Finding perspectives in the mirror

I settled down to catch up on the news the other morning and stopped at this headline: “Economy creates jobs but no broad wealth gains in this century.”

Sad and true but not exactly new news. Still, I read on.

The story had positive elements, reporting that job growth had returned to the region, even if it’s not at the pace we’re used to. But it is on the comeback.

But the overall theme was the region was spinning wheels when it comes to a recovery that all segments of the community could feel in their wallets. In other words, no relief for the working class.

The story said: “So why do so many people feel broke? Because they are. The economy must grow briskly for years before the typical family … gets back to even from the 2008-09 recession, let alone gains ground.”

But here’s the twist. I was in San Diego that morning, reading the Union-Tribune’s report on that region – one that many in Arizona point to as the kind of diversified, knowledge-based economy that the Valley so desires.

The point is this: there are struggles everywhere, and those who complain about the sorry state of the Phoenix’s economic progress often fail to recognize that.

The Union Tribune story said:

“And San Diego is not alone. This long-running lack of progress is a nationwide phenomenon. With experts arguing about causes, don’t expect solutions anytime soon. … For the time being, the working class can celebrate an economy that’s at least creating jobs again. But wealth creation may have to wait.”

Back to Phoenix. Should we take solace knowing the sluggish recovery and its uneven effects on everyone is a national problem? No. We have we plenty of shortcomings. But we might start using the national scene for perspective and context in shaping our attitudes of what’s happening in our back yard.

Perhaps we might refrain from telling the world about how bad things are here. They’re not. The more we dwell on our weaknesses, the more it hurts the image people outside Arizona have of us.

Restoring the region’s image starts with recognizing the good things we have going, and then projecting that attitude collectively in whatever form we communicate it.

Phoenix won’t fully recover until housing picks up, construction activity reaches a reasonable pace in all sectors and other industries continue the progress made over the past few years.

No one really knows when that magical moment will occur. Though we are confident it will.

What we do know is that we have new leadership coming on board in the Governor’s Office, and that presents an opportunity to create sustainable progress on all fronts.

Whether it’s Doug Ducey or Fred DuVal, I hope the next governor is sincere in building a bridge to the business community and engaging executives who care about the future of the region and know how to get things done.

It will take a real partnership – not just blowing smoke – between the private and public sectors to move the needle in any significant way and new leadership is the perfect time to make that happen.

There’s every reason to think this can be our moment. Let’s not miss the chance to take advantage.

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