Inaugural VerdeXchange Arizona conference to focus on sustainability

The inaugural VerdeXchange Arizona conference in October will bring together business leaders and politicians who are helping to build Arizona and the west through sustainability, infrastructure and international business projects.

The day-long event Oct. 8 at Arizona State University’s SkySong development in Scottsdale will give leaders a chance to discuss regional projects and business opportunities in everything from clean-tech and transportation to energy and investments. Leaders from the state, as well as those from Canada, Mexico and overseas will be attending.

The Arizona conference is modeled after the VerdeXchange Los Angeles and Canada conferences, founded to provide a forum to directly address challenges and opportunities through building of an international community of like-minded people shaping the green economy. The LA conference was created by David Abel five years ago. He’s an original investor and corporate board member of SuperShuttle International, Inc.

Doug Bruhnke, CEO of Growth Nation, My Global Chamber and Arizona International Growth Group, was blown away by the LA show and how business-oriented it was. He worked with Maryanne Weiss, president of Gustare Ltd., to bring the conference to the state. Gustare is a growth management company.

“There’s nothing like this in Arizona,” Bruhnke said. “Our vision is that this program becomes one place where everyone can see how projects are being built around the state, the exchanging of ideas, money, business, all of those things. I didn’t believe it until I saw it.”

The two have worked for the past four months to plan this event and already have a commitment to host the conference for the next four years, Weiss said.

“We really want this to be the place where people can come to see every major business in one room and be a safe place where people can do business,” said Weiss, who is Abel’s cousin. “Everyone will know this is the place to find out exactly what’s happening in the state, where you can get involved and how you can make actual business connections.”

Business leaders and politicians from around the state will be represented, from Scottsdale to Flagstaff.

Speakers include Mesa Mayor Scott Smith; Brian Mueller, president of Grand Canyon University; Sharon Harper, CEO of Plaza Companies; the Consul General of Mexico, Honorable Roberto Rodriguez; and Joe Stewart, JPMorgan Chase’s market manager for Arizona and Nevada.

This will be an opportunity for the state to showcase what’s here and what’s being built here, Bruhnke said.

“Sustainability is survivability. It’s more than just existing. It’s thriving,” he said. “It’s about creating business in a cooperative way. That is starting to happen at last in Phoenix.”

The Phoenix Business Journal is a platinum sponsor of the conference, along with Gustare and Growth Nation.

If you go:

What: VerdeXchange Arizona Conference

Where: ASU SkySong, Convergence/Enterprise Halls, 1475 N. Scottsdale Road, Scottsdale

When: 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. Oct. 8

Cost: $125 until Sept. 23, $150 after

Sign up:

More info: