September 5, 2017
It was an unexpected pleasure to chair the September Economic Development Committee meeting. As a West Valley representative, it was rewarding to hear the tremendous impact that the Grand Canyon University (GCU) is having in this area. GCU President Brian Mueller shared an inspirational message of how a university can be an instrument of change not only by developing the future workforce, but also revitalizing the economy in the community. GCU's high school tutoring program and community partnerships are truly setting a great example for Arizona.
We also heard from Glenn Williamson, CEO & Founder of the Canada Arizona Business Council (CABC), who reminded us how important big data is for making economic development decisions. It was encouraging to hear that data has played a key role in the recent decision to add direct flights from this region to Canada. We also were reminded about the significance of developing and maintaining personal relationships with Canadian companies. Local economic development teams in the region are essential resources to Canadian companies that are interested in investing in our state.
Finally, the meeting ended with comments from Mesa Vice-Mayor David Luna, Carefree Councilmember Michael Farrar and Avondale Councilmember Lorenzo Sierra, who reviewed the recent Ari-Son Megaregion activities. It was gratifying to hear that the EDC continues to work with Mexico to advance bilateral relationships and foster economic development initiatives. I also appreciate the great partnership that the League of Arizona Cities of Towns represents for the Ari-Son Megaregion. The League was instrumental to the success of the Ari-Son Megaregion events.
Grand Canyon University (GCU) serves as Arizona's private Christian university in West Phoenix and contributes greatly to the education system in the state. GCU President Brian Mueller provided an overview on the university's activities and impact in the region. GCU is in the process of executing a five-part plan that consists of building a workforce, growing jobs, supporting schools, enriching lives, and securing neighborhoods. Over a period of ten years, approximately one billion dollars has been invested in the 300-acre campus, which has 19,000 students and 65,000 online students. GCU was able to grow by utilizing a new financial model that leveraged public market capital. Thanks to its successful financial model, GCU is able to offer an average annual tuition of $8,600 after scholarships. Along with providing academic excellence and a vibrant campus life, GCU partners with the community to implement initiatives that open educational opportunities, create jobs, restore housing and reduce crime. GCU also has a tutoring program for high schools in the area, utilizing the services of GCU students.
The Canadian footprint continues to expand in the Greater Phoenix area. Many Canadians enjoy spending the winter at a second home in the much warmer Arizona desert. According to the Canada Arizona Business Council, Canada-Arizona bilateral trade accounted for $3.4 billion in 2016. Glenn Williamson, CEO & Founder of CABC, provided an update on the economic importance of Canada to Arizona. Thanks to data on the Canadian presence in Arizona, new direct flights from this region to Canada have been added. West Jet recently added flights from Phoenix-Mesa Gateway Airport to Calgary and Edmonton, and on February 22, 2018, Air Canada will have its inaugural flight from Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport to Montréal's Pierre Elliott Trudeau International Airport. Air connectivity is critical to strengthening business and tourism ties between Canada and Arizona. Arizona also offers a great opportunity for Canadian companies located in California that are looking for a friendlier business environment. In the upcoming months, the EDC will undertake efforts to further relationships with Canada, with a focus on Montréal.
Greater Phoenix Economic Council (GPEC) staff commented that on September 28, 2017, GPEC will have a symposium with information on key economic development indicators. GPEC also will be hosting its annual event on October 5, 2017, from 5:30-8:30 PM at The Croft Downtown.
Mesa Vice-Mayor David Luna, Carefree Councilmember Michael Farrar, and Avondale Councilmember Lorenzo Sierra commented on the recent Ari-Son Megaregion activities that took place in the Town of Oro Valley and Tucson. On Wednesday, August 23-24, 2017, a series of events for local elected officials from Arizona and Sonora were organized with the goal of strengthening bilateral relationships and promoting economic development initiatives in the Ari-Son Megaregion. The events included a welcome reception, a tour of Downtown Tucson with a focus on economic development, and a meeting of the Ari-Son Megaregion Council. For event photos and more information on the 2017 Ari-Son activities please click here.
The next meeting of the EDC will be on Tuesday, October 3, 2017, at 11:30 a.m. at the MAG Office, 302 N. First Avenue, Phoenix, second floor, Saguaro Room.
The EDC E-Update is a monthly electronic newsletter providing information about the activities of the MAG Economic Development Committee. For questions, contact Denise McClafferty or Natalia Cuneo at (602) 254-6300.