Northern Arizona University (NAU) students are back and conference season is in full force. Weekend soccer tournaments and leaf peepers are part of the weekend scene. Tourists, students and residents are all growing in numbers in Flagstaff. We have seen an 8.9 percent increase in population in the last five years. Flagstaff has also seen a 9 percent increase in total jobs during the same time period. The correlation between growth in Flagstaff and new jobs is strong.
One important trend is businesses and residences are fleeing California. We are receiving more and more inquiries from businesses that tell us that it is just too expensive to do business in that state. These manufacturing, tech and health care companies see a lower cost of real estate and taxes in Arizona. Residents say affordable housing, a short commute and superior quality of life are hard to find in California. These are the assets that make Flagstaff attractive. Flagstaff offers a relatively lower cost of housing and shorter commute times compared to cities in both Northern and Southern California. Also, as for most of us living here, there is the appeal and beauty of national forests, a four-season climate, 50 miles of urban trails and enough municipal open space to serve a population of 357,000 people according to the American Planning Organization. This is the quality of life that we enjoy and for which future residents long.
To handle our growth, Flagstaff is making great strides to add additional housing stock to our low supply of inventory. Five thousand new dwelling units are in the pipeline and more than 1,800 new units are already online. Our tourism market has created demand for five new hotels either under construction or in the planning process.
Within this environment, the city of Flagstaff Economic Vitality team continues to work hard to diversify the economy and create an environment where high quality, low impact jobs can thrive. Many California residents making the move to Flagstaff are contributing to the economy. They are bringing their jobs with them. Flagstaff has seen a 230 percent increase in computer and math jobs and a 9 percent increase in total jobs over the last five years, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. These types of jobs are the reason the GIG economy is skyrocketing in Flagstaff.
There are more than 20 corporate companies that have workers who live in Flagstaff and fly weekly for work. That trend will likely continue to grow as United Airlines announced last month that they will begin service starting March 31, 2019, flying to Denver twice a day, seven days a week. This will increase business opportunities, making it easier to connect Flagstaff businesses both east, west and globally. The addition of this new airline will bring new jobs to Flagstaff. It also complements the three flights a day that American Airlines currently flies to Phoenix. American’s seasonal service to Dallas Fort-Worth (DFW) and Los Angeles (LAX) finished in August, but we are hopeful that they will bring it back next year and for a longer period of time.
Flagstaff is growing, and with that comes new opportunities. Please get out there and take advantage of all that our great community has to offer. Go for a bike ride, take a hike, Fly Flagstaff First. If you have never flown from our Flagstaff Airport, you are in for a treat. It’s an easy and friendly experience. Flagstaff can still grow as a community as well as hold on to the quality of life that we all cherish as residents. FBN
By Gail Jackson
Gail Jackson is the business attraction manager for the City of Flagstaff.