Greater Phoenix’s large talent base and competitive labor costs make it the place for businesses to go to scale

Convening the Community Part 2: The Economic Imperatives

10 areas of focus for Greater Phoenix’s next stage of growth

As Greater Phoenix continues to grow, we must be strategic about how that growth occurs. Growth for growth’s sake is not going to lead to an equitable economy. By deploying intentional strategies and developing innovative collaborations, the market will maintain the current trajectory and become continuously more recession-proof while staying relevant on the international stage.

Arizona State University President Michael Crow, University of California San Diego Associate Vice Chancellor for Public Programs Mary Walshok and Greater Phoenix Economic Council President & CEO Chris Camacho led a panel at the second Convening the Community event, a dual-part program in which regional leaders discussed needs that must be met to reach the community’s goals.

“The next 30 to 40 years of economic output will be derived by the next 10 years’ worth of intentional investments and planning. That’s how serious this moment of time is,” Camacho said. “We’re going to have to be, as community leaders and civic organizations, nimble enough to meet those demands as the fluid market changes.”

The panel discussed 10 economic imperatives, which were derived through extensive conversation with community, civic and business leaders. The 10 imperatives are:

  1. Advance Career Technical Education (CTE), STEM and engineering pathways.
  2. Meet the needs of Title 1 schools.
  3. Expand and foster a robust entrepreneurial ecosystem.
  4. Accelerate industry and university collaborations.
  5. Capitalize on environmental resiliency practices.
  6. Continue the strong history of water planning and conservation.
  7. Induce smart growth principles and expand community tools for infrastructure and redevelopment.
  8. Continue modernizing Arizona’s tax system.
  9. Strengthen the middle class.
  10. Unlock the potential of changing demographics of the region.

Expanding workforce with education, business partnerships

As other regions throughout the country have shown, the best way to advance a region is through partnerships between educational institutions and the companies looking to hire the workforce of the future. That’s why so many of the imperatives address the creation of equity in the system from Pre-K to STEM-level advanced university courses and employee reskilling. This education will be vital as automated intelligence improves and becomes more widespread.

Funding must be addressed, particularly for Title I schools. According to ALL in Education executive director Stephanie Parra, demographics at Phoenix Union High School District trend 10 years ahead of Phoenix. The district is made up of Title I schools and has a 90% minority student body, which indicates the importance of accelerating equity in education for continued economic resilience in a region that is a minority-majority.

Through high-level, equitable education, the region can leverage new innovation to address the rapid transformation of technology that has already begun.

Innovating tech infrastructure throughout Arizona

The new infrastructure bill presents one such opportunity for Greater Phoenix. Among allocations of money include the funding of carbon and hydrogen management around the country. Crow sees Arizona holding a natural advantage for the operation of industries based around these particles.

“The opportunity is an unbelievable set of multi-trillion-dollar sectors on a global economy that will come out of managing carbon, managing water, managing the flow of materials and managing the whole notion in which we make decisions,” Crow said. “There’s going to be brand-new, world-class national laboratories and clusters of universities and businesses built around producing hydrogen, using hydrogen and building a hydrogen economy, of which Arizona could be a master of universe.”

Hydrogen is just one of the chemical elements Arizona can use to build industry and create a more sustainability-focused business climate. Only by investing, testing and applying innovative solutions in the broad spectrum of environmental pillars can Greater Phoenix properly address the intersection of climate change, community resilience and economic growth. On a larger scale, the region can leverage federal investment in clean energy policies and "sandboxes" that test and scale new technologies.

By aligning public and private resources, Greater Phoenix can continue maximizing efficiency in utilizing natural resources and water.

Hydrogen is just one of the tools Arizona will be able to use to create a more sustainability-focused business climate. Only by investing, testing and applying innovative solutions in the broad spectrum of environmental pillars can Greater Phoenix properly address the intersection of climate change, community resilience and economic growth. On a larger scale, the region can leverage federal investment in clean energy policies and "sandboxes" that test, validate and scale new technologies.

By aligning public and private resources, Greater Phoenix can continue maximizing efficiency in utilizing natural resources and water.

That will take commitment to education and collaboration, but also necessitates addressing livability inside the community. The acceleration of technology has already created new norms around flexible work-from-home schedules, which has increased the demand of quality-of-life and changed the way employers look at hiring.

“Place matters. Where do people work -- not where are the companies,” Walshok said. “The companies will hire people where there’s an aggregation of talent.”

Walshok has been a leader of San Diego community-building through her nearly 50 years as a faculty member of UCSD and a distinguished community leader. Her work has focused on the development of regional innovation clusters and showcased how globalization and rapid changes in technology are affecting the social dynamics and economic challenges of regions across America.

“Being in creative spaces helps to incubate innovation and creativity,” Walshok said.

Greater Phoenix has worked to create similar clusters such as SkySong, the upcoming Novus Innovation Corridor and the warehouse district and higher-ed campus development in downtown Phoenix.

Greater Phoenix has laid the groundwork to pull off such a massive endeavor through its hubs of innovation, legacies in advanced industries and deep higher educational roots through ASU, Maricopa County Community Colleges, Grand Canyon University, University of Arizona, University of Phoenix, Creighton University, vocational schools and more.


Convening the Community: Part 1


Addressing the economic imperatives

By focusing on the 10 economic imperatives, Greater Phoenix can make strides toward greater prominence in the world economy.

“We’re here to shape the next 100 years,” Camacho said. “The innovation foundation has to happen today and it has to happen at scale. Let’s think that way, let’s plan for this and communicate consistently with the business and civic community about our expectations.”

“We need to believe that Phoenix is one of the most important metropolitan regions on the planet,” Crow said. “One of the most important places to the success of our species, and here’s who we are in that and this is what we’re going to do for that. All of that’s now possible.”

More Convening the Community:

Meet the Panel

Chris Camacho
President & CEO
Greater Phoenix Economic Council

Dr. Michael Crow
President
Arizona State University

Dr. Mary Walshok
Associate Vice Chancellor for Public Programs
UC San Diego

Eric Sperling
Founder, Managing Director
Social Television Network