Metro Spotlight: Phoenix, Arizona
City of the Future
Strategically positioned in the Southwest, the Greater Phoenix area is one of 10 U.S. markets projected to experience 85% of the nation’s growth over the next 35 years.
Greater Phoenix, which consists of the City of Phoenix, much of the rest of Maricopa County, a large section of Pinal County, and small parts of southern Yavapai County, currently is the 13th largest area in the United States, with an estimated population of four million. The City of Phoenix is the largest state capital in the U.S. in terms of population and is the only state capital with a population of more than one million.
With a labor force of over two million people, Greater Phoenix is known as a business and innovation hub with international access for aerospace, high-tech, bioscience, advanced business and sustainable technologies companies. Currently, over 20 major Fortune 500/1000 companies are located in Phoenix, such as Allied Waste, AT&T Inc., Bank of America, Boeing, Google, Morgan Stanley, and Wells Fargo. Honeywell’s Aerospace division is headquartered in Phoenix, and the valley hosts many of its avionics and mechanical facilities. Intel has one of its largest sites in the city, employing about 10,000 employees.
Businesses are easily connected to the region, nation and the world with two major airports—Sky Harbor International Airport and Williams Gateway Airport—and a new light-rail system being launched in December 2008.
Hot Spot for Solar
With an average of 321 days of sun, a high semiconductor workforce concentration, and a lower cost of doing business compared to California, Greater Phoenix is emerging as a leader in the solar industry. Greater Phoenix is now the world’s fourth largest solar market and is home to companies such as American Solar Electric, Green Ideas, Inc., ETA Engineering Inc., Kyocera Solar, Inc., and First Solar.
In June 2008, California-based SolarCity, one of the fastest growing solar power companies in the country, announced it is expanding its operations in Phoenix. The company is transferring regional operations to a new 8,200-square-foot facility, which it plans to use as a base to install solar electricity systems for area businesses and residents.
“SolarCity is an innovative company, and its unique SolarLease program will promote and accelerate the adoption of solar across the region,” says Greater Phoenix Economic Council (GPEC) President and CEO Barry Broome.
GPEC, comprised of 18 communities, Maricopa County, and more than 140 private-sector companies, serves as a catalyst to strengthen the region’s economic base and promote Arizona’s sustainable industry. Its efforts are helping create high-wage jobs, while generating foreign direct investment.
Last year, GPEC’s international sales missions drew four sustainable U.K. companies to open sites in Greater Phoenix, generating more than 1,000 jobs and $11 million in capital investment. In addition, Abengoa Solar, an energy company from Spain, is participating in a project in Greater Phoenix that will produce enough energy to serve 70,000 people. Last month, GPEC launched the Greening Greater Phoenix Powered by SolarCity initiative with a goal to draw more national and international renewable energy companies to the region.
Phoenix’s Financial Incentives
• Reduced property tax rate for renewable energy equipment
• Solar Energy Tax Credit provides income tax credit for the installation of solar energy devices in Arizona business facilities.
• Angel Investment Tax Credit expands early-stage investments in targeted Arizona small businesses.
• Enterprise Zone program enhances opportunities for private investment in certain areas. A company located in an Enterprise Zone may receive tax credits by creating new quality jobs.
• The Research and Development Income Tax Credit awards qualified research and development conducted in Arizona. This includes university research and funded by the company.
• Personal Property (machinery, equipment or other personal property) used in manufacturing, health care or other commercial operations is exempt from transaction privilege tax.
• Accelerated Depreciation encourages new capital investment and also enables reduction of personal property tax liability.