PHOENIX - For those who grew up in the Phoenix area, they know how different our state looks in the present day, when compared to 20 or 30 years ago.
Arizona has grown quickly, and much faster than other states, and a new state report finds the growth is only going to accelerate over the next 10 years, but can Arizona handle that much growth?
Businesses expanding in Arizona
This is how a supply chain is created.
By the end of 2022, ElectraMeccanica's one-seat solo vehicles will be coming off the line at their 238,000 square foot manufacturing plant that is being constructed in Mesa. 500 jobs are expected to be created.
"One seat, three wheels, a million possibilities," said Kevin Pavlov with ElectraMeccanica.
This is not just a starting point for ElectraMeccanica, but a starting point for Arizona. With projects like this in the desert, it can snowball into a lot more, like a lot more electric vehicles.
This past summer, Lucid Air, which was selected as the MotorTrend Car of the Year, started production at its plant in Casa Grande. EV manufacturers need smaller companies to move in next door to help support production, and that creates a supply chain of jobs.
"It will be a real hub, real mecca for the EV space that we're working on for the Solos," said Pavlov.
City of Buckeye
On the other side of the Valley, Buckeye remains one of the fastest growing cities in America, thanks to so many other industries.
"Our industrial vacancy rate is zero. Our office vacancy rate is less than 1%. Retail vacancy rate is, like, 2%. So, there's very little existing space here, and so we're building all new facilities today," said David Roderique, Buckeye's City Manager.
Roderique says less than 10% percent of the city is developed, and eventually, they believe Buckeye will be a city of 1.5 million people.
Report: Many new jobs expected to be created in the coming years
According to a new state report, Arizona will gain more than 720,000 new jobs by 2030, essentially the population of Mesa and Gilbert combined.
"It's adding jobs and people," said Patrick Ptak with the Arizona Commerce Association.
That is a lot of people, with not a lot of time to get ready for them.
"Growth is a good problem to have. You'd rather have this than other places and states have, which is industries leaving, people leaving," said Ptak.
"It's good. It's great news. It's solid. It's nothing we can't handle, though," said Dennis Hoffman, an Economics professor with Arizona State University's W. P. Carey School of Business.
Economist: State should start planning for growth
While it is, in Ptak's words, a good problem, it is still a problem nonetheless. Hoffman, who studies issues like this, says now is the time to start planning.
"Five to seven to 10 years down the road. We've got to make wise investments today in infrastructure, be it energy, be it transportation, be it broadband, be it in healthcare facilities, wherever to meet the needs of this growing population, and we'll have the means -- which is a good deal -- we'll have the means and the wealth to take care of that, you know, should we decide to make those investments," said Hoffman.
Arizona faces challenges amid ongoing growth
A key issue is water. Water levels are already low as populations rise. City officials, however, say they are prepared for growth.
"Buckeye has adequate water to about triple in size before there is any problem," said Roderique. "We have the ability to support up to 300,000-350,000 people today."
They have long term plans to tap into more water supplies as they grow past that. Ptak says water shortages are problems the desert has solved before.
"We use less water today than 1957, with six times the populations and 16 times the economy," said Ptak.
Water, however, is not the only infrastructure challenge, as roads are already clogged.
Roderique pointed to projects like widening the I-10 and the potential for an I-11 running through city limits as solutions.
"Building the roads, building the water line, sewer lines, things like that to accommodate the growth," said Roderique.
The Arizona Commerce Authority says growth will come in every industry. Taiwanese company TSMC is investing $12 billion and creating 2,000 jobs.
Intel, meanwhile, is investing $20 billion and 3,000 jobs.
Companies creating products that have not even been invented yet, might be next.
Ptak says that is why education will be key.
"We need to continue to look ahead and work with the private sector and say 'where are you going? What's next?' so we can continue to work with higher education institutions, even K-12 schools, and say, 'these are the skills need five to 10 years from now, we want to start making sure we train our students for that early on,' so that by the time 2030 gets here and there are industries we never even thought of, there are students and people with the skills to fill those jobs," said Ptak.
Hoffman adds Federal dollars are essential to help the state keep up, but Arizona needs to rely on itself as well.
"It's a good problem to have. Now we've got to we've got to deal with it wisely. We can't just say, oh, unbridled growth forever. We've got no worries. We've got to plan. We've got to zone. We've got to worry about affordable housing and engage in efforts to make sure that people aren't left behind by this growth," said Hoffman.
As for Pavlov, he is looking to the future, and sees Arizona at the heart of it all.
"I think the center of gravity is moving this way," said Pavlov.
Soon, hundreds of thousands might move here with it.
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