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Leaders discuss Arizona's future during Phoenix conference

PHOENIX -- Several state leaders will be talking about Arizona's future for the next two days in downtown Phoenix.

The second annual VerdeXchange Arizona conference is happening at the Sheraton Phoenix hotel.

Founder Doug Bruhnke said the conference is about sustaining life in the state.

"What does it take for the next 10, 20, 30, 50, 100 years for Arizona, Phoenix, the cities, the communities to survive and thrive in a better way?" he asked.

He said that the conference is focused on more than just cleaner water and air.

"What about jobs? What about creating wealth by having investment come here? What about infrastructure? What about having surface transportation? What about having it be a great place for old people and young people?" said Bruhnke.

Over 100 leaders will be speaking at the event. Bruhnke said that they've been asked to talk about projects that they are involved in.

"Projects that are impacting the future, including water and things like that, but also business initiatives, like the Great Cities Initiatives that GPEC (Greater Phoenix Economic Council) is organizing right now," said Bruhnke.

That initiative is designed to highlight why Valley cities are great for business.

Bruhnke said that many of those involved in the conference are leaders in Arizona cities.

"There are 25 mayors," said Bruhnke. "Mayor Greg Stanton of Phoenix is going to be headlining the conference."

U.S. representatives Kyrsten Sinema and Matt Salmon are also on the schedule.

Also speaking will be Secretary of State Ken Bennett, Dr. Lattie Coor of the Center for the Future of Arizona, Kimber Lanning of Local First Arizona, State School Superintendent John Huppenthal and former Mesa Mayor Scott Smith.

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About the Author

Years with the company: I started on January 2, 2006.

Education: I was born in San Antonio, Texas, but we moved to Phoenix when I was one-year-old in 1957. I grew up here and graduated from Alhambra High School and attended Phoenix College.

Family: I am married to my wife Rene', who is a librarian in the Washington school district. During free time, I may be found playing basketball in the driveway with my son, Devin. He's also keeping me busy with school, Little League, and playing in chess tournaments around the Valley.

Favorite food: Lots of favorite food, but our favorite restaurant is Fajitas.

Favorite spot in Arizona: The Little America Hotel in Flagstaff.

Favorite news memory: We have to go back to October 15, 1979. I was a country music air personality at KROP Radio in Brawley, California, when we had a 6.7 earthquake. Thankfully, there were no deaths and only minor injuries, but the entire community was pretty freaked out and listening to the station on their transistor radios. I would not want to go through an earthquake again, but it sure was a great night to work in radio and see how it can make a difference in people's lives.

First job: Working as a stringer for 'The Arizona Republic' at high school football games. My first real job was flipping burgers at the old Sandy's Hamburgers at 51st Avenue and Indian School Road. My first radio job was as announcer at KALJ radio in Yuma in 1977.

First concert: Doug Oldham gospel concert in the 1970s at the old East High School in Phoenix.

Favorite sports team: Phoenix Roadrunners minor league hockey. My dad took me to a game when I was in grade school, and I was hooked. I wanted to be a radio hockey play-by-play man. I used to take my cassette recorder and sit up in the rafters of the Coliseum and do play-by-play. It was great later in life to also take my son to Roadrunners games. Too bad the team just folded, I'll miss them. (Going to the Coyotes is fun, but they're not "my" team.)

Outside interests: My family and I are active in our church - Northern Hills Community Church in Phoenix. We enjoy going to movies, sporting events, and like to vacation at the Beach Cottages in the Pacific Beach area of San Diego. And I love to play catch, basketball, football with my son.


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