Quality of Life: Working Where It’s Great To Live

Business Facilities Magazine (August 18, 2021)

The coronavirus pandemic has forced everyone to rethink just about everything we do. It also has accelerated tectonic shifts in our cultural landscape, mostly for the better. We’re not going to use the word “woke”—which has become a political pejorative—but it does seem like most of us have abruptly woken up in the middle of a nightmare with the same epiphanies.

Before this plague invaded the United States, our wealth, talent and opportunities were mostly clustered in our urban metropolises. As the pandemic (hopefully) withers, the national shortage of skilled workers has been revealed like the bed of a dry lake in a drought. With EDOs across the nation leading the way, we are embracing a commitment to a diaspora of opportunity: diverse, inclusive and equity-driven, which is the only way to build a sustainable workforce that keeps the U.S. numero uno in global competitiveness.

Millennials were already migrating to smaller places before this crisis; as we’ve said many times on our pages this year, they’re looking for affordable places with a superior quality of life that enables a better work/life balance (emphasis on the forward slash) with a 24/7 live/work/play environment. Getting locked in a remote location for a year (our houses) proves we can all do this. Turn the page and discover a future that has a lot of fresh air and fun.

[Baby Boomers can pause here and declare: we tried to convince everybody to join the “counter-culture,” but the suits made us cut our hair. Boomers: get over it!]


If a state’s economic momentum could be captured on paper, you’d need a skyscraper to chart Arizona’s meteoric rise.

Since 2015, the Grand Canyon state has logged some of the fastest growth in sought-after technology and manufacturing sectors. Now, after a record-setting year and slew of recent pro-growth policy enactments, Arizona’s potential is bigger than ever.

Most states understandably experienced a manufacturing slowdown over last year. Arizona wasn’t one of them. The state saw the third-fastest manufacturing job growth in 2020 (Cyberstates), which comes on top of the third-fastest manufacturing job growth from 2015-2019 (EMSI).

While impressive, these figures likely will pale in comparison to the growth expected over the next decade and beyond. Over the last 14 months, Arizona landed two of the biggest advanced manufacturing announcements in the world.

In May 2020, Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC) made global shockwaves when it selected Phoenix as the site of the company’s new microchip fabrication facility. At $12 billion, the company’s investment will lead to the direct creation of more than 1,600 high-tech jobs as well as thousands of additional jobs for suppliers in the state.


Flagstaff is a community that exemplifies and brings to life the term “quality of life.”

Flagstaff, home to Northern Arizona University, Coconino Community College and 75,000 residents, is a four-season community. Gateway to the Grand Canyon, the only level 1 trauma unit in Northern Arizona, America’s First S.T.E.M. City and the First International Dark Skies Community, Flagstaff is home to one of the top 50 High Schools in the U.S. (BASIS Flagstaff #47) and a new Commercial Driver’s License Certificate program through the Coconino Community College.

Between July 1 and October 24, a total of 59 separate days of events and festivals will bring people together to enjoy life in Northern Arizona for events ranging from Heritage Festivals of Art & Culture (Hopi, Navajo, Zuni, Yavapai, Apache, Havasupai) to the Arizona Highland Celtic Festival to the Flagstaff Pro Rodeo.

All of that, and a short commute time of 16 minutes. That means whether you are working in one of the four astronomical entities like the Lowell Observatory, or in one of the growing number of bio-medical research and design companies like W.L. Gore & Associates or Machine Solutions, or in the world’s largest manufacturer of ice cream cones known as Joy Cone Company, when you get home 16 minutes after leaving work, you are that much closer to getting onto the 56 miles of trails within the city limits. Those trails can take you to Lake Mary for an afternoon of fishing or paddle boarding, or if you are feeling ambitious, those trails also connect into the Arizona Trail which can take you to Utah or to Mexico…literally. Or you may simply wish to meet a friend at one of the eight breweries in town.

Sitting at an elevation of ~7,000 feet, Flagstaff is an ideal elevation for high altitude training. HYPO2 is a sport management organization centered around a world-renowned altitude training program and a collaboration of best-in-class high performance sport professionals. HYPO2 has been a member of the elite, Olympic sport community for over a decade, working closely with the finest amateur and professional athletes, teams, National Governing Bodies and National Sport Federations anywhere in the world. And as part of the International Association of Sports Performance Centres (the only member organization in the U.S. other than the U.S. Olympic Training Centers), HYPO2 works to provide opportunities that enhance training for high performance sports worldwide and help set the standard in the global high performance training site community.

Two businesses recently worked with Jack Fitchett, Business Attraction Manager for the City of Flagstaff (ChooseFlagstaff.com), and decided to make the move to Flagstaff.

UACJ Whitehall Industries, a global leader in automotive manufacturing, made the decision to Choose Flagstaff and is the largest new business to come to the City in the last five decades. Whitehall is a major supplier of components for electric-vehicle OEMs, including Tesla, Lucid Motors and Rivian. Whitehall plans to bring in over $60 million in capital investment and 350 jobs over the next three years.

Key attractions bringing Whitehall to Flagstaff were the immense quality of life the community enjoys, Flagstaff’s highly educated workforce and access to two major highways and an airport—and supportive economic development staff made their decision that much easier.

Another newcomer to Flagstaff is Katalyst Space Technologies, a growing satellite maintenance business that has recently secured contracts and partnerships with NASA and the U.S. Department of Defense. Katalyst plans to have 30+ employees in the next two years and has just moved into their new home at the Northern Arizona Center for Emerging Technology (NACET).

Katalyst’s was a natural fit for the impressive aerospace assets in the Flagstaff area, including Lowell Observatory and USGS, which coupled with Northern Arizona University (NAU) will help provide the expertise and partnerships their business so greatly wanted.

The City of Flagstaff’s Job Creation Incentive program helped supply Katalyst with funds to make the move and assisted in solidifying their decision to grow their business in Flagstaff.


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