Google’s decision to leave metro Phoenix spotlights need for diversification

[Source: Chad Graham, Arizona Republic] — Google Inc. arrived on Arizona State University’s campus in 2006, creating a sensation and the promise of hundreds of high-quality jobs.  Tempe was one of 50 sites around the world with one of the search giant’s engineering offices.  One employee bragged to The Arizona Republic about the “culture of creativity.”  That culture disappeared on Friday when Google announced plans to close the office and allow the 50 employees to relocate to California or New York.  That relatively minor job loss won’t rock the economy.  But what if Google had stayed?

In a small way, the company might have helped to further more collaboration and innovation between the best and brightest at ASU.  That might have translated into new firms and products.  Because like begets like, more innovative companies (employing computer scientists, engineers, alternative energy entrepreneurs, and high-tech health-care professionals) might have been attracted to the innovation coming out of the Valley.  Those workers would create new products and new ideas that could be sold in the global marketplace.  That would create new, diverse streams of revenue flowing into Arizona’s economy from around the world.

OK, maybe Google’s tiny office wouldn’t have had such a major impact, but there’s nothing to lose in this awful economy by playing the “what-if” game.  In the past year, Phoenix has paid dearly for its decades-long addiction to housing and growth.  During the boom times, the region almost overdosed.  And it did little to diversity its economy and retrain workers for the jobs of the new century.  Home prices have fallen rapidly, foreclosures have skyrocketed and unemployment is up.  The credit crunch has dried up money for development.  Consumers have run out of money to shop and sales-tax revenue has plummeted.  [Note: To read the full article, click here.]

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