City/Town Snapshot: City of Phoenix

A championship economy for the Phoenix area in 2017
By Daniel Valenzuela, Councilman District 5, City of Phoenix

It's nice to be able to say that the Valley is coming off a championship year.

It's sad not being able to say it about our professional or major college sports teams, but it's exciting to say the championship is a result of what really counts-providing high value jobs for the families calling our cities and towns their home. There are significant economic development wins across the greater Valley metropolitan area.

In the past year, one of our major triumphs is watching the rivalries of the past continue to be set aside, and cities and towns recognize that what's good for one is good for us all.

The city of Phoenix had a banner year for economic development, but our victories are shared with significant wins by other Valley cities as well.

As a member of Phoenix's city council, and the chairman of the Council's Downtown, Aviation, Economy and Innovation subcommittee, I take particular pride in what the city has gained, and how these gains are bolstered by other city and town economic development achievements.

Overall, we kept nearly 2,000 jobs from leaving Phoenix, and added commitments to create more than 13,000 new jobs over the next three years. The more than 15,000 retained and committed hires is upwards of 50 percent greater than the nearly 10,000 retained and committed jobs of 2015 for Phoenix.

We welcomed two global corporate headquarter relocations, Carlisle Companies from North Carolina and Kudelski Group from Switzerland. Several companies selected Phoenix to open technology and advanced business service regional offices and western regional headquarters. More companies also picked the Valley as a place to expand their corporate headquarter staff, even though the headquarters itself officially remained elsewhere.

More than half the jobs committed or retained pay wages that are higher than the countywide average wage. What this means is that we're helping to raise the overall average wage in the Valley, just as other cities and towns are doing. Together in the Valley, cities added 42,400 jobs in 2016, which put our workforce at record numbers, higher than before the recession.

The newly added workforce in Phoenix reflects another significant change. Prior to the recession, most jobs were created in consumption industries - retail, construction, leisure and hospitality. Since the recession, the vast majority of jobs are being created in advanced business services, health services, biotechnology and life sciences. These production jobs generate new revenue streams into Arizona and the city. The jobs pay more and the increases in salaries mean increases in retail sales.

Going out and recruiting corporate and regional headquarters is only part of building a championship team to win good jobs for our citizens, it's also important to develop local talent. In Phoenix, we are growing our own: startups, innovators, entrepreneurs and solopreneurs who are forming and expanding the companies that make up tomorrow's economy.

This is important to Phoenix, and it's important to all Arizona cities. In the Valley, nearly every city has been involved in the formation of incubators, co-working spaces and innovation hubs. We have several in Phoenix, including nationally-recognized Seed Spot and Co+Hoots. We have private, nonprofit and public co-working spaces. In December, we opened The Armory in Arizona Center, the nation's first incubator for and by U.S. military veterans. We're on the road to incubate 40 veteran-created businesses this year.

We've worked with Arizona State University to bring world-renown SkySong accelerator services into downtown Phoenix with a program that will be available to startups and entrepreneurs to our Phoenix Innovation District.

During the past year, Phoenix has reached other milestones to help build a quality pool of employees for our growing companies and the new businesses expanding a Valley footprint. We wouldn't have hit those marks without working together with cities, Arizona Commerce Authority and Greater Phoenix Economic Council.

Growing the workforce starts with education, and we're going to bat at two levels. This year sees the first classes in Galvanize, the professional-level accelerated coding school, opening in Phoenix's newest technology cluster, the Warehouse District. It also saw the first classes entering the Phoenix Coding Academy in the Phoenix Union High School District.

We've actively sought grants to help promote family opportunities for workforce training and personal growth. This year, we're moving forward with a program that provides job training for low income parents to move them into our advanced industry workforce. The $4 million program removes barriers to help these families succeed with jobs in health care, information technology and advanced business services.

Together across the state, we're all working towards building a championship effort to coach successful businesses from innovators and startups, to grow our entrepreneurial ecosystem and to have a workforce ready to fill the jobs our growing companies create.

Economy vitality in the Valley comes as more and more of our companies sell products elsewhere. We've seen the entire economy pivot since the recession with global trade reaching record numbers. Phoenix has moved forward with resources offered our businesses to grow exporting through the ACA ExporTech program. We've graduated our third class this past year and watched our neighboring cities graduate their businesses into the world of global trade.

Arizona finds itself on the map when it comes to best places to do business. Phoenix has stepped to the plate building on that success and continuing to grow our businesses, attract new and innovative companies to the Valley and hit the mark for a strong, dynamic economy in our city and the Phoenix-Mesa-Scottsdale metropolitan area.

Phoenix is proud to be part of Arizona's strengthening economy. We recognize our role as America's sixth-largest city to be a leader and innovator, and we recognize that the success of our neighbors in the Valley means greater success than could be accomplished by Phoenix alone.

We all seem to be in the hunt for a back-to-back championship year in 2017.

Daniel Valenzuela is the councilman for Phoenix District 5 and chair of the City Council Downtown, Aviation, Economy and Innovation subcommittee. Councilmember Valenzuela is also a member of the League Executive Committee.

League of Arizona Cities and Towns
1820 W. Washington St.
Phoenix, AZ  85007
Phone: 602-258-5786
Fax: 602-253-3874

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