Franke college namesake to headline annual economic conference

Photo of Mr. Franke

Now in its 40th year, Northern Arizona University’s Economic Outlook Conference will once again forecast the economic future of the region, nation and world.

The W.A. Franke College of Business’ Alliance Bank Business Outreach Center presents the conference, which will take place from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 12, at the High Country Conference Center. Tickets for individuals are $50, and corporate tables with seven seats are available for $300.

Bill Franke, who is the college’s namesake, will give the keynote address. He is the managing partner of Indigo Partners LLC, a private equity fund focused on air transportation investments. The fund currently has controlling investments in airlines in Mexico, Hungary and the United States.

Franke made the largest philanthropic commitment in NAU’s history—$25 million—in 2007, citing a commitment to providing students with transformative educational opportunities. He expressed particular interest in supporting first-generation and underrepresented students.

“He’s had an impact on the region, not only through his business experience but also his investment in the College of Business,” said Craig Van Slyke, the college’s dean. “He’s made a huge investment in the young people of Arizona. That puts him in a unique position to talk about what goes on in the region’s economy.”

Franke has a long career supporting Arizona companies including Southwest Forest Industries, Valley National Bank, Circle K Corporation, America West Airlines, Phelps Dodge Corporation, Central Newspapers (Phoenix Republic) and On Semiconductor among others.

Other presenters include Elliott Pollack, CEO of Elliot D. Pollack and Company, who will talk about state and national economic issues. Two NAU faculty members also will speak at the conference. Ronald Gunderson, professor of economics, will present a regional economic outlook. Senior lecturer of economics Dennis Foster will present an analysis of interest rates and inflation. Van Slyke will moderate and NAU President Rita Cheng will present the conference’s opening remarks.

Registration is available on the conference website.