Words from Greg Stanton Mayor of Phoenix
August 19, 2016
Mayor, City of Phoenix
If You Haven’t Been to Phoenix Recently, You Haven’t Been to Phoenix
During a recent business recruiting trip to San Francisco, a Bloomberg Radio host asked me how Phoenix contends with its long-standing reputation – indirectly defined as a sunny place to retire and play golf. Proudly, I responded by saying that our unmatched quality of life will always be a draw and the City continues to embrace it. Frankly, I stressed to the radio audience that if you haven’t been to Phoenix recently, you haven’t been to Phoenix.
For the past four and half years, we have charted a bold new course in Phoenix to create an economy rooted in innovation – focused on increasing exports and creating thousands of high-paying jobs. Those efforts are paying off.
Many of the most noticeable changes are happening in our urban center, which is experiencing a full-blown renaissance with more than $4 billion of investment dollars over the past five years. Our popular light rail has attracted well over $8 billion of new development along its entire line since it opened in 2009. Phoenix voters overwhelmingly supported a long-term transportation plan that will triple its size and expand economic opportunity along with it.
In midtown, along Central Avenue and south of Camelback Road, our commercial vacancy rate has dropped by nearly 50 percent in less than two years. Phoenix attracted two new corporate headquarters – manufacturing companies the Kudelski Group and Carlisle Companies – in the first half of 2016 – we are also diversifying our economy with 12,000 new tech jobs in the past three years.
Some of the most exciting activity is happening in our historic Warehouse District between 7th St. and 7th Ave south of Jackson Street and north of Grant Street. This District is an up-and-coming tech hub where fast-growing start-ups like WebPT have turned once-dormant storage buildings into funky and functional new workspaces.
National tech-education giant Galvanize will open its newest campus in a refurbished downtown warehouse later this year. Galvanize will join a diverse and collaborative group of coworking spaces, incubators and accelerators including The Department, Co+Hoots, SeedSpot, HustlePhoenix, BunkerLabs – soon our Phoenix Biomedical Campus Incubator will join this group.
By 2025, we expect our downtown biomedical campus to produce an economic impact of more than $3 billion every year. I’m confident that figure will reach to an even higher level due to our recent partnership with the University of Arizona (U of A). Our partnership with U of A includes the launch of an incubator on the biomedical campus that will bring the experience and know-how to scale companies in the health care, medical device and bio-startup industries.
Downtown Phoenix will also soon be home to The Armory – the nation’s first facility solely dedicated to providing resources and services for veteran entrepreneurs. At the same time, successful, home-grown startups such as Tuft and Needle and WebPT are thriving, while Silicon Valley companies including Gainsight, Uber, Yelp and DoubleDutch will set up operations in Phoenix as they expand.
Together, we are creating a critical mass of tech entrepreneurs that attract talented new professionals and investors every day. To harness and direct this new creative energy, Phoenix is establishing an Innovation District downtown. This will encourage our research facilities, higher education institutions and our close-knit network of entrepreneurs to work together to amplify new business as well as future opportunities.
All of this new activity coupled with an increasing number of people looking to live near 21st century public transportation, great restaurants, arts and culture – is attracting new residents by the thousands to the Phoenix urban core.
Currently, there are nearly 4,800 units of new multi-family housing either under construction or in the planning phase in our urban core – with more than 8,000 units across the City. The occupancy rate remains at 97 percent due to a strong downtown Phoenix job base. With more than 168,000 jobs in Central Phoenix with an average salary of $64,000, our investments in innovation are leading Arizona’s economic recovery.
This is the Phoenix story I tell when speaking to Silicon Valley and other markets with companies planning to expand. Innovation is driving the Phoenix economy – as well as repositioning the look and feel of the City in exciting new directions.
As I said: if you haven’t been to Phoenix recently, you haven’t been to Phoenix.