With the 2018 legislative session right around the corner, the Arizona Multihousing Association (AMA) is finalizing its policy priorities for the year. Similar to years past, the industry will be focusing on protecting private property rights, preserving key economic development tools and supporting policies to reduce regulatory barriers for owners, operators and developers of apartment communities in Arizona.  

As Arizona continues its efforts to attract large employers into the state, it is critical to preserve key economic development tools used to attract new investment. While Arizona looks to compete with its neighbors, retaining or creating new tools to attract investment and job creators will be a priority for the apartment industry.  

As the demand for apartment homes continues to outpace the supply of new units, it is critical, now more than ever, to ensure that policies, whether enacted at the state or local level, do not not impede the positive economic growth taking place across the state.   

Economic development officials seem to agree that new apartment developments are the key to building strong communities and attracting businesses to the state. Large employers are increasingly demanding diverse housing options for their employees. Look no further than cities like Seattle, San Francisco, Boston and New York where high-tech companies are having difficulties hiring due to the housing shortages.   

New apartment developments not only add to Arizona’s attractiveness for recruiting businesses to the state, but they also support the state’s economy in a big way. The apartment industry supports over 130,000 jobs in Arizona and provides a $13 billion economic contribution to the state. This includes the many professionals within apartment communities who work in construction, leasing, property management and maintenance. It also includes jobs in local businesses that apartment residents support with their own spending. 

Developing skilled labor remains key to continued economic growth 

Over the past several years as development has increased to near pre-recession levels, the apartment industry, similar to many other industries, has been dealing with a significant skilled labor shortage. While labor shortages in construction-related fields have been well documented, the apartment industry is beginning to see those shortages spill over to the operational side. For example, finding skilled maintenance technicians has become increasingly difficult in recent years, and the shortages don’t seem to be letting up anytime soon.  

In order to address these shortages, the AMA is actively working to find new ways to recruit and train new workers, whether that’s working with nonprofit organizations, the state’s community colleges, or partnering on a broader effort to recruit and train skilled labor in the state.  

Courtney Gilstrap LeVinus is the interim president and CEO of the Arizona Multihousing Association and Jake Hinman is the director of government relations for Capitol Consulting on behalf of AMA.