Guest Editorial: Proof of Concept in Scottsdale

By Recker McDowell

WeTravel Inc.— a San Francisco-based fintech startup — is landing 150 jobs at new offices at the Scottsdale Quarter.

The B2B travel oriented financial tech firm picked Scottsdale over sites in Nashville, Austin, Salt Lake City, Denver and other cities, according to the Business Journal.

Why the investment and jobs landed in Scottsdale are important as the city charts its economic development and as voters look at candidates’ stances on growth in this year’s elections for Mayor and City Council.

We all know of Scottsdale’s appealing demographics and things to do for not only tourists and residents but also for those who work in the city. The shopping, cool restaurants and bars and coffee shops coupled with Scottsdale’s special events and hiking are also attractive to employers and their employees.

Companies such as WeTravel also put Scottsdale at the top of their site selection list because they have seen other technology and social media firms land in the city., Zillow, Weebly and Yelp have landed operations and workers at the Scottsdale Galleria Corporate Centre. The Old Town development was previously a shopping mall that has been effectively converted into office space.

The site of the former Los Arcos Mall at McDowell and Scottsdale Roads has been redeveloped into the ASU SkySong Center is home to offices for Oracle, and other tech firms. Having those tenants has helped sprout a new hotel, conference facilities and restaurants at SkySong.

Other innovative and creative and companies see how Scottsdale has been willing to adapt, and in some cases redevelop properties and better itself. It is a proof of concept for other innovative employers to bring jobs to Scottsdale. It also shows that the city is reasoned and forward thinking when it comes to how it grows and competes for jobs and economic investments.

Scottsdale should keep heading down that path as it looks at how and where to grow. There are properties and parts of the city (including in southern Scottsdale and Old Town) that could use adaptive reuse, new infill projects and redevelopment. The city should balance those needs with how best to preserve Scottsdale’s economic brand and existing positive assets. Not every parcel and property should be redeveloped or changed, but some very much need it.

These are also good lessons for other cities across the region including Gilbert and Goodyear as they look at their economic development strategies to energize their downtowns and create desirable locations for employers.