December 1, 2017
CEO & President, Greater Phoenix Economic Council (GPEC)
The Greater Phoenix Economic Council (GPEC) formed nearly 30 years ago. Since that time it has been working on behalf of the cities and towns in Greater Phoenix, Maricopa County and more than 160 private sector investors to lead the expansion as well as the location of companies to metro Phoenix. In recent years, that mission has expanded from marketing the region as a location of choice, to working with its public and private partners to enhance the competitiveness of the region.
For those who have lived in metro Phoenix for some time, and even those who are new to the market, may have noticed the growth and sheer size of the region has been nothing short of impressive. Notably on the fastest growing cities lists, the city of Phoenix recently took over the fifth largest city spot from the city of Philadelphia. Population projections show the region is slated to add another 2 million people over the next 20 years, adding to the more than 4.5 million people currently in Greater Phoenix.
The size of the market is assuredly an attribute to larger companies who are looking to place their operations here. Notable companies such as Charles Schwab, USAA, State Farm and Northern Trust have sizable centralized operations in the region. Companies like Avnet, GoDaddy and Insight have their headquarters here as well. However, in the past few years, companies such as Kudelski Group, Carlisle Companies, Rogers Corporation and most recently, Benchmark Electronics, have all relocated their headquarters to the market.
Possibly the biggest draw for the market is the talented workforce. The higher education institutions in the region are producing some of the most sought-after graduates and garnering national recognition. For example, Arizona State University has been named the #1 most innovative university in the nation for three years in a row, topping MIT and Stanford. Other area universities include the University of Arizona, Grand Canyon University and University of Phoenix, along with the Maricopa County Community Colleges – the largest community college system in the nation.
To support strong economic growth and resiliency for future downturns in the economy, GPEC has worked closely with its partners to develop and execute strategies aimed at diversifying the industry base in the region. A collaborative focus on high-growth companies has led to increased capital investments in the market and the addition of high-wage jobs.
Over the past 10-plus years, GPEC has also worked to diversify the origination of prospective companies with increased attention on international markets. As a result, today more than 20 percent of companies exploring our market for expansion or relocation are international. To continue building awareness for the market internationally, a new campaign was launched earlier this year called The Connected Place with the mission to generate a global identity for the market as a hub for the internet of things and sensor enabled technologies.
All of this combined makes Greater Phoenix stand out against the competition. What truly separates us from our peers is our communities that offer its residents a unique experience. A competitive cost of living that is considerably lower than other major metros allows metro Phoenicians to access a myriad of amenities including major league sporting events, art, cultural museums, theatre and some of the best dining in the U.S.
It’s no wonder why companies continue to explore Phoenix Metro during their expansion decision- making process. Combined efforts by regional and state leaders to create a pro-business climate and community leaders supporting and creating diverse communities, will continue to elevate the region’s profile making Greater Phoenix the place for businesses to go to scale.
Chris Camacho is the President & CEO of the Greater Phoenix Economic Council. He currently serves on the board for the International Economic Development Council, and is a member of Economic Innovation Group’s Policy Council.