The Greater Phoenix Chamber of Commerce’s newly announced economic development initiative, Phoenix Forward, is more than an idea whose time has come: It’s an idea that’s been needed for a long time.
During our business careers here in the Valley, we have both seen a number of efforts to recruit companies to relocate to Arizona. This is a very important ingredient of economic development, but only part of the equation. Why? Because 80 percent of new jobs in our state are created by existing businesses. That’s why the Greater Phoenix Chamber of Commerce, for the better part of two years, has been developing the Phoenix Forward initiative. Quite simply, Phoenix Forward endeavors to grow our economy from within, by keeping existing companies in our market and understanding what they need to continue growing and thriving. The bottom line is a strong economic base, net new jobs and an excellent quality of life for all Arizonans.
Efforts to lure world-class companies like Apple to Arizona are critical as they bring high quality jobs and an economic shot in the arm to our economy. But what if Dignity Health or Wells Fargo picked up and left because their needs weren’t being met? Arizona would suffer a huge economic loss. Or, what if the next Taser didn’t have access to the necessary resources to meet extreme growth demands? This represents a real threat to our continued economic growth and our global competitiveness.
For many years and in many states just like ours, it’s been seen as more glamorous to attract outside interests rather than to focus on the business down the street. We understand the need to do both. Phoenix Forward will act as a data-driven catalyst for our community to understand the needs of existing Arizona businesses and to ensure that they will continue to flourish and create new jobs in our community.
Phoenix Forward builds on the tremendous work our partners at the city of Phoenix, Maricopa County and the Arizona Commerce Authority have been doing for years. This collaborative initiative focuses on existing companies in the four key business sectors of advanced business and financial services; bioscience; health care; and transportation and logistics. That focus and collaboration are what set Phoenix Forward apart from previous attempts to spur economic growth. It’s almost entirely privately funded, with some of the biggest players in Valley business combining with support from Maricopa County to help make it happen.
Organizations like the Arizona Commerce Authority and the Greater Phoenix Economic Council, along with our cities, do a tremendous job at the attraction side of the equation but they need a viable business climate in order to be successful. Phoenix Forward will grow our economy from within. We may be competitors in some respects, but we’re all allies in improving Arizona. Anything that broadens and enriches our economy is good for us all.
To learn how Phoenix Forward is supporting local businesses and facilitating the growth and sustainability of our economy, visit www.phxforward.com.
– Phil Francis is the retired chairman and CEO of PetSmart. J. Doug Pruitt is the retired chairman and CEO of Sundt Companies.