PHOENIX-A new report by renowned urban development expert Joel Kotkin shows Phoenix's multi-centric growth has made it a national leader by almost all measures of economic strength. In population growth, job growth, quality of jobs, cost of living, average wages, income growth, and presence of high-tech companies, the Phoenix region is excelling and performing far better than cities traditionally thought to be exemplars of urban development. For instance, after adjusting for cost of living, Phoenix's 2003 average wage was 5.1 percent higher than Boston's, 28.9 percent higher than San Diego's, and 33.5 percent higher than San Francisco's.
The study also finds that calls for massive public expenditures in the downtown area are misguided. In the 1990s, an infusion of over $2 billion did not stop the loss of population and businesses in downtown Phoenix. Data show this is not an isolated trend, with cities like Boston and San Francisco also losing population from their downtown areas.
Thanks to a pattern of multi-centric, organic growth aided by relatively low taxes and business regulations, the greater Phoenix area does not depend on one central core. "The region's historically multi-centric growth is in fact conducive to further growth in the coming decades," Kotkin observes. "The lack of a thriving downtown has had little effect on the success of surrounding areas."
Goldwater Institute fiscal policy analyst Satya Thallam notes, "This study shows proposals for more public spending downtown are based on an outdated model of urban development. Multi-centric development is making Phoenix a thriving city that's a model for other cities."
Joel Kotkin and a number of urban development experts will be participating in a special roundtable hosted by the Business Journal of Phoenix and the Goldwater Institute, Phoenix Rising, Falling or Sprawling: A Roundtable Discussion for Journalists, Policymakers, and Business Leaders, this evening, April 27 from 5-6:30 p.m., to discuss the future of Phoenix and the changing American urban landscape.
The report, Phoenix Rising: A City of Aspiration, is available online.