Greater Phoenix Economic Update

Chris Camacho
President and CEO, Greater Phoenix Economic Council


Growth is nothing new to the Greater Phoenix market. For decades, the region has led the nation in population growth. Recent data from the Census moved Phoenix up as the 5th largest city in the nation, displacing Philadelphia, much to their dismay.

However, since the recession, market leaders have focused on driving intentional growth – in industries and talent. Moving away from being labeled as a market led by consumption growth industries, strategies have been put into place to attract high-wage, high-growth industries. An increased rating for the city of Phoenix from Moody’s Fitch and S&P, for example, cited an increased industry diversification as a prime reason for the new rating.

And it’s not just the companies in the region that are seeing positive growth. The market’s post-secondary institutions are producing an exceptional talent pool with impressive numbers of students earning in-demand certificates and degrees. The results are not only a deeper base of talent for companies to choose from, leading labor market data analysis organization Emsi has released its 2017 Talent Attraction Scorecard, placing Maricopa County as #1 for attracting and retaining skilled talent.

This momentum is drawing the attention of companies like Upgrade, who announced earlier this year their first expansion in downtown Phoenix for the San Francisco based financial services company, who plans to add 300 new jobs over the next few years. And Finnish manufacturing company Huhtamaki released plans for a new $100 million expansion into a 750,000 square foot facility in Goodyear.

However, in addition to working with the cities and towns within the region to attract companies looking to expand or relocate, the Greater Phoenix Economic Council (GPEC) is also working with its stakeholders to enhance the competitiveness of the region. Earlier this year for example, GPEC released the Metro Phoenix Global Investment Plan, a strategy for increasing foreign direct investment in metro Phoenix.

In addition to the findings and recommendations within the plan, the report revealed a number of Internet of Things (IoT) and sensor enabled technology companies in Greater Phoenix. In particular, there is an underswell of companies in autonomous vehicles, wearable devices, industry automation and cybersecurity.

As a result, GPEC created a new campaign, The Connected Place, to establish an industry identity for Greater Phoenix centered on this industry activity. This campaign is about creating awareness for industries who day in and day out are working to change the way we live.

Companies such as Uber, Intel and Waymo are testing innovative technologies that will change the way we get from point A to point B. Research at Arizona State University is testing wearable devices for our troops to communicate with each other in combat. Ingenu has developed the technology for machines to talk with each other. And all of this is able to be safeguarded thanks to cybersecurity companies like Kudeslki Group.

The Connected Place is a way for the region to celebrate the exciting work happening in the market around IoT and sensors, while creating a reference point globally to identify the center of where this advancement in technology is taking place. For a region that is already known for yearround sunshine and an unparalleled quality of life, business, community and education leaders are dedicated to building an environment where innovation can grow and companies can go to scale.