The six cities and towns – Chandler, Gilbert, Mesa, Tempe, Queen Creek and Apache Junction – known as the PHX East Valley accounted for nearly half of the total job growth in all of Maricopa County last year, according to data from CBRE Research, Arizona Commerce Authority and Greater Phoenix Economic Council.

All told, the burgeoning region added 13,500 of the 28,000 new jobs in 2018.

In addition, six of the top 10 job announcements were concentrated in the area. This includes 2,500 jobs each from Allstate in Chandler and Deloitte in Gilbert, along with 1,200 new positions at Wells Fargo in Tempe and 1,000 workers at Voya in Chandler. Rounding out the list were Boeing and Zovoi (formerly Bridgepoint Education), which will add 900 and 800 new jobs in Mesa and Chandler, respectively.

“Healthy job growth and a robust talent pool, plus plentiful land and thoughtful development, are putting PHX East Valley on the map, locally and nationally,” said Denny Barney, president and CEO of PHX East Valley Partnership, the region’s economic development organization.

It’s not just the numbers that matter, according to Paul Komadina, senior managing director of CBRE in Phoenix, “but also the type of jobs that the area is attracting. High-quality positions created across various industries continue to diversify the region’s economy.”

Once known for its cotton fields and cattle farms, PHX East Valley is a growing hub for entrepreneurial ventures, small businesses and global headquarters of companies in industries ranging from business and financial services to advanced manufacturing and technology.

Among the industries with the biggest job gains in the region last year were manufacturing, technology and financial services.

In Mesa, AQST Space Systems relocated its headquarters to Falcon Field Airport from Puerto Rico, and Piper Plastics, a global provider of high-performance polymer materials, precision molded and machined plastic components and assemblies, is building a 90,000-square-foot North American Research and Development Tech Center there.

Eclipse Automation Inc., a supplier of custom automated manufacturing equipment for the life sciences, energy, transportation, mining, industrial and telecommunications industries, invested

$1 million in its third manufacturing facility there, with plans to hire more than 50 automation engineers and technicians over the next year.

Also in Mesa, EuroContempo will produce its European cabinets at its new 72,000-square-foot facility.

To provide more opportunity for advanced manufacturing, the city established the Pecos Advanced Manufacturing Zone for heavy and light industrial, as well as business park and commercial uses.

“With thousands of acres of developable land, plus power, water, natural gas, fiber, a Foreign Trade Zone and a streamlined entitlement process, firms are able to establish their operations quickly and at a competitive cost,” said William Jabjiniak, Mesa’s economic development director.

Technology companies continue to foster innovation

The region also continues to foster innovation in a variety of technology-enabled enterprises. This includes EdgeCore Internet Real Estate’s planned 1.25-million-square-foot campus, in Mesa, plus a $63.5-million satellite campus to Arizona State University. Located in Mesa’s downtown core, the campus will feature programs using augmented and virtual reality, artificial intelligence, and 3D design that are critical to medical, aerospace, manufacturing and entertainment firms.

Tempe also signed BD (Becton, Dickinson and Company), one of the world’s largest medical technology companies as the anchor of I.D.E.A. – Innovation, Discovery, Education and Arts. I.D.E.A. is an 18-acre, 1-million-square-foot phased development adjacent to Tempe Center for the Arts near Tempe Town Lake that is expected to open in late 2019.

Meanwhile, Chandler continues to serve as the top site in the nation for testing self-driving vehicles, building an economic ecosystem, with companies such as Waymo (formerly the Google Self-Driving Car project), NXP, Garmin and others.

The city and surrounding region also are becoming a hotbed for the FinTech industry, according to Micah Miranda, Chandler’s economic development director.

San Francisco-based FinTech startup Brightside Benefit Inc., which helps improve employees’ financial health, opened an office in Chandler with 25 employees and is looking to hire another dozen workers.

On Q Financial, an online provider of mortgage tools for home loans, mortgages, electronic lending and loans, also set up shop in the region, with a 44,603-square-foot office in Tempe. These firms join Freedom Financial, State Farm, ADP and Bank of the West, which all have established a foothold as part of the region’s growing FinTech sector.

Deloitte, Wells Fargo lead growth in financial services sector

Financial consulting firm Deloitte’s announcement of a $50 million capital investment in a 100,000-square-foot delivery center and Wells Fargo & Co.’s 1,200 jobs and planned 190,000-square-foot expansion of its Chandler campus led the growth in the region’s financial services sectors.

Supplementing this job growth is Liberty Mutual Insurance’s move to Chandler this year, which will add 750 immediate jobs and 1,000 additional positions in the future, along with hiring by Bank of the West in Tempe and a bevy other firms.

“These jobs undoubtedly will have a positive ripple effect on other business sectors here and throughout the region,” Barney said.