Phoenix Rises: Six years of economic transformation and prosperity

The progress we’ve made — it’s remarkable.

Just seven years ago, Arizona was still reeling from the Great Recession — and, worse, wasn’t preparing for the future.

Today, the investments Phoenix made to diversify and strengthen the economy are paying off. Tens of thousands of new jobs — good jobs. Last year, wages grew more in Phoenix than any other region in the country. Unemployment is at a near record low. Phoenix ranks third in the nation for high-tech job growth. And, remarkably, more than 60 percent of the Phoenix workforce now hold a job in advanced industries such as business and financial services, precision manufacturing, health and life sciences, and technology.

Economic experts are taking notice: Moody’s Investor Service, Fitch Ratings and Standard & Poor’s Global Ratings have all lauded the Phoenix economy for its diversification, strong growth and solid fundamentals.

How did Mayor Greg Stanton and Phoenix do it?

Mayor Stanton visits with leadership at Honeywell, whose Phoenix-based employees bring never-before-seen technologies to life.

Investing in innovation, biosciences and health care. Harnessing our diversity by focusing on building strong trade ties, including repairing Arizona’s relationship with Mexico. Creating a stronger higher education nucleus downtown. Transforming the city into a destination for startups and entrepreneurs. Supporting small businesses and cutting red tape.

All around Phoenix, take a look at how far we’ve come.

Repairing the Phoenix-Mexico Relationship

Mayor Stanton meets with the mayor of Hermosillo, Manuel Ignacio Acosta Gutierrez, in 2017 to discuss exports and foreign investment ahead of the City of Phoenix trade office opening.

When Stanton took office, Arizona’s state leaders had left our relationship with our largest trading partner — Mexico — in shambles. Cities — and mayors — took the lead in extending a friendly hand, and getting business going again.

Stanton and the City Council teamed with Tucson Mayor Jonathan Rothschild in making it a priority of Arizona’s business community, and during his time as mayor led nearly two dozen trade missions to Mexico in cooperation with the Greater Phoenix Chamber of Commerce, the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce and countless other leaders. Phoenix built bridges with Mexico, opening two permanent trade offices — one in Mexico City and another in Hermosillo.

Phoenix’s focus on trade is seeing results. Since 2012, while the nation’s exports grew just 0.1 percent, Phoenix’s exports have grown by 20 percent — and today, more than 100,000 jobs depend on Arizona’s trade relationships.

Investing in the Biosciences

Mayor Stanton and University of Arizona’s Dr. Fredric Zenhauser discuss plans for a biomedical accelerator.

Essential to Phoenix’s transformation is the renewed focus on building the city’s innovation economy.

On the Downtown Biomedical Campus, Phoenix partnered with universities to open three new biomedical research, academic and clinical facilities: the UA Health Sciences Education Building, UA Biomedical Sciences Partnership Building, and the UA-St. Joseph’s Cancer Center. And up north, on the Arizona Biomedical Corridor, the city partnered with Arizona State University and the Mayo Clinic to open the Mayo Cancer Center and pave the way for the ASU-Mayo Health Solutions Innovation Center.

Early during Stanton’s time in office, Phoenix partnered with local health care providers to become only the second city in the nation to pass an Access to Care ordinance. That single ordinance pumped more than $300 million back into our local economy at a critical time — delivering life-saving care to our residents and saving critical health care jobs.

Creating a Destination for Startups and Entrepreneurs

Mayor Stanton speaks to a room of business leaders and entrepreneurs in 2015 at the grand opening of The Armory, a small business incubator for veteran entrepreneurs.

Phoenix is aggressively fostering an environment that supports entrepreneurs and startups — and those around the country are taking notice. Forbes, Fortune and The New York Times have all pointed to Phoenix as a rising community for tech and entrepreneurship.

With support from the City, Greater Phoenix Economic Council and more, tech-education giant Galvanize opened its Phoenix campus in the Warehouse District in February 2017 and today houses more than 110 startups. Just a few blocks away, Mayor Stanton led the charge to help The Armory — a business incubator works with veteran entrepreneurs to get their ideas off the ground and the nation’s first facility focused solely on services for veterans — open its doors.

Tech companies are thriving in Phoenix. Since 2012, the number of high-tech companies in the central city has tripled, and the entire city has seen a 48 percent increase in tech employees in the last five years — a total of more than 24,000 new, high-paying tech jobs.

Building a Higher Education Nucleus

To create more talent and spur innovation, Phoenix has continuously invested in higher education — teaming up with all three of Arizona’s public universities:

Not long ago, there were virtually zero students in downtown Phoenix. Today, there are more than 13,000.

Phoenix helped paved the way: City investments ushered the new Beus Center for Law and Society, ASU’s Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law, and the UA Eller College of Management into downtown in the last six years. And soon, ASU’s Thunderbird School of Global Management will join the downtown campus, too, bringing one of the world’s best international business schools to Arizona’s economic center.

Opening the Doors to Small Business

Entrepreneurial ideas come to life at the City’s small business incubator, hive@central. With guidance from the Hive’s experienced mentors and experts, Leticia and Jose Gamiz turned their own dream into a reality, launching the popular Mi Vegana Madre vegan Mexican food truck.

Since Day One, Stanton has made small businesses a top priority, and reforms that cut red tape prompted the National Federation of Independent Business to name Phoenix one of the best cities in the country that opens doors for small business.

Stanton and the City Council streamlined the permitting process and launched a 24-hour online permitting and a system to review site plans online. In 2013, Stanton spearheaded a Shop Local policy to encourage the City to do more business with local companies. It paid off: Within two years, the value of City contracts to local businesses grew from $50,000 to $2.3 million.

To help budding entrepreneurs get their ideas off the ground, the City opened the hive@central incubator, where entrepreneurs can get help navigating the ins and outs of starting or growing a company. Since its inception, the Hive has helped launch 93 startups.

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Dad to two great kids. Former Mayor of Phoenix. Now Candidate for Congress in AZ-09.