Arizona tech sector seeing steady surge

Phoenix and Tempe recently landed high on global investment and research firm CBRE’s list of top cities to snatch up real estate for tech endeavors in the country. This announcement mirrored the trend of a growing tech sector in Arizona with more opportunities for startups to rise, companies to expand and jobs to increase. In fact, analysts put Phoenix at number three on the list of fast-growing tech cities of tomorrow.

The latter point can also be seen in CompTIA’s Cyberstates 2019 report, a comprehensive look at the state’s impressive growth and impact of the technology sector. In partnership with the Arizona Technology Council, CompTIA’s report shows significant development in the tech sector’s available jobs, including a year-over-year net job gain of 5,127 and a 174 percent increase in emerging technology job postings, such as jobs in data science, artificial intelligence and cyber security engineering.

The report also showed that Arizona’s technology jobs are more attractive because of their pay scale. In fact, the state’s median technology occupation wage is 94 percent higher than the national wage, while also pumping about $31.3 billion into the state’s local economy. That being said, it’s no wonder why Arizona has seen a huge influx of people saying “so long” to places like New York City and Silicon Valley for better pay, more promising work, and a lower cost of living.

“As long as this economy keeps going the way it has with low unemployment and job growth and salary growth, I think the tech industry will continue to boom,” Steve Zylstra, President and CEO of the Arizona Tech Council said. “As we all know, it’s a special place to live and work and play, and everything is becoming more attractive to people compared to other places. Even Austin is becoming just as horrendous as California, and out in California you have high taxes and regulations.”

Different cities around the state have pushed their influence in the technology sector year over year. Tucson has become synonymous with tech industry growth with missile defense development, solar power, and semiconductor manufacturing. The Phoenix area continues to see a rise in technology with more opportunities opening up in its startup culture, autonomous vehicle research and development, and sustainability projects. Up north in Flagstaff, bioscience projects continue to take off.

The report from CompTIA also highlighted data for the top tech cities in the country, placing Phoenix at number 15 in net technology employment and 19th among major tech cities in economic impact. The city also received high marks for its employment increases of at least 2.8 percent in the technology industry sectors of telecommunications, software, and IT services.

“We have one of the lowest congestion indexes for our size of city. What Silicon Valley doesn’t have is the ability to keep expanding. We also have the Sun Corridor to take us from Tucson to Phoenix, and now you have Jerry Colangelo and Bill Gates taking up land in the west valley,” Zylstra said.

The report goes on to forecast that Arizona’s tech talent base will grow by about 11 percent by 2026, but a major issue will still be finding and retaining talent. The main issue may be related to a skills gap, especially for opportunities that require re-training of working adults to fill tech-forward roles.

Nick Esquer

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