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Ambassador Event: How GPEC innovates to advance Greater Phoenix

Named the top economic development organization in the U.S. in 2020 by the International Economic Development Council, GPEC has remained on the cutting edge of the industry by advancing our AI-driven strategy and insights, data science capabilities, research and analytics portfolio, business development tactics, and integrated marketing and public relations efforts.

Our ability to work collaboratively through our public-private partnership has allowed the team to innovate and remain ahead of the curve to continue creating jobs, opportunity and investment in the region through the downturn inflicted by COVID-19. In Fiscal Year 2021, July through December, 20 companies located or expanded to the region, which created 4,160 new jobs and brought $454.6 million in capital investment.

During this ambassador event, senior leadership shared different ways businesses in Greater Phoenix can take advantage of our service offerings that help provide a better understanding of the region’s current competitive position, economic indicators and advanced methods for business attraction that allows Greater Phoenix to secure investment and change lives through the creation of jobs and career opportunity.

The tools discussed during the webinar derived as a collaborative effort between departments and are just a sampling of the services GPEC offers as it helps the region continue to be one of the fastest growing in the United States and a beacon for how collaboration, innovation and technology merge to propel growth in Greater Phoenix.

Advanced Marketing Intelligence (AMI): Data visualization

Developed by GPEC’s strategy team, AMI is a data visualization platform that provides demographics, industry comparisons, occupation data and real estate info to clientele through integrations of 26 unique data sets. For example, a biomedical company may want a wider view of the industry. The AMI platform can blend manufacturing, medical device and healthcare industries to find information most relevant and give a snapshot of not only Greater Phoenix, but competitor markets such as Salt Lake City or Denver.

“There’s millions of data points that drive our ability to adapt to any client question, and the analysis is tailored so that our client’s unique industry need is met on the spot,” said Carol Hu, senior director of business & industry strategy.

iTrack: Connecting clients with partners

The business development team focuses on the continuum of the business relocation or expansion process including connectivity to key resources, market analysis and site-selection assistance for companies looking at relocating to Greater Phoenix. Among tools that are unique to GPEC is iTrack, which aligns client needs with services from private sector partners. Leadership Council members and those at elevated investor levels are on a distribution list to receive requests from clients seeking services to support their market entry.

“When we do get a request for architects, engineering, moving, relocation, whatever the case might be…we will send that out to all of our leadership council members and above and ask for our investors to send us some contract information, or a one-page qualification sheet. We package that and provide it to the client so they can get access to our investors,” said Mitchel Allen, senior vice president of business development.

Project BEST: News monitoring

In hosting more than 125 presentations a year, GPEC staff must remain well-informed on the market, partners and potential prospects. Project BEST is an internal tool that monitors more than 7,000 high-profile companies to keep our team knowledgeable about industries both already in the area and those considering a relocation.

“Think of it like Bloomberg’s terminal for the finance industry, this economic tool helps us with tracking and using surveillance for company activity about their news and financials,” Hu said. “Because GPEC is growing very quickly and in a very agile environment — especially on how we’re positioning and targeting companies — we quickly realized that there’s a core need for us to establish some level of a knowledge authority.”

Advancing Equity & Inclusion

As the fastest-growing county in the U.S. from 2017-2019, it is vital for Maricopa County and the 22 cities and towns we represent to keep equity and inclusion top of mind.

“Our intention is to support regional leadership conversations and organizations that are doing this work because we believe that it is good for our region’s long-term sustainability as well as competitiveness,” said Kathleen Lee, senior vice president of regional initiatives.

“We look at data, we look at economic development practices around the country and even globally. We look at that information from a competitiveness lens and competitiveness for us is to build an environment that is conducive to productivity and business success.”

GPEC has produced an initiative to monitor this with three primary objectives:

  1. Develop the regional equity and inclusion dashboard.
  2. Support leadership conversations on topics relative to long-time drivers of inclusive growth.
  3. Work with peer organizations and regional leaders to highlight and support initiatives of inclusion and equity.

“We can also support conversations about how our region can grow smarter, and frankly avoid some of the pitfalls and trends that we see among some of the larger, mature regions,” Lee said.

Custom Research Services

GPEC’s research and analytics team builds specialized reports for partners at the leadership council investor level and above. These can include a variety of different snapshots of the regional industries.

One example is the operating cost comparison, which looks at costs between competitor metro areas and includes important factors such as workforce needs, real estate, taxes and utilities. These can provide forecasts on an annual basis or as far out as 10 years. The labor analyses dive into workforce availability and compare to specific industries and geographies of competitor regions.

“We use this type of analysis a lot to show that we have a workforce available in Greater Phoenix. So we can do these custom analyses that are looking at how Greater Phoenix compares to other metros in terms of specific industries or occupations, or we can look at customized geographies,” said Kristen Stephenson, senior vice president of research & analytics.

Another is the economic analysis, which predicts the impact on the community in terms of capital investment, increase of tax revenue, return on investment of attracting a company and other areas related to the locate. Those are just a few examples of custom research services the team can provide.

“We can brainstorm with you on how to address that, or any kind of trends, we’re happy to act as a consultative service for your research request and really brainstorm on using the data and analytics tool that we have here to see how we can answer those questions,” Stephenson said.

GPEC also generates a monthly snapshot of the economy to analyze job growth in specific industries and track changes. In doing so, the organization is able to find emerging trends in the region. Find your industry use case reports here.

Promoting the Region

Our marketing and communications department is integral in driving business attraction efforts and elevating Greater Phoenix’s presence globally through the use of advanced marketing automation strategies, PR tactics and omni-channel campaigns that set the standard in the economic development industry.

Through creative integrated marketing campaigns, PR efforts, advanced digital and advertising, data-science led automation sequences and even virtual art exhibits that showcase the region’s thriving arts and culture scene, the department works to not only create general brand awareness and advance our competitiveness, but drive measurable outcomes on the business and talent attraction fronts.

“Especially in today’s age, it’s more critical than ever before that we are telling the story of this region with repetition and with consistency,” said Colleen Schwab, senior vice president of marketing & communications.

GPEC launched the #AZFreeToBe campaign (see campaign video) as part of our business and talent attraction strategy with an emphasis on CA manufacturing and tech companies, and knowledge workers with increased professional mobility as a result of the pandemic.

That’s an area we are asking for the public’s help in, too. Utilizing business and personal Instagram accounts, as well as other social media platforms, post pictures and correlating copy encapsulating the #AZFreeToBe story of your choosing using #AZFreeToBe in all posts.

We want to amplify what makes Greater Phoenix so great with personal stories and share it across our platforms.

“Sixty percent of us are not from this market natively, but we choose to be here, and I think that’s a really important and critical piece of the puzzle,” Schwab said.

Take Action 

To see our full offering of services, visit

For those not currently in the Greater Phoenix, it’s not too late to move operations. There is more than 25 million square footage potential, and virtual site visits with GPEC continue.

Contact Nicole Buratovich, senior director of Investment Strategy & Engagement, at 602.262.8602 or to learn more about becoming a GPEC investor.