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Phoenix has '26 hot prospects' after attending international biotech convention

Since welcoming the Translational Genomics Research Institute downtown, Phoenix has seen significant growth in bioscience and health-care related companies. 

Twenty years ago, Phoenix had one medical school. Today, there are six. 

Christine Mackay, the city’s economic development director, recalled attending trade shows in the early days.

“And the larger cities – San Francisco and Atlanta and San Diego and New York and Chicago - they’d pat us on our heads and say, ‘Aren’t you just cute, but you’re a little late to the party of biosciences, and we’ve got this sewn up so don’t even waste your time,'" she said.

Now, she says Phoenix is a recognized leader. This summer, the city sponsored a pavilion and hosted a reception at the BIO International Convention in Boston.

“So, we had 26 hot prospects that we’re working with right now, and 70% are international companies,” city staffer Claudia Whitehead, who attended the conference, told a council subcommittee.

The city's economic development department plans to ask the council to approve $100,000 to attend next year’s convention, with partners Arizona State University, University of Arizona and tGEN.

In 2018, Phoenix launched a plan to grow its bioscience industry. It has more than 6 million square feet of new space downtown designated for life science research and development to improve diagnostics and treatments.

“Nationally, the salaries for bioscience jobs are 85% higher than in the private sector, and so these are great, quality jobs for our residents that we're creating for the city,” Whitehead said.

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As a senior field correspondent, Christina Estes focuses on stories that impact our economy, your wallet and public policy.