Guest Editorial: Mesa Ranks As One Of The Fastest Growing Job Markets in U.S.; Other Cities Should Look At Their Own Economic Development Paths

By Recker McDowell —

Mesa has one of the fastest growing job markets in the entire country coming out ahead of fast-growing cities such as Austin, Nashville and Charlotte.

That is according to new research by City Lab, a digital publication focused on innovation and urban areas.

Mesa ranks as the fifth fastest growing job markets and 8th nationally for population growth the past five years. It was also the only Arizona city to rank high on City Lab’s list.

That should not be lost on other Valley cities and their economic development efforts and vision.

Mesa posted employment gains of 20.3 percent between 2012 and 2017. That is behind only Miami, Atlanta, Fort Worth and Denver. Those cities, especially Denver, compete with metro Phoenix for jobs and businesses.

But Mesa’s strong showing should raise awareness for other Valley cities and their economic development efforts. Mesa has attracted a new Google data center to go along with Apple’s big data operations. There are also new commercial developments going up near Phoenix-Mesa Gateway Airport, and the Chicago Cubs Spring Training ballpark in the Riverview area. Arizona State University is also locating 3-D printing and design programs at new planned center in downtown Mesa.

Mesa could benefit as other Valley cities deal with real and potential economic development challenges. Neighboring Tempe has seen significant growth and new construction but now has expensive office rents. Scottsdale is always appealing to employers and their workers but has lacked new Class A office space site selectors are looking for. Companies have also been challenged to find available space along Chandler’s tech-heavy Price Road Corridor. Gilbert is seeing growth but is also figuring out its trajectory with apartments as well as commercial developments.

Those neighbors, as well as Phoenix and the West Valley, should take note of Mesa finding itself in the same growth company as Denver, Seattle, Atlanta and Austin. They should also look at their own economic development and commercial real estate approaches to make sure they are positioning themselves correctly for high quality job growth.