Phoenix’s ‘Rolling Message’ to California’s High-Tech Companies: ‘Get Out!’

An Arizona economic development agency has launched a gutsy campaign to interest California companies in locating where they will find a far friendlier business environment and better quality of life.

Imaginative economic development officials in Phoenix have reached beyond traditional media in a way I’ve never seen before. They have custom-wrapped two dozen autos with an easy-to-ready slogan “#CASTRUGGLES are REAL!”

The cars are a rolling promotion to a website that introduces the metro area as a “location of choice for business and individuals.”

Over a 12-week period, the mobile billboards will travel on Silicon Valley roads along predetermined routes. I presume they will travel down city streets congested with parked campers and RVs, which serve as homes for high-tech employed professionals who can’t afford to rent an apartment or buy a home.

Yes, housing costs in the region ranging from Oakland through Silicon Valley and San Jose are so severe that even fully employed people have resorted to living in vehicles. East Palo Alto Mayor Ruben Abrica said, “They’re workers. Every day they get up and go to work.” The vehicles have sparked safety and sanitary concerns there as well as in San Jose, Mountain View and Union City along with the counties of Santa Clara, San Mateo, Alameda and Contra Costa.

Maybe Phoenix’s vehicles will toot their horns as they roll by the headquarters for Facebook, Twitter, Yelp, Yahoo! and YouTube, which likely have employees who prefer to live where they can afford to purchase a home, have easier drive times on better roads and – especially if they live in San Francisco – can avoid increasingly deteriorated living conditions.

The Phoenix folks also created a “time to get out” of California website. It’s informative, engaging and colorful. The website is here and their announcement about the program is here.

Phoenix has already done well by luring expansions from the San Francisco-Silicon Valley area. The most well known refugee is Charles Schwab, which is adding 600 high-value information sector jobs to its south Phoenix technology center. Other companies are looking at expansion options in Phoenix and elsewhere.

Phoenix’s new approach is bolder than the conventional approaches followed by other economic development agencies that pitch companies located in California and in other business-hostile states such as New York, New Jersey, Illinois, Minnesota and Connecticut.

The future is sure to see more economic development delegations on scouting missions to California. But they could learn something from Phoenix and their hard-to-ignore campaign.

Disclaimer: I provide services only to businesses – not economic development organizations such as the Greater Phoenix Economic Council. Hence, any comments about such agencies in this blog are based on my judgment only and are free of compensation.

More Are Leaving California including small businesses, large corporations, millennials and Generation X (and in select instances Gen Z). They are departing California not only for Arizona but also for other states. See a summary of an exhaustive report (based on two years of research) here (scroll down for summary).

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