Technology, information fields flourish in Valley of the Sun

Scottsdale, Phoenix and Mesa are flourishing in the technology and information department as more companies expand or open in the Valley of the Sun. (Independent Newsmedia/Terrance Thornton)

Scottsdale, Phoenix and Mesa are flourishing in the technology and information fields as more companies expand or open in the Valley of the Sun. (Independent Newsmedia/Terrance Thornton)

The rapidly growing technology and information fields, once mostly confined to the Silicon Valley, appear to be finding prosperity in the Valley of the Sun.

Phoenix, Scottsdale and Mesa have reportedly grown 39.29 percent in information employment from 2010-15, according to a June Forbes article.

In 2015, growth in information employment in the three cities was measured at 7.51 percent, the article stated.

“It (the data) absolutely aligns with some of the goals and objectives that the Greater Phoenix Economic Council and regional cities have identified,” said Greater Phoenix Chamber Vice President of Economic Development, Jennifer Mellor, in a July 19 phone interview.

“They have identified key target industries and this is absolutely one of those platforms.”

The information and technology industry is classified by the city of Scottsdale as companies that provide services such as software support, computer systems design and data processing facilities management. These companies help clients use computers, software and communications systems more efficiently.

The U.S. information technology (IT) services industry includes about 100,000 companies and combined annual revenue of about $330 billion, according to data provided by the city of Scottsdale.

“I believe we will continue to see a rise in employment in this sector as startups and other technology based companies are priced out of the market in terms of real estate and labor in technology hubs such as Silicon Valley,” said Scottsdale Economic Development Manager, Christian Green in a July 18 e-mailed response to questions.

The local market is home to companies such as GoDaddy and Infusion Soft, which started here several years ago and are now major corporations; as well as companies that are expanding into Arizona like Uber, Yelp and Weebly. GoDaddy and Yelp both have over 800 employees.

Mr. Green noted Scottsdale-based company headquarters include Early Warning Services, a financial analysis software; JDA Software Inc., a custom computer programming service; and business management software companies, Trax Technologies and Appointment Plus. The list goes on.

Ms. Mellor credits Arizona’s low cost of living as a reason to see continued growth in the technology sector.

“It’s a high wage industry, and with our proximity to the Silicon Valley and lower cost of living, we are a natural place for those places to offshoot,” she said.

San Francisco-based web hosting service, Weebly opened its second largest branch in downtown Scottsdale in 2014. Weebly sites receive over 250 million unique visitors each month.

“From a bigger picture, we love the easy, direct flights from SFO to PHX with only an hour time difference, which allows our teams to connect and travel from our San Francisco HQ to Scottsdale office frequently,” said Kim Chappell, manager of PR and community for Weebly, in a July 19 e-mailed response to questions.

Locally, the web company chose the Galleria building because of its central location to shops, restaurants, apartments, bike baths and accessible employee parking. Weebly signed a five-year lease on the 25,000 square foot area in 2014.

The city of Scottsdale estimated a $255.8 million five-year economic impact by Weebly in its fiscal year 2013-14 economic report.

“We have almost 40 million customers in 170 countries that range from kitchen counter businesses to fully fledged global companies,” said Ms. Chappell.

The company prides itself on offering affordable and accessible technology for anyone who wants to join in and create a site. In addition, Weebly encourages its Customer Success Agents — known as CSA’s — to give back to the community.

“In Scottsdale, our CSA’s often gather for movie nights, happy hours or volunteer days throughout the community as part of our 1:1:1 program to encourage time ‘at work’ to be time spent working with a charity of your choice,” Ms. Chappell said.

In the works, Weebly has new products coming out in 2016. Part of a new platform will be in the hands of the Scottsdale office.

Continued success and growth in companies such as Weebly will only increase the tech-field in the Valley of the Sun, economic development professionals contend.

“It’s my opinion that citizens can expect to see a rise on demand for employment in high-tech employment with a steady rise in service related employment to this industry,” said Mr. Green.

“Companies from other areas have started to take notice of the high quality of life and low cost to operate environment we offer in Scottsdale, and coupled with the business friendly environment that Scottsdale offers companies, they are making the decision to relocate or expand to our city.”

Northeast Valley News Services Editor Melissa Rosequist can be e-mailed at mrosequist@newszap.com or can be followed on Twitter at twitter.com/mrosequist_.

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