Scottsdale’s elected officials and other local dignitaries converged for breakfast at the sold-out Economic Development Breakfast program on Oct. 6, to hear about the city’s latest economic endeavors and projects.
The program began with opening remarks by Mayor Jim Lane and councilwoman Suzanne Klapp, an update from Scottsdale Economic Development Director Danielle Casey, and featured keynote speaker, Anthony Wanger, president of Scottsdale-based IO.
The morning-event reached full capacity with 200 guests reportedly in attendance at Venue 8600, 8600 E. Anderson Drive in Scottsdale.
Two years into the city’s five-year economic development program a number of efforts have been launched to attract employers. Applauding the success of the economic development program, Mayor Lane outlined the number of businesses that call Scottsdale home.
“Over the past year, the city team has worked directly and indirectly with a number of great firms with a concentration in the rapidly-growing finance, insurance and technology sectors,” Mayor Lane said while speaking to the crowd.
Some examples Mayor Lane named consists of Groupon’s new SkySong operation; cyber security identity verification firm Trusona, which was founded in Scottsdale; and JDA Software.
“Our ability to attract top talent and innovative companies is critical to our economic future with disruptive technologies emerging everywhere you look such as autonomous vehicles,” said Mayor Lane.
“Testing by companies like Google, Uber and Cruise is occurring in the Valley and right here in Scottsdale, and the next new thing will literally be right around the corner.”
The city council adopted an Economic Development Strategic Plan on Feb. 17, 2015, with a number of goals including:
- Retaining and growing economic employers;
- Supporting efforts that will enable present and future employers to cultivate, retain and attract the talent;
- Focus efforts and investment in strengthening key employment and business centers;
- Elevate Scottsdale’s engagement in national and international economic development arena;
- Build a Scottsdale business location brand on par with Scottsdale’s tourism brand; and
- Grow and attract quality firms and jobs.
The economic and development team’s efforts have been focused on job creation or retention and economic impact, said Ms. Casey.
“Last fiscal year we worked directly with companies representing 1,183 jobs in the first 12 months of business with an average wage of over $67,000,” she said.
“This is nearly identical to our 2015 job claims but an average job wage of $10,000 more so we feel very good about that. This adds up to a total economic impact over five years of $1.5 billion.”
In an effort to attract and retain technology firms most commonly known to be based in the Bay Area, a new phrase #SwipeRightScottsdale was born. Playing-off the dating-application Tinder, a swipe to the right on the app means the user approves; a swipe left is disapprove.
“So this reference allows the 40 million millenials who are familiar with ‘swipe right’ to make the connection that Scottsdale should be an approved good choice,” said Ms. Casey.
“This strategy was launched in partnership with our great friends at the Scottsdale Area Chamber, local real estate brokers, and it attracted nearly 80 attendees in the San Fransisco market for a mix.”
The event which was held at the Twitter headquarters, showcased the benefits of the city of Scottsdale, she said.
“Considering that 128 million millenials check Twitter everyday for entertainment and 46 million of them have Instagram, we focused on a low-cost but very impactful use of social media,” Ms. Casey said.
The economic development team generated, received or responded to 290 new business development leads in fiscal year 2015-16.
“We also executed new market visits in Chicago, Austin and twice in San Fransisco, which was an increase in overall lead activity of over 15 percent from the prior year,” Ms. Casey explained.
The city’s brand has experienced market growth including a 222 percent Twitter increase, a 542 increase in Facebook likes and over 11,000 views on YouTube videos.
“While the ‘swipe right’ theme was originally designed to attract these growing technology companies out of the Bay Area and other very hip environments, we figured out very quickly that it was very well suited to talent attraction,” she said. “It was very transferable in speaking to young talent.”
The “swipe right” initiative garnered a Golden Prospector Award from the Arizona Association for Economic Development in September 2016.
In the future, the department is planning new activities for the Eureka Loft in partnership with the Civic Center Library; has implemented a development study and plan for the future of Downtown Scottsdale housed at www.downtownscottsdale2.com; and has created a free online tool at www.scottsdalesites.com to allow visitors to search for any listed commercial property and couples that date with customizable analytics.