It is an exciting time for economic growth and business in Arizona. The national media is taking notice of Arizona’s business competitiveness. Site Selection magazine recently ranked Arizona as the most competitive state in the mountain region. Area Development magazine recognized Arizona for being the top state in economic development in the population category of 5 million to 8 million. Recently, Governor Ducey approved legislation that makes Arizona the first state in the country to lay the regulatory groundwork for next generation (5G) wireless networks. This bill streamlines the process for permitting the small cell infrastructure that will support 5G, and paves the way for tools and services this wireless technology will offer.
The City of Flagstaff’s Economic Development program is capitalizing on this momentum to diversify the Flagstaff economy. This is accomplished by working with our local and state partners to pursue growing industries that can provide well paying, creative jobs that fit the Flagstaff culture. Current focus is on Advanced Manufacturing, Bioscience, Healthcare, Digital Products and Technology Innovation as dynamic industry sectors that can provide these high wages and low impact jobs. Moreover, we, as a city, are positioned well to do it. These industry sectors thrive in Flagstaff because this community offers a highly educated workforce as well as access to major markets by rail, ground and air. Forty-three percent of the Flagstaff population has a bachelor’s degree or higher. Our partners at Northern Arizona University are doing great research, which can spin off into business opportunities, and graduated nearly 10,000 students last year. Many of those students would love to find their career here in this great town and stay on as neighbors.
Here is a fun fact: Flagstaff’s existing workforce is 13 times more specialized in biomedical manufacturing than any other city in the United States. This is the kind of critical information we will be using when promoting Flagstaff at the International Bioscience Conference this month in San Diego. New startups and companies looking to relocate to Flagstaff want to know where the workforce will come from and that the town can support their kind of business. In attracting businesses, workforce along with infrastructure are major factors. When it comes down to it, these industry sectors choose Flagstaff for the same reasons residents choose to live here. Flagstaff is a place to do business that also provides culture and a sense of history surrounded by nature and many outdoor adventures. Flagstaff has many of the amenities of a small city, yet has still managed to maintain the overall feel of a mountain town. With Northern Arizona University expanding on its research capacity and driving some of the community growth, Flagstaff needs to seize this moment to continue its economic evolution. We have moved from a resource and rail town into one driven by more by the University and visitation. These will always be a big part of Flagstaff’s past and future. We need to hold onto our heritage and grow with the existing industries, but we also need to move into the diverse, vibrant and resilient economy that our roots and the world drive us to be. FBN
By Gail Jackson
Gail Jackson is the Business Attraction Manager with the City of Flagstaff.
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