New economic vision urged for Arizona

Crow, Smith say bold strategies needed

By Gary Nelson

The Arizona Republic

With Arizona’s per capita economic output badly trailing the national average, two of the Southeast Valley’s top leaders say it’s time for a major strategic shift.

Arizona State University President Michael Crow and Mesa Mayor Scott Smith beat that drum loudly Thursday when several hundred business and political leaders gathered in Tempe. The occasion was the East Valley Partnership’s annual SRP-sponsored economic forum at the Mission Palms Hotel.

Crow said Arizona is far below the national average in a category called “per capita gross domestic product.”

Using a chart in which 100 percent represents the national average, Crow said Arizona’s per-person output is only about 83 percent, and it has been falling since peaking at 92 percent more than half a decade ago.

If Arizona’s productivity matched Colorado’s, he said, the state’s economy would be $76.4 billion larger per year. “This is unacceptable,” he said, adding that “a poorly functioning regional innovation system” bears much of the blame.

It was a more sober message than the one Crow had delivered the week before to a meeting of the Chandler Chamber of Commerce.


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September 2012