Owner JKaiser Workspaces
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Function, Fashion & Fun

JKaiser Workspaces Focuses on Environments

Jessica Kaiser is a problem-solver.

“We want to solve problems they haven’t even thought of yet,” said the woman behind JKaiser Workspaces, a Tucson furnishings and design firm listed twice on the Inc. 5000 FastestGrowing U.S. Companies list.

Once you meet her, you’ll want Kaiser to transform your workspace. Her confidence, experience and easy rapport will make you a believer in her ability to create a functional, fashionable and fun space to work.

“I am very entrepreneurial,” Kaiser said of her business. “(My job) gives me an opportunity to be competitive and creative.”

Located at 40 E. Congress St., JKaiser Workspaces contains an airy, beautifully designed showroom, a loft and a few extra rooms. Of course, this didn’t happen overnight. Kaiser, 42, started with a space in 2014 at Connect Coworking at Fifth Avenue and Congress Street downtown.

“I’ve always been interested in downtown,” she said. “It gave us a bigger footprint and impression.”

A couple of years later, she outgrew the space and moved into the lower level of Bourne Companies on East Congress Street. The room provided even more room for her company – and connections.

“We developed this really synergistic referral partnership,” Kaiser said. “We want to develop long-term relationships with our clients.”

Her current 2,000-square-foot space, which she has inhabited for about a year and a half, is located next door to Bourne Companies and started as a dirt lot. Now JKaiser’s soaring ceilings encompass rooms full of trendy decor, furniture and artwork.

JKaiser Workspaces and its employees collaborate with the architectural community and general contractors to create the perfect design of a workplace – both large and small. In Tuc-

son, you can see Kaiser’s work at the 200,000-square-foot headquarters for Geico Insurance and Pima JTED’s Innovative Learning Center at The Bridges near Interstate 10 and Kino Parkway.

“Jessica and her team at Jessica Kaiser Workspaces created a learning environment at the JTED Innovative Learning Center at The Bridges that is sleek, modern and inspirational for our students, all within our budget,” said Pima JTED Superintendent Kathy Prather.

Kaiser continues to work diligently at developing strong relationships with the schools, restaurants and health care spaces she lists as clients.

“We are all-inclusive,” she said of her role in transforming workspaces. “We will program the needs for that space with the client. What can we do to make them have a more comfortable environment? On top of that, it has to look good.”

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continued from page 59

People might think that Kaiser’s job is easy, but she’s quick to note that “it’s a lot more complicated than people think.”

“I think people oversimplify,” said Kaiser, noting that such things as ADA (the Americans with Disabilities Act), data and compliance planning are complex parts that must be considered.

Kaiser keeps abreast of trends in her field, adding that today’s workspace designs revolve around ergonomics, height adjustability and biophilic design, which is the concept of including greenery in workspaces to promote well-being and health.

Adding a third space is also popular with companies nowadays, she said. A third space is the “in-between space” separate from the workspace and break space.

So, what’s passé in today’s workspace?

“Tall walls, super-high cubicles,” she said. “The sea of cubicles is out.”

Kaiser got her start as a Girl Scouts leader in Washington. One of the moms hired her to be a project manager at her firm. She learned important skills such as problem solving, bookkeeping, taxes, and was encouraged to tap into her creative side.

“I was immediately in love with the industry,” said Kaiser, who worked for the firm for six years. But she had ambitions beyond that.

She graduated from Eastern Washington University and originally had plans to become a teacher, then moved from her home state of Washington to Nogales, Ariz., where she first dabbled in residential real estate. She also raised three children – now 16, 21 and 22 years old.

Even the pandemic in 2020 wasn’t as devastating for her business as it might seem. “With change comes opportunity,” she said. “Our work culture is always changing. We are always pivoting.”

Now, Kaiser hopes to expand her business.

“This will be a year of growth for us,” said Kaiser, adding that she hopes to hire people for the design team and perhaps another program manager. Her current one, Jess Sueskind, joined the company in the fall of 2020 after noticing a job posting on LinkedIn.

“The post was very intriguing,” said Sueskind. “It was how I would have described myself. Jessica really sets me up for success. She recognizes me for my work and my worth.”

Together, they work to satisfy clients and help companies grow.

“I really believe in quality,” Kaiser said. “I want every touchpoint of my client’s experience to reflect that.”

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Five Ways to Comparison Shop for Healthcare

While technology has changed how we all shop for everything from car rides to vacation rentals, health care quality and cost information has often remained elusive for many Tucsonans. In fact, research shows only a fraction of people were able to find the health care cost information they wanted, and 60% said they would like more information when deciding where to go to get care.

Improving access to health care quality and price transparency information may help reduce out-of-pocket costs for consumers and lower the total cost of care. That’s because the cost for health care services at hospitals and doctors’ offices can vary nationwide and within the same city, despite research showing higher-priced care does not necessarily deliver higher-quality care. In Tucson, a knee MRI can vary widely, from $230 to $660, and back surgery (lumbar fusion) can range from $41,350 to $48,530.

To help make comparison shopping for care more available, some hospitals and health plans are now publicly sharing price information, while new safeguards are helping reduce the likelihood of people receiving an unexpectedly large medical bill in certain emergency or surprise scenarios. While these are important efforts, people still need to understand where and how to access this information – and what to do with it once they have it.

Consider the following five strategies to help you more effectively comparison shop for health care.

Check with your hospital or health plan.

Some hospitals and health plans are publicly disclosing cost information, including online. However, it may be difficult to decipher what you’ll pay for a visit or procedure if you’re only looking at online data, especially hospital pricing information that may not account

for your health plan. Checking with your health plan provider is generally the better option as some are making available estimates based on the member’s specific plan and actual contracted rates with care providers. Other approaches to consider include reviewing publicly available transparency resources, asking your doctor or their support staff how much the service will cost, or calling around to other local health care providers to ask about pricing.

Enroll in a plan with upfront pricing.

Some newer health plans are moving away from estimates and instead offering upfront pricing, which enables members to review out-of-pocket expenses before medical care is delivered. Some of these plans use value-based copays, rather than deductibles or coinsurance, which means the copay for the same service may vary depending on the care provider and facility you select.

62 BizTucson < < < Summer 2023 BizHEALTHCARE

This approach can encourage people to select higher-quality, lower-cost care providers and settings, in the process re ducing out-of-pocket costs and lowering the total cost of care. Through Unit edHealthcare’s Surest plan, a recent analysis showed out-of-pocket expenses for plan members were 46% less on av erage, while the cost for the company declined by up to 15%.1

Select the right setting.

When seeking nonemergency care, it’s important to always start with innetwork health care professionals and facilities, as receiving care out of network may lead to an exorbitant charge. The type of facility you select can also have a significant impact on the cost. Receiving care at a hospital tends to be the costliest setting, while services at freestanding, ambulatory or same-day clinics typically cost less. For instance, UnitedHealthcare data shows that MRIs and CT scans at hospitals average over $1,250, compared to $480 at freestanding facilities. For minor, nonemergency and some specialty services, a virtual care appointment may offer improved convenience and affordability, in some cases with no out-of-pocket cost

Save on prescription medications. About half of Americans take at least one prescription medication, resulting in out-of-pocket expenses of more than $1,200 per year. For help to lower that, new resources are enabling people to compare available direct-to-consumer pricing for traditional generic drugs with insurance pricing to help individu-

als get the best available prescription drug price. Separately, care providers are gaining access to systems that enable them to identify which medications e covered by a patient’s health plan and the cost for each, offering suggestions for other clinically appropriate, wer-cost alternatives that could be prescribed.

Avoid and negotiate surprise bills.

Even with upfront research, there are still a few potential risks to be aware of. To ensure preventive services are covered by your health plan, and not deemed an advanced screening that could result in an out-of-pocket charge, confirm with your health plan that any services or tests are covered under your benefits. In the event of a surprise bill, first talk with the support staff at the hospital or doctor’s office to request that the charge be waived or reduced. If needed, some health plans offer access to resolution support to help negotiate on behalf of members with hospitals and care providers. If you receive a surprise bill from an out-of-network care provider, call the number on your insurance ID card to alert your health plan and check on assistance.
Individual Arizona & New Mexico 1 Surest self-funded 2021 book of business plan sponsors with at least 12 months of incurred experience in 2021 and both medical and pharmacy data within our warehouse; compared to matched comparison groups from a nationally representative commercially insured database matched by gender, age, urbanicity, and zip code using exact matching.

notes Tucson’s status as a UNESCO City of Gastronomy and lauds many of our celebrated restaurants and chefs, including Maria Mazon and Don Guerra.

Tour de Tucson is a ride that’s been a part of the Tucson community for decades.” El Tour de Tucson turns 40 this year and has raised more than $100 million for more than 100 local and national charities.

tinct Native American and Mexican of ferings dating back thousands of years. The best Tucson restaurants incorporate locally sourced ingredients into their drinks and dishes.

tional Academy of Inventors. The university ranks 23rd among U.S. institutions and 13th among U.S. public universities.

The ranking is based on the number of patents issued to UArizona inventors between during 2022 when 92 patents were issued to UArizona inventors – six more than last year.

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Leading with

University Leaders Drive University of Arizona Center for Innovation Success

Eric Smith Executive Director University of Arizona Center for Innovation Carol Stewart Vice President Tech Parks Arizona University of Arizona Elizabeth “Betsy” Cantwell Senior Vice President Research & Innovation University of Arizona

emanating from UArizona has ignited a bustling startup scene. “It’s an example of how we extend beyond our campus to engage our community, empowering entrepreneurs to grow businesses that create jobs, and improve lives with their innovations,” he expressed.

He’s no stranger to creating such a culture. Robbins joined UArizona in 2017 after serving as the president and CEO of Texas Medical Center for five years. While there, he introduced five cross-institutional research initiatives. Prior to that, he was a professor and chairman of the Department of Cardiothoracic Surgery at the Stanford University School of Medicine.

Like Robbins, Cantwell boasts an impressive career of fostering growth and creativity. Before joining UArizona in 2019, she was VP of research development at Arizona State University. Her resume has included leadership roles at the nation’s most prominent labs and institutions, including the Los Alamos National Laboratory, Oak Ridge National Laboratory and NASA headquarters. In her four years at UArizona, Cantwell has managed the Office of Research, Innovation and Impact which is responsible for bringing discoveries to market via technology licensing and new company creation. She was recently selected as the 17th president of Utah State University and begins her new role in August.

Cantwell said UACI also wants to attract businesses from outside the region and aid entrepreneurs from diverse backgrounds. To date, UACI has assisted 25 international companies from 17

countries. “We now have a comprehensive international program and support businesses seeking U.S. market entry through an accredited Soft Landings program,” she said.

UACI carries the official Soft Landings designation from the International Business Innovation Association, certifying its abilities to provide best practices when accommodating the necessary resources and programming international companies require for a smooth entry into the country.

“Running a fast-growing tech company is extremely challenging, so UACI allows us to decrease the barriers and burden of global market expansion,” Cantwell said.

Robbins added, “We are just beginning to see the results of UACI’s sophisticated approach to international startup support.”

There has been great interest for UACI to duplicate its success at outpost locations. To that end, communities including Nogales, Yuma, Prescott, Douglas, Maricopa and Sierra Vista have banded together to create a rural incubator network with UACI at its core.

As VP of Tech Parks Arizona, Carol Stewart is on the front lines serving as the president of UACI and directing its mission to grow scalable science and technology startup ventures that fuel Arizona’s economy. She has more than 20 years’ experience of university-based economic de-

velopment, leading research parks and advancing technology by bringing tech ideas to the marketplace. Under her leadership, UACI has thrived and continues to grow.

“Homegrown economic development is a powerful strategy for any municipality to invest in,” Stewart expressed. “All these efforts build a strong UArizona innovation brand and I propose that UACI will be recognized as a top 10 incubator globally in less than a decade if we continue at this rate of impact.”


“UACI has helped us achieve so much through mentorship, resources, and networking opportunities. By establishing a supportive community of fellow entrepreneurs, we learn from one another and are inspired by the work others accomplish because of this collaborative environment.”

CarbeniumTec enables the green-energy future by developing a new all-organic battery for long-duration energy storage that will provide utility companies a solution to the urgent and growing need for electricity storage without the environmental impacts from mining and refining lithium or other metals.


For Two Decades

Business Incubator Drives Economic Growth

totyping center, meeting spaces as well as administrative support.

In 2021, UACI’s work with startups resulted in $35.3 million in economic impact to Southern Arizona plus $2 million in tax revenue. Of additional importance, 26% of the incubator’s startups are women-owned, compared to just 6% nationwide; 60% of its startups are minority owned; and 46% have a connection to UArizona either through technology licensed by the university or founders that are alumni or graduate students. Over the last 20 years, UACI startups have managed to fundraise over $105 million dollars in equity investment, federal grants and other awards.

“Over the course of the next 30 years, UACI will create an estimated 18,875 jobs, generate over $600 million in wages, produce $1.5 billion in economic activity, and create nearly $85 million in state and local tax revenues,” noted Eric Smith, UACI’s executive di-

ACI has done an incredible job helping startups from the university and tech community realize their commercial market potential,” said Elizabeth tsy” Cantwell, UArizona’s senior vice president of research and innovation. “It’s how we ensure that our work eaches far beyond the university and

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Summer 2023 > >
BizTucson 75 BizMILESTONE


Paramium Technologies is developing a better solution to connect Earth and space using advanced manufacturing methods to meet the radio communications industry’s need for fast, flexible and accurate fabrication of freeform curved metal reflectors for ground stations and satellites. The startup leveraged multiple technologies developed at the University of Arizona Steward


The patented Nymbus Smart Concert platform enables musicians and live-music brand spon sors to transform one-time audience interactions into long-term relationships. In combination with data-tracking software, Nymbus Media wrist band SMART Bracelets create interactive audi ence experiences with venue-wide lightshows and clap-to-post technology instantly upload ing concert exclusive content to attendees’ social feeds, boosting critical social engagement metrics.

Nymbus Media is completing product development at UACI and is proudly mass-producing LED bracelets in the USA. The startup showcased their tech at the TENWEST Impact Festival con cert after party, bringing data and science to life with innovative light up wristbands.

David Wright, Co-founder, CEO PHOTOS

LabPair is a web application that creates a two-sided marketplace where researchers who have unused resources are paired with the researchers in need. Through publication-driven matchmaking, researchers can obtain valuable information saving time and money. LabPair utilizes two major problems in research – the pressure to “publish or perish” and the vast amounts of unpublished data and unused samples – to create an efficient solution to the issue.

“UACI is helping LabPair move from concept to launch. As we face challenges when scaling the business, the excitement for our product as well as the ongoing enthusiastic support from the UACI team keeps us going.”


Desert Pearl Mushrooms is a medicinal and gourmet Sonoran Desert mushroom farm dedicated to de veloping low-water sustainable agriculture for the benefit of the arid American Southwest. In addi tion to a variety of fresh specialty mushrooms, the product line includes dried, ground or powdered mushrooms, extract tinctures and an assortment of growing supplies and materials.

“UACI has been an excellent source of knowl edge, coaching and mentorship. Starting a business has had its years of going through the program, we’ve quadrupled the number of fresh mushrooms we sell to the greater Tucson area, both retail and wholesale. And we have plans to launch an online subscription service.”


It Takes a Village Community

Collaborators Further Success at University of Arizona Center for Innovation

Together, we can achieve more.

It’s a simple phrase at the heart of the University of Arizona Center for Innovation. The number of partners that UACI works with is too great to list, but every contributor adds to the success of a startup. UACI is part of the Tucson Innovation Partnership, a group of leaders that serve the entrepreneurship and innovation communities, work collaboratively and represent the very best in small business support.

UACI has worked with a number of organizations over the past two decades as the ecosystem has evolved streamlining how organizations come together to raise startups as a community.

Arizona Technology Council

Established in 2002 and grown to a membership of 750 professionals, the Arizona Technology Council is the state’s principal advocate for science and technology-based companies. AZTC hosts events, educational forums and business conferences that bring together visionaries, leaders and innovators to further advance the technology industry in Arizona. It’s marked several key achievements over the past 20 years, including the restoration of career and technical education funding, pro-technology legislation and the founding of the SciTech Institute, which strengthens Arizona’s science and technology ecosystem.

UACI’s connection with Arizona Technology Council provides entrepreneurs with a vast network covering

the entire tech industry spectrum plus business support organizations needed for growth. In a rapidly evolving tech world, the synergistic relationship between AZTC and UACI enhances opportunities for startups by complementing each other’s strengths and sharing insight into tech market trends.

“We are unlocking the full potential of the tech ecosystem through a culture of knowledge sharing, where expertise flows freely from established giants to aspiring startups,” said Karla Bernal Morales, VP of Arizona Technology Council’s Southern Arizona Regional Office. “In this interconnected landscape, the collective wisdom propels innovation, drives progress, and equips the next generation of disruptors. Fueling tech growth is at the heart of what both organizations do. By combining the leading incubator network with the premier tech association, the collaboration empowers entrepreneurs to thrive and has accelerated the growth of Arizona’s tech sector.”

Desert Angels

Desert Angels, which launched in 2000, is a nonprofit organization of accredited angel investors who invest money in early-stage, scalable companies across multiple industries nationwide. Desert Angels is currently ranked No. 1 in the Southwest region and No. 4 in the U.S. based on number of deals, according to the Angel Resource Institute HALO Report. Desert Angels

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“ the leading incubator network with the premier tech association, the collaboration empowers entrepreneurs to thrive and has accelerated the growth of Arizona’s tech sector.”
– Karla Bernal Morales VP, Arizona Technology Council Southern Arizona Regional Office

US Air Tech Corp. is a research and development company developing a novel type of antenna named STELLA − Satcom Technology of Elaborate Luneburg Lens Antenna. This innovative technol ogy for low-Earth orbit satellite communications provides cost-effective and reliable global inter net connectivity, data and communications.

“We are excited to be a champion for global connection, removing barriers and bringing communities together. We share this pride with UACI which supports our vision.”

MindReady provides sport psychology coaching and education for athletes and parents because every athlete deserves an environment that nurtures, enhances, and develops their mental performance.

Through the UACI program, MindReady expanded its network with new markets, potential clients. UACI coached the star tup for the IdeaFunding competition where it was selected as one of five main stage finalists. MindReady won two sep

Summer 2023 > > > BizTucson 83

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members have invested more than $60 million in 110 new companies since 2010.

UACI and the Desert Angels have commonly worked together orchestrating events like IdeaFunding, Arizona’s largest and longest running competition that provides startups with the opportunity to pitch their businesses on a major stage and win thousands of dollars in cash prizes.

Desert Angels’ long-lasting relationship with UACI is noteworthy. “Des-

Tech Launch Arizona

Doug Hockstad, associate VP of Tech Launch Arizona, describes TLA and UACI as two sides of the same coin. “TLA gets new technologies and inventions rooted in University research off the ground,” Hockstad emphasized, “We have a dedicated venture development team that supports the early stages of startup development, from idea through formation and launch. That said, after launch, most of these young university-based tech companies still need more support to grow and scale. UACI helps those startups incubate and

port units at the University of Arizona into the marketplace. “UArizona is a top-tier research institution,” Hockstad proclaimed. “TLA commercializes the results of that research.”

TLA serves as one of multiple sources of startups that feed into UACI. The bridge between organizations is fortified by the fact that UACI Executive Director Eric Smith worked at TLA prior to this role.

“It’s seamless,” Hockstad said. “Eric understands the technology development, licensing and venture development side from his work at TLA. Now

“Roughly 10% of our portfolio of invested companies are UACI graduates, but over 80% of that portfolio are based in Arizona and likely have had some support, mentoring, or program access provided by UACI.”
– Joann MacMaster CEO Desert Angels

A Signature Path to Success UACI’s 27-Point Roadmap Program

Launching a startup business is no different than embarking on a road trip. Without a map – and resources to help you along the way – you won’t get very far.

Crafting a clear plan – a roadmap – for startups to find their footing was the impetus behind the creation of University of Arizona Center for Innovation’s 27-point roadmap of customized business support. The map assists entrepreneurs with everything from problem identification to writing a business plan to acquiring funding and pitch preparation.

UACI developed the comprehensive roadmap through an exhaustive process of benchmarking all the best incubators in the world. The result is a program that improves how UACI serves its clients, by outlining a continuum of activities and major buckets of work needed for success.

The brilliance of UACI’s 27-point roadmap lies in its simplicity and its ability to track progress. As an alternative to running cohorts, when companies join the incubator network, they take a baseline assessment, which offers keen insight into where they are along the startup journey.

Thus, UACI can adjust to the unique needs of its startups. “Currently, we have 75 companies and they’re all over the map, literally. The roadmap provides the tactical direction for us to meet them exactly where they’re at,” said UACI executive director Eric Smith.

Entrepreneurs typically work through the UACI program over the course of two years.

In addition to its signature roadmap, UACI offers several programs to meet the needs of different types of startups, including educational webinar series such as Noontime Knowledge and Sponsored Launch programs which provide scholarships for companies through a competitive process with a sponsor organization, internship programs where paid university students can work side-by-side with UACI entrepreneurs, and the Global Advantage and Soft Landings programs for international companies seeking U.S. market expansion.



Auxilium repurposes mine tailings to fuel the energy transition and achieve net-zero waste. The zero waste to zero emissions strategy minimizes the footprint of the mining industry producing carbon negative metals and carbon sequestering building materials. Auxilium’s modular approach allows for rapid deployment across mine sites and is positioned to be the global benchmark for


U.S. Point of Entry Soft Landings Program Aids Companies with Global Advantage

University of Arizona Center for Innovation’s successful Soft Landings and Global Advantage programs are designed specifically for expanding international firms to gain footing in the U.S.

“Southern Arizona is an ideal place for U.S. market entry because of its strategic location and relatively low business startup costs and high accessibility to major market connections including California, Texas, and Mexico,” said Carol Stewart, VP of Tech Parks Arizona.

UACI earned the Soft Landings accreditation in 2020 from the International Business Innovation Association. In order to receive the designation, UACI demonstrated its ability to meet the high-level, multi-faceted accommodations needed by international companies looking to establish U.S. operations.

The program has had tremendous success, helping 25 international startups hailing from 17 different countries such as Australia, Canada, Colombia, Costa Rica, Great Britain, Kosovo, Mexico, Spain and Ukraine to explore

U.S. expansion opportunities by connecting with UACI.

International startups can participate in person or virtually and access the same UACI programming, staff, mentors and subject matter experts. This approach ensures that needs are efficiently met as the business explores and scales international operations.

The U.S. Department of State, via its Global Innovation through Science and Technology Initiative, selected UACI to host cohorts of international business executives from emerging economies for six months, providing them with programming and networking opportunities. UACI was just one of 10 sites selected across the United States to serve as an appointed host due to its history of success supporting science and techbased startups, its proximity to Mexico, and strong connection to the University of Arizona.

UACI works with international governments to foster startups around the world for a one-month immersive educational experience that provides travel, lodging and programming paid for by the home country.

UACI and local Global Advantage partners fund inbound exploratory missions and assist startups by fostering opportunities specific to the individual company’s needs. UACI’s business incubation program focuses on scaling operations and identifying market potential by utilizing the international expertise of Global Advantage partners. Global Advantage partners include: CAID Industries, Farhang & Medcoff, Cushman & Wakefield | PICOR, Tech Parks Arizona, Tetakawi and Tucson Electric Power.

Since 2019, nine companies have moved to Tucson from outside Arizona, four of which are from other countries. The most recent company, Red Sea Farms from Saudi Arabia, was quite successful and within one month of landing at UACI fundraised $18 million which had significant direct economic benefits to Southern Arizona.

UArizona President Dr. Robert C. Robbins said, “We are just beginning to see the results of UACI’s sophisticated approach to international startup support.”


SorbiForce develops and produces innovative, sustainable, and non-metal batteries for gy storage applications. The batteries are made from renewable raw materials and offer a cost-effective, environmentally friendly alternative to traditional energy storage solutions.

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REPARVI is a synthetic biology company working to address challenges to preserving, editing and repairing cells. The startup epair EngineeringTM technologies that address the damage commonly accompanying engineered cell therapies, and can be utilized from cell storage and preservation through gene delivery. The early-stage company has technology applications throughout the cell


Dimensional Energy gives carbon dioxide new life as a cost-effective building block for industrial fu els and consumer products traditionally made from fossil carbon. Until now, carbon dioxide has been defined as waste − it is what’s left over when all the energy is burned off energy-dense fuels, warming our planet and categorized as a byproduct impossible to utilize cost effectively. With Dimensional Energy’s carbon utilization plat form, carbon-intensive industries can chart a course to carbon neutral or zero emissions operations.

The Dimensional Energy Tucson Tech nology Center, located in the Solar Zone at the UA Tech Park, produces fossil-free wax derived from emissions that can close the loop on humanity’s industrial carbon cycle.


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program. Entrepreneurs use various physical spaces at Biosphere 2 to test and demonstrate their tech in one of many specific environments supplying a unique advantage for innovators in this field.

Behind the glass, visitors can see UACI startups at the Biosphere 2 outpost working on businesses that address sustainable agriculture, high-efficiency solar power, and simulations of closed ecosystems to prepare for human habitation on the moon or Mars. By purposefully interconnecting resources to foster innovation, business can rapidly test, demonstrate and deploy new technology. Potential expansion plans include the creation of a tech park that will enable private businesses to directly participate in the ongoing research and innovation endeavors at Biosphere 2.

During the grand opening of the UACI outpost, UArizona President Dr. Robert C. Robbins said, “The research expertise at the University of Arizona contributes to the worldwide effort to develop a more sustainable future. This future-focused environment, dedicated

to moving innovations forward, provides the ideal platform for technology advancements and business growth.”

UACI at Oro Valley

Opened in 2019, the UACI at Oro Valley site is an incubator focused on supporting bioscience discoveries and helping entrepreneurs translate them into marketable technologies.

Located northwest of Tucson, the Town of Oro Valley is a bioscience epicenter growing from UArizona tech startup Ventana Medical Systems that was acquired by pharmaceutical giant Roche. UACI links UArizona’s innovation ecosystem directly into the heartbeat of Oro Valley’s thriving bioscience sector.

UACI’s incubator is located in Innovation Park and is poised to help launch and grow new bio and life scienceoriented enterprises with programming and specialized facilities including office, lab space, and shared equipment such as an ultra-low, minus-80-degrees freezer, biosafety cabinets and an inverted fluorescence microscope.

In addition, the Oro Valley Chamber of Commerce and the Bioindustry Or-

ganization of Southern Arizona (BIOSA) sponsor startups specifically for this outpost through the UACI Sponsored Launch program.

UACI at Town of Sahuarita

In partnership with UACI, the Town of Sahuarita has established an incubator program for startups based in the Sahuarita and Green Valley communities. The incubator hosts educational opportunities for entrepreneurial expansion, like one-day boot camps, and provides the tools needed to get businesses off the ground. In addition, the Town of Sahuarita, in collaboration with Freeport-McMoRan Inc, sponsor startups annually through the Sponsored Launch program.

UACI at Vail

Born out of collaboration, in the Vail Chamber Connection office is a UACI touchdown office space. Conversely, the Vail Chamber has a touchdown office located in UACI’s headquarters. Startup companies, business coaches, Vail businesses, Tech Parks partners and more work from either office, building their businesses and networks.


2023 Fast Pitch by Social Venture Partners Tucson

Social Venture Partners Tucson hosted its annual Fast Pitch on March 30, a unique event designed to bring the community together to transform local nonprofits.

SVP Tucson comprises partnerships between individuals, businesses, nonprofits, donors and volunteers. This network leverages donor and volunteer capital through Fast Pitch, which has helped raise more than $1.5 million for local nonprofit programs, initiatives and organizations since its inception in 2015.

At SVP Tucson’s Main Event each year, organizations make a three-minute pitch to a live audience of donors and take their shot at over $100,000 in on-stage grants.

This year, with the help of generous sponsors and a $40,000 matching grant by the Connie J. Hillman Family Foundation, the event funneled more than $208,000 to eight participating nonprofits:

Community Investment Corporation

Educational Enrichment Foundation

IMPACT of Southern Arizona

Just Communities Arizona

Liberty Partnership Community Council

Mobile Meals of Southern Arizona

Southern Arizona Legal Aid, Inc.

Southern Arizona Research, Science and Engineering Foundation

“One of the things we continue to see every year is a real sense of the community coming together to take action,” said Ciara Garcia, CEO of SVP Tucson. “There are multiple ways for people to engage at Fast Pitch. They meet different nonprofits and discover organizations that tug at their heart strings or align with their values, and we encourage them to get involved with those nonprofits.”

The community exposure is also invaluable, providing nonprofits a first step in making connections. Long-term relationships through volunteerism, involvement on boards of directors and other support are the ultimate goals. Virtual broadcast of the Main Event also offers global publicity and additional potential support.

“Nonprofit leaders showcase their unique stories and through storytelling, we find where we fit in and how we can help build a better Tucson and Southern Arizona with awareness, knowledge and generosity,” said Brittany Battle, director of Fast Pitch.

Research has shown that Fast Pitch-participating nonprofits experience an average growth in revenue of 144%, and 70% secure Fast Pitch-related donations years later, Garcia said. This year, each nonprofit received at least two financial awards at the event.

“All of the nonprofits were big winners,” added Battle. “Every nonprofit went home with significant funding that will strengthen and support their efforts in the community. This year, multiple awards went to each nonprofit and it was a beautiful, equitable distribution of funding with the audience directly supporting causes they care about.”

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From left – Jamie Ibrahim, Tremain Ravenell, Diana Charbonneau, Luke Smith, Heaven Rendon, Amber Folkman, Caroline Isaacs, Ginette Gonzalez
102 BizTucson < < < Summer 2023
PHOTO BY BRENT G. MATHIS CREW Tucson’s 2023 Board of Directors, and CREW Network’s 2022 Past President (from left): Shaima Namazifard, Christie Lee, Teresa Vasquez, Rosemary Bright, Melissa Lal, Barbi Reuter, Karen Farrell, Lindsay Welch, Lani Baker. Not pictured: Ashley Stewart.

Pillar of Support

Commercial Real Estate Women of Tucson

Launched in Tucson more than two decades ago, the Tucson chapter of Commercial Real Estate Women is advancing equity in the industry and offering members resources and networking to excel in Southern Arizona and beyond.

As they say at the monthly meetings, there’s never a cold call in CREW. “When someone calls me from CREW, I always take that call,” said CREW President Melissa Lal, who helms Larsen Baker, a commercial real estate management firm.

Part of a premier business network across the globe with 12,000 members, CREW Tucson began with roughly 30 members in 2002, and recently hit 100. The group hopes to reach 120 soon.

“To be able to get to 100 is a huge accomplishment,” said Lal. “That feeling of being able to take someone who’s new in the industry and give her the confidence and prep her for what might be a lot of intimidating situations in the future, that’s everything for me.”

Real estate is a relationship business, after all. CREW connects its members with each other locally and globally to share knowledge and support; offers education and leadership programs; and promotes real change in the industry. CREW completes a benchmark study every five years to measure equity progress as well as research reports on key issues facing the industry.

“This is like no other organization,” CREW Network board member Lynn Goessling said at a recent Tucson chapter meeting. “It has helped me develop as a leader and a professional. I went from an intern at my law firm to owner. I now do real estate deals all over the country. To be able to champion this organization has been life-changing for me.”

Lal, who is one of BizTucson’s NextGen Leaders, has particularly enjoyed CREW’s summits and events where she’s met many inspiring women and heard high-profile speakers such as Hillary Clinton. “You are meeting superambitious women and it just puts it all into perspective – it’s humbling in the best way.”

Barbi Reuter, principal and CEO of Cushman & Wakefield|PICOR, remembers joining CREW Tucson in its infancy. She is now immediate past president of the global CREW Network board of directors – the first Tucsonan to hold the position.

“From local leadership to global leadership, CREW is a place where you can develop your leadership chops in a safe, supportive environment,” said Reuter, a past Tucson Woman of the Year and part of BizTucson’s inaugural Women Leading the Region issue. “I would not have the ability to stand in front of people today without having tested those waters on a smaller scale.”

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“That feeling of being able to take someone who’s new in the industry and give her the confidence and prep her for what might be a lot of intimidating situations in the future, that’s everything for me.”
– Melissa Lal President CREW Tucson

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Reuter said her recent presidency of the CREW Network board was an incredible experience. “It’s the most strategic board I have served on,” she said. “It understands strategy and governance and bringing different voices to the table. To be laser focused on advancing women has been a tremendous privilege.”

The local CREW meetings, held monthly at La Paloma Country Club, are friendly gatherings highlighted by insider updates on new commercial projects around the region. Most recently, CREW members heard about ambitious plans for the redesigned Foothills Mall.

“Especially with what I do at Larsen Baker, it’s exciting to hear who’s building what and what the news is,” said Lal, who organizes the speakers and programs each month. “People still get really excited about what is being built here.”

Another favorite part of each meeting is dedicated to hearing how members have worked together on projects and referrals.

“When you think of a business that you need or when you’re buying a property or the vendors you need, you can think of the CREW membership first and reach out,” said Lal. “That’s a big benefit of our chapter.”

And it’s not all women in CREW –roughly 5% of members are men.

“Anyone who understands and supports the mission is welcome to be a member,” said Reuter. “We are an inclusive organization. The men who are members understand that equity is better for everyone. They are all sons, brothers, fathers and employees of women and they really get it.”

CREW Tucson requires applicants to be sponsored by an existing member or to upload a bio or resume as part of the registration process. More information can be found at

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“It’s the most strategic board I have served on. It understands strategy and governance and bringing different voices to table. To be laser focused on advancing women has been a tremendous privilege.”
– Barbi Reuter Principal & CEO Cushman & Wakefield|PICOR
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It’s our pleasure to present our third annual Women Leading the Region issue.

This year, we honor a group of magnificent women who are making their mark in academia, beauty, bioscience, construction, finance, healthcare, inte-

rior design, law, support for the military, at-risk youth and patients and their families. Their contributions make Southern Arizona significantly better and we are thrilled to profile them.

Gadabout SalonSpas has been helping BizTucson with this package from

the start and we offer our sincere gratitude to its staff once again for providing hair and makeup services to all the honorees. We also thank photographer Chris Mooney for his outstanding pictures.

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Executive Director, BIO5 Institute University of Arizona

At the University of Arizona BIO5 Institute, Jennifer Barton leads a collaborative effort to impact the way we eat, treat diseases and teach students and scientists.

“The BIO5 Institute recently celebrated its 20th anniversary, which is super exciting,” said Barton, BIO5’s executive director. “Moving forward, we are continuing with our three-part mission of bringing interdisciplinary scientists together to help advance real-world problems such as combating complex diseases like cancer, increasing wellness, creating food to feed the planet, and translating discoveries to people, while training the next generation of scientists.”

Barton, who holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees in electrical engineering and a doctorate in biomedical engineering, boasts many years with McDonnell Douglas and has amassed more than 25 years in faculty and research roles at UArizona, where she holds the Thomas R. Brown Distinguished Chair in Biomedical Engineering.

“Dr. Barton is an outstanding leader, and we are incredibly fortunate to have her at the helm of our BIO5 Institute,” said UArizona President Dr. Robert C. Robbins. “Her success as a biomedical engineer and her commitment to community impact, mentorship and teaching make her an ideal leader for this important institute.”

Since 2015, Barton has overseen BIO5’s five disciplines of agriculture, engineering, medicine, pharmacy and science, championing the work of 350 bioscientists, engineers, physicians and researchers, and strengthening the partnership between academia and industry.

“We are a way of bringing people together,” she said. “You may have a researcher in plant breeding and someone in cancer biology who realize they are looking at the same gene, and we help them to make connections and propel their work forward.”

“Solving problems is our first mission, but in order to do that, we need to make sure the discoveries we make don’t just stay in the lab, but get out there to help Arizonans,” Barton said. “We partner with Tech Launch Arizona to make sure investigators have a smooth path for commercializing their discoveries and bringing them to the public. In the first 20 years at BIO5, we had 68 start-up companies.”

Her own groundbreaking research involves the development of a miniature endoscope to facilitate early detection of ovarian cancer.

“The most exciting part about being in the biomedical field is that you have the ability to impact people’s lives and extend not just their life span, but their health and wellness span,” Barton said. “We can help people to have better, more productive lives, not just longer lives.”

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Owner Lori Carroll & Associates

When it comes to leadership, Lori Carroll’s approach can be summed up in one phrase:

“Walk the walk.”

The region’s pre-eminent, award-winning interior designer, author, Tucson Museum of Art trustee and 2023 Silver & Turquoise Ball chair is acclaimed not only for her residential and commercial design projects but also for her integrity, warmth and dedication to detail and innovation.

It’s no wonder her eponymous firm, Lori Carroll & Associates, has garnered more than 100 national, international and regional design awards, and she has appeared in more than 50 publications.

Teamwork is everything to Carroll. “It is important to listen to your clients and fully understand their desires and goals and follow through to the end of each project,” she said.

The mother and grandmother is well-known for her work ethic, answering email requests at all hours. Her projects have included a bar restyle at The Lodge at Ventana Canyon, new designs for Arizona Vascular and Retina Associates, new homes in Saguaro Ranch, and the upcoming William M. “Bill” Clements Golf Center at Tucson Country Club.

Through her vibrant marketing, Carroll highlights stunning and sustainable materials in her designs and has a keen eye for bold, architectural elements.

“From remodeling our Tucson home to selecting furniture for our Wyoming house, she has always brought a fresh perspective to every project,” Cindy Parseghian, president of Ara Parseghian Medical Research Foundation, told BizTucson in 2021. “Her designs are inventive and livable.”

Carroll credits growing up as a tomboy in her dad’s lumber yard for her personal grit. As a young child, she always wanted to be a designer, and her drive and tenacity provided her with direction. “In my business, you deal with a variety of individuals on a job site. It is important to be able to communicate with everyone and get your point across so all are on the same page and fully understand what needs to be accomplished,” she said.

Aside from design, Carroll chaired the Silver & Turquoise Ball at the Arizona Inn in May, benefitting the Mission San Xavier del Bac. She is a member of Tucson’s Leading Women and serves as a valued TMA trustee.

“Lori exemplifies the old adage that if you want something done, ask a busy person,” said Norah Diedrich, Jon and Linda Ender Director and CEO at TMA. “She is a tireless and passionate advocate for arts, culture, and heritage in Tucson, in addition to running an award-winning interior design firm.”

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Founder, CEO I Am You 360

As founder and CEO of I Am You 360, Desiree Cook helps young people turn their lives around – a cause she knows very well.

A domestic abuse survivor who served prison time for drug addiction, Cook made the life-changing decision to leave incarceration better than when she entered, taking advantage of all services offered there. The first thing she did after her 2002 release was reunite with her family.

“I learned to be a parent, I learned about the new me,” she said. “This led to wanting to put the spotlight on the underserved population.” In 2014, she started I Am You 360, a nonprofit that helps youth who are in foster care or homeless that has garnered national attention. To date, it has aided 4,000 youth and families.

The name stems from her ability to connect with young people because she’s been in their shoes. “When you open up and share, others open up, too,” Cook said. “We’re leading the charge – creating more taxpayers, lowering crime and making generational change.”

One initial goal was to create hygiene bags for foster kids, which can improve school attendance, academic success and employment opportunities. “Our first delivery, in 2014, was to a local group home for girls. When they got their bags, the response was positive.” This expanded to opening a dispensary where bags can be refilled every six weeks.

Her newest project is building tiny homes for adults ages 18 to 22 who are homeless or aged out of foster care. The Small Home Experience is a program in which tenants pay $450 monthly for a 450-square-foot environmentally friendly house. Half the rent is put into escrow for them and after three years, they have enough to buy a starter home.

“We believe in employment and trade schools and a self-development curriculum, so we partner with people in the community who present classes in money management, job search and budgeting,” she said.

Federal funding and support from OneAZ Credit Union and the City of Tucson have allowed construction to begin but more is needed for completion. Cook hopes her 2021 appearance on The Ellen DeGeneres Show, resulting in DeGeneres gifting $50,000 in furniture, will help attract a potential major donor.

I Am You board member Nikieia Johnson said, “Desiree is the epitome of helping others. Her heart is with the youth of our community and helping vulnerable populations. And she’s a wonderful example of not letting your past dictate your future.”

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Director, CHASSE Building Team Southern Arizona Division

From a job found on Craigslist to now running CHASSE Building Team’s Tucson operations, Leigh-Anne Harrison is thriving in a challenging industry.

In 2005, Harrison found an online listing for a receptionist at Pillar Builders in Gilbert, Ariz. The position offered an entry-level position that she has since crafted into a brilliant construction career. “The owner of the company didn’t keep me in a box and allowed me to grow,” she said.

Harrison would become a project coordinator and engineer for Pillar, using her knowledge of company operations to ascend. After more than six years there, she moved to CHASSE as a project manager in Phoenix in 2011.

Her big opportunity with CHASSE came at a crucial time in her family’s life. Harrison was asked to move to Tucson just as her husband, a CHASSE general superintendent, was starting a project in Phoenix.

The couple had also recently adopted two children, a sister and brother who were 10 and 11 years old – encouraged to grow their family by their son, who wanted siblings.

“It was me down here with three teenagers,” Harrison said. “I was scared to death. But that’s where I had my most significant growth. I was forced to sink or swim. There were so many considerations and aspects of the business I had to learn on the fly.”

CHASSE’s Southern Arizona office now has between 35 and 40 people and Harrison was named business unit leader in 2018, leading an office with a project backlog of $100 million. Its presence here started in 2014 with construction of the Tucson Premium Outlets in Marana. CHASSE is now behind numerous landmarks such as the Pima Community College Transportation Center and its Advanced Manufacturing Center, the January 8th Memorial in Downtown Tucson and Union on 6th student housing development.

Harrison is also a force in the community. She serves on the board of directors for The Salvation Army, the Boys & Girls Clubs of Tucson and Cornerstone Building Foundation.

An important upcoming project for CHASSE is the Marana Community and Aquatics Center, a 61,000-square-foot facility that will include an aquatics center, gym, cardio fitness space, group exercise rooms and meeting space.

“Leigh-Anne is clearly passionate about providing CHASSE clients with high-level construction services,” said Marana Town Manager Terry Rozema. “She has proven to be a knowledgeable and tenacious professional whose contributions to the planning and construction of Marana’s Community and Aquatics Center have been invaluable.”

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Tucson Orthopaedic Institute

Paula Register Hecht is the energetic, empathetic force behind Southern Arizona’s largest orthopaedic practice and its 300-person workforce.

With more than three decades of executive leadership experience, the CEO of Tucson Orthopaedic Institute is focused on growing its personnel and creating a talent pool for the regional healthcare industry – an area greatly impacted by the COVID-19 fallout, rising costs, stiffer regulation and a need for workers at all levels.

“We are having to think creatively on our feet how to do things differently,” said Hecht, who has led TOI since 2015. “It is probably the most challenging year of my professional career.”

TOI fields more than 2,000 phone calls each weekday at its seven locations. Its team includes three dozen physicians, 27 physician assistants and nurse practitioners, 39 physical therapists, and hundreds of staff who interact with patients from their first call to their final bill.

The human touch, however, is always top of mind for Hecht. From pediatrics to retirees to athletes and accident victims, TOI helps people get back to life. “Being a part of that is the best part of my career,” she said. “That’s what’s really exciting for me. We really are there for the community in every capacity.”

Hecht also serves on the Tucson Metro Chamber’s healthcare subcommittee, which aims to link talented workers with employers.

“Being part of the chamber is really to create jobs in healthcare, in addition to our company,” she said. “We collaborate with hospitals, with other doctor’s offices, with surgery centers and with our insurers. We’re looking for strong resources and a strong workforce.”

Michael Guymon, the chamber’s president and CEO, raved, “Other than being one of the nicest people I know, I find her to be focused, I find her to be very intelligent, very capable, and someone who cares deeply about her industry.”

It’s natural Hecht gravitated toward the chamber: her mom worked at a chamber of commerce in North Carolina and instilled in her a passion for volunteer work. “Chambers of commerce are essential organizations in a community,” Hecht said.

The North Carolina native graduated from Western Carolina University with a bachelor’s degree in accounting. She moved here in 2010 from Tennessee, where she was an avid volunteer, to become a senior VP at Carondelet Health Network.

Hecht was listed on Becker’s Most Influential Female Leaders in Healthcare in 2011 and also served six years as a board member of the Pima Community College Foundation.

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President & CEO

Ronald McDonald House Charities of Southern Arizona

Kate Maguire Jensen has crafted a wealth of experience in the public, private and nonprofit sectors into her dream job as president and CEO of Ronald McDonald House Charities of Southern Arizona.

“I have had some great jobs, but this is the best job I have ever had because no matter what I am doing every day, I know it matters,” said Jensen. “The work we do here makes life a bit easier for children battling serious illness and their families.”

Jensen earned her bachelor’s degree in English from Loyola Marymount University and a master’s degree in public health from the University of Arizona. She amassed nearly 20 years as director of community affairs for UArizona’s Steele Children’s Research Center and as the university’s assistant VP for marketing.

“Through my work, I interacted with many incredible people who worked for nonprofits,” Jensen said. “They really inspired me and when the position with Ronald McDonald House Charities opened up. I knew that was my dream job.”

“Some people are very organized in their career planning, but I have always looked for opportunities that are interesting, meaningful and fun,” she said.

Ronald McDonald House Charities offers a “home away from home” for about 500 sick children and their families annually. It also operates Ronald McDonald Family Rooms at Banner Diamond Children’s and Tucson Medical Center, which provide respite and refreshments for patients’ families and hospital staff.

The recently launched Ronald McDonald Care Mobile is taking pediatric dental care to Cochise County and soon, Pima County. Plans are also in the works for a Ronald McDonald Sibling Center at Banner Diamond Children’s to provide supervised care for patients’ siblings.

“We have been very blessed with community support that allows us to expand and invest in new programs to improve children’s health,” Jensen said.

Paul Dias, president and CEO of Dias Management, which operates 22 McDonalds franchises in Southern Arizona, is a longtime board member for Ronald McDonald House Charities. He praises Jensen’s “overwhelming level of compassion.”

“Kate says that the Ronald McDonald House and its programs are magical,” Dias said. “They really are, but she is the lead magician. She cultivates an environment where that magic can happen and manages the most wellrun nonprofit in the community, in my opinion.”

Jensen has been active in a number of organizations and is currently on the boards of Children’s Clinics in Southern Arizona and the Arizona Alliance of Nonprofits.

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Owner AllSource Global Management

Cecilia Mata’s compassionate nature and ability to see the positives in a situation have led her down a path filled with opportunity.

Her parents were entrepreneurs who taught her the importance of a higher education. After earning a bachelor’s degree in business administration and an MBA in her home country of Panama, Mata worked for multinational companies. “I got to know the world in a different perspective,” she said.

She moved to Arizona in 2000 when her former husband was stationed at Fort Huachuca. “When I came here, I was starting from scratch,” she said, first working at the University of Arizona’s Sierra Vista campus and then for Cochise County Workforce Development, where she became deputy director in three years.

Mata formed AllSource Global Management in 2005, a professional and technical services company whose clients include the U.S. Army, Air Force, Navy and Marine Corps and defense contractors such as General Dynamics, Raytheon, Lockheed Martin and Northrop Grumman.

In 2013, Lea Márquez Peterson, then-executive director of Tucson Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, recruited Mata to mentor the organization’s members.

“I worked to help small businesses learn how to do business with the federal government – it’s complex,” Mata said. “We created a procurement committee and found different ways to bring liaisons between business and government and learn how the government programs work,” especially as related to women and minorityowned and veteran-owned businesses.

In August 2020, she received an unexpected phone call with news that Gov. Doug Ducey wanted to appoint her to the Arizona Board of Regents. “Governor Ducey was looking for someone with strong business acumen, leadership and passion for community involvement,” Mata said. She was confirmed for an eight-year term.

“Arizona’s universities are engines of growth providing students of all backgrounds the means to achieving a more promising future,” Mata said.

While working as a regent, Mata became friends with Brig. Gen. Ron Shoopman, who was impressed with her from the start. “Cecilia is a real asset to the regents and the community,” he said. “She’s super sharp, works hard and is thoughtful. We have so many students from other countries and she understands that perspective.”

Shoopman credits Ducey for recognizing Mata’s potential. “She brings flair to our community and she deserves this kind of recognition.”

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Division President KB Home

A success in residential homebuilding, Amy McReynolds did the unthinkable in 2010: She quit her job as a VP at Pulte Homes.

She chose to stay home to raise her two children, including a daughter about to start kindergarten. “I had crazy mom guilt and needed to figure out how to find balance,” McReynolds recalled.

She took a year and a half off – a period she lists as being “Director of Play at McReynolds LLC” on her LinkedIn profile. Yet, she got the urge to return to the workforce just as Southern Arizona Home Builders Association needed someone to run its home show. “SAHBA allowed me to keep my foot in the industry,” she said.

Eventually, she was lured back to homebuilding by KB Home, where she has worked for almost a decade and serves as Tucson’s division president. “When KB reached out, it felt good,” McReynolds said. “It was the right time.”

She heads a team of 70 employees with projects from Marana to Vail. In her time with KB, she has also seen women advance in home construction. When she started, she was KB’s only female president. The company now has four. KB reported in late 2021 that 32% of its managers were women.

Under her leadership, KB Home was a MPA Common Ground Community Builder winner in May and the 2022 Builder of the Year. The company was one of three finalists in 2022 for Tucson Metro Chamber’s Copper Cactus Awards for Best Places to Work, and the SAHBA 2022 Builder of the Year.

McReynolds has been a board member for the Marana Schools 2340 Foundation since 2013. She was also on SAHBA’s board of directors for three years, and served as its chair – the second woman to do so in its 70 years. McReynolds has volunteered for numerous organizations including Youth On Their Own and Big Brothers Big Sisters of Southern Arizona.

KB Home VP of Land Andrew Gasparro started working with her at Pulte more than 15 years ago, right out of college.

“Amy’s passion for people is contagious and is the paramount teaching I’ve carried with me in work and life since over a decade ago,” he said. “I consider Amy my greatest role model, in work and life.”

McReynolds also credits others who have helped her in the industry since her early days with Pulte and moving into senior leadership with KB Home.

“I’ve been fortunate to have amazing support in a male-dominated field,” she said. “It’s important to have employees who come from diverse environments. It’s needed and necessary in homebuilding.”

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Owner & CEO

The Planning Center

When there’s good news about Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, it’s often been Linda Morales delivering it.

Morales is president of DM50, a nonprofit group dedicated to the base’s viability, especially with the impending retirement of the A-10 aircraft. DM employs around 19,000 people locally and has an estimated economic impact of $2.6 billion, so it’s vital for it to remain vibrant.

The base will soon have a new special operations wing as part of the Air Force Special Operations Command and DM’s combat search and rescue mission. “It preserves the flying mission, as we’ve always advocated at the DM50, and it keeps the personnel levels the same or maybe even more,” she said.

In addition to her DM50 leadership, Morales is owner and CEO of The Planning Center, which works with local governments, property owners, developers and builders. Its projects include master planning the Westin La Paloma Resort & Spa years ago and communities such as Rancho Sahuarita and Dove Mountain.

To ensure the Arizona Congressional delegation knows about DM’s considerable impact, in its mission statement, the organization states: “DM50 Advocates for the continued presence of Davis-Monthan Air Force Base in Tucson, AZ, supports its Airmen, and educates the community on the importance of DM to the local economy and national defense.”

Morales became head of DM50 after COVID-19 hit and kept people involved and organized, said Tom Murphy, a DM50 member and past president. “It’s been a trying time because the base is going through a change,” Murphy said. “She’s just been remarkable.” Traveling to the U.S. Capitol and the Pentagon to advocate for DM and running an 11-person firm has been akin to working two full-time jobs, she mused.

Morales holds two national positions with the military: an alternate on the Air Combat Command’s Commander Group, a civic leader organization; and a civic leader for the Air and Space Command. Though she cedes the presidency of DM50 to Jay Bickley in May, she’ll remain involved, having been a member since 2010. She serves as a commissioner for Pima County’s Regional Affordable Housing Commission and is a longtime board member of the Metropolitan Pima Alliance. “It’s a very important organization for my business for what we do to advocate for responsible and good development policies in the greater commercial real estate economy,” Morales said.

The Nebraska native holds a bachelor’s degree in business administration and a master’s degree in planning from the University of Arizona. A mom of two, she celebrates 28 years with her husband Albert in June.

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Senior VP for Business Affairs & CFO University of Arizona

For more than 20 years, Lisa Rulney has invested her considerable business acumen and enviable work ethic to departments across the University of Arizona.

Today, as senior VP for Business Affairs and CFO, she is the school’s top business and financial officer, overseeing 3,000 employees and a $2.5 billion budget. Yet, ask Rulney to talk about herself and she would much rather talk about her team.

“I am so proud of my team,” she said. “I really hope the people I work with feel that I have helped make them stronger.”

It’s this collaborative spirit of her position that she values the most, honed from a UArizona career working in Arizona Research Laboratories, the colleges of Education and Engineering and the Financial Services Office – all with supportive bosses who encouraged her to thrive.

“What I absolutely loved about my first year in this position is that I directly supported faculty,” Rulney said. “The faculty saw me as a resource and a partner.”

That was especially true after COVID-19 forced the shutdown of UArizona in 2020 and threatened immense revenue loss.

“I am incredibly proud of the financial sustainability task force that we created,” Rulney said. “The day we made the decision to close campus, we brought all the finance leads together and started a conversation about mitigation strategies. We had to reach deep into the tool box.”

The task force would end up implementing 85 recommendations in just 15 months.

Her office was also expedient in re-designing a university budget model that is more responsive and transparent for the university community. It launched in 18 months, compared to what’s usually a three-year process.

“Under Lisa’s guidance, the University of Arizona has improved upon its operational transparency and flexibility. We are incredibly fortunate to have Lisa at the university,” said UArizona President Dr. Robert C. Robbins.

An avid reader and podcast listener, Rulney is passionate about self-improvement. She has a steadfast 4:30 a.m. workout every day and enjoys hiking, camping and traveling with husband, developer Ross Rulney, and spending time with their two children and three grandchildren. The recipient of numerous leadership awards, she also serves on the Eller Executive Education board and is especially dedicated to mentoring.

Indeed, seeing students outside her office window each day is her best motivation: “I can look outside, I see the mission of the University and know this is why I’m here,” she said.

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Partner & Owner Lazarus & Silvyn

Keri Silvyn helps oversee millions of dollars in spending for everything from travel to education, so you might say she has a bit of influence.

A successful attorney – she is partner and owner of Lazarus & Silvyn, which has offices in Tucson and Phoenix – Silvyn serves on two high-profile entities in the state.

Silvyn, who has three children with her husband, Jeff, is chair of the Tucson Airport Authority, which has 53 members and manages Tucson International Airport and Ryan Airfield. TAA celebrates its 75th anniversary this year.

She also sits on the board of three other organizations, including the United Way of Tucson and Southern Arizona Foundation Capital Corporation, and is a member of three more.

“Clearly I have a problem saying no to people, especially when it has to do with economic development and really moving things forward because my law practice focuses on zoning and land use,” said Silvyn. “Representing developers and property owners to move major projects forward in the community is a passion of mine.”

Silvyn also represents the region on the Arizona State Land Board of Appeals. she was appointed by then-Gov. Doug Ducey in 2014, after his nomination and interviews with the Senate Confirmation Committee. The State Land Department leases and sells state land, with proceeds predominantly spent on education.

“I love this stuff and it’s not difficult to find time for the things that you love,” Sylvin said.

She often encourages her law firm clients and others to take advantage of the Tucson airport, which is closer and easier to navigate than Phoenix’s Sky Harbor airport. “When they try it once, they’re like, ‘Whoa,’ ” she said.

“She is a great thought partner,” said TAA CEO Danette Bewley. “What I mean by that is that I can come and talk to her about issues that are airportrelated and have a really good conversation, and we can brainstorm about the approach to an issue or ideas or even best solutions.”

“She’s got amazing energy, she’s super thoughtful, and she’s strategic,” Bewley added.

A graduate of Saguaro High School in Scottsdale, Silvyn earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of Arizona and a law degree from UArizona’s James E. Rogers College of Law.

“I love Southern Arizona and Tucson, and I really want it to be the best of itself,” Silvyn said. “I want to help that to happen, and that is underlying everything I do.”

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Market CEO Carondelet Health Network

The market CEO of Carondelet Health Network has been in Tucson just two years but has already developed deep ties here.

Monica Vargas-Mahar currently serves on the board of directors of the United Way of Tucson and Southern Arizona and is chair-elect for the annual campaign. She’s on the Southern Arizona board of directors for the American Heart Association, and she recently became a member of the Southern Arizona Leadership Council.

“Community engagement and partnering with area nonprofits is something that I’ve done all my career,” said Vargas-Mahar, who has worked 22 years with Carondelet’s parent organization, Tenet Healthcare Corp., most recently in her hometown of El Paso, Tex.

“She’s one of the only Latinas in a position with that much authority in our region. She comes with years of experience in the El Paso market, which is similar to the Tucson market, so I think she’s a perfect fit for our community,” said Lea Márquez Peterson, chair of the Carondelet board when Mahar came to Tucson. She remains a board member.

“I’m so proud of the opportunities I’ve been given and I sit here because of an incredible team that has supported me,” Vargas-Mahar said.

Carondelet’s workforce numbers 2,200. One thing Vargas-Mahar most enjoys is engaging with team members. On a recent weekday, she eschewed her usual business attire for scrubs to complete night rounds with the staff at St. Joseph’s Hospital, where she has her office.

“It’s just lovely to hear and talk to people about why they serve,” she said. “I think all of us that are called to this work have a passion to serve.”

Vargas-Mahar provides strategic and operational leadership for St. Joseph’s, St. Mary’s Hospital, and Holy Cross Hospital in addition to Marana Hospital and Carondelet’s newest site, the St. Raphael Emergency Center. She recently completed her term as chair for The National Association of Latino Healthcare Executives, which she has been involved with for a decade.

She joined Carondelet, which has a 143-year history, during a critical time as the healthcare industry emerged from COVID-19. She has previously led efforts to expand hospital capacity, start new bariatric surgery programs and comprehensive stroke certification as well as advance trauma level status.

Married 12 years to Keith Mahar, she has two stepchildren, two nephews, three Standard poodles and a new apricot Royal poodle named Lucy.

Vargas-Mahar earned a bachelor’s degree in business administration from Loyola Marymount University and a master’s degree in healthcare administration from Trinity University. “I value the opportunity we have as leaders to support the community. That’s critically important for me.”

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Gadabout SalonSpas and VerVe Salons

Jana Westerbeke graduated from cosmetology school while in high school so she’d have “something to fall back on.”

Now, as co-owner of Gadabout SalonSpas and VerVe Salons, she has turned that decision into one of the region’s most iconic beauty brands, taking the company her mother, Pamela McNair-Wingate, founded in 1979 to new heights.

After a successful career as a stylist, leading one salon directly, and helping to create a secondary brand, VerVe Salon, in 2003, Westerbeke stepped into a business development role in 2005. Gadabout and VerVe now employ more than 230 employees and have six locations, which Jana and her husband Frank, own, lead and grow together.

“My mother always taught my husband and me that it’s not about us,” she said. “It’s about the people we’re leading. We have a wonderful team touching the Tucson community, as only a hairstylist, massage therapist, nail technician or esthetician can.”

The team recently won a prestigious industry award for its culture and is consistently named one of the top salons in the nation. Gadabout’s team has an unwavering commitment to professionalism, education and community. Westerbeke is most proud of making an impact on her team – 90% of which are women and almost 50% of which have been with the company for more than 10 years.

“I’m so happy that I fell into this industry and chose to stay,” she said. “This company has allowed me and our teammates to reach beyond any goals and dreams we have ever imagined. We are diligently working to elevate the beauty industry and the way it’s perceived, making it a first-rate career choice.”

Gadabout and VerVe support countless local non-profits including Angel Charity for Children, Ben’s Bells and Tu Nidito. The Westerbekes have won numerous awards for their generosity.

“My favorite part,” Westerbeke said, “is how we give back to this amazing community and industry that have supported us for over four decades.”

Megan Jasper has been with Gadabout SalonSpas and VerVe Salon for 22 years.

“Jana is an incredible leader, mentor, way-shower and friend,” said Jasper, a Gadabout VP. “She embodies resilience, passion and an unerring eye for how any situation can be better. She has a heart of gold and is one of the most selfless and generous people I’ve ever spent time with.”

Westerbeke’s daughters, Wylie and Wagner, are now making their own path with the company. “As they are growing in their professional careers, we are so proud that they chose this amazing industry,” Westerbeke said.

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Project: Youth On Their Own Forever Home

Location: 2525 and 2509 N. Country Club Road.

Owner: Youth On Their Own

Contractor: Building Excellence

Architect: WLFA & Associates

Completion Date: In progress

Construction Cost: $1.4 million

Project Description: Renovations and modifications are being done to two existing buildings for the Youth On Their Own Forever Home.

Project: Cochise College First Responders Academy

Location: Sierra Vista

Owner: Cochise County Community College District

Contractor: CORE Construction

Architect: BWS Architects

Completion Date: June 2023

Construction Cost: $4.5 million

Project Description: The academy will receive a new, five-acre driving track and training course for police and commercial driver’s license programs.

Project: F lower Child Restaurant

Location: 2960 N. Campbell Ave.

Owner: Fox Restaurant Concepts

Contractor: W.E. O’Neil Construction

Architect: Field Paoli Architects

Completion Date: April 2023

Construction Cost: N/A

Project Description: This 3,500-square-foot build-out features masonry, wood and concrete finishes in a restaurant serving healthy food in a fast, casual environment.

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Project: Bautista Apartments

Location: Mercado District

Owner: The Gadsden Company, PEG Companies

Contractor: EMJ Construction

Architect: LRD Architects

Completion Date: August 2025

Construction Cost: $110 million

Project Description: An upscale, transit-oriented mixed-use development located along the historic Santa Cruz River that will include 256 residential units and 16,000 square feet of ground-level retail and restaurant space, underground parking, interior courtyards, and amenities.

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The three-story, 89,000-square-foot Applied Research Building will provide new research capabilities with state-of-the-art equipment and technology.

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A Giant Leap for Space Science Innovation

Applied Research Building Sets New Ceiling for UArizona

Take one small step into the new, $89-million Applied Research Building at the University of Arizona, and you’ll recognize it is one giant leap for UArizona’s nation-leading space sciences.

The facility allows UArizona to both reach for the stars, and to create near-Earth solutions. It is “science, non-fiction,” fueled by imagination.

“This is one of the coolest buildings I’ve ever seen,” said Elizabeth “Betsy” Cantwell, UArizona senior VP for research and innovation, at the April 5 dedication of the three-story, 89,000-square-foot building on East Helen Street between Mountain and Cherry avenues. “This is what the modern research infrastructure will look like.”

Cantwell spoke inside the High Bay Payload Laboratory, beneath a 40-foot-high reinforced concrete ceiling securing two five-ton cranes – named Wilbur and Wilma, of course − that hoist heavy weights. Within the lab, scientists and engineers can assemble and store high-altitude stratospheric balloons and evaluate how they perform.

Around the corner, the Thermal Vacuum Chamber, a 40-ton, 13-by-24-foot enclosure is so large it had to be placed ahead of building construction. In the chamber, extreme vacuum pres-

continued on page 134 >>>

Summer 2023 > > > BizTucson 133

continued from page 133

sure can be achieved, and temperatures can be dropped to -315 degrees Fahrenheit.

That’s cold; temperatures on Mars average a mere -81 degrees.

Those two facilities are believed to be the largest of their kind on a U.S. university campus. When Mark Kranz, VP and design director for building designer SmithGroup, learned of their scale, “even our jaws dropped,” he said.

Nearby, you’ll find the Anechoic Chamber, lined with metal sheeting and covered with four-sided carbon-filled foam cones resembling spikes from a torture chamber. It is a high-technology sound studio, with no echoes and no radio waves bouncing about nor invading. Within the chamber, researchers can evaluate the performance of experi-

mental antennae for use in deep-space communication systems, or in terrestrial cell phone networks.

Upstairs, there can be close encounters with:

• The “NASA-esque” Mission Operations Center, equipped to manage NASA Class D and balloon-borne missions thousands and even millions of miles away;

• The CubeSat Laboratory, where nanosatellites the size of a kitchen toaster can be built;

• The relocated Imaging Technology Laboratory, already a world-leading supplier of advanced scientific imaging sensors for visible, ultraviolet and X-ray light detection;

• The Laboratory for Advanced and

Additive Manufacturing, where researchers can design and fabricate complex materials used in national security, space exploration, biomedicine and communications;

• The Space Materials Curation Facility, housing anything from rocket body paint samples to meteorites. Its contents give clues about the more than 170 million pieces of “space junk” orbiting Earth, and can help guide space traffic management, national security and planetary defense.

Collectively, the Applied Research Building – or ARB − is what SmithGroup’s Kranz calls “a high-tech container for some of the most unique research in the world.”


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is No. 1 among U.S. univer- 1) Mike Lee, project director of construction contractor the McCarthy Building Companies, describes the function of the anechoic chamber, a non-reflective, echo-free room designed to test antennae for command, control and data relay purposes 2) The 40-ton thermal vacuum chamber used to replicate conditions in outer space that is the largest of its kind at any university in the world PHOTOS: CHRIS RICHARDS, UNIVERSITY OF ARIZONA

“This is that next step to stay No. 1,” said Tim Swindle, director of the UArizona Space Institute, director of the Arizona Space Grant Consortium, and director emeritus of the Lunar and Planetary Laboratory. “We have to change to keep up with the world.”

As Arizona’s land-grant institution, “we owe it to the state of Arizona to deliver the amazing people and amazing research” within the ARB, Cantwell said. “You will see real things happening.”

In fact, you’ll actually be able to see the Thermal Vacuum Chamber from East Speedway. It is lighted, next to tall windows, and clearly visible at night.

is here,” said Mike Lee, project director of construction contractor the McCarthy Building Companies.

“This is a story of individuals who will be in this building, building amazing new technology” to address “the largest and most challenging societal problems,” Cantwell said. “The ARB allows us to apply world-class research to practical, real-world needs.”

It is expected to reinforce the university’s relationships with industry partners such as Honeywell, Raytheon Missiles & Defense, Lockheed Martin and NASA. It is already generating new inquiries from businesses wishing to manage satellite and balloon projects. Research

conducted in the ARB can translate into “major societal impacts,” Cantwell said, from the development of wearables and noninvasive imaging for better health care outcomes, to advanced manufacturing, and to the construction of advanced sensors for modern autonomy, robotics, and artificial intelligence applications.

“Every year,” UArizona President Dr. Robert C. Robbins said, there ought to be a birthday party at the ARB so “we can continue to watch the incredible science that’s done in this building.” Its creation represents “an investment in fundamental discovery” that can be translated into “commercial products that make this world a better place.

“That sounds trite, but I so fundamentally believe it,” Robbins said.

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2 3 Biz
3) University of Arizona President Robert C. Robbins speaks at the grand opening of the UArizona Applied Research Building
4) Senior vice president for research and innovation Elizabeth “Betsy” Cantwell speaks at the grand opening of the University of Arizona’s Applied Research Building

Intelligent Design

Pima Community College Advanced Manufacturing Building Opens

Pima Community College’s new three-story, 100,000-square-foot, $35 million Advanced Manufacturing Building is a spectacularly bold space at Stone Avenue and Speedway Boulevard with postcard views of Downtown Tucson, the Tucson Mountains and the Santa Catalinas.

It’s at once striking, yet intimate, because of what’s about to happen inside. Here, as well as at PCC’s adjacent Automotive Technology and Innovation Center, generations of Tucsonans will be empowered with skills to pursue technical careers that sustain families, improve lives and strengthen the com-

munity and its economy.

Students are the medium, said Carmen Cueva, Pima’s director of advanced manufacturing and computeraided design. “Meaningful careers are the product.”

“This building is a physical intervention that disrupts business as usual,”


Cueva said at the May 5 ribbon-cutting. It’s “an object, a space, a structure that personifies a passion and pride for making and fixing.”

Nick Pinchuk celebrates America’s passion and pride for just that. The Vietnam War veteran, who was stationed one year at Fort Huachuca, is

today the president and CEO of Wisconsin-based Snap-on Incorporated, with 12,900 employees and annual sales topping $4.5 billion. He came to Tucson to see the building and to celebrate his longtime friend PCC Chancellor Lee Lambert, who after 10 years here was recently named chancellor of Foothill-

“Why are we ascendant?” Pinchuk asked. “We uniquely have a culture of making and fixing things. There are tens of millions of people who can actually create things.”

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De Anza Community College District in California.

continued from page 137

Students will learn automated industrial technology, computer-aided design, machining and welding. They’ll study design and prototyping, robotics and automation, machine technology, mechatronics (the melding of computer science, electronics and mechanization), and industrial technology. They’ll explore optics, photonics and electronics.

In this building, “each piece is tied together,” Lambert said. “It’s one giant incubation center.”

Greg Wilson, Pima’s dean of applied technology and a leader in creating PCC’s Center of Excellence in Applied Technology, speaks with pride inside the AMB’s gleaming, fully equipped welding laboratory, more than triple the size

of Pima’s previous “crusty” space.

In years past, Wilson said, important education partner Pima County Joint Technical Education District would “come to us with 40-60 students” who wanted to learn welding, “and we’ve always had to say ‘no.’ We didn’t have the space. We didn’t have enough faculty.”

Now, as faculty are added, PCC “will be able to serve those JTED students,” Wilson said. And those Pima JTED students can find meaningful employment.

“All this is going to lead to familysustaining wages for this community,” Lambert said. “How do we sustain the health and vitality of our community? It begins and ends with good jobs. In order to have those good jobs, we have to have

the training and educational pipeline in place that develops the individuals in our community for those good jobs.”

Industry, which helped advise the creation of the building, now has a place to “upskill” its workers in the Flexible Industry Training laboratory, or FIT Lab. Businesses can simply move their equipment into the FIT Lab, “set up the pieces, and do the training,” Lambert said. “Then, we can break it down, and be ready for the next one.”

Such creative, responsive thinking makes PCC “a national innovator,” said Mark Gaspers, senior manager for government operations at The Boeing Company and immediate past chair of the Arizona Manufacturers Council. It’s

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1) Pima’s Automation/Robotics lab features Industry 4.0 and robotic equipment to prepare students for rewarding careers in smart manufacturing. 2) From left – Matthew Thrower, Chair, Pima Foundation; Mark Gaspers, The Boeing Company; Sarah Brown Smallhouse, Thomas R. Brown Foundations;Dr. Wade McLean, PCC Governing Board;Dolores Duran-Cerda, Ph.D., PCC Provost and Executive Vice Chancellor; Luis L. Gonzales, PCC Governing Board; Chancellor Lee Lambert;Maria Garcia, PCC Governing Board; Theresa Riel, Chair, PCC Governing Board; Greg Wilson, PCC Dean of Applied Technology

showing everyone “what we can accomplish when we all work together.”

PCC is becoming “an important part of the equation” in retaining employers, and attracting new ones, Lambert said. “I like to think this building will have a big say” in “companies deciding to locate in Tucson in the future.”

“It’s about equity,” Lambert added.

“We need to make sure we leave nobody behind in this community. All people deserve the opportunity to get the training and education they need to get that good job.”

“We need to build local capacity to leave a real legacy,” Cueva said. “We are doing incredible things now. Join us here and be part of reaching the next


The Advanced Manufacturing Building is the cornerstone facility for PCC’s Center of Excellence in Applied Technology. It’s located on the PCC Downtown Campus, 1255 N. Stone Ave. DLR Group designed the building with construction by Chasse Building Team.

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“This building is a physical intervention that disrupts business as usual. It is “an object, a space, a structure that personifies a passion and pride for making and fixing.”
2 3 Biz
– Carmen Cueva Director of Advanced
& Computer-Aided Design
Pima Community College
3) The Advanced Manufacturing Building includes a Quality & Inspection lab where students can learn metrology using 3D scanning equipment. 4) Guests and Pima employees enjoy the views during the ribbon-cutting event for the Advanced Manufacturing Building. 1) From left – Kris Mayes, Arizona Attorney General; Daniel Barr, Chief Deputy Arizona Attorney General; Lisa Lovallo, VP & System Manager for Cox Enterprises, and chair of the Step Up to Justice board; Former Tucson Mayor Jonathan Rothschild
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2) From left – Ryan Anderson, Manager of Business Development for Tucson Electric Power, Thom Melendez, President Long Realty Cares Foundation 3) Kris Mayes, Arizona Attorney General

Equal Before the Law

Step Up to Justice Offers Free Civil Legal Aid

Michele Mirto, executive director of Step Up to Justice, cannot think of a single day she’s left the office “feeling like we haven’t made a difference for someone.”

Qualifying, low-income clients turn to this Tucson nonprofit for free civil legal help. They might be renters facing eviction, grandparents seeking guardianship of grandchildren, or victims of domestic violence trying to move forward. They need an attorney, but can’t afford one. Step Up to Justice steps up with a volunteer lawyer, at no charge.

“We’re seeing people every day whose lives are changed by the work of our volunteers,” Mirto said. “It’s an amazing thing to watch. I feel very privileged that this is my job.”

“I was always under the impression if you couldn’t afford a lawyer, one would be provided to you,” said Lisa Lovallo, VP and system manager for Cox Enterprises, and chair of the SU2J board.

That’s true in criminal law, Mirto points out, but not civil law. “It’s shocking to people” when they learn of that gap in justice, she said.

“I can’t imagine standing in front of a judge without a lawyer by my side,” Lovallo said. “No one in Tucson should have to do that. We can solve this challenge by supporting Step Up to Justice.”

More than 200,000 Pima County residents are considered impoverished. Each year, about 140,000 of them have a civil legal need. Since its founding in 2017, through the end of May, SU2J has helped 8,350 clients. “Our impact in the community has been significant, and it’s growing every day,” Mirto said.

About 40% of SU2J clients need help with family law. Another 30% need help with housing, be it rent delinquency or living conditions. Clients are screened based on financial eligibility and case merits. SU2J also gives them a “personal handoff” to any one of 26 community partners who help low-income people.

For more than 20 years, Mirto worked

as an attorney at Southern Arizona Legal Aid, providing free legal services.

“It was wonderful work,” she said, “but we were turning people away, back into the community every day. That never sat right with us.” It often happened because of legal conflicts. Tucson didn’t have a second provider.

and events. SU2J is a 501(c)(3) that can receive Arizona income tax charitable credits.

“One of the conscious decisions our board made was not to take any federal funding,” Mirto said. By doing so, “our doors are open to everyone financially eligible to receive services.”

This year, SU2J wants to assist 2,000 clients, recruit 25 more attorneys and strengthen its “upstream education,” reaching low-income people before urgency arrives so they know their legal rights and responsibilities regarding housing, contracts, and end-of-life planning. To do all that, it needs people “to invest in our work,” Mirto said.

“Maybe it’s not as obvious as a food bank,” she said. But legal services, or their absence, can “really impact every aspect of someone’s life.” When SU2J can prevent an eviction, for example, kids stay in their schools, and families stay off the streets. “To the extent we can make this a better and safer place to live, that benefits everyone,” she said.

Ryan Anderson, a trained attorney and now the manager of business development for Tucson Electric Power, serves on the SU2J board. He performed volunteer civil legal work for Tucsonans trying to stabilize their families. “Case by case, I felt I was making a difference,” Anderson said.

Judges, attorneys, social justice advocates, Mirto and SU2J associate director Melissa Spiller-Shiner created the organization from the ground floor.

“We had an idea about how to do this,” Mirto said. The use of volunteer attorneys, 245 of them right now, is at the core of the service. “That’s very different than a traditional legal aid model. ... We thought it would work, and it has.”

SU2J has grown from three employees to 10, from an annual budget of about $200,000 to $709,000. “It’s been a real growth experience,” Mirto said. Funds come evenly from donors, grants,

Then, shortly after he joined TEP, he learned about SU2J. He already knew Mirto and Spiller-Shiner were “dynamic and effective,” saw the coalition of volunteer lawyers the nonprofit was ready to empower, and was eager to serve on the board.

“I believe that SU2J has the right people and programs to help Pima County’s most vulnerable residents fight for a better life,” Anderson said.

Lovallo said Cox supports SU2J “because we believe that everyone in our community should have access to legal services, regardless of their economic status.”

Summer 2023 > > > BizTucson 143 BizLAW
“We’re seeing people every day whose lives are changed by the work of our volunteers.”
– Michele Mirto Executive Director Step Up to Justice

Mel Zuckerman An Icon of Health and Wellness

Mel Zuckerman – the visionary founder of Canyon Ranch who changed the University of Arizona, the Tucson community, the resort spa industry and the world itself through his passionate promotion of health and wellness philanthropy – was honored by family, friends, admirers, educators, business leaders and associates this spring at his memorial on the UArizona campus.

Zuckerman passed away Mar. 18 surrounded by family at his home. He was 94. The public memorial honoring him was Apr. 17 before a large crowd at the university’s Health Sciences Innovation Building.

“Mel’s kindness, generosity and support of the Mel and Enid Zuckerman College of Public Health have always provided inspiration to me and to everyone in our college,” said Dr. Iman Hakim, dean of the Zuckerman College of Health and host of the April tribute event. “Mel’s concern for our success

and well-being continues to keep me moving forward every day.”

“Zuckerman believed in the power of healthy living,” said UArizona President Dr. Robert C. Robbins, in a news release. “We are so fortunate that he and Enid also believed that partnership with the university could be a means of expanding that vision to our community and well beyond through public health education and programs designed to bring lifestyle-based disease prevention to the community.”

The Zuckermans have been overwhelmingly generous to UArizona, providing a $10 million endowment that paved the way to establish the Zuckerman College of Public Health, launched in 2000 as the first nationally accredited college of its type in the southwestern U.S. The college has graduated more than 5,000 public health students who now work promoting health and preventing disease in all 50 states and

around the world.

The Zuckermans’ altruism hasn’t stopped there. Since that first $10 million gift, their foundation has more than doubled their contributions to help create the UArizona Center for Integrative Medicine and numerous scholarships for the College of Public Health. The Zuckermans also funded a new health and medical careers high school as part of the Pima Joint Technical Education District and supported dozens of local charities and religious organizations.

Dr. Richard Carmona was hired by Zuckerman as chief of health innovation at Canyon Ranch immediately after serving as the 17th U.S. Surgeon General from 2002 to 2006. Carmona and Zuckerman have been friends for 40 years and Carmona visited him at his bedside several times during his final days.

Carmona praised Zuckerman as “a genius and an unbelievable success.

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Enid & Mel Zuckerman

When it comes to health and wellness, the Canyon Ranch brand is recognized around the world at the very top of the spa resort industry. He had a big heart and was constantly thinking how he could increase democratization of health and wellness concepts to the poor.”

In 2017, the Zuckermans sold Canyon Ranch to John Goff, a patron and investor in the business for two decades. “Zuckerman was well aware he wouldn’t live forever and was confident Goff would keep Canyon Ranch at the top of the industry,” Carmona said.

Zuckerman expanded the Canyon Ranch brand throughout his ownership, also leaving Goff control of a resort in Lenox, Mass., and the Spa Fitness resort in The Venetian Hotel in Las Vegas.

Zuckerman was born in New Jersey on May 23, 1928. After earning an accounting degree from New York University, he married Enid Slotkin in 1953

and they moved to Tucson five years later.

In those days, air-conditioning sales and population growth were booming in the Arizona desert, leading Zuckerman to drop his accounting job to start a home-building company, which did well. When Zuckerman turned 40, his doctor warned him that his health risks were equivalent to a 65-year-old man. But that wasn’t enough to get him to address his health problems. It wasn’t until 10 years later – after his father, a lifelong smoker, died of lung cancer – that Zuckerman was jolted into changing his lifestyle habits.

“I watched my father hang his head in his hands and say over and over again, ‘If only I had listened to my doctors and if only I had done this or that,’ ” Zuckermanl wrote in Canyon Ranch origin stories. “It was a true wake-up for me.”

Determined to change, he checked into a California “fat farm,” in 1978,

where he dropped 40 pounds and – in an “aha! moment” – discovered his new purpose in life. “Almost immediately, I realized that the power of physical and psychological reinvention – through exercise, diet, and behavioral change – was a gift I could share with other people,” Zuckerman told BizTucson in a 2009 interview.

With encouragement from Enid, the Zuckermans liquidated assets they earned from their real estate endeavors and poured those resources, as well as money they borrowed, to buy the dilapidated 42-acre Double U Dude Ranch near Sabino Canyon. The couple renovated old ranch buildings on the site, while conscientiously protecting the beauty of the property. Canyon Ranch opened in 1979 as the only destination spa in the Tucson area for 16 years.

“Success was not instantaneous, but Mel and Enid persevered, long before

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“Mel Zuckerman changed the world in many ways. God bless Mel Zuckerman.”
– Jim Click

continued from page 145

wellness became a multi-trillion-dollar industry,” wrote Craig Oliver, president of Spas of America and editorin-chief of Healthy Living + Travel. “Mel’s first-of-itskind wellness resort in Tucson pioneered an integrative approach, drawing holistic methods, treatments, and evidence from western and eastern practices to address the well-being of mind, body and spirit. Embracing exercise, a healthful diet and attention to one’s mind and spirit, Canyon Ranch helped usher in the modern wellness movement.”

Several people shared remembrances of Zuckerman during the tribute in his honor.

In the late 1970s, at the time Zuckerman was building Canyon Ranch, Jim Click and his cousin, Bob Tuttle, purchased controlling interest in Union Bank of Tucson. Shortly after taking ownership of the bank, Click said Zuckerman phoned him and said “he was short of money and needed a loan to finish the project and get the place open.”

Initially, Click was uncertain about helping Zuckerman. “We had just bought the bank and I didn’t know a damn thing about the banking business or the resort spa business,” said Click, a highly successful Tucson auto dealer. But after Zuckerman took Click on a tour of Canyon Ranch, the loan was approved.

“That started a great friendship between Mel and I,” Click said. “We started calling each other for our community. From that point on, if Mel thought something was good for the community, he always said ‘yes.’

“When I asked him about helping a Catholic school on the south side that helped poor kids, he wrote a check. When Sabino Canyon got totally flooded, we got together and raised $2 million and the whole community got involved.”

“Mel Zuckerman changed the world in many ways,” Click concluded. “God bless Mel Zuckerman.”

“Mel and Enid have been part of my life since 1975, almost 50 years,” said Bob Elliott, who came to Tucson from Detroit to play basketball at Arizona “Back in the day, when I was playing basketball at the university, Coach Snowden placed his players with a family, like a home away from home. I was placed with the Zuckermans.”

Elliott has been a family friend ever since.

A UArizona hoops star, Elliott advanced to the pro ranks, including three seasons with the NBA’s New Jersey Nets. He formed The Elliott Accounting Group in 1983 and serves as its president and owner.

“As I transitioned from basketball player to accountant and community member, every professional move I ever considered I checked with Mel,” Elliott said.

“My father passed away in 2002. I kept Mel informed of my father’s health. On the day I found my dad had passed, I called Mel and he consoled me – then he said, ‘You still have me.’ ”

146 BizTucson < < < Summer 2023

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