Tucson Local Media: Business

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  • On the road to equity, the Homestretch Foundation supports female athletes and looks to create a better world for all

    Whether along the Rillito River Trail, up the 26-mile climb to Mt. Lemmon or at various other popular locales across the metro area, thousands of people in Tucson take to the road on a bicycle every day. Long known as a region friendly to the cycling community, the thousands of locals out on the road are joined in the winter by those looking to take advantage of Tucson’s favorable climate to keep to a consistent training schedule.Lauren Hall, Emma Grant and Brad Huff have spent time in the Old Pueblo with several other professional or elite-level cyclists at the Homestretch Foundation, a home away from home. A vision several years in the making in the mind of founder and former professional cyclist Kathryn Bertine, the foundation is a spiritual extension and a continuation of the work Bertine has carried out on and off of her bike. During her career as a cyclist, one thing became apparent to Bertine: women have not been given an equal chance at success in the sport. Suffering through her own monetary struggles as a professional, Bertine said she looked to help as many fellow female athletes as possible. The concept which would eventually become the foundation was then born: hosting women in her home. “Inequity was rampant, and not improving in any way,” Bertine said. “So that’s when it really took hold that we need to make some changes, and how can I be part of changing that broken system? I admired these athletes and what they were willing to do in order to pursue their goals and their dreams of being professionals. At that time I just had a spare room available, so of course, I’ll help a sister out.”While Bertine knew that salary issues was a widespread problem throughout women’s cycling – the sport’s governing body, Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI), does not require women to be paid a base salary like male athletes – she said she came to realize that the financial hardship was nearly universal.Years later Bertine would retire from her own professional career, hanging up her jersey at the end of the 2016 season, though her desire to help other women in the sport was not sated. After years of thinking about the foundation and formulating business plans, Bertine put the wheels in motion alongside co-founder Tom Bailey, and the Homestretch Foundation became a reality last November.

  • RTA MainStreet program helps businesses affected by Ina construction

    Although many businesses are going to be adversely affected by the Ina Road Project, there are plenty of tools to help them through the project that will keep the on and off ramps at Ina and I-10 closed for two years. The Town of Marana and the Marana Chamber of Commerce have done quite a bit to aid those businesses, but the Regional Transportation Authority (RTA) has also been trying to help those businesses since the project was first announced years ago. The RTA created the MainStreet Business Assistance Program to help businesses affected by RTA construction projects and the program has been reaching out to businesses on and around Ina who could face hardships from the project. When the RTA was approved in 2006, part of the $2.1 billion project was $10 million set aside for small business assistance to help businesses affected by the transportation improvement projects in the RTA plan. Jan Waukon, the outreach liaison for the program, said that over 6,000 businesses have been helped by the program and that she personally has visited every eligible business in the area. One of the biggest aspects of the project is third-party consulting, which is able to assist the businesses prior to and during construction, and put the business in the position to be more successful post construction. Waukon said over 600 businesses in the region have received the consulting services. “Our program offers private and confidential consulting services from expert consultants,” Waukon said. “We will do everything from marketing strategies to financial analysis.”

  • Town’s “Project Ina” app is live

    Since plans for the Ina Road Interchange project were announced several years ago, the town of Marana has been examining ways to help businesses with the impact of the construction. Ina Road’s closure on both ends of I-10 was going to cause a number of problems, including difficulty for cops and firefighters responding to calls in the area and traffic issues at neighboring interchanges. But the biggest concern was for the area businesses, whose customers are likely to avoid the congestion and hassles that come with a major road project.The town came up with a number of strategies to help those businesses, including the creation of an app to help promote businesses and inform residents about what was happening in the area. The town’s “Project Ina” app has gone live and is now available in the Apple App Store and on Google Play. The goal of the free app is to allow people to keep up with the traffic alerts in the area, as well as learn about any deals or promotions from those businesses affected by the construction. The app was first presented to the Marana Town Council back in October, when a beta version was available. The goal was to have everything someone heading to the area would need to know in one place. “It will really serve as a central hub of information about the program,” said Marana Assistant to the Town Manager Tony Hunter at the time.

  • The Hacienda at the River development: A new kind of senior living

    If in 1987 you asked David Freshwater and David Barnes if by 2017 they thought they’d be managing 39 retirement communities nationwide—and now creating one of their very own state of the art facilities in Tucson—you might get a laugh.“Senior housing at that time was sort of an obscure and esoteric kind of product,” Freshwater says. But that’s exactly what they’ve accomplished since teaming up to run the Fountains at La Cholla nearly three decades ago, which ironically sort of happened by accident. When Freshwater, who has degrees in architecture and business, took on development of the Fountains—one of the region’s first senior housing projects—he had no intention of running it. But thanks to the infancy of the industry and the lack of third party operators, Freshwater would create a team to do just that. “The industry by and large learned by trial and error. No one knew what they were doing,” Freshwater says. “We were feeling our way through it, doing the things we thought were right, making mistakes, but going with our gut instincts and educational background.”It was around that time Barnes, with a degree in management information systems, had begun his ascent through the Fountains company, first operating as an operation trouble shooter and eventually working his way to becoming senior vice president of operations and president and CEO by 2001. 

  • ADP to add 250 Jobs to its workforce in Tucson

    ADP is adding 250 positions to its Tucson workforce, bringing the number of ADP associates in Tucson to 400 and nearly 2,000 ADP associates working in Arizona. The 400 associates in Tucson will occupy 49,543 square feet on two floors of the company’s facility at 5451 East Williams Blvd.Tucson Mayor Jonathan Rothschild and Sandra Watson, president and CEO of the Arizona Commerce Authority, joined company executives and associates during a ribbon-cutting celebration in Tucson on Tuesday, Jan. 24. “I’m delighted that ADP has chosen to increase its presence in Tucson, a city with a talented workforce that is focused on helping companies like ADP succeed in meeting the needs of their clients,” Rothschild said.Watson echoed those remarks, also citing the company’s announcement last November to create up to 1,500 new jobs at a new facility in Tempe.“ADP’s impressive growth in our state emphasizes Arizona’s competitiveness in meeting the needs of business and providing jobs for our citizens,” Watson said.  “Under Governor Ducey’s leadership, the Arizona Commerce Authority and our partners are proud to support ADP’s continued success in both Tucson and Tempe.”

  • El Conquistador announces western riding adventures

    Local equestrians, riding enthusiasts and nature-lovers, rejoice! The Hilton Tucson El Conquistador Golf and Tennis Resort has opened its stables to begin trail rides, riding lessons, desert adventures and more within the resort’s 500-acre-plus property and the surrounding area.“Our plan is to make this resort uniquely southwest,” said El Conquistador general manager Ghee Alexander. “In this day and age, our guests and travelers really want much more than just a generic resort or hotel experience. They want it to be customized to the surrounding area. That way, they could possibly experience the entirety of the region.”To better tap into the heritage of Tucson and the southwest, Alexander said that the resort looked to both Mexican and Spanish cultural tradition for inspiration and found one aspect which fit perfectly: the use of horses in everyday life. So it only made sense to offer a riding experience to guests.The resort will offer locals and visitors the opportunity to embark on a desert adventure on an eight-acre plot of land within the property, as well as the nearby Linda Vista Trail. The tours will be led Pot A Gold Adventures, a company which Alexander said came highly recommended not only because of the Mather Saddle Horses and Pack Station in Yosemite, California, but also the company’s locations in both Phoenix and Flagstaff.Alexander said guests will be able to choose among themed dates, family hayrides, carriage rides, cowboy breakfasts or an evening group cookouts.The new options come as the resort looks to finish the largest renovation in its 34-year history, according to Alexander.

  • Business calendar - Nov. 30, 2016

    Thursday, Dec. 1• The Rotary Club of Oro Valley meets. Details: 7 a.m.; Oro Valley Country Club, 300 W. Greenock Drive; www.orovalleyrotary.org.• The Rotary Club of SaddleBrooke meets. Details: 11:45 a.m.; SaddleBrooke Clubhouse, 64485 E. SaddleBrooke Blvd.; $15; agbw@msn.com.• The Rotary Club of Dove Mountain meets. Details: 5 p.m.; The Highlands Clubhouse; 4949 W. Heritage Club Blvd.; jthentges@aol.com.• The Kiwanis Club of the Desert meets. Details: 6 p.m.; Village Inn, 6251 N. Oracle Road; donaldrprince@comcast.net.• The Marana-Foothills Optimist Club meets. Details: 6:30 p.m.; Coco’s Restaurant, 7250 N. Oracle Road; 906-1908 or info@marana-foothillsoptimistclub.com.

  • Starting fresh at Begin Again

    Parting ways with personal belongings after decades of loving use and tender care can be a difficult process, a struggle Linda Vlamakis is well aware of. Whether taking in the trinkets of a down-sizing senior, the collection of a local art lover, hand-crafted furniture or a wide array of jewelry, Vlamakis sees it all, and sells it all at Begin Again, the “mindful resale shop.”Located at 7961 N. Oracle Road, Begin Again opened last Labor Day, and has since grown to encompass a collection of consignment of more than 1,500 individual items from nearly 300 members of the local community. Vlamakis looks to “upcycle” her products as she calls it, by facilitating from one loving home to another the movement of a variety of high-quality goods.“I just love the word ‘upcycling,’” she said. “I want things to be clean and relevant enough for people that are just getting out there setting up households—they can buy things that others are done with. So I always have to be mindful of what’s current.”Part interior decorator, part assessor and part curator, Vlamakis’ touch has turned Begin Again into a space more reminiscent of a hip gift shop than any second hand store.Crafting such an inviting space takes some experience, and Vlamakis isn’t a new face in the consignment industry. She said she has worked for years sorting and pricing items, and setting up monthly estate sales in the Tucson region. While there are several options for second-hand goods, Vlamakis said Begin Again stands apart from other similar businesses because of her ability to know what people want to buy and how much they are willing to spend.Vlamakis said she wants to help anyone downsizing their estate, and to provide a way to get rid of belongings in a more reputable way than internet dealers or online listings. New items are brought out daily, though everything is given plenty of time in the public eye. For the bits and pieces that don’t sell, Casa De Los Ninos receives as donations.

  • Music & Dance Academy celebrating 20 years with red carpet gala

    Twenty years ago, Nina Tishkevich was providing individual lessons to 75 musicians. But as an immigrant from the former Soviet Union, she wasn’t used to teaching privately, a practice uncommon in what is today known as Uzbekistan.And she wanted to return to teaching in a classroom full of students.During her time as a budding musician and as a teacher in the former Soviet Union, Tishkevich said she worked with large groups of other music professionals. In America, what she missed was chamber music, group classes and performances. And so she decided to create her own school. Today, it’s known as the Music & Dance Academy. With two locations in Tucson, the academy is celebrating its second decade of artistic inspiration and dedication.To Tishkevich, the academy is more than a music and dance school. It’s a stepping stone for continued success. 

  • Oro Valley Smashburger opening April 6

    Oro Valley will soon be home to the region’s newest Smashburger, the fourth since local franchisee Eric Wolf opened Tucson’s first location in November 2012.The new restaurant will be located in the Oracle Crossings Shopping Center, 7625 N. Oracle Road #145, and opens its doors for the first time at 10 a.m. on Wednesday, April 6.Based out of Denver, Colo., the fast-casual chain currently operates in more than 30 states in the U.S., as well as several locations abroad, with a total of more than 300 stores. Regardless of the location, the mission remains the same: 100 percent fresh ingredients on toasted artisan buns. “We are excited to be opening another restaurant in Tucson to introduce even more local residents to our delicious smashed-to-order burgers,” Wolf said in a recent press release. “With a broad menu of handcrafted burgers, chicken, salads, signature sides and handspun shakes, Smashburger has something for everyone and we couldn’t be more excited to continue expanding our presence in the area.”The Oro Valley location will be nearly 2,000 square feet, with room to seat 61 guests and patio seating for an additional 26. Hours will be 10 a.m. until 10 p.m. seven days a week.More than just burgers, the menu includes chicken sandwiches, salads, fries, flash-fried seasoned carrot sticks and green beans and more. The new location will also serve shakes, root-beer floats and local craft beer.

  • Local Brewers’ newest ingredient: Crowdfunding

    One Tucson-based company, Ten Fifty-Five Brewing, staked its claim to a unique piece of Arizona business history: being the first to seek out investors under the state’s relatively new equity crowdfunding law.Signed by Gov. Doug Ducey just last year, the new law allows for companies to seek out investors and sell shares to Arizona residents via online platforms, greatly increasing chances of raising much-needed capital. Under the legislation, companies are able to raise up to $1 million without having to undergo a financial audit, and up to $2.5 million if an audit has been completed within the previous fiscal year. In light of the rise in the crowdfunding trend started by organizations like Kickstarter, Indiegogo and GoFundMe, allowing business to search for capital via the internet is considered by many to be the next big innovation within the process of starting a business. Ten Fifty-Five Brewing co-founder and General Manager Chris Squires said that pursuing capital via equity crowdfunding “was just the right option for us. It had no limitations on the number of investors, and it allows non-accredited investors to be involved as well, which has been a large portion of our investors so far.”Squires and Ten Fifty-Five Brewing co-founder and head brewer John Paul “J.P.” Vyborny, were first turned onto the online process after speaking with attorneys specializing in brewery capital fundraising. Squires said they went over every different option, eventually landing on the equity crowdfunding.The process began for the partners two months ago, but their business has already netted over $200,000 in investment. Squires said a majority of those interested in becoming part of the business are non-accredited investors, which he said is just another benefit to equity crowdfunding—it’s open to anyone, as long as they live in the state.

  • Paying it forward to troubled teens

    The first few years of my life would be considered normal by most standards. I was born and raised in Phoenix by two caring and dedicated parents who met when they worked together as elementary school teachers. My mother had just finished earning her master’s degree in psychology when my younger sister was born. I was 6 years old, and from that point on, my life would never be the same.After my sister was born, my mother became schizophrenic, and over the better part of the next six years, the doctors would try unsuccessfully to treat her illness with different medications. This time in my life was filled with dysfunction. I was in and out of Child Protective Services due to the trouble at home, I almost died in a car accident and my older brother took his own life. As would be expected, experiencing all of these traumas changed me. I became very introverted; I fell into a deep depression and was suffering from severe insomnia. As a result, I missed several weeks of school and fell very far behind.Halfway through 8th grade, I learned about a local public school alternative, Ombudsman Charter Schools. At Ombudsman, the school day was much shorter than traditional high school, and I was able to start classes in the afternoon, which helped with my insomnia. The safe and positive environment at Ombudsman helped me open up, regain some confidence and begin to make friends again. Through one-on-one attention I received from teachers like Andrea Rodriguez, I developed and strengthened skills I did not even know I possessed. It is without question that Ms. Rodriquez’ guidance and encouragement helped shape me into the man I have become.I earned my high school diploma from Ombudsman and went on to college at Arizona State University, where I earned a bachelor’s degree in English. I found my calling in teaching near the end of college when my father fell ill. Both of my parents had been teachers; and before my mother’s illness took hold, she was also pursuing a career in psychology so she could help people. With everything I had been through in life, I knew there were kids out there who were experiencing much worse — I realized that because of my upbringing and personal experiences, I was uniquely positioned to help troubled teens.Today I am a teacher at Ombudsman, and Andrea Rodriguez, the teacher who helped me to believe in myself, is now a cherished colleague. As a troubled teen, I was fortunate to have the staff at Ombudsman in my life. As an adult, I take great pride in being able to offer mentorship and guidance to teens who are struggling and looking for help. 

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