Guest Editorial: Medical Innovations and Breakthroughs

By Recker McDowell —

Health care and medical research are front and center with the Coronavirus and its impact on public health, stock markets, consumer confidence and travel.

Biomedical research is also critical the region’s economic growth and projected jobs gains. Economic developers, city planners, elected officials and the private sector need to make sure the region continues to welcome the health care industry. That means land-use, zoning and development policies that are encourage the creation of more lab space. It also means economic development and business recruitment priorities focused on an industry that offers high paying jobs, companies garnering attention from venture capitalists and innovations that benefit the public health.

Phoenix, Scottsdale and Arizona have an opportunity to be in the top echelon of medical research hubs in the country. State economists expect the health care industry to add close to 31,000 jobs between 2019 and 2021.

The biomedical industry is one of the areas where Arizona can expand and mature its economy beyond its traditional growth engines.

The medical research occurring on Scottsdale’s Cure Corridor and Phoenix’s burgeoning biomedical sector can provide important solutions for public health challenges and crisis situations such as the Coronavirus (COVID-19).

There are more than 16,000 employees working on medical innovations, clinical trials and research in Scottsdale including at the Scottsdale Airpark and ASU SkySong development. The city has more than 33,000 health care jobs total including HonorHealth and the Mayo Clinic.

The average salary for a health care worker in Scottsdale is $68,000 per year. Those are the  types of jobs we should be recruiting and bringing to the state and Valley.

The Mayo Clinic also has a campus in Phoenix and the city of Phoenix has seen innovations and growth in the medical research sector via the Translational Genomics Research Institute (TGEN), International Genomics Consortium, the University of Arizona’s Cancer Research Center and the Banner Neurological Institute. Medical innovations and research are happening at the Phoenix Biomedical Campus, regional hospital and Mayo’s Phoenix and Scottsdale campuses.

Cities such as Scottsdale are looking at how and where to grow. The region and state have long debated the place of incentives and tax breaks for businesses and economic development.

Growth paths and economic development and tax policies should not ignore the importance of medical research and biotechnology not only to help solve public health problems such as the Coronavirus but also for their jobs, innovation  and economic benefits.