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Updated Aug 27, 2013 - 8:41 am

Officials: Arizona economy doesn't need cute nicknames

PHOENIX -- We are the Valley of the Sun but some say the nickname lacks the punch of a "Silicon Valley" or a "Motor City."

A Valley leader said we can live without the clever business nickname.

"A lot of people bemoan the fact that we're not a big center for Fortune 500 headquarters," said Barry Broome with the Greater Phoenix Economic Council. "I don't consider that a disadvantage at all."

Broome said if he had to put a label on the Valley, it would be the "Digital Desert."

"We control all of the data and we are the data storage center of the universe."

And being the leader in that spawns unlimited opportunities.

"Like telemedicine, healthcare, biomarkers. At the crux of this has to be elevating Arizona state universities engineering to the top level," he said.

Broome described the Valley as the hub of innovation. He said the key to Arizona's future economy is to stop being what we're not.

"Chasing sectors because they look interesting and are doing well in other markets is exactly the wrong approach."

Turning the clock ahead to 2020, Broome said the framework is in place for Arizona to be the go to state for entrepreneurs.

"Our digital platform is probably the most exciting thing going on in 2020. A lot of exciting, great young companies coming up in the digital space."

Arizona Chamber of Commerce and Industry President and CEO Glenn Hamer said Arizona is always in the top four for big companies looking to move.

"One of the top places for innovators to start a business and grow."

Hamer would label Arizona "The Knowledge Economy."

"Biotech, renewable energy, semiconductors, aerospace and defense," he said. "These jobs require a high level of knowledge and they all pay well."

Hamer said Arizona is as strong as any other state when it comes to growth of technology and innovation jobs.

"Boeing, Raytheon, Honeywell, Intel, Go Daddy."

Hamer said we're a young state, but a creative state and a merit-based state. He added we've done more in the past three years to become a magnet for innovators.

"Our education policy, tax policy, regulatory policy are all part of making this a state that welcomes innovators."

About the Author

Position: Senior News Reporter. Started with KTAR July 4, 1999.

Favorite spots in Arizona: Pinetop-Lakeside, Alpine, Greer.

Have covered some of the biggest stories in Arizona including nine of the top 10 largest wildfires in state history. The Wallow Fire in 2011 became the largest fire in state history. Rodeo-Chediski Fire in June 2002, which is the second largest fire in Arizona. Covered the Yarnell Hill Tragedy in June 2013 that left 19 Granite Mountain Hotshots dead.

Favorite movies: True Grit, both 1969 John Wayne classic and the remake with Jeff Bridges and Lonesome Dove.

Sports Teams: Washington State University Cougars, Texas Longhorns, The University of Montana Grizzlies.


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