GPEC CEO Barry Broome is no longer planning to leave Phoenix to lead an economic development effort in San Diego. Find out why he’s staying and how he hopes to grow and diversify Arizona’s economy.
Ted Simons: In nearly seven years of leading the greater Phoenix economic council, Barry Broome has, according to GPEC, helped the valley recruit 160 companies and grow more than 30,000 jobs. Last week it was reported that Broome would be leaving Arizona to lead an economic development effort in San Diego, but those plans changed, and Broome is now staying in Arizona, and with GPEC. Here to tell us what kept him here is GPEC president and CEO Barry Broome. Good to see you again. I thought I'd have to go to San Diego.
Barry Broome: No, no, right here in the valley.
Ted Simons: What happened?
Barry Broome: Really it was just a great opportunity, and I just -- my heart's in Arizona, and here in the community, and the ties, I've been here long enough now to where all my emotional ties were in the community, and it just felt right to stay. The board was amenable to that and excited about it, and I got great support from the community, so it was a one-day turnaround, and I'm glad to be home.
Ted Simons: Usually on things like that, something hits you, whether it's a punch in the gut or something that doesn't feel right. Was it a moment or an overall feeling?
Barry Broome: It was a punch in the gut. Like a classic story. Got announced, got off the plane, walked home and said, 'Gee, I need to call my chairman, this doesn't feel great'. And it really just came out of nowhere, and a lot of people said its butterflies. I think I know the difference. And it was just -- when you do what I do, GPEC is a great organization, Rick Weddle went on the research Triangle Park, Rio Varna went to Baltimore. Actually it was funny, I talked to Rio Varna. Rio Varna was named the state economic development director in Rhode Island, and had a similar circumstance where she chose to stay here. It's a great organization, people are always seeking the GPEC talent, but to me, I really want to be somewhere where I live and where I'm a civic leader and a community leader in the next four or five years at GPEC I'll be able to work hard with my colleagues to bring the economy back to recovery. And actually, at that point I might do something completely different on education, or some other civic initiative, and just was a decision for me and my family that we love it here, and we're -- we've gone through some challenges, but this is a pretty great place. It's the fifth or sixt biggest cities in the United States. We're one of the top nine markets, Forbes just came out and ranked us as one of the top hottest cities in America, and they meant that economically, not at 113 degrees. There was a report that came out, we almost have a 22,000 job clean technology cluster here. So we've taken some lumps, but I still think our fundamentals are good and there's an exciting future here and am glad to be a part of it.
Ted Simons: I want to talk about that future, but I want to know what attracted you to the San Diego position? Because I know as what you do with GPEC often times you are talking to companies and saying, we're better than them. What attracted you to them?
Barry Broome: Well, we actually -- our California strategy is a lot more about having - first off, we don't compete with California because of California's overall economic challenges. It's not really Arizona versus California, it's someone is leaving California, its Arizona versus Texas. We actually go head-to-head every day against Texas for a California company. But professionally a lot of people -- I got a science background, and when I was in Michigan, I developed the science corridor with the University system, and John Angler, and a lot of the work I did in Michigan had some legs in the San Diego market, and it was really, take a look at this, here's a chance for you to go back and focus on science, and then that got offset by the heart and stomach saying, I think this is my home.
Ted Simons: Your home has still some as you mentioned, lumps to get through. You've been recently quoted as saying we're still too reliant on real estate and construction, and retail, and you don't want to go back to that economy we had in '04, '05, and '06. What are you going to do to change that? Can you see that changing, or is that just what Arizona is?
Barry Broome: It can't be what Arizona is. It shouldn't be. And I think probably the most exciting -- there's two things that excite me most about the recent data. One is the amount of foreign and direct investment that's come into Arizona. If you look at this year, GPEC's had really the greatest year in the history of the organization. And 31 companies have come here. And a lot of those were from foreign markets. That's a new trend. The second thing that really excites me, first Solar Sun Tech is this clean technology space. There's already been 500,000 clean technology jobs created in the last five years in the United States. So I think the key to this is we really have to become masters at what it takes to build this economy, and as a region we're going to work very hard on the clean tech space. I also think we need to pay attention to health care. We've done very little from a systemic standpoint to really take advantage of our health care position, but if you look at what's happening in the last year, we've had 500 million dollars worth of health care announcements in Downtown Phoenix. That doesn't count M.D. Anderson and the east valley at Gilbert, and it doesn't count Patrick Sushuang, the founder of Abraxis Building a Data, personalized medicine tracking system. I don't completely know the dynamics of that. And our health care sector is the still growing, even during this economy. Clean energy, health care, I think information, communication, technology, materials, and we're going to have to defend our base on the aerospace sector because I am concerned about the defense cuts.
Ted Simons: You mentioned health care and a lot of health care professionals are concerned regarding state policy, specifically with the AHCCCS cuts. Dealing with the legislature, you managed to get through this incentive deal for solar companies in '-09, you got through tax credits for bringing in high-quality jobs. Didn't quite get to speed up that particular bill, it sped up the process, didn't quite get that passed the governor, but you worked with the legislature, you know what's going on down there. Is what's going on down there encouraging or does -- is there more work to do?
Barry Broome: There's more work to do. But one of the things I always -- our government, sure, wove probably have to really look at what we're not investing in publicly; obviously we need to make a systemic, moral, generational commitment to Arizona's education system. And of course the challenges of having the University raise tuition rates, probably the biggest concern I have to Arizona over the next 10-15 years, and I'll be here to work on it with my colleagues, is our K-12 system is declining due to economics, and our higher education system, though it's holding steady, is starting to get more expensive. And I worry about that, especially for the working Latino population that is the backbone of our children. Give the legislature credit. We're going in the black this year. We're projecting at least right now in the early projections, we're going to have more money than expenses, and we're going to be one of the few states to be able to stay that. Also what Governor Brewer did and speaker Adams, now Speaker Tobin and senator Pearce on the leadership package last year, low aring corporate income tax, sales factor, putting in a 9,000-job tax credit, closing front,restoring job training. A pretty good body of work.
Ted Simons: This new commerce authority, which you were supportive of?
Barry Broome: Very supportiveâ€¦
Ted Simons: How does that dynamic work with a GPEC?
Barry Broome: Well, here's a perfect example. If you look at where Arizona has probably lost its guidance over the last 20 years, it's because it hasn't had a state economic development entity consistently giving advice and counsel to the government. And I think the most important thing about the commerce authority its consistent economic message to the policymakers. The second thing, and GPEC's done that, but we should be a contributor to that, not leading it. That's got to come from the governor's office with a team that we support. Secondly, even though we work very hard on the greatest Phoenix brand, the national press hasn't been completely kind to us. The commerce authority -- also, if you look around Arizona, Yuma is at 23% unemployment, we don't work on that. We support them, but the commerce authority will work on that. We have 70-some communities that are sitting on 20% unemployment and the commerce authority will have that body of work as well. So fixing Arizona's brand, helping us internationally, and I have a lot of respect for Don, collaborating seamlessly. We can't have enough people selling Arizona for jobs, not when we're sitting at 9.2% unemployment nationally.
Ted Simons: Very good to have you here.
Barry Broome: Thank you.
Barry Broome: GPEC President and CEO;