Tourism, Technology Support Flagstaff's Economy

By Michaela Jackson on June 21, 2011 at 7:24 pm EST
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PHOTO CREDIT: Kevin Young

The business community in Flagstaff, where ambition meets heritage, is a mesh of top-tier technology and high-dollar tourism.

The city’s beautiful mountain scenery and its proximity to the Grand Canyon attract over a million visitors each year, making the tourism industry the second largest employer behind the government. Nearly 12,000 people make their living in Flagstaff’s leisure and service sector.

Flagstaff’s up-and-coming industry is research and technology, and the community is working hard to cultivate an environment conducive to homegrown development. The city government, along with the Northern Arizona Council of Governments, is working on construction of the Northern Arizona Science, Technology and Clean Energy Incubator. The 10,000-square-foot facility will include fully functional lab space, as well as conference and office facilities. The incubator is expected to be open by late summer 2008.

Alongside the incubator, there will be a Science and Technology Park with 200,000 square feet of research or manufacturing space for science and technology companies. The park is just minutes from Northern Arizona University and will connect the university with the incubator and with the United States Geological Survey, whose campus is in Flagstaff.

The city is also working on a development project that will, if approved, make 1,100 acres surrounding the airport available for business park, light industrial, residential development, runway expansion and municipal uses.

Downtown, the Flagstaff Downtown Business Alliance is a conglomerate of businesses dedicated to the historic preservation and economic vibrancy of the downtown district. The group sponsors free family events encouraging residents to frequent downtown businesses, and advocates for business issues and public education regarding the health of the economy.

The Flagstaff business community is also supported by some manufacturing and distribution, as well as a vibrant small business sector.

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