We are starting to outgrow our current space in a number of ways. It is not uncommon for every office/meeting space to be occupied. We have more groups requesting access to the conference rooms, main room and pod cast studio. It seems like at least once a week we get someone asking how they can be more involved and have a permanent desk. Every anchor company seems to currently be hiring and looking to expand. We are actively turning new anchor companies away as we don’t have dedicated space for them.
When we first started Gangplank we took advantage of an existing situation to get the ball rolling. Our first move mostly had to do with getting the most bang for our buck physically. However, this time we know that we are growing in more ways than size. We know that certain things are important to us. We understand that being in a box mall or industrial park doesn’t fit where we want to be. We definitely want to be at the heart of things and in a walkable space. This means we want to be downtown.
We are currently considering downtown Phoenix, Chandler, Gilbert, Mesa and Tempe. It is imperative that where ever we land that we find a city that is looking for community involvement. A city that wants to work with us and not against us in working towards a new economy. A community that understands that the future is changing and is willing to help bridge talent gaps. We want a home that embraces the 3 T’s.. Talent, Tolerance and Technology. Ultimately we are looking for these five characteristics as a starting point.
1. Committed to infill and urban density.
The city should be actively looking for land resources and vacant buildings for reuse. Placing the right business not just any business in them to help encourage additional infill. They should be making it easier for a business, home owner to infill than to continue suburban growth. It should be updating it’s general plan to include higher density and creative mixed use in it’s urban area. It must have a plan to keep housing affordable when the boom starts back up.
2. Committed to the creative class.
The city should be doing everything possible to revitalize areas rich in history. It should have an aggressive urban design plan that puts an emphasis on architecture. It needs to be actively encouraging an eclectic environment for entrepreneurs, creative types and small businesses. It needs to place priority on libraries, museums, performing arts as part of its economic development. It needs to have tax incentives for property owners and arts in it’s art district.
3. Committed to innovation.
The city should house one or more technology corridors, including big, medium and small high tech and bio medical companies. It should be looking at other super-regions for inspiration, but implementing their own unique solutions. It shouldn’t have a single innovation center but rather a hub of innovation. It should have connections to major universities. It should have room for incubators and start-ups in it’s plans. It should be considering start-up condos to get local companies more invested in the city. It should be partnering with established high tech companies in the area.
4. Committed to being connected.
The city should have flowing parks, open spaces, downtown, civic space and neighborhoods that make sense. People of varying lifestyles should be able to enjoy their style of living, but easily transition into other parts of the city. It should be engaging in designs that make the city walkable in community oriented spaces while connecting the community spaces with bikeways and public transportation. The city should be connected to the light-rail to make access to the metro area seamless.
5. Committed to being a significant player in a new mega-region
The city can not be content with just doing well for itself. It has to have an eye on being a central part of the emerging mega-region (Phoenix to Tucson). It should be the technology and creative class leader of this region. It should be focused on uniting ASU and U of A together. It should be forging lasting relationships with connecting cities in the mega-region.
We are not sure any city lives up to these requirements yet, but at least we have a starting point when discussing whether a city is a good fit for us or not. Often times people think because we have no formal heavy structure or chain of command that we don’t do any planning. The truth is because we don’t have any formal structure we have the ability to do more long term planning than most. We want our next move to not be a change in building, but a change in opportunity. We want our next home to be a partner that gets it and is looking to pull away from the rest of the metro Phoenix as a true leader in the next twenty years.