ASU class helps small Arizona town with tourism, retention planning

May 3, 2023

Town Manager Alexis Rivera has a goal in mind for Miami, Arizona — population 1,500. Image of the Miami, Arizona welcome sign. Stating "one mile long, 100 years of history" The Miami, Arizona, welcome sign says, "1 mile long, 100 years of history." Download Full Image

Rivera wants to increase tourism and residence retention in the historic city, and now has access to ideas from Arizona State University students through a partnership with ASU Project Cities.

Students in ASU’s Justice Studies Research Methods course with Gregory Broberg, an instructor in the School of Social Transformation, recently shared their recommendations with the town.

Their final presentations answered: “What cultural, historical, social, and economic factors/descriptors articulate Miami as a destination?"

The students noted the town already has a great start to increasing tourism with their "Small Town Christmas" event, where attendees gather in the town's center each year for a visit with Santa, treats, music, toys and train rides for the children.

Based on the student's field research, they came up with a variety of options the town could also explore to help increase tourism and resident retention.

For tourism, they encouraged Miami to host more festivals to highlight the creativity and culture of the town.

For retention rates, students put themselves in the shoes of Miami residents, asking "What would I like to see here or what would keep me here?"

Students found there is a lack of diverse careers in the town, so many individuals don't see a career path for themselves, especially after pursuing higher education. There is also a strong entrepreneurial culture in the town, so students recommended that the schools offer more education on entrepreneurship, especially for high-school students.

The students also encouraged the town to build a field house for community activities and events. They said that by having a place for children to go, the town can build up their image and bill themselves as a "family destination."

Students pointed out that social media is an important resource for both tourism and retention and can be launched quickly. They recommended letting younger town residents manage the accounts, using organic and paid social media to highlight news, the history and beauty of the town, future events and more.

“This is a team,” Rivera said. “This is not a solo team, this is not a golf team, this is not a volleyball team. … This is a huge team in order to accomplish everything that we want for the future of Miami.”

Hailey Torborg

Communications and Marketing Coordinator, School of Social Transformation

Online ASU Law grad knows knowledge is power

May 3, 2023

Editor’s note: This story is part of a series of profiles of notable spring 2023 graduates.

A lifelong love of learning led Ben Kalahar to pursue higher education. A brunette man in a black suit smiles at the camera. After graduation, Ben Kalahar will continue on in his career in corporate investigations, but he and his wife have big plans for this summer. “We are welcoming our first child this summer, so that will be the perfect graduation gift,” he said. Download Full Image

The first in his immediate family to graduate from college, he is now graduating with a Master of Human Resources and Employment Law from the Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law at Arizona State University. Based in Minneapolis, Kalahar completed the flexible program via ASU Online while working full-time. 

He said choosing ASU was a no-brainer. 

“I have family that live in Arizona and enjoy visiting as often as I can,” he said. “Being around the Tempe area and seeing the campus, ASU has always interested me. This program was exactly what I was looking for, so it felt like a great fit.”

After graduation, Kalahar will continue on in his career in corporate investigations, but he and his wife have big plans for this summer. 

“We are welcoming our first child this summer, so that will be the perfect graduation gift,” he said.

Question: What was your “aha” moment when you realized you wanted to study the law?

Answer: I did not really have an “aha” moment, but I always had the desire to continue my pursuit of learning. This program was exactly what I was looking for and came at the right time to fit into my life.

Q: What’s something you learned while at ASU Law — in the classroom or otherwise — that surprised you or changed your perspective?

A: In my first class in this program, I began to understand that knowledge is power, especially when it comes to the law. With the U.S. legal system, there is some responsibility on each individual to know their rights and understand the laws that impact what they do and how they are treated. This class shined a light on that aspect and further intrigued me about the law. Learning about the law can be empowering.

Q: What’s the best piece of advice you would give students?

A: Do not lose sight of the fact that the point of school is to learn. The point of school is not to get a perfect grade. You can strive for a perfect grade and you can strive to learn, but sometimes those two things are not the same. Do not be too hard on yourself if you don’t ace a test or an assignment; just focus on learning as much as you can while you are here. When you graduate, the knowledge that you take away will be more important than your GPA.

Q: What about advice for those considering ASU Law?

A: Conduct a thorough analysis. Weigh your options and the costs, and pick the best program that fits your needs. I am very happy that I selected this program.

Q: What are your plans after graduation?

A: I will continue working in my career in corporate investigations and apply what I have learned in this program. In the long term, I would like to explore a career in employee relations because employment law and the employer/employee relationship intrigues me.

Q: If someone gave you $40 million to solve one problem on our planet, what would you tackle?

A: I would not tackle one problem specifically, but I would use the money to help children by ensuring that they have a proper roof over their head, an adequate meal on their plate, a quality education and good role models to look up to. By putting more children on a better path early on, my hope would be that they would have a positive impact on the world, which would result in problems being solved indirectly.

Q: What does graduating mean to you and your loved ones?

A: Graduating with my master's is a great accomplishment. I was the first person in my immediate family to graduate from college, so I am proud to set the bar. My loved ones will be happy that I will have more free time.

Lindsay Walker

Communications Manager, Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law