Phoenix Forward

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About 80% of new jobs in our state come from businesses already here. The Greater Phoenix Chamber of Commerce has a new initiative to help grow those businesses. “Phoenix Forward” will launch April 29 and Todd Sanders, president and CEO of the chamber and Jennifer Mellor, the vice president of economic development, will discuss the new program.

Ted Simons: The Greater Phoenix Chamber of Commerce today launched "Phoenix Forward," an initiative to help grow businesses that are already here. Joining us is Todd Sanders, President and CEO of the chamber, and Jennifer Mellor, the Chamber's vice president of economic development. Give me a better definition of "Phoenix Forward."

Todd Sanders: Really, it boils down to one thing, the number 80, as in 80%. 80% of new jobs in our community are created by existing businesses and that's why we're launching "Phoenix Forward" today.

Ted Simons: So why is this program needed? Aren't these businesses -- are they not getting help they need?

Jennifer Mellor: Well, there is work being done for the city of Phoenix, they are instrumental in going out and meeting with these businesses and doing some of this work. Our efforts are to complement some of the work done already.

Ted Simons: What are some of your efforts?

Jennifer Mellor: We have a full team on board, a staff of five completely focused on this economic development initiative. Two of those folks are going out and working with the city, working with the ACA to go out and conduct business, meet with businesses, talk to them, find out what are some of their issues and some of the trends occurring within those businesses. And also working to connect them to resources. If they have a workforce issue for example, connecting them to those resources. On the other side we also have industry leadership councils which makes us a little bit unique in that it's industry led. The councils are made up of industry leaders from the community looking at data coming in from the businesses. They are looking at how they can make adjustments for the industry.

Ted Simons: When visiting these businesses, what are some of the issues and trends?

Todd Sanders: Some revolve around what Jennifer talked about, and that's workforce. I think for a long time we were satisfied with admiring the problem. In this case we want to start saying, how do we line up the needs of business with the K-12 system and perhaps the community colleges, to start to create sort of programs for some of these kids as they come out, to actually have opportunities and fill the needs for some of these businesses. It's true economic development work. But you also have a constant impact on the community. When I think about my son, as he enters the workforce and what our community should look like, that's the kind of work we should be doing.

Ted Simons: Sounds a little bit like advocacy, a little like trying to influence public policy. Is that going on here?

Todd Sanders: Some of that. We'll focus certainly on the education of that, it's going to be key. Outside the realm of policy will move the needle today. At the end of the day our goal is to find out what we can do outside of policy to move that with our partners. And then on the policy side with the city and state take an active role there.

Ted Simons: Metric driven sounds like lots of data might be available for the taking. How coming no one's been taking it?

Jennifer Mellor: The data is out there available. We're looking to aggregate it. Working with the city and the commerce authority to aggregate that data, to make better-informed decisions. I think that's where the opportunity lies. The next step is how do we regional lies this effort. It's not only information from the city and the chamber but from other areas within our community as well and other cities.

Ted Simons: Indeed. I notice one of the goals is to, quote, foster a pro-business environment to create quality jobs. Robust business retention. What does all that mean?
Jennifer Mellor: It's all about jobs.

Ted Simons: It basically is, right? It's about certain kinds of jobs, isn't it?

Jennifer Mellor: Absolutely, it's about high-quality, high-paying jobs.

Ted Simons: What do you do? How do you cross that bridge?

Todd Sanders: Part of that is really understanding what the market looks like and where we excel. Think about the bio side and T-GEN, a smart part of the market and how do we grow that. We look at the health care industry, a lot of opportunity there to really grow high wage, high quality jobs. It's going to be incumbent on us to understand the market. We can aggregate data and understand what this market looks like and push in those areas to create those jobs in this community.

Ted Simons: And capital investment, increasing that I'm sure is a major factor.

Jennifer Mellor: And that's one of the heavy objectives for the bioscience sector in particular. How do we increase venture capital coming into the bioscience industry in particular. As we're looking at metrics and measurements we're looking at two things. One is job creation and the other is capital investment within the community.

Ted Simons: Is the will out there to proceed with this? A lot of folks make a lot of noise but --

Todd Sanders: We really want to take a comprehensive approach about this. I think the work being done, this complements some of that. What we're planning to do with this by next year is give it away to five or six or 10 organizations around the county and really make this an all hands on deck effort.

Ted Simons: Good to have you both here, thank you for joining me.

Jennifer Mellor: Thank you.

Ted Simons: Thursday on "Arizona Horizon," attorney general Mark Brnovich will join us in studio. And we'll learn about a new program that will offer medical services to residents at a downtown Phoenix landmark. That's at 5:30 and 10:00 on the next "Arizona Horizon." That's it for now, I'm Ted Simons. Thanks for joining us. You have a great evening.

Todd Sanders:President and CEO, Greater Phoenix Chamber of Commerce; Jennifer Mellor:Vice President of Economic Development, Greater Phoenix Chamber of Commerce;

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