As the chair of the Greater Phoenix Chamber’s Valley Young Professionals over the past year, I’ve had the unique opportunity to help influence positive changes in the community and work with the next generation of Phoenix business leaders. My time on the Valley Young Professionals (VYP) board of directors has allowed me to become better informed about important local issues, grow as a business leader and advance the Chamber’s mission of growing the economy through its economic development initiative, Phoenix Forward.
Phoenix Forward is a strategic economic development initiative that fosters a pro-business environment focused on the creation of quality jobs, business retention and expansion efforts and increased capital investment in the region. With a focus on four industry sectors—advanced business & financial services, transportation & logistics, health care and bioscience—there are a multitude of ways to be involved.
From a VYP perspective, I’ve had a vested interest in economic development since 2008. Unfortunately, it was a direct result of the recession which provided several challenges and an economic disadvantage to young professionals like myself just entering the workforce at that time. Since then, I’ve learned how economic development can significantly help to turn challenges into opportunities and help bring young professionals back into the marketplace with better wages and better jobs.
Seeing economic development in action through the Chamber’s collaborative initiative with the City of Phoenix, Maricopa County and the Arizona Commerce Authority has provided me with a better understanding of what Phoenix Forward focus areas and makes me hopeful for the future of the Valley’s continuing growth and prosperity. It’s a team effort that creates new jobs, not the result of any ONE person or agency.
Business attraction is a key part of economic development and it’s always exciting to learn of out-of-state businesses relocating to Arizona. What makes Phoenix Forward different is that this initiative focuses on business retention and expansion (BRE) efforts, which is what KEEPS businesses here. It’s equally important in the economic development equation and it builds a strong foundation for further growth.
It’s impressive to see the progress of Phoenix Forward over the past year and what the leadership councils and task forces have accomplished. It’s also satisfying to learn of all of the take-aways, best practices and lessons learned that have culminated from all of the BRE visits. What’s intriguing about Phoenix Forward is the array of topics and issues that are driving meaningful discussions and results, including workforce development, cybersecurity, risk management and compliance, as well as a number of initiatives focused on the health care industry. And by directly addressing issues and gaps that are affecting business, the Valley will have a stronger competitive advantage in those sectors.
Phoenix Forward is the business community coming together, in a data-driven nature, and acting as a catalyst for figuring out work-around solutions and making positive changes. This collaborative partnership is helping businesses thrive, grow and expand. Economic development significantly influences our community’s competitiveness and positively impacts local, regional and state economies.
At its core, economic development is where economic growth and the general and social welfare or well-being of a community intersect and meet. Being involved in economic development provides young professionals with a unique opportunity to not only accelerate our own career, but really to set the stage for the next generation so there’s opportunities waiting for them. It’s a way for us to invest in ourselves, our families and in our community.
I encourage other young professionals to participate in the professional, civic and social aspects of their city. As the next generation of business leaders, young professionals would benefit significantly from having an interest and getting involved in economic development. You’ll advance your career, develop leadership capabilities and give back to the community. What’s in it for you, you might wonder. Oh, Just your future.