Words from Jim Lane Mayor of Scottsdale
July 22, 2016
Mayor of Scottsdale
Scottsdale has earned a reputation in the Valley as a place where people want to live. Nationally and internationally the City has earned a reputation as a place people want to visit. Increasingly, Scottsdale is also known as a place people want to bring their businesses. I am so proud of our vibrant community and pleased to share some of our recent economic and development news.
Currently, Scottsdale ranks number one for total amount of investment activity for all communities in Arizona with more than $68 million. This accounts for more than 25 percent of the total amount of investment dollars statewide. I have implemented specific initiatives to support this activity.
We have put forth a concerted effort to attract the technology industry to our City. I was pleased to see Data Fox, the national research company, recently name Scottsdale as one of the best cities to launch a startup outside of Silicon Valley and New York – this confirms our growth efforts for this industry. Another example of our progress includes the technology company JDA Software. In May of this year, I celebrated JDA’s ribbon cutting at its new Scottsdale headquarters. This is notable because the company was considered a high risk to leave Arizona in early 2015. I was able to collaborate with Governor Doug Ducey, a local real estate developer and the City’s Economic Development Department to keep JDA here. The outcome of maintaining this one company in Arizona is projected to produce an estimated three-year regional economic impact of more than $249 million.
Our low cost of living and a resort-like community are attracting innovation to the City. The key is to develop a skilled labor force these employers need. To address this issue, last year we started the “Work Scottsdale” initiative. This is a strategic marketing initiative directed to specific geographic areas where targeted skill sets are prevalent. I have also joined the Governor’s Arizona Work Force Council to support and expand local policies that will help fill this workforce readiness gap.
Another growing sector, aside from technology, is the healthcare and bio-life science industry. This has quickly become Scottsdale’s second largest employment sector after the service industry. The bio-life science community is attracting new companies and a wide variety of exciting healthcare innovations. We are now celebrating the 4th year of an initiative I dubbed the “Cure Corridor.” The Cure Corridor connects this industry cluster while also highlighting the close proximity of many prominent and burgeoning leaders in the healthcare industry. The Cure Corridor creates a smoother path to necessary innovation and collaboration. The ability for some of these institutions and startups to extend beyond their walls to attract resources has a direct impact on science and patient care.
One of the state’s largest employment centers, the Scottsdale Airpark, is continuing its success. Industrial space in the area has a low 9.9 percent vacancy rate at $10.70 a square foot and retail has a 6.1 percent vacancy rate at $17.77 a square foot. U.S. customs and immigration use at Scottsdale Airport has increased by 53 percent with 786 aircraft processed from February 2015 through January 2016 – up from 513 the prior 12 months. With 152,568 takeoffs and landings in 2015, Scottsdale Airport is one of the busiest single runway facilities in the nation. U.S. Customs “US-VISIT” is available seven days a week and allows visitors from all over the world to visit Scottsdale.
We are also witnessing the revitalization of the McDowell Corridor in South Scottsdale. Years ago, McDowell was a big economic driver for the City. Over the last decade, the area lost most of the successful car dealerships that lined the road resulting in a negative economic impact. Today, the area is anchored at Scottsdale Road and McDowell by SkySong, the ASU Scottsdale Innovation Center, which houses 70 companies from 8 countries as well as a residential component that is 90 percent leased. Adjacent to SkySong is Papago Plaza that was purchased in October of 2015 for $12.5 million. Renovation plans to expand the site area to nearly 512,000 square feet in the next year or two are in place. In another new development toward our western McDowell border, SunChase Holdings is proposing a multiphase development for a potential mix of uses including office, retail, residential and a boutique hotel. This spring we rezoned two of the vacant dealerships to make room for upscale condominiums that adds to the two new multifamily complexes opened within the last year.
Downtown Scottsdale is also in the process of a positive transition. For years I’ve been promoting a live, work, thrive downtown environment and it is now coming to fruition. The area is evolving into a wonderful balance of retail, office, residential and hotel options. It boasts the lowest office vacancy rate across Phoenix metro, with only a 4.3 vacancy rate for Class A space. Downtown Scottsdale is definitely the City’s hotspot for both residents and employers – even 83 percent of visitors to Scottsdale report visiting our Downtown. The rapid growth of the area has not been without some challenges; however, by sticking to high development standards and attention to quality of life, the area is retaining its unique Downtown Scottsdale charm.
Scottsdale is a wonderful community. I started as mayor during the worst economic recession in modern time and as I am sure you can tell, I’m quite proud to still be at the helm as we recover. Scottsdale, historically and today, is a vision-based community with people who work cooperatively and refuse to settle for second best.