Arizona: Great and Getting Greater

By the BF Staff
From the July/August 2015 Issue

Accessibility, vibrancy and top-tier talent. From high-tech manufacturing to software startups, data centers to biotech and health care, Greater Phoenix, Arizona has emerged as a top region as companies look to expand and relocate their operations.

Representing 76 percent of Arizona’s economy, Greater Phoenix is well positioned to provide unparalleled access to the Mountain and Western regions. Major employers such as Intel, General Dynamics, Apple and Avnet, and international companies like Henkel, Siemens and SAP are taking advantage of the abundance of skilled talent and the region’s competitive operating environment.

With operating costs up to 40 percent lower than California, aggressive tax credits and incentives and programs designed to increase access to capital, Greater Phoenix has become one of the nation’s most robust and pro-business metro regions. With a 6-hour drive to Los Angeles and less than a four hour drive to the U.S./Mexico border, Phoenix, Arizona provides companies with access to the world’s 8th largest economy—California—without having to pay for California. As the 6th most populous U.S. city and Arizona’s capital, Phoenix offers a competitive, low-cost operating environment and the young, diverse and talented workforce for which today’s businesses are looking.

Building on legacy industries that have anchored the region for decades—including the aerospace and defense (5th largest defense contracts in the U.S.) and semiconductor and electronics industries (4th largest in the U.S.)—there is an emergence of innovative and tech-based companies that are driving growth. The information and communication technology sector is accelerating, and employment growth in the software industry is projected to outpace all other markets in the Mountain west region, including Denver and Austin, over the next five years. With a current population of 4.4 million, the Greater Phoenix population is expected to grow more than 20 percent within the next two decades to 5.4 million. And as the nation’s 6th youngest market, there is a higher percentage of millennials working in financial services, IT and healthcare than in most major metros, including New York, Denver and Seattle.

Feeding the talent pipeline, Greater Phoenix has two of the largest higher education institutions in the country. Arizona State University provides a skilled, diverse workforce with a student population of 86,000, with 70 percent of those students remaining in state post-graduation. Additionally, the Maricopa County Community College District serves more than 260,000 students each year with a variety of two-year technical and career-ready programs.

Greater Phoenix features more than 100 public and private airports, including Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport—which offers more than 1,200 domestic and international flights daily. Two major interstates and five freeways, along with two transcontinental railroads and 10 interstate railways provide additional access. Dedication from the region’s leaders, such as the commitment to transit and transportation from Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton, has provided robust infrastructure, including a $1.3 billion Metro light rail system. And with one of the lowest weekly work and commute times of major metropolitan regions, residents of Greater Phoenix are able to spend time enjoying the incredible communities.

People visiting the market for the first time are welcomed by a vibrancy that exists within the cities and towns that make up the Greater Phoenix region. All across the Valley, residents and visitors are able to explore a strong arts culture, festivals and music concerts, innumerous outdoor activities and a world-class food scene—from food trucks to five star dining. Home to much more than a thriving business environment and a deep talent base, Greater Phoenix is the place to live, work and play. For more information, contact the Greater Phoenix Economic Council, a public-private partnership focused on building a sustainable, transformative economy.

The Smart Move: Peoria, Arizona

Peoria partnered with BioAccel, a local bioindustry commercialization company, to create BioInspire, Arizona’s first biomedical business incubator. (Credit: PEORIAAZ.GOV)

Every business needs to start with an address. More and more people are deciding to make Peoria their home base. At the heart of the city of Peoria is its business core. A city can’t thrive or flourish without its core businesses and a solid economic development plan. When a community commits to working with prospective firms, it commits to working with a sector that is critical to the future of the local economy. The city of Peoria is known for its quality of life and this is what is leading new investment and development into the core districts of the city. However, it starts with a vision. Currently, Peoria is updating its successfully implemented 2010 Economic Development Implementation Strategy (EDIS), which helped the community designate targeted industries, create investment zones, establish a smart economic incentive policy and ultimately attract several wins to the community, such as two new universities, new high-tech employers and a new biomedical incubator called BioInspire. The EDIS Part Two has just started and the City of Peoria is interested in a refreshed look at the community’s economic base and potential for new industries and tactics, post-recession.

The Peoria Economic Development Implementation Strategy outlined several targeted industries to meet Peoria’s existing assets and potential for supporting these targeted sectors. Sectors in Peoria, which offer excellent potential for inward investment include:

Health/Biomedical/Medical Device industry: Peoria is at the center of six major regional hospitals, and, borders the largest medical school in Arizona, (Midwestern University with 3,000 students). Peoria has a workforce skilled in healthcare professions; 19 percent of the Peoria workforce has healthcare education. Recognizing its prime competitive potential for the devices industry, Peoria entered a highly unique partnership with a local bioindustry commercialization company called BioAccel and created Arizona’s first biomedical business incubator, called BioInspire. Similar to a typical business incubator, BioInspire offers first-class working space, technical business assistance and collaborative opportunities.

In addition, Peoria recently attracted two nationally recognized universities. Trine University and Huntington University, both from Indiana, opened campuses in Peoria with an eye towards expanding to meet the high-tech employment needs of area industry.

Advanced Business Services: Peoria has existing class-A office sites as well as established investment zones for office space development for premiere employers who want to take advantage of the city’s highly educated population in business and management professions. Peoria residents are educated in occupations that exceed national norms, including engineering, computers, mathematics and finance, as well as healthcare and health technicians.

Advanced Manufacturing: Given Peoria’s recent attraction of global and high-tech manufacturers—AVIAGE SYSTEMS (a Chinese based company), Maxwell Technologies and GEPACK (from Portugal)—the market has tremendous potential to assist manufacturing companies worldwide looking to grow in a stable, talented Southwest US corridor, with access to dozens of existing buildings and shovel-ready sites along highways and major arterials, as well as two mega-sites that are prime locations for corporate and industrial projects.

Peoria, Arizona’s best approach for investor engagement is preparedness. On an annual basis, the city publishes a comprehensive community investment Development Prospectus, outlining its investment zones, targeted industries and demographics. This information provides a guideline for any investor, developer or end-user considering an expansion or relocation to the Greater Phoenix market.

Peoria’s investment zones provide a diverse array of market opportunities for any investor to take advantage of:

The Peoria Eighty-Three (P83) Entertainment District is the location of the Peoria Sports Complex, which is the home of the Seattle Mariners and San Diego Padres Spring Training and Player Development. The area boasts a host of quality restaurants, dinner theaters and other entertainment opportunities. An Urban Design Master Plan for the 570-acre District was adopted to enhance this strong community asset by increasing density, creating destination mixed-use opportunities, establishing a distinct identity, improving pedestrian connectivity and creating a sense of place. In the heart of the Entertainment District is a proposed redevelopment project called The Avenue Shoppes at P83, which will convert the 17-acre parking lot west of the Peoria Sports Complex into a destination with 400,000 square feet of shopping, dining and a hotel with an onsite parking garage.

Peoria’s Old Town District has been the heart and soul of the city since its earliest days. The city has been focusing on a proactive revitalization effort to enhance Old Town to attract new businesses and people to the area. Peoria takes pride in the physical attributes and qualities that make a city unique, which is why the Old Town Area is an economic development investment zone as part of the EDIS. The City developed a Commercial Revitalization Program for businesses who are seeking funding support for exterior facade, parking lot and other eligible improvements to eligible properties in the Program area. The city will provide up to 50 percent reimbursement to eligible private property owners for improvements associated with properties located in the designated area.

The Rovey Industrial Park, located in southern Peoria, offers 328 acres of prime industrial real estate in an area that is well developed and with strong infrastructure and transportation corridors. This mega site sits along the Burlington Northern Santa Fe (BNSF) railroad into Phoenix and is adjacent to the Peoria Industrial Park, the Butler Water Reclamation Facility and the SRP Agua Fria Electric Generating Station. Water is in abundant supply throughout the site.

The Vistancia Commercial Core Mega Site is at the start of future growth in Northern Peoria. It is 500 acres of privately-owned, commercially zoned land that is fully entitled and shovel ready with build-to-suit options for business, and will ultimately encompass up to 4 million square feet of mixed-use space. The Vistancia Commercial Core is located at the center of the 7,100-acre master planned community of Vistancia, offering an abundance of skilled labor and executive housing options.

Peoria is moving forward aggressively and strategically to develop its local economy to compete on a global scale. The community is increasingly recognized for its high-knowledge and technically skilled workforce. Peoria is the smart choice. Visit for more information.