The Jobs Plan of Daniel Valenzuela, Candidate for Mayor of Phoenix

As Mayor, I will work to create an economic foundation that increases opportunities for our residents and businesses. The economy in Phoenix has undergone a rising, rebounding from a hard-hitting recession to become stronger than ever. However, the work is never truly done, and we must expand on this economic momentum.

The city has grown quickly, both in population and job count. More importantly, the Phoenix job market is also growing in terms of quality. Phoenix is ranked #2 in the country for tech growth, #4 for best metro for young professionals, #8 for startup activity, and #1 for growth in finance industry jobs. The Downtown area also hosts exceptional programs from Arizona State University, ranked the #1 most innovative university in the country for three years running. For these reasons, along with many others, the City of Phoenix is positioned as a global leader in business development and attraction.

Phoenix offers many economic advantages, but we must continue to work hard to improve our position on the key economic inputs. These include the provision of a talented workforce, quality infrastructure, a business-friendly approach to government, and a sense of community and high quality of life. The latter is more important than most appreciate. My goal is for residents, business leaders, community leaders, and policymakers to have a stronger sense of pride in our community, regularly come to the table to discuss public policy, and help create a more definitive description of our community as a whole. I want our community to be considered a destination, not a pass-through to something else. 

Fortunately, we have already achieved success through collaboration, but more can be done. Notably, our recent economic successes have been led by the sustained and thoughtful efforts of an exceptional array of economic development groups that work with business leaders from both the public and private sectors. These include the Arizona Commerce Authority (ACA), the Greater Phoenix Economic Council (GPEC) the Phoenix Department of Community and Economic Development, the Maricopa Association of Governments (MAG), the Arizona Technology Council, the Greater Phoenix Chamber of Commerce, the Arizona Chamber of Commerce and Industry, the Mexican Consulate and the Canada Arizona Business Council, among others. 

When combined, these efforts have led to a more diverse economic base with higher paying jobs and additional employment stability. As your Mayor, I will continue to support these efforts and also be innovative in how we further our position in the global economy. The key will be to find a proper balance between the many things that drive economic and community growth. We are building an economy and a community. 

There are basic economic principles that will help us achieve our lofty goals. We need to first build on the assets we have, maximize our opportunities, and convert our challenges into advantages. We also need to identify when businesses need responsible government support and when government needs to get out of the way and  let people prosper. The key to success in life, business, and government is to find that point where things are in balance. That’s what I’ve been doing throughout my career – and during my tenure on the Phoenix City Council. 


  • A healthy economy produces healthy tax revenues that can then be reinvested in the community. That’s why I have made economic development and job creation a principal focus of my tenure in City Hall, serving as the Chairperson of the Downtown, Aviation, Innovation, and Economy Subcommittee – the City Council’s economic development and job creation arm.
  • I helped lead the effort to create the Phoenix Strategic Economic Development Fund, boosting private development through investments in land planning and development, infrastructure improvements, and job training programs, with a focus on job creation through new construction and the use of vacant facilities.  
  • Through the work of the Council Subcommittee I Chair, I have made the continual evolution of Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport a priority, with new and expanded direct service to both domestic and international destinations, and a welcoming environment in the terminals with new restaurant and retail options serving travelers while also providing jobs and business opportunities for local companies. 
  • I have worked to build upon the partnership between Phoenix and neighboring communities in the further development of Phoenix-Mesa Gateway Airport, recognizing that this investment by the City will serve to advance regional economic development goals. 
  • In 2014, I helped the CO+HOOTS Foundation launch the first global entrepreneurship exchange program, designed to bring the most innovative entrepreneurs from around the world to collaborate and share ideas in global cities – including Phoenix. I continue to serve on the Board of CO+HOOTS, named the No. 1 most innovative co-working space in the U.S.
  • I am proud to have led efforts to create and helped launch the privately funded CodePHX program which provides computer coding classes to Phoenix youth, giving them a jumpstart on their education and careers, and laying the groundwork for an unmatched tech workforce in Phoenix.  
  • I supported the creation of an innovative “unsolicited RFP” policy, fast-tracking job creation by allowing business leaders to come forward with their own ideas and plans in advance of the city calling for formal development proposals of vacant city-owned land. 
  • I worked with ASU and City staff to create The Hive, a free business incubator that provides a collaborative space for business entrepreneurs that incorporates access to over 500 services and resources. The Hive has helped launch nearly 100 startups and create scores of jobs while serving as a successful model for other business incubators.
  • I have worked closely and continuously with our institutions of higher education, including ASU, U of A, the Maricopa County Community Colleges District and Grand Canyon University, on initiatives to promote Phoenix as a top-tier destination for entrepreneurial activity, research, and investment, fostering the organic creation of local entrepreneurial talent and enterprises. 
  • I helped launch CO+HOOTS, the first of its kind collaborative co-working space that has been named the No. 1 most innovative co-working space in the U.S.
  • I championed improvements to our infrastructure and transportation, including re-paving aging streets and light rail extensions that will improve quality of life and accessibility in our city and enable Phoenix to accommodate new growth, and attract businesses and investment.
  • I have led efforts to improve our image and brand by promoting and protecting our diverse workforce, including the LGBTQ and disabled community, updating our non-discrimination laws to further our ability to attract businesses to Arizona. 
  • I have made sustainability a priority, maximizing the economic impact through recycling, solid waste reduction, and many other programs. We have more than quadrupled the wattage of solar energy produced through rooftops to landfill projects. 


I intend to bring the same forward-looking philosophy to the Mayor’s Office. I am committed to providing the foundation that allows businesses, employees, individuals, and families to thrive. My economic platform will hinge on the following principles and is my personal commitment to our community:

  • I will build on the philosophy that it takes a number of things to make an economy “tick.” We need quality roads, work force, educational opportunities, and amenities, among dozens of other things. But, we also need to be responsible with our residents’ tax dollars.
  • I will continue to embrace business recruitment, but I will further the City’s efforts related to “growing businesses from within.” Companies looking to do business in the city of Phoenix should feel supported to grow, and rather than creating impediments to growth, that the city is in a position to foster growth.
  • I will make strategic investments in infrastructure – both physical and intellectual infrastructure – that will encourage companies in high-wage, high-growth, and high-tech sectors to stay here as they mature and grow. 
  • I will continue to foster partnerships between city government and our K-12 public schools, community colleges, universities, and trade and technical schools as education remains the cornerstone of our workforce development efforts. 
  • I will invest in the arts and further develop our cultural assets, fully integrated into our overall economic development strategy. Long before the ASU Downtown campus, light rail, and even before professional sports venues, it was Roosevelt Row, Heard Museum, Herberger Theater, the Phoenix Art Museum, and more recently ArtWalk Phoenix and First Friday that kept downtown Phoenix alive and provided the foundation for what it has become today. Economic growth stems from – and arts and culture provide - innovation and new ideas. Beyond the obvious contribution to our quality of life, the arts are an economic driver critical to success in education, tourism, and in our ongoing efforts to attract business investment. 
  • I will remain committed to lowering Phoenix’s human impact on the environment. Because sustainability and economic development are intertwined, our policies must take into consideration the challenges that will face our growing city, including water management, drought, and climate change.
  • I will work to improve our neighborhoods’ economic connectivity and help us reclaim and integrate overlooked parts of the city to include in our prosperity. 
  • I will leverage our economic strengths and strategically target our investments where they will have the greatest impact. Public policy decisions are too often based on politics rather than proper economic analysis. My administration will be focused on providing a positive return on community investment for residents in the short-term as well as long-term.
  • I will make Phoenix a “smart” city that leverages technology to attract investment and efficiently utilizes tax revenues. 
  • I will work to more aggressively support the multiple stages of business development. This will include small business development, scaling business into larger operations, large business recruitment, and continued focus on international economic development efforts.
  • I will travel to strategic international locations to share our story, create a greater awareness of our offering and invite foreign companies to select Phoenix for their US-based activities/operations.
  • I will be an economic champion for not only our city but also our entire interconnected and fast-growing region. We must coordinate with our partners to strengthen our joint investments in the prosperity of our great region.
  • I will work to ensure that our growth translates into greater economic opportunity and quality of life for all of our residents. We must encourage the development of new opportunities for people from all walks of life, in all areas of Phoenix, and of all income and education levels.

Our next mayor needs to be ready to lead Phoenix into the Next Economy. I will be that Mayor.

Moving From Economic Ideas to Implementation

As Mayor, I will be an advocate for economic development and building our community. However, I will not stop with the collection of ideas. My economic platform is based on getting things done. 

We are at a crossroads in our community’s development. We have progressed from simply maintaining our economy to significantly advancing our economic position. The next step is to become truly great in terms of economic performance. This will take hard work, dedication, partnering, and finding the right balance between all the things that make our economy function.

My key strategies will include:

Leveraging Our Strengths: Advanced Industries

Phoenix has experienced unprecedented growth – in large part due to the collaborative efforts of our local and regional public-private partnerships. Today, the city is a very attractive place to do business. We do not need to recruit every retail and big-box business with costly incentives or favors. That is not fiscally responsible or sustainable over the longer term. As Mayor, I want our economic development efforts to reflect a more strategic approach. Our focus will be targeted on attracting and growing businesses that are economic drivers, that create new opportunities, and that strengthen the economy in every sector. The expansion of these “base” sector businesses, along with the provision of a solid economic foundation, will result in the local market industries to closely follow and be successful.

We can recruit businesses but also help to grow them from within. Rather than solely hunting for the next big business location, today’s economic challenge is to also make strategic investments that strengthen the sectors that most enhance our city’s business ecosystem while providing the best long-term opportunities for economic growth 

Advanced industries are defined as those involving high levels of research and development, and a high number of jobs (20 percent or more) requiring science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) skills. However, jobs in these industries that don’t require four-year degrees are also higher- paying than in other sectors. What’s more, advanced industries are responsible for 89 percent of U.S. private sector R&D, over 80 percent of patents, and 60 percent of exports.[1] These are just some of the reasons that the Arizona Partnership for Economic Innovation – a public-private partnership, and strategic economic development partner – is working to reorient the region’s economy toward growth in its advanced industries. 

People working in advanced industries earn $95,000 on average, compared to about $50,000 in all industries.[2] What’s more, wages in advanced industries are growing faster than other sectors of the economy.[3] In 2016, the top five advanced industries employing the most people in Phoenix included computer systems design (25,620 jobs), semiconductors (20,570), engineering (17,910), management consulting (15,60) and aerospace (14,160). 

But our city’s growth in these and other advanced industries has been below average in recent years, compared with other U.S. metros, according to a recent report. In 2015, advanced industry growth in Phoenix was just 2 percent (51st of 100 top metros ranked). [4] Cities as diverse as Nashville, San Francisco, Kansas City, Cape Coral (FL) and Jackson (MS) all grew their advanced industry sectors at rates between 7 and 8 percent. We must do better here in Phoenix.

Just a few examples of priority areas where Phoenix is strategically positioned to build and expand include:

  • High-Tech: The number of high-tech companies in the Phoenix metro has increased by 400 percent (from 67 to over 300) in the past five years,[5] and Phoenix’s high tech employment increased by over 25 percent in 2015-2016.[6] With a Top 25 research university and the largest engineering school in the nation in ASU – which also ranks in the Top 10 for graduate employability – Phoenix should maximize its position as a rising global hub for high tech.
  • Bioscience and Healthcare: Phoenix is also currently positioned to become a global medical research hub. Over 15 year ago the Translational Genomics Research Institute (TGen) was created in Phoenix as part of the Arizona Bioscience Cluster, to advance groundbreaking and lifesaving research. TGen acts as an anchor to cutting-edge bioscience research and medical practice at ASU and U of A at the 30-acre downtown Phoenix Biomedical Campus (PBC). [7] Bioscience tech transfer from Arizona universities increased by nearly 25 percent in 2014-2015, with a 72 percent increase in patents and a 54 percent increase in invention disclosures.[8] This success in moving research rapidly to the market has attracted venture capital to Phoenix bioscience startups specifically. Notably, Phoenix-based VisionGate – which, in partnership with the city, opened the world’s first biomedical Cell-CT Research Lab right here at PBC – has recently raised $20 million in investment to target early-stage lung cancer. The sector is also poised to benefit from a new $200 million endowment managed by the Healthcare Impact Foundation to support healthcare innovations in the state.[9] Healthcare alone represents nearly 220,000 metro jobs. What’s more, bioscience salaries have increased 50 percent since 2002.
  • Advanced Manufacturing: The industrial jobs of the future are in advanced manufacturing of technology and components like semiconductors, solar panels, medical devices, etc. Nearly 17,000 people are employed in semiconductor-related manufacturing alone in Greater Phoenix.[10] Our metro area experiences only 0.3 percent downtime in power, with an outage time of less than 30 minutes,[11] making it a desirable place for manufacturers. This sector and our high tech, bioscience, and renewable energy clusters benefit mutually from having local production capacity and a skilled labor and management pool is available through the Manufacturing and Engineering Technology programs and Maricopa Community Colleges, and ASU’s nationally ranked Supply Chain Management Department.
  • Financial and Business Services: Phoenix has a critical mass of established finance, insurance, and related business services firms like American Express, Discover Card, GoDaddy, Paypal and Wells Fargo, USAA, and many other firms of every size. This category also includes state-of-the-art data centers, which benefit from some of the nation’s largest fiber-optic networks running through Phoenix, which, combined with our low energy costs, allow us to host some of the largest and most efficient data centers in the world.[12]  
  • Efficient and Renewable Energy Tech: Phoenix is rapidly gaining the reputation of being the “least sustainable” city in the world.[13][14] This claim may not be deserved, but it will carry weight in whether companies want to invest here, whether families want to live here, and whether tourists want to visit. We must bury these claims in innovation. Phoenix, of all places, should be a hotbed of research and a proving ground for the most cutting-edge technologies that maximize our energy and water resources. We have a golden opportunity to show the world we are leaders against the impacts of climate change – while reaping cost-savings and quality of life benefits. 

    Last year solar companies added jobs 17 times faster than the rest of the economy.[15] Arizona now ranks 3rd in the nation in solar installations (up from 7th in 2016) and the industry continues to install thousands of new megawatts each quarter. Phoenix has a great opportunity to welcome new growth in this sector of global significance, which is expected to experience dramatic growth in coming decades. Phoenix already has a plan to cut carbon pollution by 30 percent by 2025 and 80 percent by 2080 and has taken the step of installing more energy efficient streetlights.[16] Our city can become a better customer, and a facilitator of the research and resources needed to make Phoenix an attractive home for the next generation of innovation in renewables and energy-efficient technologies.

    As Mayor, I will work with our partners in tech to make Phoenix the first host of an international hackathon. Cities like New York and San Francisco have famously hosted hackathons, where the bright and creative coding minds and subject matter experts collaborate intensively over a short duration of time to create usable new software – often to solve a particular problem, or identify promising new areas or strategies for innovation. I want to bring together the best minds in tech with those in solar, hydro-engineering, and energy storage to brainstorm and hack sustainable solutions that Phoenix can implement here. The usable applications and ripe ideas generated at such an event can set real progress in motion, and put Phoenix on the map as a sustainability oasis, instead of a desert. 

Making Phoenix a “Smarter” City

Cities have more data than ever before, and that is true for Phoenix, too. In the past, these data sets were mostly kept in silos and analyzed separately from other data sets. Today, technology is making it easier to analyze large quantities and diverse kinds of city data together, and in many combinations, to allow reliable, “smart” predictions to be made about when and where services are most needed; to solve current and future challenges; to make good decisions about resources; and to create opportunities for citizens and businesses. 

Smart technologies will drive over $20 trillion in economic benefits and add an additional 5 percent annual growth to “smart” cities’ economies in the coming decade, according to ABI Research.[17] Global revenue from smart city initiatives will reach $88.7 billion by 2025 (or more than double the $36.8 billion in 2016), according to Navigant Research.[18]  

The total market reached $342.4 billion in 2016 and is also projected to more than double to $774.8 billion the next five years,[19] with major players like Cisco, IBM, AT&T, Siemens,[20] Intel,[21] and Honeywell,[22] among others backing large-scale projects globally. San Francisco, New York, and Chicago have been early adopters of smart city tech and analytics in the U.S., but Phoenix is ready to become a Smarter City.

We must make Phoenix a “Smarter” city that leverages technology to: 1) attract capital investment and spur growth in data-driven businesses; and 2) maximize efficiency and effectiveness in city operations and services that improve quality of life, Phoenix has already taken a major first step by becoming an Open Data city – joining a growing number of other global cities from Boston to Dubai. Cities typically have more data available to them than they can effectively analyze and use in real-time decision making. Information about traffic patterns, air quality, crime rates, potholes, real estate sales, rents, and zoning, education, and healthcare exists, but without analytics, we can’t easily see patterns over time, or relationships between the data sets. That’s where the private sector comes in. 

Many cutting-edge startups seek to provide life and work-enhancing services and applications that use statistics and predictive models to help people – and governments – make the best possible decisions using the available data. This is why Open Data has been described as the “raw material for new digital services.”[23] It enables startups and tech leaders alike to use public city data (open data is aggregate only; private and individually identifiable information is never public) as a resource for limitless innovations that can serve the people of Phoenix, and eventually the rest of the world. Our Open Data policies make Phoenix a more attractive place to test and pilot the newest innovations in Open-data sourced applications.

My vision for a Smarter Phoenix is to advance data-driven innovations in safety, mobility, health, and taxpayer savings that benefit every citizen – while advancing the cutting-edge research and attracting high tech investment that brings greater prosperity and opportunity to our city.

Focus will be placed on: 

  • Leverage Data to Drive Investment

    Good data has been touted as being among the top ways to attract any kind of business investment to a city. [24] Global Smart Cities know this. At a minimum, we should make real-time vital economic statistics about Phoenix – such as top-line data on employment and labor market, income levels, sector breakdown of the economy, available real-estate stock, and more – easily accessible in one place for quick reference and “pocket guide” style download by businesses and investors. But this is just the beginning.

    A city that not only has real-time and relevant data about itself, but can interpret the data most relevant to business investors through sophisticated analytics to provide metrics about economic performance, workforce, real-estate stock, entrepreneurship, education, and even health of its citizens – is a far more attractive investment than one that does not. Open data is doubly valuable for businesses that are innovators in public data analytics, since they not only use city data to make business decisions, but also as the “raw material” to develop, test, and enhance their products. The next step is to bring community leaders, high tech, and analytics partners to the table to think boldly about the ways in which our data should be used to transform Phoenix for the better through Smarter City Initiatives, such as those discussed below. 
  • Launch Initiatives to Improve our City in Ways We Can Measure

    Smart city technologies include everything from traffic sensors to high tech thermostats to the Intel-designed stadium seats at Sun Devil Stadium that sense humidity, temperature, and vibration.[25] They are not necessarily very exciting by themselves, but what is exciting – revolutionary, in fact – are the ways in which cities on the edge of this trend are working with high tech partners to analyze multiple sources of data together to help cities better understand their problems and identify real solutions. What’s more, the same technologies and analytics can be used to reliably measure those improvements. This is the heart of effective and efficient city management – doing more of what works when and where it is needed while minimizing waste on what doesn’t work or isn’t needed. 

    The following are just a few potential examples of areas we can pursue tangible improvements in our Smarter City:
  • Healthcare: The City of Louisville, which has a high rate of asthma, in partnership with Propeller Health, distributed “smart” inhalers to asthmatic residents. These inhalers sent data to their doctors and the city health department about when and where they were most used in order to create “heat maps” of asthma attacks. With help from IBM analysts, health department officials used air quality, weather, and traffic data to identify high-risk areas and times and develop intervention strategies.[26]  

    In Amsterdam, the city used analytics to identify clusters of depression and target services – it has also measured the success of its public service ads about healthy eating habits by measuring changes in grocery store vegetable sales.[27] Singapore and Seoul have been recognized for their use of remote monitoring devices to improve healthcare services to the elderly.[28]
  • Traffic & Safety: In Portland, the Department of Transportation partnered with Strava a GPS-based fitness app, to map the most used running and biking routes, using analytics to determine the most important places to enhance trails, bike lanes, and pedestrian overpasses to maximize the safety and quality of life impact of their infrastructure investment.[29]

    San Francisco has launched initiatives like SFGo and SFPark (which uses sensors to identify empty parking space) that improve flow and reduce time to find a parking spot in high-traffic areas – a strategy also used by London and other populous global cities. SFPark has reduced vehicle miles traveled and emissions by 30 percent in neighborhoods where it is implemented.[30]
  • Crime Prevention: Local law enforcement amasses data on what crimes happen when and where. New York City was an early leader in using data to deploy security resources; today, the technology has caught up to the idea as predictive modeling techniques can predict better than ever where certain crimes are most likely to occur on a given day.

    Chicago’s smart policing strategies which include data-driven deployments and mobile crime analysis tools driven by real-time analytics for beat cops have corresponded with a 34 percent reduction in shootings over last year in the precincts where they are used. In Amsterdam, crime data is connected to social services, so that younger family members (i.e. siblings) of crime perpetrators are targeted for more social services and positive interventions to help stop family cycles of crime.

Making It Easier for Businesses to Grow

In the last decade, private and public investments in incubators, business accelerators, and shared workspaces for entrepreneurs have been paying off for Phoenix. For example, the Center for Entrepreneurship Innovation (CEI) is a full-service incubator space founded in 2006 in partnership between the City of Phoenix, Economic Development Administration, and the Maricopa Colleges, and with the expertise and support of the business community. Since it found its current home in Central Phoenix in 2013, CEI startup clients have created 451 jobs with average salaries of $56,000, generated $112 million in revenue, and raised $47 million in investment and grant awards.[31] CEI was founded to meet the need for affordable space and mentorship opportunities for our promising bioscience, renewable energy, technology, and software startups.[32] Its success, and that of many others like it, highlights a new need: adequate capital investment to keep those successful startups in Phoenix and to anchor their companies here as they mature into economic powerhouses. 

Why is venture capital (VC) so important? Only a fraction of a percent (0.19 percent) of all new U.S. businesses receive VC funding. Yet of the 1,330 public companies launched between 1979 and 2013, 574 (or 43 percent) were VC-backed according to a Stanford Business School Study – and those companies accounted for over half (57 percent) of market capitalization and a staggering 82 percent of total R&D.[33] The benefits of R&D tend to spill over across industries and boost the surrounding economy. 

Phoenix is becoming a true innovation destination. But one strategic area where Phoenix needs to focus is on attracting private capital investment. While startup activity is high, lack of capital is among the biggest reasons businesses fail[34] – and we are losing too many of our most promising entrepreneurs to cities where larger capital investments are more readily available; those requiring more than $1 to $2 million typically seek investment from elsewhere, in places like Silicon Valley.[35] Less than one half of one percent (0.3 percent) of venture capital in the U.S. was invested in Arizona in 2016; more than half (about 54 percent) went to California.[36] Just as we brought the right people together to develop support for our local startups in their infancy, now we need to convene business leaders, investors, and our local development partners to strategically expand our Phoenix VC and angel investment communities to a critical mass.

  • Increase the availability of capital to successful startups and growing business ventures in Phoenix. Right now, we have a fantastic opportunity to jumpstart investment activity in Phoenix by leveraging the Arizona Angel Investment Tax Credit that now allows qualifying investors in certain Arizona businesses to receive a tax credit of up to 35 percent of their investment over three years. Our East Valley neighbors are moving in the right direction quickly, launching the PHX East Valley Angel Investor Initiative last year, with a goal of reaching 250 new angel investors in three years.[37]The City of Phoenix should be providing leadership in this area, with the goal of building a diverse and vibrant network of venture capital and angel investors – in a way that complements and compounds other local and regional efforts. 
  • Launch a PhoeNEXT Initiative to connect our most promising entrepreneurs with VC and angel investors. This initiative should have links to the incubation work being done at CEI but focus on bringing together local and regional investors who are seasoned venture capitalists – as well as investors who are interested in learning more about venture and angel investing opportunities. Just as startup businesses receive support and mentorship to achieve their goals in incubators, so will investors who are new to this space. This initiative will facilitate introductions, meetings, and formal and informal information sharing, workshops, and conferences to serve as an effective “matchmaking service.” It will connect a diverse group of local investors with entrepreneurs who have already proven their ability to be successful, and are ready to scale up. This is a first step in accelerating the growth of our local VC community in the same way we have accelerated our entrepreneurial community.
  • Bring real estate investors to the table with venture capital firms and high-tech business leaders to learn about tech startups and promising investment new opportunities. The real estate sector dominates investments made in Phoenix, due to a multi-generational history, and active, longstanding investment community. Tech investments have lagged behind our startup activity-levels and performance due, in part, to the absence of an established investment ecosystem and networks like the kind that have evolved for real estate. They should be included as key players in our initiative.
  • Create a self-funding PhoeNEXT Fund revolving fund, in a public-private partnership with our economic development partners that will make matched investments to Phoenix-based startups in coordination with qualified local angel or venture capital groups. With seed capital from new angel investors, or those who wish to take a less active role, Phoenix could establish a self-funding revolving venture fund to match, or partially match, qualifying investments in Phoenix-based startups so they can put their roots down here. This signals that we stand behind our success stories and are supportive partners in their future. The community can share in the profits of our biggest “winners,” and re-invest those profits in the next generation of startups ready to scale, creating a virtuous cycle of locally-raised, growth-oriented businesses.
  • Continuously streamline the city’s business services, and ensure they meet the needs of startups and other growing businesses. Phoenix is known for being one of the most business-friendly cities in the U.S. Our regulatory framework is clear and minimal, we avoid the layers of bureaucracy and chronic permitting delays that plague some other large cities. But, there is still room for improvement in making sure that the city is service-oriented, not burdensome – especially to startups operating with few staff and little-to-no early revenue.
  • Make 100% of business permitting requirements and applications available online. We have made great progress in providing over-the-counter permitting, but we can still improve by automating more processes so that virtually all transactions with the city can be conducted online and on the client’s schedule, thereby improving their speed to market. 
  • Ensure that city departments servicing businesses have adequate staff and resources to provide reliable service on consistent, predictable timelines. The city should never be a bottleneck for business expansion.

Building World Class Infrastructure

One of the primary responsibilities of city government is to ensure that citizens and businesses have access to safe and reliable infrastructure – from light rail and airports to water pipes and roads. Infrastructure investments allows big companies to set up shop here, and new ones to grow here; they attract capital from investors who want to take part in our success and growth; they impact the quality of life in our city – helping to make Phoenix a world-class place to live, work, and play, where our best and brightest will choose to put down roots. 

Infrastructure is what connects the neighborhoods in our large city to one another other, and our city to the rest of the state, country, and the world beyond. Infrastructure investments, when undertaken with care, lay the groundwork for sustainable growth, quality of life, efficiency cost-savings, new business investment, and job creation.  Infrastructure investments are costly, however, which is why we must be strategic about our priorities, and responsible about how we finance them. 

Great things are happening in downtown Phoenix. Since 2006, ASU has continued to move schools to downtown Phoenix and to engage in public-private partnerships with the city to spark development in the area. The Phoenix Biomedical Center opened last year, and this year ASU will move the campus of its top-ranked global business school, Thunderbird School of Global Management, to a brand new, modern downtown campus.[38] In 2008, light rail connected the main ASU in Tempe to Midtown Phoenix, and light rail continues expansion.[39] Clusters of tech and engineering employment that have expanded, not only downtown, but around incubators, labs, and campuses, fueled by public and private sector collaboration.[40]  

It is critically important that Phoenix facilitate this growth – whether it involves re-purposing existing buildings through adaptive re-use, or new construction. Vibrant areas of growth rely on a city that has accessible and adequate infrastructure. We can do more to nurture corridors of innovation and employment in parts of the city that have been passed over by facilitating the infrastructure investments that make developments attractive to investors over the long-term. My infrastructure plan will place emphasis on the following:


Reclaim Overlooked Parts of the City – I will integrate them in Phoenix’s economic growth – while creating new world-class places to live, work, and play. The efforts will include:

  • Ensure that developable sites are properly zoned and ready for construction. Phoenix has too many buildings that are vacant because they are not adequately equipped or properly zoned for the kinds of developments that are needed. The city must not be the bottleneck for companies to get required zoning and permitting for utilities infrastructure, like broadband fiber, and adequate and reliable power and water capacity, into their new or repurposed developments. 
  • Leverage our Strategic Economic Development (EDV) Fund to help finance upfront infrastructure costs while enabling growth to directly pay for itself. I am proud of the leadership role I played in establishing the EDV a few years ago, which allows the city to make upfront investments in infrastructure to enable investors to develop shovel-ready sites. These investments are funded by the new sales tax revenue generated by each project, of which 50 percent is dedicated to the EDV Fund until the investment is paid back.[41] This is a powerful tool that allows us to strategically “seed” needed infrastructure capital projects in new employment corridors and unimproved areas that are highly desirable from a location perspective – but whose upfront infrastructure costs deter growth. 
  • Reclaim Our River – The Rio Salado Project. It’s been over a century since dams dried up most of the Salt River that runs through Phoenix.[42] Many visitors to Phoenix are surprised to learn that a river once ran through the city. When you Google Phoenix Riverfront, one of the first results is for a condominium development in Minneapolis (that happens to be named “Phoenix”). Another high-ranking result is the Phoenix-Hong Bridge in China. But there are serious people who believe that Salt River can one day be the pride of Phoenix, not just a gravel bed for freeways to cross. 

    The Rio Salado Project is a 50-year old idea, conceived by ASU students, to restore the Salt River. The development of Tempe Town Lake was one small piece of the original plan. Now, with the strong support of Senator John McCain, Rio Salado 2.0 is gaining attention and support – and technical expertise and leadership from ASU in hydrology, design, and planning, and sustainability. The vision is to restore 45 miles or more of the Salt River from the Granite Reef Dam in Mesa, through Tempe Town Lake, to the Tres Rios Wetlands in the West Valley, to meet the Gila and Agua Fria Rivers. The Rio Salado Project has the potential to transform the Phoenix landscape and way of life, bringing scenic beauty, new trails and recreation, economic development opportunities, and ecosystem restoration. It won’t be a simple project or a fast one, but it will be a transformative one for our city and our region. But with a committed coalition and strong leadership, it is well within our reach.

    I want to work closely with ASU, community leaders, business leaders, investors, and technical experts to help crystallize this vision, fine-tune a solid engineering plan, and develop a community strategy for making the riverfront a shared public amenity as well as an economic asset. For example, in the same way, that we have used the EDV to fund needed infrastructure costs that we know will yield direct revenues to the city, so should we explore the use of EDV to fund upfront costs that will leverage private investment in Phoenix. I will work with ASU and Rio Salado communities to advance this visionary goal for our city and region.


Make Transportation Investment a Priority – This will focus on roads, rail, and air. I supported the new light rail station in Central Phoenix, for which construction is underway and scheduled for completion next year.[43] This marks the first capital project undertaken under the Transportation 2050 Plan, which voters approved in 2015, expanding investment (from 0.4 percent to 0.7 percent) in bus service, light rail, and street improvements – such as resources to address pothole and street maintenance issues, existing deteriorated street name signs at major intersections are being replaced with new signs, and 135 miles of new sidewalks to be provided throughout Phoenix.[44]

Great things are happening around transit. For example, I led the effort to fast-track the 3.2 mile Northwest Light Rail extension along 19th Avenue. I worked closely with community leaders and business owners along the right-of-way to address the inevitable inconveniences, disruptions, and challenges that come from construction. The result – the extension was completed seven years ahead of schedule. But successes like this are not being achieved quickly and effectively enough. As Mayor, I will prioritize infrastructure investments that improve:


  • Commerce: Transit systems are still not world class. We are on the right track but must continue to engage the business community and be responsive to the evolving needs of our industries. For example, State Farm Insurance stated in 2015 they decided to open a $600 million Southwestern hub in Tempe in large part because of great access to light rail, buses, and shuttles.[45] We need to respond to the reality that seamless and efficient transit systems are a 21st Century business imperative.
  • Efficiency: “The way we’ve always done it,” is not necessarily the best way today. Phoenix can be more innovative in rethinking the best techniques, and making the best use of limited resources, in constructing and maintaining our city infrastructure. For example, it is not unusual for our street resurfacing projects to be backlogged due to budgetary constraints.[46] Road deterioration is not something we should tolerate in Phoenix, but our maintenance bill is high. It turns out that recycled plastic can not only be used to make roads last years longer, but it also costs less than traditional materials like asphalt – and helps relieve the increasingly hard to manage a surplus of plastic waste. 

Texas is one of the first places in the U.S. to use recycled plastic in retrofitting roads to extend their lifespan. (The U.K., Netherlands, and India are also pioneering the use of recycled plastics to pave stronger and longer-lasting roads, and to fill potholes, at a lower cost.[47][48] Following a two-year pilot project, Texas expanded the use of recycled plastic road pins to strengthen and stabilize roads, reducing cracks and buckling – after documenting improved effectiveness and significant cost-savings.[49] It takes 500 plastic bottles to make each 10-foot long road pin like the ones used in Texas. We should be exploring whether efficient new techniques and materials like these could be used to improve the quality of our streets while lowering costs and reducing waste.

Maximize Opportunities from Sky Harbor and Regional Air Service - A recent ASU study shows that the economic impact of Sky Harbor has increased 35 percent since 2011 to $38 billion annually, supporting over 269,000 jobs in the region with wages of over $13 billion.[50] A 2016 survey ranked Sky Harbor #1 for best airport overall among the nation’s 30 busiest airports – although it was not ranked best in any one area.[51] As the Aviation Sub-committee Chairperson, I am proud of that ranking, but there is more we can do to make Sky Harbor a standout airport that people actually enjoy visiting. 

A growing attrition of businesses – and capital – from high-rent, high-tax, high-regulation, densely populated cities like Los Angeles and San Francisco are creating natural competition among California’s neighboring states like Nevada, Arizona, and Texas for that economic growth. An important part of being competitive is ease of mobility. There are $2 billion in upgrades happening at Sky Harbor, and over 80 projects continuously underway to expand and improve airport capacity. An easily navigated airport makes Phoenix an easier place for more of the world to do business. 


  • Make Phoenix Sky Harbor the Most User-Friendly Airport in the U.S. The experience of our airport – from the speed of security lines, quality of food and amenities, and ease and efficiency of transportation to local and regional locations – has real impact when it comes to reducing barriers to doing business here, instead of “there.” We have already made great progress in bringing top-tier amenities to Terminal 4 and soon Terminal 3, including local businesses that share a taste of Phoenix with travelers and increase the airport’s benefits to our local economy. I will work to support and prioritize those that make travel to and through Sky Harbor smoother and more pleasant for every traveler in every terminal – and between terminals. Too many travelers to Sky Harbor risk missing flights, or are inconvenienced because of complications transferring between terminals, and multiple security checkpoints. I will seek best practices among global airports for making transit between terminals a secured area. As a result, once passengers have passed through security for their trip, they will not need to do so again to make a connecting flight from another terminal.
  • Fly direct to China and Other International Locations. Phoenix has nonstop international flight service to Mexico, and Canada, our two largest trading partners – as well as to London, and now, to Frankfurt – two major gateways to Europe. But we have no direct flights to Asia, home to the fastest growing markets in the world. China is Phoenix’s third largest export market at over $1 billion in exports in 2016, and perhaps our largest trading opportunity for growth.[52] Thailand and Malaysia are also significant trading partners for Phoenix, and we need greater accessibility to Asian markets to maximize our export growth.
  • Phoenix-Mesa Gateway Airport has proven to be a positive partnership as the City of Phoenix and East Valley communities have put aside historical petty differences and come together to establish both passenger and cargo service in one of the most successful conversions of a decommissioned military base in the nation. This has proven to be particularly important with the recent launch of SkyBridge Arizona, the nation’s first international air cargo hub to house both Mexican and United States customs, enabling E-commerce companies, manufacturers and other commercial interests to more efficiently conduct business in Mexico and throughout Latin America. With the prospects of SkyBridge creating 17,000 direct and indirect jobs, I will remain fully committed to the Phoenix-Mesa Gateway partnership with an awareness that regardless of the airport, improvements to air service and expansion of cargo service benefits Phoenix and the entire region. 

Making Our Mark on the World Map

We need greater economic diversity to ensure that our continued growth does not mimic the mistakes of the past. Pre-recession growth relied on our own consumption and was driven by debt, leaving us vulnerable to economic fluctuations – particularly in the real estate market. Our real estate market will continue to be strong and grow stronger as we develop our advanced industries – and look outward. We don’t need to live the boom and bust cycle. 

Our new economy will be fueled by innovation, industrial diversification, exports and a global focus. We need to produce and export more tradable goods to other states and countries so that new capital flows into our city and region as we take our place not just as a major metro, but as a global city. Our busy Sky Harbor Airport has given Phoenix the reputation as a gateway to Los Angeles, as well as to our biggest international trading partners, Mexico and Canada. But we have all the assets to become an international destination – for business or for pleasure – ourselves.

  • Promote exports and expand our trading partners for long-term stability and prosperity in a global economy. Phoenix should help its businesses increase the goods that we export abroad –grow the number of large and small businesses in every industry that does business internationally. Exporting more goods brings benefits to the city’s whole economy. Firms that export goods pay on average 11 percent higher wages than similar non-exporting firms, and offer higher health and retirement benefits.[53] For every $1 billion increase in exports, 5,600 new jobs are supported. Also, small and medium enterprises (SME’s) account for 88 percent of Phoenix exports.[54]

    The Greater Phoenix Export Plan[55] was released in 2015 by The Greater Phoenix Economic Council, forming the Metro Phoenix Export Alliance with the following strategies:
    • Develop a regional model of export collaboration and coordination.
    • Coordinate and streamline the delivery of export education and assistance programs.
    • Foster and advance service sector and manufacturing exports.
    • Strategically promote Greater Phoenix assets, export capabilities and international business opportunities to local and international stakeholders.
    • Support the advancement of export-enabling infrastructure and efforts to improve connectivity with other international commerce hubs.

Phoenix has taken major steps to strengthen its economic relationship with Mexico, our largest trading partner, with the opening of a trade office in Mexico City in 2015 and in Hermosillo in 2017 – and the signing of memoranda of understanding with Hermosillo and the City of Culiacán. They have been successful and we should replicate those successes.

  •  Open new trade offices in Canada and Germany. Canada is Phoenix’s second largest trading partner, though we export far less to the North than we do to Mexico. With our direct flights to Canada, there is great opportunity to establish a Canadian trade office presence and build on our current relationships to do more business there. Similarly, we should leverage our new nonstop flight access to continental Europe by opening a trade office in Frankfurt.
  • Strengthen trade connections with Israel. Facing unique challenges in one of the most unstable regions of the world, Israel has been called by some economists as “the start-up nation.” In participating in trade missions to Israel and witnessing first hand its advances, particularly in the tech sector, I believe that Israel can become Arizona’s next major trading partner as it too has embraced the spirt of entrepreneurship and innovation that I know must also drive our economic development strategy. 
  • Connect ready-to-export companies in Phoenix with international business expertise and export assistance. For example, as part of the Los Angeles Regional Export Council (LARExC), the USC Marshall School of Business and the UCLA Anderson School of Management have created the Export Champions program. This initiative connects MBA student teams with ready-to-export companies in the region during the semester. The students, who typically come to the table with relevant professional experience and foreign language skills, work on a $10,000 marketing strategy for the firm, helping select target markets and even traveling to evaluate potential distributors and clients. 

    Another innovator in this strategy was Syracuse University which has been home to a student-driven export promotion program at its Center for International Business since 1998. In Columbus, Ohio State’s Ohio Export Internship Program at Fisher College of Business trains students in export and trade-related topics and then places them with local companies to work on export strategies. The University of Kentucky and the University of California, San Diego’s School of International Relations and Pacific Studies have similar engagement with local businesses and economic development efforts on exports.

    The benefits of all these collaborations have gone beyond exports: the programs connect local industry with a globally-fluent business workforce as they are graduating, and build high-value connections between universities, local business, and economic development agencies.[56]

Enhancing Our Workforce and Connecting Employers to Talent

The availability of skilled labor is the number one site selection factor for business across industries, according to the 30th annual survey of corporate executives by Area Development.[57] We have a world-class workforce in Phoenix. But we need more of our workforce to get the world-class education and in-demand technical skills. This is what will attract the fastest growing industries in the world to our fast-growing U.S. city – and keep them there. As of August last year, half of employers in the state reported having trouble filling vacant positions with qualified candidates, according to GPEC.[58] This points to a major labor market failure that is holding back businesses – and holding back our workers. Every unfilled job represents lost productivity for business and lost income for workers. 

During the past 40 years, the state of Arizona has fallen further behind the nation in per capita income, and like the rest of the state, Phoenix lags in wage growth. In spite of our dramatic economic growth, higher percentages of Phoenix residents are low-income, and below the poverty line, than in Arizona or the U.S. as a whole. 

Improving economic opportunity for Phoenix citizens should be the number one goal of every economic development initiative undertaken by the city. 

  • Build a PHX Pipeline for businesses to the Phoenix talent they need – in every field. Phoenix has an opportunity to supercharge economic growth in high-skill, high-wage sectors by helping to bridge the gap between the workforce and employer needs. Innovative workforce recruitment and training systems have been pioneered and are used by global companies such as Cisco to match the best potential recruits to their priority openings. They are also used to identify candidates that are closely-matched for targeted training to advance to the next level in their career or to transfer their skills to a faster-growing industry. More like Match than Monster, this technology has been proven by Futures Inc. to dramatically increase hiring of returning veterans into high-skilled, high-paying jobs by helping to concretely demonstrate how skills they learned in the military are valued assets in the business world. This strategy works not only for the veteran labor force but for workers in every field. By focusing on specific knowledge, skills, and abilities instead of primarily on degrees and certifications – and using proven technology to translate those skills into industry-specific terms that are meaningful to employers. Hiring managers can sort, filter, and recruit potential workers in any field who are job-ready, or who are close matches who can be job-ready with minimal, focused training. Employers have indicated they are willing to sponsor training for needed workers – but only for workers who are well-matched to the job.

    PHX Pipeline will also serve as a conduit to maximize the available experience, talent, and enthusiasm of our returning veterans. The East Valley Veterans Education Center provides Phoenix veterans with assistance in applying for VA benefits, attending employment and workforce development workshops, and receiving community resource referrals. The Maricopa County College system similarly provides an array of meeting the needs of veterans as they seek to build upon their skills developed in the military and prepare for the opportunities in civilian life. Strengthening the existing partnerships between the City of Phoenix with these and other organizations such as U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, Supportive Services for Veterans Families Program, and Arizona Coalition for Military Families will be critical to both meet the needs of our deserving veterans, while also further bolstering our regional workforce business demands. 

    Clearly, a critical mass of employers and job seekers is essential for these systems to produce results. Employers won’t use them if a large pool of quality candidates isn’t there; similarly, no system is helpful to job seekers unless the employers are engaged. This is where leadership is needed to bring industry to the table, to engage them in a focused discussion about current and project workforce needs and recruitment challenges, and to coordinate the launch of a PHX Pipeline that will make Phoenix the easiest place in the country for firms to find talent – and the best place in the country to advance a career.

    In summary, I am committed through PHX Pipeline to making our city the most advanced short-term upskilled market in the nation. 
  • Make higher education and advanced skills training an economic growth center through innovative partnerships with our local universities and communities colleges like ASU, U of A, NAU, GCU, and Maricopa Community Colleges. One factor in our city’s wage lag is the trend in four-year college attainment. Statistically, 60 percent of the variation in per capita incomes among metropolitan areas can be accounted for by the percentage of the population with a four-year degree and trends still show this relationship growing stronger.[59] Like the rest of the state, Phoenix’s workforce includes a relatively low percentage of college graduates (27 percent in the Phoenix-Mesa Metro). This is limiting job growth in the higher paying sectors of the economy – which in turn depresses wages across the board. We know that more high-paying jobs in a city tend to raise the pay of all workers – even those without degrees or certifications.

    Despite our recent surge in tech growth, we remain in the bottom half of the top 100 U.S. metros for the percentage of jobs in high-paying science, technology, engineering and math (STEM fields) (54th), and for the percentage of STEM-field jobs available that do not require a 4-year degree (71st). [60] We can do better, with emphasis on specific tasks: 
    • Give students another great reason to attend college in Phoenix, and stay to pursue their career here through a “Stay Work Play PHX” initiative. In New Hampshire, for example, participating employers agree to help pay down the federal college loans of newly hired graduates of local universities.[61] In return, the government provides promotional acknowledgment of employer sponsors. For example, the Stay-Work-Play Challenge[62] showcases New Hampshire employers who contribute at least $8,000 to pay down federal college loans of newly hired New Hampshire college graduates over the first four years of their employment. Stay-Work- Play NH, Inc. was established as a nonprofit organization to advance the recruitment and retention of a younger workforce, and serve as an independent organization targeting young college graduates. Its Board of Directors includes USNH, the NH College and University Council, the Business and Industry Association of NH, the NH High Technology Council, and the NH Department of Resources and Economic Development.

      While four-year degrees are essential to growing our high-wage knowledge economy, they are not the whole story. It would be a huge mistake to treat a traditional college education as the only important piece of workforce development needed to support economic growth or to raise the incomes of working people in Phoenix. In fact, over-emphasis on the four-year degree as the only path to a well-paying job has been destructive. Many youths are encouraged to take on excessive student debt for a degree they are unsure will lead to a job, while others with great technical aptitude are discouraged from pursuing promising and lucrative careers in high skilled jobs – from welding to radiation technology – that do not necessarily require a degree. 


  • Bring our universities and community colleges to the table with employers to launch short-term certification and training programs for the most in-demand job positions. Training requirements for many high-paying job vacancies can be filled in six-months or less, especially if training programs are tailored to specific job needs. Many Phoenix companies share workforce needs and would benefit from tailored workforce training programs offered through local universities and community colleges. The city is well positioned to help connect those dots to launch customized short-term training for top in-demand jobs that employers cannot easily fill.
  • Replicate extracurricular STEM Programs that up-skill youth from all socioeconomic backgrounds – like CodePHX, Summer of Tech, and the Helios Scholars Program.
  • Support proven career-path interventions for high school youth who are not college-bound to recruit them for employer-sponsored training programs leading directly to employment upon completion. 
  • Convene the business and higher-education community to facilitate dual-credit and on-the-job learning to give high school students a head start on college, a career, or both. P-TECH (Pathways in Technology Early College High School) for example, an IBM-inspired career-focused six-year education model allows high school students to earn both their high school and two-year college tech degrees in four-to-six years.[63]
  • Convene a Phoenix Alliance for a Competitive Workforce. Memphis has demonstrated what can happen when city leadership brings together regional business, education, workforce, and philanthropic leaders in shaping an approach to career skills development starting in K-12 and continuing through the postsecondary education system – with a special emphasis on technical and community colleges. The Greater Memphis Alliance has a mission to establish a coherent, aligned approach to skills development and had received unprecedented support, using private funding totaling $2.5 million to leverage more than $10 million in state and federal grants.[64]


Phoenix enjoys tremendous opportunities – but we also face tremendous challenges in the years ahead. 

I have made economic development and job creation a principal focus of my tenure in City Hall – and, in particular, have focused on the industries that represent Phoenix’s future. I’ve championed improvements to our infrastructure and transportation and worked with our business community to build our economy. But, most of all, I’ve focused on investing in our people – through innovative computer coding programs for our youth, opportunities and resources for our entrepreneurs, and working with our colleges and universities to foster the organic creation of local entrepreneurial talent and enterprises.

I’m running for Mayor now because I want to continue the work of building our future: to make the Next Phoenix the best yet.


6. Ringle, Hailey, “Tempe has highest tech rent growth, Phoenix ranks in top third in U.S. for rising office rents,” CBRE, November 17, 2017.
55. )