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Putting the West Valley into Major Growth Mode

Credit: Pete Pallagi/AZ Big Media

By Erin Thornburn for AZ Big Media 

Remember the lyrics from Janet Jackson’s “Love Would Never Do (Without You)?” 

“They said it wouldn’t last. We had to prove them wrong … There’s no easy explanation for it. But whenever there’s a problem, we always work it out somehow.” 

If the West Valley could sing, she would likely select this tune (and maybe sing the praises of regional economic developers, too). 

After all, not everyone may have anticipated the kind of growth the West Valley has experienced — currently with upward of 1.6 million residents, a population that is projected to rise to 2,094,824 by 2030. 

And, unlike the lyric about “no easy explanation for it,” there is. 

WESTMARChas teamed up with city economic development leaders, organizations, educators, local businesses and community advocates to collectively commit to aggressively and comprehensively branding the West Valley’s strengths. Even during times of economic stress and strife, they still manage to work it out. 

Preparing for the Sprint and Marathon 

“Dealing with the economy is a team effort, not an individual sport,” says Vic Narusis, senior VP of business attraction at theArizona Commerce Authority. “Not only is our current pipeline growing, but we’re also continuing to bring new businesses into the West Valley.” 

The new businesses Narusis speaks of join the existing and expanding West Valley industries of healthcare, aerospace, financial services, advanced manufacturing, information technology, startups, and more. 

Adding to the exponential growth and diversity of industries in the West Valley has been the arrival of unique entertainment and recreational opportunities, paired with luxury housing and highly rated K-12 and post-secondary education options. 

We are not locked into showcasing one particular sector. We need great jobs and if a company is innovative and scalable, keeping that openness about us makes us a great host,” says Jeanine Jerkovic, economic development director for the City of Surprise. 

Jerkovic has witnessed this first-hand in Surprise’s AZ TechCelerator, a 66KSF business incubator she helped create for innovative startups and entrepreneurs. 

Globetrotting  

While many of TechCelerator’s occupants are local, there are plenty of opportunities to not only attract scalable out-of-state businesses, but also global interest as well. 

“After helping one of our international companies, we applied for and became the only certified soft-landing program in Arizona,” Jerkovich says. “We are one of just31 organizations worldwide.” 

The soft landing program helps international firms, as well as domestic companies headquartered outside the region, quickly adapt and connect with the local business community. 

AZ TechCelerator is not alone in attracting new and innovative businesses from surprising places. Strategically located at 27th Avenue and Camelback Road, near Interstate-17, Canyon Ventures, a collaborative partnership of angel investors Canyon Angels and Grand Canyon University, is another burgeoning West Valley startup hub. 

“We have and continue to invest in a workforce strategy that focuses on professional and tech-based companies,” says Sintra Hoffman, president and CEO of WESTMARC. 

And, as evidenced by Canyon Venture’s first virtual startup, more and more companies and employees — those in California as a prime example — are seeking a home where like-minded tech hubs are planted. But, that’s not the only reason they’re coming to the West Valley. 

“Two-thirds of remote workers are willing to leave the Bay Area for a more affordable place to live,” says Frederick Van Den AbbeelVP of attraction at the Arizona Commerce Authority. “The West Valley is a lifestyle play for future business owners and entrepreneurs.” 

Read more at AZ Big Media. 

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