A man speaks to a large crowd of people seated in the foreground.

GPEC: Strategizing a path forward for the region’s economic success

Published: 08/17/2022
Updated: 08/18/2022

GPEC 101 Event Recap

Greater Phoenix has matured over the last decade with surging growth in advanced manufacturing and tech, including semiconductor production. In establishing the region as a national hub for these industries, market priorities are shifting alongside the priorities of the Greater Phoenix Economic Council (GPEC).

Business attraction is still at the forefront of GPEC’s work, but the economic development organization has turned its focus to crafting an intentional, deliberate path for economic resilience and regional branding.

“We’re now reinventing the way that we reference our brand outside of Arizona,” said GPEC President and CEO Chris Camacho. “Industrial technology epicenter of the world — that’s a positioning we’re really strengthening. We’re also a conduit for financial services and corporate services.”

While Greater Phoenix and Arizona are on path to becoming leading economic markets in the United States, there are also difficult topics that must be addressed, including the next stage of proactive water planning and additional investment in infrastructure.

“What can we do at the regional level? It’s really committing the public and private sector to working together; number two, being a data-driven organization that’s nonpartisan; and three, executing this business plan to our best ability,” Camacho said.

Organizational leadership spoke on the initiatives driving sustainable short- and long-term regional growth during the GPEC 101 event. The speakers were:

  • Chris Camacho, President & CEO
  • Brad Smidt, Senior Vice President, Business Development
  • Kristen Stephenson, Senior Vice President, Research & Analytics
  • Carol Hu, Vice President, Enterprise Solutions
  • Serena Remy, Vice President, Marketing & Communications
  • Albert Stanton, Senior Data Scientist 

Automating Lead Generation

As Greater Phoenix’s national reputation has developed, GPEC’s marketing efforts have broadened, now appealing to global players. Marketing campaigns such as #CAStruggles and #AZFreetoBe that targeted Californian manufacturing and tech industries were highly successful, but Greater Phoenix now has a base that is ready for broader national and international growth.

“Those big flashy campaigns where we’re targeting a specific geography, we may not do those again because we’ve matured as a market and as a marketing team,” Remy said. “The resources we put into campaigns like that aren’t scalable on a global level."

GPEC has entered the global periphery using hyper-targeted, automated email marketing for smarter, faster and scalable lead generation.

Email automation campaigns have been an effective way for GPEC to brand the region. Two primary campaign tracks centered around venture funding deals and business intent signals target key executives with industry-specific emails, personalized by the company, contact and recent news. The newly launched Project BRAIN targets international companies who close funding deals, and then emails the company to allow GPEC employees to operate more efficiently and respond directly to the executives who show interest following the initial outreach.

Twelve percent of GPEC’s pipeline is now made up of prospects that were generated through automated marketing outreach.

“We’re testing (Project BRAIN) on just a couple countries on the signal of funding events,” Stanton said. “Cloud computing allows us to scale up rapidly, and we want to eventually expand it to countries around the world.”

GPEC also has systems that provide data to partners and investors. Scoops provides local community economic development teams information on upcoming business relocation and expansion plans, while the capital ecosystem alert app sends emails and text alerts when Arizona companies receive funding rounds.

“Like a company that needs to understand its customers’ behaviors, habits and spending patterns, the way for GPEC to look at our region and our market is to provide a variety of data and information that’s synthesized across market, industry, companies, and labor and workforce,” Hu said.

Research and Mapping

Data and analytics are at the heart of GPEC operations.

A variety of research capabilities provide GPEC clients and partners with different perspectives of the region. The publicly accessible use case reports, which are specialized for individual industries, share information about key assets including labor, demographics and cost comparisons to competitor markets.

“We’re answering a business’ question on why they would want to come here,” Stephenson said.

Customized research is also available to communities and other partners of GPEC. The economic impact analyses help cities see how a prospective expansion would affect them over a long-term period, and customized analyses present industry trends locally and nationally.

In addition, mapping is a key piece of GPEC research. Geospatial analyses show labor force, freeway corridors, industries spread through the region, demographic information and more.

This wealth of knowledge helps dictate how GPEC markets the region, attracts businesses and plans for the years ahead.

Business Development

The business development team leads attraction efforts, but each piece of the organization plays a role. Once the client expresses interest in the region, the business development team begins the deal cultivation process which averages a lifecycle of 12-18 months.

After identifying the internal project team and defining project requirements that include workforce, real estate, infrastructure needs and more, companies and site selectors undergo in-depth analyses of sites that may fit the stipulations of the project.

“Our job is to try to make as many of our sites stay on the list for them,” Smidt said. “We’re really looking at getting [companies] to pass the due diligence phase and visiting our sites, going on a site tour.”

After creating a shortlist of locations and taking site visits, the company begins negotiations with the state, city and utility officials who remain mindful of the goals of the market. As demand to operate inside Greater Phoenix has increased, GPEC has shifted its priorities to high-value, high-wage prospects, particularly in advanced manufacturing, corporate headquarters, emerging technology, and healthcare and bioscience.

To be the voice of the region, GPEC must strategize about how to create long-term success — encompassing not just business operations but also the lifestyle that will continue to foster a strong, growing labor force and serve as a place where people want to live. Greater Phoenix is ready for its next stage.

“We’re going to be steadfast focused on ensuring we’re cultivating high-wage jobs, supporting the startup community, building the infrastructure of tomorrow that’s going to be needed, and I will tell you there’s going to be some hard decisions coming up,” Camacho said. “We as a market are going to have to decide where to go with a fork in the road.”

Meet the Panel

Chris Camacho
President & CEO

Brad Smidt
Senior Vice President,
Business Development

Kristen Stephenson
Senior Vice President,
Research & Analytics

Carol Hu
Vice President,
Enterprise Solutions

Serena Remy
Vice President,
Marketing & Communications

Albert Stanton
Senior Data Scientist