Tucson, Arizona. Apologies for the long post. Cigar Man and I had a chat recently. I finally know who he is. He clarified a lot. I don't foresee any future posts on SAIAT. Navigator - this is the final post.
The Southern Arizona Institute of Advanced Technology
was incorporated in October 2000 with the support of individuals like Bob Hagan, Bob Breault, Steve Peters, Laura DeNinno, and other SATC "high tech" proponents who love to talk cloth and schmooze. Build it and they will come.
No one came, of course. Well, develop technology! Laura DeNinno proclaimed, "Whoever has the people gets the companies and the jobs."
SATC did a survey. Companies needed training. SAIAT put together web development programs. PCC put together a fancy optics program for "impossible to saturate" optics positions. No one enrolled.
With no understanding of education or what worker development services employers were truly willing to pay for, they created the place. We were told the help the "Plastics Cluster." We talked to plastics firms, optics firms, aerospace, software companies. Anybody want anything? Nope.
The Tech Park! I went there. What I am going to offer three PhD’d geniuses working to create a nuclear laser? Another team of five had fancy sound detectors that can bulls-eye the location of a shooter within inches from a thousand yards away. Another group had an unmanned plane the size of toaster with fancy optical equipment that can detect heat signatures a mile away. Move out to the Tech Park, Matt. They’ll be beating on the door with training requests you can refer to the community college.
Think about that for a minute. High technology advocates wanted me to find students to refer to the community college. I speak the truth.
I slashed costs, redesigned the organization, changed our name (from the sacred "technology" to "training"), and restored viability at dramatically reduced funding. I expanded flexibility to create a state of the art modularized employee development resource center. A month later (December 2004) Cigar Man contacted me, "You’re dead. You might have year, maybe two. You do not have four."
In 2006, after two years of successful operations, the Mayor and Supervisor Bronson endorsed the "Business Convergence Center" and praised us. Various development agencies would move into our facility. However, TREO wanted our funding. We infuriated them by requesting they not take it. They took even more, reversed their position, and shut us down.
The clues were there. I will never forget a 2002 conversation regarding the "Train to Gain" program that would take totally unskilled workers and train them in information technology (how to install programs, use Office, print). Phase Two would teach them Java Programming and Application Development.
The above context sheds the facts in a far more illuminating light.
Summer 1999: BHP shuts down the copper mine and smelter in San Manuel, Arizona, laying off 2600 workers.
September 1999: Art Eckstrom hires laid-off Matt to help One Stop Centers assist laid-off BHP employees.
Fall 1999: The City of Tucson and Pima County launch a High Tech High Wage Program (HTHW) to train under-employed Tucsonans in electronics. PCC provides training at premium pricing, making a fortune. Over 90 percent of the students fail at once.
Spring 2000: Matt designs and delivers the Math Skills Enhancement Program to potential HTHW participants. Failure rates plummet, and HTHW becomes viable.
October 2000: SAIAT is incorporated with Glenn Perry as Executive Director.
March 2001: Matt joins SAIAT as Director of Technical Education.
March 2001: Bill Samardak joins SAIAT as Director of Computer Education.
July 2001: SAIAT becomes an Authorized Sun Microsystems Education Center
February 2002: Matt becomes a Sun Certified Java Programmer
Summer 2002: SAIAT delivers programs including Telecommunications, Plastics, Solaris, Java, Soldering, Math Skills Enhancement, MCSE, and others with funding from multiple sources including the City, County, DOL, TANF, WIA, RYA, H1B and others.
September 2002: State Representative Carol Somers loses the GOP primary for District 26.
November 2002: Carol Somers becomes the Chair of the SAIAT Board of Directors.
December 2002: Bill Samardak resigns from SAIAT. Matt is promoted to Director of Education.
June 2003: Glenn Perry resigns. Matt becomes Acting Director.
July 2003: SAIAT FY 2004 funding is cut from $1.1M to $250K. Pima County severs financial ties with SAIAT and stops paying its $20K+ /month facility lease.
FY 2004: SAIAT loses $351K as Matt reorganizes the institute to serve employers, not individual students. He fractures training, certification, and development events (including meetings) to modular components based on OOP principles. It works.
July 2004: Matt addresses the Pima County Economic Development Council.
August 2004: SAIAT FY 2005 funding increased to $300K, infuriating other agencies.
December 2004: An unidentified individual "Cigar Man" declares SAIAT is doomed regardless of performance or results. He advises, "Craft an exit." Matt enters the PhD program in Higher Education.
FY 2005: SAIAT realizes a net gain of $55K.
September 2005: Matt is promoted to Executive Director of SAIAT.
FY 2006: SAIAT funding is slashed $67,500.
FY 2006: Despite the funding cut, SAIAT posts a gain of $22K. Customers praise SAIAT operations. Participant volume in a vast array of customized employee development programs exceeds 10,000 employees per year. Raytheon Acknowledgment
September 2006: TREO voices support of SAIAT at its annual luncheon and obtains Mayor Walkup’s and Supervisor Bronson’s support for a Business Convergence Center at the SAIAT facility.
Early October 2006: TREO proposes SAIAT provide space, office supplies, office equipment, and assume the job training grant support responsibilities. SAIAT agrees.
Late October 2006: TREO suggests a $92.5K slash in SAIAT’s funding. Matt counters with a $47.5 reduction. TREO agrees.
October 29, 2006: In light of the increased work load, SAIAT Board Members Rich McKinney and David Beveridge refuse to approve the counter. The Board agrees to request
funding remain at $242.5K.
November 2006: TREO cuts SAIAT funding by $132.5K, a 55% reduction.
November 7, 2006: TREO CEO Joe Snell writes
County Administrator Huckelberry asserting the SAIAT board approved the 55% reduction in funding.
November 2006: SAIAT begins losing over $10K per month.
November 2006: SAIAT Board Members Rich McKinney and David Beveridge, members of Consulting Firm Solutus Partners, suggest SAIAT staff receive kick backs for SAIAT referrals to Solutus Partners. Matt declines.
November 2006: SAIAT Board member and Solutus Partner Rich McKinney contacts SAIAT employees to request contact information for SAIAT instructors and subject matter experts. This is declined.
December 2006: SAIAT Board Member and Solutus Partner Bill Galis resigns from the SAIAT Board.
January 3, 2006: SAIAT hires Carol Somers. She resigns from the SAIAT Board to join staff.
January 2006: Bill Galis signs a contract
between Solutus Partners and TREO to provide consulting services. No disclosure is provided to SAIAT.
January 2006: Solutus Partners and TREO meet regularly.
February 15, 2007: SAIAT Board Members and Solutus Partners Rich McKinney and Dave Beveridge call for the immediate termination of the Executive Director with Rich McKinney to step in as his replacement. SAIAT Board Chair Vaughn Croft announces he will resign immediately if this occurs. It doesn't. Minutes
February 28, 2007: TREO instructs SAIAT staff to refer consulting business to Solutus Partners. Agenda Item #5
March 2, 2007: Vaughn Croft learns of the Solutus/TREO contract for the same outreach services designated in the SAIAT/TREO contract. By email Croft requests
Solutus write a letter regarding a conflict of interest. Solutus does not respond. Croft sends follow up emails. There is no response.
March 9, 2007: Solutus Partner Rich McKinney emails TREO Vice-President Lee Smith asking for direction.
March 18, 2007: TREO Vice-President Lee Smith declares
to Croft that no conflict of interest exists.
March 20, 2007: SAIAT legal council Pat Farrell declares
there is a conflict of interest.
March 23, 2007: Dave Beveridge resigns from SAIAT Board.
March 25, 2007: Rich McKinney resigns from SAIAT Board.
May 15, 2007: Matt resigns as SAIAT Director.
Summer 2007: TREO cuts SAIAT FY 2008 funding to zero.
July 7, 2007: "Something Else" is published.
December 2007: SAIAT Operations close. The Solutus web site goes down
. Solutus is removed from the TREO web site.
January 2008: Tucson Citizen reporter Teya Vitu is instructed to prepare a story on SAIAT and its closure. The High Tech guys say it didn’t promote the development of high tech companies. The Mayor says companies can just go to PCC. Teya chooses to kill the story.
Arizona’s rank in the United States in support for Education: 50
The journey from beginning to end happens by itself. The journey from end to beginning does not.