[Source: Jahna Berry, Arizona Republic] — Arizona State University’s and University of Arizona’s downtown Phoenix campuses are a crucial part of the city’s future, Mayor Phil Gordon said on Tuesday. Gordon delivered his annual State of Downtown address before a crowd of residents and local movers-and-shakers at Civic Space Park, 424 N. Central Ave.
The mayor didn’t mention it by name, but after the speech Gordon said that his words were also aimed at the state Legislature, which has delayed a key vote that would allow a $164 million education facility on the city’s biomedical campus to move forward. “Let me end with a heartfelt and passionate plea for everyone who cares about this community, this state and our shared future — to keep investing in education,” Gordon told the park crowd.
The sixth annual address comes as the region slogs through a brutal recession that has halted or delayed several downtown projects, pushed many property owners into foreclosure and siphoned jobs. But on Tuesday, Gordon was optimistic about the heart of the city, which he has made a central issue during his tenure as mayor. Phoenix’s investment in ASU’s downtown campus, which opened in fall 2006, continues to pay off, Gordon said. The university has created 2,500 jobs the mayor said. More than 7,000 students are taking at least one class downtown, up 42 percent compared with last year.
The political gathering had the air of a city festival. Local eateries handed out food samples and bands played. About 1,200 people visited the park during the event, said Lt. Jeff Lazell of the Phoenix Police Department. [Note: Read the full article at Mayor’s talk urges more investment for schools, downtown Phoenix. For ABC 15 news video of the event, click here. Video above provided by The Downtown Devil.]
[Source: Betty Beard, Arizona Republic] — A new study shows that TGen, the downtown Phoenix-based bioscience research group, last year produced about $8 for every $1 invested by the state — more than twice its economic benefits of two years earlier. The study by the Tripp Umbach company in Pittsburgh estimates that the 2008 economic benefit reached $77.4 million, compared with $21.7 million in 2006. TGen’s economic benefits have grown because it has almost 300 employees, its research has helped create or incubate seven companies to commercialize technology, it contracts with outside businesses such as software developers, and the bulk of its $65 million annual budget comes from federal and corporate grants.
The Translational Genomics Research Institute, as it is officially known, commissioned the 2006 and 2008 studies to show that the state and public investments that created TGen in 2002 have more than paid for themselves and continue to produce results, said Jeffrey Trent, TGen president and research director. Arizona pays about $5.5 million a year into TGen, using tobacco funds earmarked for health research. Phoenix contributed the building, and the group receives substantial donations, such as $685,000 awarded by Safeway earlier this year for breast-cancer research.
Even though TGen continues to attract multimillion-dollar contracts and grants, Trent said he hopes the group can continue to receive money from the state earmarked for medical research. It expects to continue receiving the $5.5 million a year through 2012. “We are focusing on leveraging state dollars vs. replacing state dollars,” Trent said. “Bioscience was never intended to be the sole component that would change the economy in Arizona. But I think it is an important knowledge-based pillar that the state has invested in, and I think if it continues to invest, it is likely to have an economic impact.”
The Tripp Umbach report released Tuesday said that TGen operations in 2008 produced $8.09 for every $1 invested by the state, 461 direct and indirect full-time jobs, $2.7 million in state taxes and a direct annual economic benefit of $44.5 million. Adding the business spin-offs and commercialization, TGen produced about $14.07 for every $1 in state investment, $5.7 million in taxes and $77.4 million in total annual economic impact. [Note: Read the full article at Economic benefits of downtown Phoenix’s TGen more than doubled in 2 years.]