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A Growing Technology Sector in Phoenix Is Increasing the City’s Intellectual Capital

Phoenix skyline

Phoenix is rising. More than $5 billion in developments have been invested in the downtown core and new and renovated hotel announcements are frequent in the Valley of the Sun. 

But planners should know that it’s not just brick-and-mortar developments that are enhancing the destination’s allure for meetings and conventions, as its intellectual capital is growing by leaps and bounds, too.

Phoenix Bioscience Core
Phoenix Bioscience Core

Phoenix has established itself as a leader in the biosciences, thanks to the Phoenix Bioscience Core, a 30-acre life sciences innovation district in the heart of downtown Phoenix that is home to the highest concentration of research scientists in the state, featuring anchor institutions Arizona State University, Northern Arizona University and the University of Arizona.

Phoenix is also making big strides in other business segments, most notably the technology sector, which opens up many doors for meetings and conventions in the tech space looking for a new home.

Growth of the Semiconductor Industry

Phoenix Convention Center
Phoenix Convention Center

Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. (TSMC) announced plans to invest $12 billion in Phoenix in 2020 to build an advanced semiconductor manufacturing fabrication plant, spurring what has become major growth in the industry. In December 2022, the company announced a commitment to build a second fab in Phoenix. More investments were announced this spring, as the semiconductor giant continues to grow its footprint in Arizona.

“The expansion of that industry that we've seen since 2020 represents more than 13,000 new jobs coming into the landscape and over $64 billion of investment,” remarked Lorne Edwards, chief sales officer at Visit Phoenix. 

In March, President Biden came to Phoenix to announce $20 billion in grants and loans ($8.5 billion in grants, $11 billion eligibility in loans from the Commerce Department) for Intel to expand its semiconductor production. The announcement is a result of the Chips and Science Act, signed into law by the president in 2022, which allocates funding for U.S. semiconductor research and manufacturing, among other science and technology investments.

“This will spur manufacturing, construction and indirect jobs all across the valley,” Edwards said. “We're so thrilled that Arizona is in the epicenter of all of this development.”

All of the recent investment not only benefits the community, but it’s bringing convention business to Phoenix as well. Recently, SEMICON West announced it will take its show to Phoenix Convention Center in 2025, 2027 and 2029, alternating years with San Francisco. The massive convention, which is North America’s premier microelectronics exhibition and conference, has called San Francisco home for 50 years. Such a significant location shift speaks volumes about Phoenix’s growth and intellectual prowess in the tech sector.

In a release from Arizona Commerce Authority, President of SEMI Americas Joe Stockunas expanded on the reasons for the move: “Greater Phoenix is home to more than 75 semiconductor companies, including SEMI members EMD Electronics, Intel and Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC), and the sector employs more than 100,000 [people] with more jobs on the way,” he said. “As recent investments in chip manufacturing in the area have made abundantly clear, Phoenix embodies the drive by SEMI and the industry at large toward greater innovation.”

“For Phoenix to be part of its reinvention really speaks volumes of where our industry is going…It's just scratching the surface, too,” Edwards said. “It's not just TSMC, or Intel or the big giants—it's all of the industries that are suppliers to that segment that are also bringing their folks in and having meetings and conventions, all at the same time. So, I think about the next two, three, four years and where this is going, I can see us really changing the landscape, the makeup of a convention portfolio, diversifying more into the technology space.”

For planners, the opportunities to tap local talent for speaking engagements and learning experiences grow, which is only a benefit in an era where costs are higher and budgets are tighter. 

[Related: How Phoenix Can Help Your Event Prioritize Wellness]

Electric Vehicle Manufacturing

Waymo EV ride-share service
Waymo EV ride-share service

Phoenix is also seeing accelerated growth in the electric vehicle (EV) market. Major EV companies like Tesla, Lucid and Rivian have brought manufacturing facilities to Phoenix in recent years. KORE Power, an EV battery manufacturer, has also set up shop in Phoenix. And an innovative driverless ride-share service, Waymo, has been introduced to the Phoenix area. Waymo's autonomous driving technology, comprised of an all-electric fleet of cars, currently operates 24/7 across 225 square miles of Metro Phoenix, providing rides around Downtown Phoenix, Scottsdale and the East Valley.

With a world that is increasingly concerned with climate change and finding clean energy solutions, Edwards feels that Phoenix can be a hub for innovation in this arena, too.

“There's really a new narrative that's coming out of this community, out of the Phoenix area, about clean technology growth and development,” Edwards said. “I think that really aligns with the city's vision to be a clean tech hub, a global leader of clean tech energy. There's no reason why Phoenix cannot emerge as a global powerhouse in climate tech initiatives.”

Learn more about the intellectual capital possibilities in Phoenix for meetings and events in this episode of the Meetings Today podcast.

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This article was created in partnership with Visit Phoenix.

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About the author
Danielle LeBreck | Senior Content Director

Danielle started at Meetings Today in March 2019 after seven years of editorial experience in the travel and food industries. She oversees all of the destination content for Meetings Today and collaborates with the team on digital content strategy and content marketing initiatives.