Businesses honored as Spirit of Enterprise winners

September 26, 2008

Despite rough economic times, many Arizona businesses are achieving incredible, positive impacts on our state and local economies. This week, five businesses were named Spirit of Enterprise Award winners for boosting our economy and giving back to our community.

The awards are given out by the W. P. Carey School of Business at Arizona State University to recognize Arizona companies that demonstrate ethics, energy and excellence in entrepreneurship. This year’s 10 finalists generated more than $1 billion in annual revenue last year. Download Full Image

The 12th annual award winners are:

1. American Traffic Solutions, Inc. (ATS) - Emerging Entrepreneur Award sponsored by Edward Jones. ATS is an industry leader in the deployment of red-light and speed camera enforcement programs in more than 120 communities nationwide. Company officials say they focus on promoting safer driving, while freeing up police officers to spend more time on community policing and serious crimes.

2. ATS Electric, Inc. - Special Achievement in Entrepreneurship Award sponsored by Rich Dad. This commercial electric contracting company has shown remarkable growth over the past few years, even starting an Employee Stock Ownership Plan. The company almost had to close in 2004 due to slow business, but now expects to top $16 million in revenue this year.

3. Community Tire and Automotive Service Specialists - Overcoming Adversity Award sponsored by the Arizona Lottery. This car repair and tire replacement company almost went out of business after discovering in 2003 that its then-executives had embezzled more than $1.2 million, but a financial backer jumped in and helped turn things around without laying off a single employee. The company also offers a series of free car-care clinics and emphasizes treating customers with respect.

4. Sundt Construction, Inc. - Entrepreneurial Leadership Award. Officials with this 100-percent employee-owned construction company say they emphasize teamwork, training and education, plus giving back to the community through its nonprofit Sundt Foundation. Sundt Construction plans to top $1 billion in revenue this fiscal year.

5. Televerde - Innovation in Entrepreneurship Award. This high-tech marketing company brings training and opportunities to women housed in the Arizona Department of Corrections’ Perryville facility. More than half of the company’s corporate employees graduated from its knowledge centers within the Perryville facility, where its educational programs taught them skills and helped them build confidence to become contributing business professionals.

The other Spirit of Enterprise finalists this year are CRS Temporary Housing, Global Water, NextCare Urgent Care, Sleep America, and TASER International Inc.

Shirley G. Schmitz, who recently wrote a book about entrepreneurship called “Guts, Imagination, Vision; Conversations with Innovators-Changemakers,” was recognized with the Visionary Entrepreneur Award. Schmitz, a founder, charter funder and longtime benefactor of the Spirit of Enterprise Center, is trying to teach others about the tools for success.

These awards are just one focus of the Spirit of Enterprise Center, which helps hundreds of businesses each year. The center offers companies the chance to recruit and meet with top student talent, while also allowing students to get hands-on business experience. Through the center, businesses can access short, non-degree programs for busy executives and create connections to other Arizona State University business resources. Teams of W. P. Carey School of Business students also conduct research to help Valley companies. The center is self-funded and utilizes community sponsorships and volunteers. For more information about the center, go to">">

Green Jazz series continues in October

September 26, 2008

Acclaimed jazz keyboardist Gail Jhonson will bring the sounds of Philly to ASU’s Downtown Phoenix campus as part of the Green Jazz Series.

The series, sponsored by Arizona State University Online and the Herberger Theater Center, helps low-income families adapt to a “green” lifestyle. Jhonson’s concert takes place at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, Oct. 1.

The second of six concerts that will run through April 2009, the Green Jazz Series combines the blue sounds of jazz with “green concepts” for sustainable living. Flautist Althea Rene kicked off the series on Sept. 4. Download Full Image

Proceeds from the concert series will support the Green Survival Initiative (GSI), a Phoenix-based sustainability project. Through the use of cost-effective green technologies such as compact fluorescent lights, low-flow shower heads and water heater blankets, GSI seeks to mitigate increasing energy costs for approximately 7,000 low- and fixed-income households in the Phoenix metropolitan area.

“We’re hopeful the concert series will help shift the awareness and culture of green living while helping low-income households,” said Mernoy E. Harrison, Jr., ASU Online and Extended Campus vice president and executive vice provost. “The premise is that jazz is the bridge between music and sustainability.”

The initiative will help low-income families make the conversion to a sustainable lifestyle.

“The GSI recognizes that there is a cost to convert to a green lifestyle and those who need it the most might not be able to make that conversion,” said George Brooks, publisher of Southwest Green Magazine, who is an event sponsor. “We believe that once these conversions are made, each household could save anywhere from $300 to $500 annually.”

An educational component is also incorporated into the concerts, including information booths and promotional giveaways.

Born and raised in Philadelphia, Jhonson began her musical quest at the age of 10. Proving to be a gifted pianist, she advanced quickly, and by the age of 14, landed several jobs playing keyboards with local rhythm and blues and funk bands. She later enrolled at Berklee College of Music in Boston, where she received a bachelor’s degree in music composition.

Jhonson’s first big break came in 1985 when she toured with Morris Day and the Time. She eventually moved to Los Angeles and collaborated with recording artists Vanessa Williams, Norman Brown, Bobby Womack, Jermaine Jackson, Pink and Peabo Bryson.

Breaking out on her own in 2004, Jhonson’s Keep the Music Playing CD received international acclaim and strong support within the music industry. A year later Jhonson became the musical director for artist Norman Brown on his Summer Storm Tour. Signing with NuGroove Records in 2008, the label produced Pearls, her latest musical release.

Jhonson said the concert series falls in line with her professional and personal beliefs.

“Jazz musicians have always been sensitive about issues relating to the world around them, and many artists I know have adapted to a green lifestyle,” Jhonson said. “I’m proud to be associated with an organization that gives back to the community because I’m all about giving back.”

The Green Jazz Series was conceived and produced by Brotha Love Productions.

What: The Green Jazz Series concert featuring Gail Jhonson

Where: Herberger Theater, 222 E. Monroe St., Phoenix

Tickets: Tickets cost $40 for VIP seats, $20 for general admission and $10 for ASU students with a valid I.D. Call the Herberger Theater box office at (602) 254-7399 or visit www.HerbergerTheater.org"> href=".">">.


Reporter , ASU News