[Source: Ofelia Madrid, Arizona Republic] — The Phoenix metropolitan area is considered the United States’ 14th-safest city, according to a recently released forbes.com list. The business magazine ranked the 40 largest metropolitan areas in America, based on four categories of danger. Statistics included 2008 workplace-death rates from the Bureau of Labor Statistics; 2008 traffic death rates from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration; and natural-disaster risk, using rankings from green living site SustainLane.com. Also considered was the FBI’s violent-crime rate from the bureau’s 2008 uniform crime report.
Phoenix-Scottsdale-Mesa finished just ahead of Chicago and Austin. Phoenix metro had the fifth-lowest risk for a natural disaster. Minneapolis topped this year’s forbes.com list as the safest city in the United States, with the online magazine touting the city’s low crime rate. Milwaukee ranked second with the lowest natural-disaster risk and Portland, Ore., ranked third, with the lowest crime rate of all the areas considered. [Note: Read the full article at Phoenix ranks as 14th-safest U.S. city.]
[Source: Maricopa Partnership for Arts & Culture] — Arts and culture in metro Phoenix and all of Arizona is in serious peril. Already lowest in contributed revenues among a ranking of ten competitor regions, the current economic downturn threatens to severely reduce the capability of arts and culture organizations to provide the public with the current level of quality and quantity of programming. In the face of this challenge, MPAC is moving swiftly to inform business and community leadership about the immediate importance of supporting this vital piece of the local economy.
MPAC is partnering with the strategic communications firm of FirstStrategic to reach Arizonans with the message that public funding for arts and culture is lacking in our state and is needed to ensure Arizona has a vibrant future and the ability to compete for knowledge workers and industries.
The lack of vibrancy in Metro Phoenix’s arts, culture, and creative cluster impedes the region’s ability to attract and retain workers in the fields of medicine, technology, design, and bioscience, among other high wage sectors. These workers are critical for knowledge-based businesses to expand their footprint and diversify Arizona’s economy. Investing in a strong creative cluster has proven to be transformational. Competitor cities such as Austin, Salt Lake City, and Denver dramatically diversified their economies and regions by making the commitment to invest in arts and culture.
Two brochures are available for download here. One highlights the role arts and culture plays in attracting knowledge workers and encouraging a diverse economy, the other on the educational impact of arts and culture in the community.
[Source: Jahna Berry, Arizona Republic] — Downtown Phoenix is giving itself an image makeover to raise its profile, both among out-of-state visitors and Arizona residents. Following the lead of other major cities, Phoenix is looking to establish its own brand, the same promotional strategy that can launch a successful coffee chain or compact car. Las Vegas is known as an adult playground. Austin is known as a live-music destination. Phoenix hopes to similarly set itself apart. Its new brand: “Arizona’s urban heart.”
“When we see downtown Phoenix, so much of Arizona comes here because it’s a political center, a business center, an education center,” said Eric Kingsbury of SHR Perceptual Management, the firm that the Downtown Phoenix Partnership paid $160,000 to help shape the new brand.
The brand touts Phoenix as the best place to have a cosmopolitan experience in Arizona, said Kingsbury, whose firm’s clients include Volkswagen. A new brand alone won’t draw more tourists overnight. The partnership says this is the first step in a years-long process to build an identity for downtown.
Phoenix has a long way to go, partnership CEO David Roderique said. “Yes, it’s a bit of a stretch” to say Phoenix is among the most dynamic metropolitan areas of the West, Roderique said. [Note: To read the full article and viewer comments, click here. To read Arizona Republic columnist E.J. Montini’s 3/4 critique of the new logo, click here. To read the Arizona’s 3/7 editorial about the new branding campaign/logo, click here.]
[Source: Phoenix Parks and Conservation Foundation] — City of Phoenix Parks and Recreation Director Sara Hensley has accepted the same position with the City of Austin, Texas. Sara came the City when the Parks and Recreation Department was in the midst of one of the most difficult budget times in recent history. According to Tony Motola of the Phoenix Parks and Conservation Foundation, “Sara will be remembered as a Director who always stood up to protect facilities and programs by developing a variety of strong community partnerships. Whether is was empowering her employees, working with the Parks and Recreation Board, supporting the Phoenix Parks and Preserves Initiative, or partnering with the Arizona State University School of Public Affairs as a public administration practitioner and instructor, Sara always made the interests of parks and recreation users in Phoenix her top priority.”
The move to Austin is a homecoming for Sara as she returns to the city where she began her Parks and Recreation career over twenty years ago. Her last day at the City of Phoenix will be November 14, 2008.