Since the recession, there was a shift in Phoenix, Arizona's economy. What was once an economy that was reliant on real estate development, is now one that is innovation-based. Mayor Greg Stanton of Phoenix, Arizona discusses how the city's successful investments have led to an even better economy and community.
Interview recorded November 30, 2017.
Traynham: Creating a true sense of place, a destination to live, work, and learn. A goal of many of our nation's cities, and the city of Phoenix is no exception. Hello and welcome to "Comcast Newsmakers." I'm Robert Traynham. Joining me is Mayor Greg Stanton of Phoenix, Arizona. Mayor Stanton is one of the 2017 Governing magazine Public Official of the Year honorees. Mayor Stanton, welcome to the program. Stanton: Thank you so much.
Traynham: And congratulations for your nomination there. Really appreciate that.
Stanton: Thank you so much.
Traynham: So let's talk about Phoenix, Arizona. I have a stereotype, and that is of beautiful, beautiful landscape, pretty warm, but a one-company town in the context of older citizens, perhaps maybe real estate drives the economy there. Why am I wrong?
Stanton: That's the old model of Phoenix. You were probably right as a stereotype for 15, 20 years ago, but now it's very different. When I became mayor, we knew we had to change that perception, change the reality, build an economy, not one based on real estate, but rooted in innovation and building an export-based economy. Let's grow up as a city. We are the fastest-growing big city in the United States of America, and yet we had the highest wage growth of any big city in America. That's a rare combination. We did it by investing in higher education as a city, investing in biosciences, investing in healthcare and medical education. We had to reinvent a relation with Mexico, because trade with Mexico supports hundreds of thousands of jobs in Arizona. We had harmed that relationship. Now we're going in the right direction, investing in transportation, and saying that people matter and making pro-people policies, like supporting our LGBT community or supporting our refugee community or passing an ordinance that requires equal pay for equal work, because I'm a big believer that being pro-people is pro-business. You put it all in a package, Phoenix has a very positive trajectory.
Traynham: Mayor Stanton, it sounds like you're describing a Phoenix renaissance -- my words, not yours. Let's drill down for a few moments about infrastructure. What have you done specifically, in terms of the roads and bridges and so forth, that perhaps maybe creates this type of a renaissance that you're referring to?
Stanton: No city in the country has transformed itself more in a positive way than Phoenix over the last decade. And in 2015, we took it big time. We put a major transportation infrastructure investment plan on the ballot, a $32 billion plan, and the citizens of Phoenix overwhelmingly said yes. By the way, I put it on the same ballot as my own reelection, so I put my own name and reputation on the line. We're tripling the amount of light rail -- 60 miles of light rail, a massive increase in bus service. We're having 1,000 miles of bike lanes. Phoenix, Arizona, is gonna become a great, bikeable city, if you can believe that, be a more walkable city, improved dial-a-ride services, so people who need mobility independence can have more independence. And we're doing road infrastructure, billions of dollars of road infrastructure. Transportation, education, good economic development, good urban development all go hand in hand, and Phoenix, Arizona, is Exhibit "A" on a successful investment in transportation. "