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West Valley poised to be a key employment hub, experts say

Wednesday, March 6, 2019   /   by Juan Grimaldo

West Valley poised to be a key employment hub, experts say

Area already home to a strong workforce that commutes to the East Valley for work.

It might take a trailblazer to set up some of the first back-office hubs in the West Valley, but the area is well-positioned for growth in many industries, including outside of the traditional industrial projects that have become the norm, experts told an industry forum.

Employers, real estate professionals and education leaders at a Tuesday morning event hosted by Westmarc and CBRE highlighted opportunities in the West Valley to capitalize on a workforce that heavily commutes east to go to work.

The West Valley contains about one-third of the metro Phoenix population, now at 1.6 million. However, about 62 percent commute to other parts of Maricopa County for work, according to research done by Jessica Morin, senior research analyst with CBRE.

Despite having an educated workforce with a lower average age than Phoenix metro as a whole, the West Valley faces some challenges with public perception, said Valentin Hernandez, senior director of client strategy at CBRE. However, companies often do not want to wait for new office product to be built, so some developer will need to be brave and take the leap.

“The West Valley fights the perception that you’re just logistics and manufacturing,” Hernandez said. “The opportunity is there for whoever will be the first one, the innovator to put their foot there.”

Tim Cozatt, investor relations officer for Akos, said the West Valley also offers opportunities for employees to avoid hour-long commutes to the East Valley. The area also has the potential to be the “next Silicon Valley” he said, referencing Microsoft Corp. and Bill Gates’ significant investments in land in the area.

Brian Mueller, president and CEO of Phoenix-based Grand Canyon University, said the Valley is poised well as the home to both the country’s largest public university in ASU and the largest private, Christian university in GCU.

“The West Valley, because of its tremendous diversity and tremendous potential, can lead the way and demonstrate to the country that diversity and embracing immigrants has created prosperity,” he said.

Rusty Kennedy, senior vice president at CBRE who focuses on industrial products, said many industrial jobs in the West Valley often get eight to 10 qualified applicants for every job opening, so human resources directors from businesses already located in that part of the region often are willing and happy to talk to other companies about the strong workforce available there.

“People are passionate about the West Valley and not afraid to use that information,” he said. 

Author: Corina Vanek, Reporter, Phoenix Business Journal (Image: Corina Vanek)
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