In one of his regular email correspondences, Phoenix Mayor Phil Gordon wrote Friday, "I said that in order to be a GREAT city, THIS city needs to excel in three areas: Education, Public Safety and Jobs."
The mayor's prescription? "This downtown Phoenix Campus of ASU is the catalyst for the first - and the foundation for the other two.
Mayor Gordon's statement, along with much of the hullabaloo in the Arizona Republic and among the Valley's elites about the "visionary" new ASU-Phoenix campus, was probably missed by most Valley residents who are busy taking advantage of the area's plentiful jobs and reasonable cost-of-living in order to raise families and fulfill the American dream.
The claim that new job creation requires a downtown campus is belied by the job growth that has been the hallmark of the Valley's economy for 15 years.
As urban policy expert Joel Kotkin, author of a forthcoming Goldwater Institute study, wrote in Sunday's Arizona Republic, Phoenix's economy was one of the best-performing in the nation throughout much of the 1990's, aided, in part, by a comparatively low tax environment. A downtown Phoenix ASU campus was not needed to create hundreds of thousands of new jobs.
Many new jobs, moreover, were high-wage jobs. In fact, Phoenix had a higher percentage growth in high-wage jobs in the 1990's than Portland, Seattle and Denver.
These accomplishments have been achieved almost entirely without the help of government. Major new multi-million dollar public works efforts are hardly required to jump-start this already-bustling region.