The Quick Jab
by Bill Jabjiniak
City of Mesa fosters small businesses' large impact on the economy
Small businesses are vital to Mesa’s economy. According to analysis of data derived from Maricopa Association of Governments and ESRI Community Analyst, of the City’s more than 14,500 businesses, 90 percent employ less than 20 people. That constitutes more than 13,000 micro and very small businesses throughout Mesa.[i]
Historically, small businesses are the drivers of innovation and employment growth. Mesa is the birthplace for many small innovative firms that have grown into large companies such as Auer Precision, Edupoint and Ulthera. In fact, Ulthera, a cutting-edge medical device company, went from two employees with no sales to more than 200 employees and $150 million in revenue in seven years – all accomplished in Mesa. In June 2014, Ulthera was purchased by the Germany-based, international healthcare company, Merz, and remains headquartered in Mesa.
The City of Mesa has developed resources and programs to help entrepreneurs get started and to accelerate the growth of Mesa’s existing small businesses.
LAUNCHPOINT, Mesa Technology Accelerator, is a program created by the City of Mesa to accelerate the growth of young technology companies, thereby creating high-quality jobs and economic growth in the community. LAUNCHPOINT is a unique place for entrepreneurs and small companies that provides flexible space, business development assistance, and networking and training opportunities. It is a place to help companies launch and accelerate to create new jobs and capital investment in the community. Currently, LAUNCHPOINT has 12 participating companies.
Coming soon in summer 2017, the Maricopa Small Business Development Center (SBDC) will begin holding office hours at LAUNCHPOINT two days per week to provide a full range of business counseling services for Mesa businesses. Moreover, the SBDC will provide business training seminars and workshops on regular basis at LAUNCHPOINT.
Mesa THINKspot is a collaborative workspace and makerspace created by the City within the Red Mountain Branch of the Mesa Public Library. It is a place filled with equipment and technology where entrepreneurs can meet with others to collaborate or share ideas and best practices, and where entrepreneurs can tinker, create, take-apart, and learn. THINKspot also hosts numerous free programs, workshops and seminars to help new start-ups.
The City of Mesa Business Export Assistance Program (BEAP) is a financial assistance program that helps small to medium-sized Mesa businesses gain important information, training, marketing, and sales support to begin or increase exports to international markets. Through BEAP, qualified Mesa businesses may receive reimbursement of up to 50 percent of the pre-approved eligible fees to participate in training seminars, trade shows, sales missions, and trade partner matching services.
In addition, the City has The Downtown Sprinkler Cost Assistance Program, which is designed to promote the greater utilization of vacant or underutilized space in Downtown Mesa. The City provides Mesa businesses and property owners up to $20,000 for construction of a sprinkler system in Downtown Mesa’s older buildings to reduce the burden on Mesa businesses when bringing these spaces up to current city code.
24/7 access to free tools
The City also provides strategic web-based tools to help Mesa businesses.
Chief among the resources on these pages is the Mesa Business Resource Guide, an online, one-stop-shop for information and guidance to help entrepreneurs start and grow their businesses in Mesa. Companies will find resources and information regarding location assistance, permitting and zoning, city codes and ordinances, business counseling, financial assistance, incentive programs, licensing, taxes, and much more.
The City of Mesa also hosts MesaSizeUp.com, which is a powerful market analysis tool designed specifically to help Mesa businesses succeed in today’s competitive market place. This free web-based tool can help companies see how they “size up” compared to their competition in terms of revenues, salaries, turnover, healthcare costs, and other key competitive measures.
Another of Mesa’s resources for small business is MesaSiteSearch.com, which helps companies find available buildings and land as they look to grow and expand. This free web-based program features more than 1,200 properties and can sort by zip code, property types, price, and size. This is the perfect tool to help businesses find the right location in Mesa.
As a City, we are excited to help our businesses. Mesa is a place where innovative thinking and inspiration catalyze business startups and entrepreneurship, and we believe the next great company is in its infancy here in Mesa. It is our job to remove barriers where possible and make Mesa a fertile place for small businesses to blossom. The City of Mesa Office of Economic Development is always available to provide additional information and assistance. www.mesaaz.gov/economic
[i]The numbers listed in this article are approximations using the best available data from ESRI Community Analyst (ESRI) and Maricopa Association of Governments (MAG). ESRI data provided the total number of Mesa companies. MAG data provided employee counts for Mesa companies with five or more employees and less than 20.
As the City of Mesa continues to focus on the revitalization of Downtown, the City has created the Downtown Mesa Façade Improvement Program which provides grant funding to help property and business owners revitalize their storefronts.
Mesa adds "facelift" to enhance Downtown
The City secured grant funding dollars to design and construct approximately 8-15 facade facelifts between the fall of 2017 and the summer of 2018.
The program is focused on properties located between Center Street and Country Club and between First Street and First Avenue. Many of these properties are affected by 1980s colonnade structures that obscure business frontages from the public space and mask the architecture of some of Mesa’s most attractive historic buildings.
The City opened the program for applications from property owners February 1, 2017 and received applications from 22 properties. Of these applicants, the City initially plans to fund 12 properties, with two additional properties under consideration contingent upon further grant awards. Grants for construction have been submitted. Upon the receipt of grant funding, the City plans to begin the design process this spring with the goal to construct facades later this year. Learn more here.
Business Export Assistance Program (BEAP)
The City of Mesa Office of Economic Development is pleased to announce the Business Export Assistance Program (BEAP). BEAP was designed to assist companies’ expansions internationally, by relieving some of the financial burden many small to medium-sized companies face in attending training seminars, trade shows, sales missions, or in finding partners abroad. The City of Mesa is now accepting applications for BEAP. The program will reimburse qualified Mesa companies up to 50 percent of the approved eligible fees associated with:
- Export training seminars (such as Arizona Commerce Authority's ExportTech Boot Camps);
- Trade show participation to gain global attention; and
- Foreign partner matching services.
Additional programs and trainings not listed above may also be considered for reimbursement.
The overall goal of BEAP is to help small to medium-sized businesses begin, or increase, exporting products and/or services to international markets; increase sales capacity and generate additional tax revenue to the City; expand operations and increase the company’s ability to create net new jobs and capital investment.
To be eligible for the program and reimbursement, companies must be headquartered in Mesa, Arizona, apply and be accepted into BEAP, and submit proof of attendance or services rendered.
For additional details, or to request an application, please contact Erinn Huber, Project Specialist at 480-644-3963 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
HIGHER EDUCATION ROUNDUP
ATSU student receives award, kids receive free dental care, University appoints new dean of dental school
Daniel Ebbs, a fourth-year student at A.T. Still University’s School of Osteopathic Medicine in Mesa, Arizona has been named the American Association of Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine’s National DO Student of the Year. The award is presented to one osteopathic medical student who demonstrates exceptional commitment to leadership, research, and service.
A.T. Still University’s Arizona School of Dentistry & Oral Health (ATSU-ASDOH) hosted Give Kids A Smile in February. More than 400 children from underserved communities received free dental care at the event, provided by ATSU-ASDOH’s dental students, faculty, and alumni.
ATSU-ASDOH announced the appointment of Robert M. Trombly, DDS, JD, as dean, effective July 1, 2017. Dr. Trombly will succeed inaugural dean, Jack Dillenberg, DDS, MPH. Dr. Trombly received his dental degree from University of Michigan in 1984 and earned a juris doctorate from University of Denver School of Law in 1991. He joined ATSU-ASDOH in 2015 as associate dean of clinical affairs. “ATSU-ASDOH is a very special place for students, staff, and faculty,” Dr. Trombly said. “Our admissions process identifies and attracts talented students who truly have the passion to be the heart of our profession. I am excited to see what we can achieve together in the coming years for our students, patients, and the profession.” www.atsu.edu
New scholarship at Benedictine University at Mesa
BenU at Mesa is offering a $3,000 scholarship to graduates of any of the Maricopa Community Colleges.
The Maricopa Community College Graduate Award is a renewable award for all full-time enrolled Benedictine students who are graduates of the Maricopa County Community College District. www.ben.edu/mesa.
Historic hotel transformed into residence hall opens to BenU at Mesa students
Benedictine University at Mesa officially opened the doors to its first residence hall on Tuesday, and a boost to downtown Mesa and the former Alhambra Hotel located at 43 S. Macdonald Street.
Nearly 100 people attended the dedication and ribbon-cutting, including students, faculty, staff, city officials, property developers and members of the general public.
“We took a beautiful landmark that is at the heart of downtown Mesa and made a great thing happen,” said University President Michael S. Brophy, Ph.D., M.F.A.
The $3.3 million renovation project turned what was once a transient hotel into single- and double-room suites with such amenities as study areas, lounges, a café, kitchen, and laundry rooms, an outdoor commons area, patio space and parking. The renovated facility can house 53 students.
“You can tell this is not a typical institution of higher education,” Mesa Mayor John Giles said. “Benedictine is very special. What a great addition to downtown Mesa.”
“If you know anything about Benedictine, history is important to us,” said Charlie Gregory, campus executive officer at BenU at Mesa. “Community is everything, and we are proud to be a part of this community.”
Students expressed excitement about this new campus experience.
“The facility is amazing,” said Ana Gonzalez, a junior Management and Organizational Behavior major from Queen Creek, Ariz., who was named the Alhambra Residence Hall’s first resident assistant.
“I couldn’t ask for more,” she added. “Everything is new. Students love the fact we are in Mesa, and that we are so close to school and all of the restaurants and businesses. We are really thankful that they chose this location.”
The Alhambra opened as the Pioneer Hotel in 1894. Once among Mesa’s most posh lodging options, the Alhambra was devastated by fire in 1921. Although it endured while other local hotels were shuttered, torn down or redeveloped, the building fell into neglect and eventually served as a transitional-living facility and residential hotel.
Phoenix-based developer Venue Projects and California-based Community Development Partners bought the building for about $1 million in August. Shortly thereafter, Perez reached out to BenU at Mesa officials, who were seeking a residential facility for students and agreed to lease the property.
Prior to the renovation project, student housing was made available through an agreement with the Phoenix Marriott Mesa.
The new residence hall is located near the Mesa Arts Center and about a mile from BenU at Mesa’s main campus building at 225 E. Main St. In a private ceremony in January, the building was blessed by Fr. James Aboyi, V.C., a parochial vicar at the Holy Cross Parish in Mesa who serves as BenU at Mesa’s chaplain. www.ben.edu/mesa.
Escalating college credential attainment
An enhanced partnership between Mesa Public Schools (MPS) and Mesa Community College (MCC) aims to increase attainment of post-secondary credentials. Beginning with the 2017-18 school year, six Mesa high schools will have a full-time MCC college advisor to assist students in preparing for their futures.
Other institutions of higher education have successfully used this model of embedding a college advisor in high schools to increase college enrollment and the pursuit of a post-secondary credential.
The college advisors will become an integral part of MPS by assisting students in earning college credits through Early College programs; facilitating placement testing; developing career plans using the MPS Education and Career Action Plan (ECAP); guiding students through the enrollment process; and assisting students with financial aid and scholarships so they may pursue their educational goals at MCC. www.mesacc.edu
MCC nursing program ranked #1 in Arizona
Mesa Community College’s (MCC) nursing program was recently ranked number one in Arizona according to RegisteredNursing.org. Arizona’s 28 RN programs were judged based upon analysis of current and historical percentages of graduates who pass the NCLEX-RN exam. Programs reviewed include schools that offer an Associates in Nursing (AND/ASN), BSN, or Directy-Entry MSN Degree.
Whether earning a degree or preparing to transfer, MCC’s Nursing Program is both rigorous and flexible in accommodating nursing students. Learn more at www.mesacc.edu/departments/nursing.
NAU providing affordable degree options for Mesa residents
Northern Arizona University (NAU) has served Mesa residents for over thirty years with innovative and high quality degree programs that are convenient and affordable.
Mesa residents have a variety of bachelor’s degree options to choose from. Some NAU programs accept up to 90 community college credits, which maximizes prior college work while providing an efficient and affordable pathway towards a bachelor’s degree. Degree options include – business, education, public administration, justice studies, communication studies, psychology, RN to BSN, completion and more.
NAU provides online master’s degree options in Administration, Communication, English, Education, Human Relations, and Nursing, among others.
Today, NAU educates over 1,300 students, online and locally, through two locations – one at the Mesa Community College Downtown campus and the other on the campus of Mesa Community College at Southern and Dobson.
For more information about earning a bachelor’s or master’s degree from NAU, call 800-628-0040. ec.nau.edu
Wilkes University offers online degree completion
Wilkes University is responding to student demand for online programs by growing the Accelerated Bachelor of Business Administration program. Designed for students who wish to complete their bachelor’s degree, the Accelerated Bachelor of Business Administration program provides real-world business skills with immediate application, making it attractive to transfer students or full-time employees.
The Accelerated Bachelor of Business Administration program offers:
- Small classes
- Convenient online learning
- Affordable tuition at just $400 per credit
Students who are employees of Wilkes business partners may be eligible for tuition discounts.
Jessica Garman, a Mesa Community College transfer student, enrolled in the Accelerated Bachelor of Business Administration degree program for its convenience and quality.
“The advisors at Wilkes were so helpful and knowledgeable,” Jessica said. “The ease of transferring to Wilkes confirmed my decision. The online classes allow me to work full time and complete my bachelor’s degree.”
Students will continue to benefit from a full-time, senior faculty member who will mentor and advise students from the Mesa Center for Higher Education, at 245. W. Second St. in Mesa.
Classes are held in seven-week sessions, allowing students to focus on one class at a time, while completing as many as three courses per semester. The 18 courses in the degree sequence have been designed to build on the professional, educational, and life experiences that each student brings to the program.
For more information, contact Mesa Admissions at 480-878-4412 or email@example.com.
University of Arizona Eller Dean to spend more time in Phoenix
Staff from the University of Arizona Eller College of Management moved into their new Phoenix offices at the end of January. UA Eller Dean, Paulo Goes, will split his time between the Tucson and Phoenix market in order to support UA’s initiatives of expanding its programs and colleges in the Phoenix MSA.
Valley professionals will have expanded opportunities to earn their MBA through evening courses or attend Eller’s highly regarded Executive MBA program. This presence will also facilitate a very smooth connection to the talent pipeline the college produces out of its programs in Tucson.
For more information, click here.
NEWS FROM OUR PARTNERS
Phoenix-Mesa Gateway Airport announces new deputy director
Phoenix-Mesa Gateway Airport announces the hiring of Scott Brownlee as its new deputy director. Mr. Brownlee was selected from among 75 candidates during a national search. He brings nearly three decades of commercial service and general aviation airport management experience to Arizona.
“Scott Brownlee is an experienced and well-rounded aviation professional,” J. Brian O’Neill, A.A.E. Executive Director/CEO said. “I am confident that he will be a valuable addition to the Gateway Airport Team.”
Brownlee added, “I am delighted to join Phoenix-Mesa Gateway Airport Authority and am ready to work with the staff, airlines, and other partners to find new ways to build upon the tremendous economic impact of the airport.”
Brownlee has a Bachelor of Business Administration from the University of North Dakota and is a certified member of the American Association of Airport Executives. He also holds a FAA Private Pilots license and is a former certified Aircraft Rescue and Fire Fighter.
For more information, please visit www.gatewayairport.com
Visit Mesa launches new 360° video marketing campaign
Visit Mesa produced new video reels this year to elevate Visit Mesa’s most popular lifestyles: Fresh Foodie and Adventure Explorer. Visit Mesa promoted the 360° videos on premium digital channels, including the distribution channels managed by advertising technology company Viant, allowing users to deeply engage with the Visit Mesa travel brand as they opt-in to view and interact with the embedded messages from their desktop, tablet, or mobile device.
Visit Mesa applied augmented reality into the videos, inviting viewers to look for special codes that would offer discounts on future bookings for overnight stays in Mesa. Once the viewer finds hidden codes within each video, those codes can be redeemed for special offers. Viewers of this unique marketing approach were directed to a curated landing page tied to the Visit Mesa website where they can enter their code and learn more about our destination. While the campaign, which launched in December and runs through spring, is designed to generate awareness and engagement with the Visit Mesa brand, the promotional codes are being tracked to help convert video views into actual conversions. And, with all digital initiatives, the videos will be trackable so Visit Mesa can determine the most effective content for optimization purposes.
To view the videos, visit the Visit Mesa channel on YouTube using your mobile device. For more information, go online to VisitMesa.com.
NEDCO launches business workshop series
The Neighborhood Economic Development Corporation (NEDCO) is launching the “Hack Your Business” Workshop Series. The free workshops cover subjects from business planning to branding and will be held in Downtown Mesa. The workshops are open to all business owners and entrepreneurs in Mesa. For more information and to register, please visit workshops.nedcoaz.org.