Why don’t we have an In-n-Out Burger, Trader Joe’s or a Costco yet? That is the most commonly asked question that I receive. These types of businesses are considered retail businesses and are providing specific products direct to the consumer. The retail sector tends to get the most publicity because that’s what most consumers interact directly with, but that is not the only sector that the city’s Business Attraction program directs their efforts toward. Ensuring that there are high wage jobs based in manufacturing, bioscience, health care and countless other economic sectors is the focus of attraction efforts. The goal is to create a diverse, prosperous and resilient economy.
Within Flagstaff’s economy, there are targeted sectors that include bioscience, advanced manufacturing, digital products, healthcare, retail and tourism as well as many more opportunities than those just stated. I’ll discuss these sectors below.
Advanced manufacturing companies shine in Flagstaff because we offer an affordable, highly educated workforce as well as access to major markets by rail, ground and air. Can you imagine having access to over 34 million consumers within a six-hour drive? Our partners at the Greater Flagstaff Chamber of Commerce are a huge benefit in advancing this sector. The Chamber offers regular roundtables that allow our local manufacturers to bring forward discussion items that are universal in nature. The advanced manufacturing sector provides good jobs and technological advances that generate prosperity here in the community and expanding that presence is a focus of our attraction efforts.
The bioscience sector doesn’t always get the most recognition but is very important to our community. Flagstaff is 13 times more specialized in biomedical manufacturing than any other city in the United States. It only makes sense to continue to foster this sector and continue to develop the cluster. We meet with existing companies to learn about their needs and work to make sure the city and community provide an environment where these types of businesses thrive. This information is critical when promoting Flagstaff on a state and national level. Perhaps there are suppliers that will help complement their businesses and continue to help them grow.
Flagstaff is a regional hub for the healthcare industry. From Northern Arizona Healthcare to North Country Healthcare to all the various specialists and primary care physicians in the area, this sector provides professional job opportunities and services that make our residents healthier and happier. There are additional facilities planning to enter the Flagstaff market. These new businesses will complement the services offered and jobs provided. Working with health care businesses and non-profits interested in locating in Flagstaff is a part of the business attraction program.
Tourism is the largest economic driver for Flagstaff. We are fortunate to have a strong Convention and Visitors Bureau staff that helps attract 4.6 million visitors each year. This is incredibly important to economic development efforts as we look to attract talent, investors and new businesses. We know that within those visitor numbers are potential business attraction clients as well. Visiting Flagstaff is often the first step in identifying all the beauty and opportunity that is waiting to be discovered.
As mentioned earlier, retail is what residents ask about most. Everybody has a favorite store or restaurant they think would do great in Flagstaff. This sector is a major contributor to our local economy, contributing a significant amount to local jobs and the tax base. It also adds to the quality of life for our residents and visitors to have plentiful shopping options. The city of Flagstaff annually attends a global convention for the shopping center industry. This provides networking and deal making opportunities for retail real estate professionals. There are several retail opportunities for Flagstaff. According to Buxton information, the regional economy shows leakage in clothing stores, home furnishings and cosmetics, beauty supplies and perfume stores. Retail leakage means that residents are spending more for products than local businesses captures. The city of Flagstaff economic development staff can run these types of comprehensive reports for any new or existing business.
Finally, digital products are an emerging market for Flagstaff and the region. Together, with our partners at ECONA (Economic Collaborative of Northern Arizona), we have learned that there are many people doing business in this sector that live right here in Flagstaff. Their employer is based somewhere else in the country. Why do they choose Flagstaff? It’s simple really – the quality of life, outdoor adventure, vibrant economy and the four season climate.
As a resident of Flagstaff, you can help with the prosperity of our small city. Do you know someone who has a connection to Flagstaff? Perhaps that individual is an NAU alumnus who has been looking for a reason to move back, or a friend who works from home for a high tech digital company in the Silicon Valley. Or, maybe you have an idea for a new business or a retailer that would be a great fit. Whatever the case, we would be delighted to hear from you. Please reach out to me at 928-213-2965 or email@example.com
Wishing you a prosperous New Year! FBN
By Gail Jackson
Gail Jackson is the business attraction manager with the City of Flagstaff.