By Eric Jay Toll
With a 287% increase in Downtown Phoenix technology companies, there’s a name for it: The Phoenix Core. With the skyrocketing demand for tech workers across the Valley, there’s a phrase for it: Phoenix is Tech.
The jump in tech companies started as the local recession was ending in 2012. At that time, just 67 tech companies called Downtown Phoenix “home.” By the middle of 2019, the number jumped to over 350. Companies range in size from the 1,300-employee Quicken Loans to startups with just a couple of founders in coworking spaces, like Galvanize in the Warehouse District. Dozens of companies are based in Galvanize alone.
The growing batch of Downtown tech companies, financial technology firms, and medical technology ventures are creating demand for coworking space. WeWork has taken half of the new Block 23 building, Jefferson and First streets, and four floors in 101 North, 101 N. First Ave. The Department has expanded at Second and Washington streets, and Novel coworking has taken the entire Heard building at 112 N. Central Ave.
Early in August, CNBC said that Phoenix has the second-best talent pool in the U.S. because of its large number of engineering and computer science graduates. Across the Valley, high schools, Maricopa Community Colleges, and Arizona State University are offering more opportunities to learn coding and needed technology skills.
Over the past four years, Phoenix alone has seen several major national companies add to their technology departments in the city because of the quality workforce. USAA made the largest investment, filling 1,100 technology jobs. Charles Schwab added more than 600 tech positions.
Apple, American Express, GoDaddy, Northern Trust and Cancer Treatment Centers of America are among other companies with major tech hubs in greater Phoenix. That doesn’t even touch on the broad range of datacenters located throughout the region.
“In today’s environment, nearly all companies are tech companies from one aspect or another,” said Jim Rounds, president, Rounds Consulting Group. “Technology touches every company, and there needs to be a well-educated workforce to use it.”
Across the metro area, more technology gains are looming with the Microsoft data centers in the West Valley, expanding data centers in Phoenix, such as Iron Mountain data center, opening this month near Sky Harbor, and tech manufacturing growth in Phoenix, Mesa, Chandler, and Gilbert.
The universities and community colleges in the greater Phoenix area are offering a curriculum designed to meet workforce training needs of the growing technology workforce. This is part of the reason CNBC ranks Arizona second in the nation for best available tech talent.
Greater Phoenix is not able to rest on its laurels.
“Our peer communities are becoming more aggressive in attracting and retaining tech talent,” said Rounds. “Arizona needs to commit to growing its educational opportunities to keep growing tech talent. The better quality the jobs we attract to Phoenix, the more it raises incomes in the Valley, improving individuals’ quality of life.”
City of Phoenix is readying its South Mountain Technology Corridor. Hundreds of “greenfield” undeveloped acres are coming onto the market with the new Loop 202 South Mountain Freeway. Even before the freeway opens in 2020, Phoenix expects to have announcements of technology and office campuses being proposed in the corridor. The freeway will easily connect the East and West Valley workforces.
Phoenix is continuing to see interest from global companies to take advantage of the key attractions offered in the Valley: quality workforce, stable business climate, and quality of life.
Phoenix is hot. Phoenix is tech.