Mayor touts strong record of bipartisan accomplishments for Phoenix
Mayor Greg Stanton said that Phoenicians have “forever changed the course of our future for the better” by working to build an innovation and skills-based economy that provides more opportunity for everyone.
In his seventh State of the City address, Stanton focused solely on accomplishments that have been achieved with bipartisan support, comparing Phoenix’s record of getting things done to gridlock that has plagued other governments.
Stanton noted many of Phoenix’s accomplishments over the last year:
• The highest wage growth of any metro in the country.
• Small businesses raised their wages more than anywhere else.
• A near record low unemployment rate.
• Ranked among the top 10 growing economies in the country.
• Ranked third for high-tech job growth.
“To succeed in the long-term, to lift everyone up, we need an economy rooted in innovation and focused on exports,” he said.
Outside organizations have praised Phoenix’s economic progress.
“Phoenix is again solidly on a growth track. Recent expansion in higher education, healthcare and technology reflect a rapidly diversifying economy that should be better positioned to withstand future periods of economic weakness,” Fitch Ratings said recently.
Since 2012, Phoenix has worked to increase exports starting by repairing relationships with the state’s largest trading partner, Mexico. Today, more than 100,000 Arizona jobs are supported by businesses taking part in the export economy. Nationally, since 2012, exports have grown by only 0.1 percent; but in Phoenix, exports grew by 20 percent.
To strengthen the city’s innovation-based economy, Phoenix made strategic investments in the biosciences. Over the last six years, Phoenix has invested nearly $30 million in four new university buildings that support biomedical research and innovation. One of the most recent investments is paving the way for the ASU-Mayo Health Solutions Innovation Center on the Arizona Biomedical Corridor. The city’s contribution leveraged significant investment—more than $500 million—from its university partners to build new centers for higher learning and research.
More evidence of the city’s investment in innovation can be seen in the Warehouse District, where tech-education giant Galvanize—only one-year-old—already houses more than 110 startups. The central city has added more than 24,000 new tech jobs in the last five years. “We’ve turned our city into a destination for startups and entrepreneurs,” Stanton said.
One entrepreneur success story is that of Jose and Leticia Gamiz, owners of Mi Vegana Madre, a vegan Mexican food truck. Stanton highlighted the small business owners, who brought their idea to life with the help of the business mentorship program at the City’s hive@central, an incubator that helps entrepreneurs and startups.
In addition to growth in exports and innovation, Stanton stressed the city’s public transit system is “one of the most significant boosts we’ve given our economy.” More than $10 billion in capital has been invested along the light rail line since it began operation. Residents of South Phoenix will soon benefit from a voter-approved expansion that will connect Central and Baseline to downtown. And since Prop. 104 passed, taxpayer dollars are at work, already improving 550 miles of city streets and increasing bus frequency to at least every half hour.
Stanton touted the city’s progress on sustainability. Phoenix was recently one of only 10 cities in the world recognized at the North American Climate Summit for leading the way in sustainability.
Recognizing the challenges and dangers of extreme heat, Stanton announced that Phoenix plans to become the first Heat Ready City in the country and develop a model that will help other cities prepare as well. For that idea, Phoenix was one of 35 cities selected to take on the Bloomberg Philanthropies’ Mayors Challenge over the next several months.
Phoenix is also taking on challenges such as the opioid epidemic, affordable housing, homelessness, and veteran suicide. On the opioid crisis, Phoenix will be the first city in Arizona to take big pharmaceutical companies to court to recover costs and help those with addiction recover. Since last June, almost 1,000 Arizonans have died an opioid-related death.
“Every decision, every investment has been made with an eye toward the future,” Stanton said. “Not just creating a strong economy for the present, but building the foundation we want for our children and future generations.”