As businesses take down those Christmas lights, they should reflect on at least five “gifts” businesses in Phoenix received in 2012. Contrary to the elections’ anti-government rants, many of these were provided by government.
- Municipal solvency—After several difficult years, Phoenix maintained a balanced budget. A solvent municipality provides jobs (and thus more consumers with money to spend), contracts, expanded transportation for business employees, and improved services to businesses. Among the top strategies, noted by City Manager David Cavazos in the 2012/13 budget, are providing assistance to job seekers and employers, and strengthening the relationship between workforce programs and the business community.
- Policy changes to benefit Arizona businesses. In 2012, Mayor Greg Stanton implemented the new policy that encourages the City to issue contracts less than $50,000 to local companies, a cause championed by Local First Arizona, an association, which promotes Arizona-based businesses. The policy changes are estimated to provide up to $20 million of new business a year.
- Airport expansion—Most Phoenicians know that Phoenix Sky Harbor is one of the busiest in the Nation, but do not recognize the growing influence of surrounding small airports (e.g., Phoenix-Mesa Gateway Airport had a 25% increase in enplanements 2010-11 and expected one million passengers in 2012). With the help of stimulus funding and other investments, expansions were announced for Sky Harbor, Deer Valley, Gateway, and Goodyear. Airport renovations provide jobs for construction, restaurant, retail, and other businesses. Ron Williams, an owner/managing partner for the new Press Coffee Food & Wine venue at Sky Harbor, is excited. “I look forward to increasing our visibility and expanding our footprint via ‘over the top’ customer service and new technology.”
- Real estate recovery—Since the real estate crash was caused by a combination of business and government action, it has taken public/private cooperation to help turn around the industry. Phoenix leads the nation in increasing median home prices in 2012. A healthy real estate market provides jobs and confident consumers.
- Technology—Of course, not everything is government-driven. In the past, the Federal government was the leader in technology; private industry now dominates. The incredible innovations this year, such as new tools (e.g. boom of tablets and smartphones) and expanding modes of communication (e.g., Pinterest), have had a significant positive impact on businesses in Phoenix. Social media became more than an indulgence of adolescents; in 2012 they became invaluable marketing tools.