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February 20, 2012

Host: Ted Simons

Economic Growth: Biosciences Employment

  |   Video
  • Employment in the biosciences field in Arizona has grown 41 percent over the past 10 years, showing growth even during the Recession. Marty Shultz, chair of Arizona’s Bioscience Roadmap Steering Committee, will talk about employment in the biosciences sector.
  • Marty Shultz - Chair of Arizona’s Bioscience Roadmap Steering Committee
Category: Business/Economy   |   Keywords: biosciences, employment,

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The biosciences are a growing part of Arizona's economy. Bioscience private sector jobs have increased 41% in the past ten years. That's significantly higher than the national average. In a moment, we'll hear from the chair of a panel that looks to continue Arizona's growth in bioscience, but first Mike Sauceda tells us about one organization that's key to the state's bioscience industry.

Announcer: Doctor Matt Huentelman checking on data at TGEN, the translation genome research institute in downtown Phoenix. Huentelman is one of many scientists working at the nonprofit to translate gnomic discoveries into advances in medicine.

Matt Huentelman: My lab, in general, is focused on identifying the genetic basis for human disease, leveraging that information, to then to develop new medicines or diagnostics for those diseases. And my lab focuses on neurological disease, and in particular, autism, Alzheimer's Disease, and as well as sensory disorders that might include deafness.

Announcer: Matt Huentelman says a high school chemistry course got him on the path to a career in science, and in college, that path expanded based on his desire to apply his knowledge to help others. He says he enjoys his work in the biosciences.

Matt Huentelman: Without a doubt, I love coming to work. But science is, is one of those fields that is extremely frustrating. It's a high-risk, high reward situation where, we're always motivated by the fact that just around the corner, what we could do here in the lab could really make a difference for one of these really significant disorders.

Announcer: The rewards of a bioscience career also come in the form of a good paycheck. Matt Huentelman is one of 300 people employed by TGEN where the average salary is $57,000 a year, but much higher for research scientist who is can earn salaries into the six figures. Tess Burleson is a chief operating officer for tgen. She says the high salaries have a big impact beyond.

Tess Burleson: To give back in many ways. Not just through purchasing power, but through charitable giving or those thing, as well.

Announcer: In 2010, TGEN had an economic impact of more than $79 million in Arizona. Generating more than $21 million in tax revenue, and more than 700 jobs directly and indirectly. The organization was founded in 2002, and the economic impact has more than tripled since the first study in 2006.

Tess Burleson: I always hate to say with great certainty this is where it's going to be because is usually there’s always assumptions on this trajectory it would be here versus there, but there are great -- it's a great trajectory and we would anticipate that, you know, another 30 to 40% would not be unlikely in the next five years.

Ted Simons: Joining me now to talk about the bioscience job market in Arizona and its economic impact is Marty Shultz, chair of Arizona's bioscience road map steering committee. Good to see you again. And thanks for joining us. The state of the bioscience industry in Arizona, where are we?

Marty Shultz: We're doing quite well. And we're celebrating our tenth Arizona at tgen is celebrating their tenth anniversary on May 4. We started the bioscience road map ten years ago, sponsored by the Flynn foundation, and a very important thing that the foundation did to, to support in effort to bring people who were the researchers, the hospital administrators, the great scientists, and entrepreneurs together to grow this industry.

Ted Simons; So, for those who are not sure what bioscience is, give us a definition.

Marty Shultz: Bioscience is about the research that goes on in hospitals. Bioscience is about the research that goes on at tgen. The research that goes on at universities and privately. Why research? And it's primarily focused on personalized medicine and health care, and even though in Arizona, we boast about being a bioag center, as well, because of the sophistication of our agricultural community. So, this really is an industry that has high paying jobs. That is growing, that is worldwide, even though the way that we organizes it, we think that we can keep our kids here, at least I do, because when they learn, what we call stem education, science and math, they can continue on with good jobs.

Ted Simons: And why are the jobs increasing in Arizona, in Arizona bioscience?

Marty Shultz: We would like to believe because of the focus through the bioscience road map. And I think that that's true. What we have done is, is we brought all the parties together. We have 100 people, if you will, representing major entities on the bioscience road map, and they collaborate with one another. They work when we have problems, one of the problems is gaining a more venture capital, creating deal flow, and in terms of these research projects, and which, ultimately, begin with, with the research at the events, they say, but ultimately goes to the bedside therapies, medical devices, statewide growing industry, very impressive.

Ted Simons: Venture capital, how is that situation?

Marty Shultz: We've been up and down. Right now, the economy is hurting us, even though there is a fair amount of investment. We're doing a little bit better now. But, because we know it, we go to the angel investors. We go to the entrepreneurs, and we focus attention on what the need is. That's what the bioscience road map is all about. Improving, improving areas where there is need.

Ted Simons: Is the road map, is it more of a highway map in the sense of, of the areas? In other words, is it better to have a bioscience cluster in one spot, or all over the valley? We have the Mayo thing in north Phoenix.

Marty Shultz: Actually, it's not just the valley. The Arizona bioscience road map represents the great activity that's going on in Flagstaff and northern Arizona. Device manufacturing, the gore companies. Stints. Down in Tucson, there are many great examples of University and private sector Pharma, actually, doing well, and the valley, the universities, they are key, the medical schools, the great hospitals, the M.D. Anderson banner established in Gilbert, so this is really an Arizona corridor thing, and even in Yuma and all around the state, the opportunities to really grow this industry make a huge impact on the economy, and ultimately, on people's lives is what the Arizona bioscience road map is all about.

Ted Simons: And I guess my previous question is, as convoluted as it was, was trying to get to the point of whether it's better to keep things relatively close and get more explosive growth as opposed to more spread out? It sounds like you like to, the spread out idea?

Marty Shultz: It's not a matter of like. It’s a matter of tt's happening because it's strategic. Each community because there are young people, universities, community colleges, and hopefully, excellent education systems to teach stem education, as I mentioned, science, technology, and engineering and math, and these, then, are tickets to, to high paying jobs, and frankly, globally competitive because the, the therapies and the Pharma that is produced in Arizona is, is sent worldwide. So, I like the impact on the Arizona economy. It's tremendous.

Ted Simons: Let's talk about the, the impact of budget cuts to universities and how that would affect research and how that would affect everything down the line is that -- how much of a concern is that?

Marty Shultz: Well that is a concern. Budget cuts on universities. They are an impact, but frankly, the universities have been very entrepreneurial, and have gone to foundations. They have gone to venture capitalists, and essentially, put some very creative deals together to bring money in where, where the, the state has not supported bioscience. But, in order for this to work, the state and the local Governments, including the cities, need to continue their efforts, and that's what we think, and we hope we're stimulating is the excitement, and the data that says, look, this makes economic sense. This makes sense for our citizens because ultimately, the benefit is better health care.

Ted Simons: Science foundation Arizona has had budget concerns, as well, regarding the legislature and the budget cuts, and such. Talk to us about that and give us an update and where that stands and, and the concerns there.

Marty Shultz: That is a legitimate concern. They have set up great aspirations for what they are able to do with the, the research that they are fostering. But, they do depend on the State of Arizona and on other Government entities, and as Government shrinks, their budgets, we're going to have to find new ways of, of funding the various activities. So it's very entrepreneurial, and some things are going to fade away, and others, frankly, the ones that have big impacts in health care, are going to be successful.

Ted Simons: Securing investments for early stage companies. You kind of alluded to that in the past, but that's got to be a biggy. How is that holding up?

Marty Shultz: One of the reasons the biosciences are successful, but we need to do more work, is that we can bring people together to collaborate, and this process is investing in early stages where research, research where, of course, the Pharma, the people ultimately going to produce the drugs or use the therapies or the devices, they are interested in late stage, just before it becomes commercial. So, the process requires investment all the way through. And we're able to advocate for the early stage, as well as the middle stage, but what we call deal flow is extremely important. That's why we look at the benchmarks that are provided by Flynn and by the Mattel corporation, and where we see weakness, we focus our attention, but everybody in the state who is part of the road map focused their attention on the things that need help.

Ted Simons: I know that the northeast has bioscience. San Diego, San Francisco. There are different regions. They got a head start on us, but we are catching up. Will we ever catch up, a, and b, are we doing things differently than those regions offering products and ideas with a difference?

Marty Shultz: Are we ever going to catch up to states like California and the area like San Diego? That started 30 years ago? Back east, the Bostons and that area? That started 30 years ago? Whether we catch up, we are -- we started from scratch. 10 years ago. Really, there was very little. Tgen was established by in part a grant from the Flynn foundation. We have grown the whole industry, the universities are on top of this. So, the answer is, I don't know that we're going to catch up with those that are decades ahead of us, but I will tell you, the impact on the Arizona economy is significant, and we have indicated in our bioscience road map, it has grown at a greater pace than the Arizona economy to the extent of about 10% greater. The jobs that we're talking about and the taxes that are paid over a billion dollars a year, huge impacts on the Arizona economy. So, very positive.

Ted Simons: Marty, it's good to have you here and thanks for joining us.

Marty Shultz: Thank you, Ted.

Ted Simons: And that is it for now. I'm Ted Simons. Thank you very much for joining us. You have a great evening.

GOP Presidential Debate in Mesa

  |   Video
  • National Politics reporter for the Arizona Republic Dan Nowicki talks about how the race for the GOP presidential nomination is shaping-up just days before a crucial debate in Mesa.
  • Dan Nowicki - National Politics reporter for the Arizona Republic
Category: Elections   |   Keywords: debate, Mesa, GOP,

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Ted Simons: Mesa will be on the national stage on Wednesday night as Republican presidential candidates debate at the center for the arts, the Mesa center for the arts. It's the last big chance for the candidates to win votes before Arizona's February 28 presidential preference election. Joining me now to talk about how it is shaping is Dan Nowicki, who reports on national politics for the Arizona Republic. Thanks for joining us. How are things? We got the latest poll that shows that things are tightening up.

Dan Nowicki: That's right. Arizona's long been believed to be in the bag for Mitt Romney, but the latest polling shows he might be starting to sweat a bit. The poll came out today, showed it tight within the margin of area. He had a lead over Rick Santorum, who has been surging all over the country, and interesting is that Mitt Romney is a very deep organized in Arizona. He's really the only presidential candidate on the Republican side who does. Rick Santorum has almost no presence here. It's all organic, but he still is surging pretty well in the polls.

Ted Simons: We should mention the last, the public policy polling group. Who are these folks?

Dan Nowicki: They are out of North Carolina. They are a democratic firm. But, they have got a pretty good reputation, and they are one of the few pollsters who come in and, and take the pulse of Arizona, so Arizona relies on them quite a bit.

Ted Simons: What kind of poll is this?

Dan Nowicki:It was an automated poll. They are a democratic version of Rasmussen. And Rasmussen, they, they have a reputation for being more on the Republican side a bit.

Ted Simons: So we got Romney at 36, and Rick Santorum at 33. And well within the margin of error, and Gingrich 16, Ron Paul 9. How does this compare with previous Arizona polls?

Dan Nowicki: Two fairly recent polls, and they showed I think Romney was at 39. And one he was at 38. And Rick Santorum was 31 in both, so certainly tightened since then. I'm told privately by some, Romney sources that, that they think that he has more comfortable lead than, than the, the public polling suggests, but, they are not -- they are not overly optimistic, either, about it.

Ted Simons: Is this poll a bit of a surprise?

Dan Nowicki: Not really a surprise just given the national, you know, tenor of the race, the way that Rick Santorum has been coming on so strong this month.

Ted Simons: So, you got Romney as you mentioned, with quite a base here, and it's a winner take all presidential election. If you come close, you get nothing.So, it would seem as though Rick Santorum would be at a distant, but he's really close.

Dan Nowicki: He is going to do some campaigning in the next couple days. He's going to speak at a Maricopa county GOP luncheon on Tuesday, and he's also going to do a rally on Tuesday. He's going down to Tucson on Wednesday before the debate, so he's, while he's here for the debate, he's going to, to try to get around the states and do some stumping.

Ted Simons: And we should mention, as well, that something that could affect the, the polling, the presidential primary election, is that, is early vote. Occurred before Rick Santorum got the surge.

Dan Nowicki: That could be a blessing for Romney because he's the only candidate chasing ballots in Arizona, who has an early vote strategy, and so a lot of, you know, thousands and thousands of Republicans have voted by mail, you know, even before the latest surge.

Ted Simons: So with this debate, does Rick Santorum surge? How does that impact what we might see on Wednesday night?

Dan Nowicki: This could be the last debate, interestingly enough. CNN canceled their March 1 debate, and there is one last debate on the books for March 19, but people are skeptical about if it will ever happen, so this showdown in Mesa could be the final debate of the Republican season. You think what you will see from Mitt Romney is it will make it a sense of how worried he is, not only about Arizona, but also Michigan, if he really goes after Rick Santorum. I know he's probably still worried if he's more, more presidential and goes after Barack Obama, he's more comfortable.

Ted Simons: The immigration, all the time? As far as this debate is concerned? The big debate?

Dan Nowicki: I think you can count on that. You know it’s in Arizona I assume they will have local Arizona color and flavor to the debate, and you can, you can bet immigration is going to come up.

Ted Simons: And last question, are we going to hear anything about this Babeu situation in the debate? Do you think?

Dan Nowicki: That's a good question. I kind of think so. I have no insight into that. But, given it's such a big story nationally, I was on, on national cable channel today, and you know, the national interest, how does this affect Romney, but that's what they wanted to know. Does this hurt Romney?

Ted Simons: What do you think?

Dan Nowicki: It doesn't help them. Timing couldn't have been worse, probably, or right in the, the run up to the Arizona primary, but I think in Arizona, it's a bigger story than Romney, nationally, they are viewing it, you know, as presidential politics prism.

Ted Simons: Are we going to get headlines out of this, or is it going to be one of these things where it comes and goes?

Dan Nowicki: I think we might get some headlines out of this given the high stakes and could the final one, especially for Newt Gingrich. He relies on debates. And he's going to have to swing for the fences on this one maybe.

Ted Simons: Dan, good stuff. Thanks for joining us. The biosciences are a growing part of Arizona's economy. Bioscience private sector jobs have increased 41% in the past ten years. That's significantly higher than the national average. In a moment, we'll hear from the chair of a panel that looks to continue Arizona's growth in bioscience, but first Mike Sauceda tells us about one organization that's key to the state's bioscience industry.

Sheriff Paul Babeu

  |   Video
  • Marcus Dell’Artino of FirstStrategic, Communications & Public Affairs comments on the political fallout facing Pinal County Sheriff and Congressional candidate Paul Babeu after allegations that the Sheriff threatened to deport an ex boyfriend.
  • Marcus Dell’Artino - FirstStrategic, Communications & Public Affairs
Category: Elections   |   Keywords: Paul Babeu, Pinal County, allegations, around arizona,

View Transcript
Ted Simons: Good evening, and welcome to "Arizona Horizon." I'm Ted Simons. Pinal County sheriff Paul Babeu is considered a rising star in the party in the Republican Party, but his star power is in question following a story first reported by the Phoenix new times. In the story, a man who says he's Babeu's ex lover alleges that Babeu threatened to have him deported if their relationship became public. At a press conference, Babeu denied making the threat, but he did say that he is gay, and that he did have a relationship with a 34-year-old Mexican national, who claims to be in the country legally. All of this due to the career of a first-year sheriff running for Congress in the fourth congressional district. Here to talk about that is Marcus Dellartino, a partner in first strategic communications and public relations firm. Good to have you here thanks for joining us.

Marcus Dellartino: Thanks for having me.

Ted Simons: What are your initial thoughts on this story?

Marcus Dellartino: Well, wow. A big wow. There is a bombshell heard on Friday that continued all the way through the weekend.

Ted Simions: The impact on the fourth congressional district campaign. Talk to us about that.

Marcus Dellartino: Well, you know, most people need to understand this new district in the fourth congressional district is the most Republican district that is going to be created. And is very conservative. This is, this is not central Phoenix. This is Mohave County, which has one of the highest populations of Republicans. Yavapai County, one of the highest populations of Republicans. It's a difficult district.

Ted Simons: And there is so many questions here. Let's start with, with, again, the abusive threat of power allegations, that's, that's a biggy. But, let's go to, to politics here. Can a gay man win support from today's Arizona Republican party? Political support?

Marcus Dellartino: I think, certainly, there can be an opportunity in the right district. This certainly is not that district. This is the wrong place to, to have that issue. And, and it's, it's a culmination of factors, really. It resolves, you know, certainly you are going to lose some conservative evangelical Republicans on, solely on that issue. You are going to lose a certain part of the Republicans on, frankly, the judgment issue. And you are going to lose some of the Republicans on the relationship issue.

Ted Simons: Let's talk about that. I mean, the biggest political hit, and we're talking politics here, and perceptions and such. Touted as gay, allegations of deportation to an ex boyfriend, or these pictures that, apparently, are all over the internet, or in certain spots. What hurts him the most?

Marcus Dellartino: Honestly, I would contend to you the pictures hurt him the most, and the fact of the matter is, there is no simple way to say this, Ted, but people don't enjoy seeing their politicians in their underwear. They really like them to be clothed. If it was a popular thing to do, we would see the whole capital covered in pictures, but that's not the case, so that's -- it's going to stick in the mind of the voter, and that's, that's a problem.

Ted Simons: He defended his right to take these photographs at his press conference. Was that a wise thing to do, politically?

Marcus Dellartino: I think that he was trying to make the point that everybody is entitled to their private lives. And certainly, most people would agree. Unfortunately, in politics, it doesn't work like that. There is a whole contingent of people that wishes it would, but it does not. And perceptions, reality, and it's, it's -- unfortunately, you posted it, and you put these pictures on the internet, and or e-mailed them to somebody, it's out in the public arena.

Ted Simons: So how do you think that he handled this during his press conference?

Marcus Dellartino: I thought the press conference, I thought that he did a great job facing the issue and coming out and saying, look, I'm gay. It was not a shock to people in politics, and it wasn't a shock to a lot of people in the media who suspected that he was. It would have been easier had he come out, you know, six months ago and announced that, and I think that this would have been pretty much a non-issue now. But, the other interesting thing about the press conference is he repeated that it's a private issue, and at the same time, conducted it at the county building, with sworn deputies, and taxpayer uniforms, and if it's a private issue, the press conference should have been at his house, or in private property, and everybody should, should be dressed in normal attire.

Ted Simons: And there are already critics out there saying that that was a misuse of authority for using these Pinal County sheriff's employees as a backdrop for your press conference.

Marcus Dellartino: Sure, and I think in the rest to respond, he wanted to show that he has the support of his deputies and people that he's led that, that trust him, and I think that that is certainly true. But, in the rush, they forgot that they just opened themselves up to another attack.

Ted Simons: A couple quotes from the press conference I want to get your comments on. One of them was “this is an effort to harm me personally and politically”. Was that a wise attack to take, do you think?

Marcus Dellartino: It was. You know, there is no beating around the bush. Yes, there was an effort to do that. At some point during this campaign, it was going to come out that he was gay. That's not a shocker. That's why I say he should have been out ahead of this curve about six months prior to it.

Ted Simons: Another quote is, “I'm not hiding or ashamed of anything”. And I would imagine pictures included? Again, wise?

Marcus Dellartino: I would not be proud of those pictures, let me tell you, and there is details involved in this, and that, that I'm uncomfortable with, and I certainly -- these are things that I don't talk about with my doctor, much less put them on the internet. And I think that, that it's going to be tough to, to be proud of some of those issues.

Ted Simons: Ok. Where does he go? Does he have a political future in Arizona, or does he have a political future period, and if so, where, how, and why?

Marcus Dellartino: Pinal County loves him, and whether they can put this behind them, you know, there could be a moment where he, he decides to run for sheriff again. He would have to work that out internally. I can tell you that the chances of him winning in this conservative Republican district are slim. Very slim.

Ted Simons: What about the impact on the Romney campaign? I know that he's now away from that. A hitthere?

Marcus Dellartino: I think that the interesting thing about the Romney campaign is that it won't affect them. They have bigger problems with Rick Santorum creeping up. The issue, is it may come up in the presidential debate.

Ted Simons: I was going to ask that next. Do you think it will be a factor there?

Marcus Dellartino: You have everybody major news outlet in Arizona right now. And they are all following the story. I think that it's going to be, after watching John King and some of thes performances, he's going to be tempted to ask this question.

Ted Simons: It will be interesting to see how the some of the candidates respond, too, because you could have wildly divergent responses, couldn't you?

Marcus Dellartino: Absolutely.

Ted Simons: All right. Marcus, good stuff. Thank you for your insight, and we appreciate you being here.

Marcus Dellartino: Glad to be here.