Destination 2016: Phoenix

In the shade of office towers and nearby chase field, home of the Arizona Diamondbacks, there’s a warehouse that stands out from the desolate buildings around it. With millennials buzzing in and out in shorts and sandals, it resembles a beehive, right down to its yellow façade. For the past two years, this 30,000-square-foot renovated space has been the headquarters of WebPT, a web-based electronic medical records company for physical therapists. But having quickly grown to more than 300 employees, WebPT will be taking over an even larger warehouse next winter—a 128,000-square-foot building across the street that it will share with a tech campus for Denver-based Galvanize, which provides coworking spaces.
A vibrant community of startups and ample resources make Phoenix a great city to launch or scale up a business.
Business Climate
Pro-business policies and an educated workforce make Phoenix ideal for expanding companies.
Quality of Life
The big draws are mild winters, lots of sunshine and beautiful western vistas.
This southern edge of downtown Phoenix, pocked by long-abandoned rail yards and grocery depots from the 1940s, speaks volumes about the region’s economic history and its future. The city’s urban core experienced long periods of blight in the second half of the 20th century as the population spread out across Arizona’s vast Salt River Valley, creating a metro area of 33 tightly connected towns and cities that covers about 9,071 square miles and is home to 4.5 million people. But in a sign of the city’s resurgence, today this part of downtown is being marketed as the Warehouse District, and its buildings are being gutted, renovated and outfitted to house tech firms and other startups.

It’s a turnaround from the crisis Phoenix faced just a few years ago. In 2009, the Valley—as locals call the patchwork of communities that compose this metro area—had spiraled into an economic downturn caused by overbuilding, the housing crash and the resulting recession, which at its worst left more than 10 percent of the area’s population unemployed. Planned communities and residential high-rises sat vacant or unfinished. The crisis in Phoenix wasn’t just a reflection of the times, but of the region’s flawed economic approach: an over-reliance on real estate development.

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