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Q&A Session With Our President

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(Gary Yaquinto has been president of AIC since December 2006.)

 

Q. Gary, you were named president of AIC less than a year ago. What has been your greatest challenge?

 

A. My greatest challenge was jumping on board from day one to participate in the successful transition of the Arizona Utility Investors Association (AUIA) to the Arizona Investment Council. Board chairman Wayne Anderson, together with other members of the Board, developed a new and exciting vision for our organization. That new vision is to expand our primary focus from advocating for Arizona utility investors to advocating for investors and for investment in Arizona. AIC was officially launched in April of this year.

 

Q. What do you mean by "advocating for investment in Arizona?"

 

A. As the Arizona Investment Council, our mission is now focused on ensuring Arizona has a strong and sustainable infrastructure, today and tomorrow. Very simply, we believe for Arizona to have a robust, healthy economy we must have strong and sustainable infrastructure. This is important for investors in any economic venture or activity in the State. And infrastructure in the broadest sense of the word goes beyond energy, water and communications that had been the focus of AUIA. For example, adequate and timely investments in transportation, education and healthcare infrastructure are also critical to our success in maintaining a vibrant economy and quality of life. With strong and sustainable infrastructure, Arizona would be able to attract business and industry investment into our state. Thus, AIC must be an advocate for investment in Arizona as well as for Arizona utility investors.

 

Q. Does that mean AIC will continue to intervene for utility investors before the Arizona Corporation Commission?

 

A. Absolutely. Intervening before the ACC on behalf of investors and investment will remain a primary focus of AIC. Our participation in ACC proceedings will focus on ensuring companies regulated by the ACC can attract the necessary capital to make critical investments in infrastructure.

 

Q. Then why the broader focus on infrastructure when AUIA had been successful advocating for investors in energy, water and communications companies? Doesn't a broader focus stretch AIC too thin?

 

A. I go back to the notion that we must bring new investment into Arizona to grow and sustain a robust economy and that will depend on our State having the infrastructure capacity - beyond utilities - to foster and support new business and industry. If our highways and roads are inadequate to support higher levels of commerce, or if we lack sufficient capacity in our schools to support a growing population, we become a less attractive place for new businesses. And, as we have seen elsewhere around the country, if we fail to adequately maintain our current infrastructure base, we could jeopardize safety and diminish overall quality of life of our citizens.

 

Q. How is AIC going to accomplish such an enormous task?

 

A. We are focusing on several key initiatives this year including our infrastructure study, which will provide projections of infrastructure needs in several key areas over the next 25 years. The study is statewide in its scope and will cover areas of energy, communications, water and transportation. Funding for the study was secured from several corporate sponsors and we have hired consultants to undertake the project. Our intent is to complete the first phase of the project, which will include projections of economic and demographic growth, infrastructure requirements and analysis of funding options, by early 2008.

 

AIC will also become active partners with other business and community organizations on infrastructure initiatives and projects. For example, we are partnering with Arizona Businesses Advancing Sustainability (ABAS) to sponsor a Global Warming forum in November.

 

 

Q. What are some of the other projects and efforts AIC is focusing on this year?

 

A. First, we have four new board members who bring immense experience and talent to AIC. We have also established an advisory board of individuals who can provide AIC with expertise and outreach to communities and business groups outside of Maricopa County.

 

Additionally, AIC's new website is up. We're committed to providing our individual and company members - as well as our community - with current information (even a call-to-action when appropriate) on vital and important infrastructure issues and initiatives.

 

Governor Napolitano has expressed an interest in AIC's Infrastructure Study and has invited AIC to participate in her Growth Cabinet's working sessions, as it considers actions and policies in support of investment in infrastructure.

 

AIC has attracted new company members, including El Paso Natural Gas and hopes to recruit other companies and individuals interested in issues of infrastructure and investment in Arizona.

 

Q. You indicate that AIC has both company members and individual utility investor members. Are there specific qualifications and financial commitments to belonging to AIC?

 

A. The only requirement is that members have an interest in supporting infrastructure and investment in Arizona. We recently established four tiers of membership to fit the needs of individual investors and corporate entities. For individual investors, we ask a nominal annual membership donation. Group and corporate members also contribute at varying levels to AIC's financial support. Individual investors can join AIC electronically through our Website by accessing the "Become a Member" link on the Website. Companies and groups can obtain information about membership by calling us at 602-257-9200. Membership and participation in AIC provides individuals, businesses and groups the opportunity to participate in helping establish a solid foundation upon which Arizona's economy and investors can prosper.


Gary Yaquinto, AIC President