An Inside Look at Economic Development in 2020

Chris Camacho
President & CEO
Greater Phoenix Economic Council (GPEC)


For those who may not be as familiar with Greater Phoenix Economic Council (GPEC), we actively work to attract and grow quality businesses, and advocate for the competitiveness of Greater Phoenix. Over the past 31 years, GPEC has fueled the regional economy by helping more than 850 companies expand or relocate, creating more than 154,000 jobs and $20.4 billion in capital investment to the market.

“For the last 12 years that I’ve been at GPEC, I’ve been steadfast in my focus on ensuring we’re not taking anything for granted, we’re not complacent,” said Chris Camacho, president & CEO of GPEC. “Our job is to ensure these respective communities are advancing everyday while we continue to support them.”

GPEC is a data-driven organization which fuels their strategy, business development and marketing efforts.

“Data is at the center of everything we do. It’s been intrinsic to our organization throughout our entire 31-year history,” said Kristen Stephenson, SVP of Research & Analytics at GPEC. “We use data and analytics as a driver to direct the strategic direction of our organization. It’s feeding into our work with business development, with strategy, with marketing.”

Maricopa County is the fastest growing county in the country and it’s not hard to see why. The quality of life, affordability, higher education system and competitive operating costs in Greater Phoenix make it an ideal market to expand or relocate any business, or for individuals in search of new opportunities. Here are five facts about Greater Phoenix to give you a glimpse of our value proposition:

  • The median housing cost is $286,199
  • The income tax rate is 59 – 4.5%
  • The average commute time is only 7 minutes
  • The average temperature in Greater Phoenix is 72 degrees with more than 300 days of sunshine annually
  • Greater Phoenix offers an array of amenities and attractions expected of bustling urban and suburban From fine arts to professional sports teams and unique dining, the region offers something for everyone – regardless of your lifestyle

These attributes have helped Greater Phoenix become a hotbed for advanced industries including advanced manufacturing, aerospace and defense, autonomous vehicles, cybersecurity, e-commerce, distribution and logistics, finance and insurance, healthcare and biomedical, semiconductors, and software and IT.

GPEC saw record-breaking growth in FY20 with 42 new businesses creating 9,776 new jobs in these industries. The average high-wage salary was $68,000 and the payroll generated from these projects surpassed $555 million.

“We do everything we can within our power to close these businesses [deals] and provide these jobs to the Phoenix-metro area,” said Brad Smidt, SVP of Business Development at GPEC.

In the first two months of FY21 alone, GPEC has partnered to bring six companies creating 945 jobs with an average high wage salary of $93,470. Currently, GPEC has 221 active prospects in the pipeline with 28 FY21 prospects to-date. These prospects represent more than 4,377 potential jobs and $1.5 billion in capital investment.

“We’ve seen a noticeable shift in activity,” says Mitchel Allen, SVP of Business Development at GPEC. “A lot that has to do with the fact that a lot of companies on the office side are still trying to determine what work from home really means for them, and for their company and how that will impact them in the near future.”


Looking to the future

There is an undeniable spirit about Greater Phoenix, a spirit rooted in strength, collaboration and resilience. Despite more than 30-years of success, our biggest challenge is ahead of us as we look to accelerate out of the COVID-19 downturn. We’re confident we will return stronger than ever, but we must focus on the opportunities ahead that will enable us to continue building a thriving and equitable economy that everybody can be proud of.

A critical expansion strategy driving jobs is the continued growth of corporate ‘Nerve Centers’ in Greater Phoenix. These high-value business units are the latest evolution of corporate shared services that place heightened importance on process innovation, utilization of Industry 4.0 technologies, and integration of operations and information across the organization. Today, 106 companies have ‘Nerve Center’ operations in the region with at least 100 employees and GPEC has identified four pillars for opportunity, which are key to the region’s long-term success: 1. Produce unparalleled STEM talent as a market; 2. Maintain investments in core and future digital infrastructure; 3. Cultivate pro-business policies towards advanced industries; 4. Promote urban development and mobility.

As a brand, we have a unique opportunity to build upon what already makes Greater Phoenix so great. With about 60% of residents being from elsewhere, Greater Phoenix is a place where everyone, no matter where they’re from, can feel welcome and find opportunity.

“Last October at our annual event, we released a refreshed brand and a tagline of ‘Greater Phoenix, Greater Together,’” said Colleen Schwab, SVP of Marketing & Communications at GPEC. “It doesn’t matter where you’re from. So many people are welcome to open the doors to anybody, again, no matter where you’re from. That’s one of the really exciting pieces that we feel propels our region.”