The Growth of Arizona’s Sun Corridor
June 1, 2021
Sarah Kirsch Richardson
Founder and CEO
7373 N. Scottsdale Road, Suite A100
Scottsdale, AZ 85253
As the real estate market continues to boom both across the country and in Arizona, there’s one region in our great state that’s been on the rise for quite some time. In what is referred to in more recent years as a budding megapolitan, the combined metropolitan cities of Phoenix, Tucson, Prescott, Sierra Vista-Douglas and Nogales have been dubbed Arizona’s Sun Corridor. This includes all of Maricopa, Pima, Pinal counties, and some parts of Yavapai, Santa Crus, and Cochise counties.
Despite the fact that we have been dealing with a pandemic over the last year or so, people continued to move. While some experienced job insecurity, others were ready and waiting for the right moment to make moves – figuratively and literally. For those who were dealing with income loss, even that was a motivating factor for a move. According to a survey conducted by Move.org, 45% of those surveyed who said they moved in 2020 were moving as a result of COVID-19. And of those who moved out of state, Arizona was the 7th most popular state for a move. The population growth in 2020 continued on the path we’ve been seeing for years, increasing by 1.78% according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
With the population continuing to grow, and no signs of slowing down, one has to wonder, are we ready? Can the Grand Canyon State handle the growth of Arizona’s Sun Corridor? While no one has a crystal ball, we can feel good about the direction things are heading when we look to the planning efforts from city and state organizations. After all, Arizona growth on the whole has been on the rise for decades, and there have been efforts and planning put in place to ensure the economic needs are met.
The Greater Phoenix Economic Council has been on the forefront of conservation and strategic planning efforts for years when it comes to one of our most essential resources: water. In 1980, the Groundwater Management Act allowed the State to manage and protect groundwater, as well as create provisions to ensure water was preserved for the future. Today, according to the Greater Phoenix Economic Council, Arizona’s water usage is below 1957 levels. This is an astounding statistic when you consider the population today is roughly six times larger than it was then. And because the GPEC has been keeping a close eye on these efforts, they recognize that the future will require even more creative solutions to support the population growth.
But what about transportation? The U.S. Department of Transportation Federal Highway Administration, Arizona Department of Transportation, Maricopa Association of Governments (MAG) and the Pima Association of Governments (PAG) have also been paying attention to trends in the Sun Corridor and established a project team to collaborate. Why? Because according to their data, approximately 8 out of every 10 Arizonans call the Sun Corridor home. What’s more noteworthy for the transportation planning team is, this area includes one of the busiest freight ports on the United States-Mexico border. The team worked together to identify major model components of innovative firm synthesis, supply chain, mode choice and transport, and truck tour models to create the megaregional freight model. In a report from the U.S. Department of Transportation Federal Highway Administration, they share:“The new model provides planners in the region with the ability to conduct new and more detailed analyses. Planners can use the model to test different scenarios and understand how they affect freight movement through the megaregion. MAG and PAG will continue to use, refine, and build on this new model to add additional functionality that improves the ability to describe and forecast such activity.”
With strong planning in place, it seems as if Arizona’s Sun Corridor is poised and ready for continued growth. The job is far from done, though. Now more than ever, economic planning teams need to consistently review efforts and pivot accordingly to keep up. It’s Arizona’s lower cost of living and taxes that will continue to drive the population higher, bringing in new transplants from states like California, Washington, and Texas. So as the population continues to grow, we in the real estate industry should stay ready to welcome them to Arizona’s Sun Corridor with open arms.