I didn't start this. An article in the Phoenix Business Journal is headlined, "Why Phoenix should be looking up to Seattle, not Austin." Behind it is the legitimate concern, written about here often, how the city is not attracting anywhere near its share of young, educated and high-skilled talent. In addition, as the article states, "The Texas capital beat out the Valley for a $300 million Apple Inc. campus last year, and General Motors is also placing a new technology center there." Naturally, it contains the obligatory, "Arizona has plenty of positive attributes in its corner: cost of living, proximity to California, business costs and nice winters."
Here are a few reasons why Phoenix can't be Seattle: No major headquarters of global corporations and non-profits; no world-class clusters in aviation and software; no civic stewards who invest heavily in the city, nurture its cultural assets and lead its continuous reinvention; no 24/7 downtown with hundreds of stores, restaurants, Pike Place Market, flagship Nordstrom, etc., and little critical mass in a dense, lively, cool center city. No diversified economy or University of Washington. No reputation for tolerance, progressive politics and long history of attracting world talent, whether for airplanes, software, biotech, world health or game development. We've covered some of this before.
Austin is sprawly, hot and has poor transit. Alas, here are a few reasons why Phoenix can't be Austin: It's not the capital of a state that puts attracting business, good jobs and huge amounts of federal money ahead of crazy ideology and revels in its power. No University of Texas. No world-famous music scene in a relatively dense quarter of downtown and tolerant "Keep Austin Weird" liberalism in the middle of a red state. No oil money. No history of largesse from LBJ (would President McCain have done anything for Phoenix? No.). No first-rate technology cluster, built up over many years, attracting top talent to the headquarters, R&D centers and labs of scores of well-known corporations.