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Activities of the MAG Economic Development Committee, March 7, 2017 Meeting

Message from the Chair
Scottsdale Mayor W.J. “Jim” Lane

The positive perception of our region as a destination for employment and economic opportunity is improving. However, more work can be done on a regional level to further address misconceptions that linger—especially with potential workforce talent from key peer markets across the country. At the March 2017 EDC meeting, we discussed innovative practices to attract talent to the region. The Director of Economic Development at the City of Scottsdale, Danielle Casey, presented on the City’s new initiative to attract a skilled and educated workforce. Talent is an essential factor for businesses to grow. The City of Scottsdale’s program is focused on attracting talent through efforts such as the creation of a relocation guide, a dedicated web portal, and a network of human resources managers through corporate partners. All of these initiatives are excellent avenues to market the city opportunities. Branding plays a key role in attracting talent and addressing the misconceptions people have about the region.

The Greater Phoenix Region is a vibrant place that remains unknown to many people outside of this region. We are still perceived as a retirement community when in reality our region’s median age is 36.3, below the median age for the nation, which is 37.8. This perception could be changed by joining forces in marketing the great opportunities the region has to offer, especially to younger generations. It is impressive listening to how the City of Scottsdale is utilizing targeted social media and recruiting tools to connect with the younger population and showcase the region.

Also during our March EDC meeting we heard a presentation on a new behavior-based freight model developed by MAG. Investing in our analytical tools is critical to help key stakeholders in the region make better decisions. This nationally recognized tool will help the business community have a better understanding on the freight flows in our region and to make informed business decisions.

Finally, it was encouraging to hear how the Arizona Department of Transportation (ADOT) worked collaboratively with the Mexican government to implement a first of its kind unified truck inspection program on the border. The program is cutting average border wait times significantly. It is gratifying to hear that other states, such as Texas, are interested in learning about this great cross-border best practice.

I have no doubt that the EDC continues to play a strategic role in sharing best practices that could be integrated regionwide. The EDC is a unique group that brings together key regional players to get a better understanding on the dynamics of the changing global economy.

EDC Meeting Summary

Advancing Strategy and Targeting Talent

As noted in the chair’s message above, talent is an essential component for businesses to succeed and grow. The City of Scottsdale implemented a strategy to support existing businesses focused on talent attraction. City of Scottsdale Economic Development Director Danielle Casey presented information on this effort. The initiative includes the creation of a relocation guide, a dedicated web portal, and a network of human resources managers through corporate partners. The economic development team also attracts talent by participating in trade shows, exhibitions, and utilizing the latest social media and tech tools for collecting applicants’ information, especially to connect with the younger population. This concept could be integrated regionwide to improve the region’s branding, which is key to increasing the talent in our metro area.

Port of Entry Inspections Process Improvements

Mexico is the largest bilateral trading partner with Arizona, accounting for an estimated bilateral trade of $15.8 billion in 2016. The ports of entry between Arizona and Mexico are an essential element of Arizona’s economy. ADOT Director of P3 Initiatives and International Affairs Gail Lewis provided an overview on the joint initiatives of the state of Arizona and the Mexican government to address issues at the ports of entry. The initiatives include a study to improve truck safety inspections, the establishment of a Border Liaison Unit with ADOT, and a joint inspection protocol between the U.S. Customs and Border Protection and Mexico’s customs officials. The pilot program for joint U.S./Mexican inspections of certified companies has cut average wait times significantly, from an average between 3.5 and 8 hours to approximately 30 minutes. This success has triggered other border states’ interest, such as Texas, in learning how Arizona developed this cross-border initiative.

Freight Model Report

MAG, ADOT, and the Pima Association of Governments submitted a successful joint grant application proposal to the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) Strategic Highway Research Program (SHRP2) C20 Implementation Assistance Program for the development of a megaregional behavior-based freight model. The purpose of the grant was to develop an advanced freight model for the Sun Corridor megaregion that could be applied in regional planning processes and individual projects. MAG has successfully completed the model development. The model was nationally acclaimed by the Transportation Research Board as the “Best Data Fusion Application”. MAG staff provided an overview of the model. The model has a number of break-through innovative features that allow users to forecast future multimodal freight travel demand for the megaregion. The model will be utilized together with other transportation forecasting tools to test the impact of various economic and infrastructure scenarios in our region. Examples of different economic and infrastructure scenarios include changes in commodity flows, infrastructure (railroads, ports, freeways), employment, and industry composition in the region. This tool will support advanced planning and economic development efforts.

Sun Cloud: A Megaregion Data Portal in the Sun Corridor of Arizona

The Arizona Department of Transportation and the regional planning agencies in the Sun Corridor propose to undertake a new planning project that will result in the development of Sun Cloud, a data portal serving the transportation planning needs of the five counties within the Sun Corridor in Arizona. MAG staff presented an overview on this initiative. The data portal will increase and improve the accessibility, usability and quality of data and analytical tools that are vital to transportation planning. This will result in greater sharing and coordination of data, a better understanding of the big picture transportation needs in the Sun Corridor, greater alignment of policies, and more strategic investments in transportation projects. The successful implementation of Sun Cloud will benefit economic development opportunities as well by providing the data that result in moving people and goods more efficiently throughout the Sun Corridor, the economic engine for the state of Arizona.

Update from the Arizona Commerce Authority

Arizona Commerce Authority (ACA) staff noted that in the current fiscal year, 69 relocation projects have been closed and 179 projects have been added to the pipeline. ACA also has been working on several initiatives related to border issues, such as border banking. The seventh ExporTech program was recently completed and the next regional ExporTech program, in partnership with MAG, will begin on April 14, 2017. ACA will be participating in the upcoming 2017 Annual Conference of the Site Selectors guild in Tucson on March 13-15.

Update from the Greater Phoenix Economic Council

Greater Phoenix Economic Council (GPEC) staff commented that GPEC has worked with 24 expansion projects. On February 15th, GPEC presented its Global Investment Plan. GPEC is also focused on a new campaign called The Connected Place that showcases the “internet of things” sector in the Greater Phoenix region.

Next Meeting

The next meeting of the EDC will be on Tuesday, April 4, 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 regarding this e-mail, or to be removed from the distribution list, contact Denise McClafferty or Natalia Cuneo at (602) 254-6300, or via e-mail at or

Mar 21, 2017
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