Northern Arizona may not have the same towering skylines or network of commuter trains as Metro Phoenix or Tucson, but the Economic Collaborative of Northern Arizona doesn’t want companies to be fooled by its laid-back demeanor.
ECNoA, an economic development organization supported by 16 regional agencies in Northern Arizona, works collaboratively across public and private sectors to cultivate economic growth through leveraging regional economic development resources.
The organization markets the region as an inspirational live/work/play environment with more rapidly emerging opportunities through innovation and entrepreneurism.
“The largest factors in a company deciding to locate in Northern Arizona include workforce, infrastructure, education and quality of life,” explains Richard Bowen, president of ECNoA.
All of those factors are essential to Northern Arizona’s biggest industries: tourism, education, bioscience, healthcare, software/digital products and advanced manufacturing, he says.
The region’s lush forests, majestic mountains and winter recreational activities attract lots of tourists. These qualities are some of the reasons why students choose to attend Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff, which generates $2 billion in annual economic impact.
Bowen says more bioscience companies are relocating to Flagstaff because of NAU’s growing bioscience, genetics and genomics research portfolio. Those companies include W.L. Gore & Associates Inc., a large medical products manufacturer with more than 2,200 employees.
Other hot spots for industrial development include Kingman, Winslow and Prescott, which have affordable sites ready for development with easy access to major shipping routes on the Interstate-17 and Interstate-40. It takes less than a day for truck drivers to reach markets in major population hubs such as Los Angeles, Denver, Albuquerque, Phoenix, Tucson, Las Vegas and Salt Lake City.
Bowen says digital products and software development companies are also attracted to Northern Arizona from Los Angeles and Silicon Valley.
Overall, Bowen attributes the progression of the region as being a byproduct of its public and private partnerships.
“Communities in Northern Arizona have been very collaborative in economic development rather than competitive,” he says.