Sunday, October 26, 2014



¶lim¶Startup City

PHM0214Flash-SUC-1Valley leaders envision Phoenix as the next great tech mecca. Meet the motivated entrepreneurs who hope to hoist our economy into the 21st Century.

From the outside, little distinguishes Gangplank from the Valley's many ordinary brown stucco buildings. It sits in a neat line of commercial spaces facing Chandler's main drag near the modern city hall. But inside, the future of Arizona's economy toils away.


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Plight of the Navigators

Certified guides, eager to help Arizona's uninsured find health coverage under Obamacare, get angry earfuls about a screwy system.

At Flagstaff's North County Health Center, a tearful elderly woman waves a piece of paper: "Is this true? Is this true?" It's a letter to senior citizens, suggesting they check out new options under the Affordable Care Act (ACA), aka Obamacare. "Yes," answers health benefits advocate Briana Sherinian. "We can help you with that."


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Help on Hold

Arizona's 2-1-1 crisis hotline seeks solutions to its alarming dropped-call rate.

As a light on his phone flashes, indicating an incoming 2-1-1 Arizona call, Andrew, a former firefighter who suffered a career-ending injury, dons his headset. A middle-aged woman in Phoenix has received a shutoff notice from APS, and even in early fall, the temperature hovers in the triple digits. Andrew asks for her ZIP code and surfs a database of 3,000 human services agencies in the state. Identifying the Society of St. Vincent de Paul, the organization to which 2-1-1 most often directs clients, he navigates a map of baffling block-by-block conference boundaries to pinpoint the chapter that can issue the caller a utility voucher.


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Potash Stash

A mundane mineral could put Arizona on the international farming map.

As strategic materials go, potash isn’t particularly sexy. The crop fertilizer resembles tiny shards of rust-colored glass, and farmers once made it by soaking ash from burned-up plants in a pot. It’s also used to make beer. Another fun fact: Potash helps to grow more and healthier crops. As the world population expands, it’s no wonder this drab-looking mineral is in demand. And Arizona is said to be sitting on a hoard around Holbrook potentially worth $1 trillion.


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Acquiring Minds

Thunderbird School of Global Management proposes a for-profit alliance amid vocal alumni dissent.

Since 1946, the Thunderbird Field flight tower has been a beacon of the Thunderbird School of Global Management. Alumni remember the tower as they reminisce about earning business degrees at the institution U.S. News & World Report frequently ranks as the world’s best international business graduate school. Today, the tower also puts a figurative exclamation point on the debate between the school and some alumni who object to its proposed partnership with Laureate International Universities.


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¶lim¶Lust in the Dust

PHM0214 LUST1Led by a cadre of steamy-prose-penning authors, the Valley is fast becoming a romantic fiction hotbed.

When Valley writer Kris Tualla published her first historical romance novel in 2010, she knew even the icy-eyed, steel-chested Norse ravagers in her book, A Woman of Choice, would struggle for attention in a sea of 10 million other romance novels vying for a spot in an shopping cart.


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Gaucho Marks

Two Valley towns formed an unlikely bond while trying to "best Western" each other in a publicity blitz.

What's more Western? Having a big bronze statue of a cowboy on a bucking steed in the middle of an asphalt roundabout, or bringing a half-ton buffalo named "Harvey Wallbanger" to a town council meeting and getting your spurs stuck in dung?

Such burning questions need not burden Scottsdale or Cave Creek anymore. Turns out, they're both Western in their own ways, and there's no need to shoot it out with paintball revolvers or sue over slogans. But for a hot high-noon minute last fall, there was a whole lot of huffin' between the two towns over Scottsdale's trademarked title, "The West's Most Western Town." In the end, Cave Creek got its own slogan, Scottsdale got a laugh, and both towns agreed to forge a future alliance to discuss "real" issues.


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