Eco devo experts in DEN, PHX and ATX riding waves of creativity/globalism

There’s something about economic development people that I love. They camp out in a city’s aura, contemplating all of its great potentialities. And that, of course, is what I love to do when I think about My Creative Capitals — Denver, Austin and Phoenix.

Recently I’ve talked with Barry Broome at the Greater Phoenix Economic Council, Tom Clark at the Metro Denver Economic Development Corp. and Amy Holloway, the founder, president and chief sherpa of Avalanche Consulting Inc. in Austin. Though Holloway isn’t responsible for Austin’s economic development policies and programs, she’s a longstanding advocate for the city and especially its arts programs. And she’s an economic development guru who plies her trade across the U.S.


Tom Clark heads up the Metro Denver Economic Development Corp. Photo provided.

So, what did they have to tell me about what’s going on in My Creative Capitals? Lots of interesting stuff, especially how the three cities do seem to compete with each other when companies are looking to expand or relocate from other places on the map.

Years ago, Richard Florida wrote about The Rise of the Creative Class and after that book took off like wildfire, cities tried to position themselves as hot beds for creative activities. But Clark says he’s a bit tepid in drawing connections between the creative class and economic development.

“I’m not a big fan of the term or its oft-touted magnetic force for bringing jobs,” Clark said.

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What ice cream flavors say, “Denver,” “Austin,” and “Phoenix” best?

Ben & Jerry's Ice Cream has created a competition for city-inspired ice cream flavors.

Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream has created a competition for city-inspired ice cream flavors.

Those wild and wacky folks at Ben and Jerry’s Ice Cream are in the midst of conducting an ice cream contest called “City Churned.” They are polling residents of Washington D.C., Seattle, New York City, Portland and San Francisco to see what kind of ingredients best typify their city,

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BookBar Denver is the place I want to be

Occasionally you come across a place that strikes just the right chord. It’s a place you want to be. Maybe it’s a business you wish you’d started or hope to someday start. That’s what BookBar Denver is to me.

Nicole Sullivan (left) works with an employee at the newly opened BookBar in Denver. Photo provided.

Nicole Sullivan (left) works with an employee at the newly opened BookBar in Denver. Photo provided.

Nicole Sullivan is the proprietor of BookBar Denver, a book store and wine bar, which recently opened in a North Denver neighborhood.
“Books and wine are the perfect combination. I don’t know why no one has been doing this before,” Sullivan said during a recent interview with
Located at 4280 Tennyson St., I first noticed BookBar when I was visiting my daughter in Denver for Christmas 2012. It’s not unusual to find us in that neighborhood because of the trendy eateries that have cropped up there.
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This is not your father’s Phoenix, Arizona

Phoenix has gotten a bad rap. Seems a lot of people who have never lived there – and a few who have vaguely inhabited some space in the vicinity – have the idea that Phoenix doesn’t possess a strong creative class.

Michael Crow is the president of Arizona State University. Credit: ASU

Michael Crow is the president of Arizona State University. Credit: ASU

But during the five years I lived there from 2007 to 2012, I discovered that Phoenix is a kaleidoscope of creative vignettes. The advertising and public relations communities are among the best I have come across. The restaurant scene is on fire. The arts present a strong cluster, especially with numerous galleries and museums in both Phoenix and Scottsdale. Education gets a huge boost from Arizona State University and its visionary president Michael Crow.

One aspect of the creative class that I hadn’t really thought about is the cross cultural influences of Phoenix’s diverse population.  The number of foreign-born residents is among the tops in the country, according to Barry Broome, president and CEO of the Greater Phoenix Economic Council.

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10 things I love about Austin

  • The Pennybacker Bridge. I never tire of seeing it span Lake Austin, whether I’m headed north or south on Capital of Texas Highway.

    Small Pennybacker bridge

    This picturesque bridge spans the Colorado River — the Texas Colorado River, that is — on the west side of town.

  • Sitting under the 300-year-old oak tree and enjoying a glass of Italian vino at Winflo Osteria on West Sixth Street. The pizza and pasta ain’t bad either.
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Have ATX, PHX and DEN, will travel!

This morning at 6:30 a.m. I took my daughter Kira to Austin-Bergstrom International Airport for an early flight to Denver. My other daughter Kylene — she loves living in the Mile High City — is having a baby shower this weekend. I couldn’t make the trip, so I’ll have to be satisfied with a string of pictures posted on Facebook.

At any rate, I can’t do a blog about Austin, Phoenix and Denver without talking about their respective airports.

Austin is a small airport. Based on preliminary data for 2012 from the Airports Council International, ABIA is the 39th busiest in the country, right behind Nashville’s airport.

ABIA-interior (640x426)

The interior of ABIA is roomy and bright with great local shops and fast food joints. Live music makes the airport swing!

Denver, on the other hand, is the fifth busiest in the country , and Phoenix logs in at 10th. I have some strong feelings about all three, having flown in and out of them for many years..

As a kid, I remember going to the old Denver Stapleton Airport to pick up my cousins from the big city of Los Angeles. There was an observation deck with a long stainless steel railing that my cousin John would always slide down. It looked so dangerous and fun!

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Denver author inspired to write “The Miracle Dogs of Portugal”

What does it take to become a writer of children’s books?


Tracy Aiello has a passion for writing and dogs.

For public relations and marketing professional Tracy Aiello, it took a trip to Portugal, a love for children and fortitude gained through misfortune – her house went up in smoke in 2001 after she left a candle burning unattended.

“Everything I owned was ruined by smoke damage including all my writings that were under the bed,” Aiello said.

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In search of the perfect Starbucks

Much of my spare time is spent in coffee shops, writing and curating My Creative Capital. Normally, I support indie coffee shops, especially since there are so many great ones in Austin with more coming online in Denver and Phoenix.

StarbucksLogoBut sometimes, I’m content to hang out at a Starbucks. And which one do I pick? Whatever’s closest usually. However, there is one store in Phoenix, Austin and Denver that I try to go to, if time allows. They each have a special vibe for me and that’s why they’re my favorites.

Pick No. 1 is the first Starbucks I ever patronized. That’s at 32nd Avenue and Youngfield in Wheat Ridge. That’s a suburb of Denver, in case you were wondering. I grew up in the western suburbs of Denver and that area is also called Applewood for all of the apple orchards that once dotted the area. The shopping center where Starbucks is located is also famous for Applejack Liquors, one of the great liquor stores anywhere, in my humble opinion.

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An architect’s creative life

Mark Candaleria, Phoenix architect

Mark Candelaria specializes in luxury home design in Phoenix.

Phoenix architect Mark Candelaria knew from a very young age he had an interest in architecture and art. While his dad was rooting for the Denver Broncos on Sunday afternoons, his mom would load up the car and take the kids to tour model homes.

“Then I would create subdivisions in the field behind our backyard and I’d create Lego villages,” said Candelaria, who specializes in million dollar homes in the Phoenix metro area and Coeur d’Alene, Idaho.

By the time Candelaria was in second grade, he could draw like an expert.

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About the Blog

Imagine three great cities of the American West: Phoenix, Austin and Denver.

One celebrates the rugged beauty of the Sonoran Desert. The next comforts with its verdant rolling hills and meandering rivers and streams. Finally, the Mile High City captivates with its backdrop of purple mountain majesty.

Behind these larger-than-life landscapes are people, places and events that define and shape each city’s creative class. And that’s where My Creative Capital comes in. It’s a running narrative of different stories that reflect and embrace each city’s robust creative class.

Come join me on a magic carpet ride that zigzags across Colorado, Arizona and Texas. We’ll visit with some of the personalities, who frequently influence the dynamic cultures of each city. Art? Of course. Hot topics? Sure, why not? Economic development? You bet. Sports? Hell, yes. Who knows where this unconventional, eclectic journey takes us?

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