[Source: Jahna Berry, Arizona Republic] — The Phoenix Convention Center impressed many visitors at this month’s National Rifle Association convention, but some attendees felt there wasn’t enough to do downtown. Tourists’ impressions from the NRA convention are important because the May 15-17 event was the largest gathering in the convention center’s history. It was also an opportunity for Phoenix to showcase a $600 million center expansion, light rail, and a new hotel.
Several convention attendees said that they were impressed with the sleek convention center, which is within walking distance of major hotels. “It’s one of the nicer ones that I have been in,” said Craig Dutton, who is based in Smyrna, Ga., and is an exhibitor for Glock Inc.
Las Vegas residents Michael Villegas and his wife, Lisa, say they were also wowed by the convention center. They only wished that there were more activity at night. “It reminded me of what San Diego was like 20 years ago,” Villegas said. While there are eateries and nightspots near the convention center, a few blocks away, it was tougher for the couple to find things to do. Villegas said he and his wife frequently talked to orange-clad downtown ambassadors to get information about restaurants and that they had a good time. They also attended a concert in a downtown park, Villegas said.
Downtown leaders say they received positive feedback from the NRA and have been asked to bid on the 2015 convention, said David Roderique, president and CEO of the Downtown Phoenix Partnership. The business group helps market the neighborhood as an economic and tourist destination. “Downtown does need a few more things to do, and that is something that we are working on,” Roderique said. [Note: To read the full article, click here.]
A new national survey by the Pew Research Center’s Social & Demographic Trends Project finds that nearly half (46%) of the public would rather live in a different type of community from the one they’re living in now — a sentiment that is most prevalent among city dwellers. When asked about specific metropolitan areas where they would like to live, respondents rank Denver, San Diego, and Seattle at the top of a list of 30 cities (Phoenix #7), and Detroit, Cleveland, and Cincinnati at the bottom. To read the full report, click here.
[Source: Russ Wiles, Arizona Republic] — Do poor people live in or near your neighborhood? The answer could be yes, as working-poor families in the Valley are more spread out than in most other cities. And that’s generally good for them and for the economy, according to a report being released today. The study from the Brookings Institution in Washington, D.C., shows the Valley is bucking a national trend in which poor working families increasingly cluster together. The study ranks the Phoenix metro area as having the fifth-lowest concentration of working-poor neighborhoods of 58 urban areas studied. The Valley also ranks second-best in the country for its percentage decline in poor-neighborhood concentrations over a recent six-year period.
The study focuses on the geographic concentration of poverty rather than the number of low-income families because people who live in disadvantaged geographic areas face a “double burden,” according to the report’s authors. They not only must try to make ends meet on low incomes but also usually live in areas characterized by few jobs, higher consumer prices, low housing values, more crime, worse community health standards, inferior schools, and so on.
Western cities generally scored well in terms of low concentrations of poverty-riddled neighborhoods – and in terms of the change of that concentration from 1999 to 2005. The Sacramento, San Diego, and Washington, D.C., metro areas had the lowest concentrated poverty rates, followed by Trenton, N.J., and the Phoenix metro area, including Mesa and Scottsdale. Also, the Valley enjoyed the second-biggest decrease in high-poverty neighborhoods from 1999 to 2005, trailing only the Los Angeles metro area. The study relied on 2005 because that’s the most recent year for which poverty data were available. However, the Valley’s job market, housing market and economy have deteriorated since then — a trend also pronounced in Los Angeles and other Western cities that scored well in the report. “If you take it forward to 2008, things might not look quite as rosy for Phoenix and other Western cities,” said Alan Berube, a Brookings research director and report co-author. “Performance of the regional economy explains a lot.” [Note: To read the full article, click here.]
[Source: William H. Frey, Senior Fellow, Metropolitan Policy Program, The Brookings Institution] — Newly released U.S. Census Bureau population data for U.S. cities show a new twist on a well-known theme that could be good news for older cities hoping to reverse population declines of the past. The familiar part of the report indicates that most of the nation’s fastest growing cities are located in the South and interior West. Places like McKinney, TX; North Las Vegas, NV; and Cary, NC, are registering growth rates that cities in baseball’s “American League Central” division (e.g., Detroit, Cleveland, Kansas City) can only dream about. But the new estimates also show a clear retrenchment of the old “Snowbelt to Sunbelt” population surge, a turnaround that has brought modest gains to many older and coastal cities that lost population earlier in the decade.
Population trends in the nation’s nine largest cities (those with over one million residents) offer a glimpse at the story (Table 1). Three of these — Chicago, Los Angeles, and San Diego — flipped from population declines to gains in the past year, while their more high-flying sunbelt counterparts — Phoenix, Houston, San Antonio, and Dallas — showed reduced levels of growth. The growth slowdowns in Houston and Phoenix were substantial, while at the same time, Chicago’s modest gain was the first registered since 2001. Another notable flip occurred in Boston, which last year became the fastest growing city in the Northeast, after losing population the year before. [Note: To read the full article, click here.]