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Trends Day 2018: Inform Inspire Involve

Credit: Peter Madrid/MadridMedia

By Peter Madrid for MadridMedia 

A reflection of a world we don’t know. A space mission to a metal asteroid. Autonomous vehicles. A new spin on Arizona’s Five Cs. A new “aha” moment. Artful neighborhoods.  

ULI Arizona’s 13th annual Trends Day, held at the J.W. Marriott Phoenix Desert Ridge Resort & Spa and titled “Inform Inspire Involve,” highlighted a theme that some of the best ideas to build us up are not just on earth, but are also in the way we think.  

Diane Swonk, Chief Economist with Grant Thornton LLP, opened by saying the world seems a little different than it did a year and half ago.  

“It’s a reflection of a world we don’t know,” she said. “A mirror reflection of an alternative universe.” 

One of her concerns: Elected leaders who act like adolescents. 

“Those are not the things I want,” she said. “What I want is the attainment of women and a healthy economy. I want to vote for people who think about the future and think about children.” 

The first quick hit, “Education and Innovation – The Inevitable Space Future,” blew away the audience. It was led by Lindy Elkins-Tanton, project leader for the Psychemission, a journey to a unique metal asteroid orbiting the sun between Mars and Jupiter. She is the director of Arizona State University’s School of Earth and Space Exploration. 

“It’s beyond the future of asteroid mining,” said Elkins-Tanton, who also took part in the fireside chat, “Education and Mind-Blowing Innovation.” “At the heart of it is inspiration and a greater vision of us as a species and how we continue to explore.” 

In “Embracing Technology: Autonomous Vehicles and the Urban Environment,” we were told to brace for few parking spots and the human factor being taken out of the driving equation. There is encouraging news, however. GPEC’s Chris Camacho said groundbreaking technology in autonomous vehicles is being tested right here in Arizona.  

“We have the chance to become a national brand,” he predicted. “Working together as one region, the common denominator will be connectivity. The future is coming upon us quickly. Our goal is building our economy with new IP service and selling it to the world.” 

Arizona’s new Five Cs are: community, cause, creativity, commitment and capital. The role of the public and private sector will be a part of Arizona’s success moving into the future. People want to stay closer to home. This leads us to have urban cores with a suburban environment. 

“It’s a new form of American city,” said panelist Lorenzo Perez, co-founder of Venue Partners. “We are adapting. With that comes great development opportunities. Human resource department heads are now dictating what businesses are coming to Phoenix or not.” 

Keynote speaker and global futurist Jack Uldrich shared the ultimate “AHA” moments: awareness, humility and action.  

“In this confusing time, trends affect us,” Uldrich said. “Augmented reality. Robotics. The Internet of Things. AI. Gene sequencing.” 

The final three panels of the day all hit close to home: arts, culture, and philanthropy; the Rio Salado re-imagined; and how housing builds communities. 

In wrapping up Trends Day 2018, Tim Sullivan of Meyers Research and Arizona State Senator Bob Worsley exchanged insights and reminded the audience that Arizona needs to be open for business. 

“Great ideas should come to Arizona,” Sullivan said.  

Inform. Inspire. Involve. 

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