GPEC 201: How Greater Phoenix Economic Council is adapting to build an anti-fragile market
GPEC’s range of services address current and future needs of Greater Phoenix
As one of the fastest markets to rebound from recent strains, Greater Phoenix has proven itself resilient. But as the United States continues to balance market challenges with rapid growth, the Greater Phoenix Economic Council (GPEC) is aiming to help Greater Phoenix become a region that is not only is resilient to change but anti-fragile.
GPEC leaders provided insight to its investor network about work the organization is doing to drive the region forward in its GPEC 201 Ambassador Event at the close of fiscal year 2023.
“This idea of anti-fragility — it’s more than resilience. Anti-fragility is when you absorb market shocks and come out better and more agile, versus just recovering,” said Chief of Staff Maureen Howell. “That’s really where we’re aiming to be.”
The panel included the following GPEC staffers:
- Maureen Howell, Chief of Staff
- Kristen Stephenson, Senior Vice President, Research & Analytics
- Samantha Pinkal, Vice President, Business Development
- Serena Remy, Vice President, Marketing & Communications
- Kevin Carranza, Director, Business Intelligence
- Jessica Daley, Director, Digital Marketing
- Moderator: Tim Bourcet, Vice President, Corporate Development & Community Engagement
Crafting Greater Phoenix Messaging
GPEC has taken the lead in evolving perceptions of the region. With opportunity to tell more stories about emerging industries, share city developments, and go in-depth into water, public transportation and other regional initiatives, GPEC built an owned media strategy, which focuses on original audio, video and longform written content.
“We re-thought how we tell our story through our owned media,” Remy said. “There’s always going to be headlines out there that we can’t control, but we can control the content that we produce and how we dynamically tell the story of what is happening in the market.”
Since November, more than 60 videos have been produced showcasing news and events that highlight unique assets and regional growth. This includes company groundbreakings, AOL founder Steve Case’s book signing, and an overview of how Mesa developed the Elliot Road Technology Corridor. These videos are posted to GPEC’s YouTube and Instagram page.
The Greater Phoenix A to Z podcast launched in February, and through the end of June, there were seven published episodes with two more queued for July. Listeners hear from local experts on a variety of topics ranging from futuristic industries like eVTOL, megaevents like the Super Bowl and community needs such as increased arts funding. Podcast episodes are available on Spotify, Amazon Music, Apple, or wherever else you listen.
GPEC has also expanded its capabilities in targeted outreach to companies around the country and the world. By identifying high-growth companies and their decision makers, the organization can formulate digital ads catered toward these targets to pique interest in the region and automate personalized outreach.
With this omnichannel approach through digital advertisements, email automation and more, GPEC finds creative ways to put Greater Phoenix on the mind of companies considering expansion or relocation opportunities. These tactics also help the business development team set meetings before trade shows and conferences with potential clients in attendance.
“We wanted to find a way to be more agile with the market as the market moves so quickly, and find ways to target people in more nuanced situations,” said Daley.
Evaluating Greater Phoenix and other markets through research
GPEC takes on a variety of research projects throughout the year. A key focus in recent months was the Greater Phoenix office market and companies return-to-office plans. By combing through external reports, evaluating trends and speaking to local partners about their decisions, the organization put together an overview of the office market with theories of what may impact leasing and purchasing over time.
“There are some signs that our office market is stabilizing, so asking rent rates are remaining steady,” Carranza said. “We may be experiencing new equilibrium, but it is difficult to imagine that the shift to home from the office that was brought about from COVID-19 — which represented probably the greatest inversion of power between employers and employees since the dawn of 20th century office work — it’s difficult to imagine that mass shift in preferences will be abdicated easily or cheaply.”
GPEC’s new economic monitor provides users with a quick snapshot of key data points indicating the health of the economy. The simple layout allows users to scroll over individual elements to learn about factors including gross domestic product (GDP), income, employment rates, spending and more, comparing both the region and nation to different time periods to watch trends.
“We needed some real-time understanding of what’s going on in the economy,” said Stephenson. “We really wanted to know — especially in a dynamic economy like right now, where some indicators are flagging very positively and some are very negative — what does that mean?”
Shifting the focus of business attraction
Regional growth has put Greater Phoenix in new terrain — now that it is among the top markets in the country, the GPEC team needed to evaluate what other top-level growth markets are doing to remain competitive.
Members of GPEC’s business development team, along with some private sector partners, visited Dallas-Fort Worth, Austin, and Charlotte and Raleigh in North Carolina on three separate trips. In Dallas, GPEC worked to understand what separates Greater Phoenix — the No. 2 industrial market in the nation — and the only city ranked higher. In Austin, GPEC evaluated the tech scene, finding tactics that GPEC could borrow to improve the regional ecosystem. On the Charlotte-Raleigh trip, members of the delegation focused on biotech and healthcare, which is a key emerging industry in Greater Phoenix.
“We met with peer EDOs, transportation planners, utility companies, development companies, brokers — really the same folks that our clients talk to when they come here,” Pinkal said. “We went to those markets to understand them the same way our clients do by putting our feet on the streets.”
GPEC also centered its focus on international business development, with heavy considerations to the growing Asia-Pacific (APAC) pipeline spurred by Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company’s (TSMC) $40 billion investment to Greater Phoenix.
The organization hosted three major delegations centered largely around companies from the APAC region, with some European companies sprinkled in. These delegations, aided by organizations like the Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO), the American Institute in Taiwan (AIT) and the U.S. Department of Commerce/SelectUSA, created several new projects for GPEC, which had a record 24% of its prospects come from foreign countries in FY23.
GPEC could not do the work it does to grow the region without its dedicated partners, and is available to help your company with its needs.
“If you are planning to attend conferences, please reach out — talk to Serena and Jess about how to improve automation and outreach. Let’s talk to research — how do we compare? How can we understand better the people we’re going to meet? And then of course, call BD and say, ‘Hey, we’re going to go, can we partner and collaborate?’” Pinkal said.
“I want to encourage you all to take advantage of all of your benefits of GPEC investment, not just business development and project talk, but you have research and marketing and operations that can do so many things for you.”
Find contact info for each panelist below.