Move over Silicon Valley; low cost of living and long-term government investments have transformed Arizona into a new hub for tech industry startups and giants alike. ZipRecruiter named Phoenix third on its 2017 list of “the 20 hottest cities for available tech jobs” while Forbes recently designated Arizona as the best state for job growth overall based on forecasts from Moody’s Analytics.
Project managers, engineers, developers and data analysts are all in high demand. During the summer, ZipRecruiter reported a staggering 188 percent spike in technology jobs so far this year. According to a 2017 report from CompTIA, there are currently at least 139,400 technology jobs in the state, and the average annual wage is about $97,400.
Why is the Arizona Tech Industry Booming?
Considering that the median cost of rental housing is about $1,345 per month while median home prices hover around $216,000, it’s easy to see why companies and individuals from large cities find Arizona appealing. The state’s lawmakers have also played a large role in encouraging investments in both technology and education, which has paid off; Arizona State University ranked first place in the U.S. News & World Report survey’s 2016 list of “Most Innovative Schools.” Indeed, ASU currently produces more graduates with engineering degrees than any other school in the country. Consequently, technology executives have been enticed by the continual supply of fresh talent from Arizona’s public school system. The first two quarters of this year saw Arizona companies collectively pull in about $122 million in investments.
Recently passed House Bill 2191 set aside $10 million over the next four years to support early stage companies through the Angel Investor Tax Credit program. The Arizona Commerce Authority also awards $3 million in grants annually to startups, and it organizes the biannual Arizona Innovation Challenge to inspire competition and reward innovation. The government is also taking steps to maintain the things that make Arizona special; for example, an amendment in Senate Bill 1114 limits light pollution so that everyone can enjoy the state’s famous starry skies.
Which Technologies are on the Rise in Arizona?
Thanks partially to the Greater Phoenix Economic Council’s “The Connected Place” campaign, the city has become a hot spot for testing driverless vehicles. Honeywell, Intel, Uber, Avnet, Waymo and Google all have offices in Phoenix. According to the Council’s 2017 Metro Phoenix Global Investment Plan, companies are flocking to the city to take advantage of the innovations in automation and cybersecurity coming out of Arizona State University. On the state level, Arizona has a head start in two specific industries that are expected to grow tremendously: the internet of things and 3D printing.
The internet of things, or IoT, includes the ever extending list of connected devices such as smart thermostats, smart refrigerators and self-driving cars. 3D printing, also known as additive manufacturing, involves creating products based on 3D computer models. This technology could accelerate the mass production of everything from iPhone cases to airplane parts. Arizona State University is home to the Manufacturing Research and Innovation Hub, which is the largest additive manufacturing research center in the Southwest. The center’s multi-million dollar investment in plastic, polymer and metal 3D printing equipment bodes well for the state’s 5,000 manufacturing companies.
Growth In One Industry Begets Growth in Others
The fields of financial technology, space technology, biotech and education are among the top contributors to Arizona’s job growth. Since 2002, the Flinn Foundation’s Bioscience Roadmap has taken Arizona from a fifth-tier state to a second-tier state in the biotech industry. Last February, World View Enterprises opened a massive spaceport at their headquarters in Tucson. As more companies move to the region, new job opportunities will follow. An influx of new young professionals may also drive growth in the service industry.
Arizona’s commitment to supporting economic growth in the technology industry is likely to continue as all citizens see the benefits. Nonetheless, local organizations like the Tech Council must continue to lobby the state government to make sure that there isn’t a backlash if mass migration causes the cost of living to rise. Local governments will also have to prepare for the social changes that growth in this sector can bring about. For example, as wages rise, policies may be necessary to prevent housing from becoming just as unaffordable as it is in the Bay Area.
About Jason Hope
Entrepreneur and futurist Jason Hope is a leading voice in Arizona’s technology industry. Through careful market analysis, he monitors the impact that technological advancements have on workers, investors and consumers to make informed predictions about American business and politics.
An Arizona native, Jason Hope now lives in Scottsdale. Before becoming an investor, he earned an MBA from the W.P. Carey School of Business at Arizona State University. Hope also supports philanthropic research efforts; for example, he recently donated half-a-million dollars to the SENS Foundation, which is developing regenerative drugs to defend against age related illness.